CITY: SPEAKING OF TRAFFIC & PARKING…

By Jim Gerstley

Planning Commission meeting, Wednesday, January 30, 7 PM,
Council Chambers

6-A Zoning Ordinance Update

This ordinance is attempting to address downtown parking. Downtown is already congested, as are the I-10 and I-405 freeways. Building more multiple use developments downtown will add more people and more congestion. Congestion is a combination of cars, transit, bikes and pedestrians. Congestion impacts safety and air pollution. Unsynchronized signals alone have decreased my gas mileage 30-50%, with increased pollution. Congestion [slower speeds] will impact air quality even more. I don’t feel the suggested solutions are necessarily the best ways to solve the problem at this point in time. They need to be slowly introduced to see how they work. This means stretching development over a sufficient span to adjust the concepts. Stretching development over a longer time also means you’ll have newer buildings [such as hotel rooms] when you need them. The solution requires global thinking. Other ideas are suggested below.

Four questions: 1] Who are we trying to bring into the already congested downtown area, and why? The answer will have a major impact on traffic and parking. The “who” can be broken down into: out-of-town visitors; LA County visitors; & Santa Monica residents. Each will utilize different routes and transport modes. With residents, the distance they need to go, convenience of public transport, physical ability, and time of day will also factor in. Taxis and visitors with their own vehicles coming to downtown hotels will add to peak evening hours—suspect most arrive between 3-6PM.

2] What characteristics of Santa Monica make it a popular destination?
This will help answer the question: what is special that will draw people downtown? It will also help answer the question: what type of developments fit in and enhance the downtown experience? And what mix of traffic will this draw and what parking will be required?

3] What are the negative consequences of insufficient parking? While some will use alternative transportation [walk, bike, or transit], some will go elsewhere to spend money, which will represent an economic loss to downtown merchants. How do you make the trade-off?

4] Why drive? I live near public transportation and walk a lot. But will drive if have to travel more than 4-5 blocks that are not on a conveniently scheduled/located transit route. Drive to theatre at night. Drive to hike in the mountains. Drive to Trader Joe’s on Pico as we get too much to carry on public transit. Drive to friends’ homes not in the immediate area. Picking up/delivering heavy items [furniture, computers etc]. Drive at night to Music Center as buses don’t run late enough in the evening to return.

Other issues:

A] The most desirable real estate is close to the Palisades & ocean views; this should be planned for market rate housing. This maximizes income to the city in the form of real estate taxes. Affordable housing should be located outside this zone.

B]: Mini-main streets in each neighborhood would provide the basic necessities: drug stores, markets, medical, postal, restaurants/cafes. This increases walking and bike use while reducing traffic and, more importantly, traffic congestion.

C] If the I-10 and I-405 freeways are already congested, then there should be no benefits given developers for building near those corridors as it will not help traffic.

D] Establishments with high parking requirements [nightclubs] will be frequented after dark so more will drive unless they are located within walking distance of patrons’ homes. This might also result in fewer drunk driving accidents.

E] If moving parked cars around is an issue, then there is a problem with the parking plan. This may be the wrong fee schedule, or inadequate parking provided by developments.

F] Parking “in lieu of” benefits makes no sense: it provides too little parking too late. Parking is needed when a development is completed.

G] Renting apartments with/without parking [with appropriate rate adjustment] is a possibility. Should experiment with a market rate and an affordable rate rental building to see how many opt for which, before committing the concept to a bunch of developments. Believe all owned units should have parking included.

H] Have the feeling the concept of reduced parking has been introduced by developers who don’t want to pay for providing parking and don’t care, once they sell to an operator, that they have made street parking even more unavailable.

I. One of the keys to encouraging walking and bicycling is safety. Special provisions [such as parking strip barriers to separate bike lanes from traffic] should be made on minor streets such as 6th or 7th St, Arizona. How about bike lanes in Palisades Park and 3rd St? Bikes should not be encouraged to use major car arteries. Too many distractions lead to accidents.

J. Stanford University utilizes free buses running clockwise and counterclockwise around campus. The same could be employed in our downtown district, connecting major destinations with parking structures that could be located outside the immediate downtown area. Yosemite Valley also utilizes parking outside the entrance, with free buses taking people to their destinations within the valley. Seattle also offers free bus rides within a specified downtown area, with specified fares when leaving that district.

K] How are parking fees going to be collected from private spaces? Who will receive the fees? Will the owners get a guaranteed minimum to compensate for offering them to the city? How will people know some apartment building has available spaces? What is the cost to the city to manage this? Who is liable if something happens to a car or driver?

