Santa Monica Boulevard Reconstruction

Our Vision for Santa Monica Boulevard

Santa Monica Boulevard is one of the busiest crosstown streets on the Westside. Not only is it part of the region’s ‘backbone’ bicycle network, but four Metro bus lines serve it and more than 50,000 vehicles traverse it every day. Regardless of our choice of travel mode, this road gets us where we’re going. But because our Beverly Hills segment of Santa Monica Boulevard is engineered primarily for motoring, it puts non-motor road users in harm’s way.

Santa Monica Boulevard looking east to WilshireWe now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to remake Santa Monica Boulevard into a bike-friendly ‘complete street‘ for Beverly Hills – one that accommodates walkers, riders and drivers. And we could call that better road a ‘Beverly Hills Greenway’ because our proposal would expand adjacent Beverly Gardens Park along two-thirds of the length of the reconstructed boulevard!

Our proposal would achieve the boulevard reconstruction project’s objective – to create a world-class boulevard for Beverly Hills safe for all road users – while finally realizing a boulevard of uniform width. Win-win.

About the ‘Beverly Hills Greenway’ Proposal

Developed with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, our proposal envisions a boulevard 62′ wide that exacts no cost to the adjacent park. That’s because today’s corridor is irregular and measures as much as 63′ wide in some sections – wider than we need. So we actually add green space to the boulevard in order to compensate for any that might be used to include bicycle lanes for safer two-wheeled travel along a short Wilshire-Canon segment.

Indeed this proposal is a no-net-loss concept: grass needed to make this street ‘complete’ is replaced by grass where today there is blacktop. That is, two feet is added to boulevard’s width on that single segment while we reduce the width of the boulevard by one foot on two other segments. Voila! No net loss of green space.

Beverly Hills Greenway profile

© Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition

The resulting boulevard profile accommodates the same traffic volume for motorists while bike riders can use state-approved bicycle lanes. On tomorrow’s Santa Monica Boulevard, everybody will benefit! If drivers dread sharing a lane with bicyclists today, the Greenway will separate non-motor traffic to maximize traffic flow while mooting the required three-foot buffer under the state’s new safe-passing law. And bicyclists who ride the corridor will feel safer outside of the vehicle flow. We have found that’s the #1 reason people cite for not biking in Beverly Hills. As we see it, 62 feet is just perfect for a world-class street!

Support the Beverly Hills Greenway!

We believe this proposal offers a the best compromise between the need for bicycle lanes on a key regional corridor and the community’s concern about the loss of green space. It is a concept that Beverly Hills residents, business owners and other stakeholders should be able to embrace.

We presented the Greenway proposal to City Council on January 6th and received guarded recognition for the idea. City Council via its ad hoc project committee will likely decide the fate of bicycle lanes in the spring, but for now we’ve succeeded in keeping bicycle lanes for tomorrow’s Santa Monica Boulevard on the table.

It’s not too late to email City Council (or call 310-285-1013) with your comments about the Greenway concept. We hope to work with staff to improve it. Contact us with any questions you have about the proposal We welcome press inquiries too!

More About the Santa Monica Boulevard Reconstruction Project

Santa Monica blvd project thumbnail mapWhat is it? This $12 $35 million Santa Monica Boulevard project will reconstruct the boulevard between West Hollywood to Century City. The redesign will retain today’s four travel lanes (accommodating 55,000 cars on average daily according to traffic counts) and will probably include a landscaped median.

How could the corridor be made safer? To make this corridor safe for all who would use it regardless of mode, the new design should reflect the principles of ‘complete streets,’ which means crosswalks safer for pedestrians, intersections engineered for safe passage by bicycle, and, most important, state-approved bicycle lanes along its full length. City Council last September created a Santa Monica Boulevard Blue Ribbon Committee of 15 appointed residents to receive public input. The committee was charged with receiving public input and nearly 200 members of the public addressed the committee. More than 90% supported adding bicycle lanes to the boulevard. (Read our meeting recaps.)

When will this project commence? It’s already underway. We are well into the first of three project phases: development of the design concept. Next comes engineering with construction in phase III to follow. Find project documents in our project documents library or consult the city’s project page (warning: there you’ll find scant documentation and outdated information; that’s what a million-dollar outreach budget buys these days).

SM Blvd tour: 3-feet staked

Stakes illustrate the width necessary to provide every rider with a margin of safety: bicycle lanes.

This is a critical moment. On January 6th at 2:30 pm, City Council will make a final decision on boulevard width. That will make or break bike lanes for Santa Monica Boulevard! Should we expand the most narrow section of our boulevard a few feet to make room for bicycle lanes? Yes.

Here’s why: today the boulevard is irregular in width and ranges from 60-ft between Wilshire and Canon to a full 63-ft to the east. That narrow section is the choke point as 60-ft cannot accommodate bicycle lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard. Opponents want to hold the narrow section to 60 feet, however, and make a ‘save the park’ argument to do it. “Not one blade of grass should be lost,” they say. But local advocates like Better Bike and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, as well as neighboring cities of West Hollywood and Los Angeles, offer our Greenway proposal to address that concern.

