Culver City Observer -

Council Backs Police Chief


While parking in the Hayden Tract was the most discussed issue of the night the council came out of an extended closed session dealing with several issues including a performance review of Culver City Police Chief Don Pedersen. The hot topic of the evening was the reported no-confidence vote by the Culver City Police Officers Association of Pedersen.

The department as gone through numerous changes since the departure of former chief Ted Cooke who retired after 28 years as Culver City’s Chief.

After a short tenure by John Montanio as chief, Pedersen was named chief almost four years ago. In each case rank and file officers were upset that long time Assistant Chief Hank Davies was not named to the position. Davies retired shortly after the appointment of Pedersen.

The vast majority of times the Mayor tells the audience there is nothing to report from the closed session. This week however the council felt it was necessary to make a statement.

On behalf of the council, Mayor Christopher Armenta simply announced to the audience, “We support the Police Chief’s (Pedersen) direction and vision for our police department.”

The issue of who can park in a parking lot might seem like a no-brainer, but it was a major subject of discussion at the Culver City Council meeting on Monday night.

The lot in contention is located at 8511 Warner Drive, in the northeast corner of Culver City. The Council was considering, through a public hearing and discussion, a proposed amendment to the public parking covenant, administrative use permit, and administrative modification for the lot.

The Council has wrestled with this issue before, scheduling public hearings on May 10 and on June 7 before postponing the matter until last Monday to obtain more information and discuss alternatives with the applicant.

The applicant, Samitaur Constructs, wants a permit for tandem parking on the Warner Lot, with reduced parking stall widths, in order to provide additional parking for businesses in the Hayden Tract.

The area historically contained industrial buildings with little need for parking. However, a number of businesses now located in the Hayden Tract need more parking spaces. Some parking would be made available on a railroad spur owned by the City.

John Molloy, representing Samitaur, differed from the City staff’s opinion. The city wants any parking agreement to expire or to be renegotiated in 2016, that the rental rate for parking spaces should be subject to Fair Market rates for the original 242 spaces, and that tandem parking should be made available first to public users who don’t work for Samitaur.

The re-allocation of the 242 spaces should not commence for three years, and that 56 new spaces may be allocated for Hayden Tract property owners immediately on a pro rata basis.

Molloy’s proposal was that Samitaur be entitled to a pro-rated share of all the tandem parking. He also wants the reallocation to be deferred for an indefinite period, “until the effects of tandem parking are known,” and offered to provide a $130-per-month cap on the price of parking, except in cases when a user consents to a long-term lease at a higher rate.

“Our goal is not to displace anybody,” Molloy told members of the City Council.

Several speakers, representing some of the businesses in the Hayden Tract, expressed concern about both Samitaur’s and City staff’s plans. One business owner suggested that he might have to move his operations if the parking problem cannot be solved.

Molloy repeated his contention that nobody would lose their parking space, that his company’s plan would provide parking for people who had not had a place to park previously, and that Samitaur’s idea to build a structure with 56 new spaces would not give preference to Samitaur employees.

After further debate, City Council member Scott Malsin said that the city’s alternative idea “has the best of intentions, but it’s overly complicated.”

Under the new proposal, the 56 new spaces will be allocated “as the owner sees fit, to users in the Hayden Tract.”

Existing users in the 242 spaces will not be displaced unless an appeal to Council is made. Available spaces will be priced with a cap of $130 a month, but longer-term agreements can be made if a higher price might apply and no reallocations made until 2016.

The City Council approved the resolution late Monday, but scheduled another public hearing for July 12.


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