L] Santa Monica is not an island but attached to a huge sprawling metropolis. It is very challenging for public transportation to be convenient to all parts of it. San Francisco, by comparison, is pretty compact with a huge public transportation system. In San Francisco, bus tickets are good for two hours in any/all directions, including return trip. This concept might encourage more bus riders, especially those that require transfers to their destination.

M] The LUCE requires 15% excess residential and public parking at all times.

N] The I-405 is not only congested, but it greatly constricts the number of through east-west lanes under it. As a result it severely backs up traffic on every major east-west street between Wilshire & Pico. One way to ease this is to build parking structures EAST of the I-405 to handle potential traffic coming in via the I-405 & I-10, and servicing those lots with frequent low cost buses. This would also ease traffic into downtown Santa Monica & related parking

O] I don’t agree with free employee bus passes. I assume the city is paying for it? Public transit should be worthwhile if 1] it is convenient [location, time of travel, transit time] and if it costs less than a personal auto or ride share. Ride-share monthly raffles can be held for a gas coupon book to encourage car pooling, for example. Can have drawings for a monthly public transportation pass too. Employers should help to underwrite this.

P] I think I read that over 500 bikes were stolen in Santa Monica last year. What can be done about this?

DEMOCRATIC L.A. MAYORAL CANDIDATES IN PALISADES TODAY

The four Democratic L.A. mayoral candidates will appear at the annual meeting of The Pacific Palisades Democratic Club this afternoon from 2 to 4pm at the Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club, 901 Haverford Avenue in the Palisades.The meeting is open to the public.

L.A. City Councilmember Eric Garcetti, L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel, L.A. City Councilwoman Jan Perry, and Emanuel Pleitez, a former technology executive with public and private sector experience will answer questions from the forum moderator and the audience.

Eric Garcetti is currently a Los Angeles City Council member representing the 13th Council District. He was Council President from 2006-12.

Garcetti has been widely recognized for revitalizing Hollywood and many other neighborhoods, where he created jobs and reduced crime. He has authored groundbreaking policy initiatives, including business tax reforms, the nation’s widest- reaching green building ordinance, the nation’s largest clean water and solar initiatives of their kind.

Garcetti was given the New Frontier Award for officials under 40 who best embody John F. Kennedy’s vision of leadership and idealism.

Garcetti received his BA and MA from Columbia, then attended Oxford (as a Rhodes Scholar) and the London School of Economics. He taught at Occidental College and USC before being elected to the City Council.

A fourth-generation Angeleno, Garcetti was raised in the Valley. Both sides of his family first settled in Boyle Heights.

“As Mayor of Los Angeles, I will bring energy, innovation, experience and vision to the many challenges our City faces.” –Wendy Greuel

Wendy Greuel is running for Mayor to get our city back on track. Wendy wants to create a sustainable city with a thriving economy, great public schools and a seamless transportation system. If she or candidate Jan Perry wins the mayoral race, she would be the first woman elected Mayor in the city’s history.

Currently serving as City Controller, Wendy Greuel is the city’s chief auditor and financial watchdog. Under her leadership, the Controller’s office has identified $160 million in potential savings by eliminating waste, fraud and inefficiencies.

A lifelong Angeleno, Wendy attended public schools from Knollwood Elementary, John F. Kennedy High School, to UCLA. Wendy started her career in public service working for former Mayor Tom Bradley, eventually becoming deputy to the Mayor.

Following her tenure in Mayor Bradley’s office, Wendy worked as a senior advisor at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. At HUD, Wendy helped secure over a billion dollars in support for those affected by the Northridge Earthquake. In 1997, Wendy transitioned into the private sector, working in the film industry as an executive at DreamWorks Pictures for five years. In 2002, Wendy was elected to the Los Angeles City Council, where she was the architect of historic business tax reform. This reform returned nearly $100 million to local businesses, eliminating the business tax for over 60% of small businesses and making the tax system more comparable to neighboring jurisdictions.

In 2009, Wendy was elected Controller for the City of Los Angeles, performing more than 60 audits of city departments and investigating allegations of waste, fraud and abuse.She has brought greater transparency and openness to city government, such as posting the salaries of all city employees online.

She lives in the Studio City neighborhood with her husband Dean and their son Thomas.

Jan Perry has delivered results and has changed the way people view the City in her role as Councilwoman for the Ninth District. From ensuring that the Ninth District receives its fair share of basic city services to increasing economic development and job opportunities from downtown to South Los Angeles to advocating for improved parks and recreational opportunities, she has been a leader in delivering real results for the people she has represented for nearly a decade. Jan has a reputation for taking bold, decisive steps both legislatively and through policy development and implementation. She understands that she has been entrusted with the important job of advocating on behalf of and delivering positive change for those who elected her.

