City Council Report


City Council Meeting: January 27, 2015

Agenda Item: 8-E

To:               Mayor and City Council 

From:           Martin Pastucha, Director of Public Works

Subject:        City Yards Master Plan


Recommended Action

Staff recommends that the City Council:

1.     Approve the final City Yards Master Plan in concept.

2.     Direct staff to issue a request for bids for a design-build team for the initial phases of the City Yards Master Plan.

3.     Direct staff to prepare a financing plan for the initial phases of the City Yards Master Plan and return to Council to award a contract to a design-build team.


Executive Summary

The City Yards Master Plan is a conceptual plan to guide the redevelopment of the 14.7-acre City Yards property located at 2500 Michigan Avenue. The plan is designed as a phased rollout to minimize disruption and allow for incremental funding. Staff recommends that Council review and approve the City Yards Master Plan (Exhibit 1) in concept and direct staff to issue a request for bids for a design-build team and prepare a financing plan for the initial phases of the City Yards Master Plan.



The City Yards is a 14.7-acre site owned and operated by the City of Santa Monica and located at 2500 Michigan Avenue, near the intersection of 24th Street and Michigan Avenue.  The City took ownership of the site in the late 1940s. The property has been used as a base for the City’s maintenance operations, storage facilities, and other industrial uses. Currently, a majority of the City’s field maintenance operations are located at the City Yards spread out across the site in sixteen buildings and structures of various ages and conditions. These operations include: 


Operations and uses for the City Yards were adapted as-needed for various City functions, resulting in an expedient but inefficient utilization of space. Changing populations, growth, updates in technology, and differing service requirements resulted in a series of haphazard updates throughout the site. Today, the City Yards operates seven days a week and currently houses more functions and employees than it was designed to accommodate. The scope and breadth of the operating divisions has evolved over time.  Functional needs and space are no longer met by the facilities for any of the operations housed at the City Yards. Deficiencies include: maintenance shop space, vehicles hoists, covered maintenance area for heavy duty vehicles, employee restroom/locker facilities, parking for City, employee, and visitor vehicles, storage, traffic circulation constraints within and around the City Yards for city vehicles, and customer service facilities to adequately serve members of the public at the various City Yards offices.  In addition, a private recycling facility of rudimentary design utilizes a substantial portion of the site.


The City Yards has been designated by the City as an “Essential Services Facility,” and therefore must remain operational after a major earthquake event as the Department Operations Center for Public Works first responders. This designation adds constraints on the design and raises greater concerns regarding the condition of these aging structures. 


To address these problems, on October 8, 1996, Council authorized a Professional Services Agreement with RNL Interplan, Inc. (RNL) for consulting services to prepare a Master Plan for the City Yards that would address the physical reorganization, renovation and rehabilitation needs of the City Yards. On October 24, 2000, Council approved the two proposed City Yards Master Plan alternatives in concept. One concept included the continued operation of a City designed and constructed transfer station, while the second concept assumed contracted transfer station services with a third-party provider.


On November 12, 2002, Council awarded a new professional services agreement with RNL for architectural and engineering services for the City Yards expansion project. Also on November 12, 2002, Council directed staff to proceed with the design of a new municipal transfer station. On December 10, 2002, Council approved only a limited schematic design for a new transfer station. 


The City Yards Master Plan continued to evolve. On January 20, 2004, Council directed staff to explore different approaches for updating the transfer station located at the City Yards including a public-private partnership and reconstruction of the transfer station. On June 28, 2005, Council authorized the formation of an Ad Hoc Committee consisting of Council Members Ken Genser and Herb Katz to participate with staff in the identification and analysis of a range of solid waste management options for Council’s consideration.  On October 25, 2005, Council authorized a contract with Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, Inc. (GBB) to assist staff with this effort.  On March 14, 2006, GBB presented the results of the evaluation of Solid Waste operations to Council. 


On May 22, 2008, Council conceptually approved the partnership with Southern California Disposal (SCD) and Allan Company. Under this partnership, SCD would provide transfer services and Allan would provide recycling services in the area of the City Yards currently occupied by the City’s Transfer Station, the current Allan site, the Hanson Aggregate site and SCD land. On November 25, 2008, Council approved service agreements with SCD and Allan Company. On December 6, 2011, Council approved staff’s recommendation to cancel the design and construction of the Resource Recovery Center and the Self-Haul Facility at the City Yards due to costly construction estimates, rate impacts and operational issues, and directed staff to develop a new materials processing plan in conjunction with Allan Company and Southern California Disposal.


On October 13, 2009, Council authorized a professional services agreement with RNL to update the City Yards Master Plan approved in 2002. The update was substantially completed in July 2010 (Exhibit 2); however, the plan was not presented to Council due to additional required updates addressed through four subsequent modifications on September 13, 2011, February 14, 2012, September 11, 2012 and June 25, 2013.

