After several weeks of heavy hitting council agendas, the Feb. 23 meeting appears to be relatively benign, which in Santa Monica means there might be enough seats in the council chamber for all the protesters.

A light agenda includes reduced water rates, analysis of the city’s Pedestrian Access Plan and an administrative change to the zoning of a particular parcel.

Council could roll back water rates

In 2015, council approved five years worth of water rate increases. The first increase of 9 percent went in to effect on March 1, 2015. A second 9 percent increase was scheduled for Jan. 1, 2016 but staff is recommending the 2016 increase be reduced to 5 percent. The rate increases were based on projected costs with a caveat that council would review the increases annually.

Based upon review of Water Fund performance for Fiscal Year 2014-15, including greater than anticipated revenues, decreased operating expenses, and decreased capital project expenditures, staff is recommending a partial suspension of the 9% rate increase, and implementation of a 5% increase effective January 1, 2016. The change in rate is only effective for 2016, returning to the adopted 9% increase authorized for subsequent years, evaluated annually. Council can take action to adjust future rate increases at the next annual review,” said the staff report.

Promoting walking

The Feb. 23 meeting will include a discussion of Santa Monica’s Pedestrian Action Plan. The plan is an extension of ideas proposed in the Land Use and Circulation element and makes recommendations with the goal of improving the pedestrian experience in Santa Monica. “It includes community input and reflects current conditions and anticipates changes associated with Expo Light Rail Service. The Plan includes the City’s first statement on Vision Zero, the effort requested by City Council in March 2015 to strive to eliminate roadway fatalities and severe injuries,” said the staff report.

Zoning update

According to the staff report, Council should act to rectify a paperwork error related to recent zoning updates.

During the update of the Zoning Ordinance in 2015, the parcel located at 1419 19th Street was identified as a parcel where the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) land use designation was inadvertently changed from a commercial designation to a residential designation during the LUCE update. The Council consequently amended the LUCE Map for 1419 19th Street returning it to a commercial designation; however, the zoning of the property on the Official Districting Map was not changed at that time. In order to make the zoning of the subject parcel consistent with the land use designation of the LUCE Map, the Official Districting Map needs to be amended changing the zoning of the property from Low Density Residential (R2) to General Commercial (GC),” said the report.

Consent calendar

Among the 15 item consent calendar is an expansion of the city’s bike share program. Staff has requested an agreement with the City of Los Angeles to install up to 20 additional Breeze Bike Share stations outside Santa Monica. The initial plan would respond to user requests for stations in Venice.

“This expansion of Breeze Bike Share to the Venice area would: improve operational efficiency for Cyclehop by reducing the time spent retrieving out-of-hub bikes, enhance the user experience by opening-up a new destination where users can visit and lock the

Breeze Bikes without incurring out-of-hub fees, and provide a desired service to a neighboring constituency increasing staff’s ability to attract new bike share members and generate additional revenue,” said the report.

There’s no cost associated with the expansion. Existing grant funding will pay for the new stations and operation of the expanded system is included in the existing contract. Staff said it’s possible the new stations could increase revenue if additional riders were brought into the system.

Public safety purchases in the consent items include $100,000 for the purchase of a new Urban Search and Rescue vehicle and new uniforms/safety equipment for all public safety employees. According to the report, SMFD’s current search vehicle is outdated and unable to meet state mandates.

The Police Department, Fire Department and Office of Emergency Management currently supply public safety employees with approved uniforms, safety equipment and other protective gear required to perform their job duties.  Following a formal bid process, Uniform Warehouse is recommended to provide and deliver the uniforms, safety equipment, and protective gear,” said the staff report.

The complete meeting agenda is posted online at

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...