To the City Council, it’s pretty frustrating that a business just a five minute walk away from an Expo stop struggles to meet its mark for car-free commuters.
The walk from the 26th Street/Bergamot Station stop to Agensys, Inc is precisely .3 miles, but that doesn’t mean the Expo line is necessary convenient for the medical company’s scientists and engineers who commute to work in Santa Monica from all corners of Los Angeles.
Still, nearly 25 percent of the company’s 225 employees have agreed to give up their parking space in exchange for a $200 monthly stipend. To the City, it’s still not enough: the company has fallen short for three years in a row on their average vehicle ridership (AVR) requirement dictated by a Development Agreement with the City. In order to meet their escalating AVR mark, 13 more employees need to give up their cars by this summer, according to estimates from the City.
When City staff members recently audited 32 development agreements in Santa Monica, Agensys was the only company falling short of the promises they made in order to build. Last Tuesday night, Agensys’s vice president of technical operations appeared before the City Council to essentially ask forgiveness.
“We are going to continue to be a good neighbor and work as hard as we can to get our AVR target to where the development agreement says,” Gary Welch said.
Agensys is a pharmaceutical company that develops monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to treat cancer. mAbs work by either helping a person’s own immune response attack cancer cells in their body or by attaching to cancer proteins and prohibiting their growth.
As part of their development agreement, Agensys maintains a café that’s open to the public and a sculpture garden along a walking path near the expo line as well as a student internship program. Agensys has kept it’s promise with all those requirements. In fact, the company is preparing for their third sculpture exhibit which will open sometime next month. The cancer-fighting company also donated more than $90,000 to Bergamot Station transit infrastructure and bike access.
“This may not seem like that big of an aspect of your DA to you, but it is a big aspect to us because of the traffic coming in to town,” Councilmember Sue Himmelrich told Welch at the public meeting. “It’s not just you that we are pressuring, we pressure everybody all the time to hit their AVR targets.”
Agensys has until April 17th to follow up with the City with a new plan to get more employees out of their cars. The city manager Rick Cole acknowledged it’s not always easy.
“We too at the City struggle with meeting our average vehicle ridership targets,” Cole said.