SANTA MONICA—Noting a $224 million budget deficit over the next two years due to the impact of the coronavirus, on Friday, May 22, Santa Monica city staff released a proposal for restorations to key services provided throughout the city. The proposal is waiting for approval by City Council on Tuesday, May 26.
Santa Monica City Council suggested that a portion of the funds be geared towards programs that focus through the “lens of social justice and economic recovery.”
The restoration programs would offer services that assist in food security, keeping individuals in their homes, youth outreach, outdoor health resources, mobility and sustainability programs.
A total of $2 million of unprogrammed funds were set aside towards the proposal, but additional contributions from the Housing Trust Fund, federal block grants, and recaptured costs have brought the total budget of the project to $6.4 million.
“City staff has worked creatively and collaboratively to develop a restoration plan that serves to preserve highly valued City services amid the historic crisis caused by COVID-19,” said Interim City Manager Lane Dilg. “Based on Council direction and extensive community input, this plan also leverages available federal resources and other funds to keep our public spaces vibrant and our most vulnerable residents safe in their homes as we work together to build our recovery.”
Westside Food Bank and Meals on Wheels West will receive $20,107 in funding to help individuals in need of food security.
The Preserving Our Diversity cash subsidy program will be expanded using the Housing Trust Fund to support low-income seniors in rent-controlled housing. The initiative expects to support 250-450 senior households and restores two limited staff positions.
In addition, the city set aside $1,605,265 in federal Community Development Block Grant to offer rental assistance for approximately 307 households for three months. The funds were made available through the CARES Act along with $230,000 from the general fund and $21,534 from City Council discretionary funds previously dedicated to DACA application support.
A total of $51,350 will be allocated to help restore the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, which provides about 900 Santa Monica residents free legal aid.
For the after school youth, $129,396 will be geared towards the CREST Club after school program to support 3.23 as needed positions for their capacity of 420 students.
Parent Enrichment programs such as Virginia Avenue Park Parent Groups – The Parent Connection Group and Familias Latinas Unidas will be funded $20,000 to support their 67 registered participants.
The PAL Center is expecting an increase to serve 657 individuals at a cost of $133,996. Access to dance and art rooms, as well as the gymnasium will be extended to participants.
Through a playground partnership with the Santa Monica Unified School District and field monitoring for city-owned field spaces, $139,819 will be allocated to help offer field time for Santa Monica based youth sports organizations and support the staff needed for the operations.
The Santa Monica Swim Center will be reopened and restored in phases and will adhere to larger groups once restrictions end. A total of $13,985 will be used towards the development and the increased hours for the center.
Memorial Park Gym and Skate Park Drop-In Programs will be offered additional aid of $10,587 for the continuation of their services for their thousands of visitors.
Tennis courts, basketball courts, turf fields and the Virginia Ave. splash pad will be restored and fully reopened once it is safe to do so.
The Community Gardens Program will receive a $77,487 net of additional revenues as part of the city’s sustainability program.
Mobility programs such as the Vision Zero program and the Transportation Demand Management program will see added positions to ensure safe and efficient means of transportation whether by vehicle or by foot.
With the emphasis of community resilience, Santa Monica’s Climate Action Plan will be restored in the amount of $183,544 and one permanent position to contribute to the climate resiliency policy and program work by the city. In addition, an amount of $144,990 and one permanent position will be allocated towards water conservation efforts to focus on water neutrality for the 18,000 water account holders in Santa Monica.
The restructuring plan for the city was first approved by the Santa Monica City Council on May 5 in efforts to combat the health economic damages from COVID-19. During that same meeting, $117 million in reserve funds were allocated to addressing the city’s deficit.
A City Budget Study session is scheduled for June 9 and the adoption of the budget is scheduled for approval by the City Council on June 23.