Santa Monica councilmember wants to appoint a safe streets ‘czar’

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In the wake of a string of pedestrian deaths, Santa Monica officials are reevaluating how safe their streets are. According to the Santa Monica Lookout, the Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously this week to speed up and potentially expand their plans to make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Councilmember Gleam Davis also proposed hiring a “Vision Zero Czar” to help implement the city’s Vision Zero plan to eliminate all pedestrian traffic fatalities in Santa Monica. She said the czar would communicate and coordinate with several city agencies involved in making street safety improvements, such as better crosswalks, additional traffic signals, and wider sidewalks.

It’s up to City Manager Rick Cole to now consider that idea and how it and others would affect the city’s budget. The Santa Monica Lookout points out that the city has already allocated about $187 million for pedestrian safety improvements.

Since adopting Vision Zero in 2016, the city has introduced a dozen new scramble crosswalks and approved plans to redesign Lincoln Boulevard.

Davis brushed off concerns of additional costs, saying, “I don’t want to create a situation where we think if only we’d spent a little more money, we could have avoided a tragedy.”

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