City of Santa Monica
California

Staff Report
4125

An Update on City Restructuring and Council Authorization to Restore Priority Programs

Information

Department:City Manager's OfficeSponsors:Director Gigi Decavalles-Hughes
Category:08. Administrative Item

Recommended Action

Recommended Action

Staff recommends that Council:

1.     Provide direction to staff on proposals to restore priority services not included in the May 5, 2020 restructuring plan;

2.     Provide direction to staff on proposal to allocate CDBG entitlement and COVID-19-related funds; and

3.     Provide direction to staff on the updated Community Services Pricing Policy on Fees.

Staff Report Body

Executive Summary

The novel coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on the City’s social and economic structures and has required dramatic changes to civic life, including the services we provide and the ways we provide them.  Driven both by public health restrictions and a dramatic decline in the City’s revenues, at its May 5 meeting, Council approved a plan to begin restructuring City operations and balancing the budget.  The plan included the use of $117 million in one-time funds from reserves and rainy day funds, capital projects, as well as water settlement funds and Measure GSH funds;

the elimination of 331 full time equivalent permanent staff positions throughout the City; the elimination of 143.9 full time equivalent as-needed, or temporary, positions throughout the City; and the elimination of $86.2 million in salary and non-salary costs associated with the contraction of services and programs. The plan also set aside $2 million for use to restore priority services.  Staff sought direction from Council on the priority areas to which restorations should be directed.  Council provided this direction, and also directed staff to continue to identify funding sources, including increased fees, use of the Housing Trust Fund, and any available funding sources for use in restoring priority services.

 

Council directed staff to consider the following areas as priorities for continuing services, funds permitting:

·         Food security for our most vulnerable community members through restoring funding to Meals on Wheels and the Westside Food Bank

·         Keeping people in their homes through increased support for the Preserving Our Diversity senior housing subsidy program and restoring funding to the Legal Aid Foundation  

·         Funding for youth-related programs, such as after-school programs and mental health support services 

·         Resources for outdoor health, such as playgrounds and fields, including the Playground Partnership program with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District  (SMMUSD)

·         Mobility programs with an emphasis on providing safe, sustainable, affordable and accessible transportation choices  

·         Sustainability with an emphasis on community resilience 

 

This report provides proposals to restore services in the areas directed by Council. The proposals restore programming and services worth $6.4 million to the FY 2020-21 Proposed Budget (net of additional revenues). In addition to $1.7 million programmed from the $2.0 million General Fund allocation set aside in the Plan for restorations, staff has leveraged $4.7 million from Housing Trust Funds, federal Community Development Block Grant funds, Water and Resource Recovery and Recycling (RRR) Funds, Transportation Demand Management (TDM) funds, Cultural Arts Trust Funds and prior year Human Services Grant Program and Council Discretionary funds previously set aside to assist with DACA advocacy.  Included in these proposed for restorations are 17.3 FTE permanent positions and 9.08 FTE as-needed positions.

 

Finally, staff seeks direction on increases in fees in accordance with a proposed Community Services Pricing Policy on Fees.

 

Background

The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have devastated nearly all of the City’s long-trusted revenue streams, including sales tax, transient occupancy tax, parking revenue, and business license revenue, among others.  The City’s budget impacts result in a General Fund budget deficit of $48 million in the current fiscal year (ending June 30), $102 million in FY 2020-21, and $74 million in FY 2021-22, as the country goes through an extended economic slowdown. After reviewing these impacts at its April 14 meeting (when the projected deficits were higher), Council directed staff to develop a plan to restructure City operations to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19 and to balance the budget (Attachment A).

 

On May 5, Council approved the restructuring plan “Santa Monica: A Plan for the Future,” which was based on the improved deficit projections above and aligns City operations to three priorities: foundational services for a clean and safe Santa Monica, effective emergency response, and economic recovery.  The Plan restructures operations while addressing the $224 million budget deficit through June 30, 2022. The Plan uses $117 million in one-time funds redirected from reserves, rainy day funds, capital projects, water settlement funds, and Measure GSH funds, and reduces ongoing spending in the City’s General Fund by $60.7 million and Citywide by $86.2 million (Attachment B). 

 

This restructuring plan is reflected in the FY 2020-21 Tentative Proposed Budget, which will be submitted to Council as an information item on May 26th. 

 

Meeting Date

Description

4/14/20 (attachment A)

Approval of Voluntary Employee Early Separation Incentive Program and Direction to Develop a Plan for Restructuring Operations and Balancing the Budget as a result of the COVID-19 Health Emergency

5/5/20 (attachment B)

Santa Monica: A Plan for Our Future – City Restructuring and Associated Modifications to the FY 2020-21 Budget Resulting from Economic Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic

 

 

Discussion

The economic crisis the City is experiencing and the restructuring the City is undergoing have led to additional steps being necessary as part of the process to adopt a budget.  This staff report is part of this process. To put this staff report in context, it is necessary to understand the other steps.

