Over the next five years, Downtown and the surrounding areas will be transformed as City Hall moves forward with several critical projects that will make Santa Monica a more desirable and safer place to live. Those projects include a new California Incline and Santa Monica Pier bridge, two new parks in the Civic Center and the Exposition Light Rail Line, the expansion of Santa Monica High School and The Village housing development, along with new parking structures and a state-of-the-art cineplex.
While it would be nice to delay some of the construction so that Downtown doesn’t feel and look like a disaster zone (the theater project could be one since it is not critical and would demolish much-needed parking), some projects are desperately needed infrastructure improvements and can no longer be put on hold. The incline and pier bridge are already dangerously behind schedule. The other issue is Gov. Brown’s threat to dismantle redevelopment agencies. This has forced City Hall and other cities to act now or risk losing hundreds of millions of dollars.
The reality is, we can’t wait, and we shouldn’t. It’s like tearing off a Band-Aid. Do it quickly as possibly or suffer more pain. If we can weather the construction disruption that will mean detours, traffic, parking headaches, loud noise, dust and debris, our city will be in a much better position for the long haul. City Manager Rod Gould is already preaching patience.
City Hall is being responsible by planning ahead, looking at ways to address parking problems while developing tools to keep the community informed. Communication is key and it will be critical to create a construction timeline that is clear to all, and one that can be executed. City Hall needs to have firm completion dates to give residents, merchants and visitors a light at the end of the tunnel. Delays and ambiguity will only lead to more frustration and construction fatigue.
The Daily Press, which is located in the heart of Downtown, will be impacted greatly, as we were with the renovation of Santa Monica Place and the adjacent parking structures. But we have also reaped the benefits of a more attractive mall. That project proved that with a little patience comes great rewards.