Creating a jobs-housing balance has been an important part of Jan’s goals. She knows that a healthy city is one that is committed to building housing for people at all income levels. She has championed the development of housing for the formerly homeless downtown, built it along side of market rate housing, and has enriched some depressed neighborhoods with new mixed-use housing with grocery stores and other neighborhood-serving retail. Jan understands how to leverage funds and work with both the public and private sector to support the development of affordable housing that meets the unique needs of every community. Her housing legacy will include the development of over 4,000 units of affordable housing for persons living at extremely low income to work force and senior housing.

Prior to being elected in 2001 to serve as the representative of the Ninth District, Jan had a long history of public service with the City of Los Angeles. During the five years she spent as Chief of Staff at the Ninth District, she became intimately involved with the concerns of the community. In 1998, she was appointed by Mayor Richard Riordan as the Executive Director of the Census 2000 Outreach Project for the City of Los Angeles.

Jan made Los Angeles her home in 1974. She attended the University of Southern California, earning a Bachelors Degree in Journalism, Cum Laude. She received her B.A. in 1977, followed by a Masters in Public Administration in 1981. In addition, she earned a Certificate in Litigation from the University of California, Los Angeles Extension in 1979. Her election would make her the first woman to serve as mayor of Los Angeles.

Emanuel Pleitez is a progressive Los Angeles native committed to uniting, serving, and inspiring his community. His strength and inspiration come from being raised by a single mother in the Eastside neighborhood of El Sereno—at an early age he helped his family through financial hardships and learned that the strength of a community comes from the people within it.

Emanuel has always taken initiative to promote social change, and with strong moral values and limited opportunities, he founded non-profit organizations such as Latinos on the Fast Track (LOFT) Institute, and the Latino Legacy Weekend, aimed at providing opportunities and mentorship for innovative young leaders.

Emanuel’s story is familiar to many Angelenos. Son of Mexican and Salvadoran immigrant parents, born in South Central Los Angeles, and raised in an underserved and underrepresented neighborhood, Emanuel soon learned that it took hard work and academic diligence to get ahead. He earned 19 varsity letters at Woodrow Wilson High School and eventually became the first member of his family to graduate college— Stanford University—on scholarships.

Between 2003 and 2005 he twice worked for current Mayor Villaraigosa, first as a field aide in El Sereno and later as his personal assistant. He went on to learn about business at Goldman Sachs until the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition team selected him to serve as a member of the US Treasury Review team. Shortly thereafter, Emanuel ran for California’s 32nd Congressional District Special Election in 2009, with a strong grassroots campaign that engaged and energized Eastside Los Angeles voters.

Emanuel continues to recognize hardships in every day life, and has committed himself to public service within and beyond Los Angeles communities. He takes an active role by serving as Board of Directors Chair for both the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and the Salvadoran American Leadership and Education Fund (SALEF), both of which identifies, promotes and prepares leaders in the Latino community. As a citizen leader for No Labels, a movement of Democrats, Republicans, and independents, he is dedicated to solving municipal problems rather than political gamesmanship. Emanuel is the founder and executive producer of INSPIRA, an ongoing web series featuring the stories of inspiration from Latinos across the country. He and his wife, Rebecca, reside in El Sereno.

Refreshments will be served at the meeting and parking will be available.

SM REP KICKS OFF THIRD SEASON WITH MOLIERE SALON

On Saturday, February 2, Santa Monica Repertory Theater will transform the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club into a 17th-century French Salon.

The event will begin with a mix and mingle at 4PM, at which guests will be able to make masks, have their hair coiffed, take part in a silent auction and raffle, and listen to live music. The evening’s primary entertainment will begin at 5PM with a fully-costumed staged reading of Moliere’s THE LEARNED LADIES, a remount of the company’s wildly popular performance from earlier this year at The Santa Monica Library, which was part of a 6-month reading series residency.

Guests are encouraged to come dressed in their 17th century best, but any French- period (or French-inspired) costume is welcome, and guests may, of course, eschew costumes altogether in favor of their own garb, though they may feel out of place in surfer duds in Moliere’s salon.

Aside from entertaining guests in a highly unusual and enormously entertaining manner, the gala’s being staged to raise funds for the SM Rep’s upcoming 2013 season. It’s the second benefit the emerging company has held at one of the city’s cultural and historical landmarks. In November, 2011, it presented a 1940’s evening of Brecht-inspired theater
at the playwright’s former Santa Monica home, now a City landmark.

