For Josh Paget, Santa Monica seemed like an ideal place for hosting screenings of short movies about urban planning.

The city recently launched Breeze, a bikeshare program that officials hope will reduce traffic congestion. The Expo Line extension, which is scheduled to open this spring, will allow residents to travel to Culver City and Downtown Los Angeles while welcoming visitors and tourists from around the region. And ongoing construction has sparked contentious debates over the future of the beachside city.

“Santa Monica is a hotbed for new urbanism projects,” Paget said, “especially with the Expo Line coming in and a lot of stuff going on in Downtown Santa Monica with bike-friendly streets, the bikeshare program and new developments in the area.”

Paget is the director of the New Urbanism Film Festival, which launched in 2013 as a way to gather global perspectives on the personal impacts of urban planning. The third edition of the annual event was held in Los Angeles in October.

The winning short films from the 2015 festival are scheduled to be shown Feb. 24 at Laemmle Theatres’ Monica Film Center in Santa Monica. The screenings were originally scheduled for Jan. 13, but the theater is currently being renovated.

Paget said he’s hoping that Rick Cole, Santa Monica’s city manager, will be able to attend the film festival’s upcoming screening. During his time as a deputy Los Angeles mayor, Cole served as a keynote speaker for a NUFF event in Los Angeles.

Focusing on mixed-used development, transit-oriented design and walkable cities, the festival’s movies are meant to foster discussions about public policy. Paget hopes those conversations lead to decisions that help citizens navigate their cities more efficiently.

“We want to encourage people to think about how the built environment affects every aspect of our lives,” he said.

Paget isn’t exactly an urban planning expert. He’s a Los Angeles-based stand-up comedian who studied creative writing at Seattle Pacific University and screenwriting at the Los Angeles Film Studies Center. But he’s been the technical director for several film festivals in Southern California, including the Los Angeles Comedy Festival, the Cinematic Arts Film Festival and the Middle East Comedy Festival.

“I don’t have a background in urban planning, but our cities shape us and we can shape our cities,” Paget said. “I hope people see urban planning as something they can get involved with.”

One of the short films that will be screened is “I’d Rather Stay,” a winning submission that spotlights the effects of urban design on senior citizens in Canada. Elderly people who live in walkable areas are more likely to be able to stay in their homes as they age, Paget said.

Another festival film, “The Edge of Memphis,” documents the work of an incubator program for start-up businesses in a section of that Tennessee city.

The goal, Paget said, is to find out what works and what doesn’t. For example, are parking-protected bike lanes in New York City affecting cycling traffic? Are they having an impact on local businesses?

“People can make more informed decisions,” he said. “You can see projects occurring in other cities and around the world and how they turned out, how it developed, how it was followed through on and what effect it had. That helps move the discussion forward.”

jeff@www.smdp.com