Santa Monica
Traditional Reporting for A Digital Age

The Santa Monica Lookout, Santa Monica, California -- JANUARY 2019

Planning Commission Revisits Hot-Button Pico Project
January 31, 2019 -- The City Planning Commission Wednesday night will vote on a proposed 19-unit condominium development that has been a flash point in the battle to stop gentrification in the Pico Neighborhood.

Police Offer Safety Tips That Can Help Reduce Crime
January 31, 2019 -- In a video address Wednesday, Santa Monica Police Chief Cynthia Renaud offered measures residents can take to help reduce crime, which rose by nearly 9 percent last year.

LETTERS -- Stop Suing Us
January 31, 2019 -- The attorney for voting rights plaintiffs Oscar de la Torre and Maria Loya is now demanding hundreds of thousands from the district plus attorney fees, says former Rent Board Chair Joel Koury.

Crime Rose 8.8 Percent in Santa Monica Last Year, Police Chief Says in Video Address
January 30, 2019 -- In a video address posted Wednesday -- the first of three installments -- Santa Monica Police Chief Cynthia Renaud reported that crime in the beach city increased by 8.8 percent in 2018.

PART I -- Councilmember Jara's Testimony in Voting Rights Lawsuit Provides Insight Into Her Views
January 29, 2019 -- Last week, Ana M. Jara became the first Hispanic from Pico Neighborhood, which is home to the city's largest Latino and black communities, to serve on the City Council.

Camera Obscura Residency Showcases Eclectic Mix of Artists
January 29, 2019 -- Writers, visual artists, choreographers and musicians will pair up at Camera Obscura this year to explore everything from power structures to seaside waste, City officials announced Tuesday.

Cedars-Sinai Expands Medical Services in Santa Monica
January 29, 2019 -- Cedars-Sinai is adding its first primary care practice in Santa Monica as part of the expansion of its local offices, hospital officials announced Monday.

Ocean Park Branch Library to Close for Upgrades Next Month
January 29, 2019 -- The Ocean Park Branch Library, Santa Monica's oldest library building, will close for one month to make needed structural improvements to the century old structure.

Council Forges 'Framework Priorities' at Saturday Retreat
January 28, 2019 -- "Affordability" and "keeping neighborhoods safe" topped the City Council's list of "framework priorities" crafted at a retreat attended by some 50 community members Saturday.

E-Scooter Injuries 'Common,' Sometimes 'Severe,' UCLA Study Finds
January 25, 2019 -- Some 40 percent of e-scooter riders admitted to UCLA Medical Center emergency rooms in Santa Monica and Westwood suffered head injuries and nearly a third broke a bone, according to a pioneering report released Friday.

Thriller Author Talks Conspiracy at Santa Monica Library
January 25, 2019 -- In Gray Basnight's new novel, "Flight of the Fox," a mathematician/cryptologist is on the run with an explosive document that would make him the greatest whistle-blower of all time.

Woman Fatally Stabbed in Sunset Park, Son in Custody
January 24, 2019 -- A woman was fatally stabbed and her husband and son suffered multiple stab wounds during an incident early Thursday morning in Santa Monica's Sunset Park neighborhood.

EXTRA Santa Monica Planning Commissioner Likely Violated California Campaign Laws, Watchdog Agency Finds
January 24, 2019 -- California's campaign watchdog agency has found "probable cause" that Santa Monica Planning Commissioner Richard McKinnon violated State campaign laws in his 2012 bid for City Council.

Council Approves Santa Monica's Fourth Historic District
January 23, 2019 -- Thirty years after it was first proposed, a small smattering of modest century old homes in the Mid City neighborhood was designated as a Historic District by the City Council Tuesday night.

OPINION -- Pico Neighborhood Residents Deserve An Uncompromised Voice on the City Council
January 23, 2019 -- Ana Jara's appointment to the City Council Tuesday night is part of a strategy to undermine the Pico Neighborhood's efforts to have an independent and authentic resident voice that will stand up to the power structure, says voting rights plaintiff Maria Loya.

EXTRA Council Appoints Latina from Pico Neighborhood to Fill Vacant Seat
January 22, 2019 -- It took two quick rounds of voting Tuesday night before Ana M. Jara became the first Hispanic from the Pico Neighborhood to take a seat on the City Council.

