On the agenda for the May 5th, Santa Monica City Council meeting, devastating cuts in response to the catastrophic budget shortfalls created by the Covid-19 crisis were proposed and later approved. As we shared in previous communications, we felt (and still feel) strongly that without active and engaged Council direction these cuts will surely unwind decades of progress and community hard work toward a city where everyone can move safely, with or without a car, and where we protect our most vulnerable citizens. These are, without a doubt, unprecedented and difficult times. Difficult decisions and devastating cuts will need to be made. We must continue to demand our leaders be creative in finding solutions that maintain our city values and as many essential programs as possible as we rebuild our economy, and our community from the Covid-19 crisis.
We are grateful that on May 5th Council directed staff to consider the following areas as priorities for continuing services, funds permitting:
Food security for our most vulnerable community members through restoring funding to Meals on Wheels and the Westside Food Bank
Keeping people in their homes through increased support for the Preserving Our Diversity senior housing subsidy program and restoring funding to the Legal Aid Foundation
Funding for youth-related programs, such as after-school programs and mental health support services
Resources for outdoor health, such as playgrounds and fields, including the Playground Partnership program with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD)
Mobility programs with an emphasis on providing safe, sustainable, affordable and accessible transportation choices
Sustainability with an emphasis on community resilience
We need Council to stay engaged directing the priority of creative solutions. We must insist our leaders continue to be strategic and thoughtful with “restructuring” that reduces costs and bureaucracy while retaining essential capacity to build confidently on the foundation and programs that define what we love about Santa Monica — including safe bike lanes, sustainability efforts to address climate change, after school programs, community gardens, libraries, and social services for those most in need. We are pleased to see some of these essential programs have been recommended for at least partial reinstatements. Programs like these are neededto keep neighborhood streets safe and calm, and provide ways for kids, seniors, low-income families, and car-light/carless households to keep moving.
Congestion management is only possible with these programs; when stay-at-home orders are lifted the congestion will be back in weeks, with additional drivers who used to ride transit.
Even in the most difficult of times we must retain our values and prioritize these programs or we slide backward decades, putting essential outcomes out of reach:
Climate Action & Adaptation Plan air quality and emission reduction
LUCE congestion mitigation and neighborhood traffic calming
Vehicle trip reduction necessary for new housing capacity
Bike Action Plan health and active trips targets
Pedestrian Action Plan injury and fatality reductions
This Community has worked hard to build a brighter future – a vision for an economically, environmentally, equitably and socially sustainable community.
Please join us in supporting solutions outlined in the Staff Report and ask Council to keep prioritizing creative solutions to retain more essential services and staff: HERE
WE ARE SO EXCITED!! Join us for an Online Screening of the film MOTHERLOAD | and a Live Panel Discussion.
RSVP for your link to watch the film (on demand) prior to our live panel as we discuss the film’s lessons on the intersections how #BikesUnite, #LessCarMoreGo, and our struggle for social change on May 31st, 7:30pm with:
• Liz Canning, Filmmaker/Director • Ross Evans, Xtracycle’s Cargo-bike Evangelical Optimist (CEO) • Cynthia Rose, Santa Monica Spoke, Santa Monica Safe Streets Alliance • Cris Gutierrez, Climate Corps, Santa Monica Safe Streets Alliance • Larry Kraemer, PE – Director of Public Infrastructure, Cannon • Caroline Samponaro, Lyft’s Head of Transit and Micromobility Policy
THE STRUGGLE FOR SOCIAL CHANGE, MOTHERLOAD is a crowd-sourced documentary about a new mother’s quest to understand our current cultural shift toward isolation and disconnection, what this could mean for the future of the planet, and how life on a cargo bike could be the antidote. As filmmaker Liz Canning explores the burgeoning global movement to replace cars with purpose-built bikes, she learns about the bicycle’s history and potential future as the ultimate “social revolutionizer.” Her experiences as a cyclist, as a mother, and in discovering the cargo bike world, make it clear to Liz that sustainability is not necessarily about compromise and sacrifice and there are few things more empowering, in an age of consumption, than the ability to create everything from what seems to be nothing.
* rsvp to view the movie starting Saturday, May 30th
Official: Bike to Work Week 2020 will take place September 21-27, 2020. Bike to Work Day is Tuesday, September 22!
This May National Bike Month will necessarily be different. With a focus on well-being and connection, lets highlight how #BikesUnite and benefit physical and mental health. For the 31 days in May, #BikesUnite us. Whether you’re riding for fun, fitness or with family, or taking essential trips to work or shop, you are part of our movement for safer streets, connected communities, a healthier planet, and happier people.
Stay tuned Super Excited to Announce Our Virtual Bike Month Event SOON!
