It’s a dense agenda for the Jan. 24 City Council meeting with the plans to tackle the budget, an expansion to city hall itself and revisions to the city’s urban forest rules.
The City Services Building (CSB), a proposed expansion to City Hall, occupies two slots on the agenda. First, Council will be asked to amend the Civic Center Specific Plan to acknowledge the building’s currently proposed location.
“The CSB project requires an amendment to the Civic Center Specific Plan (CCSP), because the CCSP currently specifies that a 40,000 square-foot structure with an 84- foot tower should be built in a different location to accommodate the need for additional government office space,” said the staff report. “The proposed amendment would allow a building addition up to 55,000 square feet in size and 45 feet in height at the rear of City Hall. The small amount of additional building area beyond the amount requested in the project would provide a small amount of flexibility within the scope of the specific plan. The Plan would require parking for City Hall and the CSB to be provided in the Civic Center parking structure and lot. Project analysis includes special consideration of the historic context of the City-designated Landmark City Hall building and parcel.”
The building returns later in the agenda on an appeal of a Planning Commission decision to authorize construction.
As proposed, the CSB is a 50,200 square-foot, 45-foot project with a basement addition. It is planned for the rear of the existing City Hall and will occupy part of the space between City Hall and the Police Department. City Hall is aiming for a cutting edge environmental certification for the building that requires unprecedented sustainability measures.
Planning Commission approved the project in November of last year after requesting some revisions including reconfigured solar panel locations, a smaller exterior solar port and relocation so of several small elements. Santa Monica resident David Garden appealed that decision and council will make a final ruling Tuesday night.
Council will hear another Planning Commission appeal at the Jan. 24 meeting. The Commission previously approved a request by a home owner to extend a third-floor balcony around the property but that decision has been appealed and will now be before the council.
The property at 144 Fraser Ave. is unique because while it appears to be a two-story home from street level, the building is defined as a three-story home due to a natural slope on the property.
According to the staff report, the parcel slops from the front to the back with an elevation difference of about 4.25 feet. According to the staff report, work on the site is subject to an additional level of review because the finished elevation of the raised first floor is more than three feet above the site’s average natural grade level.
Council will also hear proposed revisions to the city’s Urban Forest Master Plan.
“The Urban Forest Master Plan (Master Plan) serves as a guide for perpetuating, managing and enhancing Santa Monica’s urban forest, said the report. “The plan establishes guiding principles, associated goals and more specific strategies to ensure community stewardship and best management practices for the urban forest.”
According to staff, there are three sets of revisions, the first include new information to enhance protections, the second clarify existing information and the final set are grammar/punctuation corrections.
The proposals have been presented to several groups in the past year and are now before council for final approval.
Council will end the night with a budget discussion.
Santa Monica has a rolling five-year budget forecast with updates every six months. The City’s two-year budget cycle also requires mid-year updates.
“This has been crucial in establishing and maintaining not only the City’s AAA credit rating, but avoiding crisis management through long-term planning,” said the staff report. “The forecast reflects the impact of Consumer Price Index (CPI) and labor cost increases without new programs or staffing. Staff has completed a series of best to worst case forecast scenarios to provide a range of impacts that the General Fund may be required to withstand.”
According to staff, the likely outcome for the five-year forecast shows General Fund expenditures slightly outpacing revenues next year and a projected $16.4 million structural deficit by 2022.
“In the best case, General Fund revenues would exceed expenditures throughout the forecast period, while the worst case shows a shortfall of approximately $7.9 million in FY 2017-18 that increases to approximately $25.1 million in FY 2021-22,” said the report.
On Tuesday, Council will be asked to make budget adjustments, provide policy direction, direct staff to proceed with developing a fiscally sustainable budget strategy, establish classification and salary rates for various positions, approve the position and classification changes, accept a grant money and take public comment on federal programs.
Council will also hear the second readings for a pair of decisions discussed earlier this month. Returning for their final procedural vote will be rules expanding Santa Monica’s prohibition on performing in public spaces with animals and more restrictions on home sharing/vacation rentals.
Council meets at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 24 at City Hall, 1685 Main St. Visit https://www.smgov.net for more information.