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.

CITY HALL — In a rare turn of events, City Hall will be saving money as a result of the series of actions the City Council is expected to take in its consent calendar Tuesday evening.

The calendar addresses $814,000 across three contract changes, primarily for scope-of-work variances, a $1.7 million savings on 10 new 30-person buses to be purchased for the Mini Big Blue Bus system and a variety of lease modifications.

Earthquake preparedness

Changes to two construction contracts associated with City Hall seismic improvements could mean an additional $714,000 in expenditures.

A delay at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which funds a portion of the project, caused a plan check application submitted by the Building and Safety Division to the City Council to expire.

By City Hall’s own rules, the new application required the company in charge of the plans, West Valley Investment Group, Inc., to redo the documents using guidelines from the 2007 building code, rather than the 2001 building code used originally.

An additional $34,847 is also needed to fund hazardous material monitoring and inspection services resulting from the structural changes.

Dotting i’s and crossing t’s

Staff will request the City Council sign off on a $65,000 increase in a contract with the Strategic Advisory Group for financial and industry analysis on the Civic Auditorium that is needed to finish an agreement with the private company that will be managing the space.

The additional money would be used to help staff analyze the final agreement concerning management of the Civic Auditorium with the Nederlander Organization.

The City Council approved the selection of the company at its meeting on March 8.

SAG will specifically look at how to get financing for needed capital improvements for the building.


An additional $35,000 will be needed to finish and refine a neighborhood conservation program, including a supporting demolition ordinance.

According to a staff report, the Phipps Group, a firm that specializes in conservation planning and historic preservation, has been working with community groups since March 2009 to identify attributes of certain neighborhoods for conservation, and create methods for city officials to deal with conservation in the future.

The work was incorporated into the Land Use and Circulation Element, an update to the city’s General Plan which will dictate development for the next 20 years or more.

The extra money will be spent on developing a demolition ordinance, a need identified in community meetings by residents upset that city staff does no notify anyone if a building will be demolished if it hasn’t been previously identified as “historic.”

In addition, the company is working on a program to transfer development rights from a historic property to another location within the city. The Phipps Group will research the potential “receiving areas” within the city.

Not so green

An unexpected bankruptcy forced city staff to request a change to an existing contract for 10 hybrid buses to an order for 10 buses powered by natural gas engines instead, saving over $1.7 million in the process.

According to the staff report, an order of 10 hybrid buses from Creative Bus Sales — worth $8,061,367 — stalled when hybrid-electric drive systems maker ISE Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 2010.

Losing the original manufacturer hurt the performance of the five hybrid Mini Blue buses already purchased, and staff recommended to the City Council to change the existing order, approved in March 2009, to buses with natural gas engines.

Real estate

The council is expected to approve two lease modifications for Fourth Street properties, one for buildings owned by City Hall and another with a private landlord that owns property leased by city offices.

In November 2010, City Hall acquired addresses 1301 through 1333 Fourth Street as part of its Downtown Parking Program.

The 52,500 square foot property came with tenants, including financial institutions Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase. Chase still has two options of five years each on the lease, with the second expiring in April 2022.

Under the current lease, Chase must give City Hall notice to exercise the first option by April 30, 2011, but the company requested extra time to look at its options in terms of alternate locations.

Staff requested that the council allow the city manager to move the notice date from April 30 to Jan. 31, 2012, require rent negotiations for the option period to begin by Aug. 31, 2011 and change the date that City Hall or Chase must give rent appraisals to an arbiter, should negotiations fall through.

City staff also asked the council to approve changes to a lease with Folke Investment to decrease rent for office space on the 1400 block of Fourth Street used by the Engineering and Architecture Services Divisions and the Cultural Affairs Division.

The new rent would drop from $4.01 per square foot to $3.25 per square foot, saving approximately $98,688 per year.

Crime grant

The City Council will get the opportunity to accept a $63,095 grant to support police services from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The money will be used to cover overtime for police officers.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *