City Council is returning with a jam-packed agenda set to examine the noise ordinance, weaponizable items at public assemblies, unlicensed pier vendors and vaccination requirements for staff.
Vaccinations for City employees
Employee vaccine mandates, a growing trend among public and education employers, could soon fall into place in Santa Monica.
On July 26. Newsom announced that all State employees and health care workers must show proof of vaccination or be tested at least once a week. Newsom encouraged all local governments and other employers to follow suit.
L.A. City Council and the County Board of Supervisors have both passed slightly stricter mandates, only allowing employees to opt for weekly testing if they can demonstrate a legitimate religious or medical reason to not receive the vaccine. At a local level, this policy has been adopted by the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and Santa Monica College.
This is also the policy that Councilmembers Davis, Brock and Himmelrich would like to enact locally and have submitted as a discussion item.
Negotiations for some type of vaccination mandate appear to already be underway as Council is meeting with a range of labor organizations representing the City’s workforce in closed session.
On July 27. the City announced that it was moving towards requiring its municipal workforce receive the COVID-19 vaccine once approved by the FDA. Council’s discussion item could lead to the mandate moving forward while the vaccines are still under emergency authorization only.
Policies to tackle issues around unpermitted pier vendors
Unpermitted vendors on and around the Santa Monica Pier are a longstanding issue, with concerns raised over excessive trash, runoff, fire dangers and criminal enterprises profiting from these vendors.
Jim Harris, executive director of the Pier Corporation, estimates that there are around four times as many unpermitted as permitted vendors on the pier. Code Enforcement is responsible for checking vending permits, but has not been routinely enforcing rules regarding unpermitted vendors.
According to the staff report, the proposed emergency ordinance to be discussed by Council would “prohibit dumping of commercial trash in City receptacles; dumping of liquid waste on public rights of way, on or onto the Pier or Beach, or into storm drains; and use of combustible fuels on or in close proximity to the Pier.”
The report notes that all of these issues—combustible fuels, commercial trash and liquid dumping—have been associated with vendors by the pier.
Combustible fuels such as butane have primarily been seen by vendors illegally selling food on the pier and pose a significant fire risk to the wooden structure, which has a limited sprinkler system.
Ban on certain “weaponizable items” at public assemblies
Council is reconsidering adopting an emergency ordinance that bans a list of specified items during community events or public assemblies that could cause bodily harm. A similar ordinance failed to pass by a 4-3 vote on April 13, 2021, and staff is recommending that one of the councilmembers who voted against the initial ordinance move for reconsideration and a new vote.
According to the staff report, the goal of the ordinance is to “promote the safety and welfare of those who engage in peaceful protests, public assemblies, and community events, as well as the safety and welfare of City residents, City businesses, and City visitors who encounter and are affected by such peaceful protests, public assemblies, and community events.”
There are 19 types of items included on the updated banned list. Some of these items include poles, metal pipes, wooden sticks, baseball bats, gas masks, glass bottles, aerosol sprays, helmets and tactical vests.
Council will hear the second reading of a proposed update to the noise ordinance. The update limits use of amplified noise during targeted protests at residences to between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on the weekdays and 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on the weekends.
If protesters wish to continue protesting they must move away from the targeted residence and can continue their use of amplified noise from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. This is allowed to happen for two hours for two consecutive days and is limited to 45 minutes on the third day, unless protesters move to a new location. All protests in residential areas are subject to these time and length limits after 8 p.m.
Other items of note
On the consent calendar Council is expected to approve a $100,000 transfer to the Santa Monica Black Lives Association; Big Blue Buses’s participation in LA Metro’s fareless pilot program; and a 2.7 percent decrease in certain fees for affordable housing development.
On discussion items, Councilmembers Himmelrich, McCowan and Parra request that Council form an ad hoc committee of three members to make recommendations on investments to advance the City’s strategy to address homelessness. There are also appointments for vacancies on the Public Safety Reform and Oversight Committee, Library Board and a councilmember vacancy on the Audit Subcommittee.
The meeting will begin with closed session at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 24.