Voters cast their ballots at City Hall during an election. (File photo)

AUGUST

A trial began to determine the future of Santa Monica’s election system. Plaintiffs Maria Loya and the Pico Neighborhood Association alleged the at-large voting system used in the city was biased against Latino candidates. During the multi-week trial the City said the system provided fair representation to all residents while the Plaintiffs argued the city should move to district based voting. A judge ultimately ruled against the city but the case is ongoing as both sides await the Judge’s final ruling, instructions on how to transition and a possible appeal by the City.

Environmental groups joined Senator Ben Allen and Assemblymember Richard Bloom to help reduce plastic pollution by urging passage of key ocean protection bills moving through the State Legislature.

Mel’s hosted a rally at the end of Route 66 to promote permanent historic designation for the roadway. The route is protected under The National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, a program which provides preservation planning, research, and educational initiatives among many more services. However, the program must be renewed every few years and is currently set to terminate in 2019.

Adobe opened a new facility in downtown Santa Monica to serves as both an office for employees and a training ground for established editors. Adobe hopes their new edit suite on 4th Street in Downtown Santa Monica will help Premier eclipse Avid and Final Cut to become the go-to software for Hollywood.

Students of all ages from the Pico Youth and Family Center marched to City Hall in an effort to ban plastic straws. The students, ranging from 7-13 years of age, took part in the PYFC’s Social Justice & Mindfulness Summer camp, which taught them several tenets of advocating for social change.

A report concluded Santa Monica’s minimum wage ordinance was not responsible for changes to the local economy. The report said job losses or store closures were the result of many contributing factors and increasing the minimum wage was not responsible for the downward push in retail locations.

The Santa Monica Police Department took part in the annual National Night Out event. The program covers 16,500 communities throughout the country and offers a chance for community building between officers and residents.

Any landlord leasing a rent controlled apartment to a corporation without first getting a removal permit from the Rent Control Board is running afoul of the law, according to the Board’s top lawyer. The assertion was made as part of a larger effort to control corporate tenants in rent controlled housing.

Local animal shelters issued an urgent call for pet adoptions following a surge in abandoned animals and the Santa Monica Animal Shelter agreed to take in animals from neighboring cities to ease the crisis. All six animal shelters in the city of Los Angeles ere currently at capacity.

The Pier’s one-hour debate series Pro Con returned. The event brought experts from separate sides of an issue to argue for their position while a neutral moderator keeps things civil.

City Council passed a law to ban new private wells as part of a statewide attempt to better regulate groundwater. The ordinance aimed to protect local aquifers from overdraft, pollution and contamination.

After a lifetime in the deli business, Maurice Solomon retired. The smiling face perennially seen behind a Westside/Santa Monica deli counter for over 60 years held a retirement celebration at Fromin’s, the deli restaurant where he spent the last 28 years of his life.

Council banned single use plastic in restaurants and grocery stores. The ordinance bans plastic plates, bowls, trays, containers, straws, utensils, stirrers, cups and lid plugs unless they are made from degradable materials. Even compostable utensils and paper straws are to be provided only on request. The plastic ban impacted approximately 800 businesses in Santa Monica, from large, corporate chains to mom-and-pops. The ordinance also applied to all city facilities and sponsored events that serve prepared food.

Bird Scooters temporarily shuttered their operations in Santa Monica to protest their initial exclusion from the City’s proposed pilot program. The local start-up failed to get the endorsement of a key committee. After flooding the City with scooters over the summer in an attempt to compete, Lime also failed to win the endorsement. Instead, the official selection committee recommended awarding contracts for Lyft and Jump (which is owned by Uber) to launch their own electric bike and scooter operations here. However, both companies were eventually allowed to participate in the program. Prior to the decision, Lime offered the city of Santa Monica $1 million for infrastructure improvements.

New body scanners were deployed across the Los Angeles transit system. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) partnered with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) to develop the portable scanners that can help detect weapons and explosives. Metro was the first surface transit agency in the country to buy the new scanners.

A coalition of local water safety organizations revived a previously decommissioned sensor at the Santa Monica Pier to provide updated data as part of a Federal ocean monitoring program. Divers from the Bay Foundation, Los Angeles Waterkeeper and the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS) dove below the Pier to refurbish a sensor pack that measures temperature, salinity, chlorophyll, and water level at frequent intervals in the nearshore coastal ocean.

Off the San Diego coast, scientists recorded all-time high seawater temperatures since daily measurements began in 1916. Between 1982 and 2016, the number of “marine heat waves” roughly doubled, and likely will become more common and intense as the planet warms, a study found. Prolonged periods of extreme heat in the oceans can damage kelp forests and coral reefs, and harm fish and other marine life.

The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) investigated a shooting on the 1900 block of Cloverfield Blvd. According to SMPD, one individual was taken to the hospital with a non-life threatening injury to the leg.

