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Santa Monica’s annual open streets event continues to evolve, showcasing our community, mobility and climate action
September 24, 2019
by Rick Cole
This year's COAST event was the fourth since we inaugurated the event shortly after the opening of the Expo extension to Santa Monica. While the route has not changed, COAST has continued to evolve into a signature celebration that showcases our community and the spirit of open streets.
The worldwide movement for open streets began in Bogotá, Columbia in the Seventies when the Mayor banned traffic on certain streets on Sundays, drawing increasing crowds of strollers and bikers.
Santa Monica has been a pioneer in open streets since the Third Street Promenade opened in 1989. So, the first COAST was a natural to promote the expanding local mobility options that arrived with the light rail coming to Downtown. Santa Monica had inaugurated Breeze, the first bike share program in the region, and was installing a half dozen scramble intersections to improve pedestrian safety and flow Downtown. It was so popular that many people asked why we couldn’t do it every week – or at least every month. Of course, closing 2 miles of major streets in Santa Monica on a weekend and providing a wide range of fun and educational activities is a big lift even once a year.
The planning and executing of this year’s COAST involved a cast of hundreds. There was the partnership between Communications, Mobility, Office of Sustainability and the Environment, and Cultural Affairs to fund, plan and publicize the event in advance. There were Police, Fire, Public Works, other City staff and contractors deployed for security, emergency response, traffic control and clean up. There were other staff from virtually every department who volunteered to staff booths or welcome the public to the interactive displays and activities.
From Lead Traffic Services Officer David Guillen directing traffic at the far south section of Main near Venice to Traffic Services Officer Kari Rudolph guarding the barricades at the north end of the route on Ocean, all our staff did outstanding work. Kids and adults loved the collection of Public Works equipment in action on Ocean coordinated by Principal Admin Analyst Sybille Moen. Sewer Workers Luis Hernandez and Luis Romo captivated residents with video of the inside of our pipes taken by our tiny mobile camera. We had Public Service Officers, Code Enforcement Officers and Police Officers on patrol. Several other teams played key roles including the Office of Communications led by Administrative Services Officer Beth Rolandson, the Mobility Division led by Transportation Management Specialist Jack Moreau Office of Sustainability led by Sustainable Outreach Coordinator Andrew Basmajian, and Cultural Affairs led by Supervisor Allison Ostrovsky. So many staff gave up their Sundays to make COAST a success, starting from the set-up activities that began before dawn to the job of getting everything back to normal that stretched past sunset.
It’s not magic that makes events like this happen. It’s teamwork. We don’t have a Division of Open Streets that exists to pull off events like COAST, the LA Marathon or Twilight Concert series on the Pier. COAST not only highlights our commitment to community, mobility and climate action, it demonstrates our ability to work together for shared success!
Ensuring that we minimize disruption to residents and businesses, keep everyone safe and maximize the potential for Santa Monica to shine requires a superb level of collaboration between departments – and with outside stakeholders and entities. To everyone who contributed to the planning and execution – a big shout of gratitude and pride. You made Santa Monica proud!