CITY HALL — A man confined to a wheelchair after he was struck by a Big Blue Bus while crossing the street will have a hefty sum of money coming his way.
The City Council approved a $1.5 million settlement on Tuesday in the case of Powell v. city of Santa Monica, one of three legal agreements passed out of closed session.
City Attorney Marsha Moutrie said the plaintiff suffered a serious injury to his right leg and broke a bone in the other.
“The injuries will change the rest of his life,” she said.
A separate case involving a claim that a bus rider got their foot stuck in the door was also settled for $47,500.
The council also agreed to settle a personnel matter, reinstating an employee on a promotion list in exchange for the plaintiff’s dismissal of his administrative appeal and lawsuit. Both sides also agreed to limit any public statements to matters that are part of the public record.
Planning Commission appeal denied<p>
Plans to construct condominiums behind a historic landmark on Second Street will continue after the council denied an appeal filed by neighbors against the Planning Commission’s approval of seven variances for the project earlier this year.
The project involves moving the cottage forward closer to the property line, demolishing an apartment complex behind it and constructing a three-unit condo development in its place, connecting the new and historic structure with a breezeway. The commission approved variances for the building height, number of stories, volume, and parcel coverage among others.
Neighbors filed three separate appeals contending that the unique nature of the project merits an environmental review, the condo development would fundamentally alter the historic house, and that there’s no substantial evidence to support the variance findings. Residents have also argued that the project would be out of scale and character with the neighborhood.
“I don’t think it’s right for them to have seven variances of the building code,” Scott Taylor, one of the appellants, said. “It makes you wonder why there is a building code.”
The applicant has countered that the variances are necessary to make the project, which would preserve the historic cottage, feasible.
“The variances approved by the Planning Commission are minor in nature, narrow in scope,” Ken Kutcher, the attorney representing the property owner, said. “They’re not overreaching, they simply allow the applicant to redistribute the floor area from the front of the parcel to the rear and the additional height is allowed by the Land Use Element.”
Marathon to end in Santa Monica<p>
Runners in the Los Angeles Marathon next year can enjoy a scenic view of the Santa Monica Pier at the conclusion of the race.
That’s because the council approved a first reading of an ordinance change that would establish a route for the final leg of the marathon in Santa Monica, ending at the intersection of Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. The revised ordinance, which would allow only one marathon a year to occur on a Sunday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., will become final upon a second reading at a later meeting.
The idea to route the race on its 25th anniversary through Santa Monica first emerged this summer when officials unveiled a plan to bring the marathon from Dodger Stadium to the sea, highlighting some of the greatest Los Angeles landmarks along the way.
Marathon officials initially proposed ending the race in Venice just steps from the city border, holding the after party at the south beach lot in Santa Monica. City officials however asked that Santa Monica be considered as the finish line.
The race will enter the city at the intersection of 26th Street and San Vicente Boulevard, heading west on the latter before turning left on Ocean Avenue. The post race festivities will be held at the 1550 lot immediately north of the pier.
The council also voted to modify the Extended Events Policy to permit large-scale, single-day commercial events in the 1550 lot.
Fortune telling not just for the pier
An expired ordinance that temporarily allowed fortunetellers to conduct business on Ocean Front Walk will become permanent.
Concerned about First Amendment protections, the council approved the first reading of an ordinance that would expand the areas where fortune telling is allowed to Ocean Front Walk, Lincoln Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard. The activity is currently restricted to the pier.
The ordinance will become final upon a second reading.
The California Supreme Court in 1985 ruled that fortune telling is a constitutionally protected activity that cannot be prohibited by a municipality. While City Hall’s existing ordinance allows for fortune telling to take place on the pier, there are time, place and manner concerns with the restriction, Moutrie said.
The council in 2000 adopted a temporary ordinance that allowed fortune telling on Ocean Front Walk. The ordinance however has since expired.
A new commission on trees</b<p>
Nearly half a year after the council voted to establish a new task force that would advise city staff on the development of an urban forest master plan, the members have finally been selected.
Serving on the seven-member task force will be landscape designer Grace Phillips, arborist Peter Jensen, physical therapist and Santa Monica Treesaver Linda Piera-Avila, landscape architect Angie Coyier, school administrator and former Mayor Judy Abdo, north of Montana Avenue activist Doris Sosin, and former City Manager Susan McCarthy. More than 20 people applied for the task force.
Several key local activists who lobbied the council for months to establish the commission were not appointed, including Jerry Rubin, Susan Hartley, and Herbert and Sally Silverstein, all of whom applied.