 

First, the City is required, in accordance with the City Charter, to submit the Proposed Budget for the upcoming fiscal year to the City Council no later than 35 days before the start of that fiscal year.  This year, that date is May 27.  To meet this mandate, on May 26, 2020, staff will submit the FY 2020-21 Tentative Proposed Budget and FY 2020-22 Proposed Capital Improvement Program Biennial Budget to the City Council via an information item. The FY 2020-21 Tentative Proposed Budget is based exclusively on the Council-approved restructuring plan, “The Plan for the Future,” and so reflects the current status of the City reorganization plan, prior to any restorations of programs that may be made as the result of Council direction in response to this staff report.

 

Second, this staff report reflects staff’s additional work, as directed by Council on May 5, to identify programs that can be restored in the priority areas identified by Council using the $2 million set aside in the General Fund for this purpose, to reassess fees and increase cost recovery for programs to be provided by the new Community Services Department, and to identify other funding sources that may be used to  restore programs that provide foundational and recovery efforts to our community.  The results of this work are set out below.  In particular, staff has received an additional Community Development Block Grant program CARES Act allocation that, along with existing CDBG entitlement funds, can be allocated to our most vulnerable population.  Staff is also recommending programming funds from the Housing Trust Fund and the Cultural Arts Trust Fund to continue and enhance key economic recovery programs in the community.  Staff seeks direction from Council on using these funds to restore programs in the priority areas identified by Council on May 5. 

 

Third, on June 9, 2020, Council will conduct a Budget Study Session.  Staff is requesting Council direction to include the proposals for restoration of projects set out in this staff report in the FY 2020-21 Updated Proposed  Budget that will be presented to Council at the June 9 Budget Study Session.  In addition, negotiations with the City’s bargaining groups are ongoing.  In accordance with Council direction, these negotiations seek to identify ways to mitigate the impact of layoffs on outgoing employees.  To the extent these negotiations have identified additional savings, those too will be presented, either at the June 9 Budget Study session or with the final proposed June 23 budget.  

 

Finally, based on Council direction both on May 26 and at the June 9 Budget Study Session, staff will prepare the final FY 2020-21 Proposed Budget for the public hearing on the budget to be conducted June 23, 2020.  Any additional identified funding sources and proposed restorations of priority programs will be included in this final proposed budget for Council consideration. 

 

Restoration Proposals

Staff requests Council direction on the following restoration proposals, presented according to the Council’s priorities:

 

Food Security for Our Most Vulnerable Community Members

$0.02 million General Fund

 

Grant Funds are Restored to Meals on Wheels West and the Westside Food Bank

The rise of food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic has hit vulnerable Santa Monica residents particularly hard, as income is lost and movement is restricted (especially among high-risk populations, such as the elderly). Demand for services from the Westside Food Bank (WSFB) and Meals on Wheels West (MOWW) has spiked in recent months due to COVID-19. Food insecurity is expected to be a major issue among Santa Monica’s most vulnerable residents for the foreseeable future. 

 

Impact: WSFB provides shelf-stable food and fresh produce to local food pantries and social service providers (over one million pounds annually). MOWW provides home delivered meals and wellness checks to low-income homebound and/or isolated Santa Monica residents. The majority of the nearly 400 clients served annually are seniors, and most recipients have a disability. Both agencies have seen a significant increase in demand for food/meals since the Safer at Home Health Orders began in mid-March.

Cost and Funding Source:  $20,107 (General Fund)

Positions Restored: N/A

 

Keeping People in their Homes

$3.8 million: $0.2 million General Fund; $1.9 million Housing Trust Fund; $1.6 million CDBG; $0.1 million prior year General Fund funds

 

Preserving Our Diversity (POD) Program

The Preserving Our Diversity (POD) program provides direct subsidies to seniors who are long-term Santa Monica residents living in rent-controlled housing.  The subsidy amount is tailored to each participant based on a basic-needs budget developed by UCLA and is designed to ensure that participating seniors can meet their basic needs including housing, food, and healthcare.  

 

Once the gravity of the City’s fiscal situation due to COVID-19 became apparent, including the need to temporarily divert GSH transaction-and-use taxes from the Housing Trust Fund to the General Fund, expansion of the program was put on hold.  The hold was designed to ensure that the City would not face an ongoing financial obligation that could not be supported with ongoing funds.  At the time the expansion was put on hold, 40 households were enrolled in the program at an estimated annual cost of $300,000.  Expansion of the POD program was intended to provide $2 million per year to support 250 to 450 households.  Enrolling additional households in the program is considered an on-going obligation because it would be very difficult to cease providing a subsidy once a household is enrolled and able to meet its basic needs.  

