<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 — A set of suggestions to stave off anticipated traffic impacts around the Exposition Light Rail terminal in Downtown will get a second look as officials prepare for the arrival of the electric train in 2015.

The City Council tonight is slated to hire Fehr & Peers to conduct a study that will examine the projected increase of pedestrians and cyclists around the light rail station at Fourth Street and Colorado Avenue, which is expected to change traffic patterns near the already congested intersection.

Fehr & Peers’ $89,100 contract is part of an estimated $2.4 million spending package waiting for the council’s approval.

Expo as a system is projected to carry about 62,000 passengers, translating to about 200 to 400 people who will get off each train in Santa Monica, creating a possible circulation nightmare.

These concerns were raised during a council meeting in March when traffic consultants presented several proposals to minimize problems at the impacted intersection, including diverting cars by creating a new street that would go from the I-10 Freeway offramp at Fourth Street, cutting through the City Hall north parking lot and ending at Main Street.

Other suggestions include limiting Colorado between Fourth and Fifth streets to one-way configurations, and creating a “green street” along Colorado from Fourth to Ocean Avenue, which would entail widening sidewalks and reducing travel lanes.

“The circulation analysis is a necessary next step in testing the feasibility and potential effectiveness of possible infrastructure and other circulation measures,” a city staff report said.

Greener biodiesel fuel on the way

When City Hall goes out to bid for a new biodiesel supplier later this year, it will be looking for the greenest option on the market — yellow grease.

In the meantime, the council will be asked to extend its agreement with current supplier General Petroleum Corp. until the end of November at a cost of $1.24 million.

The council requested additional information related to the overall environmental impact of biodiesel fuel when it approved the contract with General Petroleum in December, wanting to ensure that the bidder’s entire carbon footprint was taken into account. City staff met with users of biodiesel, including the Big Blue Bus, about their experiences using biodiesel, finding that yellow grease (mostly recycled cooking oil from restaurants) is considered the most sustainable option, which up until recently was not available in the Los Angeles region.

Studying clean water projects

Following a request for more information about a series of proposed water improvement projects to be funded by Measure V, more money will be needed for consultant time.

That request came from the Measure V Citizen’s Oversight Committee in June about the watershed capital improvement program, asking for additional project scopes, cost estimates and concept reports. Black and Veatch has since last year helped develop strategies to carry out projects under Measure V, a parcel tax which voters passed in 2006 to clean up the ocean and beaches.

The extra work will mean an additional $153,000 to the consultant’s contract.

Lobbying for public transit

The Ferguson Group is slated to receive a $35,000 contract to serve as the Big Blue Bus’ federal representative on matters related to transit funding issues in Washington D.C.

The Municipal Transit Operators Coalition, which consists of various public transportation agencies in the county, has also selected the Ferguson Group to serve as its lobbyist.

The Big Blue Bus is also expected to ask the council to extend a contract with Harley Ellis Devereaux, which is designing the interior of the agency’s operations building on Seventh Street, to cover extra work related to LEED achievement and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Resurfacing Downtown streets

A project to resurface portions of Santa Monica Boulevard, and Fifth and Sixth streets will require extra funding because of the uneven and deteriorated condition of the existing pavement at several locations.

The result will be an extra $77,900 to Silvia Construction, which has already begun work at several streets.

Caltrans will cover about 88 percent of the extra cost while the remaining will come from the general fund.

Handling payroll software

Human Resources is requesting the council approve a contract with Oracle USA to maintain software that handles payroll, benefits and other aspects of the department.

The estimated $578,695 contract will cover the software provider’s services for the next four years. The software was purchased from Peoplesoft Inc. in 1995, a company that was later acquired by Oracle.

“The system is the backbone for all human resources, benefits administration and payroll activity for the city,” the staff said.

Outdoor seating for beach house

While the new Annenberg Community Beach House just opened doors in April, there’s already some new furniture in mind for the future.

The council will be asked to approve an extra $27,293 to JANUS et Cie to supply outdoor furniture for the beach house. The money will cover future furniture repair and replacements.

Moving sustainability liaison

The position of the community sustainable liaison, which for the past few years has helped bridge a gap between the community and City Hall on green matters, will join nonprofit organization Sustainable Works in order to better secure grant funding.

The council in 2007 approved a $150,000 contract with Traci Reitz to serve as the community sustainable liaison with the stipulation that she secure outside funding to continue in that role after the funds run out. The only problem is that grant funding is scarce for such consultants.

Reitz suggested that long-term funding would be possible if her position shifted from being an independent consultant working for the city to one that is incorporated into an established nonprofit organization — Sustainable Works.

The council is expected to approve a transfer of $87,500 to Community Partners, which is the fiscal manager for Sustainable Works, covering the remaining funding for the liaison.

Grants for City Hall

The council is expected to authorize the city manager to accept grants for vehicle replacement and public safety.

City Hall was recently awarded $600,000 from the South Coast Air Quality Management District to cover the costs of buying 24 heavy-duty natural gas vehicles, reimbursing up to $25,000 a piece. The council will be asked to authorize the city manager to obtain those funds.

The council is also expected to enter a memorandum of understanding with the city of Los Angeles to receive more than $248,000 in grant funding from the Department of Justice. The grant requires that one agency in the area serve as the grant administrator, which in this case is Los Angeles.

The money will be used to help the Santa Monica Police Department cover costs of overtime during peak seasons.


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