The meat and potatoes of the Sept. 14 City Council meeting lies not in the main agenda but in items that will occur behind closed doors and in discussions at the end of the meeting.
Council will begin meeting in closed session and look at several important items, including the City Attorney search, an unfair labor practice charge filed by the Santa Monica Police Officers Association (SMPOA), and negotiations with local labor unions regarding a vaccine mandate for City staff.
While members of the public will not be able to attend the closed session portion of the meeting, any actionable items taken will be reported to the public at the end of the session.
The discussion with SMPOA stems from labor complaints on the conditions imposed on the union by the creation and powers of the Public Safety Reform & Oversight Commission. Several of the Commission’s activities have been temporarily frozen during this negotiation process, leading to backlash from some commissioners.
Vaccine mandate discussions are ongoing as the City considers imposing a policy requiring all municipal employees to be fully vaccinated with exceptions for medical or religious reasons.
Council is not expected to name an interim or permanent City Attorney following closed session, but the ad-hoc committee overseeing the recruitment is expected to share an update on that process during councilmember discussion items.
Discussion items are topics submitted by Council members for consideration at the end of the meeting. They do not have a staff report attached and do not always require a vote, but may return as actionable items on a future agenda if Council wishes to pursue them further.
Tuesday’s list of discussion items is exceptionally long.
Councilmember Phil Brock leads the dais for most items submitted. He has requested that Council direct the City Manager to explore methods to reduce car speed on Neilson and Barnard Way such as the use of speed humps, in response to a resident petition. He also requested that the City Manager has staff review safety and security measures in and around Downtown garages.
In an item co-submitted by Councilmember Lana Negrete, Brock requested that Council direct the City Manager to return with a proposal for additional time and place restrictions on amplified sound in Santa Monica Parks.
Brock alongside Councilmember Oscar de la Torre requested that Council direct the City Manager to require Big Blue Bus take measures to help passengers purchase rides with cash. Brock and de la Torre also asked City Council to have staff dismiss or refund parking citations for around 3,500 tickets resulting from the resumption of weekly street sweeping.
Mayor Sue Himmelrich alongside Councilmembers Kristin McCowan and Gleam Davis are asking Council to support the denial of the City of Malibu’s October 12, 2020 petition to split the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District into two separate districts based on the projected negative effect to the finances of the remaining Santa Monica Unified School District.
Outside of closed session and discussion items, there are two items to keep an eye on in the main agenda.
Firstly, Council will vote on an ordinance extending the Zero Emission Delivery Zone pilot program to Dec. 31, 2021. This program is run in conjunction with the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator and encourages the use of zero emission vehicles such as remote-control delivery robots, electric vans, e-bikes and e-scooters in a one-square mile area encompassing Main Street and the South end of Downtown.
Secondly, Council will vote on modifications to the requirements for Santa Monica tenants receiving rent relief from the City’s COVID-19 Rent Abatement Program. These changes would amend the requirements to demonstrate economic hardships to make it easy for certain applicants to reach the threshold. It would also add a requirement that tenants commit to remaining in their property for a minimum of 12 months following receipt of the approved abatement.
The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 14 and can be viewed at smgov.net/video or the City’s YouTube channel.