Ocean Park Blvd: More than just beautiful GREEN BIKE LANES

YES! The first “Green Bike Lanes” in Santa Monica are beautiful but Ocean Park Blvd is much more than just green paint.

Ocean Park Blvd from Neilson Way to Lincoln Blvd has been turned into a “Complete Green Street”. Upon completion it will be the longest complete green street in Santa Monica and one of the longest in Southern California.
Let’s start with the obvious, these green lanes are gorgeous!

Ocean Park Blvd Green Street

Click image for photo gallery

However, green lanes alone wouldn’t be enough to transform this once wide auto-centric street if other aspects of the boulevard hadn’t also been addressed, so let’s go back. From what I gather this project has a history that dates back to 1993. Yup that is a LONG time ago. Initiated by the Ocean Park Association (OPA) with lofty goals to improve walkability, calm traffic and make Ocean Park Blvd more of a neighborhood street. Before “Green” or “Complete Streets” started gaining world wide acceptance as a way to improve livability in our cities and neighborhoods this group was already looking at the environment and towards sustainability with an interest in making the street a watershed and a green street. Robert Taylor, a Santa Monica architect, and countless others participated and led the community based effort for many years. What you see going in on Ocean Park Blvd today is the result of that group’s imageable plan that served as the basis for the City’s later efforts as the project moved forward. A plan emerged that not only gained consensus in the community but met Santa Monica’s evolving green streets and storm water retention program goals. These are now prominently joined with multi-modal goals outlined in the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) and the Bicycle Action Plan (adopted Nov 2011). Central to the principals outlined in the LUCE, a “Complete Green Street”  is one that is

Ocean Park Blvd Green Lane pedestrian scaled, landscaped to provide shade and canopy, conserves water and reduces urban run-off, calms traffic, and provides for all modes of travel including pedestrian, bicycle, automobile, and public transit. The project demonstrates the commitment we see in Santa Monica to prioritize non-motorized travel, and increasing the size and biodiversity of the urban forest. While beautiful, the project also plays a key roll by contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and increased carbon dioxide (CO2) capture.
A win win in my book.

The design objective of this “Complete” Green Street is to gain a better performing, enhanced streetscape environment that is pedestrian and bicycle orientated, attractive, green and provides several environmental benefits such as capturing and preventing significant urban run-off from reaching Santa Monica Bay. Incorporating storm water bioswales and underground bioretention chambers along with storm drain improvements the project will capture 55 acres of watershed and significantly reduce unwanted run-off by instead infiltrating it into the ground water. Peter James who was and still is the City’s project manager for the Ocean Park Boulevard Green Street is credited for “really pushing this thing harder than anybody”. Lets look at what ended up in the project (besides the beautiful green lanes).

From the project web site Ocean Park Boulevard Green Street
To achieve these goals the key project elements include:

  • - Wider sidewalks.
  •  - Parkway/storm water biofilter swales and infiltration areas, and a drip irrigation system.
  •  - Over 100 new trees, new landscaping, and medians.
  •  - New marked crosswalks with enhanced overhead flashing beacons.
  •  - More visible, painted bike lanes and traffic striping, new bike racks.
  •  - Street furniture, trash and recycling cans, and 75 pedestrian-scaled light poles.
  •  - Traffic signal improvements.
  •  - Los Amigos Park storm drain improvements.

This project is most certainly a vision for change, it clearly demonstrates how streets designed for automobiles can be transformed into inviting and livable urban landscapes. This Ocean Park Boulevard “Complete” Green Street can serve as a model for future green street projects like Broadway, the Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway and even Lincoln Blvd . For this the City must not only continue its commitment to the principles in the LUCE but also allocate funding needed if we are to re-envision our streets as beautiful public spaces that serve all users,  residents and visitors. We can and must affect the change we want to see.

Construction started in December of 2011 and is quickly reaching completion.
Save the date February 9th, we are currently working with OPA and the City to celebrate this grand street with a ribbon cutting.

Ocean Park Blvd, Green Lanes in progress

Additional Info:

I’ve seen project construction cost listed from 3.8 to 4.4 million with the funding for the project made possible through a combination of resources, including Measure V (the Clean Beaches and Ocean Parcel Tax), Proposition 1B, Proposition C, and the City’s General Fund.

This project has a long list of talents that have contributed:

Mollenhauer Group Fehr and Peers Kimley-Horn and Associates Urban Studio  Lawrence Moss and Associates,
Designed by John Kaliski Architects, City of Santa Monica project manager Peter James

Many thanks to all the visionaries at City of Santa Monica, the Ocean Park Association and the community that really brought this dream to reality.