The June 14 City Council meeting is laden with new discussions of old business.

Council discussions will touch on the minimum wage, zoning rules, ethics rules, Breeze Bike Share prices and general budge updates. Truly new business includes adoption, study or scheduling an election for the Land Use Voter Empowerment initiative.

Santa Monica has passed rules that will raise the local minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. The rules go into effect on July 1 and enforcement is required to make sure businesses comply. The County of Los Angeles has already established a regional wage enforcement division and Santa Monica officials have always intended to contract with the County for enforcement actions. The proposal is part of the night’s consent calendar.

“Partnering with Los Angeles County will support a regional approach to wage enforcement, and is an effective use of resources as staff cannot estimate the level of wage enforcement activity,” said the report.

Council will consider a total budget of $125,000 for FY 2016-17.

Three ordinances will get second readings Tuesday night.

The first modifies rules on office consolidation and conversion. The ordinance removes duplicative restrictions on combining existing office units within a property and expands the discretionary review process for offices, media production facilities, medical offices and dental offices.

The second makes clerical changes and corrections to the zoning ordinance.

The third extends interim zoning rules for the Downtown area pending adoption of the DCP. The new interim standards temporarily prohibit conversion of full service restaurants to fast casual and increase the number of possible alcohol licenses available in the Downtown.

Council will debate potential changes to its anti-corruption rules, known as the Oaks Initiative.

Several amendments to the law were proposed by the law firm of Hueston Hennigan during their analysis of the Oaks enforcement procedures this year including expanding the definition of public officials subject to Oaks, exempt from the law persons serving as directors of charitable nonprofits, clarify enforcement responsibility, and broaden the scope of the law to prohibit bribes as well as “kick backs.”

Staff is recommending adoption of most of the amendments but question the wider scope of the kick back rules.

As currently written, the rules prohibit public officials from taking contributions from individuals or companies that have received a benefit from the city, often in the form of a city contract. The proposed rules would prohibit officials from taking contributions during an application process, before the actual benefit was provided. According to staff, the application process is conducted without Council review or knowledge making it impossible for Councilmembers or other elected officials to know if the contribution is prohibited.

Council also has the option to add additional amendments. According to the Staff Report, an Oaks violation is triggered only by a vote to award a benefit but a vote against a proposal could confer as much benefit to a donor as a positive vote. Therefore, Council might consider language that would make explicit all votes could trigger the rules.

According to the staff report, language would be added directing the City Attorney to refer all complaints of violations to the Chief Deputy of the Criminal Division or another attorney in the City Attorney’s Office or to an independent investigator hired by the City.

Staff said some of the proposed revisions could also be accomplished by revising the city’s municipal code, not amending Oaks specifically.

Budget discussions are also scheduled for the June meeting. Up for discussion are Capital Improvement projects for the city’s multi-year budget process, revisions to city permits/fees, fine revisions, salary rates and grants.

Included in the budget proposals are new rates for the Breeze Bike Share program. Pay-as-you-go rates will increase from $6 to $7 an hour but monthly and annual plans increase the daily ride time from 60 to 90 minutes. New plans will be available on a corporate level to encourage mass adoption of the bike share program.

Truly new business centers on the 2016 General Municipal Election. Council will be asked to make several administrative decisions that officially call for an election on November 8, consolidate that election with the Los Angeles County Statewide General Election and request services from the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder for the General Municipal Election. A contract for election services and supplies is requested for $164,100.

Staff is recommending the City Council accept the qualified initiative petition for the Land Use Vote Empowerment initiative. The petition gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot and Council has three options: adopt the ordinance, direct staff to return on June 28, with a resolution and ballot language placing the measure on the November 8, municipal election ballot or council already having directed staff to conduct a study on the possible impacts of the proposed measure, direct staff to return with the results of that study within 30 days.

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...