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Council Members Seek to Expand Zero Emissions Delivery Zone, Increase Outreach to Spanish-Only Speakers

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By Jorge Casuso

March 29, 2021 -- Two Councilmembers have placed items on Tuesday's agenda to expand Zero Emissions Delivery Zones citywide and create a plan to communicate better with Spanish-only speakers.

The two items sponsored by Councilmembers Kristin McCowan and Gleam Davis address a longstanding goal to make Santa Monica more sustainable and to prioritize "equity and inclusion" in its upcoming fiscal budget.

One of the items would direct staff to return as early as April 13 with an amendment to expand the Zero Emissions Delivery Zone (ZE Delivery Zone) created last month that encompasses Downtown, Main Street and Ocean Park neighborhoods.

The pioneering program tests a system that provides priority curb access for ZE delivery vehicles that replace large fume-spewing delivery trucks in the city's most congested area ("Santa Monica to Test Nation's First 'Zero Emissions Delivery Zone,'" March 1, 2021).

Expanding the zone would "promote our community’s economic recovery" and "help local restaurants and businesses safely reach their customers," McCowan and Davis wrote in the item.

"Speed limits, weight limits and other operational requirements that apply within the zone should apply throughout Santa Monica," the Councilmembers wrote.

The one-square mile pilot zone -- which is the first tested in the nation -- use electric micromobility methods to deliver food and parcels and medium-duty and light-duty electric delivery vehicles for goods, City officials said.

The zone created with 15 partners also will make available the nation's first "commercial medium-duty electric truck-sharing and charging" for local small businesses, officials said.

In a separate item, the two Councilmembers are also asking their colleagues to direct staff to return with an ordinance creating a "biennial language access plan" for Spanish speakers and hire a language access coordinator.

The program would disseminate all the information currently provided by the City in Spanish as well as English, including "websites, blogs, social media posts, press releases, forms (and) instructions," McCowan and Davis wrote.

The proposal also requires the City to provide "Spanish language interpretation services and support" at all city meetings and events."

Funding for the services would be prioritized in the upcoming fiscal budget and usage by residents would is tracked every six months.

According to the U.S. Census update, Santa Monica had approximately 14,000 Hispanic residents in July 2019.

Of those aged five or older, 28.4 percent spoke a language other than English at home, according to the census. The update does not specify how many are Spanish speakers.

The proposed services would "ensure that equity and inclusion are woven into everything we do" and "that language justice has a prominent place in our efforts," McCowan and Davis wrote.

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