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Traditional Reporting for A Digital Age

The Santa Monica Lookout, Santa Monica, California -- March 2018

'Voting Rights Plaintiffs Poised to Scrutinize Tainted Council Campaign Contributions
March 30, 2018 -- A judicial “referee” has cleared the way for an attorney in a Voting Rights lawsuit against the City of Santa Monica to depose City Council members who received illegal campaign contributions from a local hotel.

Santa Monica Asks Judge to Toss Voting Rights Lawsuit
March 30, 2018 -- The City last week asked a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to toss out a voting rights lawsuit challenging Santa Monica's use of at-large elections for Council positions "because it has not caused any dilution of Latino/a voting strength," City officials said Thursday.

Jazz and Classical Music Featured at Santa Monica College
March 30, 2018 -- The Santa Monica College Music Department will present a series of concerts in April that include a benefit for the school's applied music program, concert organizers announced this week.

Santa Monica Council to Delve into Public Campaign Financing After Elections
March 29, 2018 -- Santa Monica City Council members said Tuesday they want to delve into public financing for City races after the November election, one of several steps being explored to prevent violations of local election laws.

Santa Monica Planning Commission to Weigh in on Hiking Parking Rates Downtown
March 29, 2018 -- An already divisive proposal to increase hourly rates at Downtown parking structures and jack up prices by 71 percent for motorists who park for the day goes the City’s Planning Commission next Wednesday.

Long-Lost Photos of Rock Legends to Be Exhibited in Santa Monica
March 29, 2018 -- For more than 45 years, the candid black and white photos of 1960s rock-and-roll legends -- including The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin and The Band -- sat in Michael Friedman's attic unexposed.


Santa Monica Council Approves Construction Contract for New Fire Station Downtown
March 28, 2018 -- After more than a decade of struggle, the Sant Monica City Council Tuesday approved a $29.1 million contract for construction of a new three-story downtown Fire Hall to replace the 1950s-era existing station.

Restored Laurel and Hardy Classics to Be Screened in Santa Monica
March 28, 2018 -- Comedy legend Stan Laurel, who lived his final years in a Santa Monica apartment, is returning to town on the big screen this weekend in newly restored versions of some of his classic films. The Laurel and Hardy film series -- which showcases shorts and features -- takes place Friday through Sunday at the Aero Theater, 1328 Montana Avenue.

Santa Monica Elks Lodge Honors Phil Brock as Citizen of the Year
March 28, 2018 -- The Santa Monica Elks Lodge will recognize Arts Commissioner and longtime community volunteer Phil Brock during its Annual Citizen of the Year Dinner Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Elks Lodge, 1040 Pico Boulevard.

LETTERS --Single-Family Homeowners Need to Wake Up
Under rent control measures being proposed, single-family homeowners will experience the unparalleled bureaucracy of not owning their entire home, writes former Santa Monica Rent Control Commissioner Robert Kronovet.

Members of Temporary Citizens Panel on Santa Monica City Finances Resist Being Disbanded
March 27, 2018 -- With their urgent calls for curbing rising employee-related costs at Santa Monica City Hall going unheeded, members of an ad hoc panel of citizens reviewing City finances are trying to win more time to make their case.

Santa Monica’s Troubled Transit System Set to Add Upgraded Buses
March 27, 2018 -- Santa Monica’s troubled Big Blue Bus system on Monday announced it is starting a new phase of modernizing the fleet, replacing a quarter of its buses with new, smaller and more agile versions.

Santa Monica Review Launches Spring Issue with Author Readings
March 27, 2018 -- Santa Monica College’s (SMC) bi-annual literary arts journal will launch its spring issue with three author readings and an appearance at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books next month.

LETTERS -- Strict Rent Control Likely Coming to New Apartments
March 27, 20018 -- Vacancy control is lethal to buildings both old and new. They will all get torn down and replaced with condos.

Santa Monica Rents Double Under Full Vacancy 'Decontrol,' Report Finds
March 26, 2018 -- A typical two-bedroom apartment at market rates in Santa Monica required a yearly income of $111,000 last year, according to an annual update on the state of the City’s troubled rent control system.

Downtown Santa Monica Property Owners Vote to Renew Assessment District
March 26, 2018 -- Property owners in Downtown Santa Monica last week overwhelmingly voted to preserve the ten-year-old Property-Based Assessment District (PBAD) that enhances maintenance, services and marketing for the area.

Firefighters Extinguish Blaze at Vacant Santa Monica Home
March 26, 2017 -- Firefighters extinguished a blaze that consumed a vacant Santa Monica home near Montana Avenue last week, fire officials said Monday.The fire began shortly before 9 p.m. Thursday at 918 22nd Street.