 

At the City Council meeting on May 5, 2020, members of the public questioned whether existing funds in the Housing Trust Fund (HTF) could be used to support the continued expansion of the POD program.  The HTF includes funds that have been deposited from various sources, including previously deposited GSH transaction-and-use taxes.  Most of the funds within the HTF are either committed to affordable housing developments that are currently in construction or earmarked for affordable housing developments that have completed land acquisition and are awaiting a commitment for construction.  Based on existing funds in the HTF, staff believes that a minimum of $15 million will remain in the HTF once all existing commitments and earmarks have been satisfied.  While the existing HTF funds are one-time funding, and staff would not typically recommend that one-time funding be used to support an on-going need, staff recommends the use of HTF funds to support the continued expansion of POD because existing HTF funds could support the program for over seven years.   While staff anticipates that the General Fund will no longer need to divert GSH funds from the HTF after FY 2020-21, there is no certainly regarding the duration of the City’s fiscal challenges as a result of COVID-19.  Even if the City is facing a period of extended fiscal depression and will be unable to release GSH funds to the HTF for longer than the one-year period, the HTF’s ability to fund the program for at least seven years using current excess funds provides additional certainty that the program can continue.  

 

Continuing the expansion of the program will require the restoration of one Housing Specialist position and one Staff Assistant II position.  The positions would be classified as limited-term positions that expire at the end of the FY 2020-21.  The limited-term nature of the positions relates to the administrative effort of enrolling hundreds of households in the program over the next year.  Once the households have been enrolled, turnover of program participants is expected to be small enough that it can be administered by existing staff.   

 

Impact: 250 to 450 senior households

Cost and Funding Source: $1.9 million per year for 7 years (Housing Trust Funds)

Positions Restored: 2 limited-term positions through FY 2020-21

 

Rental Assistance (CDBG and General Funds)

Economic recovery from COVID-19 is expected to be slow, especially in Los Angeles County. While the City’s current eviction moratorium provides protection from legal action, it does not forgive back rent. In addition, many Santa Monica residents will be unable to pay ongoing rent when the moratorium expires on June 30, 2020. Staff is proposing the following strategies to support a coordinated effort to keep people in their homes:

 

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG): Through the CARES Act, the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has allocated additional CDBG funding and issued waivers of regulatory requirements that will allow for broad use of funds for eligible activities. Staff proposes to use all $1.6 million in available CDBG resources for FY 2019-20 and FY 2020-21 to fund a limited-term financial assistance program to support keeping low-to-moderate income persons impacted by COVID-19 in their homes. Staff will return to Council in June to present the Proposed FY 2020-24 Consolidated Plan and the Proposed FY 2020-21 Annual Action Plan to include this use of funds.

 

General Funds: While CDBG funding is a significant resource, there remains an especially vulnerable segment of our population who may be unable to provide the supporting documentation required to qualify for federal assistance programs. These include undocumented individuals and families, as well as individuals participating in a cash-only economy. In a brief survey of families who have received assistance at the VAP Food Pantry, 50% of respondents reported that they had not applied for unemployment benefits for reasons including barriers related to documentation and eligibility. For these especially vulnerable populations, staff recommends a one-time $251,534 infusion of General Funds $121,534 of these funds are available from returned Human Services Grant Program funds and from a prior Council Discretionary Fund allocation for DACA advocacy, and an additional $130,000 would be allocated from the $2 million in unprogrammed General Fund funds.

 

Impact: Using Santa Monica’s $2,000 median monthly rent as a baseline, available CDBG resources could assist an estimated 266 households for three months (the maximum regulatory period allowable). Available General Funding could assist 41 extremely vulnerable households for the same three month period.

Cost and Funding Source:  $1,605,264 (CDBG, FY 2019-20 and FY 2020-21); $100,000 (General Funds, FY 2019-20 Human Services Division Budget);$130,000 (General Fund); $21,534 (prior year DACA Allocation, Council Discretionary Funds)

Positions Restored: N/A

 

Grant Funds are Restored to the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA)

LAFLA General Community Legal Services will continue services to low-income persons, seniors and people with disabilities in Santa Monica who need legal counseling and representation in matters such as eviction prevention, addressing tenant harassment, family law/domestic violence, and securing public benefits.

 

Impact: 900 participants are served by LAFLA under their current contract. With reduced wages, job loss, and overall stress on households arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, free legal services will be essential for resident recovery.

Cost and Funding Source:  $51,350 (General Fund)

Positions Restored: N/A

 

Funding for Youth-Related Programs

$0.3 million General Fund

 

CREST Program

For years the City and the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) have collaborated to provide afterschool care for children in grades K-5 at seven Santa Monica elementary schools. SMMUSD’s School Aged Programs (SAP) serves children in grades TK-3. Fees for the 2020-21 school year will range from to $490-$540 per month for afterschool care, and $200-$285 per month for AM care. The City’s CREST Club provides afterschool care for children in grades 4-5 at the same school sites, at a proposed rate of $350 per month. Both fee-based programs operate from school dismissal until 6:00 PM and offer financial assistance to qualifying low-income families. District SAP programs serve as a feeder into the City’s CREST program, ensuring that families in SAP are referred to City staff for enrollment in CREST once children leave 3rd grade. 

