Santa Monica City Council is set to meet Tuesday to discuss homelessness and affordable housing, two topics that have been heavily discussed by residents in recent weeks.

The City of Santa Monica typically would have completed the Point-In-Time homeless count by now, but the ongoing pandemic has forced city officials and others in the Westside to pivot and determine how they can better focus emergency response on the regional homelessness crisis that has been exacerbated by COVID-19.

Local property owners have complained multiple times in the last month about the growing number of individuals who camp out in public elevators and garages.

Councilmember Phil Brock said during a Feb. 3 City Council meeting, “Our reputation has become, unfortunately, one of an unsafe downtown with unsavory alleys, parking garages and boarded up storefronts. We have to change that now; we can’t wait.”

Shortly after, City Manager Lane Dilg invited all of the community to join City Council at the upcoming February 23 meeting to discuss homelessness citywide and how officials can best address the roots of the region’s problem.

According to a report listed on Tuesday’s agenda, staff is recommending that City Council affirm the City’s existing strategies to address homelessness in the community; affirm continuation of the City’s recent, added strategies to address homelessness, including Multidisciplinary Street Teams and Park Ambassadors; and confirm that potential projects listed in “Four Pillars Roadmap – Next Steps” (Attachment G) align with Council’s vision for a safe and healthy Santa Monica.

Another major topic of interest on Tuesday’s agenda is a follow up from action taken at the last meeting where Council opposed two state bills as written, in part because those bills as written had no provision for affordability.

Now, City Council hopes to suggest ways in which Santa Monica can achieve new housing affordability.

“This collaborative item represents a very real Council commitment to addressing concerns about state intervention by exploring real solutions for affordable housing and funding that may help us retain local control by showing local responsibility,” councilmember Kevin McKeown said in a statement Friday when he discussed the affordable housing item that was placed on the agenda at the request of Mayor Sue Himmelrich, Mayor Pro Tempore Kristin McCowan.

“As I reached out to Sue and Kristin for support, they added clauses 2 through 4,” McKeown said, “and we decided to keep it all as one agendized item.”

The complete agenda is available online at http://santamonicacityca.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=1261.

Brennon@smdp.com