We can’t promise going for a bike ride will solve every concern, but we do know that bicycling can help all of us maintain our physical and mental health. Even short rides have massive benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, and improving happiness, mental focus, and sleep. Whether you are an essential worker biking to get to work, looking for a fun activity with the family, or just need some exercise or some time alone, here’s some are some ideas to help you get started.
May is National Bike Month, promoted by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to giving biking a try.
The streets we travel on make up over 20% of our city, and are one of our biggest assets. Our streets move people, goods, and services and are essential infrastructure for our economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is crucial how we manage and use this public asset, at the core of economic resilience, social equity, health and environmental sustainability.
Read our full letter HERE #TransportationMatters #SafeStreets
How we manage our streets – or ignore them – will move us either toward environmental justice, economic recovery and climate resiliency or away from those vital community and city goals. Our goals must be prioritized, clearly, in all plans and efforts to create solutions appropriate to equitably resolve the budget crisis caused by Covid-19.
Please join us and share your support with Santa Monica City Council. Information, email addresses and template can be foundHERE.
While the City suffers catastrophic shortfalls, we should not use a sledgehammer where a scalpel is needed to balance new budgets. Let’s be strategic and thoughtful with “restructuring” that reduces costs and bureaucracy while retaining essential capacity that builds confidently on the foundation and programs that our public roadways and investments afford us as they advance us to a vibrant and full recovery.
Use any of these images or your own to share this message on Social Media #TransportationMatters #SafeStreets
We are pleased to support the appointment of Interim City Manager Lane Dilg last Saturday, April 18th, and her Plan for a Bright Future. We sent her a warm supportive welcome, along with this critical input on the budget recovery crisis being faced by the City of Santa Monica.
Santa Monica’s economy depends on a functioning transportation network that safely moves people, goods and services. Current proposed budget cuts will be destructive to transportation work, will disable basic functions, and slow our safe recovery from this pandemic. Transportation staff, infrastructure and services are classified as essential government functions* and perform vital functions that literally keep our community running safely. These cuts will damage safety and the very fabric of services and programs that we depend on living in Santa Monica.
Do you know all the vital services the Transportation and Mobility Division continues to provide on a daily basis, including now during this time of crisis? Learn here
Please join us and share your support with Santa Monica City Council. Information, email addresses and templatecan be foundHERE.
Our Santa Monica streets are our largest public space, over 20% of our landmass, and one of our biggest assets. Our streets move people, goods, and services and are essential infrastructure for our economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is crucial how we manage and use this public asset, an essential public safety function at the core of economic resilience, social equity, and environmental sustainability. The critical function of managing our streets is confirmed by Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-33-20 that classified transportation infrastructure and services as essential government functions.*
Movement of goods and services, customers or clients is critical to economic recovery. In the near-term, accommodating the movement of people and goods will need to be extremely dynamic to adapt to “the realities” of the post COVID-19 emergency. Efforts to rebound and support our local economy (businesses, employers, restaurants, retail shops, etc.) depend on maintaining and adjusting critical transportation infrastructure and services in real time, not on a delay of days or weeks due to insufficient staff.
Santa Monica’s Transportation Department pays for itself in revenue generation (grants, programs, plan check and permit fees). It operates signals and roads on which we all depend. Transportation work assures public safety and economic activity– providing essential fiber optic network infrastructure, signal timing with regular adjustments, and Opticom first-responder systems. Proactive maintenance of these systems ensures faster response to emergencies and responsive, timely data-driven decision-making.
These essential life saving functions are under threat with extreme plans to cut over half of the City Transportation and Mobility Division compared to 20-40% across other departments. While we can only imagine the stress and burden of decisions weighing on City Council, this level of cuts would severely impact basic public safety and infrastructure operation functions, wounding our city’s ability to rebound fiscally from the COVID-19 crisis. It is imperative to be strategic. We must consider the holistic dynamic relationships, dependencies and functions that contribute to safety, economic stability and regrowth. While the City suffers catastrophic shortfalls, we should not use a sledgehammer where a scalpel is needed to balance new budgets. Council needs to take time to cut costs strategically, while maintaining essential staff that would facilitate a safe and secure path to economic recovery and resilience.
Transportation – Mobility – facilitates access to jobs, particularly for a local green economy, and access to education, childcare, culture, healthcare, food and services. Access is essential to all of Santa Monica’s residents, businesses, schools and visitors. Access is essential to our economic recovery. Santa Monica must have sufficient transportation staff capacity in order to maintain essential cost recovery services and retain competitiveness to identify new revenue opportunities. Mobility staff are crucial in the implementation of plans and permits to get the City back open for business.If we don’t take care of our transportation needs as we recover, we will quickly run into roadblocks to financial recovery. Multi-modal transportation infrastructure facilitates our community’s safety goals and environmentally sustainable mobility, and also creates revenue streams that ensure resources to manage this invaluable public asset necessary for a true economic recovery.
