Police Body Cameras, Street Vending Among City Council Agenda Items

City Council will consider purchasing new police body cameras for the Santa Monica Police Department. Photo: SMPD.

By Sam Catanzaro

This evening, Santa Monica City Council will hold their first regular meeting after the selection of new mayor Gleam Davis and the swearing-in of new City Council member Greg Morena. Topics that will be discussed include police body cameras, street vending and potential regulations for corporate housing. The meeting will begin around 6:30 p.m. at the City Hall Council Chambers.

Police Body Cameras

After a six-month pilot study in 2016, the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) moved forward in 2017 with the purchase of an integrated system of in-car cameras and body-worn cameras for officers. The system originally purchased by SMPD, however, has been plagued with faulty equipment and technical failures. City Staff is therefore recommending the City accept a vendor refund of around 85 percent of the original purchase price for the previous system and while moving forward with replacing the current system with a new fully integrated video system made up of 65 in-car cameras and 325 body-worn cameras. If Council approves the staff’s recommendation, a $2,044,265 contract will be signed with Axon Enterprises, Inc., an Arizona-based company, for the purchase of these cameras. To read full staff report, click here.

Street Vending

Current Santa Monica law prohibits vending on a closed street at a neighborhood street event or residential block party. An ordinance that City Council will consider tonight looks to change this policy to allow for vending or commercial activity on closed street events to promote and encourage “cultural enrichment, economic sustainability and vitality, and the enhancement of community identity.”

In addition, the same ordinance looks to crack down upon illegal aquatic group and private lessons at Santa Monica public pools: the Santa Monica Swim Center at Santa Monica College and the Annenberg Community Beach House. To read the full staff report, click here.

Corporate Housing

A term coined in the 1980s, “corporate housing” has been used to describe units specifically aimed at business travelers combining the comfort and convenience of apartment living with the amenities typically found in hotels.

On August 14, 2018, as part of broad direction to examine statutory renter protections for outdated definitions and compensations, and in light of rapidly intensifying market pressures on local rents, Santa Monica City Council directed staff to study the definition of what constitutes “corporate housing” or “short-term rentals” – both prohibited land uses that, if allowed, will erode the stock of true residential units, according to the City.  Following this direction, an interdepartmental staff team from City Planning, Code Enforcement, Building & Safety, Rent Control, Housing, City Manager’s Office, City Attorney’s Office and Communications met to determine possible approaches on how to best study this issue.

“What became evident through these discussions is a need to specify the desired policy outcomes in order to identify possible options to address the corporate housing/short-term rental concerns,” reads a city staff report.

City Council tonight will not pass any rules regarding corporate housing, but rather review and discuss goals of potential regulations. To read the staff report, click here.