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Budget Meeting in Sunset Park:

In an ongoing series of discussions around town, the most recent Budget Planning Community Input meeting focused on the Sunset Park area.

Friends of Sunset Park (FOSP) board members gave input to City officials just before the Thanksgiving holiday as to what the neighborhood would like to see money spent on in the Fiscal Year 2008-09 budget.

This meeting, like those held in other City neighborhoods, began with a presentation by City Manger P. Lamont Ewell on the City’s economic outlook.  He noted once again that the City is projecting slower economic growth in the next fiscal year and that there also is a concern about inflation increasing.  The City is also expecting that the national housing market weakness that was brought on by poor mortgage lending practices will continue through 2009 in Santa Monica.  Another City worry is that “tightening credit may impact the local economy,” despite the fact that the City is buffered by a diversified tax base.

At the November 20 meeting, FOSP board members noted that many of their neighborhood’s budget priorities were the same as those requested at the 2006 Budget Planning Community Input meetings.  Requests regarding the Santa Monica Airport included “installing runway safety areas at both ends of the runway,” giving out more fines for those who violate jet noise restrictions, and funding “additional air quality and health studies” on the Airport’s impact on the health of its neighbors. 

When it came to traffic, the board asked that a traffic plan be developed to “reduce cut-through traffic in Sunset Park” and to develop more buses and bus lines to help curb the number of students driving through Sunset Park to go to Santa Monica College.  They also called for the City to fund the development of an alternate traffic impact methodology so a more “accurate measure of our existing or future traffic congestion” can be made to aid in future land use decisions. 

Improving street lighting, preventing youth/gang violence, and addressing crime and safety issues caused by the homeless were requested as ways to improve safety and reduce crime.   

Current input from the community overall ranks the following as priorities: culture, sustainability, recreation and active living, education, customer service, capital needs, infrastructure with a special focus on homelessness, the update of the City’s Land Use and Circulation Elements, and keeping local youth engaged.

Additional community input will come from the City’s boards and commissions, a resident satisfaction survey, and the January 8 City Council discussion of priorities.  The Council will then hold a series of budget workshops in May and adopt the final budget on June 10, 2008. 

An additional neighborhood meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 19 at 7 p.m. at the Thelma Terry Center, located at Virginia Avenue Park.  Those who are unable to attend can email suggestions to finance.mailbox@smgov.net, or go to smgov.net, and click on the City Budget Suggestions link.

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