CITYWIDE — Tourism continues to rise in Santa Monica, according to City Hall’s Year End Report.

The report, which lists statistics about City Hall’s accomplishments during fiscal year 2012-13, also shows a rise in calls for service to the fire department and in community involvement at workshops.

Tourists Can Wang (right) and Weiyang Yan take a picture in Palisades Park on Thursday. The pair was visiting from Chicago where they are exchange students from China. (Daniel Archuleta daniela@smdp.com)

Tourists Can Wang (right) and Weiyang Yan take a picture in Palisades Park on Thursday. The pair was visiting from Chicago where they are exchange students from China. (Daniel Archuleta daniela@smdp.com)

More than 7.3 million visitors spent $1.5 billion in 2012, about a 10 percent increase from 2011. In early 2013, the numbers continued to rise, Santa Monica Convention & Visitor’s Bureau officials said. Visitors from Los Angeles County spent an average of 4.9 nights in the city this winter, up more than one night from winter 2012. They spent more money, too, CVB officials said.

It’s the international crowd that supported the city the most, contributing close to $1 billion in 2012.

Half as many affordable residences were completed last fiscal year compared to the year prior, according to the report. Last year, 169 residences were opened compared to 354 the year prior. The loss of the redevelopment agency money “seriously constrained future capital investments” in affordable housing, according to the report.

“The dissolution of redevelopment was our principal challenge,” City Manager Rod Gould said in the report. “This, along with rapid increases in pensions and healthcare costs, outstripped the increase in revenues that resulted from economic recovery.”

About 36 percent of all housing built in the city since 1994 was affordable to low-and-moderate-income households, the report said.

Homelessness increased in Santa Monica and across the region, according to the report. The number of homeless people placed in permanent housing also nearly halved, from 108 to 55.

“Rather than make drastic changes, we refined strategies and collaborated with partners to curb this trend,” Gould said.

The fire department responded to 13,540 calls for service last fiscal year, up 5.4 percent from the year before. Two-thirds of the calls were for medical service. Only 1.64 percent were for fires.

The Alhambra Fire Department, which serves a population only slightly smaller than Santa Monica, responded to 4,849 incidents during fiscal year 2011-12, according to the Verdugo Fire Communications Center.

In Culver City, which has less than half the population of Santa Monica, the fire department responded to 4,500 calls, with a slightly higher rate of fires, according to Culver City fire officials. About 82 percent of their calls were for medical help.

The Santa Monica Fire Department responded to more calls per capita than the Pasadena Fire Department. About 17 percent of Pasadena’s responses were for fires.

“At the end of the year, the overall crime rate was consistent with levels not seen since the 1950s,” the report said of the Santa Monica Police Department.

Gould lauded the service of police, fire, Big Blue Bus, and city staff, during the June shooting rampage that ended at Santa Monica College.

“If not for their smart and selfless service, it is without question more lives would have been lost,” he said.

The Santa Monica Public Library had 1,373,000 visitors last year, down about 25,000 from last year.

The drop is probably tied to the fact that the Los Angeles Library system, which has branches surrounding the city, had severely cut back hours in 2009 but restored most of them last year, Acting City Librarian Wright Rix said.

“That just takes some of the pressure of it off of us,” he said.

The library was recently named one of 13 Five Star libraries in the state by the Library Journal, which measures, among other factors, every library’s circulation usage, visitors, and community involvement against their annual budgets. Santa Monica has been named a Five Star library every year since the Library Journal began keeping track five years ago.

Other notable numbers

• 208: The number of public records requests completed by City Hall. The total doubled from the year prior.

• 1,400: The number of people that participated in community meetings and workshops. The number is up 200 from the year prior.

• 256: The number of cultural events produced. There were 172 events last year.

• 18,000: The number of bicycles valet-parked at events. In the year prior, 24,000 bikes were parked at events. There were more events offering bike valet-parking the year prior.

 

dave@smdp.com