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CITY COUNCIL REPORT: Broad Museum Postponed: Genser’s Seat Saved for Later

The biggest news at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting was not what happened, but what did not happen.

The Broad Foundations’ proposed contemporary art museum had been on the agenda for the Council’s regular January 12 meeting in the form of a staff recommendation that the Council approve agreements-in-principle regarding the lease of civic center property for the museum. But that meeting was cancelled due to lack of a quorum.

The item was then not on the agenda for the special January 19 meeting because Councilmember Bobby Shriver, who has been reported to have reservations about the present form of the agreements, wanted to be heard on the matter and could not attend because of a “commitment in New York,” said Councilmember Kevin McKeown.

The details of Shriver’s objections – or whether they even amount to “objections” – will be taken up at the February 9 Council meeting, inasmuch as the January 26 meeting will be devoted to the budget.

The pending agreements-in-principle “set forth conceptual commitments of the City and the Foundations,” in the words of City Manager Lamont Ewell, under which the City would lease 2.5 acres between the courthouse and the Civic Auditorium to the museum for $1 a year, the Foundations would design and build a $40-60 million museum and create a $200 million endowment to fund operations, maintenance, and acquisitions, and the City would absorb permitting fees (estimated at $900,000), put up $1 million toward museum design, and pay an estimated $750,000 in site preparation. Other locations, including Beverly Hills, are under consideration by the Foundations.

What did happen at the January 12 Council meeting was a lot of laying-the-groundwork actions for matters to be taken up for serious discussion in the future:

The City Council directed staff to prepare a resolution declaring Mayor Genser’s council seat vacant and outline options and procedures to fill the vacancy, thereby delaying the start of the 30-day clock for the Council to appoint a successor or call a special election.

It approved Councilmember Bob Holbrook’s request that staff prepare a study regulation of mobile food vendors and address the new phenomenon of “gourmet” food-vending trucks. John Bowler, president of the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association, noted Santa Monica’s “reputation for being on the cutting edge of new trends,” and asked the Council for legislation that would validate what another speaker previewed things to come by calling “the wave of the future.”

It passed Councilmember Gleam Davis’s request that staff report on the implementation and effectiveness of last year’s ordinance banning smoking in common areas of multi-unit residences – a subject that drew nearly a dozen public comments, most of which went beyond Davis’s request and called for yet more stringent bans on smoking at home.

The Council also directed staff to prepare amendments to enhance enforcement of the City’s leaf blower ordinance and to draft a law that would require landlords, in the interest of “civility and stability,” to give a seven-day warning before issuing a three-day notice to quit in the case of some lease violations.

At McKeown’s request, staff was authorized to work with state and federal agencies to encourage the establishment of toxicity standards for aircraft-generated emissions, especially ultrafine particles, in the wake of a recent UCLA study of the neighborhood near Santa Monica Airport. [Santa Monica Mirror, January 14-20, 2010]

In other action, the Council gave final approval on second reading to ordinances: amending the Municipal Code as it applies to exceptions to competitive bidding requirements, and limiting permit requirements for live “sidewalk” entertainment to the Pier, the Third Street Promenade, and the downtown Transit Mall, both of which measures had been introduced December 8, 2009. Unanimous approval was also given to the schematic design for Big Blue Bus bus-stop shelters, 360 of which will be built in the City over the next three to five years.

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