Neighborhood meetings are being held throughout Santa Monica with the sole purpose of giving residents the opportunity to express their views to City officials on what the community priorities should be for Fiscal Year 2008-09.
The first meeting, which took place in the Ocean Park area on November 1, began with a presentation by City Manger Lamont Ewell on the City’s economic outlook. He noted that the City is projecting slower economic growth in the next fiscal year, and that there is also concern about inflation increasing. The City is also expecting that the national housing market crisis that was brought on by poor mortgage lending practices will continue through 2009 in Santa Monica. Those in City government are also worried that “tightening credit may impact the local economy,” despite the fact that the City is buffered by a diversified tax base.
Residents commented on citywide priorities as well as those specific to Ocean Park. One suggestion was to control increased density due to its effect on parking, congestion, and water consumption. Another main concern was giving Santa Monica High School students free bus passes for the City’s Big Blue Bus and allowing students to park at the new Civic Center Parking Structure to help alleviate parking issues at the school.
Residents also asked that priority be given to improving the City’s building and safety code and permit inspections. Creating a Citywide disaster plan and more effective policing were also mentioned. Lastly, residents requested placing utility poles underground, beginning in Ocean Park.
Suggestions for the Ocean Park neighborhood included widening Main Street’s sidewalks to encourage more pedestrian use, placing a pedestrian bridge on 4th Street, and planting trees in vacant tree wells on Ocean Park Boulevard.
Current community priorities for the City at large include culture, sustainability, recreation and active living, education, customer service, and capital needs and infrastructure, with a special focus on homelessness, the update of the City’s Land Use and Circulation Elements, and youth.
Other suggestions on community priorities will come from the City’s boards and commissions, a resident satisfaction survey, and the January 8 City Council discussion on the subject. The Council will then hold a series of budget workshops in May, and adopt the final budget on June 10, 2008.
Additional neighborhood meetings will be held Monday, November 12, at Virginia Avenue Park, November 19 at the Ken Edwards Center, and on November 20 at Grant Elementary School. All meetings begin at 7 p.m. Those who are unable to attend can email suggestions to [email protected] net or go to smgov.net, and click on the City Budget Suggestions link.