Beverly Hills Greenway: The Right Compromise

The  Beverly Hills Greenway will be 62-ft wide boulevard that is created by adding one foot of additional park along two segments of the boulevard (east of Canon Drive) for two feet of grass  for transportation along only one segment (between Wilshire and Canon). Do the math: that means no-net-loss of green space. And it standardizes the boulevard at a uniform width.

Help support multimodal mobility for the region. Sign the Beverly Hills Greenway proposal petition. Attend the City Council meeting on January 6th at 2:30pm. (Find the agenda here.) Contact City Council by email or call 310-285-1013. Be sure to let them know if you’re a resident or business owner in Beverly Hills! And let us know how they respond. With bicycle lanes for safety and drivers less-inconvenienced by sharing the right-hand lane with bicycles, it’s a win-win, right?

After all, Santa Monica Boulevard has a distinguished history of facilitating multimodal transportation, so why not continue that legacy into the 21st century? None of this is rocket science: cities all around us are embracing complete streets to reduce the harm that flows from car crashes. Beverly Hills can literally do our small part by making our 1.8 mile segment of Santa Monica Boulevard safe for those who walk, ride or drive.

Project Documents

Here you will find the relevant project documents and supporting material that you won’t find on the city’s own project page. Let’s start with our own meeting recaps (and related posts) and then work down to documents that suggest the policy and history contexts for this project.

Our Project Meeting Recaps

Our Santa Monica Boulevard Reconstruction project-related posts

City Project Documents

City Staff Reports (most recent first)

Policy Context

Key Contacts

Other Resources

Afterward: The Boulevard’s History

Santa Monica Boulevard conditionsLet’s understand how Santa Monica Boulevard moved Angelenos over the past century. Most recently it was State Highway 2. Long before Beverly Hills took control of it in 2005, however, the corridor had languished under the state’s DOT. Quick patches sufficed for maintenance and potholes proliferated. City stewardship has proven no better: potholes and storm grates pose regular collision hazards for those who ride.

Prior to its ignominy as a bike-unfriendly Hwy 2, Santa Monica Boulevard was known as the terminal segment of the famous Route 66 that once linked Chicago to Santa Monica. All that remains of that old road in Beverly Hills are a few commemorative signs, but there is a movement afoot to memorialize that history.

Pacific Electric at Beverly Hills Station #2

Pacific Electric station at Beverly Hills circa 1925.

The Pacific Electric’s Western Division once ran streetcars down the future boulevard. In fact, our city thrived as the junction of two lines that together anchored Beverly Hills into a regional Southern California rail network.

The first station occupied the northwest corner of Crescent & Little Santa Monica, across from City Hall. Once post office construction commenced, the station was moved a block west, to between Beverly and Canon, as seen here from Santa Monica North looking southwest.

These streetcars moved two million passengers annually through Beverly Hills before passenger service was stopped in the early 1950s!

Los Angeles Pacific Baloon Route map smallLong before Route 66 and the PE, the Los Angeles Pacific, a predecessor rail corporation, ran a ‘balloon’ excursion train (“four double tracks to the Pacific Ocean”) through what was then called ‘Morocco Junction’ (as depicted in the map to the right). It is known today as Beverly Hills.

But Santa Monica Boulevard today betrays none of that distinguished history. We see a multimodal boulevard as our “once in a lifetime” opportunity to honor its rich transportation history. Remember, multimodal mobility is not just an historical footnote for this corridor; it can be our future too.

Recent Posts

NIMBYs Whiffed on Bike Lanes But Killed the Dog Park

Roxbury dog park visualization

This year northside Beverly Hills residents swung for the fences but whiffed when they tried to kill bicycle lanes for North Santa Monica (Council kept lanes on the table). But two years ago, the southwest NIMBYs scored a base by killing off a preliminary proposal for an off-leash dog run for Roxbury Park. And it took only a bunt: just five dog park opponents persuaded City Council to nix the whole idea… even though it came recommended by staff, was endorsed unanimously by the parks commission and was supported by local dog-keepers.

The Backstory

The city had been looking to create a dog park for years. Dogs need outdoor recreation, of course, and every morning dogs of all stripes make the trek to one or another city park. But no Beverly Hills park is a place to run a dog: like every inch of the city, our parks are no-go for off-leash activity; a substantial fine awaits those who flout the law. But an off-leash dog area would give our furry friends a place to roam.

