City Council Meeting Summary, February 26, 2024

Published on February 28, 2024

City Council and Sister City Committee pose for photo with delegation from Uruapan Mexico

City Council Approves $2M in General Fund Budget Amendments, Reviews General Plan, Sponsors Car Show, Honors 60th Anniversary with Sister City Uruapan, Mexico

Staff Presents Mid-Year Budget Report, City Council Approves $2M in General Fund Amendments

The City Council listened to the Finance Department’s presentation on the mid-year budget report. Among the highlights, the report analyzed the performance of the City’s overall recurring General Fund revenues, which are expected to be slightly less than the Adopted Budget for Fiscal Year 2023-2024. One of the larger drops is sales tax, which is projected to decrease $1.3 million. Conversely, utility users’ tax is projected to increase by $1.6 million. Staff recommended that some revenue categories be increased, and others be decreased, for a net reduction of $358,480.

The presentation by Chief Financial Officer Lisa Soghor also highlighted General Fund expenditures. Those expenditures through mid-year are $89.96 million or 47.4% of projected appropriations, which is $14.2 million higher when compared to the same point last fiscal year. However, the amount represents a lower percentage of the total appropriation when compared to the same period in the prior year. Much of the increased amount is due to filling previously vacant positions, greenlighting of projects and initiatives providing services to unhoused individuals, and the purchase of the Martin B. Retting property. Finance staff projects that General Fund expenditures are on track to end the fiscal year within budget. At midyear, departments evaluated their staffing and funding levels and have requested some amendments. The proposed General Fund mid-year budget amendments total $1.6 million, of which approximately $1.4 million are one-time costs. If approved, the appropriated General Fund expenditures will be $191.5 million.

The City Council proceeded to approve three separate items: proposed blanket purchase order amendments, personnel position allocation amendments, and the recommended budget amendments of $2 million in the General Fund, which will be funded from the Unassigned General Fund Balance. The Unassigned General Fund Balance of $6.1 million will now be $4.1 million. Council also approved an additional $3.7 million in combined amendments for the Enterprise and Internal Service Funds. These funds include Refuse, Sewer, Municipal Bus Lines, Asset Replacement, Self-Insurance, and Central Stores funds.

You can read the report attachments on the City’s website detailing those revenues and expenditures. The City will host a Community Budget Information Session and Workshop on Wednesday, March 6th, at 7:00 PM in the Rotunda Room at the Veteran Memorial Complex.

General Plan, Zoning Code Amendments Discussed

The City Council received an update on the Draft General Plan and Zoning Code Framework from Planning and Development Director Mark Muenzer and his staff. The General Plan Update was initiated in 2019 and is planned for completion in Fall 2024. The process, which was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and staff vacancies, studied existing conditions to identify issues and opportunities to be addressed by the Plan. An extensive community outreach and visioning program resulted in the project’s Vision, Values, and Guiding Principles document that was used to direct development of the plan. Staff conducted numerous in-person and virtual open houses to receive feedback from the community, which provided diverse opinions and suggestions.

The General Plan, which sets the 20-year vision and land use regulations for the City, includes the introduction of residential and mixed uses on all commercial and industrial corridors. It would also increase multi-family residential unit densities to meet the City's Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation of 3,341 units. Staff noted in the presentation that there are approximately 2,500 dwelling units currently under application review, of which 500 are affordable units.

The City is also in the process of adopting residential objective design standards and updates to local density bonuses in order to facilitate housing production. There is also “Designation of Special Study Areas” including Fox Hills and Hayden Tract Specific Plans (2025), Inglewood Oil Field, Ballona Creek and Baldwin Hills. The Zoning Code Framework includes proposed zoning districts that correspond with the Draft General Plan 2045 land use designations, high-level development standards, the list of uses to be permitted in each zone, and the Draft Zoning Map.

