APRIL

Santa Monica High School hired a new football head coach, Matt Kirk. Kirk, who was most recently the safeties coach at the University of Reno, has experience primarily in the collegiate ranks, all in defensive coaching roles. Having also coached at East LA, El Camino,West LA, and Long Beach City College, a strong, hardnosed defensive mindset is something Kirk hopes to bring to Santa Monica High School.

WNMS, the offshoot of prolific and controversial developer NMS, was back before the Planning Commission for revisions to a project at 1650 Lincoln Blvd. that will add to the surge of development between the freeway and Colorado Blvd. The project would be a new five-story, 50- foot high, 69,896 square- foot, mixed-use building with 98 residential units and approximately 6,372 square feet of ground floor commercial space, and a three-level subterranean parking garage designed to accommodate 205 automobiles and 173 bicycles.

Citing increased concerns over digital security, City Council approved new rules for submitting electronic presentations by instating a 12 p.m. deadline to give the City Clerk time to screen digital files for viruses the day of a meeting.

Famed architect Frank Gehry and celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck were chosen to reimagine Gladstone’s restaurant at Will Rogers State Beach. The two are part of the newly formed PCH Beach Associates and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to begin exclusive negotiations with the company after a year-long search for a new partner at the popular beach eatery.

The new museum scheduled for Santa Monica Place was renamed as The Cayton Children’s Museum, in honor of a Los Angeles philanthropist who gave a substantial donation to build the new space. The non-profit that runs the museum along with a youth development program, ShareWell, has declined to disclose the amount but describes the gift from home audio moguls Barry and Andrea Cayton as “generous.”

SMMUSD began forming two School Facilities Improvement Districts (SFID) to better serve Santa Monica and Malibu schools individually. The District pursued authorization from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (LAC BOS) to adopt a resolution to create two SFIDs. Dual facilities districts will allow schools within Malibu and Santa Monica as well as their communities to have more self-sufficiency in many areas such as facility planning and funding.  

Santa Monica High School senior Judy Durkin beat out over 20,000 students to advance to the National Shakespeare Competition finals where she represented Santa Monica and Los Angeles County in New York. At the NSC, high school students from around the world read, analyze, and perform Shakespeare pieces ranging from tragedy to comedy and sonnets to monologues in three qualifying stages: school, community, and national.

The Santa Monica College (SMC) Corsair Market is a weekly, majority student-run farmers market at the main campus. Staff started the program after the success of SMC’s twice-a-year Students Feeding Students program and the program provides fresh food to students who need it. Students say the aid can feed them for weeks and those who happen to be out of work find the help particularly useful.

A new design iteration of the Fairmont hotel was unveiled. The new design differs from the iteration in 2013 that fueled antidevelopment sentiment with a towering 320-foot building that threatened to eclipse nearby ocean views. The new hotel has 60 condominiums, 312 hotel rooms, 5,500 square feet of new retail space along Wilshire Boulevard, 11,500 square feet of dining, including FIG and The Bungalow, 12,500 square foot spa and gym and 13,000 square feet of meeting space.

LimeBike began operating in the city. LimeBike offers dockless bikes and scooters in several domestic and international markets. They began in 2017 offering traditional bikes, expanded to electric vehicles this year and currently operate in 32 cities and 16 universities. LimeBike received the appropriate permits to operate in town and will be governed by the same rules as Bird.

Chief Kenneth Semko retired after 26-years with the Santa Monica Police Department. The veteran officer had served as interim chief as his final assignment with the agency. He developed the department’s first explosive detection K-9 team, taught recruits and created the city’s emergency response plan should a disaster ever strike Santa Monica.

An annual review of the city’s Development Agreements found all 33 properties in good faith compliance with their contracts. A real estate Development Agreement, or DA, allows developers to build beyond zoning restrictions in return for community benefits like fees or open space. Because they are individually negotiated, each agreement contains unique time frames, obligations and requirements – including fees, physical improvements and ongoing services.

