February 11, 2020

Two-Thirds of City Employees Drive Alone to Work;
Most Park Free Downtown

While our City government continues its policy of making parking more difficult and expensive for everyone else, they continue to not apply the rules to themselves. Their message to residents: “do as we say, not as we do.”

Documents recently obtained by SMCLC show that an astonishing two-thirds of City government employees continue to drive to work in a single occupancy vehicle during prime driving time. And to make matters worse, the City encourages this by providing free parking Downtown for its employees.

This is despite SMCLC having repeatedly raised this issue since 2016 in an unsuccessful effort to get the City to reduce this traffic-clogging, environmentally harmful situation. Instead of making serious progress, the numbers we have obtained from last year are worse.

This is happening at the same time when:

Large scale development is taking place all over Downtown and will likely surge due to a possible state mandate for Santa Monica to somehow build 9,000 new housing units in just the next eight years. This projected growth, if it occurs, will be centered on our boulevards and the area around Bergamot, bringing sharply increased traffic into already congested areas.
City Hall is now proposing taking our publicly owned land in the heart of Downtown at 4th and Arizona for a massive private luxury hotel-centered development. This alone would bring in an alarming 5,000 new car trips daily.

In 2019 Driving Stats By City Employees Got Worse

After years of assurances that City government would improve its own mobility numbers, solo driving figures for City government employees were actually worse in 2019 than they were in 2018. [See Attachment “A”, Rule 2202 AQMD Filing; and SMCLC post of 10.9.18, http://www.smclc.net/MobilityPlan10-9-18.html This is on top of 2018 having been 15% worse than 2008.

It is the height of hypocrisy, not to mention bad planning, for the City to make it more difficult for residents to drive while at the same time encouraging and rewarding its employees to drive solo by paying for their parking. With the City listing 2,148 employees, it is estimated that over 1,400 workers drive solo to work and park for free. This is no small matter.

While City facilities are close to the Expo, only 7% of City government employees currently use it. Only 16% travel to work by bus, train, bike or walking combined during peak hours. If the City’s own employees aren’t taking alternative modes of transit despite their close proximity to their work, then its Mobility Plan is failing all of us.

Questions that require answers

Why hasn’t the City made a meaningful commitment to do better? Why isn’t it committed to leading by example and when is this going to change? Why doesn’t it draw lessons about the failures of its own “Mobility Plan?”

Santa Monica residents deserve answers . . . and action NOW.