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Council Smiles on Plan for Santa Monica's Old Industrial Quarter
By Jason Islas
June 18, 2012 -- The Santa Monica City Council gave planners a unanimous thumbs-up Tuesday night on the Bergamot Area plan preparing for the arrival of the Expo Light Rail line in 2016, despite a few concerns.
Council members overall were happy with the plan for the 104-acre area around the proposed train station at Olympic Boulevard and 26th Street that would turn the former industrial corridor into a “walkable and human-scaled mixed-use, transit-oriented neighborhood,” according to City staff.
Mayor Richard Bloom told City staff Tuesday that he “can feel the neighborhood evolving through your planning.”
Council member Bob Holbrook agreed, saying the plan was “headed in the right direction.”
But a couple of issues remained for the council members, the largest of which was traffic.
“We've got a really rotten situation today,” Council member Terry O'Day said of the gridlock in the Bergamot Area.
The plan starts to address the traffic issues by breaking up the “super blocks” in the area and creating a a grid of smaller streets, O'Day said.
Holbrook said that the majority of traffic in the area was likely due to commuters who drive through the Bergamot Area on their way to work in Downtown Santa Monica and other parts of the City.
He said he would like to see a study that counted the number of people passing through the area.
One of the strategies outlined in the plan would reduce gridlock by providing housing for people who work in the area.
The plan, said Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis, should provide room for small businesses to grow. This would avoid a repeat of the fate of TOMS Shoes, a company once based in the Bergamot area that matches every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need.
The company began as a small start-up but soon outgrew its location, she said. When it couldn't find a place in Santa Monica, the company moved to Playa Vista.
Council member Kevin McKeown took the opportunity to see if there was a possibility to postpone the development agreement for the Village Trailer Park property, which would replace one of Santa Monica's two remaining trailer parks with a mixed-used development with nearly 500 residential units.
“Wouldn't it be good planning to finish the Area Plan before we hear projects that will restrict our options for the area as a whole?” McKeown asked City staff Tuesday.
Staff said that the plan is far enough along to determine how a development at the site of Village Trailer Park would affect the immediate area.
Bloom said that he would not support postponing future development rights in the area.
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