Editor’s note: This monthly feature uncovers Santa Monica’s history by compiling notable city happenings from a century ago. The stories are found in old newspaper archives.

Uber and Lyft are the latest companies in the transportation conversation, but regulation of the industry is nothing new.

Santa Monica officials were looking into alleged price-gouging by for-profit bus drivers during area storms 100 years ago this month, according to a Los Angeles Times brief.

Shuttle drivers were reportedly forcing riders to fork over extra cash for one-way trips from Santa Monica to Los Angeles.

“As many of the persons who daily make the trip to the city have to go, regardless of cost, on account of their business, the Commissioners said that they would revoke the licenses of jitney drivers who took advantage of the situation to overcharge,” the brief reads.

Drivers said they were simply providing a service.

Projects protested

Following protests by several Santa Monica property owners, city officials said a century ago they would not carry out public works projects if they faced opposition.

A city commissioner reported that Santa Monica was losing $10,000 annually due to “the abandonment of proceedings of street work where property owners protested,” a Times brief reads.

Many of the protesters were wealthy Los Angeles residents who argued that the street work created “serious” hardships for them, according to the brief. The group also featured several locals, including “Mrs. Margaret Mann Zink, wealthy Santa Monican.”

Fire fallout

A battle for control of the company whose roller coaster burned in the Ocean Park pier fire was playing out in Santa Monica a century ago this month.

Two separate elections for Ben Hur Racing Coaster Company leadership positions were held as officials debated funding improvements for the attraction, which was damaged by flames Dec. 27, 1915.

The fight within the company was so intense that a Santa Monica police officer was stationed near its office, according to an archived Times article.

Weekend work?

Santa Monica leaders were publicly denying a rumor that City Hall staffers would have to work after morning business hours on Saturdays.

Facing the specter of a labor strike 100 years ago this month, city commissioners stated that the Saturday “half holiday” would continue for city employees, according to a Times brief.

“The rumor became so pronounced that the commissioners, who said they knew nothing of such a plan, took pains to deny it,” the brief reads.

Election challenge

A defeated city commission candidate challenged the results of the municipal election a century ago this month, according to a Times brief.

James P. Whalen, who missed out on a seat on Santa Monica’s governing body by five votes, charged that “a recount would show irregularities which would throw the election to him,” the brief reads.

Clerks were busy recounting the votes recorded for Whalen and M.K. Barretto.

Body washes ashore

The body of an unknown black man washed ashore under the Ocean Park pier a hundred years ago this month.

Two boys discovered the body, which was taken to an area morgue, according to a Times brief.

jeff@smdp.com

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