It’s a mixed bag of topics at the Aug. 9 City Council meeting with items including an appeal of development at the old Post Office site, tax rates for existing bonds, rules for lobbyists and a request to study rent control policies.

Council will meet on Aug. 9 at City Hall, 1685 Main St., with the closed session beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Post Office appeal

Council will hear an appeal of a Planning Commission decision allowing modification and reuse of the old Post Office building at the corner of 5th Street and Arizona Avenue.

A production company has applied to reuse the site with a remodeled interior and construction of a new addition at the rear of the building.

The remodel would reduce the first floor from 17,516 to 16,146 square feet, convert the 2,645-square-foot mezzanine level to an 8,508-square-foot second floor, add an 8,148-square-foot third floor and increase the basement from 13,807 to 16,516 square feet.

The project proposes a new 32-foot-tall, 14,490-square-foot building to be built at the rear of the existing landmark building.

The Planning Commission also approved reducing the parking requirements from 48 to 25 spaces. The applicant is required to secure 23 off-site parking spaces and is providing on-site showers to encourage the use of the 24 bicycle racks at the site.

“The Planning Commission initially voted 3-3, resulting in a technical denial of the project,” reads the staff report. “However, at the same meeting, after voting 6-0 to reconsider the initial vote on the project, the Planning Commission held a second vote on the project where the project was approved 4-2 with amendments to Condition #60 in the Planning Commission’s Statement of Official Action (Attachment B).”

The amendment requires the off-site parking be deed-restricted for the exclusive use of the applicant for the term of any parking lease agreement.

Planning Commissioner Jennifer Kennedy filed the appeal. Kennedy has pulled papers to run for City Council this year.

Staff are recommending Council deny the appeal and uphold the decision of the Planning Commission.

Lobbying rules

Council will hear an item finalizing rules for lobbyists. Council adopted an ordinance regulating lobbying in March and the City Clerk is returning with specific implementation guidelines.

Lobbyists will be required to provide their name, business and mailing address, email address, phone number, names of owners of the business, description of the business, client name/address/phone number, nature of client’s business, description of governmental decision sought by the lobbyist on the client’s behalf, name of persons employed or retained by the lobbyist to engage in lobbying activities and the date, amount, description of any payment made to, or on behalf of any City official or member of an official’s family.

Any changes to the data must be recorded within 10 days.

According to the staff report, City Hall defines a lobbyist as “an individual who receives economic consideration as the employee, representative or contractor of a person or entity other than the City of Santa Monica for communicating with any official or employee of the City for the purpose of influencing a legislative or administrative action. For purposes of the lobbying registration program, a lobbyist does not include City contractors and those seeking City contracts through bids and proposals.”

All lobbyists currently working in the city will have until Oct. 31 to register. Any new lobbyists will have 10 days to register from the time they qualify.

The proposed fees is $40 for initial registration and $25 for amendments and annual renewal.

Bond rates

Council is being asked to set a property tax rate to pay for debt service on the city’s only general obligation boned, the 2012 Library General Obligation Refunding Bonds. The rate is calculated based on changes in citywide assessed valuation and the amount of the scheduled debt service payment.

“Staff recommends that Council adopt the attached ordinance setting the FY 2016-17 rate at $.003904 per $100 of assessed valuation,” reads the staff report.

Ellis Act study

Staff is supporting a request from the Rent Control Board for a City-funded study on the loss of rent-controlled units within the city.

According to the staff report, the $80,000 study will examine factors contributing to an increase in units being removed from the market under the Ellis Act and how the City can protect affordable housing.

“Given that Council has identified inclusion and diversity as a top strategic goal, including preserving affordable housing, City staff joins the Rent Control Board to request Council authorize staff to initiate a study …” the report reads.

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...