Santa Monica Rep’s first season included unique theatrical events in partnership with city organizations, such as readings at the Santa Monica Public Library, open rehearsals at Clover Park, and a lively production of Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST! at the Annenberg Beach House. The company continued its second year of programming with highly regarded productions of two Pulitzer Prize-winning plays: David Auburn’s PROOF and Paula Vogel’s HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE, as well as another reading series at the library.

To date, Santa Monica Rep’s community outreach efforts have provided rich cultural experiences, free of charge, to over 1000 patrons.

The Rep strives to produce high-quality,professional theater, that embodies its motto: substance, style, and story.

Molière wrote 12 of the most durable and penetratingly satirical comedies of all time, some in rhyming verse, some in prose. As a comic dramatist, he ranks with such other masters as Aristophanes, Plautus, and George Bernard Shaw. Not incidentally. he was also the leading French comic actor, stage director and dramatic theoretician of the 17th century.

LE SALON DE SANTA MONICA REP tickets are $50 and can be purchased at www.santamonicarep.org

Local Santa Monica and Los Angeles businesses providing support for the event include The Victorian, The Broad Stage, The Skirball Center, Elite Pilates, and more …

Tax-deductible donations can also be made to the company in lieu of attending the event through our fiscal sponsor, Fractured Atlas, also on the company website.

The Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club, 1210 Fourth Street, in downtown Santa Monica, is one of the oldest and liveliest organizations in Santa Monica

Guests maypark in the Parking Structure next to the Bay Woman’s Club at 1234 4th Street.Fee is $5.

CHAINED REACTION GETS TEMPORARY STAY

LOS ANGELES TIMES STORY

Paul Conrad’s anti-nuclear war “Chain Reaction” sculpture in Santa Monica is out from under a cloud — at least temporarily.

The City Council voted Tuesday night to authorize funds to patch and secure the deteriorated sculpture and agreed to give admirers until Feb. 1, 2014, to raise funds to rebuild it.

“We’ve now got the city on board with us,” said David Conrad, son of the late sculptor and political cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times. “A year ago, they didn’t want to be bothered. Now, by council’s direction, they have to help us. It’s what we needed all along.”

Conrad said his family and other supporters, including local peace activist Jerry Rubin, would raise funds to rehabilitate the 26-foot-tall sculpture, which has stood in the Santa Monica Civic Center since 1991.

By a 6-1 vote, the council authorized $20,000 to temporarily patch the artwork, a mass of tangled chains in the shape of a mushroom cloud. It also agreed to match $50,000 in donations for its repair.

The elder Conrad, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner who died in 2010, was paid $250,000 by a private donor to sculpt the work more than two decades ago. At first he planned to build it of easy-to-maintain bronze. Instead, however, it was crafted of copper tubing over a fiberglass core and stainless steel frame.

He inscribed it with the message: “This is a statement of peace. May it never become an epitaph.”

But time and salt air have taken their toll.

In 2011, a city official raised concerns about the 5 1/2–ton sculpture’s safety after he saw children climbing on it. The City Council last March approved the sculpture’s removal but allowed supporters until November to raise funds to save it.

The city’s Landmarks Commission voted unanimously in July to designate “Chain Reaction” a city landmark.

Projected costs to fix the sculpture range from $227,000 to $423,000. The city also committed $80,000 to create a landscape barrier around the work should it be rebuilt.

ST. JOHN’S IN COURT FIGHT OVER FAILED NURSE RECRUITMENT

Los Angeles Times story
The Santa Monica hospital paid a recruiter in England nearly $700,000, but no nurses ever arrived. The hospital says it was the victim of fraud and bribery.

Short of hospital nurses in recent years, St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica hired a recruiter in England and flew one of its top executives to London to interview job candidates.

The recruiter’s firm, Stateside Nursing, found 105 nurses and the hospital paid the company nearly $700,000 in recruiting fees and for providing “acculturation services” to help the foreigners adjust to life in Southern California.

Despite all those payments, none of the nurses ever arrived in Santa Monica.
Now the hospital is pursuing a court fight over this costly failure, saying it was the victim of fraud, bribery and unfair business practices. But the legal battle may also yield unflattering details about the inner workings of one of the area’s best-known hospitals, which recently saw a
high-profile management shake-up.