Leon-Vazquez Drops Out of Race for Council Appointment
January 22, 2019 -- Hours before the City Council votes tonight to fill a vacant seat on the dais, Maria Leon-Vazquez, one of 76 candidates applying for the seat vacated by her husband, Tony Vazquez, has dropped out.

City Submits Response in Voting Rights Lawsuit
January 22, 2019 -- In a 139-page response as long as some classic novels, the City last week objected to the "proposed statement of decision" submitted by the plaintiffs in a voting rights lawsuit filed by Latino activists.

NEWS ANALYSIS -- Does City Council Have the Votes to Appoint a New Member?
January 22, 2019 -- Ask Santa Monica political leaders, observers and consultants who they think the City Council will pick Tuesday night to fill an empty seat on the dais, and you'll get a unanimous response.

School District to Release Student Contact Information Under Court Order
January 18, 2019 -- Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District officials on Friday began notifying parents that student contact information would be released to the plaintiffs' attorney in a case claiming the District is violating the right to a free education.


PART I -- 2018 Could Change the Course of Santa Monica Politics
PART II -- Child Molestation, Homeless Murders Scar Beach City
PART III -- Frustrated Residents Call for Crackdown on Homeless Crime
PART IV -- Labor Issues Take Center Stage in 2018
PART V -- Scooters Zip By Development as Hot-Button Issue

Financial Forecast Cloudy as City Prepares to Unveil New Budget
January 18, 2019 -- After several years of strong economic growth in Santa Monica, the trend could be slowing, due in part to a rise in internet sales and the sharing economy, according to a report released by the City Thursday.

Political Heavy-Weights Submit Last-Minute Applications for Council Seat
January 17, 2019 -- A former mayor, two Planning Commissioners, two School Board members, a Rent Control Board member and a member of the College Board of Trustees submitted their applications Thursday morning for an open seat on the Santa Monica City Council.

EXTRA School Board Member Maria Leon-Vazquez Applies for Husband's Council Seat
January 17, 2019 -- School Board member Maria Leon-Vazquez on Thursday submitted an application to fill the City Council seat vacated by her husband Tony Vazquez.

Two Opposing Takes on Replacing the School District's Head Start Program
On Thursday night, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board will consider implementing a District-based Early Learning Program to replace Head Start. Here are two opinion pieces supporting and opposing the change.
OPINION -- New Learning Program Will Provide Access and Opportunity to More Families
OPINION -- District Plans to Tap K-12 Funds to Open and Operate ‘Private’ District Preschools

Field of Council Candidates Grows, Few Have Board or Commission Experience
January 16, 2019 -- (UPDATED) With the Thursday deadline fast approaching, a record 43 candidates had applied for an open seat on the Santa Monica City Council as of 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Council Hiked Relocation, Water Rates at Meeting Last Week
January 16, 2019 -- The City Council last week awarded $3 million in contracts, raised the water rate and extended an interim ordinance barring fast food restaurants on the Promenade.

Train Collision Marks First Pedestrian Death Since 2017
January 15, 2019 -- A pedestrian was killed by a Metro train in Santa Monica Tuesday morning after being dragged from the platform at the Colorado & 17th street station, according to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.

Novelist Wally Rudolph New Writer-in-Residence at the Annenberg Community Beach House
January 15, 2019 -- Novelist and actor Wally Rudolph, whose characters both on the screen and page wage a constant battle to survive in a violent world, is the new writer-in-residence at Santa Monica's Annenberg Community Beach House.

OPINION -- Changing Pico Boulevard Zoning to Neighborhood Commercial Will Preserve Area's Character
January 15, 2019 -- The City of Santa Monica’s Pico Wellbeing Project is paving the way for zoning rules that will change the character and scale of the Pico Neighborhood, says community leader Oscar de la Torre.

Field of Santa Monica Council Hopefuls Grows
January 14, 2019 -- With a record 35 candidates so far submitting applications for a vacant City Council seat, an activist group is weighing in on the process, while a former Council hopeful looks to put the Council's criteria to a test.

