City Council will meet this Tuesday with an agenda that talks about council procedures, remote access meetings, budget and honoring a former Councilman. 

REMOTE ACCESS

Council will have a connected set of discussions regarding public participation at civic meetings and streamlining the meeting process. 

Part of the discussion will focus on remote meetings. 

While Council itself has returned to a hybrid meeting model that allows for in-person participation and remote access, the City’s boards and commissions have remained entirely remote. Without specific action, those meetings will revert to in-person only access sometime around July. 

“Members of Boards and Commissions previously voiced concern about being required to return to in-person meetings given that, as validated by the Health Officer Order, many people, including those with identified underlying medical conditions, unvaccinated older adults, people from ethnic and racial minority groups, remain at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (more likely to be hospitalized, need intensive care, require a ventilator to help them breathe, or die),” said the report. 

However, staff said remote meetings are more expensive to conduct and the evidence suggests remote participation at boards/commissions has not increased public participation. 

“Factoring the staffing and technology requirements against the consistent levels of public participation, staff recommends boards and commissions return to strictly in-person meeting participation with an anticipated start date of July 1 or when it is determined to be safe. Until that time, remote meeting participation will continue to be supported,” said the report. 

Until that time, staff are recommending Council authorize remote meetings through June 23. 

COUNCIL AGENDAS

In response to Council direction to look at ways Council meetings can conclude by 11 p.m., staff are presenting several options including changing meeting start times, establishing a fixed public meeting start time, modifying public comment procedures, setting separate special meetings for appeals or study sessions, establishing an earlier deadline to submit Councilmember items and requiring Council Ad Hoc Committees to report back to the full Council quarterly.

All of the options would do something to shorten meeting times but all have drawbacks such as increased costs or more frequent meetings. Should council approve any of the options, staff will return with a formal proposal at a future date. 

BUDGET

The City is about to begin the second year of its regular budget cycle. The current discussion focuses on what services can be restored as the economy improves but with an understanding that the city is years away from full recovery. 

“Given all of this, the FY 2022-23 Proposed Budget is primarily focused on no-cost operational adjustments to improve service delivery, as well as incorporating previous Council direction to continue the Pier Vending Task Force for another year, and some required budget corrections,” said the report. 

The budget calls for adding about 47 FTE positions across a variety of services and pushing for an increased tax on individuals staying in hotels. 

“While General Fund revenues are growing, they are far below the levels they would have been had the economy not been disrupted by the pandemic,” said the report. “When comparing updated revenue projections for the General Fund to those staff had projected for the same period in February 2020, current projections for FY 2022-23 are $43 million lower. This gap indicates the minimum amount of additional revenues the City would need annually in order to provide the same level of services provided before the pandemic, without accounting for the significant inflation that has increased costs further over this time.”

PARK NAME

The Recreation and Parks Commission has recommended renaming Goose Egg Park to Bob Holbrook Park but as all naming decisions are at Council’s discretion, the idea will get a formal hearing this week. 

“Former Santa Monica Mayor and Councilmember Bob Holbrook was the longest-serving

Councilmember, first elected in 1990 and retiring in 2014,” said the staff report. “Mayor Holbrook was a Santa Monica native who was particularly proud of his work to expand and invest in our City parks and who has a particular attachment to Goose Egg Park from when he was a

child. In total, Mayor Holbrook dedicated 32 years to public service, serving both on the City Council and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District School Board. Mayor Holbrook passed away December 11, 2020, at the age of 79.”

Closed session of the meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers (1685 Main Street). Meetings are also available on the City’s Youtube channel.