The number of homeless people living in Los Angeles County fell for the first time in four years, showing a decrease of three percent in 2018, according to numbers from the County’s annual count. During three nights in January, volunteers found 13,369 homeless people in shelters and 39,826 on the streets. Santa Monica’s homeless population increased four percent over the same time period, with 957 homeless in the city by the sea.

The Santa Monica Airport Commission began debate on new rules for leasing space to aviation related businesses. The new standards included insurance rules, security requirements, application procedures, general operator requirements and specialized rules for individual types of businesses. The first draft of the rules angered airport critics and supporters but a revised draft was eventually adopted by Council.

The Los Angeles Business Council gave a Santa Monica media company top honors for its new offices inside the Pen Factory near Bergamot Station at their annual architecture awards. Awesomeness, an entertainment brand that caters to teenagers, has offices in the East Wing of the recently remodeled 1950’s era Papermate factory. The company’s new offices were designed by architect Skidmore,Owings & Merrill LLP. It was one of 54 projects that took home honors during the 48th annual LABC Architecture Awards.

Police arrested a 32-year-old Santa Monica man on attempted murder charges after responding to a stabbing at 26th Street and Pico Boulevard. Christopher Cosgrove was accused of stabbing the victim in the neck. Paramedics took the victim to a nearby hospital where they underwent surgery and survived.

Officials broke ground on a new $41.2 million fire station to serve downtown Santa Monica. The new state-of-the-art facility at 1337 7th Street is scheduled to be finished in 2020 and will replace a seismically unsafe 1950s-era station down the street. The groundbreaking ceremony capped a decades long effort to build the 28,000 square-foot station, which required a land swap with local developer NMS Properties.

Samohi’s varsity lacrosse team ended the season with an 11-7 record this year—including a 5-0 record against league rivals—to win back-to-back Ocean League Championships. Additionally, seven of the team’s players were all-league first team selections while others were named to the league’s second team.

An attorney for the family of an Italian honeymooner who was killed when a driver barreled down the Venice Beach Boardwalk said Los Angeles approved a $12 million settlement in the case. Attorney Greg Bentley said the City Council approved the settlement Tuesday with the family of Alice Gruppioni. Gruppioni was killed and 17 pedestrians and peddlers were injured in August 2013.

The Santa Monica Pier Beach continued to be one of the most polluted in the state according to the annual Beach Report Card released by Heal the Bay. The Pier has received a failing grade for the past six years due to a variety of systemic issues but officials said there’s hope for improvement in the near future.

Santa Monica’s new C3 team, a collection of social workers giving individual care to Santa Monica’s revolving homeless population, hit the streets.  The team spends about five hours a day talking to every homeless people. The city is contracting with Los Angeles County to provide the social workers as part of the Council’s $1.4 million plan to connect homeless residents with services. The team works with nonprofits and medical volunteers to provide aid and help move people toward housing.

A car broke through part of the safety cables in Parking Structure 5 (1440 4th Street) and was suspended over 4th Street for about an hour while firefighters worked to secure the vehicle. The elderly driver inadvertently pressed the accelerator instead of the brakes sending the car over the edge. The driver was helped out of the vehicle by a bystander who witnessed the incident.

City Hall established a pilot program to regulate e-scooters. The rules set a dynamic device cap based on utilization, require vendors to create interactive safety education for users and increase the availability of helmets for riders at the time of use, require operators to share real-time utilization data with the City, allow up to four operators to be selected to participate made up of at least two electric scooter and two electric bike options, require equitable distribution throughout the City, require systems that will remedy improper parking, including pick up/drop off zones and incentives and enhance customer service.

Santa Monicans gathered at Virginia Ave. Park for the annual Juneteenth Celebration. Santa Monica has recognized Juneteenth since 1993 thanks to the efforts of longtime resident LaVerne Ross who helped found the event marking the date the last slaves learned of their freedom.

