CITY HALL — City Council will consider repealing its controversial agreement that would allow a developer to add five, roughly 80-foot-tall buildings to the east side of Santa Monica, on Tuesday.
Texas-based developer Hines’ Bergamot Transit Village project was approved by council in a 4 to 3 vote back in February.
Council members Bob Holbrook, Gleam Davis, Terry O’Day and Pam O’Connor initially voted in favor of the project and will be given a chance to change their minds.
After the approval, frustrated residents gathered more than enough signatures to put the agreement on ice. If one of the council members flips on their decision then the agreement will be canceled and Hines has to go back to the drawing board.
If all four members stick to their guns then the agreement will go before voters later this year.
City officials are recommending against a special election, which would cost taxpayers an estimated $200,000. It could go on the November general election ballot at a cost of $5,000.
Holbrook and O’Connor are up for reelection this year, as is dissenting Councilman Kevin McKeown.
Residocracy, the community group that spearheaded the referendum effort, will gather outside of City Hall at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday for a protest.
Before council approved the agreement back in February, more than 100 residents spoke for more than three hours on the item. The public comment alone took up almost an entire council meeting.
Future SMO development put to vote
Three council members, Davis, O’Day, and McKeown, are suggesting that any future “significant changes” in the use of Santa Monica Airport land be put to a public vote. They’re suggesting that council ask City Hall to draft an amendment to the City Charter. The amendment could put airport land changes to a vote but would also protect council’s ability to manage the airport, including “authority to limit or terminate particular land uses and leases in order to protect community health and welfare and the environment.”
If the amendment is drafted, it could be put before voters in November.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), a national aviation advocacy group, is backing a ballot initiative, which claims that council is in favor of shutting down a part of the airport so it can be redeveloped. The initiative seeks to require a public vote on council decisions about any airport closures. Petitioners for this initiative must collect more than 9,000 signatures to place it on the ballot.
Numerous residents opposed to the airport and the city’s largest political party, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, have called the AOPA-backed petition “deceptive.” Some 11 residents filed a lawsuit against the petition’s filers last week.
Living wage increase
Council will likely make official its increased living wage. Council members have discussed and largely supported the proposal to pay all contract and city employees $15.37 per hour, up from $14.08.
The pay bump will cost City Hall an estimated $700,000 per year.
Reducing police permits
Council will consider repealing all but a handful of police permits. The permits are currently required for fortune tellers, shooting galleries and dance halls.
These and two dozen others are up for repeal.
“After a review by staff of the existing regulatory restrictions, no public benefit could be identified that warranted the additional burden created by the regulations, particularly since most public safety concerns can be addressed through other existing laws and regulations,” city officials said. “Removing the requirement to obtain a permit would not relieve a company of its obligation to obtain a business license and pay business license tax.”
Gun dealers, massage parlors, pawnbrokers, secondhand dealers, tow truck operators, and bar musicians will still have to get police permits.
Parking businesses will get the biggest break if the ordinances passes; there are currently 111 police permits out for parking lots and 90 for valet services. These permits are up for repeal.
Fitness trainer permits, currently possessed by 110 businesses, are also on the chopping block.