“One of the issues that we can all agree on is we want our streets to be safe for all people,” stated Natalya Zernitskaya at the start of public comment on the “Vision Zero Motion” at last evening’s evening. “Every single person that is needlessly injured or killed is a preventable tragedy and we have the tools and the resources to make our streets safe for all, so let’s do it.”
Zernitskaya’s proclamation proved prescient, as of the over 120 public comments received either at the meeting or that were written to Councilmembers, only two were critical of the item that called for the city to be far more aggressive in making zero traffic deaths a reality for Santa Monica.
The Council itself unanimously passed the motion that calls for the city to invest more resources in increasing visibility and slowing down cars, formal opportunities for residents to work with the police and city staff to make streets more safe, and identify funding shortfalls that keep the city from reaching its potential. A full copy of the details of the motion can be found at yesterday’s Santa Monica Next article that previewed the discussion.
Traffic safety has emerged as a hot issue in light of the two crashes, one fatal, at the intersection of Idaho and 19th Street in the past couple of weeks.
“Idaho is inherently dangerous,” testified resident Eddie Gill, “As a city we need to look where we want traffic to be, right now it’s just a free for all.”
But while Idaho Ave was a focal point of the discussion, and many speakers spoke who live along the route or witnessed one of the crashes; the motion goes farther than a call to fix Idaho but to look at dangerous intersections and road designs throughout the city. Particularly moving testimony was given by friends of Tania Moser, the bicyclist killed in the first crash, and the first responder who worked to save her life.
“How many other streets in Santa Monica are exactly like Idaho,” questioned Councilmember Jesse Zwick who authored the motion. “How many of them desperately need interventions as well?”
Councilmember Caroline Torosis also looked at the issue as a citywide crisis.
“Achieving the goal of zero traffic fatalities can’t be achieved with a business as usual mindset,” Torosis continued. “As elected leaders we need to put ourselves out there to the community that we are committed to clear public policy for staff to follow, and a timeline.”
While every Councilmember present gave thanks to the first responders present that day and gave well wishes to Moser’s family.
“Every accident traumatizes a neighborhood,” said Councilmember Phil Brock, recounting the overwhelming grief he experienced at Moser’s memorial. “The residents on that block were truly traumatized.”