Santa Monica’s City Council has unanimously approved an ordinance that would prohibit leaving a donation of food, clothing or other property in City parks, parkways or sidewalks.
Enactment of such an ordinance became necessary because “in recent years, persons wishing to donate food, clothing and other things to homeless people have begun leaving those things in public parks,” according to a City staff report. This creates problems, particularly in the case of food that can cause health risks by spoiling and encouraging rodents and other infestations. Leaving clothing or other property can impact park aesthetics as well as park maintenance.
Another reason for the ordinance is that the City laws currently on the books only address littering, not deliberately leaving items in public areas for others.
At the May 8 City Council meeting, Councilmember Kevin McKeown encouraged his colleagues to pass the ordinance. Said McKeown, it will be “humane to implement this ordinance with an education program” so people who want to help others in need will know where to take food and other items.
The Council also unanimously approved – with no discussion – an interim ordinance to extend the interim emergency ordinance that became effective on April 24 that requires housing projects with more than 50 units to obtain a Development Review permit. The emergency ordinance was supposed to expire on June 23, but the Council action means it now won’t expire until May 8, 2009.
As stated in City documents, the purpose of the ordinance is to provide a “discretionary review component for large, dense affordable housing projects throughout the City.” This review will include impacts associated with the size, mass, scale, density and “evaluation of potential environmental impacts related to traffic, noise, air and water quality, aesthetics and many other factors, pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act.” Finally, the Council adopted an interim ordinance that establishes fees for fire department responses to excessive false alarms. According to City staff, the goal is to “reduce the number of false fire alarms and to recover costs incurred by the Santa Monica Fire Department when responding to such excessive false fire alarms.” The fee will be accessed for a third or additional false alarm response within the same fiscal year. The City’s Fire Marshall Jim Glew told the Council that recently there have been 88 locations in the City with three or more false alarms. All fees collected will be contributed to the City’s General Fund. This ordinance is similar in nature to those enacted by the cities of Beverly Hills, Culver City and El Segundo.