 

Prior to COVID-19, the CREST program included CREST Club, CREST Camps, Enrichment Classes, Homework Club, Playground Access, and Youth Sports.  A summary of past programming and usage during FY 2018-19 is below, along with projected enrollment numbers for proposed FY 2020-21 CREST programs.

CREST Programming

FY 2018-19 Enrollment

FY 2020-21 Projected

CREST
Club

Afterschool program from school dismissal until 6:00PM daily (Grades 4-5)

283

  420*

CREST
Camps

Full-day camps during winter, spring, and summer breaks (Grades 3-8)

489

200

Enrichment Classes

Contracted instruction including robotics, foreign language, and sports (Grades TK-5)

1,368

1,200

Homework
Club

One hour of academic support, 4 days per week (Grades 1-5)

356

-

Playground Access

Free supervised, unstructured play for 2 hours after school dismissal (Grades 1-5)

1,835

-

Youth Sports
(Elementary)

Seasonal recreation sports (Grades K-5)

1,182

-

Youth Sports
(Middle)

Seasonal recreation sports (Grades 6-8)

433

-

Total Participants

Unduplicated participant total, adjusted for children enrolled in multiple programs

3,599

1,620

Financial Assistance

Program Fee Subsidies of up to 90% for qualifying, low-income families

$650,000

$700,000**

*Currently allows for a 30:1 participant/staff ratio. With restoration of 3.23 FTE CCS Leaders ($129,000), ratios can be adjusted to 20:1 in order to accommodate class size restrictions and social distancing guidelines.

**Despite reductions in programming, FA needs are anticipated to be greater in FY 2020-21 due to the economic impacts of COVID-19 on Santa Monica households.

 

For FY 2020-21, CREST will offer the following programs, as described below. Initial program offerings may be limited to adjust to social distancing guidelines and the implementation of the Abuse Prevention AI. Programming will reopen progressively as guidelines allow.

·         CREST Club:  Afterschool program includes academic support, fieldtrips, enriching classes, and outdoor fun, from school dismissal until 6:00PM. 

·         CREST Enrichment: School-based enrichment classes taught by contracted instructors which includes a variety of classes such as robotics, foreign language, and sports.

·         CREST Camps: Includes full-day camps during spring, winter and summer breaks.

 

The current CREST Club program structure requires two classrooms at each school site and assumes a 30:1 participant/instructor ratio.  In anticipation of stricter limitations on class sizes, staff is proposing restoration of as-needed staff so that the program is appropriately resourced for a 20:1 ratio. While no additional revenues would be generated under this scenario, the same staff proposed for restoration would be available to meet increased demand once class size restrictions are relaxed and ratios return to 30:1, thereby generating additional revenue.

 

City staff will continue to work closely with SMMUSD staff to follow forthcoming State and Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) guidelines regarding the safe reopening of school sites and school-based programs.  These guidelines, which are expected to be released over the next month, will inform how and when school-based programming resumes. CREST Youth Sports will not be offered this fall due to budget limitations and public health requirements that will likely limit sports to individual, rather than team, activities.  The City and the School District have committed to work together to identify a new and sustainable operating model for afterschool youth sports activities. As noted above, the City’s CREST Enrichment classes will include sports activities when the program resumes.  

 

The Playground Access program will not be continued in accordance with recommendations from Praesidium, Inc.

 

Impact: Restoration would allow CREST Club to maintain its current capacity of 420 participants while adhering to a reduced 20:1 participant/instructor ratio

Cost and Funding Source: $129,396 (General Fund)

Positions Restored: 3.23 FTE as-needed positions

 

Virginia Avenue Park Parent Groups

Virginia Avenue Park supports parent engagement and leadership through two parent groups, Parent Connection Group (English speaking parents) and Familias Latinas Unidas (Spanish speaking parents). These groups help inform programming at the park as well as lead outreach efforts on issues of community concern such as immigration and bridging the achievement gap.  Both groups are essential in supporting the wellbeing of youth and families in Santa Monica.  Informed by best practices, parent involvement in out of school time enrichment programs is proven to be an effective method of youth success. Parents of VAP participants are encouraged to provide input, feedback, and suggestions to improve park programming for the betterment of their children’s educational advancement.

 

During the COVID-19 crisis, the parent groups have continued to conduct their weekly meetings using online platforms.  At these meetings, parents discuss issues and concerns and host special guests and educational presentations.  As park programs resume and in-person gatherings are able to occur, funds will be used to provide program supplies, childcare, training, and facilitation for meetings. In-person gatherings will continue to be contingent on physical distancing guidelines. Expenses will only be incurred if meetings take place. 