The legal agreement allowing Santa Monica to close its airport in 2029 survived another protracted court battle when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected a challenge brought by aviation groups. The court rejected the argument that the Consent Decree between the City of Santa Monica and the FAA amounted to “procedural trickery” and exceeded the Federal Aviation Administration’s authority.

The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District agreed to move forward on a revision to its food and nutrition program, allocating money to improve Malibu HS and Samohi kitchens as well as offering more food and food purchasing options for students. Challenges to the current system include low participation rate, some dissatisfaction with food offerings, outdated kitchen equipment (an average age of 58 years old) or non-functioning equipment, and accessibility issues such as long lines and short lunch periods, and budget concerns.

A free Santa Monica Police Department event to etch license plate numbers onto catalytic converters was fully booked within hours as residents and officers worked to thwart a common crime. Each converter is tagged with the driver’s license plate number and a coat of neon paint, which could help lead to an arrest if the parts show up at a chop shop outside of town.

Home sharing sites Airbnb and HomeAway lost a legal challenge to the City’s new rules. The companies have to verify hosts are properly registered with the City of Santa Monica before booking guests. The judge said the city has a right to keep the international websites from facilitating illegal business transactions locally. Santa Monica’s strict home sharing ordinance prohibits the use of apartments, condominiums and houses for short-term rentals unless the host is present during the stay.

World renowned architect Frank Gehry’s signature Santa Monica project sailed through its final preliminary review as the City Council lauded the design as “iconic.” The project’s centerpiece, a curving 12-story hotel tower, will be wrapped in white metal to reflect the golden hues of the setting sun from its perch on Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. The project now includes a 115-room hotel, a 40,000 square foot museum, about 80 apartments including 19 rent-controlled units and 18 deed restricted “affordable” units, 24,700 square feet of retail space, and a 5,000 square foot public observation deck.

The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District agreed to create two separate fundraising vehicles for Santa Monica and Malibu. Guided by representatives of the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation (SMMEF), PTA Council, Malibu PTAs, Malibu principals, several Board members and others, the proposed plan would ensure that money raised for Malibu goes to Malibu and money raised for Santa Monica goes to Santa Monica. The newly proposed fundraising structure is similar to the School Facility Improvement Districts for Malibu and Santa Monica.

A local property owner pleaded “no contest” to five misdemeanor counts of operating an unlawful business after city officials accused him of running nine illegal vacation homes in the city. After flouting Santa Monica’s strict rules governing short term rentals for over a year, Shabi Jafri was ordered to pay $3,600, perform 140 hours of community service and shut down the illegal rentals.

A group of neighbors chased down an alleged cell phone thief, tackling him to the ground and holding him until police could get to the scene. The suspect, 18-yearold Darnell Manuel, faced robbery charges. The chase began, when the man allegedly snatched a cell phone out of a woman’s hand while she walked her dog near 7th Street and Alta Avenue.

The controversy over two, new public bathrooms at Clover Park had reached City Council with complaints about the $2.3 million price tag for two buildings to house toilets. Council approved the expense after a brief discussion.

California lawmakers passed legislation that put more conditions on state film tax credits to encourage better sexual harassment reporting and diverse hiring amid revelations of misconduct and discrimination in the movie industry. The legislation requires feature film and television projects that apply for the credits, which are assigned based on jobs created, to report diversity statistics to the state and designate people to handle misconduct claims. The revised tax credit program, worth as much as $330 million a year, would also require applicants to submit their policy prohibiting harassment and retaliation.

The popular Summer Soulstice concert returned to Main street, bringing live music, shopping, and beer and wine gardens. The event was the Soulstice’s largest, closing down a large chunk of the street for the first time in its history.

