JULY

Council approved a ballot measure designed to restrict some development decisions. The measure required a supermajority vote to amend the city’s land use plans. The supermajority requirement would not apply to development agreements for individual projects, discussions which have produced the most community controversy in the past. Rather, it restricts the ability of future Councils to increase height and density allowances in the Land Use and Circulation Element and Downtown Community Plan. Opponents of the measure said it would do little to stop development while enflaming a debate that had calmed significantly since the controversy of Measure LV in 2016.  

City Council abandoned a proposal to establish Labor Peace Agreements on city-owned property. The idea met with significant opposition from local restaurant owners. After directing staff to explore potential models for mandating a no-strike agreement with a union in leases on the Pier, the beach and at the airport, the majority of the Council said the idea was too fraught with potential legal and economic challenges.

The annual 4th of July Parade lined Main Street. The parade featured about 1,500 participants, including many from schools in the area. In addition, some 13,000 to 15,000 people are expected to attend the parade. As always, the parade was sponsored by the Ocean Park Association (OPA).

Local historians rallied to save the City’s last remaining horse hitch. Mitch Lachman and Richard Orton were concerned because the small metal ring was being paved over to help repair the sidewalk. After an appeal to city manager Rick Cole, the sidewalk work was undone and the hitch preserved for a brief ceremony after the July 4th Parade.

The summer season brought some unexpected weather fluctuations to Santa Monica. The season started relatively mild, with deep intrusion of the marine layer keeping mornings cool. However, that changed when a lightning storm moved through the region forcing evacuations of the Santa Monica Beach and a heat wave then settled over the City for several days.

The Los Angeles ice cream company known for guilt-free pints expanded into cones, sandwiches and tacos. Halo Top announced plans to open its third brick-and-mortar location at 304 Santa Monica Boulevard near the Third Street Promenade, between Yogurtland and BIBIBOP Asian Grill.

The Police Department said it needed to replace the 125 cameras along the Pier and Third Street Promenade. Many of the cameras initially installed at Santa Monica’s busiest tourist destinations and nearby alleyways are now inoperable according to SMPD.  The City Council had already approved a $1.5 million contract with Convergint Technologies to replace the analog system with digital cameras and eventually expand the police department’s closed circuit television system to other parts of the city over the next five years.

A ballot measure to establish term limits officially qualified for the ballot. Local advocates, spearheaded by Mary Marlow and Sue Himmelrich, gathered enough signatures to qualify the measure for the November Election. Measure limited Councilmembers to 12 years.

A man was arrested for murder after a body was found outside a local hospital. Police arrested Daniel Roy Davis after a security guard discovered a body slumped over on a bench at Providence St. John’s Health Center. Detectives say the man suffered a blunt force injury to his upper torso and Davis was found a few blocks from the scene.

A Bird-sponsored State Assembly Bill to rework the rules governing electric scooters by nixing the adults helmet requirement cleared the Senate Transportation and Housing Committing. The bill, AB 2989, bans motorized scooters from any highway with a speed limit greater than 35 miles per hour unless in a bike lane, but only requires helmets for riders under the age of 18. The rule was eventually passed into law and will be effective January 1.

The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District adopted an adjusted Local Control Accountability Plan expected to carry the district through the 2020 school year. The LCAP update adjusts the district’s progress, needs, and plans to satiate those needs. The plan was approved after receiving feedback from the Los Angeles County Office of Education, who didn’t provide substantial changes to the LCAP presented to public, save for minor wording changes and a few additional expenditures.

Japan Airlines hosted ‘Jal Soraiku’ at Roosevelt elementary school bringing hosts to local schools in grades kindergarten and up to teach students about Japan’s culture. Around 170 transitional kindergarten through 5th grade students throughout the Santa Monica Malibu Unified school district were on hand to attend the event as part of the district’s after school program.

Officials scrambled to address problems exposed by the sudden explosion of e-scooters in Los Angeles County. In particular a patchwork of overlapping regulations and fuzzy definitions in state laws temporarily allowed scooters unfettered access to the beach path. Officials ultimately banned the scooters from the path and clarified rules to limit their use to established streets.

The Rent Control Board began debate over corporate tenants, nearly a month after a newly remodeled rent control building on Tenth Street appeared on corporate housing websites. Initially there was no regulation to prevent a company from becoming a tenant in a rent control building.

A 32-year old Las Vegas man was charged in connection with a 2016 violent home invasion in Santa Monica where the homeowner was shot in the torso. Vacho Shahen was already in custody at a Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia when he was charged with attempted murder, robbery and burglary for crimes allegedly committed in California. During the crime, the homeowner walked in on a burglar wearing a mask from the movie Scream. The burglar shot the homeowner and then ran away. The victim survived the shooting.

The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories moved locations within Santa Monica Place to a 3,000 square feet site, roughly triple the size of their last location. The Gourmandise offers hands on classes for aspiring chefs and home cooks at all levels. Technique courses like knife skills, eggs and sauces teach the foundations of cooking without a recipe.

The Santa Monica Public Library reopened its popular beach library program. During the summer months, the library brings beach reads to the actual beach to facilitate reading where it’s likely to happen during the summer months.

Residents near the beach continued to see crime overtake the Santa Monica Chess Park. Witnesses documented drug sales, prostitution, assaults and several other crimes in the area that is supposed to be used for games, including as a site for local youth organizations.

The Santa Monica Pier continued to expand its summer programming in the absence of the Twilight Concert Series that had been moved to the fall. It’s Summer Series Pier.We.Go., was a triad of events held directly on the Pier from July to August.

