26TH STREET — Water contamination caused by a former pen-making facility will cost Proctor & Gamble a hefty sum after the company agreed to a $68 million settlement with City Hall.

The City Council on Tuesday approved the settlement in which the Gillette Co., which was purchased by Proctor & Gamble in 2005, also promised to clean the old Paper Mate facility at 1681 26th St. where chemicals contaminated a nearby drinking water aquifer.

The settlement is contingent upon approval by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The Gillette Co. purchased Paper Mate in 1955 and opened a new pen manufacturing plant on Olympic Boulevard two years later.

Residents in the area last summer received letters about ongoing soil and groundwater remediation taking place at the facility, which used solvents such as perchloroethylene.

Under the terms of the agreement, City Hall will also become the owner of the property in the vicinity of what is known as the Arcadia Treatment Plant, which is located near Wilshire Boulevard and Bundy Drive.

No residency requirement for cemetery<p>

Those who wish to spend their afterlife at Woodlawn Cemetery will no longer need to spend their living years as a Santa Monica resident.

The council approved on first reading a law that would eliminate the residency requirement for the cemetery where non-Santa Monicans have been allowed for cremation since 1975 but not for other types of interment.

Woodlawn is the only municipal cemetery with a residency requirement.

The law will also eliminate provisions that restrict people from walking in the cemetery other than on the walkways or roads and requires children to be accompanied by a parent. The new law, which will be final upon a second reading, will also change minor procedural regulations concerning the sale of plots, crypts and niches.

Councilwoman Gleam Davis said eliminating the residency requirement makes sense.

“The thing I hear from people … is that Woodlawn is full and they can’t get into it,” Davis said. “There is room for them if they desire to check in.”

Declawing now illegal<p>

A surgical procedure on cats that has been compared to amputation is no longer legal in Santa Monica.

City Hall joins a group of other California municipalities that have also voted to ban declawing in recent weeks, including Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Berkeley.

The local ordinance, which was approved on second reading, will take effect 30 days from adoption.

Proponents of the ban have argued that declawing is not only physically painful but leaves cats more vulnerable to abandonment and relinquishment because of the behavioral changes that take place following the procedure, including urinating and defecating outside of litter boxes and biting because clawing is no longer a viable defense mechanism.

Meanwhile, opponents of the ordinance have argued that taking away the option of declawing could also lead to cats being abandoned by owners who feel they have no other option than to leave their pets at the animal shelter or euthanize them.

Sideyard rule extended<p>

The council also on second reading extended an interim ordinance concerning sideyard setback standards through Nov. 10, 2011.

The ordinance affects lots that are greater than 50 feet in width in the OP-4 district, requiring a minimum sideyard setback of 8 feet for portions of buildings that have a secondary window, blank wall or primary window on a sideyard facing the street, such as properties located on corners.

Choosing taxi cab companies<p>

The council heard a report from city staff about the evaluation criteria and the process that will be used to award taxi cab franchises.

City officials voted in June to franchise cab companies to cut the inordinately high taxi population in Santa Monica, which at the time was more than 522. Cab companies were previously given a license as long as they met insurance and other basic requirements.

City Hall will begin seeking bids from cab companies on Jan. 14, 2010, after which a committee will review all applications and weigh them against criteria that include proof of financial stability, experience in the business in the past 10 years and use of alternative fuel vehicles.

Each operator will be required to have at least 25 vehicles. City Hall will issue at least one franchise and no more than eight, keeping the total number of cabs in the city at a maximum of 250.

The committee will return to council with recommendations in April with the franchise going into effect on July 1.

Councilmembers expressed a desire to see a local preference in choosing cab companies and an emphasis on an environmentally friendly fleet with vehicles that accommodate different-sized parties, from a sedan to a van.

Parking structure progress updated<p>

The council also received an update on the rebuilding of Parking Structures 1 and 6, which are located on Fourth and Second streets, respectively. The project is still in the early pre-design phase.

Councilmembers generally expressed interest in seeing ground floor retail and exploring possible underground parking.

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