archiveSanta Monica Lookout
The Santa Monica Lookout, Santa Monica, California -- December 2015

Top Santa Monica Stories of 2015
December 28, 2015 --There was lots of change in Santa Monica during 2015. Rick Cole became the new person in charge when he was appointed City manager in June and Tony Vazquez made history by becoming the first Latino mayor in December. A former mayor, Judy Abdo, lost her post on the powerful Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights Steering Committee. And there’s a new way to ride bikes in Santa Monica with the Breeze program.

New Group Fights Santa Monica Minimum Wage Proposal
December 28, 2015 -- A new group is launching an 11th-hour petition drive to end an exemption for unions in Santa Monica's proposed minimum wage law set to go to the City Council January 12, the Lookout has learned.

Santa Monica Public Library to Celebrate 125th Birthday
December 28, 2015 –- It started 125 years ago as a tiny reading room next to a local drug store. Next month, the Santa Monica Public Library will usher in the new year with an anniversary celebration marking its evolution into a 21st Century system of five high-tech libraries with a budget of more than $12.3 million.

Knife-Wielding Car Thief Leads Police On Chase That Ends In Santa Monica
December 24, 2015 -- Perhaps trying to score a last-minute holiday gift, a man armed with a knife car-jacked a Maserati on a busy West Los Angeles street Thursday then fled from pursuing police until he finally crashed into a parked car in Santa Monica, police said.

Experts Seek Clues in Death of Whale Found in Santa Monica
December 24, 2015 -- Experts are looking for clues in the death of a newborn gray whale washed ashore on Santa Monica Beach Tuesday, calling it was a rare and baffling incident.

Santa Monica Council Poised to Approve Minimum Wage Early Next Year
December 22, 2015 -- The Santa Monica City Council is poised to join the wave of local governments raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020 and also is deciding whether to take the advice of staff by hiking the minimum hourly wage for all hotel workers to $15.37 by 2017.

Santa Monica-Malibu Schools Fundraising Group Announces $25,000 Donation
December 22, 2015 -- The Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation (SMMEF), which raises funds for the School District received early holiday gift from a Health-care giant, Foundation officials said.

Samohi Music Stand-Outs Take Seats on Elite National Ensemble
December 22, 2015 -- Three young Santa Monica High School musicians were among 673 hand-picked students from high school music programs throughout the country who recently got to rehearse and perform in a one-of-a-kind national honor program, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District announced.

Santa Monica Weighs Noise Ordinance Against Free Speech Rights
December 21, 2015 -- Santa Monica is taking yet another look at its noise ordinance, which was recently amended earlier this year, to ensure the revised law doesn't impinge on peoples' rights to loudly protest on public streets in commercial zones.

Ralphs Alcohol Tasting Gets Santa Monica Commission Scrutiny
December 21, 2015 -- A trip to the Santa Monica Ralphs on Cloverfield Boulevard off Olympic Boulevard could soon include a wine tasting in addition to traditional grocery shopping.

Santa Monica College Now Offering Technical Theatre Certificate
December 21, 2015 -- Students interested in careers as stage technicians, sound engineers, set designers and other theater crafts now have a path to those careers through Santa Monica College's new technical theatre program.

Santa Monica Will Add Fencing Around Expo Rail Tracks
December 18, 2015 -- Fencing will go up around the Expo Light Rail Line, City Council members have decided this week, several days after the Santa Monica's first train derailment last week at Colorado Avenue and 7th Street.

Santa Monica Cops Launch Hunt for Drunk Drivers This Weekend
December 18, 2015 -- If you're planning to enjoy dinner in the beach city this weekend you may want to refrain from that glass of wine, as Santa Monica police will be out to bust DUI drivers.

Santa Monica Commissioner Has Harsh Words for ‘Bad Apple’ Landlord
December 18, 2015 -- Rent Control Board member Todd Flora used cleaned-up profanity at the Dec. 10 meeting to describe a Santa Monica landlord who had illegally charged extra rent to a tenant on Bay Street because she had a roommate.

Threat of Litigation Prompts Santa Monica Council Action
December 17, 2015 -- Threatened with litigation, the Santa Monica City Council Tuesday agreed to a motion meant to give the developer of a long-debated 270-bedroom hotel on Wilshire Boulevard a stronger chance of coming back -– for a third time -- with blueprints that pass muster.

Santa Monica Consumer Group Says California Drivers Paid $10 Billion More than Other States
December 17, 2015 -- Just how much more did Californian drivers allegedly overpay for their gas in 2015?

Santa Monica Council Designates Stretch of San Vicente Historic District
December 17, 2015 -- Santa Monica’s iconic stretch of San Vicente Boulevard between Ocean Avenue and 7th Street will soon be designated the San Vicente Boulevard Courtyard Apartments Historic District.

