Friday, June 1, 2012

Ventura Beach+Town

The City of Ventura has built a coalition to support the idea of capping the 101 freeway to reconnect downtown with the beach.  A consultant team was hired with a grant to develop this concept, marketed under Ventura Beach+Town.  The results were presented last week at City Hall.

According to the city website,  The idea of covering or ‘capping’ the freeway is only justifiable if there is something worth connecting to. ... the design team has studied the possibilities of extending the current city grid all the way to the beach, thus taking the ‘urban experience’ from the foothills to the shore... 

Commentary:  Although there is no doubt that freeways have disconnected the City from our beaches and rivers, this plan calls for an urban density that would shock most Ventura residents.  The narrative that completely ignores the value of the BEACH to residents and visitors is disturbing.  There is already another large hotel approved for the beachfront, and State Parks had deeded the property by the pier to the City to hold in the public trust, not for development.  And opening up the promenade to car traffic would seem contrary to the stated goals of developing a walkable community.  Any plans to develop the waterfront should be integrated within a comprehensive regional shoreline management plan that addresses current water quality and coastal erosion concerns. Capping the freeway in itself would greatly enhance the connection between downtown and the beach, but at what cost?