Prior to Monday’s meeting, the Planning Commission provided feedback to the City on the General Plan and Zoning Code Framework. Among the summary suggestions, the Commission suggested more discussion on residential densities proposed along the mixed-use corridors, the Inglewood Oil Field’s future usage, reviewing building height limits, more extensive community engagement in the planning process, as well as climate change and sustainability. The City, as part of future work plans, will be further studying the current building height limit, as well as how to best accommodate increased residential densities.

The City Council’s feedback included requests for a more comprehensive look at the financial impacts to the budget with an increase in residential population and the introduction of residential uses in areas currently zoned for commercial development. Council Members also noted their direction to generally reduce housing and rental costs and to investigate revising the zoning of the Inglewood Oil Field to open space.

City staff and the consultant project team are preparing responses to the comments received on the Public Draft General Plan and a response to all community comments will be posted on the project website in March 2024. The project team is also preparing the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) which will analyze the impacts of the General Plan Update and its implementation through the Zoning Code Update. The EIR is anticipated to be released for public review in March 2024.

Staff anticipates holding final Planning Commission and City Council adoption hearings for the General Plan Update beginning in July 2024, with Zoning Code Update hearings to follow in September 2024. The City must adopt the General Plan and Zoning Code Update by October 15th, 2024 in order to remain in compliance with the previously approved Housing Element. A summary of the Public Draft outreach community input is available for review on the project website.

City Shares Update on Local Homelessness Emergency

The City Council received another update from Tevis Barnes, Director of Housing and Human Services, on Culver City’s homelessness emergency. Barnes spoke about the recent Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. While numbers were not yet released, Barnes noted the number of individuals on the streets in Culver City were lower than previous years.

Since the Homelessness Emergency was ratified by the City Council in January 2023, the City has dedicated over $15 million address homelessness for Fiscal Year 2023-2024. On Monday, the City Council approved receipt and filing of the report detailing the achievements and expenditures. Since the proclamation of the Local Emergency, the City has achieved a number of accomplishments. The Safe Sleep Program, now known as the Wellness Village, was brought online in the summer and can serve up to 40 unhoused neighbors in 20 tents (suites). The Motel Master Leasing Program provides 64 motel rooms for temporary interim housing and includes three daily meals. The Mobile Crisis Team was formed, and a van was purchased for its use. Both Project Homekey facilities were opened. And the City conducted 53 Care and Service Days that provided outreach services to locations throughout the City, as well as cleaning and debris removal. You can read the cost breakdown on the staff report online.

Since the opening of the Wellness Village, 37 guests have participated with 14 currently residing at the location. Nineteen guests have moved to Project Homekey. Currently 37 people live at Project Homekey with full-capacity anticipated in mid-March. Since January 2023, the Motel Master Leasing Program has welcomed 52 individuals. Forty people currently occupy the program. Ten people have moved to Project Homekey. While the Mobile Crisis team will officially launch on March 4th, it has been semi-deployed since October 2023. It has helped place 14 unhoused neighbors in interim housing, while also connecting with 103 individuals. The team also assisted police and fire in saving the life of a person who had overdosed.

Los Angeles County’s Department of Mental Health also presented coordinated homeless outreach services. Both the County’s Homeless Outreach & Mobile Engagement and Psychiatric Mobile Response Team will work closely with the Mobile Crisis Team.

$30,000 Grant Awarded to Culver City Car Show

The City Council awarded an Off-Cycle Special Events Grant to the Culver City Exchange Club. It designated the 20th Annual Culver City Car Show as a City-Sponsored Event with an updated requested $30,000 allocation, instead of the initial $15,000 request as outlined in the agenda. This year, the Exchange Club will relocate the event to Downtown Culver City, on May 11th, 2024. The Exchange Club said it will not hold its annual 4th of July event this year.

Vice Mayor Dan O’Brien and Council Members Albert Vera Jr. and Goran Eriksson voted in favor of the item. Mayor Yasmine-Imani McMorrin and Council Member Freddy Puza abstained. The event will impact downtown Culver City streets. You can see the proposed car show street closures on the City’s website.

