Council Considers Permanent Cap on Food Delivery Fees

The city council discussed the potential of a cap on food delivery fees and the limitations the city would face in limiting such a fee on a more permanent basis. There was a cap that was implemented as part of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated emergency order, but it expired in April alongside that order.

Just before the order expired, the council directed staff to investigate the potential of making the fee cap permanent. This investigation has included reaching out to restaurants for feedback and exploring other examples of price caps around the state.

There was a low response rate to the outreach to restaurants, but most of the 13 responses the city did receive were in favor of making these changes permanent. Uber and DoorDash submitted letters opposed to making the fee cap permanent, with Uber suggesting litigation is possible should the city decide to do so. San Francisco faced litigation from DoorDash and Grubhub related to their cap.

Most jurisdictions in the Southern California area that had food delivery fee caps no longer enforce them, but the city turned to San Francisco as an example of a city with a sustainable permanent fee cap in place.

Councilmember Goran Eriksson expresses his disapproval of implementing a permanent cap, arguing that it would further hurt the delivery drivers that already make low wages. 

“I don’t think we need to go down this route,” Eriksson said. “I am really worried about the negative effects that can come of it.” 

However, most of the council members were in favor of continuing to do research and outreach to provide more information to make a more sure decision on whether or not to implement a permanent delivery fee cap.

“I care deeply about small businesses…it’s so important to do what we can to support the livelihood of our small businesses,” Vice Mayor Yasmine-Imani McMorrin said. “I would hate to just move forward with the ordinance modeled after San Francisco if businesses do not think that would be helpful.”

Summer Concert Series to Return to Downtown Culver

The Summer Concert Series which was held on an annual basis in Downtown Culver City prior to the pandemic is making a comeback this year. 

An item to officially approve the 2023 Summer Concert Series and begin preliminary preparations for 2024 was passed by the council Monday, ending a three-year pause on the event. The 2020 iteration of the series was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and did not return in 2021 or 2022.

However, city staff explained that a limited return of the Concert Series to the town plaza at the Culver Steps was feasible due to the infrastructure present in the area such as electrical outlets and public restrooms.

Economic Development Director Elaine Warren said that the management of the Culver Steps has offered certain Thursdays in July and August to the city to host an event, and the Culver City Arts Foundation has expressed interest in providing “possibly $25,000 to $30,000” and serve as the fiscal sponsor of the Concert Series this year as well as help seek additional sponsorships for the event.

“Although the timing is a little tight, we believe we can produce a successful series with local artists and previous appearing musicians,” Warren said.

For 2024, Warren suggested that an RFP be issued for a concert promoter with relationships in the area and a marketing capacity. An allocation of $60,000 has been set aside in the 2023-24 fiscal year budget to produce the 2024 Concert Series. 

Council members unanimously supported the return of the event, lauding its importance to the community and noting their own excitement that the event is returning.

“I think this is a great way to build community,” Councilmember Freddy Puza said of the Concert Series, “And I hope entertainment will represent diverse styles and artists.”

Efforts to Combat Homelessness Continue to Progress

Progress on several programs meant to assist with homelessness and housing efforts is being made in Culver City.

The Department of Housing and Human Services gave several presentations related to the city’s response to the homelessness emergency declared in the city earlier this year. One of these was an update on the state of the Safe Space program — which has set up a site at a city-owned lot on 10555 Virginia Ave. for people experiencing homelessness to safely camp. 

At the meeting, Assistant to the City Manager on Homelessness Arames White-Sheeran told the council that several amenities have been set up at the site over the past week: internet connectivity, a set of four restrooms — one of which is an ADU equipped with showers — and benches and tables for people at the site to eat and sit.

An update on several current renovations as part of Project Homekey — the state of California’s program which converts hotels, motels, and similar buildings into interim housing and permanent supportive housing — was also given at the meeting by Housing and Human Services Department Director Tevis Barnes.

She explained that work to convert two sites is currently underway. One is the former Deano’s Motel at 3868 Sepulveda Blvd., the other is the Sunburst Motel site at 3900 Sepulveda Blvd. Barnes also noted that the city’s Motel Leasing Program is currently housing 26 people, and there would be a recommendation next month to add a meal program aspect.

The city is also moving towards hiring mental health specialists for its new Mobile Crisis Intervention team. Barnes said that the city has already hired a Human Services and Crisis Intervention manager, leaving a mental health clinician position, mental health specialist position, and a case manager position needing to be filled.

There have been more than 100 applications received for all of these positions, and the city is expected to begin interviewing applicants next week.

Photo by albertc111

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