At least one day a year traffic will not be a problem in downtown Santa Monica. After a successful launch last summer, Santa Monica’s first open streets event is coming back for round two.
The City will merge last year’s popular Coast Open Streets with Santa Monica Festival this fall, according to a newly released staff report. Staff members have not yet decided an exact date, but are looking at October since many Santa Monican’s June event calendars are already packed with graduation ceremonies and holiday travel. A fall date would also bolster local businesses as the summer tourist season begins to slump off.
“Santa Monica no longer has an off season,” Santa Monica chief communications officer Debbie Lee said. “In October, the weather is still nice and if there is a ‘soft season’ that would be the closest.’”
The newly named 2017 Coast Open Streets Festival is proposed as an annual event. Staff will aim to give community organizations that traditionally had a meaningful impact at Santa Monica Festival a spot in the new festival.
With two miles of streets closed to cars, locals can lace up their roller skates or hop on their bikes. Restaurants on Main Street pull out picnic tables and diners stretch out into the streets. Cultural groups give impromptu dance lessons on Ocean Avenue and neighbors relax in the traffic free atmosphere of their own city.
“We just want to encourage people to get out and explore and experience our city on foot and on bike and get used to getting around using public transit,” Lee said.
Coast premiered last June to celebrate the opening of Expo Light Rail and the Colorado Esplanade. The event was considered a major success, with about 50,000 people turning out. Local blogs called it one of the best Los Angeles area events of the summer. Activities focused on art, sustainability and mobility.
The event will take place on the same route as the June 2016 event: Main Street between Colorado Avenue and Marine Street, Colorado Avenue between 4th Street and Ocean Avenue, and Ocean Avenue between Wilshire Boulevard and Colorado Avenue. Those streets will be open to pedestrians and cyclists only. Cars can cross the event on Main Street at Olympic Drive, Pico Boulevard and Ocean Park Boulevard.
A Metro grant, funds from the Santa Monica Festival, the GoSaMo initiative and other sources paid the $354,000 that it cost to put on Coast 2016. The Metro grant is not available for this year’s event and costs are expected to reach $400,000.
Multiple City departments are involved in putting on the festival: the Cultural Affairs Division, Mobility Division, the Office of Sustainability and the Environment and the Office of Communications.