The Clear The Shelters event encouraged residents to visit one of the 65 animal shelters in the County. Shelters offered discounted animal adoptions on an annual basis to encourage potential pet owners to pick a rescue animal and help decrease the number of pets living in shelters. The event has successfully found homes for more than 150,000 pets. Last year more than 11,500 pets were adopted as part of the event.

Downtown Santa Monica generated over a billion dollars in taxable sales, but overall sales declined by about 1.3 percent. According to the annual report, total sales for 2017 were $1,154,021,700 down from $1,169,125,200 the year before. Santa Monica place saw its sales decline by 4.5 percent from $218,458,800 in 2016 to $209,060,800. Sales on the Promenade declined by 2.9 percent from $485,877,500 in 2016 to $472,112,800. Sales along Lincoln Blvd. increased by 2 percent to $80,951,100 and the remainder of Downtown saw a bump of 1.7 percent to $391,897,000.

The Santa Monica City Council took positions on a pair of state ballot measures, formally supporting a proposal to expand rent control protections and opposing an effort to repeal a statewide gas tax. Council also voted to support a new county tax to support clean water efforts. During the November election, the rent control and gas tax provision were defeated while the clean water measure passed.

City Manager Rick Cole said the future success of the Third Street Promenade will come from a recommitment to the founding concept of the downtown: pedestrian access in a culture dominated by cars. Cole spoke at the annual Downtown Santa Monica Inc. meeting and outlined his vision for Downtown that improves the pedestrian experience on the existing streets while contemplating an expanded pedestrian zone.

The European bus company FlixBus opened in Santa Monica. The private bus company offered tickets to various destinations, including Las Vegas, for as little as $10 each way. While they are a major player in the international market, the company came to America in May and expanded its Los Angeles service to include some routes direct to/from Santa Monica.

eScooters and eBikes received dedicated parking spaces via the City’s Shared Mobility Drop Zones. The City hopes the parking spaces will clear up cluttered scooters on the street, keeping pedestrians and riders themselves safe.

A 43-year-old man was convicted in the murder of 18- year-old Juan Castillo, a Samohi graduate found shot to death in 2017. A jury found Sherwin Mendoza Espinosa guilty of second-degree murder. Espinosa faces 40 years to life in state prison.

Rock legend Roger Daltrey stopped by to visit teens undergoing cancer treatment at the UCLA Daltrey/Townshend Teen and Young Adult Cancer Center at UCLA Medical Center. The UCLA center, dedicated to supporting teens’ emotional as well as medical needs, opened five years ago and was the first of more than a dozen U.S. hospitals that have since established a center. Daltrey gave some impromptu tips on guitar-playing, signed concert photos, and visited with patients, their families and hospital nursing staff.

A 26-year-old woman recovered from a gunshot wound to her thigh after an incident at the Santa Monica Pier. The wound was not life-threatening. A nearby fisherman contacted Harbor Guards early in the morning when he saw the wounded woman. Police responded immediately but said the victim, who they believed to be from Riverside, gave conflicting statements about the moments that led up to the shooting.

A Santa Monica College student suffered cuts to his face, head and throat after a violent fight with a homeless man at Tongva Park. The attack happened as a group of college students were heading home from a late night celebrating the end of their summer vacation. While the homeless man was arrested, the District Attorney chose not to file charges saying he did not start the fight.

Several construction projects where approved for local schools including alarms, air condition, window retrofits, new floors and door replacements at Franklin. At John Adams Middle School there will be new alarms, air conditioning, pavement resurfacing, upgraded locker rooms, new synthetic turf, a new gym floor, and new water fountains and water bottle filling stations. At Samohi there is construction of a new Discovery building, science quad restoration and bathroom modifications.

Residents appealed the approval of two proposed cell phone antennas following staff approval in 2017. The Public Works department anticipates as many as 600 installations in the next few years. The small cells convert slow radio waves to fast light waves improving reception in the city but they have a much smaller range requiring more equipment placed closer together. Council denied the appeal but asked staff to revise the rules for the equipment so give them more control in the future.

An unidentified woman asked a child to leave Roosevelt elementary school with her on the first day of the new school year. The student did not leave the school and notified authorities of the incident. Officials followed up with revised pick-up protocols for school sites to increase security.

The Santa Monica Pier partnered with rideshare company Lyft to create designated dropoff/pickup locations for Pier events, including the upcoming concert series. Lyft agreed to a three-year partnership with the Santa Monica Pier Corporation and the sponsorship agreement includes a new approach to organizing rideshare trips with the goal of increasing safety while reducing congestion.

A 20-year-old Rancho Cucamonga man faced attempted murder charges in connection to an early morning shooting on the Santa Monica Pier. SMPD said Ivan Galiano was visiting the Pier when he shot a woman in the leg. About twelve hours after the shooting, Upland police officers arrested Galiano on unrelated charges. Police said he had ammunition in his possession at the time of the arrest.

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