City Council Meeting: February 12, 2013

Agenda Item: 8-A


To:                   Mayor and City Council 

From:              Karen Ginsberg, Director, Community and Cultural Services

Subject:          Naming of the New Santa Monica Civic Center Park


Recommended Action


Staff recommends that the Council review the results of public input on a short-list of possible park names, consider names suggested by the public, and select a final name for the new Civic Center park currently known as Palisades Garden Walk.



Executive Summary


The Civic Center park currently known as Palisades Garden Walk is under construction and in need of a permanent name.   During the October 2, 2012 City Council meeting, Council reviewed public input, staff and Commission recommendations on possible names and discussed options.  Council developed a short list of possible names and asked staff to seek further public input and return to the Council.  


Using a range of outreach methods staff gathered input from 550 community members regarding the Council’s suggested short list (Arroyo Park or Santa Monica Arroyo Park; Tongva Park or Santa Monica Tongva Park; Parque del Sol; and Santa Monica Commons).  Respondents also had the ability to recommend alternatives by indicating “other” on the survey instrument. This input did not reveal a single clear preference for a name.  


Based on public input, staff suggests that since none of the short-listed names is preferred, consideration should be given to retaining the name Palisades Garden Walk for this park.



The City Council adopted a policy for naming City-owned land, buildings and facilities on July 9, 2002 which established formal guidelines and a procedure for considering appropriate names. 


During a number of well-attended public workshops on the design of the park held in late 2010 and early 2011, participants were asked to recommend names and also react to the list of recommended names. The words “Arroyo”, “Ocean” and “Gardens” were often used. There were a number of suggestions for naming the park after Arcadia Bandini Sterns deBaker, the great benefactress of Santa Monica.  Top preferences were for “Arcadia Park,” “Arroyo Gardens,” “Arroyo Park,” “Civic Ocean Park,” “Ocean Garden Walk,” “Palisades Garden Walk,” “Santa Monica Central Park,” and “Santa Monica Garden Park.”


The project team (Community and Cultural Services, Public Works, and Planning and Community Development staff members along with designers from James Corner Field Operations) discussed many options, but reached consensus on the name “Santa Monica Arroyo Park” which was forwarded to Council in October 2012 as the staff recommendation.    


On January 19, 2012, the Recreation and Parks Commission adopted a motion recommending that the park be named “Santa Monica Commons.”  Additionally, the Commission recommended that in recognition of the historical significance of the land and history of the community, the area currently known as “Observation Hill” be renamed “Tongva Hill” and that an appropriate area of the park be identified in honor of the Belmar Triangle Neighborhood. Subsequent to their action, the Commission learned that the affordable housing component of The Village will be called the Belmar Apartments and that the Belmar Triangle Neighborhood was located on the Civic Auditorium block.  


The Landmarks Commission during its meeting on March 12, 2012 adopted a motion to support the recommendations made by the Recreation and Parks Commission.  


The above recommendations with detailed attachments were presented to Council on October 2, 2012.  Council discussed options and narrowed the list of possible names to a short-list which included:  Arroyo Park or Santa Monica Arroyo Park; Tongva Park or Santa Monica Tongva Park; Parque del Sol; and Santa Monica Commons.    Council directed staff to seek public feedback on these names or variations of these names and call for additional names to be solicited.  Information on the history of the Tongva was also requested.



To gather public input, staff created a survey with the short-listed names and an option for “Other” for variations on the names and new suggestions (Attachment A).   The survey was placed on the City’s web page and the project web page for the month of November.   In-person outreach was conducted at the Pier Open House on October 27, 2012; at all three 2012 Santa Monica Talk events on November 10th, 12th and 15th; at the Virginia Avenue Park, Main Street and Downtown Farmers’ Markets in November; and at the Main Library on December 2, 2012.   550 surveys were completed.  In completing the survey community members submitted 166 suggestions for alternative park names other than those identified below.  Of the input received 291 people (53%)  gave a Santa Monica zip code, 149 people (27%) provided a zip code outside of Santa Monica and 110 people (20%) provided no zip code. 


Input Received


By Location







Pier Open House







Santa Monica Talks







Virginia Avenue Park Farmers' Market







Main Street Farmers' Market







Downtown (Wed) Farmers' Market







Main Library






















Public input shows that none of the short-listed names resonated loudly with the majority of participants.  Members of the public most often selected “Other” and either went on to submit their own suggestion (see list of suggested names on Attachment 3) or went no further.  Tongva Park or Santa Monica Tongva Park received support, with a large portion of this support coming from the on-line survey rather than through in-person outreach at venues which was a more random sampling.   Santa Monica Commons also received support with many respondents suggesting that “Common” be used in place of “Commons” as in “Boston Common.”  


