A three-story parking garage—perhaps like the airy cement structure in Miami that doubles as a glamorous event venue—could be the city's solution to getting cars off the congested Santa Monica Pier deck.
Public works staffers propose wiping out 270 parking spaces at the deck and replacing them with a 280-space garage at a city-owned plot north of the , adjacent to Lot 1N. Formerly home to the Deauville Beach Club, the site is currently used to store unsightly beach maintenance equipment.
The existing sidewalks on the shoulders of the roadway leading to the pier deck are often jammed, leaving little room for the disabled and parents pushing strollers, city officials said. But their proposal would only add an additional 10 spaces when umpteen more are needed to solve the parking woes plaguing the beachfront, residents and businesses say.
"The idea here is to separate cars and vehicular movements from heavy pedestrian use on the pier, increasing safety and freeing up 24 percent of the pier deck for other uses," said City Manager Rod Gould.
Other uses could include additional visitor services, attractions, or the deck could be kept as open, public space with amenities for families.
Ocean Front Walk resident Ellen Brennan said the parking garage proposal will "do nothing" to alleviate her neighborhood’s access to parking, especially when and other big events take up the 1550 lot.
She and other pier businesses are urging the council to do more.
"Pacific Park fully supports the removal of parking from the pier deck," said Jeff Klocke, Director of Sales and Marketing for the . But “the lack of parking spaces... is significant and year-round."
The Santa Monica City Council will spend $300,000 in hiring a consultant to draw up preliminary designs for the structure.
Staffers told the Council on Tuesday night that the garage wouldn't block any ocean views. At its tallest point, it would be well below the height of the Palisades Park bluff and the pier bridge. Plus, they said, it would improve the views drivers see as they emerge from the McClure Tunnel.
"A big box parking structure is not the first image we want [visitors] to see," said councilwoman Gleam Davis.
Councilman Bobby Shriver, who suggested staffers might be exaggerating how unsafe it is for pedestrians to share the pier ramp with cars, pointed to the 1111 Lincoln Road parking garage in Miami as an example of what Santa Monica could build.
Early drawings and a financial analysis—detailing how much it would cost to build and how those costs might be funded—are expected in the fall.
"I’m attracted to a facility that has great design, but I think in this instance, great design makes it disappear, because the real star here is the ocean and the pier," cautioned Mayor Richard Bloom. "I'm not sure we want something that’s competing, but that’s complimentary."