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Santa Monica to Keep Private Security Force at Pier

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By Jorge Casuso

April 20, 2022 -- The City Council on Tuesday is expected to approve a $485,000 contract extension to continue providing beefed up private security at the Santa Monica Pier.

The extended contract with CA Panther -- which would run through June 2023 -- will help code enforcement continue to crack down on illegal vendors who overrun the Santa Monica Pier on weekends, City officials said.

"By extending the contract, the City will continue with the staffing and deployment, with a slight reduction in the staffing schedule, while maintaining the Task Force approach, momentum, and saving costs," staff wrote in its report to the Council.

The City will need to make an exception to the competitive bidding process "given the substantial interference with required City operations that would result if there were a disruption of services," staff said.

The City beefed up private security in October 2021 shortly after the Council cracked down on illegal pier vendors City officials said posed health and safety risks ("Council to Consider Banning Risky Vendor Activities," August 18, 2021).

When the security company providing the part-time service pulled out, the City signed a $250,000 contract with CA Panther in January to provide services through June 30.

The additional security officers were brought in to help code enforcement "reduce the volume of unpermitted vending or other unlawful activity on the Pier, thus reducing the associated fire and environmental risks," staff said.

Under the City’s current contract with CA Panther, two shifts of unarmed security officers are provided Friday through Sunday, staff said.

If approved by the Council, the contract will be modified to include one shift of unarmed security officers working a 12-hour shift Friday through Sunday beginning on March 18.

The Council last summer cracked down on illegal vendors taking advantage of a 2019 State law meant to boost economic opportunities for immigrant and low-income communities.

But the problems with renegade vendors persisted, prompting the Council to use words like "chaos," "melee" and "out of control" to describe the situation ("Council Revisits 'Out-Of-Control' Illegal Pier Vendors," December 10, 2021).

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