Planning: The Shore Hotel in Santa Monica. File Photo

As the holidays approach and City Council activity begins to wind down, Councilmembers will meet on Tuesday to discuss the Shore Hotel’s expansion requests, unpermitted Pier vendors and resources for addressing homelessness.

Shore Hotel expansion

The major action item is the Shore Hotel’s requests for permits to establish a micro-hotel, small cafe and add a massage service. The Planning Commission previously approved a Conditional Use Permit for the micro-hotel, but denied permits for the cafe and massage service, which the hotel has appealed to Council.

The Shore Hotel has been a longstanding site of controversy and in 2019 was issued a $15.5 million fine by the California Coastal Commission, the largest in the agency’s history. Much of the issues stem back to the fact that the Shore Hotel was approved as a low-cost hotel, given that it was built on the site of two former affordable hotels, and has since established itself as luxury lodging.

In order to move into compliance, the Shore Hotel has proposed constructing a micro-hotel onsite that will provide small affordable hotel rooms for moderate income visitors. The hotel seeks to create 34 new beds in 14 new rooms across one converted floor and one new floor.

Councilmembers will have the final say on all three permit requests. They will also approve or deny a Planning Commissioner’s appeal of the Commission’s determination that the permits are exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act.

Unpermitted Pier vendors

There are two items at the end of the agenda that have been submitted for discussion by Councilmembers. The first is a request by Councilmembers Lana Negrete and Christine Parra for a staff report and analysis of the City’s efforts to rein in unpermitted Pier vendors.

This problem took off in the summer of 2020 when vendors flooded the Pier area as it was one of the only open tourist attractions. Unpermitted vendors have been criticized for blocking the public right of way, using dangerous fuels by the 112 year-old wooden structure and improperly dumping massive amounts of liquid and solid waste.

The City has been tackling these issues through new regulations and a combination of Code Enforcement, the Police Department and the Fire Department personnel. There have also been educational efforts to help vendors acquire licenses from the City.

According to the agenda item, Parra and Negrete would like the report to summarize the history of the unpermitted vendors, detail all measures taken to mitigate issues and analyze their effectiveness. They would like the report brought back to Council by Feb. 22 so Council can determine if changes are needed and should be incorporated into the FY22-23 budget.

Homeless resource information

Councilmembers Phil Brock, Oscar de la Torre and Christine Parra have also submitted a request for City staff to make more information about homelessness and related resources available to the public.

Specifically, they are asking for contact information of all street-based outreach teams; a map of these teams’ coverage and hours of operation; a map of public restrooms, shelters and hygiene services alongside their hours of operation; all funding sources for such services; and suggested opportunities to add new resources, including identifying city-owned land that could provide additional temporary shelter capacity.

Groundwater sustainability

On the consent calendar for the meeting, Council is expected to approve the Santa Monica Groundwater Sustainability Plan. This is a key step in helping the City meet its ambitious goal of achieving water self-sufficiency by 2023.

Groundwater is water filtered underground through spaces in soil and rock particles that naturally collects into aquifers. Locally much rain and runoff water is collected in the Santa Monica Groundwater Basin, which currently serves as the City’s primary water supply.

In order to end the City’s longtime dependence on imported water, it is essential the basin is maintained sustainably.

The Groundwater Sustainability Plan includes a study of basin conditions, a budget for how much groundwater it can sustainably produce and an expansion of the groundwater monitoring network. Fortunately, negative trends in basin health have not been seen since the 1950s.

The meeting will begin in closed session at 5:30 p.m. and can be watched live at https://www.youtube.com/user/Citytv16santamonica.

Clara@smdp.com