City Council Is Ho Hum

At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, the Council and City staff did not discuss any of the major issues facing Santa Monica.

The General Plan revision, the rising traffic congestion, the proposed Civic Center Village project, the removal of over 50 healthy trees from downtown streets and the continuing plight of long-time renters who make too much money to qualify for affordable housing and not enough money to buy a house or condominium were not on the agenda.

Setting the tone for the evening, the Council began the meeting in closed session, but rook no reportable action.

Maintaining the pace, the Council approved the following Consent Calendar items without discussion: a resolution authorizing the submittal of contract amendments with the Los Angeles County Department of Community and Senior Services for the senior nutrition program; an agreement to pay AdamsMorioka, Inc., $150,000 for graphic design services, plus a $100,000 option for additional services, for the Annenberg Community Beach Club; an agreement with Canavan Associates, Inc. in the amount of $81,402 for consulting services for the selection and implementation of a homeless management information system; a contract in the amount of $3,894,900 to KDC, Inc. for the annual street and park light retrofit project; the appropriation of $58,993 in 2007 in Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant funds for use on the DNA/advanced forensic evidence project; a software license and maintenance agreement in the amount of $142,907 with Proper LLC for purchase of a patient-care tracking and reporting system for the Fire Department; and the execution of amendments to the Westside Cities Council of Governments Joint Powers Authority agreement.

The first real item in the public session was a Human Services staff report on the opening of the new OPCC Access Center, the relocation of meal providers and Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson’s designation of three buildings at the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration campus as residences for homeless veterans.

The Council then approved a tentative tract map for a two-lot subdivision at 930 San Vicente Boulevard, and approved the first reading of an ordinance amending the City’s tenant harassment laws to require that a tenant prevail in an unlawful detainer action before his landlord can be liable for bringing a wrongful action to recover possession of a rental housing unit. The ordinance is designed to bring the City’s law into conformance with state law.

The Council also adopted an ordinance clarifying the schedule for periodic increases in the amount of permanent relocation benefits.

Then, changing pace, the Council rejected on second reading an ordinance that would have required the installation of gas shut off devices in buildings, structures and mobile homes prior to sale or exchange. The staff was ordered to return with a revised ordinance.

Reversing a decision it made four years ago, the Council authorized staff to proceed with “a one-year red light photo enforcement pilot project.”

The highlight of the meeting was the Council’s discussion of the possible purchase of buses that look like trolley cars for use on the Mini-Blue Bus routes, on the assumption that such buses would attract more passengers. It was generally agreed by Council members that the design of the “trolley-style vehicle” should “reflect the Santa Monica experience.”

Several Council members seemed to like the idea of a bus made to look like a surfer’s classic “woody” station wagon, fitted out with surf board replicas on the roof. But Council member Bobby Shriver suggested that the Council’s focus should not be on the design, but the designer, and cited architect Frank Gehry.

After an extended discussion, the Council directed staff to find out how much latitude the City would have in customizing the vehicles.

Nearly a year after Santa Monica voters approved Measure V, a parcel tax to finance stormwater management projects, the staff presented and the Council conceptually approved a “phase I plan” that includes the establishment of an oversight committee, low-income fee waivers and the issuance of revenue bonds” to facilitate the development of capital projects.”

Among the projects are were 16th Street and Airport watershed retention systems, Airport watershed “Best Management Practices (BMPs),” Pico-Kenter storm drain upgrades, Pier storm drain upgrades, Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility (SMURRF) storage reservoir, Bicknell and Ocean Park Boulevard “green street” projects, beach parking lot greening projects, and various urban runoff pollution control projects.

The Council ordered staff to return with a resolution to formally adopt the make-up, roles and responsibilities of the oversight committee.

In other business, in a public hearing the Council confirmed assessment costs for the Yale Street Improvement Project that widened existing parkways to preserve the tree canopy and permit street repairs.

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