Santa Monica Blvd. Mixed-Use Project up for Commission Review
December 16, 2015 -- The Planning Commission on Wednesday will consider a proposal for a 25,000-square-foot mixed-use development on Santa Monica Boulevard off Stanford Street.

Santa Monica Council Hires Help For Workers Comp
December 16, 2015 -- Santa Monica is rehiring its outside technical consultant to help in the ongoing battle to rein in the City's escalating workers' compensation costs, which amounted to more than $7 million last fiscal year alone.

Santa Monica Library Offers Family Holiday Events
December 16, 2015 -- Old-fashioned games, a tiny toy theater and plenty of movies are in store for the holidays at the Santa Monica Public Library.

Pico Residents To Demand Santa Monica Dump At-Large Voting
December 15, 2015 -- In what could be the first step leading to a lawsuit under the California Voting Rights Act, Pico Neighborhood residents have scheduled a news conference Tuesday to denounce Santa Monica's at-large elections system and demand the City switch to district voting.

Santa Monica Council Set to Pay more than $400,000 for Outside Anti-Corruption Review
December 15, 2015 -- The City Council Tuesday night will consider an independent review of Santa Monica’s anti-corruption law that could cost taxpayers more than $400,000.

Santa Monica-Malibu School Board Re-Elects President, Selects New Vice President
December 15, 2015 -- Preparing for a year that could usher in major changes to Santa Monica-Malibu public schools, the School Board last week re-elected Laurie Lieberman as president and voted to install Ralph Mechur as vice president.

Santa Monica Council Sends Hotel Design Back for More Revisions
December 14, 2015 -- Saying the project's design is not up to Santa Monica's standards and image, City Council members approved a motion sending a proposed hotel on Wilshire Boulevard back to the developer for further work.

Santa Monica Home Up for Historic Designation
December 14, 2015 -- Planning staff is recommending that the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission on Monday deny a landmark designation for a 1925 Tudor Revival-style home that initially piqued the commission’s interest.

Council Set Make Appointments to New Santa Monica Pier Board
December 14, 2015 -- After putting off a decision at their last meeting due to an over-booked agenda and an unexpectedly high number of nominees to review, Santa Monica City Council members are again scheduled to appoint seven members to the new Santa Monica Pier Corporation Board.

Expo Test Train Collides with 18 Wheeler in Santa Monica
December 11, 2015 -- Santa Monica police are investigating the cause of a collision shortly before noon Thursday between a Metro test train and a large truck at the intersection of Colorado Avenue and 7th street, police said.

Note: This story was updated- Santa Monica Council OKs Five-Story Mixed-Use Development on Lincoln
December 11, 2015 -- The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a five-story, 78,000-square-foot development proposed at the site of a former Norms Restaurant on Lincoln Boulevard and Colorado Avenue, a major intersection in the city.

Council Approves $2 Million for Santa Monica Expo Transit and Safety Projects
December 11, 2015 -- Along with $150,000 for emergency phones and security cameras for the new Expo Bike Path, City Council members this week approved $1.5 million for the construction of a mini-transit hub specifically to serve vehicles dropping off and picking up passengers of the Expo Light Rail Station at 4th Street.

Holiday Events and More This Weekend In Santa Monica
December 11, 2015 -- Police and firefighters will hand out candy canes at the City's 23rd annual Candy Cane Drive, part of a slew of events and activities happening in the beach city this weekend.

Santa Monica Sued Over Airport Landing Fees
December 10, 2015 -- Aviators filed a class action lawsuit Monday against the City alleging that landing fees at Santa Monica Airport – which were doubled in 2013 – were illegally adopted by the City Council.

Santa Monica’s Miramar Holiday Celebration Gathers Estimated 9,000 Pounds of Food
December 10, 2015 -- A crowd of about 800 gathered for this year’s annual “Under the Fig Tree” holiday celebration at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel Sunday, donating an estimated 9,000 pounds of non-perishable food for Santa Monica’s needy.

Santa Monica Joins Coalition to Curb Greenhouse Gases
December 10, 2015 -- Santa Monica has added another item to its “green” resume: It is now a member of a sprawling global coalition of cities attempting to make steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, officials announced this week.

Santa Monica Moves to Bolster Emergency Medical Response
December 9, 2015 --The Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday bolstered the City's response to medical emergencies with the addition of two refurbished rescue ambulances and a new director of medical services for the Fire Department.

Santa Monica Warns Fuel Companies at Airport
December 9, 2015 -- After suffering a major setback in their battle to regain control of Santa Monica Airport, City officials are moving forward on other fronts, including increasing the pressure on owners of fuel tanks for aircraft to clean up contamination.