Erewhon grocery opened a new 10,500-square-foot space at the south-east corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Harvard Street. The company, founded in 1968, is an independent, family-owned grocer with locations in Los Angeles, Calabasas, Venice and now Santa Monica. They offer a 100 percent organic produce section and are known for stocking their shelves with products from smaller suppliers. According to the company, its product recommendations are made from the store level, not a corporate office.

An initially free analysis of the City’s efforts to reduce homelessness resulted in a bill of $77,675 due to a previously unknown federal restriction. The RAND Corporation offered to conduct a free assessment of the city’s Homeless Multidisciplinary Street Team (HMST). However, RAND later learned that restrictions on the federal money used to fund the appropriate department prevent RAND from doing the work for free. The new cost was within the scope of approval for the city’s Community and Cultural Services department.

After thirty years, the Greek Cuisine: Stop’n Cafe served one last shot of espresso, took the pictures of Santa Monica locals and celebrities off the walls and closed its doors for the very last time.

Police said a Connecticut man was driving drunk with his two teenage sons when he ran a red light and plowed into a Metro Expo Line Train crossing Lincoln Boulevard. Anthony Manuel Beltran Sr. was charged with driving under the influence, child endangerment and furnishing alcohol to a minor.

Ristorante al Mare closed and was replaced by Seaside on the Pier owned by Restaurateur Robert Earl. The venue’s former owners were already remodeling the space when Earl, who is CEO and founder of Planet Hollywood and owns Earl of Sandwich Restaurants and Buca di Beppo, took over the business. Earl initially wanted to open one of his existing restaurants in the space, but the Pier Association rejected the proposal, forcing him to create a new concept.

The former Denny’s restaurant at Lincoln Blvd and Colorado Ave was demolished as work began on a new, five-story mixed-use project with 100 apartments and 13,800 square feet of ground floor commercial space by NMS Properties.

The City Council told leaders at the Big Blue Bus to incentivize transitioning their fleet of 200 buses to electric vehicles. Council also gave the go-ahead for a pilot program with at least 10 electric buses. Eventually, an all electric fleet would reduce the BBB’s greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 70 percent, as long as the agency procures 100 percent renewable electricity. The BBB’s fleet is already fueled by renewable natural gas.

Plans for a potential Frank Gehry building overlooking the Pacific Ocean advanced through the City’s approval process. The project at 101 Santa Monica Blvd. covers 11 parcels totaling 82,500 square feet along Santa Monica Blvd. and Ocean Ave. It would stand about 130 feet tall (12 stories). The site currently houses four buildings (three commercial and one mixed use commercial/residential) and a surface parking lot. The applicant has pitched a project that includes commercial (24,000 square foot of retail/restaurant), hotel (115 room), museum (40,000 square foot cultural/museum campus) and residential (79 units) uses while retaining two landmarked buildings on the site.

The City Council unanimously voted to strike down a resident’s appeal to prevent a four-story apartment complex planned for the stretch of Lincoln Boulevard between Ashland Avenue and Wilson Place. The CIM Group project with 47 apartments will have two levels of underground parking with 150 spaces. Neighbors were concerned about the traffic impacts of the project.

A wellness-centered shared working space founded by a former WeWork executive will move into the top two floors of the former Barnes and Noble on the Third Street Promenade. The 30,000-square-foot space called ‘work well win Santa Monica’ is the one of the first of 90 coworking spaces opening in various cities over the next five years offering perks like meditation rooms, yoga, organic food and even purified air.

About two dozen property owners beat a month-long deadline to submit plans to build a new house before the city instituted restrictions to stop the “mansionization” of Santa Monica neighborhoods. The city typically receives about five applications a month, but 23 homeowners filed development applications between Jan. 23 and Feb. 23 as they rushed to beat the start of an interim ordinance. Council extended the ordinance until Nov. 19, 2019, as the city begins to draft permanent standards. The Council can continue to renew the interim ordinance for up to five years.

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