Editor‚Äôs note: This story is part of an ongoing series that tracks the city‚Äôs 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.
CITY HALL ‚Äî Driving west on Interstate 10 when the sun is shining becomes a harrowing experience right around the Fourth Street exit, where throngs of people line up in an attempt to make it to Santa Monica‚Äôs world-famous beaches.
The City Council will have an opportunity to make that a little less horrific Tuesday night if they approve $1.6 million of grant money for real-time beach parking signs, which will let folks know if there‚Äôs a place to park their car without the traffic-inducing waiting and circling.
The project would put informative signs for motorists traveling to Santa Monica beach parking lots near the Santa Monica Pier, Ocean Avenue and Palisades Beach Road. The signs would also show parking information for garages in Downtown.
It‚Äôs also the first step toward a comprehensive congestion-management system in Downtown that includes a web-based mobile app.
Officials plan to install signs in 16 locations in the city, primarily at the parking lots and popular freeway off-ramps. Two kinds are proposed. The first would show the number of spaces available, and the second could display customizable information about closures or unexpected events.
The total cost of the project is $1,165,500, all of which will be covered using three grants from local, state and federal sources. That covers most of the $1,592,940 in spending detailed in the consent agenda, which also includes over $320,000 in revenues.
While entities across the public and private spectrum are trying to find ways to increase their revenues, Santa Monica is focused on getting money that it‚Äôs already owed.
City Hall proposes to spend $200,000 on a contract with NCO Financial Systems, Inc., a Pennsylvania-based company, on a two-year contract to help get taxes, fines and fees out of unwilling payees.
With the exception of parking citations and library fees, City Hall does not have an outside firm to hunt down delinquents, who owe money for things like water, sanitation, fire and police services, the use of recreational facilities and even business license taxes.
Under the agreement, NCO would receive 22 percent of the amount of money recovered from accounts less than six months delinquent and no more than 30 percent for those that are referred for legal action, according to the report.
An existing employee in the Finance Department whose job it is to deal with delinquent entities and businesses would follow up on accounts with more money involved and file small claims cases where appropriate.
Where do the people go?
The council is likely to approve a contract with a California-based consultant to update a system that helps officials analyze existing and future traffic patterns in Santa Monica.
The Travel Demand Forecasting Model takes in data about land use and transportation improvements and then spits out expected impacts on the local transportation system, like greenhouse gas emissions, vehicle miles traveled and how long it takes to move down the major transit corridors.
The model needs to be updated, and existing information is in a format no longer supported by its manufacturer. Fehr and Peers will make sure the model is up to date and convert information from the Traffix format to the VISTRO format for $187,440 over the next year.
The council will have the opportunity to accept two grants totaling $1,040,000 Tuesday night that will pay for an index to measure resident well-being and police efforts to combat alcohol abuse, respectively.
The first, and largest, is $1 million from the Bloomberg Philanthropies nonprofit to fund the Well-Being Project, a collaboration between City Hall and experts in the fields of behavioral science, economics, public health and psychology to measure community health and resilience.
That data will inform future governmental policies. It will take roughly two years to complete, according to the staff report.
The second, smaller grant of $40,000 comes from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to cover police overtime associated with efforts to reduce the availability of alcoholic beverages to underage kids, alcoholics and the homeless.
Bringing in the bacon
City Hall believes it can get $165,765 out of a two-year lease of a surface parking lot before it is replaced by a new fire station.
City Hall swapped a property on Fifth Street for the 1337 Seventh St. parking lot to get a more central location for a new fire station. Alcion PS Santa Monica, LLC., a private company, leases the lot for its tenants.
Under the agreement, Alcion could continue to lease the lot until City Hall is ready to start construction on the station, which they believe will happen in spring 2015.
The first term will last one year, with monthly renewal options thereafter that only City Hall can terminate.
City Hall also hopes that it can get cash for a small parcel of land adjacent to a local private school aiming to build a new school for arts and science, which will also go up to the City Council for final approval Tuesday night.
An estimate in the report to the City Council puts the value at $200 per foot, or roughly $154,400 for the 772 square-foot lot.