CITY HALL — City Hall launched a new website Wednesday meant to keep residents informed about a multitude of developments and construction projects set to take place in Santa Monica over the next five to seven years.
The site is themed “Be excited! Be prepared!,” and combines standard publicity tools like press releases and advertisements with social media, e-mails, text message alerts and an interactive map that gives details on every project proposed for Santa Monica’s 8.3 square miles.
“It’s meant to keep people up to date on all of the projects that are coming forward and it’s also meant to make sure people have information on key projects like parking and traffic,” said Kate Vernez, assistant to the City Manager.
It couldn’t launch at a better time.
According to the site, found at www.smconstructs.org, there are already three projects under construction in the city — Reed Park, the bike centers in parking structures 7 and 8 and Palisades Garden Walk Park — and another 24 public projects and 18 private projects planned.
Those projects are primarily clustered in Downtown, the Civic Center and proposed Bergamot Transit Village, with the remainder sprinkled through the Mid-City area.
As projects come online, they will include renderings, construction dates, photos and a schedule upcoming public meetings.
The sheer number of projects required a more aggressive public information campaign than City Hall has put forward in the past, Vernez said.
“It’s really the first time that there’s been this many projects that have demanded this kind of collaboration,” she said.
The site represents the work of nine city departments, many of which have shared roles on the projects, as well as outside agencies like the Exposition Construction Authority and the California Department of Transportation that is coordinating on the rebuild of the aging California Incline.
It first got approval in February, when staff presented to the City Council a review of all of the projects slated for Santa Monica over the next seven years.
It was the bud of a community outreach campaign that will be both high-tech and high-touch, coupling the new website with extensive in-person outreach, Vernez said.
To that end, each department has a “champion” that can answer community questions about the projects, and a new position called an information manager was created to keep the message “pristine.”
Extra meetings entitled “Ask the Staff” will be held at the Main Library, perhaps as soon as January, to give community members an opportunity to question informed staff members about projects and construction.
People are also encouraged to visit the site and provide feedback on how to improve it, Vernez said.
“This is a tool that we launched to get feedback,” she said. “The next step is that we will be meeting with the Neighborhood Council and other groups to show them these tools.”
The Neighborhood Council is a body formed of the heads of the various neighborhood groups in Santa Monica.
The site will continue to evolve as projects get updated and new projects come online.
Vernez said that City Hall plans to coordinate with both the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and Santa Monica College to add construction projects from those two entities to the map.