Santa Monica’s Open Street Celebration Could Become Annual Affair


Crowds explore Main Street at the 2016 Coast event. Photo by Jason Islas/Santa Monica Next

Santa Monica’s first open streets event — Coast — in June 2016 was such a success, it could become an annual fall event.

According to an information item posted to the city’s website at the end of last month, city staff are planning a similar event, during which about two miles of streets will be closed to vehicle traffic, this fall — possibly in October — and combining it with city’s annual Santa Monica Festival. And, according to the report, it’s possible that this will become a recurring annual event.

“Since the inaugural Coast event was such an enormous success, we’re very excited to be planning for Coast 2.0 this fall and hope to make it an annual tradition,” said Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer.

“The street closures allow our residents and visitors to experience safely the virtues of carbon-free mobility while interacting with friends and neighbors in a communal celebration of our street life,” he said.

In June 2016, Santa Monica held its first open streets event to celebrate the recently-opened Expo light rail line. According to the staff report, the event drew about 50,000 participants.

“The opening up of streets to pedestrians and bicyclists enabled participants to experience Santa Monica in a new way, while also enjoying Expo Light Rail and investments that Santa Monica has made to serve pedestrians and cyclists,” staff wrote of the June 2016 Coast event.

“The event was catalyzed initially by a Metro grant offer to fund temporary open streets throughout LA County, and was pursued with encouragement from local bicycle and pedestrian advocates,” staff wrote.

Because the plan is to combine the event with the Santa Monica Festival, the major change this year will be the expansion of the event “to create meaningful opportunities for community organizations to participate,” the staff report said.

Like last year, the event will focus on “celebrate the arts, sustainability and mobility.”

Last year’s Coast event included roaming dance troupes, live music, and a variety of activity hubs where people could learn about the city’s increased transportation options, get a poem written on demand, or even tour the Santa Monica Conservancy’s recently opened resource center.

While staff said that Coast could become an annual recurring event, “its frequency may be evaluated in the future based on an assessment of all of Santa Monica’s annual events,” the report reads.

Still, some have noted that many other cities host events like these much more regularly. Los Angeles hosts a half-dozen CicLAvias every year. San Francisco hosts six to eight “Sunday Streets” each year. Many cities in Latin America, including Mexico City, Bogota, and Guadalajara, host open streets weekly. Medellin hosts several each week.

That doesn’t seem to be in Santa Monica’s immediate future, however.

Staff expects that this year’s event would run the same route as last year, closing off Main Street, between Colorado Avenue and Marine Street, Colorado Avenue, between 4th Street and Ocean Avenue, and Ocean Avenue, between Wilshire Boulevard and Colorado Avenue, to motorized traffic.

Like last year, cars would be able to cross the event route at Olympic Drive, Pico Boulevard and Ocean Park Boulevard, and 4th Street would remain open for all traffic.

Jason Islas
Jason Islas
Jason Islas is the editor of Santa Monica Next and the director of the Vote Local Campaign. Before joining Next in May 2014, Jason had covered land use, transit, politics and breaking news for The Lookout, the city’s oldest news website, since February 2011.

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