City of Santa Monica launches first-in-nation zero emissions delivery zone

Apr 14, 2021

During the pandemic, deliveries have skyrocketed and an increase in large diesel delivery trucks on the road have raised concerns about pollution and traffic congestion. Even before the stay-at-home orders were put into place, the city of Santa Monica had been working to reduce its carbon footprint and implement its EV Action Plan to increase access to electric vehicles.

As a result of its forward-looking climate policies, the city of Santa Monica was selected to partner with the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) to deploy the first-in-the-nation Zero Emissions Delivery Zone. The city is also a member of the Transportation Electrification Partnership, a group convened by LACI to accelerate transportation electrification and zero emissions goods movement in the greater Los Angeles region.

“We’ve been looking at ways to reduce and ultimately eliminate our carbon emissions for years and we are really excited that our city was selected to pilot the nation’s first zero emissions delivery zone,” said Santa Monica Mayor Sue Himmelrich. “Beyond reducing carbon and congestion, the added bonus is that restaurants can keep higher margins of sales on delivered food items. This is coming at a critical moment in our recovery, and we look forward to new insights on zero-emissions delivery and the possibilities beyond our one square mile test zone." 

The Zero Emissions Delivery Zone is a one-square mile area in the commercial activity core of Santa Monica. This area is home to nearly 16,000 residents and two commercial districts—downtown Santa Monica (including Third Street Promenade) and Main Street that together employ roughly 28,900 workers in a wide range of industries. The pilot program launched in late February and will run through the end of the year.

City staff, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, and community organizations collaborated to select approximately 15 curb parking spaces that will be dedicated for zero emissions delivery vehicles for the duration of the pilot. The spaces are marked by the signage shown to the right and include a QR code that links to more information about the program.

Curb management technology will monitor and analyze vehicle activity in each zone while protecting privacy. The anonymized data will be used to evaluate the impact on delivery efficiency, safety, congestion, and emissions. It will also make real-time parking availability data available to ZE Delivery Zone drivers and provide insights for potential future expansion of the pilot program.

Innovations in the Zero Emission Delivery Zone include:

  • E-scooters, e-bikes, and remote-operated delivery robots used for last-mile delivery of food and parcels
  • Commercial electric vehicle car sharing
  • Electric vehicle charging for local small businesses

“Santa Monica has always been a leader in green/tech initiatives, and we are all super excited for the zero emissions delivery zone to continue that tradition,” said Hunter Hall, Executive Director of the Main Street Business Improvement Association. “It’s a potential game changer for the restaurant industry, which is committed to finding better, faster, cheaper, and greener ways to deliver food.”

The development of the pilot program was a very collaborative process and included coordination between the city’s Offices of Sustainability, Mobility, Engineering and Street Services, Parking, and Police Department, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, regional agencies such as the Southern California Association of Governments and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, corporate and technology partners, and local stakeholders.  

An advisory committee meets (virtually) bi-monthly to review program updates and receive community feedback. The advisory committee includes neighborhood associations and business improvement districts located within the zone, as well as bike advocacy groups and other program partners.

"The Zero Emission Delivery Zone is an exciting initiative that will solidify Santa Monica as a leader in innovation on the world stage,” said Assembly Member Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica). “This pilot will serve as a model for other cities to adopt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality for the health of their communities while also providing economic opportunity to small businesses." 

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