The following is by Susan Cline, city of Santa Monica public works director and Gigi Decavalles-Hughes, city of Santa Monica finance director.
Santa Monica City Hall is an iconic and historic building that has served this community well for the last 79 years. It was a serious investment when constructed in 1938 and it paid for itself long ago. City services have expanded since 1938 and it’s now time to make an investment in the future of City Hall.
For decades, the City has leased office space throughout Downtown Santa Monica. These leases are anticipated to substantially increase over the next 30 years to as much as $10 million annually. We know that leasing is not the best long-term investment for the City. The best, most sustainable option is to leverage existing resources by housing staff in City-owned space. This allows for greater return on investment and better service deliver from a 21st Century government.
The City Services Building fulfills a vision to bring all core municipal operations into one City Hall campus. By adding a modern building in the rear courtyard of City Hall, we will eliminate all leased space and offer a centralized hub of public counter services. It will cost approximately $77 million and will be financed using funds currently allocated to pay for leased office space. If not for the buildout of a City-owned facility, general funds paying for these leaseholds would not otherwise become available for other community-serving uses. It is projected that the annual lease savings will exceed the annual cost of construction financing after 16 years, and that the building will pay for itself well within its useful life.
As it is designed to be a “Living Building,” it will produce the energy and water it consumes on site and be a model of Santa Monica’s commitment to both fiscal and environmental sustainability. Utility costs will be saved over the life of the building and it will never have water or electric bills.
Santa Monica City Council will vote on financing for the City Services Building this Tuesday. The staff report is located on the City’s website and we encourage you to learn more about the unique aspects of the building by visiting the project webpage. If you have any questions or feedback, please get in touch at [email protected] We welcome your thoughts and look forward to constructing a City Hall that will serve this community for the next century.