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 the second to last City Council meeting of the fiscal year, city staff packed the consent agenda with 31 items slated for approval, and a price tag of $20.66 million.

That’s the largest amount spent on consent since the Nov. 9, 2010 meeting where the City Council approved $20.6 million for a new insurance plan for municipal employees with provider Cigna.

This time, the bulk of the total comes from the purchase of liquefied natural gas, or LGN, for the Big Blue Bus system, a one-year contract with four additional one-year options for a total of $12.5 million over the course of all five years.

BBB operates 125 natural-gas powered buses, and will add another 15 to its fleet by December. The system currently consumes 270,000 gallons of LNG each month. The fuel is produced locally, in Boron, Calif.

Another $4.4 million of spending on the consent agenda is also expected to go to the bus system.

Natural gas related costs

BBB staff put a number of items related to maintaining and dispensing natural gas for its fleet, totaling $1.76 million.

The fueling station itself needs very expensive and very rare parts that can take months to get after a problem is discovered.

It also gets a lot of use, dispensing up to 3,250,000 gallons of compressed and liquefied natural gas each year.

A competitive bidding process ended with the General Physics Corporation coming in as the lowest bidder with a $560,235 bid for maintenance of the facility. The contract is for a single year with three extensions.

A much bigger cost is the maintenance of the fuel systems on the buses themselves.

The buses in BBB’s LNG and compressed natural gas fleet need special maintenance on its fuel systems to keep up with government regulations as well as the requirements of the engine manufacturer, Cummins Engines.

As a result, staff requested $1.2 million over the course of three years for the necessary maintenance.

If approved, the contract will go to FAB Diversified Services, Inc.

Bus parts, repair

Half of the requested spending on the bus system comes from bus parts, repair and cleaning.

The council is expected to approve $900,000 over the course of three years for replacement parts for BBB engines.

City Hall received four bids for the contract, with Cumins Cal Pacific LLC coming in at the lowest price with the steepest discounts. The BBB buys original manufacturer parts to stay in compliance with state and federal emissions standards.

If approved, another $250,000 will be dedicated to Plexiglas window guards, essentially protective sheets that, when vandalized, can be peeled off and replaced much more cheaply than replacing the entire glass window.

That’s a separate, three-year contract with Transit Products & Services. Three companies bid on the contract.

A local company will likely get the contract to do the repairs on the buses and fire vehicles, all of which are done at the BBB maintenance yard, which has the facilities to do repairs on the large, heavy vehicles.

Grigsby’s Santa Monica bid in at $280,000 for a three-year contract that includes two optional one-year extensions. Services include “bumper to bumper” preventative maintenance and pick up and delivery of the vehicles, which should free up staff to stay at their posts.

A separate company, Bus Systems Unlimited, is being recommended to keep the air conditioning systems in the buses working properly.

That contract, worth $450,000 for a three-year term, went to Bus Systems after only one other company put in a bid for the work.

The BBB system also requested $160,000 for cleaning tanks to the Ipax company for cleaning tanks to wash off parts removed from buses while they’re being serviced.

The non-hazardous, water-based cleaning systems reduce the time needed for repair and allow the BBB to safely fix the bus components, according to the staff report.

BBB facilities

It’s not enough to keep the buses up and running if BBB administration has no place to take care of the day-to-day operations of the multi-jurisdictional bus lines.

The council is expected to approve $156,262 to repair the roof on the BBB administration building on the 1600 block of Seventh Street.

Although the Public Works department originally thought that the building would only need a patch job, the tar-and-gravel-based roof there now will be replaced with a more durable PVC membrane roofing system.

Four companies bid on the project, with Eberhard bidding nearly $55,000 lower than the highest bidder.

While those and other repairs to the BBB building are underway, City Hall will extend a contract with Design Space Modular for temporary trailers for staff to work in.

The council originally approved $253,000 for the trailers, but the project is now expected to take four months longer than anyone planned because, after demolishing the inside of the building, staff found holes cut into steel beams, major plumbing problems and a great deal of the interior framing that needed to be brought up to fire and building code.

The repairs can only be made after detailed drawings are done and submitted to plan check, and in the mean time, City Hall will need to spend another $56,800 on trailer rentals until the work is done.

Printing services

Time tables and route information are critical to users of the BBB system, and can be found at over 75 businesses, six kiosks, many community spaces and any of the 200 buses that make up the public transit system.

Staff recommended that the Pacific Graphics company get the $400,000, four-year contract to do the printing and delivery of all of those pamphlets. Pacific Graphics beat out six other companies for the deal.

Approximately 900,000 are printed and distributed each quarter.

By law, City Hall must also contract with a local newspaper to print not only notices of bids for contracts, but also information about public meetings.

Staff chose the Santa Monica Daily Press for a $60,000 contract for the next fiscal year to print those notices. The selection was made on the basis of the paper’s circulation, percentage of local news carried and reputation.

It’s all about parking

Parking is a perpetual conundrum in Santa Monica as City Hall tries to craft policy to both provide parking for the millions of tourists that provide much-needed income to the local economy as well as to pursue its goal of being a sustainable, no new net trip municipality.

To further the goals of convenience, city staff recommends that $50,000 go to the Sentry Control Systems company to finish work on an automated parking system recommended by the 2009 Walker Parking study.

