Advocacy Positions 2021-22

The Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce weighs in on a wide variety of public policy, regulatory, and legislative matters in support of our members and their ability to do business in Santa Monica, California, and the United States.

Most positions listed here are the result of an internal and inclusive process within the Chamber, beginning with the Government Affairs Committee. The committee hears issues that are raised by fellow Chamber members, and decides whether to recommend a position. That recommendation must be ratified by the Chamber’s board of directors. Positions are communicated via letters, public comments, press releases, op-eds, and other channels as situations may warrant.

AB 61 – SUPPORT

Extends certain regulatory flexibilities beyond the pandemic to support business activity, including: lowering speed limits to make outdoor dining safe; allowing to-go alcohol sales; and allowing a licensing process for third-party delivery of alcohol.

Status: Signed by the Governor.

AB 273 – OPPOSE

Would prohibit all cannabis advertising on highway billboards in California.

Requested by: Eaze.

Status: Failed passage. Reconsideration granted.

AB 1302 – SUPPORT

Establishes a more reasonable set of advertising guidelines for cannabis businesses.

Requested by: Eaze.

Status: Vetoed by the Governor.(Click for veto message)

AB 371 – OPPOSE UNLESS AMENDED

Requires certain identifying information be made available in Braille and placed on shared mobility devices (e.g. bikes, scooters) to facilitate reporting of poor riding or parking behavior. Also requires each operator of a shared bike or scooter system to maintain liability insurance of $1 million per rider. The insurance requirement could be so expensive as to put these companies out of business.

Requested by: Lyft.

Status: Died in process – hearing canceled at request of author

AB 721 – SUPPORT

Allows more affordable housing to be built, while still complying with local zoning and land use rules, by prohibiting density restrictions in private covenants when the buyer of a property is an affordable housing developer.

Requested by: Community Corporation of Santa Monica.

Status: Signed by the Governor.

SB 556 – SUPPORT

Requires local governments to provide reasonable access, at reasonable rates, to public infrastructure (e.g. street light poles) to wireless carriers for the deployment of new 5G wireless technology. Brings California into conformity with existing federal laws.

Requested by: Verizon.

Status: Vetoed by the Governor. (Click for veto message)

AB 1401 – SUPPORT

Prohibits local governments from imposing minimum parking requirements on commercial or residential developments within a half mile of a high frequency public transit stop.

Requested by: Pam O’Connor.

Status: Held by committee chair.

SB 485 – SUPPORT

Extends California’s existing film tax credit program for another five years. Current law authorizes the California Film Commission to allocate $330 million annually in tax credits to qualified in-state productions. That authority is scheduled to sunset in 2025. This bill, if approved, extends the program to 2030.

Requesting member: Peter Trinh, Lanea

Status: In process.

AB 1603 – SUPPORT

Approved by the voters in 2014, Prop. 47 sought to reduce the state’s prison population through a variety of means, including redefining petty theft from anything under $400 to anything under $950.AB 1603, if approved, would place a new measure on the ballot for voters to consider. That measure would reset the threshold back to $400.
Requesting member: Rudy Flores, Santa Monica Peace Officers Association
Status: Failed passage.

AB 1845 – SUPPORT

State law requires Metropolitan Water District to adhere to a design-bid-build process for its public works construction projects. This means MWD designs a project, solicits competitive bids, then awards a contract to the lowest bidder. This process is appropriate for most public works projects, but may be inefficient for time-sensitive projects. This bill would allow MWD to use alternative procurement methods for its time-sensitive, drought resistance infrastructure projects

Requesting member: Christine Frey, Metropolitan Water District

Status: In process.

AB 2097 – SUPPORT

This bill prohibits a city from imposing mandatory parking minimums for residential or commercial developments within a half mile of a high frequency public transit stop. This is a reintroduction of AB 1401, which failed passage in 2021.

Requesting member: Pam O’Connor.

Status: In process.

AB 2572 – SUPPORT

Expands access to financial aid by creating a new grant for adult learners seeking to attend a high-quality, non-profit online university.

Requesting member: Becky Warren, Elevate Public Affairs

Status: In process.

Verizon Acquisition of TracFone – SUPPORT

Proposal would allow Verizon to acquire the low-cost, pre-paid wireless phone carrier TracFone from Mexican operator America Movil. Sale has already been approved federally but needs sign-off from the CPUC.

