Santa Monica City Hall (File photo)

Councilman Tony Vazquez will get an early present this year.

Today’s meeting will open with the installation of Mayor Pro Tem Vazquez as Mayor, and Councilmember Ted Winterer as Mayor Pro Tem. The newly reorganized council will then embark on several significant items.

First up will be an appeal related to a proposed hotel on Wilshire Boulevard.

In 2012, the council approved a development agreement for a new 271-room hotel and 15,210 square feet of retail/restaurant at 710 Wilshire Blvd. As part of the agreement, the developer will retain and incorporate the landmarked office building on the site into the project with a bridge connecting the existing building to new construction.

The project required approval from both Landmarks and Architectural Review Board. The city created a Joint Design Review Body (JDRB) composed of four Landmarks Commissioners and three ARB members to review the project.

The group approved the permits related to the use of the landmarked building but rejected the ARB elements that include building, design, colors, materials, landscaping and lighting.

The developer is appealing the JDRB decision to council and staff is siding with the appeal citing the work done to meet the council’s concerns.

“The JDRB’s denial was primarily based on three key issues including the lack of an architectural concept, concerns about the East elevation, and bridge connection details. Staff believes that the applicant has sufficiently addressed the concerns raised by the JDRB throughout the review process in addition to the eight design conditions imposed by the Council in the approval of the development agreement,” said the report.

According to the staff report, Council’s decision is final.

“If the appeal is upheld, the applicant would move forward to the plan check process in order to obtain a building permit for the project. The Council may also deny the appeal with or without prejudice,” said the report. “If the appeal is denied with prejudice, the applicant would be required to file a new ARB application for a project design that is not substantially the same as the prior project and seek JDRB approval of the revised ARB application.”

Following the appeal hearing, Council will consider the formation of a new non-profit to partner with the Santa Monica animal shelter.

According to the staff report, Council approved staff’s proposal to incorporate a non-profit entity to partner with the Santa Monica Animal Shelter in 2014 and directed staff to establish articles of incorporation and bylaws. Staff estimates the cost would be $850 but the payoff could be far greater.

“The Animal Shelter non-profit’s primary role would be fundraising for the Animal Shelter,” said the report. “Funds and services resulting from the corporation’s fundraising efforts could be utilized for Shelter programs, equipment, and comfort items for housed animals as well as sustainability for the Police Department’s Mounted Unit and K-9 programs.”

Currently, the Police Department operates the shelter which houses lost/stray animals, animals that have suffered abuse, confiscated animals, animal evidence and sometimes city animals such as police dogs or police horses. The shelter also cares for animals displaced during disasters.

“The quality and quantity of services provided at the Shelter are currently limited to the funds provided by the City’s budget and some limited donated funds and services,” said the report.

The proposal calls for a five-member board, initially nominated by the Animal Shelter Public Services Administrator and a multi-disciplinary team comprised of the City’s leadership staff.

At the end of the night, council will hear a request from current Mayor Kevin McKeown that staff prepare an ordinance clarifying and implementing the Oaks Initiative prohibition against public officials accepting employment from City contractors.

The request follows the recent settlement between former City Manager Rod Gould and the Transparency Project. Gould contends the city has not adequately incorporated elements of its ethics rules into its processes.

City Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 1685 Main St.

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...