In the case headed to trial next month, St. John’s accuses the recruiter, Lisa Taylor, of paying about $128,000 in bribes to Victor Melendez, the hospital’s former vice president of human resources. The hospital is suing the pair in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Both Melendez, through his lawyer, and Taylor deny the allegations, and they say the payments to Melendez were not bribes. He was paid for previous recruiting work unrelated to the hospital contracts, they said. Taylor says changes in U.S. immigration rules prevented the nurses from coming to work.
There’s no indication that this nurse-recruitment saga prompted the recent dismissals of St. John’s former chief executive, Lou Lazatin, and her chief operating officer, Eleanor Ramirez, by the hospital’s owner, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System in Denver. In November, the Catholic nonprofit escorted Lazatin and Ramirez off the hospital premises one morning and fired 15 of the hospital’s 17 board members by email.
Taylor wants the two former executives to testify in this case and explain their departure. “We want to know why they aren’t there anymore,” she said. “It goes to their credibility.” Neither Lazatin nor Ramirez could be reached for comment.

Michael Slubowski, chief executive of the Sisters of Charity, has declined to comment on the specific reasons for the St. John’s dismissals, and he said the hospital “doesn’t publicly discuss legal matters.”
There have been discussions in recent months about selling the 266-bed hospital, which has tended to celebrities and politicians over the years. St. John’s reported a loss of $13 million for 2011, the latest state data show, and patient revenue slipped 8% to $891 million.

The nursing shortage at St. John’s was a common problem for many hospitals across California.

In 2006, Melendez, the hospital’s newly hired human resources executive, set out to remedy that problem. He recommended three recruiting firms to the hospital, including Taylor’s Stateside Nursing, according to his lawyer, Vincent S. Ammirato. In a contract that year, St. John’s agreed to pay Stateside an $8,000 recruitment fee for each nurse it found.
The hospital sent Melendez to London, where he and Taylor interviewed dozens of nurses and 52 of them accepted job offers, according to the hospital’s lawsuit. Stateside billed Saint John’s for about $200,000 in initial fees.
Stateside then offered to provide “acculturation services” for the 52 nurses at $2,000 per nurse to help them acclimate to life in the U.S. because many were originally from the Philippines, India and other countries. In court filings, the hospital contends that Melendez didn’t have the authority to approve those additional expenses because they weren’t included in the contract. Rather, the hospital said, those payments were just a way for Taylor to pocket extra money for the alleged bribes.
By August 2007, even though no nurses had arrived, St. John’s agreed to pay Stateside even more. The hospital boosted Stateside’s recruitment fee to $13,000 per nurse from $8,000 earlier.

The hospital says Melendez wasn’t authorized to sign the new contract. Ammirato, Melendez’s lawyer, said that his client did not act alone and that Melendez’s boss, the former chief operating officer, was involved in negotiating Stateside’s agreements and approving its invoices.
In mid-2007, Melendez left St. John’s for another job, so the hospital sent other human resource officials to London to interview nurses. Stateside found 53 more nurses and it billed for additional fees. Overall, according to court documents, the hospital paid Stateside $669,550 in upfront fees in 2007 and 2008.

St. John’s said it became suspicious later in 2008 when Stateside’s director of sales sent a letter to the hospital alleging that the recruitment firm was overcharging St. John’s and paying bribes to Melendez. Based on this tip, St. John’s sought to recoup its money and subpoenaed Melendez’s bank records.

Stateside wired Melendez $51,843 in February 2007 and sent him an additional $51,943 the next month, according to the hospital’s lawsuit. Those wire transfers took place shortly after Melendez authorized two payments of $52,000 apiece to Stateside. Later in 2007, Taylor wrote him another check, for $25,000. Taylor and Melendez don’t dispute those payments.

In October 2010, an arbitrator found that Stateside engaged in “unlawful and fraudulent business practices” by paying Melendez to gain improper advantages in its contracts. The arbitrator awarded the hospital $1 million in damages, interest and legal fees.

Stateside went through liquidation in England, Taylor said, and she couldn’t defend herself at the arbitration hearing. The hospital hasn’t collected any portion of the arbitration award since her company shut down.
Taylor said she had satisfied her obligations by finding the nurses and getting them licensed to work at St. John’s. The U.S. had adopted a policy in 2006 that made it more difficult for some foreign nurses to obtain work visas. St. John’s said in its suit that Taylor misrepresented that she could handle those immigration issues.

“We got the nurses as far as we could get them when the U.S. government ran out of visa numbers,” said Taylor, 47, who now lives in Colorado. “I’m looking forward to telling my story at trial.”

SMDISPATCH NOTE: Last year, registered nurses at St.John’s voted to join a nurses’ union (CNA) and establish standards for treating patients. St.John’s generally opposed the nurses’ efforts.