Santa Monica
Traditional Reporting for A Digital Age

The Santa Monica Lookout, Santa Monica, California -- OCTOBER 2020

Council Gives Nod to Delivery 'Bots'
October 30, 2020 -- Autonomous delivery vehicles can continue scooting down Santa Monica sidewalks as long as they are controlled by a human, covered by a business license and abide by safety rules, the City Council decided Tuesday.

Voting Options in Santa Monica
October 30, 2020 -- (UPDATED) With 60 percent of Santa Monica's 72,051 ballots already returned to the LA County Registrar, those who don't plan to vote by mail can visit one of more than a dozen vote centers and drop boxes across the city.

City Council Candidate Pop Quiz
For the 2020 City Council candidate questionnaire, The Lookout asked the eight frontrunners 22 short questions. Here are their responses.

Is Crime Really Down? Incumbents Weigh In Challengers Weigh in

City to Help Up to 200 More Tenants Pay Rent
October 29, 2020 -- The City Council on Tuesday amended its contract with St. Joseph Center by more than $1 million to help between 150 and 200 additional tenants pay rent during the coronavirus emergency.

Malibu District Split Hits Major Roadblock
October 29, 2020 -- Efforts to split the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) have hit a major roadblock after Malibu officials walked away from negotiations, leaving the District "deeply skeptical."

OPINION -- Message from Interim Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks
October 29, 2020 -- Although in many respects I am coming home, I realize I am returning to a very different environment.

Funding Gap Narrows as Council Closes Out Budget
October 28, 2020 -- With City revenues "marginally better than anticipated," the City Council on Tuesday closed out the 2019-20 Fiscal Year budget by using $12 million less in reserves than expected.

SMMUSD Ranked Among Top 20 California Districts
October 28, 2020 -- The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has been ranked among the top 20 districts in California by the national academic ranking service, Niche.

More than One-Third of Santa Monica Voters Have Cast Their Ballots
October 27, 2020 -- Santa Monica voters have been mailed a record 72,337 ballots for next Tuesday's presidential election, and as of Monday they had returned more than a third, according to Political Data Inc.

OPINION -- Are PACs Buying the City Council Election?
October 27, 2020 --
Political Action Committees (PACs) involved in the Santa Monica City Council race have raised almost $1 million and are quickly spending it to elect their choice of candidates as voters cast early ballots at a record rate.

Santa Monica Police Brace for Possible Election Unrest
October 26, 2020 -- The Santa Monica Police Department has been preparing for potential unrest leading up to next Tuesday's presidential election and its aftermath, officials announced Monday.

COVID-19 Cases in Santa Monica Top 1,000
October 26, 2020 -- The total number of coronavirus cases confirmed in Santa Monica surpassed 1,000 last week, as the number of cases in Los Angeles County topped 300,000.

LETTERS - Shooting the Messenger on Crime
October 26, 2020 -- Councilmembers tried to explain away polling results that found half of Santa Monica voters feel less safe.

Police Chief Shares 'Preliminary Findings' on Response to Riots
October 23, 2020 -- As rioting erupted in Santa Monica on May 31, police were unprepared for "three, separate events that converged" simultaneously and "ultimately prioritized life and personal safety," outgoing Police Chief Cynthia Renaud said Wednesday.

Coronavirus Cases Spike After Clearing Backlog
October 23, 2020 -- Cornonavirus cases in Santa Monica have skyrocketed this week after County Health officials began clearing a large backlog of cases.

Santa Monica Deploys 'Health Ambassadors'
October 22, 2020 -- The City of Santa Monica announced this week that it is deploying “Health Ambassadors” to ensure compliance with emergency orders issued during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Dangers of Living on Mars at the SMC Planetarium
October 22, 2020 -- Santa Moica College's John Drescher Planetarium will explore the dangers of surviving on the red planet and offer tips for buying a telescope during its virtual shows in November.

EXTRA -- Supreme Court Takes Up Voting Rights Lawsuit
October 21, 2020 -- The voting rights lawsuit against the City of Santa Monica is headed to the California Supreme Court after it granted the Latino plaintiffs' petition for review Wednesday.

Reports of Serious Crime Dropped Last Year
October 20, 2020 -- Reports of serious crime in Santa Monica dropped by about 16 percent last year, following a dramatic rise each year since 2014, according to Police Department data collected by the FBI.

D.C. Courts Dismiss Two Challenges to Decree Shuttering Santa Monica Airport
October 20, 2020 -- The City scored two recent legal victories in Washington, D.C. courts that pave the way to shutter Santa Monica Airport after the end of 2028.

EXTRA -- Santa Monica COVID Count Hits Record Low
October 19, 2020 -- There were five new cases of the coronavirus reported in Santa Monica last week, the fewest weekly cases since the pandemic first hit the beach city seven months ago, according to Los Angeles County Health data.

FPPC Rejects Claim Against Council Challengers' Slate
October 19, 2020 -- The State's political ethics watchdog on Friday rejected a complaint claiming that members of a slate of City Council candidates violated campaign law by receiving free advertising.

Santa Monica Residents Deserve Answers Now
October 16, 2020 -- Residents have a right to know for our safety why the City was not up to the task of policing on May 31st, and we have a right to know it before the election.

Outgoing Police Chief Gets Big Payout, Former Chief Returns
October 16, 2020 -- Retiring Santa Monica Police Chief Cynthia Renaud will receive four months of base pay totaling approximately $90,000 after she is replaced by former Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks later this month.

