City Attorney Favorably Resolves Second Wage Enforcement Case

The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office successfully resolved a wage enforcement case against Merchants Building Maintenance, LLC, a janitorial and security services company. Merchants was charged with failing to pay 36 employees their Santa Monica minimum wage.

For many months, Los Angeles County Department of Consumer & Business Affairs (“DCBA”) – contracted as the Wage Enforcement Division of the City – made numerous attempts to seek voluntary compliance from Merchants without any success. As a result, DCBA, in coordination with City prosecutors, administratively charged Merchants with dozens of counts of Santa Monica minimum wage (Santa Monica Municipal Code Chapter 4.62 and 4.63) violations and prepared the case for prosecution.

On January 19, Merchants admitted to every wage violation as charged, agreed to pay full restitution to the 36 affected employees (totaling over $23,000), and agreed to pay $36,000 in penalties.

“This is a positive and fair result,” said Chief Deputy City Attorney Yibin Shen, who led prosecution of the case for the City Attorney’s Office. “It is paramount in each of our wage enforcement cases that the affected employees receive full restitution for their back wages and that the employer is educated about the City’s wage laws. This case successfully achieved both results.”

“Combating growing income inequality and improving the welfare of the City’s workers are core objectives of the City’s Minimum Wage Laws. We look forward to continuing our aggressive education and enforcement of the City’s Minimum Wage Laws, with our Los Angeles wage enforcement partners, to ensure that the City’s workers, particularly those in low-wage positions, receive fair wages and fair treatment from employers while working in the City of Santa Monica.”

To report violations of the Santa Monica Minimum Wage Law, please contact the Santa Monica Wage Enforcement Program of the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at 800-593-8222, online at or in person at 500 West Temple Street, B96, Los Angeles, California 90012.

For more information about the City’s Minimum Wage Law, visit

This is the second successful minimum wage case for the City Attorney’s Office.

Submitted by Constance Farrell, Santa Monica Public Information Officer



Registration Opens For $3,000 Seismic Retrofit Grants

Registration is open for eligible homeowners to receive grants of up to $3,000 for seismic retrofits of their older homes, making them more resistant to earthquake damage. Homeowners have until February 23, 2018, to apply for a grant from the Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) program.

EBB is expanding eligibility this year to 17 additional California cities in high hazard areas, bringing the total to 51. The California Earthquake Authority (CEA) has provided $6 million in funding for the grants this year, enough to support an additional 2,000 or more code-compliant seismic retrofits.

“The natural disasters of 2017 remind us of the need to be prepared for the major earthquakes that are inevitable in California,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “Californians can protect their families by strengthening older homes, which are particularly vulnerable to earthquake damage, and by making sure they have the financial strength to rebuild with earthquake insurance.”

Homes with qualifying retrofits are eligible for discounts of up to 20 percent on CEA earthquake insurance premiums.

More than 1.2 million houses in high-hazard areas of California are particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because of the type of construction, according to the CEA. These homes are typically built before 1979, have a wood frame on a raised foundation and have a cripple wall in the crawl space under the house.

“The more houses a neighborhood has that have been retrofitted, the fewer condemned buildings will blight the neighborhood after a catastrophic earthquake and the faster life can return to normal,” stated Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian. “I strongly encourage eligible residents to apply for EBB grants and retrofit their homes.”

“EBB sees increasing momentum and awareness for seismic retrofits among homeowners, local officials and contractors,” said Janiele Maffei, chief mitigation officer of the CEA and executive director of EBB. “By helping kick-start a retrofit movement, we are working to reduce the number of Californians who lose their homes in the next catastrophic earthquake.”

In addition to offering the grants, EBB works with local building departments on the permitting process for retrofits and to grow the base of contractors trained to do code-compliant retrofits. The EBB’s searchable Contractor Directory lists almost 900 trained contractors as of the end of 2017.

Meanwhile, CEA and EBB continue to promote earthquake safety by funding development of seismic retrofit codes and plans to include a broader set of housing types. The results of that research will be released later this year.

Typical retrofits for the type of homes currently funded by EBB grants cost between $3,500 and $5,500, and involve bolting the house to its foundation and adding bracing around the perimeter. The cost is minimal compared to earthquake damage, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair. In the relatively moderate 6.0-magnitude Napa earthquake of 2014, homeowners received estimates of up to $300,000 to put their houses back on their foundations.