On September 13, 2011, Council approved a first modification to complete the City Yards Master Plan with additional scope to include revisions to the configuration of the plan area, finalizing a program for the new components, and identifying and adding additional operations on the site:

·        The Resource Recovery Center site located at the City Yards would become available once the Resource Recovery and Recycling operation was moved off site.  The inclusion of this area would allow for additional programming components.

·        The planned relocation of the Santa Monica Fire Department’s training center within the City Yard and the addition of the public safety storage facility into the City Yards program.

On February 14, 2012, Council approved a second modification to conduct a study, focusing on the best and most practical approach to build on the areas above the landfill. The scope of work included performing additional borings to the site and analysis of three possible approaches:

·         Utilize structural slabs on piles at the buildings and vehicular circulation areas

·         Remove the landfill and import engineered fill

·         Amend the landfill to stabilize the area for construction and circulation

On September 11, 2012, Council approved a third modification to conduct further assessment of the landfill outside the boundary of the City Yards site. Previous geotechnical studies were limited to the City Yards site.  Additional geotechnical borings were completed in the adjacent Stewart Park to provide details on the extent and depth of the fill that was previously insufficiently documented.

On June 25, 2013, Council approved a fourth modification to facilitate a phased approach to construction to accommodate budget constraints by breaking the reconfiguration of the City Yards site into smaller increments that would be completed over time as funding becomes available.



The Master Plan was developed from the several schemes presented to the City through an interactive and exhaustive process. Input from user groups, management and consultants informed a plan to address functional and operational needs of the operating divisions while incorporating the long term planning needs of the City. Staff reviewed and commented on eighteen different schemes and draft plans in order to solicit comments and feedback from stakeholders and experts.


The updated plan was substantially completed in February 2013. The plan was not presented to Council due to uncertainty around the availability of funds. The plan is designed for implementation in 15 phases so that the City Yards can continue to operate during construction and funding can be identified by phases.


The following key drivers informed the site plan:

·       Optimization of site access

·       Separating the more active functions on the Site from each other to relieve vehicular congestion and provide a more efficient circulation system

·       Placement of buildings to minimize disruption and negate the need for off-site moves during construction

·       Maximizing the use of available land by stacking functions where feasible

·       Building orientation and placement for environmental considerations (natural day lighting and ventilation)

·       Exploration of shared uses of site parking where possible

·       Improve public image of the facility, in particular along Michigan Avenue as the primary access to the City Yards and Bergamot Station and at Stewart Park and residential agencies

·       Mitigation of the impact of the existing landfill which assumes pile foundations for buildings and driving surfaces.


In addition to the planning issues, the team emphasized phasing implementation and budgetary issues. The Master Plan prioritizes construction phases to allow for incremental construction as funding becomes available.



Michigan Avenue would continue to serve as primary access to the City Yards with secondary access at Delaware Avenue. The employee parking facility would have separate access on Michigan Avenue, alleviating some of the traffic congestion. The existing east entry/exit at Stewart Park would be closed off to reduce traffic impacts to Stewart Park and the neighborhood.  An emergency gate can still be considered next to the water/wastewater facility to provide alternate egress access to Stewart Street.




Major Plan Components / Operations

The major plan components include nine primary operating areas and general facilities (fuel and wash station and parking structure) required at the City Yards.


Fuel and Wash

The fuel and wash island would be centrally located to provide space for large vehicles to queue up to re-fuel or circulate. The majority of the buildings would be set at the edge of the property lines, which would provide some sound insulation and reduce noise levels for surrounding residents and businesses.


Street Maintenance

The Street Maintenance building would be a two-story structure at the western edge of the site close to Fleet Maintenance. There are several spaces for vehicle staging for Fleet next to the Streets building. Fleet and Streets could potentially share office space.



Fleet Maintenance

The Fleet Maintenance building would be located in the north-west corner to isolate the bays from heavier circulation and relieve a primary cause of congestion in the current layout (vehicles are regularly moved into and out of bays, blocking traffic). The proposed Fleet Maintenance roof could be used to provide additional parking and should be considered in the design phases.


Facilities Maintenance and Custodial Services

Facilities Maintenance and Custodial Services buildings would be located along the south end of the site in a two-story structure designed to accommodate shops and storage on the first level with offices and locker facilities on the second floor.


Parking Garage

The proposed garage would provide 350 parking spaces for employee vehicles. Subsequent to the master plan development, staff is considering the possibility of shared use of this parking garage with local businesses as discussed below.


