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June -- Shake-Ups and Taxes
By Lookout Staff
December 28, 2022 -- In June, new faces join key business groups, "parklets" become a permanent staple, the District's poorest school shuts down for emergency repairs and the first two tax measures are placed on the ballot.
School District officials issue an alert warning of the dangers of high potency drugs after three students overdose on fentanyl ("School District Officials Issue Drug Warning," June 3, 2022).
The three teenage girls, who were found on May 25 in an apartment on the 2000 block of 20th Street, are recovering after snorting crushed-up tablets they believed to be ecstasy.
For the first time in 14 years, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce has a new president after Judy Kruger -- a business and economic development specialist -- assumes the post ("New Chamber President Takes Helm," June 3, 2022).
Downtown officials reject a call by Councilmember Phil Brock to replace Downtown "safety" ambassadors with security guards ("Downtown Officials Reject Call to Replace 'Safety Ambassadors,'" June 6, 2022).
The "Safety Ambassadors" -- who began patrolling the Downtown in April 2021 -- have come under attack from some property owners who say they are not doing enough to deter anti-social and criminal behavior.
School District officials announce that parents of the approximately 250 students at John Muir Elementary must find another school for their children for the upcoming school year ("Muir Parents Face Tight Deadline to Relocate Students," June 8, 2022).
The Santa Monica public school -- where more than 60 percent of the students are minorities and nearly 40 percent are poor -- must undergo extensive repairs due to severe water damage and mold.
The Santa Monica College (SMC) Board of Trustees places a $375 million bond measure on the November ballot that, among other things, would finance new high-tech hybrid classrooms and help build housing for homeless and low-income students ("College Board Places Bond Measure on November Ballot," June 9, 2022).
Nearly a year after the Big Blue Bus (BBB) stopped accepting cash, passengers once again can slip bills and change into the fare boxes ("Big Blue Bus to Start Accepting Cash Again Next Week," June 13, 2022).
With California caught in the grip of a worsening drought, the City Council approves an emergency ordinance that limits outdoor watering to two days a week ("Santa Monica Imposes Outdoor Watering Restrictions," June 15, 2022).
Santa Monica quietly surpasses the 20,000 mark in COVID cases, while Los Angeles County topped 3 million cases ("COVID Milestones Go Virtually Unnoticed," June 15, 2022).
The milestones go largely unnoticed. Even County Health officials -- who have ceased issuing daily press releases -- fail to note the 3 million mark has been surpassed.
Santa Monica's rent control tenants face the biggest annual rent adjustment in more than 40 years after the Rent Board approves a maximum 6 percent hike ("Rent Board Approves Biggest Increase in Four Decades," June 16, 2022) .
While the Board has no choice but to impose the hike -- which has a ceiling of $140 that applies to rents of $2,340 or more -- it chooses to also increase the annual registration fee for landlords, who can pass on half of that amount to tenants.
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge solidifies his finding in September that Councilmember Oscar de la Torre does not have a conflict of interest in the Voting Rights lawsuit his wife and the organization he headed filed against the City ("De la Torre Scores Key Victory in Conflict of Interest Case," June 17, 2022).
The tentative ruling by Judge Richard L. Fruin, Jr. represents a key victory for de la Torre, who sued the City after the Council in January 2021 barred him from deliberating on the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) lawsuit.
A man is struck and killed by a motorcyclist while walking across the 10 Freeway near the Lincoln Boulevard on-ramp in the early morning hours ("Man Killed Crossing Freeway," June 21, 2022).
The accident takes place about a year after a 50-year-old homeless woman is struck and killed by a car as she is walking on the Cloverfield Boulevard on-ramp. Homeless individuals are known to set up encampments near the freeway ramps.
The Santa Monica Pier lands back on Heal the Bay's infamous Beach Bummer list, ranking fourth among the most polluted beaches in California ("Santa Monica Pier One of California's Most Polluted Beaches," June 22, 2022).
After avoiding the list for the past three years, the Pier earns straight Fs on the organization's 2021-22 Beach Report Card, indicating the water has high levels of bacteria all year.
Under the gun, a frustrated Council votes to submit a revised plan to the State to add nearly 9,000 new housing units they fear will forever change the face of Santa Monica ("Council Submits Housing Plan Under Pressure," June 28, 2022).
The vote comes after California housing officials rejected a plan submitted by the City in October, saying it failed to provide specific information on how Santa Monica plans to spur the development needed to meet the State-mandated quota.
For the third straight month median rents in Santa Monica rise by less than 1 percent in June, mirroring a slowing growth trend across the LA region ("Santa Monica Rent Growth Remains Sluggish," June 28, 2022).
The City Council unanimously votes to place a measure on the November ballot that would raise Santa Monica's bed tax ("Council Places Bed Tax Increase on the Ballot," June 29, 2022).
The increase is expected to generate an estimated $4.1 million a year "to address community needs in the context of a slow and uncertain recovery" from the coronavirus shutdown.
In what promises to be a major shakeup, a divided City Council appoints three business activists to Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.'s (DTSM) board of directors ("Council Shakes Up Downtown Board," June 29, 2022).
The three appointees -- who replace three members who, combined, have served 32 years -- are part of a push for change on a Board that has been criticized for not doing enough to address an increasingly entrenched homeless problem on the Promenade.
The City Council unanimously decides that "parklets" -- spawned as a temporary response to a health emergency -- are here to stay as a permanent feature of Santa Monica's commercial strips ("Council Makes Outdoors Business Program Permanent," June 30, 2022).
The Council's vote comes as the outdoor use permits and associated license agreements for 90 existing parklets are set to expire on September 30. In addition, 102 sidewalk dining patios, 17 dining areas on the Promenade and 5 expanded areas on the Pier also are operating on a temporary basis.
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