Santa Monica Lookout
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Santa Monica to Reap $2 Million from 1994 Quake

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Hector Gonzalez
Special to The Lookout

September 28, 2015 -- Felt across three counties, the destructive power of the 6.7-magnitude Northridge earthquake that struck at 4:30 a.m. on January 17, 1994, damaged or destroyed 114,000 buildings, including more than 500 in Santa Monica.

In the beachside city, more than 14 miles from the epicenter and seemingly safe behind the protective barrier of the Santa Monica Mountains, the intensity was as strong as experienced near the  the epicenter, said a 2007 City report.

The City suffered $200 million in damages, according to the staff report. An independent review through months of City documents showed Santa Monica was paying for sewer and other infrastructure repairs for years after the temblor.

Now, the City could be getting a quake-related windfall as Santa Monica and state and federal emergency assistance agencies close the financial books on the disaster, 21 years after the most expensive quake in U.S. History caused $41.8 billion in direct economic losses.

Officials estimated Santa Monica has $2.8 million coming back from the Federal Office of Emergency Services (FEMA) and the state Office of Emergency Services (OES) in reimbursements and withholdings, the staff report said.

The amount includes $1.1 million from FEMA, $1.4 million in reimbursements from the OES for final quake repairs and $300,000 in OES reimbursements for indirect costs, the report said.

FEMA, which provided $71.3 million in grants to Santa Monica, issued its final payment to the City in 2005, but the agency withheld $1.1 million “pending final OES close out,” the report said.

A 1994 OES stipulation, however, requires the City Council to now adopt a resolution before the City can receive the refund, according to staff.

When disaster declarations were issued for the region within hours of the Northridge quake, Santa Monica became eligible to apply for state and federal assistance, staff said.

But under an OES requirement at the time, the City first had to designate local representatives “for the purposes of signing official documentation associated with the grants the City applied for,” staff said.

Approved unanimously by the former City Council members -- only Councilman Tony Vazquez remains from that panel -- the March 22, 1994, resolution designated then-City Manager John Jalili and former Senior Management Analyst Katie Lichtig as “official representatives for the City of Santa Monica.”

Now, however, since those officials no longer are with the City, Santa Monica must adopt a new resolution naming new designees, the staff report for Tuesday's meeting said.

Staff is recommending the Council appoint City Manager Rick Cole, Assistant City Manager Jennifer Phillips and Director of Finance Gigi Decavalles-Hughes as the City's official representatives.

Their naming would clear the way for the City to receive the $2.8 million bonus, said staff.

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