Resource Recovery and Recycling (RRR)

RRR operations (including offices, dispatch and locker rooms) would be located at the center of the site. A small visitor lot would provide parking for resident pick-up of orders and is immediately accessible from Delaware Avenue. This lot would isolate public traffic from operations at the City Yards. Additionally, an RRR dedicated wash facility would be constructed adjacent to the fuel and wash station due to the specific needs of trash trucks. Slow-fill compressed natural gas (CNG) parking stalls would be located within the center of site and in close proximity to the RRR building. Trucks would be parked and fueled overnight in these spaces.


Traffic and Water/Wastewater

The Traffic and Water/Wastewater Facility would remain at the eastern end of the site.  Staff determined that the water and wastewater buildings did not need to be demolished completely and re-constructed as a cost saving measure. Staff is evaluating upgrading the existing Water/Wastewater offices.


Fire Department Training and Public Safety Storage Facility

The Fire Department Training and Public Safety Storage Facility would be located in the southwest portion of the site with separate access to Delaware Avenue. This would enable fire apparatus to enter and exit the site without interfering with daily operations of the City Yards. 


Phasing Details

In order to maintain continuous operations and allow for incremental funding opportunities, the Master Plan was developed for a phased rollout. This plan commences with the design of the initial phases as presented below; components in greatest need of repair are prioritized by funding availability. The design-build team would further examine the proposed phasing and make recommendations as to the construction sequence to minimize project costs while allowing for continuous department operations and city services.  Funding availability will influence the work performed within the initial phase and staff will continue to work to identify additional funds. A preliminary phasing implementation plan that illustrates each phase is attached as Chapter 8 of the final City Yards master Plan.


Initial phases would include:

·        Site clearing

·        Demolition of non-essential site structures

·        Demolition of the existing Street Maintenance building (a temporary building would be constructed to allow for continuing service of these departments)

·        Demolition of the existing RRR building (a temporary building would be constructed to allow for continuing service of these departments)

·        Soil remediation

·        Relocation of the existing fire classrooms

·        Construction of new Street Maintenance building

·        Construction of new Fleet Maintenance building

·        Construction of new fuel island and canopy and fuel tank farm

·        Demolition of the existing Fleet Maintenance building and fueling area/tank farm

·        Construction of new chassis wash and vehicle wash building

·        Construction of new RRR exterior storage and new slow-fill CNG stations/parking spaces


Subsequent Phases would include:

·        Construction of a new Facilities Maintenance building

·        Construction of a new Custodial Services building

·        Construction of a new multi-level parking garage,

·        Construction of a new Traffic and RRR buildings

·        Construction of a Fire Department training tower

·        Construction of a new Public Safety Storage Facility



Staff has determined that a design-build process would best serve this multi-faceted project. The design-build approach increases efficient project delivery, diverse expertise (design and construction), team member continuity and accountability. The City has benefited from a number of design-build projects in recent years including: the Big Blue Bus Facility Expansion, the Main Library Construction, Parking Structure 6 and the Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square project.


Upon Council approval, a design-build team would be solicited. A team of builders, designers and specialty consultants would provide expertise at this critical phase of initial concept design, feasibility and cost estimating. Members of this integrated project team would likely include construction specialists, architects, engineers and cost estimators. This team would deliver both the initial project design and cost estimates. If the initial design is approved by Council, the design-build team could move into the design phase based upon a guaranteed maximum price for design. If the final design is approved by Council, the same design-build team could provide construction services based upon the guaranteed maximum construction price provided at the completion of design. Design-build project delivery generally has a contractor as the prime consultant and the single point of responsibility for the City throughout the project lifecycle, although a contract with a design-build team would not obligate the City beyond the segment of work approved by Council.


The expert continuity provided in a design-build approach is important given the challenges of the site landfill conditions, the specialized nature of the facilities and the continuous operation required. Additionally, team continuity increases the reliability of the estimates, ensures consistent responsibility for the work and eliminates delays resulting from separate design and construction bidding cycles.


Other Site Considerations and Characteristics

A portion of the project site is located within the former landfill known as the City of Santa Monica Landfill No. 2. This landfill operated as a municipal solid waste and incinerator ash landfill from late 1940’s until 1970 and was located within an abandoned clay pit at the former Simons Brick Company Plant No. 4. Approximately 6.7 acres of the landfill site lies within the City Yards with another 3.9 acres within the Stewart Street Park site.


A geotechnical engineering firm conducted borings in the fill area and undertook soils analysis and mapping with assistance from a structural engineering firm. The firms made a joint recommendation as to the best way to work with this below grade material (Appendix A and B of the attached final City Yards Master Plan).


