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Tab Chatman looks like he's hanging on for dear life as he rides the carousel on the Santa Monica Pier. The City Council is expected tonight to approve a two-year contract for $411,000 for maintenance of the carousel. (photo by Byron Kennerly)

<i>Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing series that tracks the city’s expenditures appearing on upcoming Santa Monica City Council consent agendas. Consent agenda items are routinely passed by the City Council with little or no discussion from elected officials or the public. However, many of the items have been part of public discussion in the past.</i>

CITY HALL — Long-awaited improvements to the aging and deficient Santa Monica Pier storm drain will soon begin.

The City Council on Tuesday is expected to approve a series of contracts to upgrade the existing storm drain infrastructure adjacent to the pier, moving forward a project that will go a long way toward cleaning one of the dirtiest beaches in the state.

Those three contracts, which together total more than $1.4 million, are part of a larger $3.1 million spending package that the council is expected to pass, covering everything from new vehicles for the Santa Monica Police Department to maintenance services for the pier carousel.

The Pier Storm Drain Improvement Project was identified by City Hall as the highest priority among possible undertakings to be funded by Measure V, the Clean Beaches and Ocean Parcel Tax, which voters passed two years ago to pay for better water quality.

Estimated for completion in June, the project includes replacing deficient storm drain pipes and construction of a diversion box that would pump captured urban runoff and divert it to a nearby sewer. Officials said the goal is to eliminate dry weather urban runoff from being discharged onto the beach, which would reduce bacterial contamination.

Following a bidding period earlier this month, city staff is recommending that the council award a construction contract for roughly $1 million to KEC Engineering. Tetra Tech is slated to receive a $143,572 contract for construction management and Psomas, which is providing project management, is expected to see a contract extension of roughly $190,000.

“The project is intended to improve water quality and maintain the beneficial uses of the Santa Monica Bay, as well as improve beach aesthetics by eliminating ponding caused by dry weather urban runoff discharges onto the beach” a staff report stated.

The Bicknell Avenue “Green Street” Project, which would also reduce storm water runoff, is also expected to get the nod from council, which is scheduled to approve both a $538,477 construction contract with Sully-Miller Contracting Co. and a $52,000 contract to Kimley-Horn and Associates for design services.

The project will be funded in part by Measure V and through a grant from the State Water Resources Control Board, the latter of which has been frozen due to budget issues in Sacramento. City staff said they believe the funds will be reinstated after the budget issue is resolved.

If the grant is not reinstated, city staff will suggest that more Measure V money be used to pay off the balance of the project.

The project, which will be located on a one-block part of Bicknell from Ocean Avenue to Neilson Way, will include new landscape biofilter swales and infiltration areas that will reduce impervious street surface.

Providing upkeep for the carousel

The historic 87-year-old carousel, a familiar fixture on the pier, will continue to be maintained by the same company that has operated the ride since 2001.

City Hall recently went shopping for a company to both operate and maintain the carousel, which is located in the Looff Hippodrome, receiving interest from only one party — Roth Management.

The company has been responsible for overseeing the carousel since September 2001.

The new two-year contract is estimated to be more than $411,000 and includes three, one-year renewal options.

Extra help for plan check

A consulting firm that has provided additional staff for the Planning and Community Development Department for more than seven years is expected to get a $150,000 boost to its contract.

The increase to the contract with JAS Pacific — which has provided contracted personnel to work in the plan check, code enforcement and building inspection divisions — will pay for four additional staff positions. If approved, the extension would bring the contract total to $591,000 this year.

The new staff members will work in the Building and Safety Division.

The extension will be funded by additional revenue that has come in through a 17 percent increase in application fees for building and planning services. The council adopted the fee increase in November 2008 to hire four additional staff members in order to maintain higher customer service standards. City staff is recommending that the positions be filled by JAS Pacific until the current economic situation stabilizes.

Paying what is owed

The council will be asked to pay an outstanding fee that it owes for construction oversight of a city office on Fourth Street.

City Hall entered a lease with Metropolitan Pacific Capital LLC in 2006 to house the Civil Engineering and Architecture Division at 1433 Fourth St. As part of the agreement, City Hall was required to pay a 2 percent construction oversight fee, estimated at $9,123, for tenant improvements at the office.

The company recently discovered that payment of the fee has not been fulfilled.

New rides for City Hall

The Santa Monica Police Department is expected to receive two new vehicles for its Forensics Section.

The CNG — Compressed Natural Gas — vehicles, estimated to cost a total of $136,279, will replace several older cars that are scheduled to be phased out by the SMPD.

The council will also be asked to purchase four new CNG conventional cab trucks for City Hall’s Water Division, also replacing a set of outdated vehicles. The vehicles will cost approximately $193, 563.

The Big Blue Bus is also expected to request new engine parts for its LNG — Liquefied Natural Gas — fleet. The contract to Cummins Cal Pacific LLC, which will supply the parts, is estimated at $191,000.

melodyh@smdp.com