Council debates treatment facility funding

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Bonds considered as method to pay for $6 million in design and environmental review costs of the Civic Center wastewater treatment facility.

By Knowles Adkisson / Associate Editor

The City Council was expected this week to approve the creation of a funding mechanism to pay $6 million for environmental studies and design for the planned wastewater treatment facility in the Civic Center. The council was also expected to establish a two-hour parking limit on Cross Creek Road.

The council’s meeting occurred Tuesday night as The Malibu Times went to press. Visit malibutimes.com for the final results from the meeting.

In order to fund what has grown into a $6 million design and environmental review process for the proposed Civic Center wastewater treatment facility, city staff recommended the council approve the formation of a Community Facilities District (CFD). A CFD is a tool used by municipal governments to issue bonds to finance the construction of facilities, as well as impose and collect special taxes for the same purpose.

In the case of the Civic Center wastewater treatment facility, the CFD would issue bonds to reimburse the city for the costs of design, environmental and consulting work on the project.

To form the CFD, city staff recommended hiring three companies. Yocca, Carlson & Rauth would be hired for bond counsel services. The firm of Stone and Youngberg would be hired to provide banking and underwriting services. David Taussig and Associates, Inc. would also be hired as a special tax consultant for the CFD.

Each firm is expected to be paid by the CFD, but first it must be approved by the commercial property owners in the Civic Center area and then later by another vote of the City Council. Until then, the city would be paying for the consultants.

Projected design costs for the wastewater treatment facility have more than doubled since 2009, when a previous council voted to approve a $2.6 million appropriation to engineering firm RMC Water and Environment for engineering and design services for Legacy Park and what at the time was a potential wastewater treatment facility. $102, 800 was put toward design services for Legacy Park, leaving about $2.5 million for the design of a wastewater treatment facility.

City Manager Jim Thorsen said in February that the city’s original plan was to dispose of the treated effluent in leach fields. But that method of disposal was prohibited under the memorandum of understanding (MOU) the city agreed to last June with the state and regional water boards to build a wastewater treatment facility in the Civic Center by 2015.

The city has instead explored the alternative of deep-well injections to store the treated effluent underground. That exploratory process has turned out to be far more costly than the leach fields city staff had in mind when the original $2.6 million appropriation was made in 2009, according to Assistant City Manager Reva Feldman.

“The funding that was approved by the Council in 2009 did not contemplate the extensive design and engineering process that has now become necessary due to the requirements of the MOU,” Feldman wrote in the staff report for Tuesday’s meeting. “Additional funds are needed for design and engineering services, as well as an environmental study report and permits.”

The total additional cost for the extra work is about $3.4 million. An extra $1.5 million would go to the final design and engineering of a deep-well injection system, while $1.9 million would pay for the Environmental Impact Report, final construction drawings, bid documents and all permits. That would bring the total funds required for the project (including the original $2.6 million appropriation) to $6 million.

Two-hour parking limit considered for Cross Creek

The council was also to consider a recommendation by the Public Works Commission to install two-hour limited parking signs next to 10 parking spaces on Cross Creek Road between Pacific Coast Highway and Civic Center Way.

“The city currently allows unrestricted parking along Cross Creek Road,” Public Works Director Robert Brager wrote in the staff report. “As a result, many of the parking spaces appear to be occupied by employees of the local businesses or visitors to the region. With minimal parking turnover, patrons of the Civic Center area businesses are hindered from using prime on-street parking.”

The 10 signs would cost $2,500 to purchase and install, and would be paid for out of the Public Works streets and maintenance program. Staff recommended that enforcement be handled by a community service officer with the Sheriff’s Department which already spends 20 hours per week on citywide parking enforcement, including Cross Creek Road. The council could also hire a private parking enforcement company, at an undisclosed cost.

Should the council approve the installation of the parking signs, there is still a potential hangup: Malibu’s Local Coastal Program prohibits the city from restricting parking. Thus, the city would have to request permission from the Coastal Commission to add the parking signs.