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Santa Monica Council Sends Civic Center Sports Field Back to Drawing Board HOME ad for NO on LV Initiative link
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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

October 27, 2016 -- Startled by bids far beyond budget, the Santa Monica City Council Tuesday decided to try again seeking proposals for a temporary sports field on a parking lot once used for the shuttered Civic Auditorium.

One proposal to design a temporary playing field on the site came in at $423,970 and the other at $802,800 -– sums far higher than the $200,000 the City Council earmarked for initial concept work.

Costs skyrocketed when the firms realized as many as 600 parking spaces would be removed in creating the sports field. Initial analysis focused on basics such as artificial turf, lights, fencing and temporary restrooms.

To offset the loss of the parking spots, two levels of subterranean parking were proposed, offering 700 spaces.

But the underground parking also would have required relocating sewer and utility lines, a City report to the council said.

“It is estimated that a project of this scale would range between $80-85 million based upon a rough order of magnitude cost analysis,” said the report by Karen Ginsberg, Director of Community and Cultural Services, and Susan Cline, Director of the Public Works Department.

“A full financing plan would be needed to address the full cost of implementing this concept,” the report said.

The potential for losing so much public parking was also expected to prompt push back from the California Coastal Commission, Ginsberg warned.

The lot in question has a thousand parking spaces. It is used mostly by employees of City Hall, the County Courthouse, Samohi and those using the auditorium, which is still available for special events.

But everyone was stunned by the costly turn of events. One audience member noted that the cost per parking spot approached $100,000.

“We could send the kids to Harvard for that cost,” said Bruce Cameron, one of about a dozen supporters of the proposed playing field who attended the council’s public work session on the issue.

The new price tag threatened to produce yet another delay for the families of Samohi and others who spent more than a decade campaigning for the sports field. They had pegged the cost at $3.4 million.

Construction is still set to start in July of 2018, officials said.

The council said Tuesday it would continue talks with the school district over a creating a joint agreement for financing and other aspects of a permanent, not just temporary, field.

Ginsberg estimated that the flap cost the sports field about a two month delay. Parents supported the discussion of a permanent field for SMHS, which is cramped because of its Civic Center locale.

But they wanted no more delays in installing a temporary field in the meantime.

“The clock is ticking,” said Ann Hoover of the Samohi Parent Teacher Student Association. “Tic toc. It has been more than 12 years since our field was approved.”

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