By Lookout Staff
Editor’s Note: The Lookout News sent several questions to the 10 candidates running for Santa Monica City Council. Eight responded. Each answer was limited to 150 words. The Lookout is publishing the candidates' answers over several days.
October 19, 2016 -- Today's question: What causes traffic in Santa Monica? How can it be reduced?
Gleam Davis, incumbent
Traffic is a regional problem caused by too many people driving too much. This does not mean we all must abandon the automobile. But it does means that we all need to drive less. That is why Santa Monica is committed to providing as many alternatives to driving as possible (Big Blue Bus, Breeze Bike Share, more pedestrian friendly streets). Traffic congestion has been reduced with congestion pricing (London) and when cities experience economic collapse (Detroit). We are not in a position to implement congestion pricing now but, at some point, when it is technically feasible, we should consider it. Of course, we certainly don't want to use economic retrenchment as a method for reducing traffic.
Terence Later, challenger
The train and the bike initiatives are working towards our community’s common goal of alleviating traffic issues but we can certainly do more. Less development and better planning can help us in reduction.
Armen Melkonians, challenger
Traffic is caused by City Hall’s insatiable appetite for rampant development and its unquenchable thirst to increase revenue. Our city is already one of the densest coastal cities in California and has one of the biggest budgets in the country. We should manage our budget more effectively. All development adds traffic. According to its own Environmental Impact Report, the recently approved transit oriented, mixed-use, massive housing development located at the Fred Segal site will add 4,411 new daily car trips to Santa Monica. A Yes on Measure LV will keep traffic from getting worse by stopping the additional 50,000+ daily car trips associated with the 4 million square feet of new development now waiting for approvals. Light rail can reduce traffic only if we don’t continue to build. We should focus on providing incentives to existing businesses, promoting the use of the light rail to reduce incoming traffic.
Jon Mann, challenger
Over development has gone beyond the pale and the city council wants even more when they should be building low income housing to replace rent control stock. The council's band aid approach to mitigating traffic accomplishes little and is primarily for PR purposes.
Terry O’Day, incumbent
The primary cause of traffic in Santa Monica is the lack of a regional plan to reduce traffic that brings together neighboring cities. It certainly IS NOT caused by the development our city has seen in recent years. Until recently, I believed traffic congestion is a fact of life in a successful economy – a sign of prosperity. But something has changed. There is now a broad and inspiring movement gaining momentum to reclaim our streets. This movement is creating alternatives to driving and changing the culture. In the end, there is really one cause of traffic – you in your car – and the only way to change it is to get where you are going by a different mode. Recently, I visited London and Milan to study what those cities have done to mitigate traffic. I returned with some new and exciting ideas I hope to share regionally and eventually implement.
Ted Winterer, incumbent
Our population has remained relatively constant for decades while congestion has inarguably increased. Traffic comes from two sources: the surge in our daytime population from employees commuting to jobs in or city; and regional population growth which has increased the number of drivers cutting through our town en route to other destinations. To address the former we must continue to work to require employers to increase the average vehicle ridership of their workers while using financial incentives for employees to use mass transit or bike to work. In addition, new housing downtown should be made available to lease first to local employees. As for the latter, we need to work on regional solutions to mobility. For instance, it does us no good to have a system to adjust signal timing on Olympic headed east during rush hour if the signals in West LA aren’t in sync with ours.
Tony Vazquez, incumbent
Santa Monica has always been a magnet for shopping, restaurants and entertainment. And we have now turned into the “Silicon by the Beach,” which means we are a job center without adequate affordable housing for our workforce. Thus many workers in Santa Monica have to commute. To alleviate this situation we have to invest in more affordable housing, new and innovative traffic circulation planning, and public outreach to move drivers out of cars and into alternative transportation modes.
Mende Smith, challenger
We do not need more parking lots in Santa Monica. We need to shift from a car-centric city to a pedestrian-friendly green model city of the future. With an estimated 1 percent of 4 million new residents in Los Angeles County overall by 2020, there needs to be some serious planning to bring back the extension of the purple line to accent the Expo -- which is more of a tourist-friendly design rather than a commuter-functioning one -- and to add more bus routes to the boulevards will encourage the daytime population to use public transportation.