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Santa Monica City Council Approves Help for the City of Bell  

As of September 1, 2011, ALL 1,875 retail establishments are prohibited from providing light-weight, single-use plastic carryout bags to customers at the point of sale. MORE

By Jason Islas
Lookout Staff

October 27, 2011 -- The Santa Monica City Council voted Tuesday to allow city staff to donate time to help the struggling City of Bell with its property management issues.

The consent calendar item was a request by staff to allow for no more than 80 hours of work by Santa Monica City staff to help the interim government of the City of Bell through the process of finding a professional property manager for two trailer parks.

“We're playing one small part to help them get back on track,” Housing Administrator Jim Kemper told The Lookout Monday.

According to the city staff report, this is part of a process to help the interim staff of Bell reintroduce “integrity and good management practices” to the beleaguered city.

The process of finding a property manager for their trailer parks requires first that the City of Bell submit a Request for Proposal document. Then, once they have attracted applicants for the position, they must sort through them and decide which would be best.

The problems faced by Bell are a direct result of what the staff report calls “systemically mismanaged and ethically unsound city operations.”

That mismanagement – the embezzlement of millions of the City of Bell's public dollars by city officials – came to light in 2010 and led to the arrest of eight city officials. As a result, Bell is working with an interim city council and “lacks the internal staff resources to oversee significant processes” like the request for proposal process, according to the staff report.

Santa Monica's recent experience with the process was a motivating factor in wanting to share the knowledge with the City of Bell, said Kemper.

Santa Monica wanted to help “because another city is in need,” he said.

“As the City of Santa Monica recently completed the process of procuring a firm for management of its own City-owned mobile home park, the City of Bell requested the City’s assistance in completing a similar process for two Bell-owned mobile home parks,” the staff report reads.

Santa Monica's contribution is small, however. The staff report estimates that it is likely that no more than 40 hours will be necessary to help Bell staff with the process, but the request for up to 80 hours was made, a total of a cost of less than $7,000.

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