Does the LUCE Plan have teeth?

By Mihai Peteu

Santa Monica has been making some huge strides lately towards supporting cycling as a legitimate mode of transportation. The Arizona bike lane has been extended all the way to Ocean Ave, Broadway between Cloverfield and 26th has been re-striped into three blocks of extra-wide bike lane heaven, also taking into account a local rider’s feedback.  The new sharrows on 14th St have been placed smack-dab in the middle of the usable roadway space, in a very empowering manner.

City planners have been meeting regularly with Santa Monica Spoke to gather our input, and we now have a second City Council member, Terry O’Day, who is championing cycling infrastructure.

Actions like this make you feel like your local government is listening.

Santa Monica Bike & Bus Map

Current Santa Monica Bike Map

So where’s the conflict you ask?

In early July 2010, Santa Monica approved the Land Use and Conservation Element plan, in an attempt to make the city cleaner, greener, and improve its residents’ health and quality of life.

Agensys, a pharmaceutical company is on the verge of occupying the 1800 block of Stewart St for 50 years. The lot is adjacent to Bergamot Station, in the exact spot where the Expo Bike Path would end.  Currently, Agensys is dodging the requirement of providing bike access through their property.  The only concession they’ve made is allowing pedestrian walkway – cyclists would have to dismount and walk their bike until they’re off Agensys grounds. The pedestrian walkway would be closed off at night, rendering it useless as a reliable thoroughfare.

On page 35 of the LUCE Chapter 4 – Circulation section, Michigan is designated as a bike route (LUCE Circulation PDF – 14mb).  By approving the LUCE plan, Santa Monica has made a commitment to “minimize, and where possible, eliminate pollution and motor vehicle congestion” (pg 2, Circulation PDF).  If Agensys was to create a bike path through their property, the would extend the Expo Bike Path into Santa Monica by providing a connection to Michigan Ave. This would be a very powerful alternative for cross-town cyclists.

Michigan is already well-known by locals to be a safe route just south of the nasty 10 freeway.  Students use it to get to SaMo High, and riders use it out of sheer necessity – when you have deathly-fast moving Olympic above and hilly Pico below, you’re not left with much of an option.

Proposed LUCE Map - Michigan is highlighted through the Agensys lot

The City Council-approved LUCE plan lists Michigan as a bike route. Also in Ch 4, page 38, there’s a blurb about large property developments or superblocks, which would apply in this case – they have to “provide through access for bicyclists and pedestrians.”

I don’t see how this is even a point of contention. If a company gets a hold of this plot of land, especially if it’s for such a long time, then they have to abide by the city’s rules. The LUCE commitments cannot be skirted. The only issue up for discussion at this point should be how to make it happen. Indeed, this is the first major test of the potency of the LUCE plan.

My job was to state the obvious. To read about the issue in more detail, see what Santa Monica Spoke members have to say. See what Gary has to say in his report. You will also find a link to Barbara and Kent’s original report.

Come speak your mind:

Wed, Sep 1: Planning Commission at City Council chambers
Tue, Sep 14: First Agensys vote at City Council
Tue, Sep 28: Final City Council decision on Agensys

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