 

Impact: The Parent Connection Group and Familias Latinas Unidas have a combined 67 registered participants

Cost and Funding Source:   $20,000 (General Fund)

Positions Restored: N/A

 

PAL Youth Center

The Police Activities League (PAL) Youth Center has been a second home to vulnerable youth for almost three decades. PAL, a free afterschool program for youth ages 6-17, provides educational, fitness, leadership, and enrichment classes and activities for youth residing in the Pico Neighborhood and in vulnerable households throughout the City. As a result of COVID-19, PAL is conducting on-line programming for Homework Assistance as well as Karate. With expanded funding in FY 2020-21, PAL will be able to offer in person programming contingent upon physical distancing guidelines. PAL will offer a reduced scale of enrichment programs with very limited staffing at the PAL Youth Center and contracted instruction only at the PAL Fitness Gym. While PAL’s current offerings will continue to represent high quality programming, the capacity and quality of programming remains limited due to significant reductions in staffing.

 

With the restoration of the PAL Program Supervisor and as-needed positions, PAL can offer to serve more participants and enhance programs currently offered to the community. This restoration will increase the open hours of the dance and art rooms as well as the gymnasium in the PAL Youth Center. With these rooms open, youth will be engaged in activities such as LEGO building, basketball, indoor soccer, indoor football, arts and crafts, dancing, cooking, and other stimulating activities. With these added activities and programs, PAL staff will be able to accommodate more youth inside the PAL Youth Center. This will result in more vulnerable youth engaged in programs and less youth roaming the city streets unsupervised.

 

Restored staffing enhances positive youth development that fosters internal growth and enables vulnerable youth to reach their full potential. It provides not only the much-needed on-site supervision for youth programs, but also provides the supportive connection that serves as a safety net that vulnerable youth need to thrive.

Impact: 657 unduplicated participants

Cost and Funding Source: $133,996 (General Fund)

Positions Restored: 1.0 FTE permanent, 0.75 FTE as-needed positions

 

 

Resources for Outdoor Health

$0.7 million: $0.5 million General Fund; $0.2 million RRR Fund

 

Playground Partnership and Field Monitoring

The City and SMMUSD have an existing partnership to provide more open play space. The Playground Partnership Program makes six of the District’s elementary school playgrounds available weekends year-round and seven days a week during seasonal breaks. 

 

The City also grants permits for space at these six school sites on Saturdays for organized use. Recently, smaller permits on Sundays were added to meet demand. The City currently opens, monitors, and closes the six elementary school sites. 

Staff is proposing a restoration that would allow for Public Works staff (see Park Amenity Maintenance and Outdoor Sport Facilities section below) to open the six elementary school Playground Partnership locations and Community Services staff to permit fields as soon as possible, given guidance from public health officials. SMMUSD has proposed to assume supervision of the six elementary school sites during operating hours and also take responsibility for locking the campuses at closing time. Staff will return to Council to modify the Master Facilities Use Agreement to reflect this plan.  

 

In addition, City-owned sports fields are permitted to various community-based organizations that offer recreational and competitive sports programs for youth. Seasonal sports are typically allotted space based upon the Council-adopted Field Allocation Guidelines.

 

Staff is proposing to restore the as-needed staff who serve as monitors for City-owned turf sports fields. Duties include resolving conflicts on the fields, ensuring that users observe safety precautions, and enforcing rules. Restoring these as-needed positions plus a Community Services Program Coordinator responsible for oversight and the permitting process will enable the City to open the Playground Partnership sites as well as permit and supervise the City’s turf fields.

 

As field use resumes, the need for maintenance and upkeep will resume. The Public Works Department has proposed a complementary restoration of field-based maintenance services, which is described below in the Park Amenity Maintenance section.

 

Impact: The six Playground Partnership sites and school- and City-fields collectively serve thousands of youth and provide approximately 30,000 hours annually of permitted field time to Santa Monica-based athletic organizations, sports groups, and schools including AYSO, Little League, SM Girls Softball, Santa Monica High School, and many other community-based organizations. 

Cost and Funding Source:  $139,819 (General Fund net of additional revenue)

Positions Restored: 1 FTE permanent and 2.9 FTE as-needed positions

 

Aquatics Program

The Community Aquatics Program offers learn-to-swim classes, water safety training, drop-in fitness classes, and lap swim for community members of all ages. The Santa Monica Swim Center also provides space for community-based organizations to permit pool time for competitive and recreational programming based on Council-adopted Pool Allocation Guidelines.

 

Staff is proposing to re-open the Santa Monica Swim Center under reduced hours.  Programming would be phased in, based upon County guidelines, and would prioritize access for individual health and wellness activities, with a progression towards permitting to larger groups as restrictions are lifted and space allows. Staff is proposing restoring some as-needed resources and enhanced supervision in order to accommodate the progression of expanded activities and additional hours as restrictions are lifted.

 

Impact: When permitted by public health guidance, the Santa Monica Swim Center will re-open with reduced hours.  This proposal will allow the Swim Center to offer a selection of youth swim lessons and opportunities for recreational lap swim. 

