September 25, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Traffic Congestion, 
Stormwater Monies Discussed:

Two public hearings regarding traffic congestion and stormwater fees and taxes were on the Santa Monica City Council’s agenda at its July 26 meeting.

In addressing increased congestion and traffic throughout Santa Monica in light of new residential and commercial developments, another public hearing was held to review the City’s compliance with the 2004 Los Angeles County Congestion Management Program (CMP). As part of the public hearing and review, council members adopted the annual Local Development Report, which will be forwarded to the Los Angeles County Metro Transportation Authority (Metro).

“The CMP was created to link land use, air quality, and transportation decisions,” Annette Colfax, Transportation Demand program manager, stated in her staff report to council members. “Conformance with the CMP is required in order for the City to be eligible for state gas funds.”

Each of the statistical categories considered are analyzed in the context of its impacts on traffic congestion within the city; information that is then used to determine how gas tax monies will be allocated to certain cities for transportation projects.

“The Local Development Report … summarizes the City’s development activity based on building permits issued between June 2010 and May 2011,” she added, indicating 305 permits for new residential units and demolition permits for 41 units were issued this year, resulting in a net gain of 264 residential units, of which 226 are affordable housing units.

Non-retail commercial property also reported development increases within the city, including an additional 210,390 square feet of office being used in the past 12 months; the LDR reported an increase of 208,430 square feet for lodging properties and an additional 93,800 square feet for institutional/educational properties.

The only decrease noted in the LDR was for retail and restaurant properties, which, according to the report, experienced a net decrease of 24,730 square feet.

Proposition 111, a state measure passed by the voters in June 1990, instituted the CMP. Under the program, Santa Monica must: “conduct biennial traffic counts on odd-numbered years for selected arterial intersections;” continuously implement the Transportation Management Plan (TMP) ordinance; analyze environmental impacts of new developments of the CMP system; annually prepare and adopt a Local Development Report; and, annually “adopt a resolution to self-certify conformance with CMP requirements.”

According to Shapiro, Santa Monica has complied with the state’s requirements “by implementing the City’s TMP Ordinance and analyzing impacts to the CMP network as part of the environmental review process.”

She added traffic counts were conducted for monitoring sections in Santa Monica and were subsequently submitted on June 15 to Metro.

At the July 26 meeting, Santa Monica’s council members also approved the 2011 Stormwater Parcel Reports and Stormwater Management User Fees for fiscal year 2011-12 during its meeting at City Hall last week, potentially resulting in as much as $4 million in revenue to be infused into the City’s coffers during the next 12 months.

The two stormwater parcel fees are paid to the City annually by property owners and are assessed through property taxed.

“Each year, the City of Santa Monica produces two stormwater parcel fee reports listing each property in the city and the amount of the stormwater fees to be paid by each property owner,” said Neil Shapiro, Watershed management coordinator.

According to the data reports made public by City staff, the Stormwater Management User Fee netted $1,091,418.77, while the Clean Beaches and Ocean Parcel Tax Act, which was authorized by Measure V, collected $2,778,562.40. The amount of both fees and taxes total $3,869,981.17.

With certain data still pending for Santa Monica Rent Control and L.A. County Public Works flood control, the final amounts are expected to still be adjusted. Shapiro estimates revenues from the proposed fees to inch closer to the $4 million mark; the revenue from both fees and parcel taxes were included in the adopted Biennial Budget for fiscal years 2011-13.

Shapiro added the City must submit its tax and fee reports to the County of Los Angeles Tax Assessor by Aug. 10 of each year in order for the fees to be “incorporated into the county parcel tax bill (and) enabling the City to receive its stormwater fees in the coming fiscal year.”

In turn, the storm water fees help support Santa Monica’s Watershed Management Program and Sustainable City Plan. Further, both programs keep the City in compliance with federal and state water quality regulations, all of which are considered “efforts which protect water quality and protect human life.”

Council members have been acting on this issue each year since 1995; no residents spoke during this public hearing.

Council members Bobby Shriver, Kevin McKeown, and Terry O’Day were not present during the public hearings.

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