Between 50 to 60 people including adults and kids went on the Airport2Park bike ride today. After assembling in Clover Park next to the airport, the group set off on a lovely sunny day making a series of stops around the perimeter of the airport to listen to Michael Brodsky and Frank Gruber outline the history of the airport, the pollution and health issues it causes, its costs to the city and taxpayers, but best of all to envisage its future as a great park.
The ride was very well organized and safe, despite the large numbers on some busy roads. Our thanks go to Santa Monica SPOKE members who organized and led the ride and volunteered to make sure the rest of us amateur bikers came to, and caused, no harm. They have posted pictures of the ride here.
Highlights of the ride included the ‘visioning’ talk from the flight observation deck at the airport while the riders got a clear sense of the massive scale of the land and the incredible and unique potential it represents. At Clover Park we witnessed literally hundreds of people using the park for various sporting and other uses and the stark contrast as we looked through the wire fence over the virtually deserted concrete wasteland that serves the few (maybe a few hundred a day compared to literally thousands per day at the adjacent Clover Park which is less than 1/10 the size). Despite the need for numerous pauses in the talks due to the deafening noise of jets and other takeoffs, participants learned many useful facts. For example the airport currently drains the City coffers to the tune of millions per year, and has been loosing money for decades. Once again the speakers contrasted the City’s losses on well over 200 acres at the airport, with the sustainable bike center in downtown which occupies virtually no space, serves hundreds of people each day, and is a net revenue generator for the City (around $200,000 in the last 2 years). Even the Big Blue Bus makes money for the City. Not the airport however.
Perhaps my favorite funny moment was when we were all milling around the Centinela entrance to the airport listening to a description of the huge costs to the City of subsidizing the airport and its users in order to keep it running. In the middle of the talk, we all had to part to allow one of the subsidized airport users, to enter through the gate in a magnificent blue brand new convertible Aston Martin DB-9 (a car who’s base price is around $200,000). It was a hilarious moment much appreciated by those present, and it did much to underscore how ridiculous it is that the City continues to loose money keeping the airport open.
Time to build a great park. It will be a net revenue plus to the City of between 5 and 12 million dollars annually compared to the airport.
Thousands visit the park per day? Hardly. How about the few thousands that benefit from interstate commerce and develop lasting careers in aviation related business and beyond. People and pilots who make your everyday life safer with continued education. Sure, build a park and they will come…Who’s they you ask? Bums, drugs dealers, etc. And that’s if city council doesn’t rollover to the condo developers first. You think traffic is bad now…just wait. I’m interested to hear how a “park” will generate 12 million dollars annually?!?!
Developed park acreage per 1000 residents: Santa Monica 1.39, Redondo Beach 1.45, Sunnyvale 1.79, Berkeley 2.18, Carlsbad 2.91, Huntington Beach 3.35, Santa Barbara 4.03, Ventura 4.90, Oceanside 4.94, Newport Beach 5.92, Santa Cruz 12.30. Los Angeles as a whole is 4.2 per 1000. National averages range from 6.25 to 10.5 acres per 1000. Santa Monica is DEAD LAST in California with the lowest park acreage per resident. You can be sure that the residents will not allow this great park opportunity to be stolen by developers.
Over 10,000 people come to the Santa Monica Festival at Clover Park each year. Numerous sports leagues use the soccer and baseball fields each weekend (say 80 players and spectators each game, 4-5 games per day). Walkers, joggers, bikers, volleyball basketball and tennis players, and others use the facilities every day. The picnic tables and barbecues are constantly in use all weekend, and it is common to see multiple large parties going on at the park at the same time. Children flock to the two playgrounds in the park. Many people from the surrounding business park take their lunch breaks in Clover while taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi. Exercise groups, yoga, and kids camps can be seen there much of the year. The list goes on. We counted a few hundred in the short time we were there for the bike ride.
Quoting from the 1997 Santa Monica City Parks Master Plan: Santa Monicans are active and frequent users of the City’s public open spaces and parks–on average, 3 out of 4 residents visit the City’s parks almost twice a week. Ninety three percent of households with children are park users. Parks which are most used by the community as a whole include Palisades Park, Lincoln Park, Clover Park and Douglas Park.
With three quarters of 90,000 residents visiting twice a week that would work out to 19,300 visits/day to all parks. Clover is currently Santa Monica’s second largest park at 17.9 acres out of a total of 112 acres (according to the report). That would suggest 3,082 Clover park visitors a day, but as the report states, Clover park is more heavily used than most other Santa Monica parks. I think we can safely say there are thousands of visitors per day. At over 200 acres we might expect many times that number of visitors per day to the ‘great park’. Imagine the financial and jobs boon to nearby businesses, including of course the existing business park which would be virtually surrounded by parkland. Minimal City provided services or vending along Airport Avenue could generate significant income, just as with the new bike center downtown.
Most of the traffic problems are caused by the lack of North/South through streets created by the airport which forces all traffic onto Ocean Park, 23rd, and Bundy. The park plan could allow North/South reliever streets to be added so as to alleviate traffic.
As for the $12 million, it is perhaps a conservative underestimate and we will be presenting full details on the finances at the October 3rd workshop.
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This is about the inspiration pictures and descriptions.
I was looking for inspiration more the size of SMO, rather than huge parks as these are. Templehof Park, however, is 43 acres. That size should be highlighted, as it is less than half the size of SMO total. Conversion for American readers from square kilometers in the article needs to be done. (It says 4 square kilometers and speaks about that as large, but I know nothing about kilometers, much less square kilometers, so I googled the comversion to get 43 acres. Now I know how that compares to 200 acres at SMO.)
I also like that part (it must be a large part, since Templehof was the site of the Berlin Airlift in 1948-49, the article says) has been left airport. People who want to support your idea of a park say frequently that they think an airport with room for one-and two-engine prop planes to land and take off )but not park) and a heliport are needed for emergencies. How much space of the 200 acres would that take? And how would it be made safe to have that next to a park?
I was also thinking of your idea for a N-S road to replace 23rd St-Walgrove as a way into and out of SM for rush hour traffic (and connect to what? If traffic is going to move, a real alternative to Lincoln and Centinela–better than either in actually being an almost freeway in and out of SM–needs to be envisioned. This is our chance.)
It seems to me we need to have a different idea about such a road in the 21st Century from what we have built so far. How about a road that is never a road except when it is opened by traffic police who keep the intersections moving between 7 and 9 M-F AM when it goes north and 5-7 M-F PM when it goes south? The rest of the time it is bike paths and walking paths. There, too, we need to focus on how those paths would link up to anyplace people would go on a regional basis, not just exercising or ambling for SMicans. It could also because it would be gated be an emergency runway for larger planes evacuating the city and/or bringing in supplies in case of a tsunami, wildfire in the canyons, or other major disaster.
I like the way you seem to be trying to unify disparate coalitions, like the Venice-WLA ones represented by Bonin ho want the Airport closed, along with Sunset Park opponents of the Airport. Focusing on doable alternative uses compatible with park use that are not available to SM any other way would help with that.
Someone running for City Council last time said 2015 is a generational turning point about SMO. Good luck to us with making the turn be for major good for everyone.