MARCH

Two jewelry stores were robbed on the same block of Montana Ave

Santa Monica’s Woodlawn Cemetery hosted its fourth annual Living History tour. Actors were on site portraying individuals such as astronaut Sally Ride, actor Doug McClure, social / political activist Tom Hayden, community activist Thelma Terry, and the City’s first and longest-serving librarian, Elfie Mosse.

The City Council told the head of the Big Blue Bus and city staff to focus on infrastructure and convenience to tackle declining bus ridership.  BBB is projecting a structural deficit that could deplete reserves as early as 2021 without a boost in passengers. Ridership declined 12 percent in 2015 and 20 percent in 2016.

A late-winter storm left the state with less than half the usual snow in the state’s important rain and snow season. Runoff from snow in the mountains historically provides Californians with nearly a third of their water for the whole year.

A fire destroyed the roof of a  condominium complex at 425 Marine Drive. As the first responders pulled up to the flaming complex, a live electrical power line stretched across the front of the structure. It was less than five minutes after the first 9-1- 1 calls lit up dispatcher’s telephone lines at the police station and the roof was already coming down.

The number of homeless individuals sleeping on Santa Monica streets increased 11 percent to 646 people, according to the 2018 Homeless Count. In addition, the annual count found 311 homeless people in shelters and other institutions, a decrease of nine percent from the 2017 count. Overall, the count found a four percent increase in the homeless population.

The reassignment of SMMUSD family engagement coordinator Aida Diaz created concern among the school district’s Latino community. In 2016, a similar situation with Diaz occurred. At the time, Diaz was the district’s longtime coordinator for English language development programs. The district sought to eliminate that position in lieu of a new parent engagement position as well as a new language coordinator job to improve dual immersion in SMMUSD.

Police arrested a 19-year-old accused of stealing a woman’s purse off her shoulder near Ten Women Gallery on Montana Avenue. Warlys Ernest Jimenez is charged with robbery. The woman was not hurt during the strong-armed robbery.

The Santa Monica City Council approved an emergency ordinance to get a better grip on the thousands of Bird scooters left on sidewalks around town. The new rule allows the city to collect a $60 impound fee for any “shared mobility device” that poses an immediate hazard or obstructs access to public space. The emergency rules come as three more companies file paperwork to operate so-called “dockless” mobility systems in the city.

City Council denied a staff recommendation to shorten the grace period to an hour in downtown garages. The Council, however, increased the weekday and weekend daily maximums to $20 and $25 in those structures. Fewer people are parking downtown, resulting in declining revenue for the city. In the 2015 fiscal year, there were 7.6 million total parking transactions in the downtown core. That number decreased by half a million in 2016, with 7.1 million transactions. City staff projects a seven percent decrease this year, arguing the popularity of Metro and ride-hailing apps like Uber have decreased parking demand.

Cynthia Renaud was named the new Chief of Police. She moved to Santa Monica in April after leading the police department in Folsom, California for seven years. The announcement came just a day after City Manager Rick Cole published a blog acknowledging the “frightening” reality that robberies have become more common here amid a “chilling” rise in aggravated assaults.

Locals gathered near the Santa Monica Airport on Tuesday to protest the arrival of President Trump. While sidewalks and streets were kept clear, private homes and businesses hosted several groups with a variety of signs. The President traveled to Los Angeles for a fundraiser following a trip to San Diego to inspect potential border walls.

Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for Santa Monica College’s Early Childhood Lab School. When complete, the facility will hold up to 110 children (with a minimum of 30 percent Santa Monica residents and 15 percent low-income). It will be operated by the Growing Place.

A sea of students engulfed Santa Monica High School’s football field to deliver a message to Congress, lawmakers, and the gun advocates: Never Again. Local students joined a nationwide school walkout to support Parkland High School students and gun legislation.

A U.S. District Court judge ruled in the city of Santa Monica’s favor, writing websites HomeAway and Airbnb did not demonstrate they are likely to prevail on claims Santa Monica’s short-term rental ordinance violates the Coastal Act, the Communications Decency Act or the First Amendment. Santa Monica mandates property owners who want to open their homes to vacationers must be present during their stay and register with the city.

An 18,000 square foot office building with ground floor retail was approved for Pico Boulevard after the Planning Commission approved permits for the project. While several commissioners expressed disappointment that the project at 2929 Pico Blvd does not include any new housing, Commissioner Richard McKinnon was the only person to vote against granting the permit. Plans for the new 150-feet long, contemporary building include a glass facade on the ground floor with 8,396 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

Local students are increasingly bypassing school-day physical exercise in favor of extra-curricular athletics and many students are now using their extra time to double up on elective classes according to a report on SMMUSD’s Independent Study programs prompted by a new law.

