Santa Monica’s Human Services Manager Julie Rusk summarized the results of a discussion with 34 members of the community on “how best to create communication and dialogue mechanisms to address homelessness in Santa Monica” at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
A number of themes emerged from the discussion, including “harnessing existing resources and forums.” Also discussed was the fact that “any information about homelessness should be simple and include key information” such as a one-page summary or web links and that messaging about homelessness should be “consistent, honest” and should express the difficulty of dealing with this issue.
Another theme was to have a 24-hour phone line similar in nature to the graffiti hotline where people can call and report concerns. Lastly, the participants were interested in seeing an anti-panhandling campaign similar to the one that has been successful in Denver, Colorado.
The discussion was organized based on the recommendation of the City’s consultant, The Urban Institute, that the City create a community roundtable on homelessness. Those who participated in the discussion included representatives from City commissions, homeless service providers, representatives from the City’s neighborhood groups, regional homeless partners and City staff.
Rusk mentioned that the City is going to start the anti-panhandling campaign with both residents and businesses since it has already been funded in the City’s current year budget. In addition, the City will be launching a new community e-newsletter that will discuss what’s going on in the community and the region regarding homelessness.
The Human Services Manager also noted the Homeless Community Court has now been in operation for six months and has worked with 52 people. Fifteen of the 52 have been referred to drug or alcohol treatment, 12 have graduated and many have been referred to temporary housing programs. Rusk concluded, “All in all, we [the City] feel it has been a successful start.” (See story on page 15.)
In other business, the Council voted unanimously to ask City staff to prepare an interim ordinance that will revise the development standards in the Light Manufacturing Studio District and in the Industrial Conservation District (M1). This was decided upon rather than imposing a Citywide building moratorium or a partial building moratorium in these districts to protect options while the City completes the update of its Land Use and Circulation Elements of its General Plan. (See story on page 23.)
The Council also extended the motor vehicle egress and pedestrian license agreement between the City and Santa Monica College for the Bundy Campus until February 2008. The agreement will automatically be extended to August 2008 if the City believes there is progress on placing a traffic signal on Bundy Drive, south of Airport Avenue, to improve left turn safety by the City of Los Angeles.
Finally, the Council appointed resident and Big Blue Bus employee Joseph Stitcher to serve on the Metropolitan Authority Westside/Central Service Sector Governance Council.