Since none of the short list of park names garnered clear support in relation to each other and other suggestions, staff believes that there is merit to returning to the name “Palisades Garden Walk.” This name emerged during the Civic Center Specific Plan process adopted in 2005 which included the following description for the park  



The park design embodies this description. Furthermore, the park was recently designated by City Council as a Botanical Garden because its design emphasizes native, locally adapted and extraordinary plantings.  Therefore, establishing Palisades Garden Walk as the permanent name for the park would be reasonable and enduring.








Financial Impacts & Budget Actions


There is no budgetary impact to this policy decision.  The cost to incorporate the permanent park names into the new park signage was included in W.E. O’Neil

Construction Company’s contract to design and build these new parks.


Prepared by:  Julie Silliman, Community and Cultural Services





Forwarded to Council:






Karen Ginsberg

Director, Community & Cultural Services


Rod Gould

City Manager



Attachment A:  Survey

Attachment B:  Name Suggestions

Attachment C: Tongva

Attachment A:  Survey



Which of these would you like to see as the PARK’S name?  Use OTHER for variations or combinations of these names or other ideas.


In honor of the park's design theme - an Arroyo is a wash, dry creek or stream bed gulch that temporarily or seasonally fills and flows after sufficient rain.


The Tongva, also referred to as the Gabrieleño, are an indigenous people whose traditional territory is in present-day Los Angeles and surrounding regions.  Santa Monica may have been named by Father Juan Crespí after the Tongva's Kuruvungna Springs which the Spanish named "Las Lágrimas de Santa Monica" or "The Tears of St. Monica."


Spanish for "Park of the Sun"


Pertaining or belonging equally to the entire in Boston Common, the nation's oldest park.


o OTHER - A variation of the above, or another suggestion for a park name.

Attachment B:  Name Suggestions


Abraham Park

Angel's Park

Arcadia Bandini Park

Arcadia Park (after Arcadia Bandini)

Arroyo Commons

Attention Park
Baker or Jones Park

Name after the senator or citizen that had the foresight to donate land for Palisades Park.

Ballona Park

Bandini Park

Bay City Park

Belmont Triangle Park

Big Wow Park

Bird's Nest Park

Bliss Field by the Beach

Bluebird Park

Center of Wellbeing

Central Park

Central Park West

Chicken Park

Cho-Cho Park (Butterfly in Japanese)

City Hall Park

City Park

Civic Center Park

Civic Park

Del Mar Park

Discovery Park

Dolphin Park

Dolphin Tale

Douglas Park

Dream Weavers Park

Dry Creek Park

El Paraíso Terrenal (Heaven on Earth)

Elseildor Park

Endless Summer Garden

Esplanade Park

Family Park

Frank Schwengel Park

Fresh Air Park

Fun Park

Gabrieleno Park

Garden Park

Gardens at the Pier

Gateway Park

Harbor Park

Heritage Park

Holiday Park

Jewel of Santa Monica

Kecheek Park (The Tongva called Santa Monica "Kecheek")

La Puerta Del Cielo (Heaven's Gate)

Laurel Garden

Lincoln Park

Los Arroyos (no "park" - so it's more easily said and understood and gets away from the generic "park" name. "Meet you at Los Arroyos" sounds cooler than "Meet you at Arroyo Park.")

Main Park

Main St Park

Memorial Park


Mira del Mar (Look at the Ocean)


Momajita Parque

Monica Park

Moomat Park

Ocean Bluff Park

Ocean Breeze Park

Ocean Park

Ocean View Park

Pacific Ocean View Park

Pacific Ocean View Park of Santa Monica

Pacific Park

Palisades Garden Park

Palisades Garden Walk

Paradise Park

Park at the Pier

Park for all

Park of Peace

Parque Bliss del Mar 

Parque del Mar Vista

Parque del Pueblo

Parque Mia

Peach Love

People's Garden

People's Park

Physis Park (Greek for Nature)

Pier Park

Pierce Park

Pioneer Park

Planetarium of Eden

Poseidon Park

Puebla del Sol Park (City of the Sun Park)

