Former Planning Commissioner Terry O’Day was appointed as the newest member of the Santa Monica City Council at its February 23 meeting.
After getting the nod from councilmembers, O’Day was sworn in immediately and sat at the dais for the remainder of the meeting.
O’day replaces the late Mayor Ken Genser, who passed away on January 9, but will not be taking his mayoral role. Mayor Pro Tempor Pam O’Connor will continue as acting mayor until the council votes which of its members will formally take the title. The council agendized this process for it’s next full-body meeting, likely to take place in early April.
O’Day’s appointment represents the culmination of events which began more than a year ago with former Councilmember Herb Katz’s death. Katz’s vacant council seat was filled by the appointment of Gleam Davis. Genser’s recent death left a second vacant seat open and also a predicament for the rest of the council.
Their options were to either hold a special election (with November’s election approaching fast) or vote in a second appointee. Once the seat was declared vacant, the council had 30 days to take one of the two actions, as outlined by the City’s charter.
It took eight attempts and a recess, but ultimately it was Councilmember Bobby Shriver’s decision to switch his vote from Ted Winterer to his second preference (O’Day) that averted what could have cost the City $150,000 in funding for a special election.
“I’m humbled by the field of applicants,” O’Day told the Mirror. “I thank the City Council for its confidence in me, and hope that in some small way I will measure up to the legacy left to us by our late Mayor Genser.”
O’Day is a 12-year resident of Santa Monica and is executive director of Environment Now. He served on the Planning Commission for six years until 2009 where he handled issues such as the Land Use and Circulation Element, Exposition Light Rail, and Downtown Civic Area planning. He was a leader of the fight against RIFT in 2008, and a council candidate in 2006 when he finished fourth in the race for three open seats.
O’Day will serve until the next election in November 2010, at which point voters have the chance to elect a Councilmember to serve the remainder of the term which expires November 2012. O’Day said he will “definitely” run for re-election in November.
4th and Adelaide
The council also tackled the impacts arising from use of the Adelaide Drive stairs and 4th Street median for fitness training.
“It’s a condition that would not be tolerated in any other neighborhood in the city,” said Mark Lindee, a 12-year-resident of the neighborhood.
This issue was prefaced by a lengthy public comment period in which the council was showed with horror stories of inconvenience, vulgarity, hostility and even violence.
“The City has allowed a park to erect there (in the streets of a residential neighborhood),” said Rebecca Lett, who identified herself as a user of the stairs.
“But it is a public street,” Councilmember Bobby Shriver, “and someone is going to get hurt there. It is a serious, serious problem.”
Council raised concerns about keeping people out of the street and on the sidewalks: However, this raises a problem because visitors engage in a number of activities blocking sidewalks. Councilmembers were about to pass an ordinance against having exercise equipment on the sidewalks, but Councilmember Kevin McKeown questioned if this would impede the locking of bicycles to objects such as traffic meters and street signs commonly used throughout the City.
After careful consideration, council directed the city attorney’s office to look into already established ordinances involving pedestrians in streets and sidewalk obstruction, directed the City Manager to order police officers patrolling the area to direct people off the roads “in a friendly manner.” Council also approved staff’s recommendation to approvef an ordinance restricting the use of medians and parkways., but amended the wording to add “no person shall place or use any exercise, physical therapy or similar equipment on the 4th Street median strip or 4th Street parkways. This prohibition does not apply to bicycles and is limited to 4th Street.”
Council also affirmed Koning Eizenberg Architecture for the Pico neighborhood library project. This affirmation also confirmed the location of the site at Virginia Avenue Park, an issue that was met with a last-minute alternative site suggestion to put the library in the “buffer zone” next to the Light Rail maintenance yard, also in the Pico Neighborhood.
This proposal, brought by the Pico Neighborhood Association, was met with council frustration. The Virginia Avenue Park location was the result of much deliberation with Pico residents and was selected for the amount of money it would save the limited-budet project. Council ignored the suggestion for fear that the momentum in the project would be lost and cited the budget issue as its prime motivator.
“To miss this chance when we have the funding… would be a mistake,” said McKeown.
Council then voted unanimously to approve staff recommendations to authorize the City Manager to negotiate and execute an agreement with the architect for design and bid preparation documents for an amount not to exceed $882,590 (which includes a 10 percent contingency).
Council also directed staff to make sure that an inclusion of a possible 30 parking stalls would have minimal impact on the Virginia Avenue Park green space. If that is not possible, the council asked staff to looking into subterranean parking within the confines of the budget.