How to Apply for EBB Grants

Through February 23, eligible homeowners can apply for retrofit funding at, where they can also find detailed program information, select a licensed FEMA-trained contractor and view the full list of eligible ZIP Codes.


About Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB)

Established by the California Residential Mitigation Program, EBB offers up to $3,000 to help California homeowners retrofit their house to reduce potential damage from earthquakes. A residential seismic retrofit makes a house more resistant to earthquake activity, such as ground shaking and soil failure, by bolting the house to its foundation and adding bracing around the perimeter of the crawl space. For more information, please visit

About the California Residential Mitigation Program (CRMP)

CRMP was established in 2011 to help Californians strengthen their homes against damage from earthquakes. CRMP is a joint powers authority created by the California Earthquake Authority and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. For more information, please visit


Submitted by Matt Z’berg



High school students honored with 2018 Education Awards from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition

Five seniors from area high schools were presented the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition 2018 Education Awards at a ceremony held January 15 to commemorate Dr. King’s birthday at the SGI-USA World Peace Ikeda Auditorium in Santa Monica. Olympic gold medalist Dr. Tommie C. Smith was the event’s keynote speaker.

This year’s awards recipients are:

Culver City High School student Isabel Cortes received the 2018 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Award. A lifetime member of the Girl Scouts, she has an interest in history and government, and is a strong believer in the power of open dialogue and communication to solve problems. Ms. Cortes has focused on raising awareness in the community about an endocrine syndrome called PCOS. Her goals include expanding awareness in her school community about students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs), and creating solid friendships that will last a lifetime.

Culver City High School student Emma Fabros received the 2017 Saul Morrison Award. She is an academic scholar and an active member of the CCHS Student Government, and also Captain of the CCHS Dance Team. Ms. Fabros is thankful for getting to grow up in a family that has raised her with nothing but love and support, and hopes she can give back to others by doing the same. She plans to attend Biola University and study Public Relations, and hopes to follow her passion for fashion and media by pursuing a career in the fashion industry. The award for an essay that ‘demonstrates a passion for bridge-building, community, and leadership’ is presented to honor the memory and efforts of social activist Saul Morrison to secure equal opportunities for everyone.

Lawndale High School student Malaysia Long received the 2018 Lillie Bell Blakley Award for her entry, “The Birth of Nonviolence.” The four-year Honor Roll student aims to major in English and Pre-Law, and has been accepted at several universities. Ms. Long, a member of the Black Student Union and Class President, also dedicates time to volunteer in youth and outreach programs in the community. The award for a work that ‘demonstrates an awareness of tradition, legacy, and history’ is given in honor of Lillie Bell Blakley, whose passion to “keep moving forward” is apparent in her family’s multigenerational commitment to education and service, which includes son and former Mayor of Santa Monica Nathaniel Trives, as well as granddaughter Dr. Toni Trives, chair of the SMC Modern Languages and Cultures Department.

Susan Miller Dorsey High School Public and Service Magnet student Andrew Rodriguez received the 2018 Clyde Smith Award for ‘artistic effort and service to making our world a better place.’ Mr. Rodriguez, who is applying to college as a Political Science major, has a passion for Law and plans to become to become a lawyer. The award is given to celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition co-founder, director of the former Neighborhood Development Corporation (NRDC), and revered community leader Clyde Smith.

Also, Santa Monica High School student May Kono received a 2018 Honorable Mention Award from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition. Her goal is to work in the film industry as a screenwriter who can inspire people to create change, especially in matters like Asian representation in American film, the environmental crisis, and nuclear weapons abolition. Ms. Kono also enjoys playing in her school’s Symphony Orchestra, and writing in her free time.

Each year, schools, churches, and youth groups invite college and high school students to submit an essay, poem, or other creative work that exemplifies the “Six Principles of Nonviolence” in Dr. King’s Stride Toward Freedom. The awards are supported by endowments established in memory of local community activists and managed by the Santa Monica College Foundation.

To find out more about the Education Awards or to help support the awards, please call the SMC Foundation at (310) 434-4215.

Submitted by Grace Smith, SMC Public Information Officer.

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