EXTRA -- Santa Monica Police Chief to Retire
October 16, 2020 -- Police Chief Cynthia Renaud -- who came under fire for the rioting that swept through Santa Monica May 31 -- will retire this month to lead the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), City officials announced Friday.

City Council Amends New Rental Housing Law
October 15, 2020 -- The City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to revise Santa Monica's newest housing law to eliminate unforeseen scenarios.

OPINION -- City Council Turns a Blind Eye on Crime and Homelessness
October 15, 2020 -- We’re told crime is down, but the statistics don't reflect the everyday experience lived by Santa Monica residents.

LETTERS -- Citizens United Isn’t to Blame
October 15, 2020 -- If the City Council challengers are so virtuous and preferable to the voter base of Santa Monica, it would seem that some or many supporters would put their money where their mouth is.

Council Challenger Wins Coalition Endorsement After Denouncing Plaza Project
October 14, 2020 -- A leading Santa Monica slow-growth group on Wednesday endorsed Oscar de la Torre for City Council hours after he issued a blistering attack on the proposed Plaza project Downtown.

Woman Fatally Struck by Car at Major Pico Intersection
October 13, 2020 -- A woman was fatally struck by a car in a major intersection in the Pico Neighborhood early Tuesday morning, marking the third pedestrian killed in Santa Monica this year.

Santa Monica to Add Protected Bike Lanes
October 14, 2020 -- The City Council on Tuesday approved a plan to add 19 miles of protected bike lanes to the more than 100 miles that already reach across much of the city.

OPINION -- Will Special Interest PACs Get Council Incumbents Re-Elected?
October 14, 2020 -- In Santa Monica, PACs have spent between $160,000 and $458,000 to re-elect City Council incumbents in each of the past five elections. This year should be no different.

Coronavirus Cases Up in Santa Monica, Deaths Down
October 13, 2020 -- The number of weekly coronavirus cases in Santa Monica rose to their highest level in more than two months, while the number of deaths was adjusted down by one, according to Los Angeles Couty Health data.

City Order Bars Street Performers from Playing for an Audience
October 12, 2020 -- Street performers in Santa Monica must wear face coverings and cannot play for audiences under an emergency order issued by the City Monday.

City Hires Firm to Probe Police Response to Riots
October 9, 2020 -- The City announced Friday that it has hired a consulting firm specializing in law enforcement oversight to investigate the Police Department's response to the May 31 riots.

Santa Monica Review Travels Through Space and Time
October 9, 2020 -- From the imagined history of a 19th-century revolutionary cell to a look at LA's urban bicycle culture, the Santa Monica Review's latest issue offers a romp through different times and places.

LETTERS -- Where Is The Money to Tackle the Root Causes of Homelessness?
October 9, 2020 -- Housing 58 people for $34 million dollars is such a waste when that money could have helped hundreds to thousands of homeless people.

Santa Monica Approves Loan to Build Homeless Housing
October 8, 2020 -- The site of an old Japanese community center in the Pico Neighborhood is on its way to becoming a 58-unit affordable housing development for the homeless that will cost some $34.2 million.

OPINION -- Why Mexicans Are Left Out of Santa Monica's Race Debate
October 8, 2020 -- Where is the “Brown Agenda?” The city’s Mexican Americans have suffered more severely at the hands of the City than any other racial group.

City Reopens Playgrounds After COVID-19 Lockdown
October 8, 2020 -- A dozen Santa Monica playgrounds will reopen six months after they were shuttered during the coronavirus lock down, City officials announced Wednesday.

Council Poised to Amend New Rental Housing Law
October 7, 2020 -- The City Council on Tuesday is expected to amend a new rental law that requires residential leases to be at least a year and that the units be unfurnished.

COVID-19 Cases Rise, Deaths Hold Steady
October 6, 2020 -- There were 30 new cases of the coronavirus reported in Santa Monica last week, the most in a month.

Pier Launches "Secret Story Tour"
October 6, 2020 -- The Santa Monica Pier's past is coming alive with an “immersive digital quest” that tells the untold story of the wooden structure's 110-year history.

FPPC Complaint Filed Against Santa Monicans for Change
October 5, 2020 -- A local political activist filed a complaint with the State watchdog agency last week claiming four Council challengers violated campaign law, a claim one of the challengers calls "baseless."

City Employee Unions, Special Interests Back Incumbents
October 5, 2020 -- Santa Monica's employee unions and special interest groups are building a large financial warchest to back the status quo at City Hall, according to campaign disclosure statements posted on the City Clerk's website Monday.

Poll Shows Lack of Support for Council Incumbents, But Most Voters Undecided
October 2, 2020 -- A recent poll of registered Santa Monica voters forecasts trouble for local incumbents, with less than 10 percent of the respondents saying they plan to support the current Council members. But more than half are undecided.

Santa Monica Police Seize Narcotics, Guns and Cash in Drug Bust
October 2, 2020 -- Santa Monica police seized a cache of narcotics, two guns and nearly $300,000 in cash during a drug bust in Los Angeles on Thursday, according to police.

"Devil in Details" as SMPD Goes After Looting Suspects, Head Detective Says
October 1, 2020 -- The Santa Monica Police Department is facing a challenge unique in its history: How to identify and arrest more than 100 masked suspects who swept through the Downtown during a looting spree on May 31 that lasted only a few hours.

LETTERS -- Miramar Redevelopment Needs to Be Stopped in Court
October 1, 2020 -- How unfortunate it is that Santa Monica Councilmembers only respond to the voice of residents when they are threatened or actually sued. Is the Miramar the next lawsuit on the horizon?
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