Sister City, Uruapan, Mexico, Honored with Proclamation

The City Council began Monday’s meeting by welcoming the Mayor of Uruapan, Mexico and the Sister City delegation. The proclamation celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Sister City relationship between Culver City and Uruapan. Gifts were exchanged between the Cities, sharing an admiration for each other’s culture. “I hope this relationship continues on for 60 more years and beyond,” said Uruapan Mayor Ignacio Benjamín Campos Equihua. The Sister City partnership has fostered mutual understanding, respect, and goodwill between the people of Culver City and Uruapan through cultural, educational, and economic exchanges.

City Council Does Not Take Action on Bike Culver City’s Request

The City Council did not take action on providing a letter of support to “Bike Culver City” for its grant application, though Mayor Yasmine-Imani McMorrin and Council Member Freddy Puza offered support after reading through the grant request and requirements. That application is for the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) Go Human Community Streets Program. According to the SCAG website, the program aims to “build street-level community resiliency and increase the safety of people most harmed by traffic injuries and fatalities”.

The SCAG Go Human Community Streets Program intends to award approximately 12 eligible applicants with up to $30,000 in grant funding to support projects that implement traffic safety strategies including but not limited to messaging, education, engagement activities, leadership development, community assessment or resource distribution. The program does not provide funding to make any physical changes within the City’s right-of-way. Only community-based organizations, nonprofits and social enterprises are eligible to apply. The application requires a letter of support from the local jurisdiction in which the project is being implemented.

Additional Council Decisions 

Additional items approved by the City Council include:

  • Approval of cash disbursements from February 3rd through February 16th, 2024.
  • Approval of minutes from the Regular City Council Meeting on February 12th, 2024.
  • Approved amended agreements with AssetWorks, Inc. for $389,433 ($285,133 for four years of annual licensing fees plus $104,300 in one-time training and implementation costs). The web-based, cloud-hosted fleet and facilities management system will be utilized by the Transportation Department, allowing for a more efficient and detailed Transportation Asset Management Master Plan.
  • Approval of a service agreement with Keen Independent Research LLC for $99,000 for Phase One Preparation of a Racial Equity Action Plan (REAP) for the City of Culver City. Through the REAP, the City aims to improve outcomes for all Culver City residents, and institute more targeted strategies to help improve outcomes for diverse community members that have been traditionally excluded from equitable opportunity and growth. The equity consultant will access inequity in the City’s practices, policies, and procedures. It will set goals that move the City toward equity using a results-based accountability model. And it will provide specific tools for City staff to apply the accountability model and a racial equity lens to daily work.
  • Approval of five-year services agreement with Marina Landscape Services, Inc. for $117,576 annually for the City-Wide Rain Gardens and Culver Boulevard Maintenance Program. The City has installed five rain gardens throughout the City to comply with stormwater compliance regulations.
  • Approval of services agreement with WBCP, Inc. for $57,500 for executive recruiting services for the City’s Transportation Department.
  • Approval of serves agreement with Insight Investment to provide investment advisory and portfolio management services. Based on the value of the City’s portfolio as of December 31, 2023, the annual cost of these services is anticipated to be approximately $80,000 in Year 1 of the agreement.
  • In public hearings, the City Council denied appeal of one small cell wireless site and delayed another proposed small cell wireless site by Crown Castle at 5587 Sepulveda Boulevard and 6292 Buckingham Parkway, respectively. It denied the appeal on the Sepulveda site, while the public hearing on Buckingham will be continued at the next City Council meeting on Monday, March 11th. Council Member Albert Vera Jr. recused himself from the vote on the Sepulveda site.

The City Council adjourned in memory Mark Winogrond, Diane Netzel, Virgie Eskridge. 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 will be made available on the City’s website for viewing.

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

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