Santa Monica Landlords Plead Case for Continuing to Pass Rising Surcharge Costs to Renters
March 23, 2018 -- After hearing from anxious landlords and tenants, Santa Monica’s Rent Control Board on Thursday asked staff to explore if -- and by how much -- both can share the rising costs of surcharges property owners now pass through to renters.

Santa Monica Rent Control Board Tables Vote on Measure to Expand to More Units
March 23, 2018 – Saying it needed more time for consideration, Santa Monica’s Rent Control Board Thursday tabled a motion calling for a measure on the November ballot to expand local rent control.

Santa Monica's Sustainable Quality Award Winners Announced
March 23, 2018 -- A small independent elementary school, a coffee shop, a dance school and a church, are the winners of Santa Monica's 2018 Sustainable Quality Award Grand Prizes, award officials announced Thursday.

Santa Monica-Malibu School Board Agrees to Malibu Split Pending Revenue Sharing Plan
March 22, 2018 – The school board for Santa Monica-Malibu public schools said Tuesday the split from the District sought by Malibu necessitates a 50-year revenue-sharing deal to go forward.

City Review of Santa Monica Election Law Addresses General Issues
March 22, 2018 -- A City Attorney review of Santa Monica’s election laws, ordered after a local hotel violated state election laws, does not weigh in on whether the City needs a separate probe but suggests steps to guard against possible violations in the future.

A Moon Crater, Fuzzy Objects and a Mission to Mars at Santa Monica College Planetarium
March 22, 2018 -- The work of an 18th Century French comet hunter and a view of one of the Moon's most dramatic craters will be featured next month at the Santa Monica College John Drescher Planetarium. The April offerings feature the work of Charles Messier, who compiled one of the best-known astronomical catalogs of the northern sky.

Future Bonds in Jeopardy if Rent Board Nixes Pass-Throughs, Santa Monica Property Owners Warn
March 21, 2018 -- Santa Monica property owners are warning the City's Rent Control Board that eliminating pass-throughs to tenants in the form of surcharges could jeopardize the future passage of funding measures.

Chain Reaction' Sculpture Back in Santa Monica’s Public Art Collection
March 21, 2018 -- After weathering some rough years, “Chain Reaction” -- the unique 26-foot tall sculpture in Santa Monica’s Civic Center depicting a mushrooming nuclear cloud -- has been welcomed back to the City’s public art collection.

Santa Monica's Solar-Powered Ferris Wheel to Go Dark on Earth Hour
March 21, 2018 -- In what has become an annual tradition, Pacific Park's solar-powered Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier will briefly go dark on Saturday night to celebrate Earth Hour.

Growing Number of Retired Santa Monica Educators Earn Six-Figure Annual Pensions
March 20, 2018 -- More than 150 retirees from Santa Monica College and local public schools earned at least $100,000 each in pensions last year, according to recently released data from a public-spending watchdog group.

Santa Monica Rent Board to Discuss Eliminating Surcharges for Existing Tenants
March 20, 2018 -- After removing surcharges passed on from landlords to new tenants, Santa Monica’s Rent Control Board on Thursday will discuss doing the same for the remaining renters in the city’s more than 25,000 controlled units.

Santa Monica College Emeritus Writing Students to Showcase Their Work
March 20, 2018 -- Writers in the Santa Monica College (SMC) Emeritus Program bring a long lifetime of experience to their work and often a lifetime waiting to to see it in print.

EXTRA Santa Monica-Malibu School Board Closer to Deciding Malibu Split
March 20, 2018 -- The Santa Monica-Malibu School Board is edging closer to a decision on Malibu’s campaign to split from the District, with a new report detailing the "significantly" high cost to Malibu of equalizing the loss of funding to the Santa Monica-based district.

Santa Monica Hires New City Architect
March 19, 2018 -- The architect in charge of managing a $172 million capital improvement project for the Los Angeles Zoo has been hired as Santa Monica's new City Architect, City officials announced last week.

Wonder Room' Kicks Off Art @ Tongva Season in Santa Monica
March 19, 2018 -- For an evening next week, Santa Monica's Tongva Park's intimate spaces will be filled with surprising performances as the City kicks off the 2018 Art @ Tongva season with the fifth annual Wonder Room.

Total Departures at Santa Monica Airport Hold Steady, As Jet Traffic Nosedives
March 16, 2018 -- Last month, the number of jet flights from Santa Monica Airport took a nosedive compared to February of last year, but the total number of departures held steady, according to the latest statistics released by the City.

Santa Monica Officials Explore Ways to Get People Downtown Without Cars
March 15, 2018 -- Santa Monica's ongoing battle to balance parking needs Downtown and wean motorists from its congested streets took another turn last week, with the City Council directing staff to explore new strategies at the urging of Downtown officials.