New Nonprofit Will Help Support Santa Monica Animal Shelter
December 9, 2015 -- Similar in function to the support and fund-raising group, Friends of Santa Monica Public Library, a new nonprofit organization of volunteers has officially been sanctioned to work on behalf of the City's animal shelter.

Wilshire Hotel Project Heads Back to Santa Monica Council
December 8,2015 -- More than three years after the Santa Monica City Council approved a development agreement for a nearly 300-room hotel on the 700 block of Wilshire Boulevard, the governing body will again be asked to vote on the project on Tuesday.

Exiting Santa Monica Mayor Cites Major Accomplishments

Santa Monica Mayor Kelvin McKeown 2015 December 8, 2015 -- From raising the minimum wage citywide to regaining control of the municipal airport and curbing development, Mayor Kevin McKeown has spent a busy year confronting “non-stop” issues that will help shape the future of Santa Monica.

Santa Monica Middle School Students Score High in Mock Trial Competition
December 8, 2015 -- Two Santa Monica student teams argued their way into the top 20 in a countywide mock trial competition that concluded last Wednesday, local School District officials announced this week.

FAA Rules Santa Monica Airport Must Stay Open
December 7, 2015 -- Frustrated elected officials reacted angrily to a Federal Aviation Administration(FAA), decision that Santa Monica Airport must continue to operate as a commercial aviation facility for the next eight years.

Santa Monica Bike Riding on the Rise
December 7, 2015 -- A report to the Planning Commission on Wednesday about bicycle riding in Santa Monica showed some good progress as City officials work toward a goal of lessening the amount of vehicle traffic.

Santa Monica Students Busy Spreading Holiday Cheer
December 7, 2015 -- Performing and visual arts students in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will be busy this holiday, spreading cheer at several free and low-cost performances, District officials announced.

Santa Monica Affordable Housing Development First to Connect to Fiber Optic
December 3, 2015 -- In a pilot project, the City of Santa Monica has connected an affordable housing building to the City’s fiber optic network, an attempt at closing the “Digital Divide” between those who can’t afford the internet and those who can.

Santa Monica Officials Release Early Bike Share Ridership Numbers
December 3, 2015 -- The City of Santa Monica’s $10 million-plus bike share program, the first of its kind in Los Angeles County, has logged in 2,218 renters since its rollout in August, a far cry from the total the system is hoped to attract but a big enough number to please City officials.

Judge Orders Santa Monica Coin Dealer to Pay $2 Million
December 3, 2015 -- The City Attorneys office has obtained a $2 million judgement against a Santa Monica-based coin dealer accused of running a nationwide "bait and switch" scam, City officials announced Thursday.

Opinion--Malibu's Separation from Santa Monica a "Democratic Imperative"
December 3, 2015 -- If anything came out of the most recent Board meeting of the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District, it was the resolve of Malibu for its own district, and the distressing recalcitrance of the Santa Monica majority. ("Santa Monica School Board Members Support Malibu Split, Questions Remain," December 2, 2015)

Former Santa Monica City Manager Settles Conflict-of-Interest Lawsuit
December 2, 2015 -- Former Santa Monica City Manager Rod Gould has quit his consulting job as part of the settlement of lawsuit filed by local activists claiming he violated the City's anti-corruption law.

Santa Monica School Board Members Support Malibu Split, Questions Remain
December 2, 2015 -- The five Santa Monica residents on the local school district board in attendance at the Nov.ember 19 meeting said they support the formation of a Malibu school district, but they only want it to happen if it would not harm education in either city.

63rd Anniversary of Display of Santa Monica Nativity Scenes to Start
December 2, 2015 -- With a losing court battle firmly behind it, Santa Monica's nativity scenes display will celebrate its 63rd anniversary this year at its new location, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, although organizers said they’ll go back to their longtime home at Palisades Park briefly for opening ceremonies.

Ensuring Public Safety Number One Priority When Expo Trains Arrive
December 1, 2015 -- Saying public safety is the number one concern, Santa Monica's city manager is mobilizing key departments to make sure the City is “absolutely ready” for the expected spring arrival of the Expo Light Rail Line.

Santa Monica City Officials Attend Paris Climate Summit December 1, 2015 -- A delegation of Santa Monica City officials is attending the United Nations Conference on Climate Change near Paris this week to showcase a municipal project to create an all-electric City bus fleet by 2030.

Santa Monica College Top in Transfers for 25th Consecutive Year
December 1, 2015 -- For the 25th year in a row, Santa Monica College has been ranked California’s top community college for the number of students who transferred into the University of California system.

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