Santa Monica Accepts $1 Million Prize, Alcoholic Beverage Control Grant

Monday, 15 Jul 2013, 9:08:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

One million dollars here, $40,000 there – flying under the radar during a light City Council meeting last Tuesday were two financial gifts heading Santa Monica’s way.

In two consent calendar items, a short-handed council unanimously accepted $1 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies for The Wellbeing Project and $40,000 from the Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).

The $1 million prize was awarded to Santa Monica as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge. Santa Monica was one of five cities to be awarded a $1 million prize. According to City staff, the prize money would be used to fund the development and use of “a dynamic tool to measure community wellbeing.”

City Hall had applied for the grant money in 2012 as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ first-ever Mayors Challenge. Any city with a population of 30,000 or more was eligible to apply and had to submit an idea of how the money would be used to spur innovation in local government. All submissions, according to City staff, were judged according to four criteria: vision, impact, ability to implement, and replicability.

Bloomberg Philanthropies selected Santa Monica as one of its five awardees based upon the work City Hall has done with the Cradle to Career Initiative.

The city’s Youth Wellbeing Report Card also factored into the award.

“Santa Monica submitted a successful entry to address wellbeing across all segments of the community through a combination of measurement and action,” City staff added. “Through The Wellbeing Project, the City of Santa Monica will work with top experts in the fields of behavioral science, economics, public health, and psychology to create a dynamic tool to measure wellbeing, pilot use of findings in City decision-making processes, engage the public, and develop strategies to assist other cities with replicating the project in their communities.”

According to City staff, the Wellbeing Project is expected to launch this fall.

“The Mayors Challenge prize will be used to implement The Wellbeing Project, including partnerships needed to develop the index, engage stakeholders, and create strategies to sustain the project and share it with other cities,” City staff said. “The project is expected to take approximately two years to complete.”

City Hall also accepted a “no match” grant from ABC for $40,000 “in support of addressing alcohol-related problems.”

The grant would allow the Santa Monica Police Department to monitor the “illegal purchasing and distribution of alcoholic beverages by and to minors and the sale of alcohol to chronic inebriants.”

“These funds, which are only available for overtime operations, would be used for a wide range of strategies, which would include: education within the community and merchants, underage enforcement operations and focusing on problem ABC licensed outlets,” City staff stated.

According to City staff, there are 331 active ABC licenses in Santa Monica, “one of the highest ratios of alcohol establishments to population in the state.”

“Communities such as Santa Monica, with a high concentration of alcohol outlets, experience a greater number of alcohol-related problems,” City staff stated. “This grant would allow the Santa Monica Police Department to expand its present efforts in identifying and targeting problematic ABC licensed establishments, reduce the availability of alcoholic beverages and the consumption of them by underage persons, chronic inebriants, transients and those who furnish alcohol to minors.”

The $40,000 grant would fund SMPD’s officer overtime operations between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014. SMPD would be able to perform two minor decoy, four “shoulder tap,” four “trap door, ” and two undercover operations.

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