CITY HALL — Even at a City Council meeting with a relatively light agenda, residents had a lot to say about development.
Council reviewed a survey that asked residents what they thought about the direction of City Hall and development in Santa Monica.
Notable findings included majority support for the height limits Downtown that would cap by-right building at 84 feet.
Also notable was the fact that older residents and white residents tended to oppose development and the direction that City Hall is headed, while younger residents and minorities tended to see both more favorably.
Nearly two dozen members of the public spoke on the issue with the results often being read like tea leaves.
Carl Hansen, director of government affairs at the Chamber of Commerce, noted that there’s been a lot of talk about how young people don’t engage with local politics in Santa Monica.
“The data here reveals what is likely a large part of why this is the case,” he said. “Simply, those who are happy or content with the direction our city is headed don’t have a reason to show up.”
Diana Gordon, speaking on behalf of the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City, listed the survey’s results that showed strong opposition to heights and traffic-causing development.
“The take away?” she asked. “There is no silent majority … that differs from the hundreds of residents who appeared before the council opposing the onslaught of massive development for Downtown or the Bergamot area or the over 13,000 who signed the referendum petition to put the unacceptable Hines project on the ballot.”
Councilmember Kevin McKeown said that the attempt to divide the residents into categories of young and old is a mistake.
Mayor Pam O’Connor suggested that both Millennials and Baby Boomers are changing the direction of the city in their own ways.
Pipeline contract approval delayed
Council voted unanimously to have city officials negotiate a shorter contract with an oil company that controls an existing pipeline underneath the east side of the city.
Crimson Pipeline was set to pay about $8,400 per year for 20 years to continue pumping up to 25,000 barrels of oil per day underneath the city by the sea as it passes from Ventura County to refineries in Los Angeles County.
Council asked city officials to knock that contract back to 10 years.
The pipeline runs about 4 feet underneath the ground and has never had a leak in Santa Monica, city officials said. The contract with Crimson would require the company to buy insurance covering millions of dollars worth of potential damage caused by a leak.
Santa Monica is doing a lot of things right when it comes to homelessness, council learned at the meeting.
A review of homelessness in Santa Monica showed that despite increases in the county, the number of homeless people decreased in the bay city.
The police task force assigned to deal with homelessness was lauded for its work. About 30 percent of the Santa Monica Police Department’s calls for service have to do with transient issues but the amount of time spent helping homeless people is declining thanks to good social programs, city officials said.
Former Santa Monica Mayor Bobby Shriver spoke during the public portion of the meeting, encouraging the continued development of affordable housing, particularly for homeless veterans.
At the request of Councilmember Bob Holbrook, council voted to direct city officials study the impacts of smokeless, vapor-based e-cigarettes and analyze the regulation of them.
Holbrook and other council members are concerned that the use of the e-cigarettes could lead young people to smoke traditional tobacco cigarettes.
McKeown was open to the idea but noted that the e-cigarettes could possibly have the opposite impact: helping people quit traditional smoking.
Los Angeles City Council recently voted to regulate the areas in which people can smoke e-cigarettes. The issue will likely come before council again later this year.