City Council Meeting: June 14, 2011

Agenda Item: 3-DD

To:               Mayor and City Council 


From:           Kathryn Vernez, Assistant to City Manager


Subject:        Appointment of a Local Community Representative to the Expo Phase 2 Urban Design Committee (UDC)



Recommended Action

Staff recommends that the City Council:


1.     Appoint Gwynne Pugh to fill a Santa Monica vacancy on the Expo Phase 2 Urban Design Committee

2.     Direct staff to communicate the Council appointment to the Exposition Construction Authority


Executive Summary

Council has the opportunity to appoint a Santa Monica representative to the Expo Metro Line Construction Authority’s reconvened Urban Design Committee (UDC).  The position of community representative to the UDC is a voluntary unpaid appointment.  The Committee is comprised of a 14 member panel which represents communities and stakeholders along the Expo Corridor and includes two representatives from Santa Monica.  The Council appointed Jessica Cusick to one of the positions on April 26, 2011.   There is now a vacancy for the other Santa Monica representative.  A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the vacant Santa Monica seat was issued on May 4, 2011.  After consideration of all applicants, staff recommends that the City Council appoint Gwynne Pugh of Gwynne Pugh Urban Studio to fill the vacant position as the City of Santa Monica community representative for the UDC.



During the planning phase for the 8.3 mile Exposition Corridor from Downtown Los Angeles to Culver City, the Expo Construction Authority Board appointed a Phase 1 Urban Design Committee to provide input into the design of the Project.  The Urban Design Committee was comprised of 14 members representing communities and stakeholders along the entire Expo Corridor.  The UDC provided input into the station canopy design, landscaping, finishes and station area improvements.  UDC suggestions informed the Expo Board’s decision to develop standards for continuity of design along the Expo Corridor alignment.

Design efforts are underway for Phase 2 of the Expo Line construction and the Expo Board is looking to reconvene the Urban Design Committee.  The committee will again be comprised of 14 members and will include new members as well as members who served on the UDC for Phase 1 of the project.  The UDC will include two representatives from the City of Santa Monica.  Jessica Cusick, Cultural Affairs Manager, is currently serving as one of the Santa Monica representatives, having been reappointed by Council on April 26, 2011 after serving during Phase 1. Father Mike Gutierrez was appointed by Council on April 11, 2006 to fill the second seat.  Father Gutierrez has left Santa Monica, resulting in a vacant Santa Monica position on the UDC.    


On May 4, 2011, staff sent out a widely distributed RFQ to solicit interest in filling the Santa Monica vacancy on the UDC.  A notice was advertised in the Santa Monica Daily Press, posted on the City’s website, and distributed to neighborhood groups and commissions.  The RFQ explained the role of UDC members in working with Expo staff, the design-build contractor, community stakeholders, and other UDC members to provide input into Phase 2 of the Expo Line project.   Although the Expo Project contract specifies that the design of Phase 2 will mirror the design of Phase 1, opportunity remains for input into landscaping, art, urban design and other design elements.  UDC Members are not required to have any technical background to serve on the Committee; however it is beneficial to the UDC and the project for the new member to demonstrate expertise and experience in either one or all of the following areas:

·       Urban design, architecture, or landscape architecture

·       Transportation and multi-modal planning, including transit-oriented development, bicycle and pedestrian access

·       Art integration

·       Participation in or knowledge of the City’s recently adopted Land Use and Circulation Element.

Four interested community members responded to the RFQ and submitted qualifications for the City of Santa Monica UDC vacancy including:

·       Iao M. Katagiri, – Deputy Vice President and Director of Community Relations, RAND Corporation

·       Gwynne Pugh, FAIA, ASCE, LEED AP – Principal in Charge, Gwynne Pugh Urban Studio

·       Daren Laureano – President, Southern California Land Use

·       Melissa Cruise LEED AP – Architectural Designer, Gehry Partners.

A City evaluation team composed of representatives from Planning and Community Development, Community and Cultural Services, and the City Manager’s Office reviewed the submittals for relevant experience and expertise to match the needs of the appointment. After careful consideration, the team unanimously recommends Gwynne Pugh of Gwynne Pugh Urban Studio due to his urban design experience, land-use knowledge and project awareness.  Mr. Pugh also possesses a great understanding of the community and extensive design experience from his professional and volunteer work, including seven years on the Planning Commission during which the Commission discussed the Expo project and also reviewed and endorsed the final Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE).  Although non-residents were not excluded from consideration, it was considered beneficial that Mr. Pugh is a Santa Monica business owner and resident.  Should Council appoint Mr. Pugh, staff will forward his name to the Exposition Construction Authority.  Staff expects that the UDC will reconvene later in June, 2011.

Financial Impacts and Budget Actions

There are no direct budgetary impacts associated with appointing a community member to the Urban Design Committee as they will be working in a voluntary capacity.


Prepared by: Travis Page, Associate Planner


Forwarded to Council:





Kathryn Vernez

Assistant to City Manager

Rod Gould

City Manager