Author: juliekirst

Santa Monica downtown project designed to improve pedestrian areas on 2nd, 4th Sts.

Plans for a pedestrian extension to the Santa Monica Downtown Transit Mall Project are currently being developed, according to city officials. The pedestrian and streetscape project along Second and Fourth Streets — Phase III of the city Downtown Urban Design Plan —is designed to improve the streets parallel to the Third Street Promenade between Wilshire Boulevard and Colorado Avenue. With the intention of enlarging the walking district of downtown and encouraging foot traffic beyond the Third Street Promenade, city officials say the improvements will include new pedestrian lighting to illuminate the sidewalks and the replacement of trees along Second and Fourth Streets. Increased visibility of crosswalks — with enhancements focused on three mid-block crosswalks between Wilshire Boulevard and Arizona Avenue, Arizona Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard and Broadway — are also part of the planned improvements, according to city officials. The budget for Phase III also allocated money for an artist to participate in the design process as part of the project team. The artwork created will be incorporated into the functional elements of the project. “The downtown community has been looking forward to this for a long time and it’s an exciting project,” said Ellen Gelbard, Santa Monica Planning and Community Development Department deputy director. She added that with city parking structures on Second and Fourth Streets, there is already pedestrian traffic, but the...

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Surveillance cameras will be on Big Blue Buses

As part of Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus security improvements, surveillance cameras will be installed on all the Santa Monica municipal buses. Four cameras will capture the inside of the bus, and two will monitor the outside of the bus. “Research has shown that other cities that use cameras on their buses have decreased their costs significantly,” said Dan Dawson, marketing and public information coordinator for the Big Blue Bus. Any form of public transportation operating in some of the highest traffic areas, as the Big Blue Bus does, is bound to be involved in accidents, according to Dawson. In case of an accident, the city can view the recorded visual information and assess who is actually at fault. The city expects the addition of cameras to bring down the number of claims against the city and to increase the safety of passengers. Bus officials also hope the cameras will reduce any vandalism on the buses as well as altercations between fellow passengers and between passengers and the driver. “Studies say passengers feel safe on the Big Blue Bus, but in this post 9/11-world, security remains an important consideration and cameras represent another step to maintain security,” Dawson says. In addition to the installation of surveillance cameras on all the buses, the largest overhaul of the fleet in years is under way on the older buses. The facelift includes...

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American Film Market will continue to call Santa Monica home

Guaranteeing its presence in Santa Monica through 2008, the American Film Market (AFM) has signed a multi-year deal with the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. The American Film Market, which includes some public screenings for Santa Monica residents, is scheduled to take place Wednesday, November 3rd, to Wednesday, November 10th, at the hotel. “We’re thrilled with their commitment,” said Misti Kerns, Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau president and chief executive officer. “AFM generates 17 to 22 million dollars in revenue for the city and businesses of Santa Monica each year,” she said. Produced by the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA), the American Film Market has grown steadily during the last two decades to become what it says is the world’s largest motion picture trade event. Formally the American Film Marketing Association, the IFTA is a trade association representing producers and distributors of independent movies and TV programs throughout the world. The recent name change reflects the association’s growth and the global nature of its business and diverse activities, which include arbitration, licensing support, lobbying, market research and royalty collections, IFTA officials say. Since 1991, the AFM has turned the Loews Hotel into a showplace of creativity as more than 7,000 industry professionals from more than 70 countries converge in Santa Monica for eight days of screenings, deal making and hospitality. The hotel converts all of its rooms...

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Virginia Avenue Park expansion in Santa Monica continues on schedule; creating some traffic woes

As the buildings begin to take shape and street improvements begin, the extensive 18-month expansion of Virginia Avenue Park in Santa Monica moves forward on schedule. The street enhancements on Cloverfield and Pico Boulevards are causing some backups in traffic during heavy travel times. Doing their best to mitigate construction delays and related problems, city officials anticipate completion of the street construction by the end of August. Drivers should be prepared for lane closures westbound on Pico Boulevard from Cloverfield Boulevard to 21st Street and on Cloverfield Boulevard, next to the park, from Pico Boulevard to Virginia Avenue. Once complete, Virginia Avenue Park’s 9.5 acres will offer the community more educational and play space, making it the fourth-largest park in Santa Monica. City officials say that the well-planned renovations of the buildings on the property will create symmetry with the open green spaces, producing a campus-like atmosphere. The refurbished buildings will house the many community programs and services the park offers, including the Police Activities League fitness gym, a center for older youths and community meeting and activity spaces. Adding to its previous amenities, the park will provide a new splash pad, playgrounds and a small open-air pavilion for meetings and parties. City officials say residents will once again be able to enjoy the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables as they stroll through the newly designed tree-shaded farmers...

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Local businesses shine at American Cancer Society Relay for Life at SM College Corsair Field

Santa Monica — known as a strong-knit and active community in all that relates to health, fitness, and health-related legal issues — once again supported the American Cancer Society annual Relay for Life Saturday, July 24th. Participants at the event spread their colorfully decorated tents across Corsair Field at Santa Monica College to raise cancer awareness and funds. Teams, made up of co-workers, family and friends, walked or ran around the track in shifts keeping one member on the track at all times. Following the notion that cancer doesn’t sleep, this unusual 24-hour fundraiser was one big slumber party. Relay for Life introduces communities to an innovative and more personal way to fundraise. A grassroots event, its success relies on the involvement of local businesses, individuals, hotels, restaurants, hospitals and other organizations. Each team is encouraged to have pre-event socials to reach its financial goal, creating many fundraisers within a fundraiser. “What makes this so unique is that the personality of the community is stamped all over it,” said Ernesto Morales, publicity chair for the event. The fundraiser is community-run and -sponsored and the city takes ownership of the event and works hard to involve corporations, individuals and businesses. Santa Monica locals such as the Santa Monica Police Department, Santa Monica firefighters, Trader Joe’s, the Double Tree Hotel, and ABRAXIS Oncology of Santa Monica sponsored the event or had...

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