Cost and Funding Source:  $13,985 (General Fund, net of additional revenue)

Positions Restored: .8 FTE permanent and 1.95 FTE as-needed positions

 

 

Memorial Park Gym and Skate Park Drop-In Programs

The Cove Skate Park is the City’s only skate park and is consistently rated as one of the top skate parks in California.  It serves thousands of skaters, in-line skaters and bikers annually.  The Memorial Park Gym is the City’s only public gymnasium and offers many programs including drop-in basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, pickleball, gym rentals, youth sports programs, adult sports leagues, fitness room and other popular community programs.  Staff is proposing restoring a small amount of as-needed resources which would enable an expansion of Skate Park hours and increased access to gym programs when the facilities are allowed to re-open. 

 

Impact: Both the skate park and the gym programs serve thousands of residents per year for a combined average of approximately 1000 visits per day.  The cost of the additional as-needed hours will be completely offset by the added revenue.

Cost and Funding Source: $(1,413) (General Fund net of additional revenue)

Positions Restored: 0.25 FTE as-needed positions

 

 

Community Gardens

The City’s Community Gardens Program provides 126 garden plots to individual gardeners at three locations (Euclid Park, Main Street and Park Drive Park).  The program also includes a very successful learning garden at Ishihara Park. There are over 700 residents on the waiting list for a garden plot, demonstrating the popularity of gardening in Santa Monica. The Gardens Program includes regular planting and harvesting days at Ishihara Park, community breakfasts, school trips and monthly workshops.  The program is supported by a Gardens Advisory Committee which is an advisory committee to the Recreation and Parks Commission. The committee is comprised of representatives from the garden locations and is staffed by the Community Gardens Specialist.  Moving the program to Public Works will provide synergy with the Office of Sustainability and the Public Landscape Division.  Restoring the Community Gardens Specialist position would be an asset to sustaining the organizational structure of the program by continuing to provide specific expertise in community gardens management and oversight.

 

Impact: Community gardens host hundreds of participants over the course of a year through individual gardening, programs, visits to gardens, and events.

Cost and Funding Source: $77,487 (General Fund net of additional revenue)

Positions Restored: 1.0 FTE permanent position

 

Park Amenity Maintenance and Outdoor Sport Facilities

The City of Santa Monica operates and maintains 28 parks and recreational centers, which support a wide variety of youth, adult and senior activities that cater to tens of thousands of individuals across the community and Los Angeles region. These facilities include natural and artificial fields for soccer, baseball, softball, football, rugby and lawn bowling, as well as courts for tennis, basketball, and volleyball. 

 

Staff is proposing to fully restore all of the City’s park sport facilities and the Virginia Avenue Park splashpad by increasing available maintenance resources. Public Works had proposed a 50% reduction in the number of tennis courts, basketball courts and turf fields available for use in parks due to reduced landscape resources. The restoration of a discrete level of staffing in the Resource Recovery and Recycling (RRR) and Public Landscape divisions will enable the opening of the remaining four turf fields and all courts with no reductions to access or available times for play. When additional resources are made available through the budget process, it will take approximately three weeks to prepare the four turf fields for use. The only tradeoff to opening all sports and recreational facilities is some minor reductions in maintenance of smaller neighborhood parks. Additionally, budget has been identified for the splashpad at Virginia Avenue Park to be activated for the warmer months on its traditional schedule. It should be noted that the opening of sports fields and courts to recreational activity is contingent upon guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, which identifies the majority of sport-related re-openings occurring in Phase 3.  Tennis is the only sport among Santa Monica’s offerings that is identified as safe for reopening for the current Phase 2 protocol. No target date or standards for distancing and sanitization have been established for Phase 3.

 

Impact: Restoring the fields/courts to 100% will allow us to provide an additional 15,000 hours of field space annually to many thousands of participants from various Santa Monica based athletic organizations, sports groups, and schools including AYSO, Little League, SM Girls Fastpitch, Santa Monica High School, and many other community-based organizations and schools.

Cost and Funding Source: $277,955 (General Fund), $205,146 (RRR Fund)

Positions Restored: 6 FTE permanent positions

 

 

Mobility Programs

$0.5 million: $0.3 million General Fund; $0.2 million TDM funds (Special Revenue Fund)

 

Vision Zero – Street Safety

Staff recommends restoration of Vision Zero program efforts including quarterly assessment of incidents and primary collision factors, installation of low-cost intersection and street improvements that improve safety, and pursuit of grant funds for larger projects. Safety is the biggest barrier to non-auto travel, and our roads reflect decades of auto-centric planning and construction. Making our streets safer reduces City risk exposure and associated costs, while also furthering sustainability goals by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With focused resources on Vision Zero, staff can better incorporate safety priorities into programmed maintenance efforts and on-going activities so that investments yield both safety and infrastructure benefits. Resources will also enable continued implementation of projects such as the Wilshire Boulevard Safety improvements.

 

Impact: Millions of trips are taken on Santa Monica streets each week including residents walking for over 20% of trips and biking for 6% of trips. Safety for everyone – whether driving, walking, biking, scooting and skating – is a priority for Santa Monica and we strive to ultimately eliminate the average of 4 fatalities and 26 severe injuries that happen each year. 

