Gridlock at some of Santa Monica's busiest downtown intersections could be further snarled by a proposed movie theater on Fourth Street at Arizona Avenue, and there's little the city could do to alleviate the congestion, according to a new environmental report.
The report forecasts increased traffic midday on weekends at Fourth and Colorado Avenue, during peak afternoon hours at Fourth and Broadway and in the mornings and midday on weekends at Lincoln and Santa Monica boulevards.
Further worsening traffic, the 12-screen theater is proposed to be built where Parking Structure No. 3 stands today, requiring the demolition of 344 precious sparking spaces. There are no plans to build parking on-site.
During the busiest times of day, cars would cruise the streets from one packed parking garage to another, worsening traffic at the impacted intersections, according to the report.
"While mitigation may reduce cruising behavior, there is no certainty as to how many vehicle trips would be reduced at affected intersections," the report states.
The public has until Nov. 26 to comment on the draft Environmental Impact Report, which was prepared by Rincon Consultants, Inc. for the city and released Oct. 10.
The City Council requested bids from interested companies for a new movie theater at the site of Parking Structure No. 3, which is city-owned property, in 2007. Its request called for a contemporary cinema, with ground-floor retail or restaurant space and underground parking.
In 2009, it picked AMC, which already operates three movie theaters in downtown. AMC is proposing 70,000 square feet of gross floor space, including 2,167 theater seats, 2,500 square feet of retail tenant space and 2,250 square feet of indoor restaurant/lounge space open to the public. The retail and restaurant spaces would primarily serve movie customers, the report states.
As part of the project, the AMC proposes to eliminate 1,597 theater seats from its other downtown locations. The Environmental Impact Report says the reduction could result in one or more of the existing theaters closing.
The project requires a development agreement with the City Council because it would exceed the zone's building size restrictions. The concessions to be offered in exchange will be negotiated later.
Send the city your feedback by writing to Roxanne Tanemori, senior planner, by 5:30 p.m. Nov. 26, 2012.