By Janene Scully, Noozhawk North County Editor | @JaneneScully | Crosswalks could get more creative in Lompoc where asphalt bordered by simple white lines may eventually become canvases for street art. The Lompoc City Council on Tuesday approved a letter supporting a local collaboration’s application for a $75,000 grant from the Santa Barbara Foundation to pay for several creative crosswalks. The Healthy Lompoc Coalition, part of the Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization, is leading the grant application. “We’re very excited about the potential of bringing creative crosswalks into Lompoc,” Ashley Costa, community health director with Healthy Lompoc Coalition, said Wednesday morning. “It’s a cool project.” Because of her job, Costa, who also sits on the City Council, recused herself from this topic during Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s bringing art into Lompoc on a new canvas,” she said, adding that the project would bring a number of benefits such as increased walkability, increased art-related tourism and more. Healthy Lompoc Coalition has been joined in the effort by the City of Lompoc, the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Lompoc Valley Arts Council and the Lompoc Economic Development Committee. “A lot of organizations are interested in this project for their own goals and vision, but it’s great we can come together under the vision of improving our community,” Costa said. The idea for creative crosswalks stemmed from a 2013 article, “75 Seriously Fun Ways to Make Your Town More Playful,” shared by the California Park & Recreation Society, JoAnne Plummer, Lompoc’s recreation manager, said in a staff report. The city had explored creative crosswalks for the Safe Routes to School Program, which has already improved sidewalks and crosswalks using federal funding to create better access for students walking or riding bikes to school. However, creative crosswalks were not eligible for funding under this program. A Santa Barbara Foundation solicitation for grant applications — the 2014 Community Investment Opportunity — brought another avenue for funding as the organization specifically seeks proposals that “attract and grow new audiences, ... establish or expand the regional identity as a modern and vibrant arts destination, revitalize and enliven a cultural community or district, and cultivate career pathways and opportunity for young, emerging and working artists.” In the report to the City Council, staff noted that the Public Works Department expressed concerns regarding safety and maintenance regarding the creative crosswalks. The city relies on state standards to provide uniform specifications for all official traffic-control devices, such as crosswalks. To minimize safety concerns, the proposed projects would be installed where existing stop signs and crosswalks are already located, city staff said. “Remember, we’ve promised the Public Works Department will use the transverse lines,” Plummer added. Design guidelines would require artists to incorporate the typical two white lines that delineate a crosswalk into their artwork. Additionally, they intend to use reflective paint for the white lines bordering the crosswalk, but muted colors for the actual artwork. “A driver will see it but it’s not going to be as easy to see as the transverse lines,” Costa said. Four creative crosswalks are proposed for South H Street and Cypress Avenue, one near Ryon Memorial Park at South O Street and West Cypress Avenue, and two at North I Street and West Walnut Avenue and North I Street. “These locations were chosen to maximize the economic impact to downtown businesses on both sides of Ocean Avenue and to create an artistic connection to large community events at Ryon Park while also increasing pedestrian connectivity from the residential regions adjacent to the creative crosswalks,” Plummer told the City Council. If the application is approved, a contest for local artists would choose final designs. A public works representative would be included on the committee to ensure the creative crosswalk meets standards. The grant would cover short-term maintenance, and LVCHO has committed to working with the city, local artists and organizations to coordinate maintenance of the creative crosswalks by volunteers at no additional cost to the Street Maintenance Division, the staff report said. The goal would be for artists to create simple designs, Plummer said, to keep municipal maintenance costs down. “We’re not looking for a mural on the ground,” Plummer said. “We’re looking for a design that can be easily replicated for installation and then easily maintained.” Lompoc has embraced public art since 1988 with the addition of murals to walls in downtown. Today, The City of Arts and Flowers boasts dozens of murals, thanks to an ongoing effort of the Lompoc Mural Society. Costa said creative crosswalks can be found in California and beyond. “They’re actually used all the over the world, believe it or not,” she said, adding the unique street art can be found in West Hollywood, the Pasadena Playhouse District and San Francisco. Some cities use one color while others incorporate several, Plummer said. Some employ basic patterns while others feature whimsical designs, such as an oversized zipper, huge footprints, a comb, hopscotch or a 3-D effect to look like a speed bump. “By the way, Lompoc would fit very nicely like that,” Plummer said after showing one example incorporating a message. The grant application is due next week and winners of the competitive grant should be notified in November, Costa said. “Hopefully, the foundation sees the value in helping Lompoc rehabilitate the downtown corridor,” she added. Original article can be found at http://www.noozhawk.com/article/lompoc_seeks_grant_creative_crosswalks_local_artists_20140906