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A woman boards a Big Blue Bus on Broadway on Thursday. (photo by Daniel Archuleta)

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 ¬ó The City Council will be asked tonight to approve a $38 million investment in the Big Blue Bus system to pay for new buses and a fare collection system.

According to staff reports, $30,626,936 in federal and state grants as well as county transit sales tax funds would pay for 58 buses that run on compressed natural gas to replace the same number of New Flyer buses that have hit retirement age.

Buses are considered “old” after 12 years of service under the guidelines of the Federal Transit Administration. The buses to be replaced under the program are 15 years old.

The buses will be bought from Gillig LLC using a process called “piggybacking,” which allows a government agency to buy the same product as another public agency that’s already conducted a competitive bidding process.

That will let City Hall buy the buses eight months sooner than they otherwise would.

In addition to the new buses, City Hall also wants to buy a new fare collection system that would allow for modern features like smart cards, mobile ticketing and colorized display screens.

The hardware and software for the Automatic Fare Collection System costs $7,223,512 and is offered by LECIP Inc., a Japanese company with headquarters is Des Plaines, Ill. It will also be paid for using grants and county transit funds.

Overall, the $37,850,448 bus investment accounts for most of the $41,414,580.34 consent agenda.

Flight schools

City Hall plans to put up $90,000 for a test program that would reimburse flight schools at Santa Monica Airport for the cost to fly to other airports to practice repetitive take off and landing maneuvers.

Flight schools compose approximately 40 percent of “local flights” that come out of SMO.

Staff hope the program will spare residents who live near the airport the noise caused by repetitive circling of planes around the airport on weekends and holidays.

According to the staff report, the plan could remove as many as 4,800 takeoffs and landings on weekends and holidays during a six-month test period.

Computer upgrades

The City Council is expected to approve two $400,000 contracts with companies for hardware and software needed to keep City Hall’s computer systems in working order.

The products would be purchased on an as-needed basis, and only if funds are available.

ePlus and PC Mall both provide the virtual servers, hard drives, storage and other products that City Hall already uses to maintain its systems. Each company would get a not-to-exceed $400,000 for a total of $800,000.

That funding is expected to get the Information Systems Department, the branch of City Hall that deals with the purchasing and maintenance of technology, through the 2012-13 budget year.

Bus advertising

Sometimes, you have to spend money to make money.

The Big Blue Bus is asking for a three-year $786,468 contract with J. Perez Associates Inc. to install advertisements on the inside and outside of Big Blue Buses and some Culver City Buses, as well as stock the route pamphlets on the inside of the vehicles.

The advertising program brings in between $1 million and $1.5 million each year.

Only $259,596 would be awarded in the 2012-13 fiscal year. The rest of the money would be dependent on future council approval.

Hoofing it

In 2011, the City Council approved a Bike Action Plan, which laid out a road map for infrastructure and policies for bicycles in Santa Monica.

Now it’s the pedestrians’ turn.

The City Council is expected to approve a $350,000 contract with Alta Planning + Design to provide the analysis, research, design, evaluation and outreach for a Pedestrian Action Plan.

The plan would enable the city to plan out investments and create policies that make it easier for people to get around Santa Monica on foot.

Community outreach for the plan will begin in the fall, and staff expects the whole thing will be ready for adoption in 2013-14.

Staff is also hoping to hire Alta to help coordinate the Safe Routes to School Program, an effort that would bring bicycle and pedestrian education centers to Lincoln and John Adams middle schools as well as two elementary schools in the district.

Alta would be responsible for education, encouragement, training and evaluation at each of the four schools.

That contract won’t exceed $328,000.

Hazardous materials

Staff recommends a $200,000 contract with PSC Environmental Services to transport and dispose of hazardous waste collected in the city.

PSC already provides those services for City Hall, but its current contract ends June 30.

Hazardous waste includes that produced by city functions as well as that collected with the Household Hazardous Waste program which takes paints, adhesives, batteries, electronics and other products brought by community members for disposal.

Well-heeled

City Hall needs $200,000 worth of work shoes to outfit 525 permanent and as-needed employees that are required to wear safety shoes as part of their duties.

