The California Bicycle Coalition, the state’s leading bicycle advocacy organization, has backed Mayor Pam O’Connor’s bid for reelection to the Santa Monica City Council this November.
While CalBike has lobbied for state legislation and policies to enable more people to bicycle since 1994, this is the first time that the organization — a 501(c)4 nonprofit — has endorsed in a local race. O’Connor is one of two incumbents running in a 14-way race for three seats on the Santa Monica City Council this November.
“Pam… has been a powerful leader on sustainability and smart growth in Santa Monica and throughout Southern California,” Ryan Price, the California Bicycle Coalition’s administrative director, wrote in an email Thursday.
While the race has several bike-friendly candidates — at least Frank Gruber and Richard McKinnon can lay claim to impressive bike advocacy in their lives — Price noted in his email Thursday that O’Connor “is in a tough reelection battle and needs the help of her allies to continue her leadership. We stand with Pam.”
O’Connor, along with her colleagues on the City Council, approved Santa Monica’s award-winning Bike Action Plan in 2011. Since then, Santa Monica has seen dozens of miles of new bike lanes, including the green lanes down Broadway and Main Street and share rows. Santa Monica has also taken the lead on developing a regional bike share program to complement the growing light rail system that will extend out to Santa Monica in early 2016.
O’Connor, who has sat on the Metro Board of Directors since 2001, was one of the leaders responsible for bringing the Expo line to Santa Monica. She is currently the Chair of the Expo Construction Authority.
From the book Railtown: The Fight for the Los Angeles Metro Rail and the Future of the City by Ethan Elkind: “By July 2001, Los Angeles had a newly elected mayor, James Hahn, and Pam O’Connor, an ardent Expo supporter from the Santa Monica City Council, was serving on the MTA board. The new board voted to approve light rail along the route from downtown to Culver City… some residents along the right-of-way expressed opposition to the project based on the potential for accidents with pedestrians, and the MTA board voted to perform additional safety studies. But the MTA leadership, thanks to a motion by O’Connor, expressed their ‘vision and intent to complete the LRT [light rail transit] line to Santa Monica.'”
In addition to her work on Expo, O’Connor also established the Metro’s Sustainability Committee when she was Board Chair in 2007.
The Committee focuses on encouraging biking, walking, and other active and sustainable modes of transportation throughout L.A. County. It’s Metro’s Sustainability Committee which supports shared streets events like CicLAvia, which have been expanding throughout L.A. County over the last decade as a means of encouraging active transportation.
During her time as president of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), which represents the region’s six counties, the organization adopted its first Sustainable Communities Strategy.
O’Connor’s work has earned her the endorsement of other regional leaders, including L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin, and County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, all of whom sit on the Metro Board with O’Connor.
She also has the backing of her former Santa Monica City Council colleague, State Assemblymember Richard Bloom, who was the first sitting member of the City Council to be elected to State office. Former State legislator and fellow long-time Santa Monica resident, Sheila Kuehl, has also thrown her support behind Pam.