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March -- Dangerous City Ranking, Transfer Tax Trigger Debate

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By Lookout Staff

December 26, 2022 -- In March, Santa Monica is named one of California's most dangerous cities, the Miramar redevelopment gets State approval and the mayor launches a campaign to tackle the homeless problem with a transfer tax hike.

On March 1, a homeless felon is arrested for burglarizing an apartment building in the Mid City Neighborhood. That night, in a separate incident, a man is stabbed after a fight breaks out at the platform of a Metro Expo line station ("Burglary Suspect Arrested, Man Stabbed on Train Platform," March 2, 2022).

Six days later, a homeless man is stabbed multiple times outside the Salvation Army shortly after midnight. A 29-year-old homeless man is arrested for the attack and charged with attempted murder and kidnapping ("Homeless Man Stabbed Outside Salvation Army," March 7, 2022).

A Court of Appeals declines to take up a case filed by a group of Downtown property owners seeking to halt the demolition of Parking Structure 3 ("Appeals Court Won't Hear Parking Structure Case, Paving Way for Demolition," March 3, 2022).

Two weeks later, the proposed Downtown housing development for homeless individuals at the site receives $2 million under a massive federal spending bill signed into law ("Proposed Downtown Housing Development for the Homeless Gets $2 Million," March 15, 2022).

The City Council votes to divest Russian assets from City funds to protest the invasion of Ukraine, continuing a decades' long practice by local officials to weigh in in national and international affairs ("Council Votes to Support Ukraine, Continue Barring In-Person Meetings," March 10, 2022).

Santa Monica and Malibu public school students and staff can choose to take off their masks indoors after a unanimous vote by the School Board ("District to Drop Indoor Mask Mandate Monday," March 10, 2022).

A century after the iconic Miramar Hotal was built and a dozen years after plans were floated to rebuild it, the California Coastal Commission enthusiastically paves the way for the rebirth of the oceanfront hotel ("Coastal Commission Gives Miramar Redevelopment Enthusiastic Approval," March 11, 2022).

Coastal Commission members call it a model project that creates low-income units during a statewide housing crises, reduces water usage by 20 percent and takes traffic off of neighboring streets.

The Rent Control Board proposes changes to the City Charter that would, among other things, require rental units not subject to the rent control law to register with the Board. ("Proposed Charter Amendment Requires All Units to Register with Rent Board," March 16, 2022).

The City and School District (SMMUSD) file a lawsuit seeking to stop an effort to divide the District into trustee areas ("City, SMMUSD Sue County Committee to Stop School Districting Plan," March 21, 2022).

Filed in Superior Court against the LA County Committee on School District Organization, the lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of a new State law that allows the committee to create districts without voter approval.

The City Council votes to pay $1.75 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who was shot by a police officer while he was resisting arrest in the early morning hours of July 14, 2019 ("Council Approves $1.75 Million Settlement in Officer Involved Shooting Case," March 23, 2022).

Safewise, a safety consulting website, ranks Santa Monica as one of the least safe cities in California -- just above Compton -- based on FBI crime statistics ("Santa Monica Among State's Least Safe Cities, Report Finds," March 24, 2022 ).

Santa Monica -- which had 6 violent crimes and 42.6 property crimes per 1,000 residents -- ranked 224 for safety among the 230 cities that met Safewise's population threshold based on the state’s median population.

Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson preaches the gospel of love and forgiveness after burglars made off with more than $100,000 in video and sound equipment from St. Monica's Catholic Church ("Pastor Preaches Forgiveness After Church Burglarized," March 27, 2022).

The burglars also attempted to pry open the antique tabernacle that houses the consecrated host and stole candle boxes and money from the donation box, church officials said.

The City Council approves a Master Plan for the expansion of Providence Saint John’s Health Center that includes $10 million in funding for a mental health campus on the Westside ("Saint John's Plan Includes $10 Million for New Mental Health Campus," March 28, 2022).

City officials hope the campus -- which will help tackle substance abuse, trauma and other mental health issues -- will help address the homelessness crisis sweeping the Los Angeles region.

Rents in Santa Monica rise 2.8 percent in March, marking the first time since October that the median price for an apartment increases, according to Apartment List's monthly report. The March increase is the largest since rents rose 3.3 percent in July ("Santa Monica Rents Increase for First Time Since October, Report Finds," March 29, 2022).

Mayor Sue Himmelrich launches a campaign for a ballot measure that would dramatically hike Santa Monica's transfer tax on "high end" real estate to help fund "homelessness prevention" and build affordable housing ("Mayor Launches Campaign to Hike "Luxury" Real Estate Tax," March 31, 2022).

The proposed tax measure -- which also would help fund the local School District -- would charge a real estate transfer tax of $53 per $1,000 on properties valued at $8 million or more, primarily apartments and commercial properties.

If successful, the “Funding for Homelessness Prevention, Affordable Housing, and Schools” ballot measure is expected to generate $50 million a year.

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