Downtown Santa Monica Inc.’s (DTSM) expanded ambassador program tracked almost 8,000 violations in a pair of local parks during the program’s first six months.
The findings were presented as part of the organization’s annual meeting that included updates on DTSM’s finances and statements from community leaders about the state of Downtown.
The nonprofit business improvement organization covers Downtown from about Ocean to Lincoln and Wilshire to Colorado.
According to DTSM, the area accounts for 4.5 percent of the city’s total area but generates 36.2 percent of total sales tax revenues.
Total taxable sales declined slightly year on year, dropping 2.13 percent from $1,194,771,400 in 2015 to $1,169,279,000.
Sales actually increased at Santa Monica place by 3.39 percent. However, sales dropped by 7 percent on the Promenade. Sales also dropped by 6.55 percent on Lincoln Blvd. Sales increased by 2.6 percent in other areas of the downtown. Pedestrian activity was down 7.87 percent year on year on the Promenade with a daily average of 30,505 visitors.
Of the money spent downtown, 13.5 percent came from local residents.
DTSM brought in $8,286,555 in revenue for the fiscal year and spent $8,063,811 compared to $7,632,744 in revenue the year before and $7,007,813 in expenses.
Assessment revenues were almost identical and while revenues from the annual ICE installation were down year on year, the event still covered its expenses (the tenth anniversary of the ICE skate rink brought 54,986 skaters to the rink). Revenue from “Other” sources increased substantially as did payments associated with the parks.
DTSM implemented several new programs this year including expansion of the Ambassador Program. The blue or orange shirted employees were originally stationed on the Promenade and the program has been extended to the larger area. This year, several ambassadors were assigned to specifically patrol Tongva and Palisades Park. The program includes one hospitality ambassador roaming Palisades Park, one restroom ambassador in Tongva Park and one ambassador roaming Tongva Park.
The report covered the first six months of the program.
In Tongva Park, ambassadors reported 2,658 park violations (including smoking), 531 business referrals, 902 bus/metro assists, 7,006 pedestrian assists, 1,599 restroom referrals and 193 social service referrals.
In Palisades Park, ambassadors reported 5,117 park violations (including smoking), 309 Business Referrals, 729 Bus/Metro assists, 6,638 pedestrian assists, 1,433 restroom referrals and 142 social service referrals.
“Monthly reports are collected and sent to the city of Santa Monica,” said the report. “City staff will evaluate data collected over the first year of the program to assess the effectiveness of the use of ambassadors in the parks and whether additional or different actions are required.”
Throughout the entire 40 square block Downtown zone, ambassadors had about 93,349 pedestrian interactions. Of those, quality of life issues were a mixed bag. There were decreases in some categories such as abandoned items (from 208 to 79), filming without a permit (from 29 to 10), skateboarding/bicycling/skating (from 21,276 to 19,473) and smoking (from 20,316 to 18,828). Some problems increased such as aggressive panhandling (from 9 to 19), public disturbance (from 27 to 62) and sleeping in public (from 1,381 to 2,832).
The program cost DTSM about $1,825,068 for the fiscal year.
For more information on DTSM activities, visit www.downtownsm.com.