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Council Wrap Up: Newly Seated Council Tackles Parking, Pier Leasing

By Lookout Staff

With newly appointed Mayor Michael Feinstein at the helm, the City Council Tuesday night tackled two longstanding issues -- parking in the bustling downtown district and policies and guidelines for leasing property on the pier.

In order to help come up with solutions to the thorny downtown parking shortage, the council (sitting as the Redevelopment Agency) established a six-member Downtown Parking Task Force. The task force will include Feinstein, former mayor Ken Genser and newly elected Councilmen Herb Katz, who has served two previous terms on the council. Also joining the task force will be one Planning Commissioner and two representatives of the Bayside District.

The task force is expected to begin meeting in late January and will seek wide input from the community. They likely will study a range of options -- from adding new parking to implementing a series of possible measures to improve the parking experience.

Also acting as the Redevelopment Agency, the council then green-lighted a contract with Black & Veatch for engineering design services for seismic upgrades of Parking Structures 7 and 8 at Santa Monica Place. The structures were chosen, in part, because they were the most recently constructed (they were built in 1979) and are not expected to be replaced or added to.

In a separate measure, the Council also approved a two-year, renewable service agreement with the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corporation, which oversees programs, vendor and other operations, as well as marketing of the Pier.

The new agreement -- which comes ten years after the most recent contract went into effect --scales back the board's leasing responsibilities but retains its authority to choose pier tenants.

The new agreement also requires that the pier board present the council with an annual business plan that sets forth its marketing and promotion plans and leasing guidelines.

The council, however, postponed considering leasing guidelines for the Pier's commercial areas. The pending lease of the Boathouse has recently trained the public spotlight on the city's guidelines.

On Tuesday, the council also accepted a qualified petition for the proposed "Santa Monica Residents Protection and Homeownership Charter Amendment" and set the second Tuesday in November, 2002, as the election date for the measure.

The measure would allow tenants to purchase their units and homeowners to rebuild buildings destroyed by a disaster, such as a fire or an earthquake, in the same style, density and size as the original structure.

The council also approved vacation of excess public right-of-way on 26th Street, assessment costs for street lighting on various city streets, and the 2000 Urban Water Management Plan, which will be filed with the California Department of Water Resources.

In response to a resident's request that any city fees connected with installation and repositioning of dwellings at the "Village Trailer Park" be waived, staff reported to Council that block grant funding is available to assist with the project.

Among Consent Calendar items approved were the purchase of mobile field report-writing software for the Police Department and a $200,000 contract with the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation to conduct an endowment campaign for music and art programs in the school district.

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