Santa Monica Airport Visioning Process Forges Ahead

Thursday, 15 Dec 2011, 12:15:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

Despite continued calls to shut it down, the second phase of the Santa Monica Airport (SMO) visioning processes is moving forward after council members unanimously approved last Tuesday a professional services agreement worth nearly $150,000 to facilitate a series of public forums and discussion groups.

A contract to be assigned to California-based Moore Iacofano Goltsman, Inc. (MIG) for $148,280, council designated the planning, design, communications, and management company to facilitate the second of three phases of the SMO Visioning Process, which is expected to include the engaging of the public “in an open and transparent dialog.”

“During this phase an extensive program of community discussion groups would be conducted from January to March 2012 at locations throughout the city to maximize accessibility,” according to a staff report, adding MIG would be spearheading “the facilitation of the community discussion groups to engage the community in a dialogue about the future of the Santa Monica Airport.”

In addition to the public forums, MIG would also be training 24 members of city staff “to assist with the facilitation of the community discussion groups.”

The discussion groups are part of a three-phase visioning process that will help determine the future of SMO, according to City Hall.

The community meetings will regularly take place across Santa Monica between January and March with series of focus groups consisting of eight to 12 participants.

MIG was selected, in part, because of its unique community discussion group formatting. The firm has, according to City Hall, “developed a unique facilitation model called ‘Meeting of the Minds’ that blends social psychology with dynamic visualization to facilitate groups, manage conflict, and reach agreement on vision and direction.”

Even more, MIG stood out to City Hall because of how it handled previous measures involving community input, such as the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) process.

Phase I of the visioning process focused on consultant presentations and other reports. The council directed staff to proceed with Phase II on Oct. 4.

Though it was a consent calendar item, Council member Kevin McKeown requested it be pulled for discussion. McKeown had received an email from Airport Commissioner Richard Brown requesting an opportunity for him and his colleagues to review the questions that would be used in the public community meetings.

However, City Manager Rod Gould said it was improbable for Airport Commissioners to review any portion of MIG’s involvement with Phase II of the Visioning Process, since the commission does not meet in December and the public meetings are expected to start in January.

Gould had responded to Brown’s request with a formal letter prior to the council meeting.

Council members unanimously passed the item without including the provision that Airport Commissioners request for review.

Anyone interested in participating in any of the Phase II community meetings may register online via the city’s website at smgov.net or calling the Public Works Department at 310.458.8221.

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