At the end of last year, we asked you to weigh in on what were some of your favorite Santa Monica Next stories of 2015.
Your answers covered the gamut and included topics as diverse as our Throwback Thursday series, our coverage of housing issues, an op-ed about civic engagement in Silicon Beach, and our coverage of a proposed ordinance that would have banned dancing in restaurants on Main Street.
But what were the most read Santa Monica Next articles of 2015 and how will these stories develop in 2016? Let’s take a look.
The promise of fixed light rail transit coming back to Santa Monica is an exciting one. This article about a report to the Expo Construction Authority reporting that Expo could open as early as March 2016 piqued a lot of people’s interest. Metro still hasn’t announced an official date for opening the train, though. We’ll have to wait and see, but you can bet we’ll be watching this with the greatest attention.
Santa Monica was the first city in L.A. County to launch a public bike-share system. This article from August announced the start of Breeze Bike Share’s initial test run, which included 31 bikes and seven stations. Now, the system is opened city-wide with 500 bikes and 79 stations and the number of members keeps growing.
Hollywood, Long Beach, and Downtown L.A. are expecting to have bike-share systems later this year, promising to make 2016 the year of bike-share in Los Angeles County.
Perhaps the biggest lost opportunity in Santa Monica in recent years happened when no-growth activists scuttled the Bergamot Transit Village project across the street from the Expo light rail station at 26th Street. After the mixed-use project was killed in 2014, the owners sold off the property.
In 2015, we learned that we would get at the site of the former Papermate factory a suburban office park instead of a proper transit-oriented community. Construction on the new project has begun and we’ll keep track of it as it progresses. Perhaps in 50 years or so, we’ll have another chance to redevelop the property again and that time, we can do it right.
In 2015, we learned that while Santa Monica is part of the burgeoning tech world known as Silicon Beach, the picture wasn’t totally positive. The city’s fear of growth has been squeezing local startups as they searched for office into which they could expand. Additionally, their workers were having trouble finding affordable places to live in the city, in large part due to Santa Monica’s meager growth in housing supply over the last few decades. With a slow-growth City Council majority, it’s unclear if 2016 will see this problem get any better.
Santa Monica’s first protected bike lane opened in 2015 and our coverage of the exciting development got a lot of attention from our readers. Hopefully, this protected bike lane is a sign of things to come as the city continues to put into practice its bike action plan. Once the Colorado Esplanade opens later this year, Santa Monica will officially have two protected bike lanes.
The fight over Santa Monica’s future culminated in the 2015 zoning ordinance update. The outcome was not ideal as the Council narrowly voted to reduce the capacity for new housing growth along underdeveloped commercial corridors. Oh, well. There’s always the next general plan update. We’ll begin to see the effects of these rollbacks in 2016. Will we still be able to produce enough housing? Or will the city’s growth grind to a halt, further forcing up rents?
We’re glad you enjoyed our coverage in 2015 and we look forward to bringing you the most exciting updates as Santa Monica comes into a new era. Thanks again for reading.