On Saturday, March 23, 2013, I went to the annual
meeting of Mid-City Neighbors (one of the 7 off-
icial neighborhoods in Santa Monica) held at the
I exited the parking structure on 7th Street at about
3:15 PM, turned west to Santa Monica Blvd, which was
solid with cars. Traffic was at a stand-still. For
the next 20 minutes I sat in gridlock traffic.
In 20 minutes my car had progressed one block and
a half. I live just south of the pier, and figured
that at this rate it would take me at least 2 hours
to get home, so I turned north when in another 10
minutes I finally reached Santa Monica and 5th Street
5th street was moving slowly. I reached Arizona, headed
for Lincoln. Lincoln was a parking lot. It took me
another 12 minutes to go one block on Lincoln where
I managed to turn left on Santa Monica Boulevard. It
was clear going east. In 50 minutes I was 2 blocks
farther from home than when I started with no way in
sight to get around the gridlock
Downtown gridlock used to start at 5th Street going
west. Now that Colorado has been closed, gridlock
starts east of Lincoln. And it was locked tight.
On my gridlocked path, there were NO people walking.
It was as if this line of traffic was sitting in
a deserted City. It was eerie. But keep in mind
that residents already know not to go downtown.
Also keep in mind that not one single building of
the 35 development agreements in the hopper has been
built. Not one. Only one street has been closed.
And that one street closing has locked the gridlock
tighter than it’s ever been since the City started
engineering the traffic downtown. This does not
portend well for the future of downtown Santa Monica
as City planners and developers envision it.
I suggest they check out the conditions on the ground
before they proceed. Everybody seems to think they
can squeeze 35 more developments into Santa Monica
and the world will just move over and make room.
Doesn’t work that way. When streets get choked with
traffic, just one more car (just one) can lock the
traffic and make it immovable. I suggest that the
planners get out of their theoretics and go check the
condition on the ground. They may be in for a shock,
particularly on weekends. When the light rail is finished,
it’s likely more people will arrive via train, but as
Rod Gould has acknowledged, the bulk of people from
all over Southern California will continue to arrive
— by car. In fact, the light rail may do very little
to alleviate gridlock on the ground. and wishful
thinking won’t make it different.