City Councilmembers brought forward a variety of discussion items in an Aug. 24 meeting, on topics ranging from a new committee on homelessness to tattoo parlors, and from a vintage car show to commission consolidation.
A proposal for City Council to form an ad hoc committee dedicated to the City’s mission to combat homelessness was the most heated discussion item.
The suggestion was put forth by Mayor Sue Himmelrich and Councilmembers Kristin McCowan and Christine Parra who want to form a group that can put more attention on creating action around solutions to homelessness, outside of the confines of busy Council meetings and the Brown Act.
“We are not flexible or as you would say nimble enough to really get our heads around this problem and do something about it,” said Himmelrich. “I think with a smaller group that is doing the work and not just the talk, I think it will make a difference.”
Councilmember Brock voiced a desire to serve on this ad hoc committee and Councilmember McCowan said she would be willing to have Brock take her proposed spot as recent events in her personal life have left her feeling overextended. Mayor Himmelrich was not in favor of this suggestion.
“Councilmember Brock some of your ideas about how we handle homelessness have appeared to me not legal, not constitutional,” said Himmelrich. “I think you need to reassure me that you understand that homeless people live here, right, we are not moving them to the Valley.”
Councilmember Brock said he took umbrage with Mayor Himmelrich’s response and detailed the many actions he has taken to visit the city’s various housing facilities and homeless services providers.
“I’ve been in Turning Point. I’ve been in Samoshel. I challenge anybody in the last six months that I’ve been on the Council, who has done more to outreach and learn about the situation, and care about the situation,” said Brock.
Ultimately, Himmelrich decided to support Brock, and Council unanimously voted to create a committee staffed by Councilmembers Parra, Negrete and Brock. The ad hoc committee will work with the Social Services Commission and make recommendations for strategic investments to fight homelessness.
In a separate discussion item, Councilmembers talked about potentially consolidating several of the City’s commissions in the name of greater inclusivity and alleviating strain on a resource-strapped City Hall.
One proposal was to merge the commissions on the status of women, disabilities, social services and older Americans into a broader Diversity Commission.
“We don’t have the capacity to make enough standalone commissions to be as inclusive as we would like to be, and we don’t have the staff and resources to support the commissions, in all honesty, at their current level,” Councilmember Gleam Davis.
Councilmembers discussed the merits and drawbacks of a potential consolidation and emphasized that it is the will of Social Services Commissioners to remain an independent group. No action was taken on this item during the meeting.
Councilmembers did however, take action on two remaining discussion items: zoning ordinance changes for tattoo parlors and funding for a car show on the Pier.
The revised zoning ordinance eliminates a costly $7,000 modified use permit and will make it easier for tattoo parlors to open in the City.
“The difficulty of opening a tattoo shop is sort of a vestige of the day when people with tattoos were in the margin,” said Davis. “We need to come into the 21st century and our recognition of that, in all honesty, I think is part of cultural equity.”
The annual Santa Monica Classic Car Show will take place on Sept. 11 at the Pier from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will be a free event for the entire community.
The show is presented by the Pico Youth and Family Center and intended to enhance Latino/Hispanic heritage month.
“Long-term residents of the City are so proud of their lowrider, their classic Chevrolet, their classic Pontiac,” said Brock. “It’s a great way for these car clubs to gather to show solidarity, to talk to their friends, talk to their neighbors as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.”
Councilmembers agreed to allocate $5000 in discretionary funds for the event, while the Pier Corporation has agreed to waive its $15,000 rental fee for use of the Pier parking lot.