Tech and automotive bloggers across the internet were buzzing about an application by Tesla to build a restaurant and supercharger station at 1401 Santa Monica Boulevard. The station had a target opening of the end of the year, according to Tesla’s website. There are currently 1,130 supercharger station in the North America, according to the Tesla website.

Nearly 24,000 runners traveled the 26.2-mile course of the Los Angeles Marathon and near the front of the pack were Santa Monicans Samuel Bradbury and Ingrid Walters. Bradbury, 37, finished the race in 2 hours 29 minutes and 56 seconds taking third in the amateur bracket. At a pace of about a 5.8-minute mile, his time would have placed him in the top ten for the Professional division. Walters, 46, clocked in at 2 hours 55 minutes and 28 seconds, taking first place in her division and fast enough to rank 14th if she’d been part of the Professional group.

Santa Monica Airport’s thriving arts community welcomed the public to the annual Airport ArtWalk. The annual event opens more than 60 studios/ venues across nine buildings along an eight-block stretch of Airport Ave. between Bundy Dr. and 23rd Street.

The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District settled on an initial proposal that could eventually create a standalone Malibu School District. The two sides agreed in theory to a 50-year revenue sharing plan that would allow the two districts to operate independently of each other with the possibility that Malibu schools could be reorganized into a semi-independent charter school program while the split is implemented.

Rain across the state swelled rivers, flooded streets and caused some mud and rock slides but nothing near the destruction experienced by many communities earlier in the year.

Santa Monica resident Todd James purchased an ownership stake in the Santa Monica Daily Press (SMDP). James became one of three owners of the company with founders Ross Furukawa and Dave Danforth. James purchased his share from founder Carolyn Sackariason. James, a 20-year resident of Santa Monica, lives in the North of Montana neighborhood with his wife, Tatiana, and two sons.

Students of all ages across the country continued to march forward in a push for gun legislation. The March for Our Lives, a national student-planned demonstration for gun legislation in Washington, D.C. inspired sibling marches splintering off in other parts of the country including Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

The City Council approved a $26.5 million contract (with a ten percent contingency) with Bernards Bros. construction to break ground on Fire Station No. 1, beginning the end of a decade-long ordeal to replace a cramped and seismically unsafe but vital city facility. A 2007 study found the wood frame and stucco fire station that serves downtown in dire need of a seismic retrofit, upgrades and various improvements to come up to code. The report said an earthquake could cripple the building badly enough to trap or even kill firefighters and damage lifesaving equipment. The total cost of the new fire station is expected to be $41.6 million.

Two Santa Monica Chefs were nominated for the prestigious 2018 James Beard Foundation Awards. Rustic Canyon Chef Jeremy Fox was nominated for his recent cookbook On Vegetables and as Best Chef in the West (CA, HI, and NV). Miles Thompson, Chef at Michael’s was nominated as Rising Star Chef of the Year.

A one-time incentive program to encourage early retirement will save Santa Monica College (SMC) millions in long-term costs according to a presentation to the Board of Trustees. According to Chris Bonvenuto, Director Of Fiscal Services at SMC, the program generated 78 retirements across all staff categories and will generate over a million dollars in savings this year.

A wave of fast food restaurants opened in Santa Monica including Del Taco, Fatburger/Buffalo’s Express, Chick-fil-A and Firehouse Subs. The casual eateries joined the approximately 550 food serving businesses. About 13 percent of the City’s eateries are considered fine dining. Fast-casual restaurants were 11 percent, casual dining was 33 percent and quick-service restaurants were 43 percent. None of the new restaurants are located in the Downtown where City Hall has previously tried to incentivize sit-down dining.

The City of Santa Monica chose not pursue new legislation to enforce local election laws but instead asked for more communication from state regulators when their investigations cross into the local jurisdiction. Presented with several options, including requesting a new state law that would have allowed the FPPC to handle local election violations, the council opted to request the FPPC inform local agencies of investigations in enough time to pursue local action. Council also asked for more education efforts regarding the local rules. In a third recommendation, Council directed staff to pursue a reciprocal arrangement with a nearby city for investigating election violations that would otherwise create a conflict of interest for the City Attorney’s office.

The Santa Monica Pier and some adjacent downtown streets played a role in Pacific Rim Uprising, with the film’s monsters, known in context as Kaiju, destroying the world-renowned local landmark and fighting a locally built guardian robot. The scene was specifically written with Santa Monica in mind because the iconic location was a natural fit for the world of Pacific Rim where giant monsters hailing from underwater rifts attack the human population.

The Ojo Electric scooter offered a purchasable alternative to the rentable Bird scooters. Riders can sit on a small seat or stand on the lightweight aluminum frame as they cruise up to 20 miles an hour. The scooters are small enough to bring inside to charge at a household power outlet but sturdy enough to feel more at home weaving between bottlenecked cars on the street than on the sidewalk with pedestrians.

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