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Santa Monica Council Tackles Planes and Automobiles
By Jason Islas
July 10, 2012 -- The Santa Monica City Council will tackle parking, student flights out of Santa Monica Airport and the future of the California incline project Tuesday Night.
The council will take up an ordinance that would change the pricing structure for parking throughout the city, raising costs Downtown while lowering them at the Civic Center.
The Council will also vote whether to certify the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the California Incline Bridge project and revisit a test program designed to pay flight schools to have their students practice at nearby airports.
“Public parking in Santa Monica is a limited resource that is in high demand, and presents many challenges to both users and City administrators,” staff wrote in its report.
“During peak periods, the average occupancy rate for some Downtown parking structures can exceed 95 percent, while others are under-utilized,” according to staff.
As a result, staff is recommending raising prices in the Downtown parking structures during peak hours, while lowering prices at the Civic Center and Main Library lots.
Staff also wants to reduce the free parking period in the Downtown structures to 90 minutes from the current two hours.
Meter rates in Downtown would also see a “significant increase” while meter rates in other parts of the City will go up by a quarter.
Staff estimates the changes would bring an extra $3.5 million a year into the City coffers.
Later in the evening, the council will have to decide whether to move forward with the project to replace the 80-year-old California Incline bridge that connects California Avenue to the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).
“The condition of the existing California Incline Bridge is poor and the deteriorated condition of the bridge makes corrective action necessary,” staff said.
Little can be done about traffic congestion when the ramp is closed for construction, a concern expressed by members of the community, staff said.
“Although there are no mitigation measures that would minimize the traffic and transportation impacts to a less-than-significant level during construction, a wide range of mitigation measures to address traffic impacts are included in the Final EIR/EA,” staff said.
Some of those measures include placing traffic officers at the intersection, synchronizing traffic signals along Ocean Avenue, as well as working with Caltrans and the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation to install detour signage along PCH.
Finally, the Council will revisit a plan to offer flight schools $90,000 to teach takeoff and landings to their students at other airports.
At the last meeting Council meeting, the plan failed to garner enough votes to pass because Council member Bobby Shriver and Mayor Richard Bloom were absent.
Council member Bob Holbrook voted against the plan noting that "to date, not one single person I’ve received an e-mail from or talked to including leadership of the different groups around the airport wants us to do this.”
The plan is designed to cut back on the number of takeoffs and landings that take place at Santa Monica Airport since, according to staff, many of the local flights -- which make up 40 percent of SMO’s air traffic -- are students practicing takeoffs and landings.
The Council voted unanimously to continue the item until Shriver and Bloom were back.
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