The Santa Monica City Council adopted the 2009-2010 budget at the June 23 regular Council meeting. Only four speakers gave public comment on the proposed budget, and the feedback was mostly positive.
The City released its proposed budget on May 15, and several meetings have been held since that date to refine the proposal and get community input. Changes to the proposed budget for all funds include an increase of $2.6 million in revenues. Revised appropriations in all funds totaled $28.6 million, which includes funding for capital projects through the Redevelopment Agency (RDA). A significant change in appropriations was the addition of $1.9 million in public works for the implementation of the cemetery business plan.
Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay, asked the city to provide funding in the budget for an environmental study on a new plastic bag ordinance, which is currently stalled at the state level. The Council decided to set aside $60,000 in previously unallocated funding for the study. Additional unallocated funds were earmarked by the Council as follows: $50,000 for a museum of the Historical Society, $205,000 for tree trimming, $27,500 for one-time, deed-restricted housing monitoring, and $35,000 for a waiver of the artificial turf field monitoring staffing fee at Airport Park and John Adams Middle School field users for teams that are already registered. Susan Cloke, chair of the Recreation and Parks Committee, pushed for the artificial turf monitoring fee waiver at the parks.
The Council also approved new fee hikes on parking tickets, and established a new fee for tobacco retail licenses. Library late fees were raised five cents a day, and other library fees such as charges for photocopying were also raised. Various other fee hikes were approved and are outlined at www.smgov.net. The previously proposed fee hikes at the swim center were removed.
Other agenda items in addition to the budget, were an introduction and first reading of an ordinance amending municipal code relating to massage regulations to comply with new state law, which passed unanimously. An introduction and first reading of an ordinance amending the community events ordinance, to establish a permit requirement for activities or events of 75 or more people on the City’s 3rd Street Promenade or on the Santa Monica Pier was continued because Council needed more information from staff and wanted the Bayside District Corporation’s input before making a decision. Councilmember McKeown pointed out that crowds exceeding 150 people frequently gather to watch street musicians on the Promenade without incident and he therefore voiced concern about putting restrictions on public gatherings in public spaces.
A recommendation to authorize the Pier Restoration Corporation’s proposed fireworks display for September 9, and the West End Plaque Community Fundraising Program to support the Pier Centennial Celebration passed unanimously with the caveat that staff will research the use of environmentally-friendly fireworks. A recommendation to direct staff to develop a zero waste strategic plan, and adopt a resolution supporting the California Product Stewardship Council and extended producer responsibility passed unanimously.
A recommendation to adopt a resolution amending Preferential Parking Zone K changing the restrictions on 14th, 15th, and 16th Streets between Wilshire Boulevard and California Avenue, and on California Avenue between 14th and 16th Streets passed with five votes and one abstention by Councilmember O’Connor. The meeting was capped with several annual appointments to various boards and commissions for terms ending June 30, 2009.
A special meeting of the Council will be held on June 30. The next regular meeting will be held on July 14.