The landfill site contains zones of fill materials ranging in depth between five feet and 58 feet. This area is not compacted and therefore not structurally suited for buildings and site improvements in its current state. Over the years the settling and shifting of the fill material compromised the structural integrity of some of the buildings on the site and the adjacent pavement has shifted and buckled. This issue is inherent, long term, and will influence decisions made by the future planning team.


The geotechnical engineering consultant reviewed the feasibility of a variety of mitigation solutions on this site including (not all strategies are suitable):

·       Excavation and compaction

·       Deep Dynamic Compaction (DDC)

·       Jet Grouting

·       Wet Soil Mixing

·       Deep Foundations, either Cast in Drilled Holds (CIDH) Piles or Driven Steel Pipe Piles (pile foundation)


Site constraints include sensitivity to adjacent residential development, businesses and infrastructure. The review concluded that pile foundations and jet grouting are the most suitable mitigation strategies for this site. These recommendations were assumed in the development of the various plans and construction cost estimates for the City Yards Master Plan.


Other Potential Related Development

The following developments were not included in the Master Plan document but are nevertheless important to consider and may impact the long term development and needs of the site.


Olympic Water Treatment System

The City supplies water to more than 89,000 residents. The water is supplied from both local and imported sources. The local source is the groundwater produced from three well fields including the Olympic well field. The groundwater produced from the Olympic well has been impacted by industrial chemicals that exceed regulatory thresholds. The exceedance of regulatory thresholds has impaired the City’s use of the groundwater produced from the Olympic field. The City is investigating the development of a water treatment system near the Olympic well field to restore the groundwater resource to its full beneficial use.  A potential water treatment facility would require an approximate 100 foot by 170 foot treatment facility and additional underground water storage tanks. The overall footprint would be approximately one acre. One of the possible locations studies for such a facility would be in the eastern portion the City Yards site with the underground storage tank below Stewart Park. This approach would include the reconstruction of a park above the reservoir. This facility was not included in the current Master Plan document as it is only in the study phase and its impacts to the City Yards Master Plan program have not been evaluated. 


Shared Parking

The parking structure is proposed to be four stories and to include 350 parking spaces with an estimated budget of $16 million. A parking structure is not included in the initial phasing of project; however, staff is evaluating the financial impact and feasibility of both City employee uses and various shared parking scenarios. The parking structure is scheduled in future phases of the Master Plan, and is not part of the proposed initial phases; however, there is a potential that this structure could supplement the parking needs of the adjacent Bergamot Station Arts Center and the Expo Light Rail Bergamot Station. Staff anticipates that the proposed City Yards parking structure could accommodate shared parking during off-peak operating hours (e.g. evenings and weekends). 


On December 15, 2014, Council authorized consulting services to review the financing options, economics, demand and viability of a shared parking solution. Additionally, the consultant will determine the potential to maximize utilization by scaling the parking inventory to approximately 500 spaces.  A final report is not expected until mid-2015. 



A preliminary estimate of the probable construction cost for the phased implementation including design, construction and direct owner costs:

·        Initial Phases:                             $38.1 million

·        Subsequent Phases combined:    $77.4 million


Staff will work with the Finance Department staff to develop funding alternatives including use of reserves and potential bond financing.


Anticipated Timeline and Next Steps

Upon Council approval and direction, staff anticipates the following project timeline:

·       February 2015 – Initiate the competitive process for the selection of a design-build team in accordance with City Charter and Municipal Code provisions.

·       July 2015 – Return to Council with a recommendation for the design-build team and authorization to award an agreement for preliminary analysis to conduct the initial design and cost estimates, including approval to negotiate a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for design.

·       Early 2016 – Return to Council for approval of a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) and financing plan for the design of the initial phases.

·       Mid 2017 – Return to Council with proposed design, phases, cost estimates and the proposed financing strategy for construction, including a GMP amendment for construction.

·       Fiscal Year 2017-18 – If funded,  additional phases could commence.


Staff will periodically return to Council with findings and reports. Staff will seek Council authorization of any budget actions determined by the findings of this initial phase of the City Yards Master Plan project as well as subsequent design phases and construction.


Financial Impacts & Budget Actions

There is no immediate financial impact or budget action necessary as a result of the recommended action. Funds in the amount of $455,795 are available in the FY 2014-15 Capital Improvement Program budget in account C014028.589000 for any necessary consulting services resulting from the recommended action. Staff will return to Council if additional budget is needed to award a contract to a design-build team, and will provide Council with a financing plan for the initial phases of the City Yards Master Plan once the design-build analysis and cost estimates have been completed.


Prepared by:  Tom Afschar, Architect




Forwarded to Council:







Martin Pastucha

Director of Public Works


Rod Gould

City Manager



Exhibit 1 – Final City Yards Master Plan, 2013

Exhibit 2 – Draft City Yards Master Plan, 2010