CITY HALL – The City Council threw its weight behind a movement to overturn the 2010 Supreme Court decision which allowed unlimited corporate money into public elections.

The resolution was a scaled back version of one presented in January by the Taskforce on the Environment, which used a boilerplate document drafted by members of the Move to Amend organization targeting the Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission decision and the concept of corporate personhood.

The version passed on Tuesday expressed support for overturning the Citizens’ United vs. Federal Elections Commission decision, affirming that money is not the same as speech and prohibiting corporate contributions to political campaigns.

Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis pushed for revisions to the Move to Amend draft because of what she feared might be the unintended consequences that an attack on corporate personhood would have on small mom-and-pop stores that organize themselves as corporations for financial reasons.

Cris Gutierrez, of Santa Monica Neighbors Unite!, applauded the effort, although she supported Move to Amend’s wider-reaching draft.

“This resolution does not prohibit corporate opportunities to give money to elections, but it limits it, and that makes dog gone good sense,” Gutierrez said.

Pier parking

Council gave staff the go ahead to explore building a parking structure next to the Santa Monica Pier, although members cautioned planners to pay attention to the structure’s aesthetics and to avoid creating a traffic snarl in nearby neighborhoods.

The structure would be short enough not to disrupt views from the bluffs immediately to the east of the pier, and would actually be below the majority of the pier bridge. Staff proposed a small bridge to span the gap between the structure and the pier at the point where the two structures intersect.

As proposed, the structure would provide 270 spaces, the same number as are currently offered in the parking lot on the pier deck, which might then be closed.

Killing the surface lot would free up ocean views and 24 percent of the pier deck space and eliminate the conflict between the pedestrians that crowd the pier and the cars trying to get down the pier bridge to park in the lot.

Councilmember Kevin McKeown stressed that while taking the parking off of the pier was desirable, the proposed location would put more traffic into nearby neighborhoods and encouraged staff to explore other options as well.

“It might be good enough, but I’d like to see us go for something much better,” McKeown said.

City Hall expansion

The City Council also gave staff the green light to explore the possibility of building a 40,000-square-foot building behind the current City Hall that could house departments currently spread throughout the city.

If constructed, the building could house departments which now lease space in private buildings at a cost of approximately $2 million per year, like the Housing and Economic Development or Finance departments.

Bringing those departments closer together and to the rest of City Hall would increase efficiency, said Martin Pastucha, director of public works.

Council members enthusiastically supported the building, and even asked staff to check the options of a larger facility to make sure the building met current and future needs.

More to follow in the March 29th edition of the Daily Press.

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