PNA Board “MANGo” Letter to City Council

PNA Board letter banner
Date:    January 17, 2014

To:       The Santa Monica Mayor and City Councilmembers:

From:   Pico Neighborhood Association (PNA), Oscar de la Torre, PNA Co-Chair

Re:       Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway – MANGo

The purpose of this letter is to express our concerns related to the MANGo “Draft Improvements Map” presented in a community meeting at Virginia Avenue Park by City staff on Tuesday, January 7, 2014, and to demand that the voice of Pico Neighborhood residents be heard and respected.

To begin, I want to make clear that the PNA is in support of most aspects of the MANGo.  We want to see improvements to Michigan Ave. that will make it safe, clean, beautiful and green. We support street improvements on Michigan Ave. that will benefit bicyclists and pedestrians alike.

However, there are two features of the proposed MANGo that residents of the Pico Neighborhood have clearly rejected.  These are traffic diverters and chicanes.

The Pico Neighborhood Association (PNA) represents more than 12,000 residents living in the Pico Neighborhood, including the area designated for the MANGo.  PNA leadership worked closely with City staff on the MANGo. We met with Jason Kligier, Francie Stefan and David Martin.  These three and others including Beth Rolandson, Peter Dzewaltowski as well as members of the consulting firm Melendez attended PNA meetings and community workshops related to the MANGo.

After the POP-UP MANGo in September 2013, the PNA determined that community input gathered on post-its and little scraps of paper at these events and workshops was inadequate and did not legitimately survey or address the concerns of local residents.  Thus, the PNA board voted to conduct a survey in order to gather legitimate community input from residents in the Pico Neighborhood, particularly in the areas most directly impacted by the proposed MANGo.

The PNA Survey committee worked in good faith with Jason Kligier and Francie Stefan to create and administer a survey instrument through which we could obtain useful and objective resident input on key elements of the proposed project.  Until recently, we were led to believe that staff would respect the PNA survey results (see attached).

150 residents (90 English speaking; 60 Spanish speaking) were asked for their opinions on various aspects of the MANGo. Following the survey, the PNA board endorsed the MANGo survey results and sent a letter to City staff endorsing the MANGo as a whole, with the exception of the traffic diverters.

Over 95% of those surveyed rejected traffic diverters and barricades on 11th and Michigan and Lincoln Ct. and Michigan. (We had been told earlier that chicanes were also not going to be included in the plan, thus questions about chicanes were not included in the PNA survey.)

We were assured by City staff that traffic diverters, barricades and chicanes were “off the table,” and thus were quite shocked to see in the “Draft Improvements Map” presented on January 7, 2014, a “Potential for Future Traffic Diverter” on 11th and Michigan and chicanes on several neighborhood streets.

 

City Staff Fail to Include Resident Input.  We believed David Martin when he said that traffic diverters and chicanes were no longer part of the proposed plan because they were not supported by the Pico Neighborhood residents.

We were also told in no uncertain terms in writing by Jason Kligier that traffic diverters and chicanes were “off the table.”

Our question now is: why are traffic diverters and chicanes suddenly being slipped into the new MANGo “Draft Improvement” plan?

We find this duplicity totally unacceptable.  We are concerned that residents are being told one thing in order to placate any kind of opposition while the City staff continues to move forward on their own plan – one that clearly goes against what residents want to see in their neighborhood.

The PNA survey did not establish that traffic diverters would be acceptable IF signage were unable to reduce traffic volume.  We found that traffic diverters at 11th and Michigan and Lincoln Ct. and Michigan were unacceptable – PERIOD. Plain and simple.  NO TRAFFIC DIVERTERS, NOT NOW, NOT IN THE FUTURE.

As for the chicanes, there has been no legitimate public input to support chicanes anywhere in the MANGo project.

Traffic Diverters Are A Potential Liability and Threaten the Health and Safety of the Disabled, Those Requiring Emergency Service and Elderly Residents.

We believe that traffic can be reduced on Michigan Ave. by ensuring that Samohi students have improved drop off and pick up options at the Samohi campus and adjacent streets.  We are working with the SMMUSD board toward this goal.

We therefore demand that traffic diverters and chicanes be excluded from the MANGo project.  This includes the potential for diverters and embedded language for diverters in the SRTS or BAP.

If these features are submitted to the City Council for approval, City staff will risk losing credibility not only with the PNA, but also with the 95% of Pico Neighborhood residents who oppose diverters and chicanes.

City Staff Fail to Meet Funding Conditions of the Environmental Justice Grant.  In 2011, the City received a $154,000 CALTRANS “Environmental Justice” grant.  In the grant application, the City promised to engage low income and minority residents in the planning of a vision to create a Michigan Ave. Bike Boulevard. However, the initial outreach process for the MANGo ignored Spanish speaking residents in the Pico Neighborhood contrary to the terms of the contract.

According to the 2011 staff report, Michigan Ave. will be transformed from a residential street into a “superior connection for bicycles to get to the Bergamot Centers, Exposition Light Rail stations to downtown Santa Monica.” Obviously, there is a clear disconnect between what local residents want to see in their neighborhood and what City officials are planning for Michigan Avenue.  Most residents would rather see Michigan Ave. remain as is – a pleasant residential street – if the MANGo means installing diverters.  To the many residents who currently bicycle on Michigan, it is already a bicycle friendly street.

Conclusion.  In an effort to fully represent the interests of local residents that will be directly impacted by the Michigan Greenway/Bicycle Boulevard, the PNA has no choice but to withdraw its support for the entire MANGo project unless traffic diverters and chicanes are removed from MANGo design now and in the future and from any embedded language within the MANGo, BAP and SRTS plans.

We look forward to working with you to ensure that the MANGo reflects the true wants and needs of those Pico Neighborhood residents who will be directly impacted by the proposed project.

Click here to view original PNA Board – MANGO letter January 17, 2014

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