Santa Monica Prepares for LA Marathon Sunday
March 16, 2017 -- On Sunday some 20,000 runners, along with spectators, family and friends, will descend on Santa Monica for the final three miles of the LA Marathon.To help residents and spectators navigate the street closures and find alternate ways to get near the finish line, the City is providing maps, schedules and handy tips on its website.

Annual Benefit Concert Raises $86,000 for Santa Monica, Malibu Schools
March, 16, 2018 -- The Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation’s annual benefit concert this month starring Grammy winner and early 1980s rock star Rick Springfield raised more than $86,000 for local public schools, Foundation officials said Friday. Proceeds will support arts programs at all District schools next year.

Santa Monica-Malibu Students Hold Demonstrations in Wake of Florida School Shootings
March 15, 2018 -- Thousands of students at Santa Monica and Malibu public schools walked out of classes on Wednesday as part of a District-sanctioned demonstration to show solidarity with students at a Florida high school where a mass shooting claimed 17 lives one month earlier.

Santa Monica Police to Conduct DUI Checkpoint Friday
March 15, 2018 -- Santa Monica police will conduct a DUI checkpoint Friday at a time when California is experiencing a "disturbing" increase in crashes involving drug-impaired drivers, police said.

Suspects in Santa Monica's Most Violent Crimes Were Repeat Offenders
March 13, 2018 -- At least six of the suspects charged with some of the most violent crimes in Santa Monica since the beginning of 2017 were either felons or on probation, fueling concerns that a state law to alleviate overcrowding in state prisons could be a contributing factor.

Efforts to Temporarily Halt Santa Monica's Home-Sharing Law Fails in Court
March 14, 2018 -- Santa Monica can continue enforcing its "home-sharing" law after a U.S. District Court last week denied a motion by AirBnB and HomeAway for a preliminary injunction.

Airport Art Walk to Feature Works By Santa Monica College Ceramics Students
March 14, 2018 -- Santa Monica College's ceramics students will showcase their works during the 12th Annual Santa Monica Airport ArtWalk a week from this Saturday.

EXTRA Santa Monica Could Be Testing Ground for Tesla's First Supercharger Restaurant
March 13, 2018 -- Tesla's first combination restaurant and supercharger station, teased by Elon Musk in a Tweet in January, is being proposed for Santa Monica's auto row, according to plans submitted to the City Tuesday.

Santa Monica Taps Highly Touted Folsom Police Chief for Top Post
March 13, 2018 -- Folsom Police Chief Cynthia Renaud -- who is credited with helping lower property and violent crime in the Sacramento County city -- has been tapped to head the Santa Monica Police Department, City officials announced Tuesday. She will start the job at the end of April with an annual salary of $265,440, officials said.

President Trump to Touch Down in Santa Monica Tuesday Afternoon
March 12, 2018 -- President Donald Trump will make a pit stop at Santa Monica Airport Tuesday afternoon on his first trip to California as president, City officials confirmed. The president will arrive by helicopter from LAX between 2:45 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. before a motorcade whisks him to an evening fundraiser in Beverly Hills, officials told The Lookout.

New Santa Monica Homeowners Among Hardest Hit By Federal Tax Code
March 12, 2018 -- New homeowners in Santa Monica are estimated to be among the hardest hit in California by a reduction in mortgage deductions in the new federal tax code, according to an organization tracking the ups and downs of the law.

Suspect Charged in Santa Monica Shooting Last Month
March 12, 2018 -- Santa Monica police detectives filed attempted murder charges on Friday against a suspect involved in a shooting Downtown last month.

Man Who Jumped from Santa Monica Pier Identified, Ruled a Suicide
March 12, 2018 -- The body of a man who jumped into the ocean from the Santa Monica pier shortly before midnight Friday has been identified in an incident police have determined was a suicide.

Interim Police Chief Says Major Crimes in Santa Monica Up but Low by Historic Standards
March 9, 2018 -- With a string of violent crimes stoking community fear, Santa Monica Interim Police Chief Kenneth Semko on Thursday said major crime had risen 6 percent in the first two months of 2018, adding that police have been re-deployed to provide “an immediate” impact on both crime and the community’s “perception of safety.”

Impro Theatre Takes Off Into the 'Twilight Zone' in Santa Monica This Month
March 9, 2018 -- LA’s Impro Theatre invites Santa Monica audiences to take a trip into another dimension this month using its trademark improvisational style to tackle the classic early 60’s sci-fi television show, "The Twilight Zone." The shows -- which use audience suggestions to create improvised episodes -- take place the weekend of March 16 to 18 at The Edye.

Suspect Charged in Strong-Armed Robbery on Montana Avenue
March 8, 2018 -- Santa Monica police filed charges Thursday morning against the suspect in the strong-armed robbery of a woman on Montana Avenue earlier this week.

