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City Council Report: From Fire Dispatch to Ice Rinks:

Sometimes the items on the City Council’s run-of-the-mill “consent calendar” can be as interesting as the more fully debated agenda items. The meeting on Tuesday night, September 16, at which the Council considered Planning Commission appeals and ordinances ranging from handbills to newsracks, was an illustration.

The consent calendar is a compendium of generally noncontroversial items that are passed without discussion on one motion, unless at least one councilmember requests that a particular item be “pulled” from the package for discussion. This Tuesday, there were 19 items on the consent calendar, only two of which were pulled for separate consideration.

Among the items passed on the consent calendar was a recommendation from Fire Chief Jim Hone to authorize the City Manager to negotiate and execute a contract with GeoComm to evaluate fire dispatching and communications services options for the Fire Department. In January 2007, SMFD abandoned its own Communications Center with “20-year-old outdated communications equipment that consistently failed to perform” and contracted with the Los Angeles City Fire Department Regional Dispatch Center to provide emergency dispatch services.

As a result of “unresolved operational issues” with the Regional Dispatch Center, the Council had directed the Fire Department to analyze alternatives, and the Fire Department and other City staff selected GeoComm from a field of 10 consultants that responded to the Department’s Request for Proposal; the GeoComm bid ($95,000) fell in the middle of the range ($48,600 to $199,975). It will prepare a comparative analysis of alternatives, including a changed relationship with the Regional Dispatch Center and a return to in-house dispatching.

On a lighter, or at least more festive, note, the Council authorized the City Manager to negotiate and execute a contract with the Bayside District Corporation for the use of City-owned property at 5th Street and Arizona Avenue for a reprise of last year’s popular “Ice at Santa Monica” skating rink. The City will also contribute $25,000 to assist with the cost of providing electrical service to the site.

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