The Santa Monica City Council hopes to establish in the future a bus-only lane on Lincoln Boulevard from Santa Monica to Westchester.
In the meantime, the City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday, September 13th, that creates a bus-only lane on Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica and restrict street parking in front of some businesses.
Before Santa Monica city officials can implement the ordinance, the State of California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) must approve parking restrictions because Lincoln Boulevard is a state highway.
“Lincoln Boulevard is controlled by the state, so it is under their jurisdiction in terms of environmental issues,” said Santa Monica city attorney Marsha Moutrie. “But we need to tell them the council approves the ordinance.”
Parking restrictions apply to Lincoln Boulevard within the Santa Monica city limits on weekdays.
Street parking is prohibited from 7 to 10 a.m. on the northbound side of Lincoln Boulevard between Dewey and Grant Streets.
Street parking is prohibited from 4 to 7 p.m. on the southbound side of Lincoln Boulevard between Pico Boulevard and Dewey Street.
“This is one step in a continuing process to extend the bus lane from Santa Monica all the way to the Los Angeles International Airport area,” said Stephanie Negriff, director of transit services for the City of Santa Monica.
“We have already begun working with the City of Los Angeles to continue the bus lane beyond our city limits.”
Negriff said Santa Monica city officials have conducted a parking analysis to determine the availability of off-street parking and an outreach process to get resident and business input.
In the outreach process, Negriff said 96 businesses were contacted and 25 percent voiced support for the bus-only lane.
Nineteen percent of businesses voiced general concern about the lane, 48 percent did not respond, five percent were neutral, and two businesses had specific concerns.
The outreach process included two public meetings and individual meetings with each business, Negriff said.
“There has been substantial support for the bus lane within the residential and business communities,” Negriff said. “There have been some issues raised by some of the businesses, and we are working with them to address those issues.”
Negriff said the parking analysis concluded that only a limited number of cars are parked on Lincoln Boulevard during the restricted hours and several businesses have their own off-street parking lots.
No one representing businesses along Lincoln Boulevard spoke during the public comment session of the Santa Monica City Council meeting.
Chuck Allord, a Santa Monica resident, called the bus-only lane “a bad idea.”
“If they are thinking correctly, normal cities do not remove lanes and dedicate them only for buses,” Allord said. “They allow the traffic to flow from a two-lane highway to a three-lane highway and a lot of areas in Los Angeles do this.
“And talking about businesses, I spoke to a lot of them in the past few days and they said they have never seen the public notices, don’t know what is going on, and don’t trust the city.”
Previously, the City of Los Angeles asked the Santa Monica City Council to create a bus-only lane on Wilshire Boulevard for Los Angeles Metro buses.
Santa Monica City Council members did not want such a lane on Wilshire Boulevard because restricting street parking when only a few off-street parking spaces are available would harm businesses.
“In the past when the Metro buses asked to have a bus lane set aside on Wilshire Boulevard, the council resisted based on the fear that this would damage the small businesses along Wilshire Boulevard,” said Santa Monica City Council member Kevin McKeown.
Negriff said Lincoln Boulevard is different from Wilshire Boulevard.
“A bus lane on Lincoln Boulevard would create substantial time saving compared to creating a lane on Wilshire Boulevard,” Negriff said. “Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica is not congested; the bottleneck is near Wilshire Boulevard and the 405 [San Diego Freeway] area in Los Angeles.”
The Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved creating a bus-only lane and restricting street parking on Lincoln Boulevard.
Mayor Pam O’Connor was absent from the meeting.
“I know Lincoln Boulevard well and have been stuck in that traffic,” McKeown said. “I think this bus lane would really work.”