Transportation’s self-supporting, even revenue-producing function must retain capacity to be nimble to identify new and expanded revenue streams and other emerging opportunities for grant funds, as well as repackaging of projects to capture the stimulus funds that will certainly be coming for infrastructure post shelter in place orders. Budget concepts currently under consideration threaten Transportation staff’s capacity in two main ways and jeopardize years of future economic and environmental progress. First, excessive budget cuts would severely impact the City’s ability to maintain current essential operations that support short- and long-term economic recovery, and second, hasty cuts deteriorate the ability to capture new and emerging opportunities for revenue streams necessary to manage our roads, an important and valuable public asset. Unfortunately, ironically, the use of most of our valuable public land is given away for free! That is a mistake sabotaging our recovery. With staff capacity there are proven 21st-century solutions to get us to a speedy recovery.
In Santa Monica we get thousands of personal and business deliveries each day. Delivery services make no fiscal contribution to defray the cost to us of their impact on roadways, curbsides, sidewalks, or other infrastructure that they use to do business. With increasing market share, e-commerce, rideshare and delivery services are receiving an ever-increasing subsidy with the free use of this public asset. Simultaneously, they divert revenue from our local brick-and-mortar businesses. Council should direct staff to pursue tools, even a tax if needed, to have the biggest users pay their fair share, and to help manage control over local impacts.
Passenger and courier services are adding convenience at the cost of increased GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions and traffic congestion with more VMT (vehicle miles traveled) and local trips — often with erratic driving behavior and dangerous maneuvering that adversely impact safety in our community. These services make money using our streets while diminishing our community’s safety. Council should strengthen our efforts to invest in strategic regional partnerships with LA to enable local fees that provide revenue to enhance safety and our ability to manage our assets locally.
Since California’s stay-at-home orders went into effect, Santa Monica’s streets have become increasingly deadly. Drivers are responding to open roads with increased speeding that endangers not only our physical safety but also our community’s wellbeing. With resources, Mobility staff can pull from a toolbox of approved mitigations and strategies to temper safety impacts as we rebound from shelter in place orders. As we emerge from this COVID-19 crisis, experts project increased traffic congestion, which has proven to have negative economic impacts and negative safety impacts. Such impacts are already being experienced in cities beginning their own recoveries. Reduced access to less frequent public transportation will temporarily remain due to the continuing need to maintain safe physical distance during recovery. Access to mobility options is crucial to our essential workforce and to our rebounding economically. Without mobility options, there will be increased single-car trips and traffic congestion choking off our economic recovery.
Giving up on our goals to reduce gridlock would harm our economy, our safety, and our environment. As we recover our economy, we need Council to fulfill its commitment to public safety with Vision Zero. We cannot abandon our City’s adopted goals even when facing catastrophic budget pressures. We must remain vigilant and committed to the ethos of Santa Monica, maintain staff capacity, and put into action creative solutions to curb unsafe behavior and to reinvest in programs vital in our path to economic recovery.
Santa Monica competes with other cities for regional, state and federal transportation dollars. Post crisis stimulus funds are anticipated for infrastructure. Applications will be increasingly competitive in the post crisis arena: staff must have capacity to be ready to capture funding opportunities. Cities that are prepared and well-positioned to receive these funds will, without doubt, perform better in economic recovery. Being ready means having shovel ready projects with continued investment in multi-modal street projects. Being ready means being competitive for securing these funds.
How we manage our streets – or ignore them – will move us either toward environmental justice, economic recovery and climate resiliency or away from those vital goals. A sophisticated multi-modal system of people, goods and services moving throughout the city contributes to growing a healthy economy while reducing the 64% of Santa Monica’s GHG emitted by fossil-fuel travel. We are at a momentous time to shift old habits and capitalize on previous fiscal, sustainability and climate investments and the momentum of productive programs underway. Programs that contribute to our economic resilience are integral to improving safety, community wellbeing, and meeting our local and state climate commitments. A community that is vibrant, safe and supporting environmental sustainability is one with a strong economic recovery.
Commitment to supporting equitable access is essential to Santa Monica’s recovery. Santa Monica’s staff manages critical transportation infrastructure and services as essential government functions, which directly contribute capacity to healthy economic growth. Transportation infrastructure and planning services combined with multi-modal mobility are the very foundation of a thriving, resilient economy based on public safety, equity, and sustainability.
Let’s be strategic and lean on staff expertise for thoughtful “restructuring” that reduces costs and bureaucracy while retaining essential capacity that builds confidently on the foundation and programs that our public roadways and investments afford us as they advance us to a vibrant and full recovery.