SMCLC again asks the city to fund a new traffic impact methodology

To the City Manager

Dear Lamont,

As you know, our city does not have an accurate measure of our existing or future traffic congestion. The current methodology that Santa Monica's consultants use for Environmental Impact Report traffic studies is not working because it is not intended to help planners deal with traffic impacts. It evaluates only isolated street intersections (often using data that is several years old).

The city acknowledged this weakness in the existing TRAFFIX database last year when it applied for Caltrans funds to develop a new methodology. Unfortunately, the city chose not to partner with SMCLC and it did not get the requested funds. Several successful grant applicants did partner with nonprofits.

Over a year ago SMCLC along with our Planning Commission and our highly respected Task Force on the Environment asked our city council to allocate the additional resources to allow city staff to expedite study of alternate traffic impact methodologies and to begin collecting baseline traffic and congestion data for the city.

Unfortunately, no action on this has resulted even though the city is presently updating its circulation element as part of the LUCE process. Last year, you told neighborhood groups that the city had the funds to do this but wanted to be further along with the General Plan revisions.

The city has now held a transportation workshop and presumably it heard firsthand about the frustration that traffic weary residents feel about our traffic congestion and the urgent need to improve circulation throughout our city.

SMCLC believes that obtaining this information and generating a citywide model is vital now in order for responsible future land-use decisions to be made. It should not be lagging behind our master land-use planning or ongoing development decisions. It should be integral to them.

In our discussions with the leaders of every neighborhood group, it is clear that residents want the city to budget the necessary funds now (approximately $200,000) and start the process. These funds would be used to pick a new, better traffic methodology and to develop a comprehensive traffic database. This database would map all trips generated in and out of Santa Monica 24/7, and it would distinguish between residential and visitor traffic (workers and tourism).

Once we have a comprehensive and accurate traffic database we can better predict and plan for future development, based on understood environmental impacts. Without this,future growth could result in intolerable traffic impacts for residents.

It's time to commit the funds in the budget and get it done. Please let us know whether you will include this item in the budget that goes to the council and whether you will lend your full support to this issue.

Best regards,

Diana Gordon for SMCLC