On Confederate Generals, Statues and Memorials: For Those Who Don’t Get It
Put yourself in the shoes of a Jewish citizen living in Germany today and seeing streets, statues and government buildings and facilities named after Hitler’s generals.
I would be outraged… Wouldn’t you?
Now put yourself in the shoes of a Black citizen living in America…
Preserving Civil War history is one thing… honoring the Civil War leaders who fought to keep you in slavery is another.
Marina del Rey
Say No to Al Fresco: Santa Monica City hopes to help Main Street with this bad plan
Santa Monica is planning investment to enliven lower Main Street and help adjacent bar, restaurant and other businesses recover from the recent devastating pandemic shutdowns. Main Street is rightly deemed vital to both the economy, employing workers and paying taxes, as well as anchoring the rich cultural life that makes this city special. But restoring this business community while maintaining social distancing is a thorny challenge.
Last Friday, on the Ocean Park Association online Zoom meeting, city staff member Scott Johnson presented his “Al Fresco” plan as the solution. I was distressed to see how flawed this plan is and how it cannot solve the formidable problems Main Street faces.
Most such projects go through a design review process so professionals not involved with creating the proposal can objectively evaluate its worth before production commitments are finalized. Strong evidence exists that this Al Fresco plan received no such review yet it has nearly arrived at the contract bidding phase.
Al Fresco’s designers chose Santa Barbara’s failed lower State Street with its center slicing traffic lanes for its model, rather than our own successful Third Street Promenade. Professional design review would have noted that the Santa Barbara seating amenities were removed and parking lanes were restored because solidly jammed traffic happened whenever a car paused to pick up passengers or a truck unloaded goods when there were no parking lanes for relief.
Imagine how our Third Street Promenade would be destroyed if you sliced busy traffic and bike lanes through its center.
Here is the Main Street Al Fresco plan’s rendering — a rendering that does not include the volume of bike, scooter and skate traffic that would be funneled into the bike lanes on a busy day.
As you examine this image, picture the space inhabited by a joyful Saturday night crowd, with buses and motorcycles in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Imagine trying to visit with friends on the opposite side of the street, as you walk down to the next corner, wait for the light to cross and then walk up the other side — or maybe instead, you just phone across for your visit.
Then, Al Fresco doubles down on awful by adding concrete K Rail barriers between the new seating and the bike lanes.
Think what life in that bike lane would be like, riding between the buses and automobiles on your left with the sharp cement corners on your right as a faster rider overtakes or a child rider is overtaken — not much room for passing on this crowded narrow runway and a scary ride for all but the most skilled.
With the new seating areas and the pedestrian walkways compressed by the expansive center maelstrom, where will room be found for social distancing?
My unanswered question to the City Planners is, “Would you feel comfortable eating or drinking where a passing cyclist or stroller can sneeze on your guacamole in this COVID age?”
If the public doesn’t feel safe in the space, how can anyone expect economic activity to return?
So even though the city’s heart is in the right place and some scarce money is being allocated, this is not a plan that can save Main Street. Let’s replace Al Fresco with a plan that will work before the money and opportunity are wasted.