Requested by: Verizon.

Status: approved by the CPUC.

Shore Hotel CUP amendment – SUPPORT

Amends the Shore Hotel’s conditional use permit to allow for 14 affordable rooms, a café and restaurant, and other amenities.

Requested by: Shore Hotel.

Status: Approved by City Council.

710 Broadway development – SUPPORT

This project will see nearly 300 new units of housing, 30% of them deed-restricted affordable, at the current location of a Vons grocery store on Broadway and Lincoln in downtown Santa Monica. The grocery store will be replaced on the ground floor of the new development.

Requested by: Related California Residential.

Status: Approved at Planning Commission. Approved by Architectural Review Board.

Main Street summer weekend closures – SUPPORT

The Main Street Business Improvement Association, in conjunction with the Ocean Park Association, proposes prohibiting vehicle traffic on Main Street for one weekend per month, for a period beginning July and extending potentially into October 2021. This would open Main Street to new business and recreational opportunities.

Requested by: Main Street Business Improvement Association.

Status: Approved by City Council.

Promenade Vitality Plan – SUPPORT

Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. requested Council approval of a proposal for expanded outdoor dining, live music and dancing, expanded use of alleys, streamlining permitting for non-structural tenant improvements, enhanced lighting and wayfinding, developing a new multipurpose performing arts center, establishing of a town square at Third and Arizona, and supporting both rooftop and basement/underground uses, among other strategies. Full details are available at https://downtownsm.com/promenade

Requested by: Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.

Status: Approved by City Council.

Delay implementation of outdoor business permit fees until July 1, 2022.

Throughout the pandemic, the City of Santa Monica has waived fees for outdoor business permits, in recognition of the public health demands on business to shut down indoor dining and retail areas. The City was set to start charging fees for these permits in January of 2022. Winter is generally the worst time for restaurants as business and revenues are down, and they may not have the cash flow necessary to maintain the permits. Delaying the onset of these fees will be better for local businesses and make it more likely that they maintain their outdoor dining and business infrastructure.

Requested by: Main Street Business Improvement Association.

Status: Approved by the City.

Support the Providence Saint John’s Phase II Master Plan

Providence Saint John’s seeks City approval of its Phase II Master Plan, which guides development on its campus, including: building placement, building heights, setbacks, stepbacks, parking, permitted uses, vehicular and pedestrian circulation, and open space. Phase II seeks to integrate the campus into Santa Monica’s urban fabric; provide open space, housing, and new facilities for the Cancer Institute and Education and Conference Center.

Requested by: Providence Saint John’s Health Center.

Status: Pending hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council.

Call on Congress to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund

Independent restaurants and bars across the country are still in crisis. Congress must pass the bipartisan Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act, which would add $60B to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) to support independent restaurants and bars. The Chamber board voted this month to tell Congress to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Click here to email your representatives.

Requested by: The Albright

Status: Failed. Not included in omnibus spending bill. (Click for update).

Call on the Citizens Redistricting Commission to keep Santa Monica in the same district as current beach and westside cities

Every ten years, political districts must be redrawn to account for population changes. In California, districts for the House of Representatives, State Senate, and State Assembly are drawn by an independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC). The CRC released a draft map in November that put Santa Monica into a House district with much of the West San Fernando Valley. This is a significant departure from Santa Monica’s current House district, which covers much of the Los Angeles County coast from Malibu to the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Requested by: Snap, Inc.

Status: CRC released final maps on December 20, 2021. Santa Monica was drawn into the new Congressional District 36, which keeps Santa Monica in the same district with other westside and coastal communities.

Santa Monica Local Business Policy Strike Team

Throughout the pandemic, the Chamber has at times convened a short-term working group called the Strike Team to brainstorm policy ideas to improve the business climate in Santa Monica. The Strike Team brings Chamber members together with residents, neighborhood associations, and government staff from the city, county, and state to work out what the on-the-ground issues are, and what governmental solutions are possible and feasible.

The Strike Team successfully led to the creation of a Pier Task Force, an interdepartmental and interjurisdictional group made up of the LA County Department of Public Health as well as City of Santa Monica police, fire, public works, code enforcement, and the city attorney’s office. The Pier Task Force is tackling the immediate public safety hazards posed by unpermitted vending on the pier. The Strike Team also successfully led to the introduction of state legislation that will give the City more tools to keep the pier safe over the long term.

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