A Memorable 2016
December 30, 2016
by Rick Cole
2016 was a productive year for Santa Monica. As we welcome 2017, let’s take a look back at 10 significant highlights for the year.
1. For the first time in over 60 years, since the old Pacific Electric Red Cars were still operating, rail began to run again through Santa Monica. The City has taken an active role in redefining mobility in the 21st
2. The California Incline reopened! The last time the California Incline was reconstructed was in the 1930s. The new ramp now features contoured arches and pilasters, sits on 96 concrete piles, and includes a shared bike and pedestrian path. Check out what one civil engineer had to say to about how the Incline pays homage to the past, and readies Santa Monica for the future.
3. The Fairview Branch Library reopened! With improvements made to the facilities and services, the Public Library is making strides in its efforts to become a vibrant learning center, a cultivator of wellbeing, a dynamic third place, and a community and cultural connector. To learn more about how the library is driving progress in these key areas, check out the Public Library’s Strategic Plan.
4. Our streets were transformed for a day. For the first time, Santa Monica hosted an open streets event where people who work, live and play in Santa Monica enjoyed two miles of car-free space, discovered local food, music, and shops. COAST was one of the many ways the City of Santa Monica is establishing and fostering a new model of truly multimodal mobility.
5. We think if you do honest work, you deserve fair pay. That’s why this past year the City worked with workers and local businesses to pass a new minimum wage law. On July 1, 2016, the minimum wage will be $10.50 per hour, with annual increases reaching $15.00 per hour on July 1, 2020.
6. Santa Monica was awarded the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize. The prize recognized the City’s efforts for change on multiple fronts, from improving wages to increasing affordable housing options to addressing homelessness. The City’s efforts, driven by compassion, and directed by data are among the reasons Santa Monica was chosen, and why it remains at the fore of trying to make a city that works for everyone.
7. Santa Monica passed the world’s first zero net energy building requirement. With its location on the coast, Santa Monica is no stranger to the dangers of climate change. With history as witness, Santa Monica has consistently led the way in doing the right thing by the environment, this time by being the first anywhere, ever to require that new, single-family construction generate enough of their own energy from renewable sources to balance what they draw from the grid.
8. How do we plan to preserve the civic, cultural and economic heart of Santa Monica? Real, common sense planning. This year, the City spearheaded a dynamic, inclusive dialogue with over 1,600 participants in-person and online to help shape the next draft of The Downtown Community Plan. The results of that effort will go the Planning Commission and the City Council next spring. Once the final version is adopted, it will act as a living document meant to guide our effort on strengthening the ‘hometown’ downtown to protect this City’s unique sense of place, and ensure that future development compliments our historic character.**
9. Santa Monica’s bike share program, Breeze, celebrated its first birthday! Patrons of the successful program have taken 285,000 trips on the bright green, GPS-equipped smart bikes, logging more than 618,000 miles. Residents of Santa Monica accounted for 47% of the total trips. Because Breeze Bike Share has been so successful, the City is expanding the program, and has set a goal to reach 370,000 trips next year. Ridership growth helps reduce vehicle congestion and provides critical first/last mile connections to the new Expo lines and Big Blue Bus network.
10. The Santa Monica City Council approved the conceptual plan for 12 additional acres to the current 9-acre Airport Park, including two new multi-purpose fields for a variety of users, amenities for all ages, and a connection to nature. Through a robust community engagement process where 689 people weighed in online and in-person, an integrated concept emerged. It reflects the community’s vision, doubles the size of the park and will grow to become a beloved keystone recreational space.
Did we miss any? Send us your top Santa Monica moments to firstname.lastname@example.org before the new year! Cheers to what is to come in 2017!
**Correction: This version updates and corrects an earlier version that inadvertently implied the Downtown Community Plan outreach and planning effort had concluded.