Santa Monica City Council Approves Emergency Law Impounding E-Scooters Posing a Public Hazard
March 8, 2018 -- Amid rising concern about public safety, the Santa Monica City Council Tuesday imposed an emergency law to impound “shared mobility” devices, such as e-scooters, when their use poses a hazard to others on the City’s streets and sidewalks.

New Police Chief for Santa Monica to be Announced 'Shortly,' City Manager Says
March 8, 2018 -- Nine months after then-Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks announced she would retire, the City is about to name her permanent replacement, City Manager Rick Cole tweeted Wednesday.

'Stairway' Concerts Showcase Talents of Santa Monica-Malibu Music Students Next Week
March 8, 2018 -- Nearly 1,000 Santa Monica-Malibu public school students will showcase their talents next week at the 69th annual “Stairway of the Stars” concerts at Santa Monica High School's historic Barnum Hall auditorium.


Santa Monica’s Homeless Population Continued to Rise in 2018 but at Slower Pace
March 7, 2018 -- After a 26 percent jump in Santa Monica’s homeless population last year, the City said Tuesday the total had increased again this year, but at a much slower pace.

Santa Monica Considering “Tiny House Village” and other New Shelter for Homeless City Manager Says
March 7, 2018 -- Although the City has already done “more than its fair share,” Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole says concepts such as erecting a “Tiny House Village” for the rising homeless population are being discussed but only as part of a region-wide effort.

Santa Monica College Concerts Feature 'Socially Conscious' Choral Music
March 7, 2018 -- Santa Monica College (SMC) this month will feature everything from intimate jazz and symphonic grandeur to "socially conscious" choral music as part of its spring concert series.

LETTERS -- Current Santa Monica Voting System Not Accountable to All Voters
March 7, 2018 --
Never has a Latino from the Pico neighborhood been elected to the City Council, and the only one to ever sit on the dais had financial reasons to seek office.

Long-Awaited Santa Monica Early Childhood Center to Break Ground at Civic Center
March 6, 2018 -- Three decades after it was first proposed, an early childhood education center will break ground at the Santa Monica Civic Center this month, officials from Santa Monica College (SMC) announced last week.

City Considers Big Rate Hikes for Downtown Santa Monica Parking Structures
March 6, 2018 -- Parking in City-operated parking structures for popular downtown Santa Monica could rocket by up to 71 percent to reach $30 on weekends for motorists who stay around for the day, according to a new report.

Trip to Downtown Santa Monica Offers Psychedelic Experience
March 6, 2018 -- Visitors to the Downtown will be treated to a mind-twisting experience when they visit triangle square across the street from Santa Monica Place this spring.

Family of Second Young Santa Monica Woman Pleads for Help After Violent Episodes
March 5, 2018 -- Leigh Collins awoke to a knife-wielding attacker late last month in her Santa Monica apartment. Now her family has embarked on a path similar to one trod just a few weeks earlier by a desperate Santa Monica father facing huge hospitals bills after his young daughter also was attacked by an assailant.

Fire Erupts at Condominium Complex in Santa Monica
March 5, 2018 -- Santa Monica Firefighters extinguished a "massive" fire that broke out Saturday night in a condominium complex in Ocean Park before it could spread to adjacent buildings, Fire Department officials said.

Santa Monica Police Identify Suspect in Jewelry Store Robbery
March 2, 2018 -- Santa Monica police have identified the suspect who robbed a Montana Avenue jewelry store and remains at large after an intensive manhunt Thursday in the city's wealthiest neighborhood.

Santa Monica Slow-Growth Group Shifts Focus to Crime
March 2, 2018 -- It wasn’t long ago that one of Santa Monica’s most aggressive grassroots organizations was best known for challenging the City’s powers that be over the amount of new development it allowed.

Neighbors Take to Online Sites as Manhunt for Suspect in Santa Monica Robbery Unfolds
March 2, 2018 -- “I hear helicopters.” The brief post on a local website in Santa Monica signaled a long night to come after a robbery at a Montana Avenue jewelry store Wednesday sparked a police manhunt..

Santa Monica City Council Considers Axing Routes in Overhaul of Troubled Big Blue Bus
March 1, 2018 -- With crowds of bus drivers looking on, the Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday ordered officials to delve into axing some under-performing routes in an overhaul of the City’s troubled Big Blue Bus system.

Worn Paths at Two Santa Monica Parks Set to be Replaced
March 1, 2018 -- The popular but worn-down public paths at Santa Monica’s Palisades Park and Virginia Avenue Park are poised to temporarily close this spring while being replaced with a natural, non-eroding material.

Suspect Remains at Large after Robbing Montana Avenue Jewelry Store
March 1, 2018 -- Santa Monica police are searching for a suspect who robbed a jewelry store on Montana Avenue late Thursday afternoon armed with a "suspicious device" that may have been a bomb.

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