Cost and Funding Source:   $167,724 (General Fund)

Positions Restored: 1.0 FTE permanent position

 

Resident Requests & PROW Permitting

Streets serve the needs of all residents, businesses, emergency services, and utility providers; they also are an essential shared public space used for mobility, business, social interaction, delivery, recreation and much more. The City manages the streets and sidewalks to balance these needs. One of the primary tools is issuing requests for temporary access, and continuously modifying access so that people are able to meet their essential needs. Restoration of staff to respond to resident requests and public right-of-way permits enables the adaptive use of the street and responsiveness to public needs for access. 

Impact: Each year the transportation counter serves 2,500 customers, issuing 1,200 oversize load permits, over 500 temporary traffic control plans, and thousands of temporary parking changes. The Santa Monica Works system receives 300-400 annual resident requests for modifications such as red curbs, stop signs, and vehicle speed mitigation.

Cost and Funding Source:  $174,443 (General Fund)

Positions Restored: 1.0 FTE permanent position

 

Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Program

Staff is recommending restored TDM support for medium and large employers, which is especially needed during the coronavirus crisis. TDM is an all-encompassing term for efforts that change the mode, time, or need to take a vehicle trip in order to manage demand on the street network. TDM results in reduced vehicle trips, and an increase in the attractiveness of walking, biking, carpooling, transit and other modes. 

 

The TDM program is a cost-recovery effort that provides business support for sustainable access and transportation solutions. Restoration would enable support for businesses of 50+ employees, providing them with annual commuter resources, and non-auto commuting guidance. Restoration of staff working on TDM is self-funding.

Business support includes problem-solving for commuter and customer access needs following COVID-19, as well as on-going resources and facilitating collaboration among businesses. Employees cite street safety as a primary barrier to non-auto travel, so restoration of TDM staff includes partial work on Take the Friendly Road and street safety campaigns to encourage non-auto modes. Restoration would also allow retention of a $400,000 Metro grant for Localized Travel Planning.

 

Staff proposes restoring $95,000 for the GoSaMo Transportation Management Organization to enable their continued operation in Santa Monica. The TMO supports transportation solutions such as green commuting, carpooling, employee access, and site-specific upgrades. They have become a trusted resource of many local businesses, including recent work on teleworking, bike access and parking resources. The TMO has helped to move the needle on drive-alone commuting from 63% to 59%. This is 40% of prior funding, with the goal of additional support from Development Agreement contributions, fee-for service options, and partnership with other area business groups.

 

Impact: Last year the TMO engaged 154 employers representing over 25,000 employees, providing repeat assistance to 76 employers, representing 19,000 employees in the same year. In 2019 the TMO launched the GoSaMo Achievement Awards to recognize employers who are demonstrating a commitment to increasing sustainable commutes by their employees. The first annual award saw 12 recipients including Pacific Park, Edmunds and Santa Monica College.

Cost and Funding Source:  $167,667 (TDM- Special Revenue Source Funds net of additional revenue)

Positions Restored: 1.5 FTE permanent positions

   

 

Sustainability

$0.3 million: $0.2 million General Fund; $0.1 million Water Fund

 

Climate Resiliency

The City of Santa Monica has implemented programs and policies to minimize the local and regional impacts of climate change and has successfully reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 29% below 1990 levels, but we must also be prepared for the inevitable impacts of climate change.  Sea-level rise and coastal flooding, extreme heat, drought, and declining air quality will increasingly affect Santa Monica directly. Each of these hazards impacts the city’s residents, visitors, buildings, infrastructure, environment, and economy in different ways.

 

This proposal restores a Sustainability Analyst to advance the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan with a strong emphasis on climate resiliency, equity and economic recovery in order to protect human and environmental health.  Restoring this position will also allow the City to continue limited implementation of the Electric Vehicle Action Plan and provide support to the Clean Power Alliance.  Additionally, this proposal restores the leadership responsibilities of the Chief Sustainability Officer as a manager level position and a participant in the City's Leadership Team in recognition of the cross departmental and interdisciplinary nature of the sustainability work.

 

In addition to staff restorations, staff proposes restoring $25,000 in financial support for the Sustainable Works business greening program, involvement with business improvement districts, and participation in the California Green Business Network. A total of 880 businesses have participated to date with cumulative reductions of 7,327,692 lbs of CO2, savings of 70,266,196 gallons of water, and the diversion of 1,219,848 lbs of solid waste from local landfills. The City’s $25,000 investment allows the City and Sustainable Works to access an additional $20,000 in annual program funds from the State.  

 

Impact: Restores program and policy work in climate resiliency that benefits 93,000 residents, 50+ local businesses, 3,500 program participants, 20 youth leaders

Cost and Funding Source:  $183,544 (General Fund)

Positions Restored: 1 FTE permanent position

 

 

Water Conservation

Staff is proposing to restore a Sustainability Analyst funded by the Water Fund to maintain expertise in water conservation in order to fully implement the water neutrality program. The position will also be responsible for coordinating water use allowances, water waste enforcement, and other conservation programs that are required by State law and regional permits. 

