By Jonathan Friedman
November 17, 2009 -- The City’s tight
restriction on signage could be altered in an effort to
help struggling businesses. The City Council last week directed
City staff to explore this option and return with a proposal
Current City law prohibits most temporary and portable
signs, including those that are free standing or “tacked,
painted, posted or otherwise affixed on the walls of a building,
or on a tree, pole, fence and other structure.”
Gary Gordon, executive director of the Main Street Business
Improvement Association, told the council more flexibility
on signage rules could be a great help toward boosting profits.
“There are so many businesses on the street that
are just trying to make it week by week, month by month,
and these kinds of signs help,” Gordon said.
Council member Kevin McKeown said City officials would
have to be careful because even with the current rules,
he sees “excess all the time.”
“I think that we have to look at this with the understanding
that whatever the City Council does in terms of rules has
to be something that we know has the capacity to be enforced
citywide,” McKeown said.
Also at the meeting, council members gave their input
on the redevelopment of downtown Parking Structure Six,
located along 2nd Street. The building is being replaced
to increase the number of parking spaces.
Most council members supported a structure with an underground
portion. A majority said they would like some sort of retail
or other use made available on the bottom floor. Also, they
want an area to accommodate bicycles that would be more
than an afterthought.
Bloom wants the structure to use “robotic technology,”
which involves cars being parked in a pod. A device lifts
the pod and places the vehicle in an available space. This
technology is in its infancy.
The original plan was to redevelop both Structure Six
and Structure One, located along 4th Street. But the council
members agreed with City staff on a new proposal to deal
only with Structure Six for now.
If it were determined a redesigned Structure Six could
not provide enough additional spaces, either Structure One
would be rebuilt or another structure would be constructed
on recently purchased City land at 5th Street and Arizona
City staff, with assistance from the consultant, will
come back to the council with a concept design for Structure
Six in the spring.
Additionally, council members gave their input on the
Request for Proposals being issued for taxi franchises in
Santa Monica. Council members said they want a local preference
and companies with a variety of vehicles, including those
that are environmentally friendly.
City staff will come to the council in April with franchise
selections based on the RFP returns. The City will issue
up to eight franchise licenses.
Lastly, the council approved two items to increase revenue
for the City-owned Woodlawn Cemetery and Mausoleum.
The Council eliminated a rule that restricted burials
to those who lived in the City. Also, it increased prices
for burial and other services for the first time in more
than 15 years.
Council member Robert Holbrook said he could not support
the increases because they seemed too high. The new prices
include $9,000 to $14,000 for a grave, $59,000 to $88,500
for a family estate and $3,000 to $4,500 for a cremation
“I’ve got to pass on this one,” Holbrook
said. “I’m just not there. I know we need to
make improvements to the cemetery … But the high cost
of it just personally staggers me.”
McKeown said he too found the prices to be high, but he
said they are a necessity because the City has an obligation
to maintain the facility for the thousands of families who
buried their loved ones there.
“To be able to do that, we have to raise the rates
to where we’re bringing in the revenue that makes
the continuance of that cemetery and its maintenance in
a state that people can be proud of when they go to visit
their loved ones possible,” McKeown said.