State law regarding worker safety requires employees who could be exposed to foot injuries from electrical hazards, hot working conditions, corrosives, wet services, poisonous substances and a variety of other unsafe conditions be provided adequate foot protection.

Staff recommends Red Wing Shoes for the deal. Red Wing Shoes was one of three companies that bid on the project.

It offers a broad selection of shoes, lifetime tune up services and a mobile shoe store as well as a physical location for workers to visit.

More bathrooms

The City Council is expected to approve just over $300,000 in contracts for the design and repair of restrooms on the beach and in City Hall on Tuesday night.

Staff recommend a $170,038 contract with Adrian-Gause Architects, Inc. to design a public bathroom at 2400 Ocean Front Walk. It is the last of eight facilities on the beach that had to be upgraded under an order to make the restrooms at the beach accessible for people with disabilities.

Adrian-Gaus Architects will also help plan renovations to restroom facilities at Hotchkiss and Marine parks.

Staff also want a $134,386 contract with RS Construct, Inc. to renovate public restrooms on the second floor of City Hall. Those facilities haven’t had a major remodel since 1939.

The remodel would make the restrooms more space efficient and bring them into compliance with modern regulations.

Housing is HAPPY

The City Council is likely to approve the purchase of new software to help the Housing Authority administer a federal low-income housing program.

The Section 8 housing voucher program provides low-income individuals and families with a voucher that covers a portion of their monthly rent and basic utilities.

It requires a lot of documentation, and transmission of that information to the federal government.

The Housing Pro 8 software is made by HAPPY Software, a New York-based company. It would solve file storage problems that make it hard for staff to keep data up-to-date and accessible.

It also provides a web portal so that tenants can update their contract information, family composition and income documentation so that the Housing Authority can recertify them for the program without making them come to the office.

The software costs $150,000.

Legal services

Staff recommends hiring an outside legal firm to help with contract negotiations with the Nederlander organization, a private firm that will handle the booking of the Civic Center Auditorium.

The City Attorney’s Office has already brought in the firm Gibson Dunn to help with the negotiations. That contract was $69,900, below the threshold necessary for council approval.

As negotiations continue, the cost will rise, and staff recommends a not-to-exceed contract of $150,000.

Prevailing wage

City Hall recommends a $130,000 increase to an existing contract with a California-based company that monitors construction projects for compliance with state and federal wage laws.

Prevailing wage is an hourly rate paid to the employees of private companies doing work for public agencies, in this case construction work for affordable housing complexes.

Comprehensive Housing Services, Inc. is already monitoring seven affordable housing developments in Santa Monica for compliance with prevailing wage requirements.

If City Hall falls out of compliance, it could have to compensate the construction workers and withdraw public financing of the projects.

Beautifying the beast

The City Council is expected to approve $125,000 for a piece of art to adorn the east side of the remodeled Parking Structure No. 6.

Artist Mike Ross is proposing a brightly-colored “paint drip” sculpture for the structure. Parts would be visible from the Third Street Promenade.

Ross was one of 31 artists that were invited to develop a proposal for the artwork.

Stoplight

City Hall is pushing forward with the idea to install another stoplight on Pacific Coast Highway.

Staff will ask for a $105,820 increase to an existing contract with Crain and Associates to finish engineering, design and construction support services for a potential stoplight.

The company would take the concept through both the California Department of Transportation design approval and Coastal Development permit approval processes.

Staff estimates it will take 18 months to get through the approvals, and the contract extension would make sure Crain and Associates’ services are paid up to construction.

Everything else

The City Council will also consider:

• $93,500 for police uniforms to Galls, a Kentucky-based company.

• $80,000 to the RAND Corporation for consulting services to assess and develop options for early childhood and school-age child care programs.

• $57,000 to UNIT Partners to design and develop a youth web portal for easy access to programs, activities and events for youth and families in Santa Monica.

• $65,000 to the Santa Monica Daily Press for publishing of legal notices.

• $47,055.05 to One Source Distributors for electrical and street lighting supplies.

• $5,737.29 to Elite Floorcovering for carpet installation.

• $23,000 to Mike Prlich and Sons, Inc. for an emergency sewer line repair at Pico Place North and Urban Avenue.

ashley@www.smdp.com

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