There are 12 off-site public parking structures in the Civic Center and Downtown areas of Santa Monica, many of which are in the process of being converted to all-automated pay systems.

The $50,000 would pay for those machines to be covered, which protects them from the rain, and for integration with the BBB pass system so that monthly parkers can have a combined bus pass.

The City Council asked staff to make that happen in March as part of the Downtown Interim Parking Plan, which is supposed to make life easier on monthly parkers as several parking structures get shut down as a result of proposed construction in the Civic Center and Downtown areas.

Most parking structures in city limits are run by Central Parking System, a company which has a contract with City Hall through 2012. Staff recommend a $284,077 increase in that contract to include management services for the Civic Center lot, Parking Structure 10 and the mid-town parking lots.

Lot 5, near Virginia Avenue Park, would also have a formalized bike valet service, which at the moment is a trial project paid for by Proposition C money.

In further keeping with the Walker Parking study, City Hall will likely spend $75,000 with the Nelson Nygaard planning company to study in-lieu parking fees.

Those fees, which businesses in the Bayside Business District pay rather than provide parking on-site, are used for parking improvements throughout the city. The $1.50/square foot fee hasn’t been changed since the program was started in 1986.

Palisades Garden Walk

The creation of the $46.1 million park will finally get under way with a $913,000 contract with American Landscape Inc. for demolition, tree removal and tree relocating for the project site if the City Council signs off on this item.

Site preparation includes getting rid of all of the existing concrete, light poles and other features, as well as getting the area ready for the 55,000 cubic yards of dirt from a nearby construction site that will be used to build the four hills included in the park design.

That work will save City Hall approximately $2.8 million through the course of the project, according to the staff report.

Also included is the relocation of 58 trees, including three, intertwined ficus’ known as the Three Amigos, and the removal of several trees that are in poor health.

American Landscape Inc.’s bid came in $500,000 cheaper than the other bidder, Environmental Tree & Design.

Marketing services

The Annenberg Community Beach House has been up and running for two years now, and it hopes to become a destination for television filming, movie filming and photo shoots as well as other private events.

Hospitality Atelier, a business development and marketing consultant, has worked with the Beach House staff for those two years, and staff recommend extending the contract with the company for another year, ending June 30, 2012, for an extra $45,625.

Staff credit Hospitality Atelier with a 57 percent increase in revenues in the past fiscal year.

The company will focus on reaching out to local businesses.

Accessorizing

First it was just food that came on trucks, but now could be work boots and other safety accessories.

If the City Council approves, an on-site mobile shoe store will be available at various locations in the city so that employees and construction workers that are working on city projects will have access to government-approved safety shoes and boots.

It could cost City Hall $260,000 to pay Lehigh Outfitters, LLC to make these products available.

Contract monitoring

City Hall relies on the Comprehensive Housing Services company to monitor its affordable housing program to make sure it meets prevailing wage laws.

Prevailing wage is an hourly wage, as well as benefits and overtime, paid to workers on government jobs. It’s based on wages in the geographic location where the work is being done.

In 2009, the City Council put $175,000 toward monitoring services, but that money is expected to run out within a month. With a great deal more construction to begin in the near future, staff recommended that an additional $120,000 be put up for future monitoring.

Of the five companies that bid on the project, CHS had one of the lowest bids, but a great deal more experience working with City Hall.

Airport landing fee program

Airport officials recommend to the City Council to extend a contract with Vector Airport Solution for airport operations, data management, reports, billing and collections.

VAS already performs these services for 21 percent of receipts, which is capped at $100,000 per year. It assesses these fees against non-based aircraft, which pay $2.07 for every 1,000 pounds of gross landing weight.

According to the staff report, the company has better technology than Santa Monica Airport to track and capture aircraft that land, which increases the fees paid to the airport.

Environmental remediation

The Office of Sustainability and the Environment identified another $674,410 to finish three environmental support projects for the Olympic Well Field, the second largest local source of water for Santa Monicans.

City Hall is obligated by a recent settlement with Proctor and Gamble to monitor the quality of the water at Olympic Well Field, work which will be folded into an existing contract with ICF International, a California-based company that does ground water remediation at the City Corporate Yard site.

There are, however, two other wrinkles in the plan.

Two of the monitoring sites lie within the Expo Light Rail line right of way, and may need to be abandoned and relocated.

Additionally, City Hall is continuing to look for other parties that could be responsible for the chemical contamination that forced City Hall to buy water from the Metropolitan Water District while a treatment plant was constructed.

Should the council approve the change, $401,906 will go toward the extra monitoring, $116,678 will pay for finding new monitoring sites and another $155,826 will be spent on investigating other sources of pollution.

Pest control

Rodents, flies, cockroaches, oh my!

The City Council will have the opportunity to approve a $300,000 contract for integrated pest management services to continue a program begun in 1996 to get rid of pests while reducing the amount of harmful chemicals used.

The work has gone through an informal bid process up to now because the dollar amount hasn’t necessitated council action, but the three-year contract had to go through the entire bidding process.

Innovative Pest Management came in with the lowest bid out of five companies to provide services to 32 public buildings.

ashley@www.smdp.com

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