Oct 4 2016

City to Residents on Driving and Parking: Do as We Say, Not as We Do

SMCLC has just obtained internal City documents through a public records request revealing that the great majority of Santa Monica government employees still drive to work alone. The majority of its employees park in our Downtown area and they all park for free.

While the City treats itself very well, it has increasingly made driving and parking in Downtown and City-wide more expensive, difficult and painful for the rest of us. Its mobility plan reduces lanes and parking spots. It targets driving—for all of us that is, except themselves.

Things Haven’t Improved in the Last Year

SMCLC exposed this hypocrisy from the 2015 City data a while ago. The City committed to doing something about it. It set targets.
But the City has fallen 90% short of its targeted improvement for City employees this year.Click here for report.

And it gets worse: Top City staff now doubt that the City will reach its goal for 2016 even by 2025!

At this rate these are
pretend targets. As it routinely does, staff proposes hiring more staff. Have a problem—don’t make difficult decisions, staff it.

City’s Spin on Its Dismal Performance Shows it Doesn’t Take This Seriously Enough

We’ve now told you what we learned from these internal documents. But what does the City tell its residents? Just before giving us the documents, City Hall raced to give its spin in a press release on its website: We’ve made “significant” improvement, and we’re “encouraged” by our progress.

What is the progress that “encourages” the City? A minuscule change over the last year from 1.5 average vehicle ridership (AVR) to 1.57. This, when their target, so badly missed, was 2.2.

To a reasonable person, this would be “discouraging,” not “encouraging” and necessitate a top-down review of why employee solo driving remains so high. Even this tiny .07 increase is questionable. The City conducted its 2016 survey during “a compressed work week, reflecting a best-case scenario.” And the survey was conducted only a month after Expo opened amid a major campaign to “try Expo.” Even so the needle barely moved.

What City Hall Does Matters

The City is Santa Monica’s largest employer with over 2,000 employees. It must take the lead and be a role model. Yet it continues to ask more of residents while it refuses to make hard decisions for itself.

We are not being critical of city workers. They work hard. But if they can’t find realistic alternatives to driving alone to and from work every day then why are residents expected to? Thus far the City has failed to come up with a common sense mobility plan that works for residents, small businesses, and city workers alike.

When is the City going to get its own house in order?