City Council Meeting Summary, November 13, 2023

Published on November 16, 2023

City Council poses for a photo with staff for the proclamation designating November 12-18, 2023 as

City Council Keeps Virtual Public Comment, Dissolves Fiesta La Ballona Committee, Doesn’t Include Reimagining Public Safety Element in General Plan

City Council Keeps Virtual Public Comment

After several disruptions during the City Council meeting that took place through online public comment on October 23rd, City Council directed staff to investigate how other city councils handle online testimony requests. Staff found some municipalities have moved back to only in person testimony, while others have continued to offer online sign-ups to speak. The City of Culver City has seen nearly equal numbers of speakers both remote and in-person over the last six months, according to a report. In public testimony at Monday’s meeting, several dozen people spoke about the issue, all requesting City Council keep virtual participation. Following testimony, all Council Members voiced support and unanimously voted to continue virtual public comment at future meetings. City Council requested staff draft a statement for use should a virtual comment use hate speech or other disruptive language.

Reimagining Public Safety Element Not Included in General Plan 2045

In a 3 to 2 vote, the City Council voted to not include the Reimagining Public Safety Element in the General Plan 2045. Mayor Albert Vera and Council Members Goran Eriksson and Dan O’Brien voted in favor of not including the element. Vice Mayor Yasmine-Imani McMorrin and Council Member Freddy Puza voted against the measure. The City Council decision excludes the element from the ongoing General Plan review process. The Police Department is currently working on a three-year strategic plan, a process that will include input from the Chief’s Advisory Panel, the City Council subcommittee, and a town hall meeting open to the public.

City Council Addresses Committee & Commission Vacancies

The City Council addressed the vacancies that exist on several committees and commissions. Vacancies on the Finance Advisory Committee (FAC), the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission (PRCS), and the Fiesta La Ballona Committee have contributed to a lack of quorum and canceled meetings, according to staff presenting the issue on Monday. The Fiesta La Ballona has struggled to meet for most of 2023 due to a number of vacancies. In a 3 to 2 vote, City Council voted to dissolve that committee. Mayor Albert Vera and Council Members Goran Eriksson and Dan O’Brien voted in favor of dissolving the committee. Vice Mayor Yasmine-Imani McMorrin and Council Member Freddy Puza voted against. Parks, Recreation and Community Services will spearhead the planning for the 2024 Fiesta La Ballona. The City Council also voted to immediately appoint Margaret Peters to the PRCS Commission, as well as directed staff to complete immediate recruitment for FAC vacancies.

If you are interested in joining the FAC, there are two positions currently available. You can learn more about the requirements for each position and apply on the City’s website. Applications should be submitted no later than December 31st to be considered. 

Report on Budget Process & Strategic Goals

The City Council received a draft and adopted unanimously the City Council Strategic Goals for 2024 to 2029. In that draft, the goals highlighted the need to ensure long-term financial stability, enhance mobility and transportation, improve housing and homeless services, promote diversity, equity and inclusion, improve and maintain public infrastructure and community spaces, advance environmental sustainability and climate action, promote public safety, provide high quality public services, and increase community engagement. All members agreed to include a town hall public discussion on priorities. That will take place sometime in the budget schedule from January to June 2024. City Council also unanimously agreed on a working session to discuss the strategic goals more in depth on a date to be determined.

Cannabis Business Tax Final Decision

The City Council adopted an ordinance in 3 to 2 vote lowering the cannabis business tax rate for cannabis distribution businesses. Vice Mayor Yasmine-Imani McMorrin and Council Member Goran Eriksson voted against the ordinance. The tax rate will be decreased 2% to 0% starting January 1, 2024, for a two-year period. Before the end of 2025, it will come back to the City Council for review of whether to continue the 0% tax rate or increase it. The decision follows the Finance Advisory Committee’s recommendation to lower the tax at its October 11th meeting and the introduction of the ordinance on  October 23rd.

Street-based Medical Services Approved

The City Council unanimously approved an agreement with Health Care in Action for street-based medical services for unhoused residents for a year beginning December 1st, 2023. The specific services from Healthcare in Action would include weekly visits at all Culver City service sites, primary medical care, addiction counseling, psychiatric care and more.

Homelessness Emergency Update

The City Council received another update from Tevis Barnes, Director of Housing and Human Services, on Culver City’s homelessness emergency. Barnes reported calls for service have been down for the past several months compared to this summer at the two local motels that the City has entered into long-term leasing agreements. She also estimated Project Homekey (PHK) will be filled by January. Eleven people at Safe Sleep, now known as the Wellness Village, are slated to move to Project Homekey soon. Currently 78 people are on a PHK By Name List (BNL) with 24 others on a backup list.

Sister City Delegation Visit Presentation

In another presentation during the evening, the City Council listened to details regarding the recent delegation visits to and from sister city Iksan City, South Korea. The Culver City Sister City Committee welcomed students from South Korea to Culver City in August. In October, an eight-person adult delegation, including Mayor Albert Vera and Council Member Freddy Puza, visited Iksan City where symbolic gifts were exchanged. The City of Culver City received a stone-engraved miniature pagoda that will be displayed at City Hall.

Culver City United Against Hate Week & Other Proclamations

The City Council proclaimed the week of November 12th to 18th, 2023 as “Culver City United Against Hate Week.” As part of this campaign, the City is adding special banners on street light posts, as well as distributing informative flyers, postcards, and posters that highlighting the need to stand against hate. “United Against Hate” was created by civic leaders in direct response to the sharp rise in expressions of hate in nationwide communities in 2017. The City Council also presented a proclamation designating November 25th, 2023, as Small Business Saturday. November is also designated, from another pair of proclamations, as “Movember” in Culver City, to raise awareness of men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide, as well as Family Court Awareness Month.

Additional Council Decisions

Additional items approved by the City Council include:

Additional information about each of the topics heard at the City Council meeting can be found in the staff reports and backup attachments for the items, which are posted along with the agenda to the City’s website. The video of the City Council meeting is now available on the City’s website for viewing. 

The City Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, December 11th.


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