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A passenger jet fly's over head on its way to the Santa Monica Airport on Monday afternoon. The City Council is expected tonight to spend $242,261 to maintain a noise monitoring system at SMO. (photo by Brandon Wise)

CITY HALL — The shrinking surf camp universe in Santa Monica is getting even smaller.

More than a year after City Hall instituted a new permitting system to regulate surfing instruction, dramatically decreasing the presence of camps on the beach, the number of licensed companies is slated to go down by half.

The City Council tonight is expected to grant City Hall’s lone camp contract to Surf Academy, which along with Perfect Day Surf Camp — the permit recipient for independent companies — will be the only two operators this summer.

The $260,000 contract with Surf Academy, which will make it the official city provider, is part of a $2.1 million spending package the council is scheduled to approve at the meeting.

Aiming to alleviate overcrowding and rid the beach of a circus-like atmosphere, City Hall last summer awarded four surf camps — two city contractors and two independent providers — a permit to operate on the north and south sides of the Santa Monica Pier.

While the new system generally received good marks from camps and beach patrons, City Hall decided to further decrease the number of permits to one city contractor and one independent provider in order to better manage the situation on the south side of the beach.

“We had to reduce it because they were so close to each other and it was very difficult to manage,” Callie Hurd, the open space manager for City Hall, said. “The lifeguards were having (trouble) keeping the groups separate and it was a challenging situation to ensure everyone’s safety.”

Hurd added that the number of camps was scaled back on the north side of the pier because there was a group located immediately in front of the new Annenberg Community Beach House, which opened over the weekend.

“We don’t know what the demand will be for that parking lot and we thought it might not be a good time to make the area more congested than we anticipated it would already be,” she said.

If the demand for the parking lot is less than expected, a surf camp might be restored in the location, Hurd said.

In addition to the camps, City Hall has already issued 10 permits to instructors who are qualified to teach one or two students at a time. A permit has also been issued to Malibu Longboards, which will provide lessons for walk-up customers at Tower 18, which is in front of the beachside luxury hotels. Another two permits have also been granted to sand camps, which don’t provide surfing instruction.

The council is also expected to grant a $207,000 contract to Socceropolis to provide youth soccer camps and classes.

The agreements with both Surf Academy and Socceropolis stipulate that approximately 80 percent of each registration fee go to the contractors while the remaining 20 percent be allocated to City Hall, offsetting contract costs and bringing in approximately $130,000 to the general fund.

Noise monitoring for airport

To ensure that sound levels from incoming and outgoing aircraft remain in compliance with local regulations, City Hall is expected to enter a new contract with Era Corp. for continued maintenance of its noise monitoring system.

The estimated $242,261 contract secures the services of Era Corp. for another five years. Formerly known as BAE Systems, Era Corp. owns sole proprietary rights over the hardware and software used in the existing system at Santa Monica Airport.

Noise from the aircraft has long been an issue at SMO, which has been a target of criticism by its neighbors.

“The reliable and accurate operation of the noise monitoring system is critical in the enforcement of the noise ordinance in conducting the airport’s noise abatement program,” Acting Airport Director Bob Trimborn stated in his report to council.

Preserving the neighborhoods

With the Land Use and Circulation Element still in development, city officials are preparing to take an in-depth look at one of the most crucial elements of the 20-year-general plan — neighborhoods.

The council will be asked to authorize a new $120,000 contract with The Phipps Group, which will be responsible for identifying necessary tools to preserve and enhance the neighborhoods. The consultant is also expected to receive an additional $50,000 in an existing contract to integrate new concepts into the LUCE and assist city staff with customer service improvements.

The LUCE recommends that City Hall strengthens neighborhoods by following four guiding principals — keeping new development in scale with the existing neighborhood; mandating “respectful” transitions between new and existing buildings; encouraging conservation of older apartment buildings that are deemed key aspects of the neighborhoods; and recognizing the importance of streets and sidewalks as open space.

The consultant will be responsible for incorporating the guiding principals through research, analysis and outreach.

“The end product will be a report recommending neighborhood specific strategies and tools, developed in partnership with residents, property owners and the preservation community,” Ellen Gelbard, assistant director of planning and community development, said in a staff report.

Disposing of haz mat waste

General Environment Management (GEM) is expected to continue handling the dirty job of transporting hazardous material waste.

Currently contracted by City Hall, GEM is slated to receive a new agreement to continue providing services for the next two fiscal years for a combined total of $500,000.

City Hall generates haz mat waste through emergency response, in-house activities, and from its Household and Small Business Hazardous Waste Collection Center, a city staff report stated. The center is operated by the Office of Sustainability and the Environment, processing an average of 160,000 pounds of waste from 4,000 residents every year.

The number is expected to rise to 200,000 pounds from 5,000 residents a year within the next two fiscal years. Waste collected from the center includes paint, batteries and fluorescent lamps.

“As the incumbent contractor, GEM has demonstrated consistent and reliable environmental services, and proper management and transportation of hazardous waste utilizing well qualified and professional staff,” Dean Kubani, the director of the Office of Sustainability and the Environment, stated in his report.

Changes in police union contract

The City Council is expected to approve a change in its contract with the Santa Monica Police Officers Association to raise the cap on City Hall’s contribution toward the medical insurance plan.

The change, which would increase the cap for medical insurance premiums to 12 percent, is expected to cost City Hall no more than $358,620 for the upcoming fiscal year and up to $399,900 for fiscal 2010-11.

Continuing office space lease

The Code Compliance Division will stay in its offices at 525 Broadway for another few months as it waits for its new home at the Civic Center Parking Structure, which is under construction.

City Hall previously leased spaces at the office building for CityTV and Information Systems Department, both of which have moved to other locations in Santa Monica. The only other department — Code Compliance — will have to remain as tenant improvement construction work continues at the parking structure on Fourth Street and Olympic Drive.

The two-month extension in the lease will cost City Hall nearly $20,000.

More money for City Hall

Approximately $63,750 in no-match federal funds is slated to come to City Hall for local homeland security efforts.

The money will be used to buy hazardous material interoperability equipment.

The Santa Monica Fire Department’s Hazardous Material Response Truck is the official regional L.A. County responder to major hazardous material incidents involving terrorist attacks and weapons of mass destruction.

melodyh@smdp.com