Friday, October 22, 2010

Gary Rides Bikes Endorsements For Santa Monica City Council

I think bicycling as an issue has been somewhat neglected in years past in Santa Monica. However with the LUCE finally passing, changing trends in transportation, and groups like Spoke making bicycling more present in the public sphere, bicycling is a topic that's become an election issue. The Santa Monica Daily Press got each candidate on the record on bikes, and all felt compelled to at least say something positive for bicycling development.

It's easy to just say something nice for a single question in the paper. This was partly why I decided to send out my own questionnaire to get some more perspective on where the candidates are coming from in regards to bike planning issues. I think it's a postive sign for cycling's growing acceptance as a constituency that everyone has agreed on some level of support, even candidates who otherwise disagreed on many other things. Santa Monica Spoke also hosted a candidate mixer and forum to speak with some of the candidates as well. It was a great way to bring community members and the candidates together to talk about our concerns, and made for a very productive evening.

After some careful consideration I've decided to endorse Kevin McKeown and Ted Winterer for the 4 year seat election, and Terry O'Day in the 2 year seat election. 

Santa Monica Spoke, City Council Mixer & Forum To Discuss Bicycling
(McKeown at Santa Monica Spoke Meet The Candidates Event)
McKeown, as he pointed out in his questionnaire, has been riding a bike for a while, the same bike since the 70's, and has consistently been a supporter for bicycling in his time in office. Though support wasn't always there in the rest of the council. As the Spoke group started to develop, McKeown was always approachable and responsive to our concerns and recently helped work out a compromise in the Agensys developer agreement that included some additional funds being added that will be used for seeding bike projects in the Bergamot district. He also helped get Richard McKinnon appointed to the Parks and Recs commission. McKinnon, who is also on the steering committee of Santa Monica Spoke, has been using his position on the parks commission to advocate for bicycling in every way possible, and has been heading the effort to bring a Ciclovia style event to Santa Monica.

Santa Monica Councilman Terry O'Day Stops By The Park For A Picknick With Family
(Terry At Santa Monica Spoke's Park[ing] Day Event with his mother and daughter)
Terry O'Day comes from a background as an environmentalist (he is currently an executive director of Environment Now), and from conversations I've had with Terry he really seems to get it. He met with Santa Monica Spoke at one of our very early public meetings, gave a great talk at Bikeside Speaks (which he rolled up to on his Specialized bike). He also recently came down to see our Park[ing] Day installation and enjoyed a picnic in our pop up park with his family.

There has been a push by some to say Terry is in the pocket of developers (the group SMCLC sent out an attack e-mail with some misleading accusations about O'Day) because of his opposition to the initiative Measure T. As some readers may recall, I was also strongly opposed to the measure for a few reasons, primarily because of the constraints it would have put on mixed use development, which is exactly the sort of development I think cities ought to be doing to create more vibrant and walkable communities. Terry is a smart guy with innovative ideas, and is passionate about the environment and affordable housing, and I believe deserves our support in the election.

Santa Monica Spoke, City Council Mixer & Forum To Discuss Bicycling
(Ted Winterer on the right, candidate Jon Mann on the left, At Santa Monica Spoke Meet The Candidates Event)

Recently Ted Winterer was notably the strongest supporter on the planning commission for bicycling accommodation in the Agensys redevelopment project. He has also been very supportive and approachable in talking with local bicycling advocates. He was a co-author of Measure T, the contentious measure which as I mentioned, I was opposed to. However he seems open to input and different ideas and has a real community focus. I think he will be a strong advocate for making the plans in LUCE have real teeth and has adamantly said the LUCE "No new net auto trips" goal should be more than a feel good policy statement. We need more political leaders who are willing to take a stand in representing their constituents interests and I think Winterer is someone who will do that.

It was hard to narrow down these picks, as many candidates have expressed support for cycling, and some candidates who I disagreed with on many issues had some great ideas for making Santa Monica more bike friendly. One of the shockers for me was in the Santa Monica Daily Press Squirm Night. After listening to Terry O'Day and Republican Robert Kronovet disagree on nearly everything, when my question about bike safety came up, Kronovet was highly enthusiastic about making safer bike lanes, fully separated ones, and that Pico Blvd should have one (Kronovet is the chairman of the Pico Improvement Organization). Susan Hartley at the candidate mixer pitched a novel idea to turn Broadway into a mini-Ciclovia on weekends to create a dedicated safe route for residents and visitors to bike across town, to reach the Downtown area and Beach.

No matter who is elected, I think we will have some receptive ears to cycling concerns on the council, but it will be important for the cycling community to continue organizing and be involved in the process. Particularly the budgeting process, which Terry O'Day has pointed out starts in January. Councilmen like McKeown have always been a safe vote for bikes on the council, but turn out helps sway on the fence voters, and we won't get majorities sitting on the side lines.

Remember to get out there and bike the vote. It's a big election for California this year, with a lot at stake. I encourage everyone to read up on all the candidates and the ballot measures.

1 comment:

PlebisPower said...

McKoewn attends the Westside Cities Council of Governments sustainability committee meetings (representing Santa Monica) and is one of the more active participants. While that would ordinarily not be saying too much, his clear commitment to moving sustainability policies distinguishes him on that panel.