 

Impact:  Restores water neutrality and water conservation programs which benefit 18,000 water account holders and 93,000 residents

Cost and Funding Source:  $144,990 (Water Fund)

Positions Restored: 1 FTE permanent position

 

 

Cost Recovery / Fees

Community Services Pricing Policy

In 2011, the City Council adopted a CCS Pricing Policy to be used as a guide in establishing user fees for current and future recreation programs and permits.  That policy used a community benefits continuum as a framework to determine the desired cost recovery rate for each program or service, and then used pricing indicators to assess when an increased fee may be warranted for activities within the program or service. Staff propose an updated Community Services Pricing Policy to simplify the methodology and allow for more flexibility in determining the extent to which programs and permits should be subsidized by the City’s General Fund versus covered by user fees. (Attachment C) The proposed updated policy is designed to provide a clearer and more consistent rationale for cost recovery, focusing on community benefit versus individual benefit and the degree of subsidization. The proposed policy will continue to determine fees based on market pricing with comparable programs and utilizing pricing indicators, with an emphasis on ensuring accessibility of essential programs to low income households.

 

COLA Adjustment for Program and Permit Fees

The last departmental fee study took place in FY 2017-18, with corresponding fee increases going into effect in FY 2018-19.  In order to partially recover rising costs, staff proposes a broad increase to program and permit fees by the sum of the FY 2018-19 and FY 2019-20 cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), or approximately 9%. A small subset of programs that have been acutely impacted by proposed FY 2020-21 budget reductions have been identified for targeted fee increases (and in some cases the addition of new fees). These targeted adjustments will incorporate previously uncaptured costs into new or existing rates. Although fee increases to existing programs will exceed 9%, none will approach full cost recovery, and all will align with the newly- proposed pricing policy. Impacted fees include those for CREST Club, field permit monitoring, and aquatic permits. Staff will return to Council on June 9 with complete, proposed fee recommendations for consideration along with the FY 2020-21 Proposed Budget. 

 

During FY 2020-21, staff will conduct a comprehensive fee study, the results of which will be used to develop detailed fee recommendations which reflect full implementation of the Community Services Pricing Policy, should Council move forward with approval. Full analysis and a complete, updated fee schedule will be included with the proposed FY 2021-23 Biennial Budget.

 

Economic Recovery

Cultural Affairs proposes to harness the arts to play a major role in recovery and community resiliency efforts, highlighting Santa Monica’s unique culture and available experiences. By allocating $500,000 of Private Percent from Arts Funds from the Cultural Arts Trust Fund, artists and the creative sectors would be given support to imagine and implement recovery projects that are inventive, compelling and engaging. The program would emulate the New Deal Works Progress Administration (WPA) Federal Art Project, providing funding to artists and nonprofits to implement projects that serve Economic Recovery Task Force goals and promote cross-sector partnerships. Examples of projects would include art in or on vacant storefronts, artist-designed social distancing markers, and arts activities that could be included with pick-up orders at local businesses. A call for artistic proposals will be issued in July 2020, following adoption of the FY 2020-21 Budget. 

 

Restoration of Civic Auditorium Maintenance Funds

The restructuring plan eliminated all funding for the operations and maintenance of the Civic Auditorium.  Staff has reassessed this reduction and determined that, while the Civic Auditorium will remain closed for business and will no longer be used as a venue for filming, meetings or office space, building systems must continue to operate in order to retain the facility at an adequate level of maintenance.  This includes utilities, temperature control systems, and pest management services among other maintenance costs. Staff is proposing to utilize funds from the unprogrammed $2 million in General Funds to cover this restoration.

Cost and Funding Source: $228,000 (General Fund)

 

Remaining Funds

Should Council approve the restorations proposed above, approximately $254,000 in General Funds will remain for allocation in the FY 2020-21 Proposed Budget.  Staff recommends that these funds be reserved rather than allocated at this time.  This will allow staff to make recommendations to Council on June 9 that will take into account any potential for restoration of priority services identified through the labor negotiations process and any essential needs identified by City staff between now and that time, in addition to the priorities for restoration articulated by Council at its May 5 Council meeting.

 

Financial Impacts and Budget Actions

Based on Council direction, staff will program funds as outlined above in the FY 2020-21 Proposed Budget.  Of the $6.4 million proposed for programming, $1.7 million in General Funds are already included in the FY 2020-21 restructuring plan that is the basis for the Proposed Budget, and an additional $0.12 million in prior year General Fund funds would be reappropriated to FY 2020-21.  The remaining funds would be allocated from fund balances in the following funds: Housing Trust Fund ($1.9 million), Water Fund ($0.1 million), RRR Fund ($0.2 million), Special Revenue Fund $0.17 million TDM).  In addition, new CDBG funds totaling $1.6 million will be programmed, as will $0.5 million in Cultural Arts Trust Fund funds.