What's Missing from City of Santa Monica's Report on Addressing Homelessness
The City must stop focusing on the process and focus on quantifiable objectives, and the measurable milestones required to achieve them.
March 2, 2021
I have read with disappointment the Staff Report accompanying Item 8.A. The report is long on process narrative but entirely deficient on hard objectives and measurable milestones to achieve those objectives.
The City must stop focusing on the process and focus on quantifiable OBJECTIVES and the measurable milestones required to achieve them.
The Staff Report does not provide any indication of the total amount being either received nor spent on the unhoused issue in Santa Monica. The required analysis must include not just the grants but general fund monies (from all sources including County, State and Federal, both monetary and in‐kind) and planned expenditures by service and service supplier. Separately, all homeless services being provided by SMFD i.e., medical/EMT and SMPD (via services calls and outreach), as well as monies being expended on behalf of the City by affiliated groups such as Downtown Santa Monica (DTSM). This can be accomplished through project accounting with monthly reporting provided.
You can see from the chart that we have NOT been successful in reducing homelessness, even during the City's revenue rich years. So doing the same things or waiting until 2025 for full economic recovery is not a path to success.
To achieve the key priorities of the City for residents, 3rd Street Promenade and businesses, we need to better understand available resources, expended resources and what we want to achieve and work toward our objectives on a monthly, not an annual basis.
The staff report does acknowledge that the problem stems from a very transient population. Given this, there is no mention of the required coordination with LA County, LA City and the state to address what is clearly not a Santa Monica origin or specific problem. Without aligning policies to the actual problem, there is no hope of progress.
A key example of policy misalignment is the Staff acknowledgement that justice system changes have reduced the effectiveness of long‐held City strategies that relied on coordination and partnership with SMPD to provide the motivation that criminal enforcement has on managing disruptive behavior. But staff is not addressing the effectiveness of the local measures being taken with the regional and potentially out‐of‐state nature of the underlying problem.
The City needs to focus on the real problem and real, relevant, solutions. Without solving the homeless issue, no other agenda item in the city to improve livability for all constituents can succeed.
Editor's Note: This written public comment was submitted to item 8A at the 2/23/21 meeting of the Santa Monica City Council.