CITY HALL — City Council took care of some housekeeping details at its last meeting before the year’s end.
A wage ordinance was amended to align with the state, the newest councilmember officially left her post on the Planning Commission, and council heard about the impacts of a tax that supports childcare.
City Council accepted Sue Himmelrich’s resignation from the Planning Commission because she has moved to, well, City Council. Himmelrich was elected in November and officially took office last month.
In the meantime, the Planning Commission will be playing a commissioner short, with only six members remaining, including two of Himmelrich’s competitors in the election: Jennifer Kennedy and Richard McKinnon.
Council also accepted the resignation of Walter Meyer from the Arts Commission and Rachel Torres from the Commission on the Status of Women.
On Jan. 1, state wage law changed but before it did, council made some changes to its own wage law in order to stay in conformance.
“We’re going to be changing our definition of public works so that we match the definition in the labor code,” City Attorney Marsha Moutrie told the council. “We’re going to be substituting the minimum exemption thresholds to match the minimum exemption thresholds in the labor code and we’re going to be eliminating the city manager’s authority to exempt projects based on currently authorized findings and feasibility, which were our own so we’ll be conforming to state law as we are required to do.”
Council approved unanimously of the changes.
“Is this a cleanup of language or a substantive change here?” Mayor Kevin McKeown asked Moutrie.
“I’d say yes, yes,” she responded. “It’s kind of in between.”
“It’s my understanding that our minimum requirements are uniformly greater than the state minimum requirements,” Himmelrich said, “so is there an instance where in practicality what we’re doing now is inconsistent with state requirements?”
“No,” Moutrie said, “I don’t believe so.”
Child Care Linkage program
City Hall added about $3,000 to an account that developers pay into to support childcare in the city last year, bringing the accounts total to nearly $285,000.
The Child Care Linkage program requires that residential developers pay $133.62 per unit into the account. Commercial developers pay $6.34 per square foot of office space, $4.54 per square foot of retail space, and $3.18 per square foot of hotel space.
“This fee is intended to address the increased demand for childcare triggered by the development of commercial projects adding floor area of at least 7,500 square feet or multi-family residential projects,” city officials said in a report to council.
This year, a plan for the Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC) — an idea that is being worked on jointly by City Hall and Santa Monica College — will be considered by council. Several years ago, $5.6 million was budgeted for the project, which would be constructed in Civic Center, but city officials say it could cost more than that as construction costs have increased significantly.