Puebla Park

Rainbow Park

Rancho Santa Monica

Rosabell Park

Salaria Park

Sandcastle Park

Santa Monica Central Gardens

Santa Monica Central Park

Santa Monica Civic Center Park

Santa Monica Civic Park

Santa Monica "S"

Santa Monica Garden of Eden Center

Santa Monica Garden Walk

Santa Monica Glades

Santa Monica Nature Walk

Santa Monica Ocean Park

Santa Monica Ocean View Park

Santa Monica Paradise Park

Santa Monica Sliders

Santa Monica View Park

Scrub Jay Park

Sea View Park

Seascape Park

Seaside Park

Shark Park

Slide Park

Spaceship Adventure Fun Park

St. Augustine Public Park

Sunny Park

Sunrise Horizon Community Park

Sunset Beach Park

Sunshine Park

The Beautiful Garden Park

The Big Green

The Big Green Park

The Edge

The Falls Park

The Garden Park

The Main Park

The Mecca

The New Bum Park

The New Life Park

The Shire

The Tongva Commons

Tongva Arroyo

Tongva Tribe Park

Vahedi Park

Village Park

Water World Park

Wonderful Waterfalls Park



Attachment C:  TONGVAã



Long before Spanish explorers set foot on California’s shore, what is now Santa Monica, Los Angeles and parts of Orange County were occupied by the Tongva, later called the Gabrielino. The Portola expedition from Spain passed through Santa Monica in 1769 as described in Father Crespi’s diary. The area at that time had flourishing villages like the one depicted below. The Tongva, which means “People of the Earth,” greeted the explorers with food and drinks, as was documented by Father Crespi.


About the Tongva People

The Tongva people, also referred to as the Gabrieliño, are a historic Native American people who for thousands of years have inhabited an area in the present-day Los Angeles basin and extending to northern Orange County, a portion of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, up to the San Gabriel Mountains and out to four of the Channel islands. Currently there are an estimated 1,500 people self-identifying as members of the tribe.  The name Gabrieliño is in reference to the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel set up by the Spanish colonists in 1771 as they forcibly dissolved the villages and rounded up the Tongva to serve as a labor force for the construction of the Spanish missions. 





















"Wiyot's Children" by Mary Leighton Thomson depicts Sa'angna, the Tongva village that was located where Playa del Rey, California now sits.


The Tongva were a sea faring people and the tradition is being revived.  Moomat Ahiko, a street in Santa Monica adjacent to the new park, means "Breath of the Ocean" in the Tongva language and is also the name of one of the Ti'ats, or canoes, that contemporary Tongva people built 13 years ago. Along with the Chumash (their neighbors to the north and west) and other tribes along the Pacific coast, the Tongva built these seaworthy canoes. To build these ti'ats, they used planks that were sewn together, edge to edge, and then caulked and coated with a mixture of pine pitch and asphaltum

. The ti'at could hold as many as 12 people, their gear and the trade goods which they carried to trade with other people along the coast or on the Channel Islands

Tongva villages that continue to carry the Tongva names that we are familiar with today include PacoimaTujungaTopangaRancho CucamongaAzusa, and the Cahuenga Pass










































            Map from the Gabrielino/Tongva tribe web site

History of Santa Monica

Pre-history - Santa Monica was long inhabited by the Tongva people. Santa Monica was called Kecheek in the Tongva language.


1760s - The first Caucasian group to set foot in the area was the party of explorer Gaspar de Portolà, who camped near present day Wilshire Boulevard on August 3, 1769.


Naming of Santa Monica - There are two different versions of the naming of Santa Monica. One says that it was named in honor of the feast day of Saint Monica (mother of Saint Augustine), while the other says that it was named by Father Juan Crespí on account of a dripping springs, the Serra Springs, that was reminiscent of the tears that Saint Monica shed over her son's early impiety. Regarding the latter, one of the padres noted in his diary that the group found Kuruvungna Springs (a Tongva springs where University High School is today and which translates to "Place Where We are in the Sun"). They re-named it "Springs of Saint Monica" to recall the tears that St. Monica shed for her reckless son, Augustine.   As recorded in his diary, Crespí actually named the place San Gregorio. What is known for certain is that by the 1820s, the name Santa Monica was in use and its first official mention occurred in 1827 in the form of a grazing permit. In the 1800s, the springs served as the water supply for the city of Santa Monica.  This spring remains sacred to the Natives Americans in the area and is the site of a cultural center and museum run by the Gabrielino Tongva Springs Foundation.