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Proposed Budget Revised to Reflect "Community Needs"

Bob Kronovetrealty
We Love Property Management Headaches!

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

By Jorge Casuso

June 24, 2019 -- A new revised biennial budget will be presented for final approval to the Santa Monica City Council Tuesday that adds $1.2 million to the budget proposed earlier this month.

Among other things, the nearly $1.5 billion revised budget adds a $250,000 pilot program to place “ambassadors” at Reed Park, reduces the time the City's Swim Center closes during the winter and keeps Council meetings on the air another year.

The adjustments are "based on Council feedback and new information received" at the study session, which provided an opportunity “for Councilmembers to ensure the Proposed Budget meets community needs," staff said.

Most of the changes require adjusting cost-cutting measures proposed under the budget presented to the Council at a study session June 5, staff said. The expenditures will be paid primarily with one-time funds.

The budget also outlines new ongoing revenue sources, including parking rate hikes that "are within the administrative authority of the City Manager," staff said ("Parking Rate Hikes to Kick in Next Month," June 21, 2019).

In addition, the revised budget suggests ways to "close the Pier funding gap" by selling naming rights to the historic structure "without over-commercialization" and creating a Pier Business Improvement District.

If approved, the revised budget would extend for another year the contract with Santa Monica College to broadcast Council meetings on KCRW and would keep the winter closure of the swim center to three weeks, from the six initially proposed.

In its report to the Council, staff said it "is working to ensure that the closure is as short as possible, although it may extend beyond three weeks in certain years."

The budget revisions also reverse the previously proposed elimination of leaf blower and Conditional Use Permit (CUP) enforcement in order to reassign two code enforcement officers to the beach and Pier, staff said.

The budget proposed Tuesday reduces short-term rental enforcement to one full-time officer and reassigns the second officer to general code enforcement duties, including leaf blowers.

Since Santa Monica's home sharing law was passed in 2015, the number of unlawful rentals listed on websites such as Airbnb have been reduced from an estimated 1,700 to about 500, according to staff.

"At this time, the enforcement of vacation rentals can be managed by one-full time officer," staff said.

The revised budget also includes funding a six-month pilot program that stations restroom and hospitality ambassadors at Reed Park, which neighboring residents complain has been taken over by the homeless.

The $250,000 program -- which would expand the program managed by Downtown Santa Monica Inc. (DTSM) -- would be paid with $150,000 from the Council's discretionary fund and $100,000 from the General Fund.

Depending on its success, the program could be expanded during the upcoming fiscal year at a total cost of $1,009,274, staff said.

Staff will "seek to identify new internal and/or external funding sources to continue the program if it demonstrates value."

The revised changes are reflected in the $712.9 million budget proposed for the fiscal year starting July 1 and the $756.4 million budget proposed for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

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