In an effort to combat an ongoing national opioid epidemic, CVS Health installed medication disposal units throughout stores in Southern California to dispose of unused opioids. One of the disposal units was located at the CVS on 2505 Santa Monica Boulevard. The Santa Monica Blvd location was chosen as it’s a centrally located 24 hour pharmacy, giving the community any time of day to dispose of opioids.

School Board member Craig Foster was the first person to attend a meeting with the City Clerk’s office that is a requirement before potential candidates can receive paperwork to run for office. As the first attendee at the meeting, Foster was the first to officially pull papers but he wasn’t the first individual to declare his intent to run in November. Local businessman Greg Morena previously announced his intent to run for City Council.

Santa Monica finalized its Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan (LUP) proposal. The document is submitted to the Coastal Commission and would help Santa Monica retain control over development along the coastal border. The commission initially raised concerns over city rules that could have deterred visitors to the state-owned beach but the wide-ranging plan outlining development standards for about 1.5 square miles of the city was eventually adopted by City leaders.

Swimmer Abby Bergman completed swimming’s “Triple Crown” by finishing the almost 30-mile course through the New York rivers. Bergman swam the English Channel last year and began her triptych with a swim from Catalina Island in 2016.

The number of Airbnb listings in Santa Monica decreased by 17 percent following a city-wide enforcement effort and recent judge’s ruling intended to crack down on illegal listings. There were 1,016 total available listings in Santa Monica in June 2018, compared to 1,215 in June 2017, including entire homes, private rooms and shared rooms for rent.

After approving separate Facilities Improvement Districts and splitting nonprofit fundraising for the Santa Monica and Malibu communities, SMMUSD voted to seek an election in both communities for a pair of bonds.

Law enforcement stepped up investigations in Malibu Creek State Park after a series of unsolved shooters were publicized. In one case, Tristan Beaudette, was shot and killed while camping with his two young daughters in the park. A suspect was eventually arrested for the murder and several crimes in the area.

For four years in a row, the Westside Aquatics water polo club sent several water polo teams and their athletes to compete in the Junior Olympics. The club sent six teams to the Junior Olympics this year.

Four new restaurants were announced as part of a redevelopment project on the 3000 block of Wilshire. Fast casual burger joint The Habit, Mediterranean eatery Luna Grill and sandwich shop Jimmy John’s will be part of the development. Italian restaurant La Scala will relocate to the Wilshire location as the fourth tenant.

The City began a three-day enforcement campaign to get electric scooters off the Strand. No tickets were issued and no scooters were impounded, despite the city’s stance the devices are illegal on the beach path. Rather, police stopped approximately 900 riders, encouraging them to park the scooters on the curb and walk instead.

A court-appointed receiver assumed control of Ocean Towers Housing Corporation. The Los Angeles Superior Court order instructed the independent mediator to immediately hold an election for a new board of directors to head the 317-unit building. The move by Judge Lisa Hart Cole follows years of turmoil between the co-op’s current board and shareholders, resulting in mounting legal fees at 201 Ocean Avenue. Shareholder Michael Reach’s lawsuit claims board member John Spahi and CEO Joseph Orlando have brought the homeowners association (HOA) to the brink of insolvency through mismanagement and “gross abuses of loyalty and trust.”

Nearly 1,000 television stations, including a number in the Los Angeles area, began changing their frequencies. The first station to move was KTLA. The frequency changes will not affect people who watch TV on cable or satellite, but will affect the 77 million Americans who watch TV over the air.

The city began a debate over how to respond to the statewide Proposition 10. If passed, Prop 10 would have expanded rent control in the state. However the precise language of the measure conflicted with elements of the City Charter and could have created significant problems if left unaltered. Council and the Rent Control Board decided against a preemptive solution and instead said they’d wait to see how the election played out. Prop 10 failed at the ballot box eliminating the need for any additional legislation.

An empty corner near the Santa Monica Pier was converted from a hotbed of antisocial and even illegal activity to a pop-up restaurant space featuring a new fries vendor. The city of Santa Monica hopes that the corner of Colorado and Ocean, a spot directly across from the Pier can become a more welcoming experience after years of homeless activity.

The annual Montana Avenue Art Walk returned bringing change in its size as well as giving merchants more creative freedom in an effort to attract more visitors and expand the event to a festival-size.

A Santa Monica woman was punched by a homeless man at 2nd and Wilshire but what hurt the woman more were the men at the scene who did nothing to help. Kady Elliott was on a morning bike ride home after an exercise class when she was hit while crossing the street but she said the lack of empathy from the witnesses was as startling as the punch.

City Council approved a $5 million project to paint twenty miles of green bike lanes, adding thousands of more racks and installing video cameras at intersections to give green lights to bikes and scooters. The striping improvements will move ahead as city staffers finalize a massive remodel of 17th Street that will create the city’s first parking-protected bike lane and Dutch intersections. The project is partially funded by a 2009 Metro grant for $2 million, supplemented by a future public right-of-way fee charged to participants in the city’s upcoming electric bike and scooter pilot project.

The popular beach parking lot adjacent to the Pier can no longer be used for special events. The change was prompted by an increase in yearly visitors to the Pier and beach area that has created year-round demand for parking at the site.

Actor Ving Rhames revealed police pointed a gun at him in his own home after a neighbor called 9-1-1 to report a large black man breaking in. During a radio interview he said he was alone in his house in the NOMA neighborhood when he heard noises outside. When he opened the door, he found officers pointing a gun at him and the situation was resolved when he recognized one of the officers as a fellow parent at a local school.

After five days battling the Cranston Fire in Idyllwild, a team of four Santa Monica firefighters began a 600 mile trek to the Mendocino Complex where twin blazes threatened thousands of homes, forcing 15,000 evacuations. Crews from across the state were in a race against time as flames threatened small towns in a rural area of lakes, forests and mountains.

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