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City Council Report

 

City Council Meeting: December 16, 2014

Agenda Item: 3-G 

To:†††††††††††††† Mayor and City Council 

From:†††††††††† David Martin, Planning and Community Development Department Director

Subject:††††††† Amendment to Provide Additional Scope of Work for the Downtown Specific Plan Environmental Impact Report

 

 

Recommended Action

Staff recommends that the City Council authorize the City Manager to negotiate and execute a third modification to Contract No. 9687 in the amount of $120,000 with AMEC Environment & Infrastructure, Inc., a professional environmental consulting company based in Washington D.C., to provide additional environmental consulting services for the Downtown Specific Plan Environmental Impact Report. This will result in a two-year amended contract with a new total amount not to exceed $891,000.

 

Executive Summary

On January 22, 2013, the City entered into Contract No. 9687 with AMEC Environment & Infrastructure, Inc. in the amount of $601,000 to prepare the Downtown Specific Plan Program EIR in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The initial contract was funded by a grant from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Council modified the contract on March 18, 2014 in the amount of $170,000 for additional scope of work to respond to community, Planning Commission and Council requests and to support completion of the Downtown Specific Plan and Program EIR.On November 26, 2014 the City Managerís office executed a contract extension allowing AMEC to continue to provide services through December, 2015. Ongoing interdepartmental meetings subsequent torelease of the draft Downtown Specific Plan have provided increased interest in analyzing the impacts and potential benefits of a broad one-way street network in Downtown.A contract modification of $120,000 is requested to evaluate the performance of a broad one-way street network including impacts to automobile flow, bus operations, existing and future bike facilities, pedestrian access, and wayfinding.This amendment would include incorporation of one-way streets as an alternative in the Downtown Specific Plan Program EIR.

 

Background

On August 1, 2012, the City of Santa Monica was awarded grant funding by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) in the amount of $601,000 to complete environmental clearance for the Downtown Specific Plan (DSP).A program level Environmental Impact Report (Program EIR) is required by State of California law in order to consider adoption of the draft DSP.

 

On January 22, 2013, the Council accepted the Metro grant for preparation of the DSP Program EIR and approved a contract with AMEC for $601,000 to prepare the DSP Program EIR. On March 18, 2014 Council authorized a first modification to Contract No. 9687 in the amount of $170,000 to allow AMEC to conduct additional work necessary to respond to Community, Planning Commission and Council requests and to complete the Downtown Specific Plan and Program EIR. On November 26, 2014 the City Managerís office executed a contract extension allowing AMEC to continue to provide services through December, 2015

 

The Council has reviewed components of the Downtown Specific Plan and the CEQA parameters to be studied in the EIR at public meetings on February 28, 2012, July 9, 2013 and August 13, 2013.

 

Discussion

The draft Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) builds on the foundation of work provided by the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) and outlines a path to improve multi-modal circulation and reduce single occupancy vehicle trips through a combination of land use and management strategies, capital improvements, and operations policies. The DSP is part of implementing the LUCEís citywide goal of eliminating new vehicle trips in the congested evening peak hour (no net new p.m. peak hour trips). Preserving and enhancing the pedestrian environment is a cornerstone of the DSP, building on the success of the area as a local, regional, and international destination for walkers.

 

The DSPís blueprint for improving circulation and access for all modes of transportation includes dozens of action items including short-, medium-, and long-term items that will provide a more comfortable pedestrian realm, improve traffic flow, increase visibility and options for parking, and address vehicle trips through transportation demand management strategies including the development of a TMO (Transportation Management Organization).

 

To improve automobile flow, the DSP explores a host of strategies that would distribute cars directly and efficiently to their destinations.Analysis includes evaluation of focused one-way street options and their effect on the streets and circulation system as a whole.The analysis includes a 4th Street southbound and 5th Street northbound couplet between Colorado Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard.Modeling results shows limited benefits to automobile flow, and those benefits do not appear to substantially contribute to the overall network in a way that would offset the losses in direct access, efficient transit function and comfortable pedestrian travel.

 

Following the release of the draft DSP, on-going communications and interdepartmental meetings have provided additional interest to study a broader one-way street network.The study would evaluate system performance from a number of perspectives, provide information on potential benefits, explore strategies that could improve the pedestrian experience and ensure access to parking structures, and include information that addresses navigability challenges for visitors unfamiliar with the Downtown that are typically associated with a one-way street network.†††††

 

This contract modification would provide resources for AMEC to complete additional circulation studies, synthesize data produced by the studies, include the results as an alternative in the EIR and attend meetings and hearings in conjunction with the study.The circulation studies would include assessment of the performance of a potential one-way street network and its effects on automobile flow, level of service, existing and future bike facilities, pedestrian access, wayfinding and legibility, trip length, vehicle miles traveled, and impact on Big Blue Bus operations. Completion of the DSP EIR is required by State law prior to consideration of adoption of the final DSP, and provides an important public information and review process that complements the three years of outreach that has been conducted for the Downtown Specific Plan.

 

Contractor Selection

On September 25, 2012, a Request for Proposals for preparation of a Downtown Specific Plan Program Environmental Impact Report (Program EIR) was issued to three qualified firms on the Cityís Pre-Qualified list of environmental consultants. Based on the selection criteria in SMMC 2.24.072 as well as the firmís demonstrated knowledge of the City and CEQA, strong record of preparing legally defensible environmental documentation in the City and other jurisdictions, comprehensive scope of work, and flexible approach, AMEC was selected as the best bidder to provide environmental consulting services for the DSP.

 

Financial Impacts & Budget Actions

The contract modification amount to be awarded to AMEC Environment & Infrastructure, Inc. is $120,000 for an amended contract total not to exceed $891,000. Funds are available in the following accounts:

 

S010210.589000†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††† ††††††††††$70,000

01267.555060†††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††$50,000

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Total†† †††††††† $120,000††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††

 

Prepared by: Travis Page, Senior Planner

 

Approved:

 

Forwarded to Council:

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Martin

Director, Planning and Community Development

 

Rod Gould

City Manager