A violent criminal was sentenced to 32 years in prison for a string of Santa Monica assaults. Brian Noah Morgan pleaded no contest to two counts of attempted murder and two counts of second degree robbery. His admission included a special allegation of using a knife during the crimes. Morgan was charged in connection with three incidents over a span of about a week including robbing a couple unloading their daughter’s wedding gifts from their car, a violent home invasion robbery on 17th St. and a stabbing on 19th Street.

The rent control board capped rent increases at $60 a month. Increases for rent-controlled units are subject to two caps: a percentage and a fixed dollar amount. The percentage is mandated by the city’s rent control rules and is determined by a fixed formula that yielded a 2.9 percent increase this year. The board is not required to establish a dollar limit but can do so utilizing a separate formula that yields a $60 cap. Rent controlled tenants will pay either a 2.9 percent increase or $60, whichever is lower.

Russell Gordon Sherman, 92, received a lifetime achievement award from the International Titanium Association. The Santa Monica resident developed process that significantly expanded the use of titanium into high-tech industrial applications such as air and space vehicles.

A dozen local liquor store owners faced a lawsuit targeting over the counter sex enhancement pills. A Texas-based supplement company, Outlaw Laboratory, said store owners are profiting from products that secretly contain sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. Despite a reformulation by the manufacturer, the substance continued to show up in the pills and the lawsuit has spread to several states.

Chefs Mark Mittleman and Danny Snukal resurfaced on Broadway with Tacos Punta Cabras. The sleek, modern restaurant is a departure from their previous hole-in-the-wall taco spot but retained some of the same menu items while expanding the total offerings.  

Mel’s Drive-in opened at the end of Route 66. The restaurant, located at Lincoln and Olympic, was eagerly awaited by locals and tourists alike. Owners of the business said they were excited to open along the iconic roadway and fill a hole in the local dining market.

Code Enforcement opened an investigation into a property on 10th Street connected to prominent developer Neil Shekhter. The complex has been the subject of a multitude of complaints and audits in multiple City departments since renovations began in early 2016 and the most recent investigation concerned the number of rental units that would be available in the property.

The Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce hosted its 93rd Annual Installation Dinner with the induction of new boardmembers, a presentation of awards, and a showcase of local businesses. The Dinner signaled the installation of the new 2018 – 2019 Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce Board led by the incoming Board Chair Jeff Klocke, Vice President and General Manager at Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier.

A parking study concluded a new field at the Civic Center site should not be impacted by a potential loss of parking spots. Plans to build a field in the Civic parking lot require approval from the Coastal Commission and the City Hall said the study had been required by the Commission as a condition for hearing the application.

The Santa Monica Bowls Club held an engagement process to educate the public and encourage new members. The club meets four days a week to engage in this bowling-meets-golfing sport on the greens of Douglas Park. In lawn bowling, teams ranging from one to four players meet on a level grass playing field. To begin the game, a player rolls a small white ball, a “jack,” as far as they can. From there players from both teams alternate rolling lawn bowling balls toward the jack.

About 100 college students and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) members organized at Venice Beach to protest the consumption of fish and to advocate for veganism. Protesters held up signs with slogans like “Fish are not swimming vegetables” and “Sea Life not Seafood” and handed out flyers with facts about fish consumption.

A 44-year-old Santa Monica resident was sentenced to 33 years in prison for a bizarre carjacking incident where the victim was forced into the trunk of his own car and then abandoned in the middle of nowhere. Jason Levi Garza pleaded no contest to carjacking and admitted using a handgun as a deadly and dangerous weapon. The carjacking took place at the UCLA campus on Oct. 3, 2016, when Garza pointed a gun at a man and ordered him to drive to a second location. Once they stopped, Garza forced the victim into the car’s trunk and drove around for more than six hours before releasing the hostage in Castaic.

Construction began at the intersection of 4th and Colorado to install a new sculpture and the work had temporary impacts on travel through the area. The closures facilitated installation of the sculpture “Saint Monica’s Tears” by artist Walter Hood. Hood is one of eight artists commissioned to create new artwork.

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