The City Services Building: A wise long-term investment for Santa Monica

January 24, 2017 4:32 PM
by Susan Cline

In 2020, when the City Services Building (CSB) is complete, your City Hall experience will be much improved. You may enter the building through the courtyard or from Olympic Drive. An integrated public counter will make transactions simpler. Or, you may not need to come in at all, as more city services will be available online. The CSB will sensitively integrate with historic City Hall and will house the workforce of tomorrow while demonstrating Santa Monica’s commitment to environmental sustainability and resiliency.

The CSB will cost an estimated $75 million. That’s a large initial investment. Yet, even at $75 million, the CSB is a wise long-term investment for Santa Monica. Here’s why.

It makes fiscal sense.

The CSB will consolidate about 250 city staff currently housed in leased space spread throughout the area. Leased space is projected to increase from $2.5 million to nearly $10 million over the next 30 years. These leases have adjusted upward at an unsustainable rate over the last decade. The building will pay for itself in less than the 30-year bonding period, including all bonding costs, through a combination of lease and utility savings, resulting in a net savings of nearly $6 million during this time. After the building is constructed, it will save the City hundreds of millions of dollars over the 100-year lifespan of the building.

It paves the way for innovative, green building practices.

The CSB will be the greenest office building in California. It will demonstrate new technologies and offer flexible work space that is zero energy and water self-sufficient. The building meets our goals of Carbon Neutrality, Water Self-Sufficiency, and Zero-Net Energy. The City currently requires zero-net energy for new residential projects and the State will require all commercial buildings meet the same requirement by 2030. Many key features of this building will soon be required for all buildings.

The technologies designed in this project are tested and exist in similar projects that have been successful. The most relevant project is the Bullitt Center, which houses the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) offices that administer the Living Building Challenge (LBC). The CSB will seek LBC certification—the highest environmental standard for green building today.

It streamlines services.

Bringing departments and vital public counter services under one roof allows resident and business customers access in one place, at one time. It creates a full service City Hall campus. The first floor permit center will integrate Finance, Planning & Community Development, and Public Works public counter services. There will also be new public open space. A public, Wi-Fi-enabled, and landscaped courtyard will be available for the public to enjoy.

A little bit more about the cost of the building.

Recently, I heard that there is confusion on construction cost of this building. The Council-approved budget for the City Services Building is $75 million with LBC certification. Construction is scheduled to start late Summer 2017. The tentative move-in date is the 1st Quarter of 2020, targeting the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

Do you have questions about the CSB? Shoot my team an email at




Authored By

Susan Cline
Director of Public Works