Santa Monica Lookout
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Illinois Firm in Line for Santa Monica's Lucrative Parking Contract

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Hector Gonzalez
Special to The Lookout

October 13, 2015 -- A City-convened selection panel passed over a local firm and is recommending an out-of-state company for a $26.5 million contract to operate Santa Monica's 13 parking structures and 30 public parking lots.         

Santa Monica Parking Associates and five other companies had bid on the lucrative five-year deal, but only three firms made the evaluation committee's initial cut, according to staff’s report to the City Council, which is expected to approve the contract at Tuesday’s meeting.

The selection panel of City officials and representatives from Santa Monica Place owner Macerich and Downtown Santa Monica Inc. then narrowed its recommendation to SP+ Municipal Service, an Illinois-based company, staff said.

“SP+ was the clear and unanimous choice of the evaluation committee as the best qualified to provide the full scope of parking operations and management services,” said the report.

“The company demonstrated a greater scope of experience than the other bidders in not only daily parking operations but with its management team, event experience and technology solutions,” staff wrote.

Santa Monica's lucrative off-street parking nets $43.5 million a year. Every year, 16 million vehicles park in City lots and structures. If approved, SP+ will manage 14,283 parking spaces, including the City's 18 popular beachside lots.

The company would be responsible for “ensuring a high level of customer service in its interactions with the public, providing strong revenue controls, and maintaining parking facilities so that they are both clean and free of hazards,” said the report.

SP+ also would be required to maintain a 24-hour information counter, manage monthly parking permits and provide employees to direct traffic and handle other logistics when special events are held in Downtown and Santa Monica Place and the beach.

The report also recommends the City monitor SP+'s performance by conducting periodic spot inspections and regular financial audits “to ensure compliance with the agreement.”

The Illinois company manages 4,200 parking facilities in more than 400 cities across the country, according to staff. It collects more than $4 billion a year in parking revenues for its clients.

Its track record for successfully handling parking logistics for major events impressed the selection panel, according to staff. The company has handled parking at the last 15 Super Bowls, as well as for the Daytona 500 and the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

SP+ has its own in-house program for handling special events, called SP+ Gameday Event Logistics. The program “assists with traffic circulation planning, parking planning for events and peak volume periods,” said staff.

The company also provides an app that allows customers to pay for parking in advance online.

The City's previous parking manager didn't help out with event logistics, but “the SP+ proposal and management fee includes the full range of the services,” said staff.

SP+'s employees are unionized, represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, staff noted.

With the scheduled opening early next of the Expo Light Rail line from Downtown L.A. to Santa Monica, the City is in the process of reviewing its network of off-street parking locations, including its pricing system and whether some lots are being underutilized.

An overview report on City lots and parking structures is scheduled to be presented to the Council by next spring, staff said.

The proposed deal with SP+ comes with two one-year renewal option worth $11.7 million, for a total not to exceed $38.2 million over a seven-year period, should the Council approve extending the contract.

Staff's recommendation of SP+ is on the Council's consent calendar. Unless a member request the contract be removed for discussion, the Council will approve the deal in a single vote when members adopt the package of consent calendar items on Tuesday's agenda.

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