Person Infected with Measles Visited Santa Monica Pier, Taco Restaurant
January 14, 2019 -- County health officials this weekend warned that visitors to the Santa Monica Pier and Blue Plate Taco restaurant may have been exposed to measles late last month.

SUV Plows Into Pico Youth Center Causing 'Major Damage'
January 14, 2019 -- The Pico Youth and Family Center (PYFC) is scrambling to literally pick up the pieces and reopen after a speeding Bentley SUV smashed into its storefront Saturday night.

Jet Departures at Santa Monica Airport Took Nosedive in 2018
January 11, 2019 -- Jet departures at Santa Monica Airport nosedived from 7,753 in 2017 to 1,487 last year in the first annual tally with a shortened runway.

City Council Takes Steps to Make Wilshire Boulevard Safer
January 11, 2019 -- In the past decade six people have been killed and 29 severely injured in traffic accidents on Wilshire Boulevard, most of them pedestrians and bicyclists.

Santa Monica to Host Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration January 21
January 11, 2019 -- Santa Monica will host what has become one of the largest and most diverse celebrations of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Southern California on Monday January 21.

Santa Monica Library Earns Another Five Star Rating
January 10, 2019 -- For the ninth year in a row, the Santa Monica Public Library was ranked among the nation's best thanks in large part to circulation and visits.

First Candidates Submit Applications to Fill Vacant City Council Seat
January 10, 2019 -- (UPDATED) A former Rent Control Board member and a newcomer to Santa Monica politics are the first candidates to apply for an empty seat on the City Council.

City Files Suit Against Major Santa Monica Landlord
January 9, 2019 -- The City has filed a lawsuit against affiliates of one of Santa Monica's largest landlords charging them with tenant harassment, violating local zoning laws and maintaining a public nuisance.

Council Launches Process to Choose New Member
January 9, 2019 -- The City kicked off the application process Wednesday morning for candidates wanting to fill the City Council seat vacated by Tony Vazquez on Tuesday.

Police Release Video in Search for Shooting Suspect
January 9, 2019 -- Santa Monica police on Wednesday released a video of a shooting that took place in the parking lot of Eddies Liquor on the night of November 16.

City Collected More Than $5.6 Million in Development Impact Fees, Reports Says
January 8, 2019 -- The City of Santa Monica collected nearly $5.65 million in impact fees from developers to fund community benefits during the past fiscal year, according to the latest annual report.

Working Group to Begin Tackling Monster Mansions in Santa Monica -- Again
January 8, 2019 -- For the second time in two decades, Santa Monica will begin developing new standards for "monster mansions" when a workimg group is expected to convene its first meeting later this month.

Fireside at the Miles Kicks Off 10th Season Friday
January 7, 2019 -- Friday nights kicks off the 10th annual Fireside at the Miles that features a variety of performances in the historic playhouse at Santa Monica's Reed Park. The starts Friday at 8 p.m. with a performances by the Taiko fusion group On Ensemble.

Downtown Officials Hope Proposed Music Club Kicks Off Promenade Trend
January 7, 2019 -- A blast from the past will sweep on to the Third Street Promenade if a proposed restaurant with live music and dancing gets the final go-ahead from the Planning Commission this week.

'Food of the Gods' Featured During Santa Monica Restaurant Week
January 7, 2019 -- All week long, chefs at 30 Santa Monica restaurants will whip up dishes featuring an orange fruit whose botanical name means “food of the gods.”

Update Santa Monica Police Arrest Suspect in Series of Trash Bin Fires
January 4, 2018 -- Police have arrested a man who could be responsible for a series of fires set in trash cans in Santa Monica alleys over the past two weeks.

Plaintiffs in Voting Rights Case Propose July Special Council Election
January 4, 2019 -- The plaintiffs in the voting rights lawsuit against the City submitted a "proposed statement of decision" to the court on Friday that calls for holding a special election on July 2 for all seven City Council seats.

News Flash Santa Monica Police Search for Serial Arsonist
January 4, 2019 -- Santa Monica police are searching for a suspected arsonist who could be responsible for 15 fires set in trash cans in alleys over the past two weeks.

City Poised to Hike Water Rates
January 4, 2019 -- After three years of 5 percent increases, Santa Monica's water rates will go up 9 percent under the annual adjustment the City Council is expected to approve Tuesday.
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