Santa Monica’s City officials held their last discussion of community budget priorities for 2009-2010 in the Pico Neighborhood.
City Manager P. Lamont Ewell noted that the “local economy, while diversified, is not immune” to the national economic downturn. He also mentioned that local sales taxes are flattening for several reasons: to the temporary, closure of Santa Monica Place for its remodel; weakened local tourism due to global recession fears; and increased local office vacancy rates.
At the December 3 meeting, Pico residents spoke about a number of issues having to do with safety. They requested improved public safety in their neighborhood, better Santa Monica Police Department traffic enforcement during rush hour, more blinking pedestrian crosswalks to increase pedestrian safety, and better infrastructure to manage traffic on 20th Street and Cloverfield Boulevard.
Pico residents also requested that the City put a library in Virginia Avenue Park and place speed bumps on 17th Street near Pico Boulevard.
There was also mention of several citywide priorities, including having the Big Blue Bus provide bus service for seniors to medical appointments, better evening bus service, increasing the City’s annual contribution to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District due to the state’s fiscal crisis, forming a Tree Commission, and improving traffic access to Santa Monica Place. Also mentioned were doing a better job of assessing traffic impacts when preparing Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) for future development projects, closing alleys to through traffic, creating more (and better) bike paths throughout the City, more community gardens, and more pocket parks.
According to Ewell, the budget focus for Fiscal Year 2008-2009 was to maintain the existing levels of service to continue “focusing resources strategically, building our infrastructure to deliver core services while addressing community priorities with heightened awareness of the changing economic conditions. Ewell added that the City also focused on “continued implementation of reorganization to improve standard of service and responsiveness to residents, continued the evaluation of service delivery and aligned scarce resources with defined priorities.” These priorities were infrastructure planning, risk assessment, and space planning.
Those who were unable to attend any of the 5 meetings can still give input at the City’s website, smgov.net, by clicking on the City Budget Suggestions link or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Residents can also make suggestions at the January 27 City Council discussion of priorities.The City Council will hold a series of budget workshops on May 19 and 20 which will include input from all City departments on their achievements during Fiscal Year 2008-2009 and their needs for the next Fiscal Year. These workshops will be followed by the Council adoption of the final budget on June 16, 2009.