Nearby cities already provide dog parks. Moreover, they provide this amenity for Beverly Hills residents too. Popular dog park destinations for our pooches include Brentwood, Culver City, West Hollywood, and Rancho Park. But none is within walking distance. That makes a dog park a no-brainer, right? City Council even elevated the dog park search to an ‘A’ level priority this year:

City Council dog park priority ABut back in 2012 parks staff had already evaluated local options and recommended a dog park for Roxbury. It is the best choice of the options, staff said. Conveniently, the park’s unused croquet court (below) is not close to any park-adjacent apartments and is buffered from homes to the north by Olympic Boulevard. And like the adjacent unused putting green, this forlorn field cries out for re-purposing.

Roxbury croquet court todayNext, the Recreation and Parks Commission evaluated the Roxbury Park option and the commissioners unanimously agreed. The commission then sent it on to City Council.

But what do dog-keepers think about the idea? Generally, residents support creating an off-leash area by a 4:1 margin, but is Roxbury the right place? When staff held a meeting at Roxbury Park to present it, dog park supporters outnumbered opponents. But when the proposal came back to Council, however, some opponents spoke against it. The theme: Hey, we love dogs but don’t put a dog park in my backyard. Classic NIMBY!

Yet NIMBYs adhered to the usual playbook. They raised parking, public safety, noise and property values concerns. One homeowner worried about new people making our park “a destination.” That would take up precious parking spaces and, as another speaker cautioned, tax our limited police patrols.

Ken Goldman, Southwest Homeowners Association president, said he polled his association and “100% of responses were opposed.” Beverly/Roxbury Homeowners Association president Steve Dahlerbruch chimed in. “We polled our homeowners association and we got the overwhelming response, ‘We don’t want it in our area.'” For good measure Mr. Dahlerbruch added, “I live on Olympic and every day dog owners leave (crap) on my lawn.”

That’s the nimby cry: “We don’t want it in our area.” “Not in my backyard.” And of course the property values argument: “I want to preserve the residential nature of this community,” said homeowner Rochelle Ginsburg. “I will protect what I value.” How many such speakers did it take to put the kibosh on the Roxbury dog park idea? Just five.

But this area of the park is in nobody’s backyard. Nevertheless, after hearing from them our City Council simply nixed the proposal. And ever since, this unused croquet court has withered on the vine (n fact, the entire northern tier of this park is typically underused except by dog walkers).

For just twenty-thousand bucks we could have a dog park (according to staff estimates). Let’s put that in perspective: West Hollywood’s City Council is committed to building its second dog park and is poised to budget $750k for it as part of the West Hollywood Park phase II renovation.

In the meanwhile here in Beverly Hills, the a dog park  option – at a site located in the industrial section of the city, near Maple Drive – inches forward. But slowly: City Council gave the OK to test the environmentally contaminated parcel last summer, but no report has yet come forward. (Construction is expected to be completed by the end of the year, marking three-plus years of talking about a dog park.)
We ask you: would you rather take your dog out to play in a lovely park only a short walk from your home, or drive to run your pooch on an environmentally-remediated parcel to run your dog?

Friends of Roxbury Dog Park

In the weeks leading up to last weekend’s dog-friendly Woofstock event, a campaign coalesced to bring the Roxbury proposal back to City Council. Friends of Roxbury Park agree with staff and the Rec and Parks Commission that Roxbury is the best option for the city’s first dog park. But it need not be the only one: dogs need outdoor recreation whether they reside in the north, southwest or southeast part of the city. A few months ago, at a preliminary meeting for the redesign of La Cienega Park, we suggested the city include a dog area.

Roxbury dog park visualization

Roxbury Park’s croquet court repurposed as an off-leash dog area (illustration courtesy Friends of Roxbury Dog Park)

Letting just five NIMBYs nix a good idea like a dog park for Roxbury should feel like a thorn in the paw for every dog and dog-keeper. Just as we can’t let a few negative voices tank bike lanes for Santa Monica Boulevard, we shouldn’t let a few NIMBYs and homeowner association despots dictate the use of a city park either.

  1. Tracking Hazards and Collisions: Maps and More Maps! Leave a reply
  2. Are You a ‘Team Player’? Traffic Commission Has Two Vacancies Leave a reply
  3. Our 1977 Bicycle Master Plan: Will It Ever Be Updated? Leave a reply
  4. Is a Mandatory Bike Helmet Law the Answer? Comments Off
  5. Beverly Hills OKs Bike-share Feasibility Study Comments Off
  6. File Under ‘Crap Facilities': Dangerous Crescent Dr. Sharrows [Updated] 3 Replies
  7. Beverly Hills Should Take the Foxx US DOT Challenge Comments Off
  8. TPC Commissioner Alan Gruschow Passes Comments Off
  9. Bike Share for Beverly Hills? Comments Off
  10. Recapping the Recappers: How Local Media Covered SM Blvd 1 Reply
  11. News Flash! City Council Keeps Bike Lanes on the Table 5 Replies
  12. LA Councilman’s Hostility Toward Complete Streets Sounds Familiar 14 Replies
  13. Passing Safely: It’s the Law! 1 Reply