Santa Monica City Hall (File photo)

CITY HALL — Discussion surrounding pony rides and development of the Bergamot Station Art Center took up most of City Council’s seven hour meeting on Tuesday night (and Wednesday morning) but it was a full agenda and there were other actions, including a decision to watch Los Angeles in its push to raise minimum wage and a decision to financially support an environmental program in the schools.
On Labor Day, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a proposal to raise the minimum wage in that city. Councilmember Gleam Davis, along with Mayor Pam O’Connor — who was absent from the meeting — asked city officials to watch that process unfold and report back. Council agreed unanimously the request.
“We are, depending on how you want to characterize it, embraced or imprisoned by the city of Los Angeles,” Davis said, “so obviously any change in the minimum wage in our neighbor to our north, east, and south, would create an opportunity, perhaps, for us to raise the minimum wage as well.”
Council voted earlier this year to raise the minimum wage for city employees and contractors of City Hall to $15.37 per hour. Likewise, they have required some developers to pay their workers at least $15.37 per hour.
Council also voted unanimously to give $20,000 of its discretionary funding to a program that promotes environmental thinking in the public schools. Grades For Green, a nonprofit, worked with Franklin, Grant, and McKinley elementary schools last year through the Trash Free Lunch Challenge, which pitted L.A.-area schools against each other in a competition to see who could reduce the most lunchtime waste. All three schools reduced waste by more than 80 percent.
The funding would allow the three schools to continue participating in the program and add three new Santa Monica schools to the program.
Council voted unanimously to approve a two-item $167,050 consent agenda.
City Hall can pay Katherine Spitz Associates $116,637 to design improvements at Reed Park and Ozone Park.
“Through a community process, best uses for the area north of Miles Playhouse at Reed Park would be explored, including consideration of drought-tolerant landscaping and water efficient irrigation,” city officials said in a report. “Ozone Park requires updated equipment and materials improving safety and accessibility.”
Reed Park’s improvement design would require a majority of the available cash.
Council added $50,000 to a contract with the designers of Buffer Park, bringing the total to $372,957.
The added funding to City Hall’s contract with Mia Lehrer Associates stems from needs presented through community input, which has been strong, according to city officials.
“Community input emphasized the desire for a park with durable materials, large trees to help block noise from the maintenance facility, a variety of exercise options and good lighting and paving that was ‘nicer than grey concrete,'” city officials said in a report. “The initial project budget was insufficient to meet all of these requested amenities and the park design was scaled back.”
Buffer Park (which will be renamed through a public process) is meant to shield residents from noise created by the incoming Expo Light Rail’s maintenance yard.

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