City Council Meeting: January 8, 2012

Agenda Item: 3-I

To:                   Mayor and City Council 

From:              Kathryn Vernez, Deputy City Manager - Special Projects

David Martin, Director of Planning and Community Development

Martin Pastucha, Director of Public Works


Subject:          Expo Light Rail Station Names within the City of Santa Monica



Recommended Action


Staff recommends that the City Council:


1.    Make a formal recommendation to the Metro Board to name the Expo light rail stations in Santa Monica as follows:

·         Downtown Santa Monica

·         Colorado/17th Street/SMC

·         26th Street/Bergamot


2.    Direct staff to work with the Exposition Construction Authority and Metro staff towards the Metro Board’s adoption of the station names.


Executive Summary


This report recommends station names that comply with Metro’s guidelines and convey geographic meaning to users of the three Expo light rail stations within the City of Santa Monica. Metro has established guidelines for station naming that encourage clear travel information to the transit patron.  Staff is recommending station names that identify the station by a cross street or by the district/major attraction that the station serves.  The Metro Board is responsible for approving station names; therefore staff is recommending that the Council make a recommendation to the Metro Board. There is no immediate financial impact as a result of the recommended action.




The City has been involved since the 1980’s in advocating for the Expo light rail line to link Santa Monica to the region and provide an alternative to the I-10 Freeway and clogged arterials.  Throughout the process the City has made recommendations to the Expo Construction Authority and Metro concerning the alignment and stations, including the addition of a mid-city station to serve Santa Monica College and the two regional hospitals (March 3, 2009). During the design phase the City has worked closely with the Expo Construction Authority to develop station layouts that will facilitate access for transit riders, including two entrances at each station (December 13, 2011).  It is important that the three stations within Santa Monica are well integrated into the City’s fabric to serve patrons and fulfill the vision articulated in the City’s Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE).  Station naming is a way to provide clear information to the patron about the location of the station as well as to create an identity for the station reflecting the station context or vision of the district.





The Expo Construction Authority’s naming convention for Expo Phase 2 is to assign station names based on the parallel and cross street where the station is located.  The designer of Phase 2 has been directed to use these station names.  The signage and graphics design package is nearly completed and the opportunity to revise names is limited.  The three stations in Santa Monica are currently identified in the design package as:



According to Metro’s guidelines, approval of station names requires approval by the Metro Board. Metro has an adopted naming policy (Attachment A) to ensure that station names are meaningful to customers navigating the transit system within the Los Angeles region.   The policy’s adopted principles to guide station naming include:





Essentially Metro’s transit facilities are names that refer to: a nearby street or freeway; a well-known destination or landmark; a community or district name; or a city name. Metro’s policy also states that it is preferable to use one name but multiple names can be used separated by a slash.  Staff’s recommendations follow Metro’s prescribed name conventions.  Staff has received feedback from Metro staff indicating that the recommended names comply with Metro’s policy as noted below. 


Where possible, staff is recommending station names that identify the station by both a cross street and by the district/major attraction it serves.  Staff is recommending station names to replace the current Expo Phase 2 names as described below.


This station is located in the heart of Santa Monica’s downtown and has been identified as the downtown station since the early days in planning the line.  Downtown is served by a large number of Big Blue Bus lines and is a major attractor for local, regional and international visitors. There are, of course, many other destinations close to the downtown station.  Metro staff has provided assurances that these locations can be announced over the loudspeaker upon arrival to the station and will be included in all station area maps.  Staff will work closely with Metro staff in developing and reviewing the station area maps.


The recommended station name at this location combines the two cross-streets with the destination, Santa Monica College (SMC). When two street names are used, Metro’s convention is to first list the street name running parallel with the line. Additionally, this station was added in response to the potential to generate substantial ridership, with Santa Monica College as the primary attractor. Santa Monica College has been a strong advocate for identification in the station name to encourage students, employees and visitors to use transit.  Metro staff and Expo staff have expressed reservation about using Santa Monica College in the name because the campus is slightly more than ½ mile from the station and the convention is generally to name a destination only if it’s immediately adjacent. Therefore, staff is recommending using “SMC” in combination with the street names and as the last name in the string of three.


Historically this area was identified as the Bergamot district after a station on the Santa Monica “Airline”, the predecessor to the Expo line.   Staff found maps dating as far back as 1943 show this name in the title block.  More recently the area has become associated with Bergamot as an arts district, with signs identifying it as such on the I-10 Freeway. 


Alternatively, the second district name could reflect the more generic emphasis in the LUCE identifying this area as the Creative Arts District.  The station could be called “26th Street/Arts District”.


Next Steps


The City Council’s recommended names will be conveyed to the Expo Construction Authority and Metro through a formal written request.  Staff will work with staffs of both agencies through the necessary steps required for consideration by Metro for adoption.






Financial Impacts & Budget Actions


There is no immediate financial impact or budget action necessary as a result of the recommended action. Station name requests late in the process or after operation could result in significant cost impacts. 


Prepared by: Ellen Gelbard, Assistant Director, Planning and Community Development




Forwarded to Council:







Kathryn Vernez,

Deputy City Manager - Special Projects





David Martin, Director of Planning & Community Development





Martin Pastucha, Director of Public Works


Rod Gould

City Manager




Attachments:  Attachment A – Metro Station Naming Policy