MAY

Fredric Allan Shinerock was arrested and charged after a racially charged fight in the parking lot at the Broad Stage. In a video of the incident, Shinerock can be heard using racial slurs in an argument with a black woman over a parking space. The altercation eventually turns physical with Shinerock attempting to kick the woman who can be seen trying to punch him in the face.

The California Libertarian Party chose longtime member Honor “Mimi” Robson as their chair placing a former Santa Monica resident at the helm. Robson, who also ran as the Libertarian candidate for State Assembly in Long Beach, said she planned to reach out to disenfranchised voters to expand the party’s numbers.

The Big Blue Bus moved forward with an electric bus pilot program with a $3 million grant from the California State Transportation Agency. The funds went toward the purchase of 10 zero-emissions battery electric buses. The $10 million pilot program will add a new express service and increase ridership on some routes.

Victoria Renae Darlington was arrested near Joshua Tree National Park and was charged with murder and arson in connection with the death of her 93-year-old great-grandmother. Neighbors say Victoria was living with her great-grandmother, Geraldine Darlington, and had left the house by the time firefighters reached the home to fight the blaze that killed Geraldine earlier in the week. Police say evidence gathered at the scene led them to believe Victoria intentionally set the fire before leaving.

The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District agreed to combine Juan Cabrillo Elementary School and Point Dume Marine Science School, to consider the creation of a separate Malibu Middle School, and to reconstruct Malibu High School as part of a reimagining of schools in Malibu.

Looking for new ways to combat a rising crime rate, the Santa Monica Police Department launched a program to deploy its massive, mobile command post throughout the city. Affectionately nicknamed “Optimus Crime” by officers, the 30-foot vehicle has two conference rooms, air-conditioning, a refrigerator and access to the city’s incident management system and law enforcement software. Generally reserved for big events like the Twilight Concert Series and major incidents, Optimus Crime was deployed to places like local parks.

A report on Santa Monica public employee salaries found unelected city leaders are among the best paid in the area. The report from Moss Adams found the city’s senior leadership makes about 15 percent more than the median when compared among peers – an average of $215,000 a year compared to $188,000 per year.

SMMUSD Vice President Jon Kean held a special screening of his film ‘After Auschwitz.’ The documentary details the lives of six women and their lives after the Holocaust “interacting with the changing face of America in the second half of the 20th century.”

Santa Monica Firefighters rescued a young man who was spotted 30 feet down the side of the bluffs at Palisades Park. Preliminary reports from the fire department said the man was trapped over the steep hillside. It took 20 Firefighters approximately 32 minutes from the initial 911 call to rescue the victim who was then evaluated by paramedics for injuries and mental health status.

Landlords were authorized to raise the rent in controlled units 2.9 percent as part of the annual general adjustment allowed under the City Charter.

The local tourism industry continued to grow in with 8.7 million visitors spending an average of 1.36 days in Santa Monica, a 3.6 percent increase. Visitor spending increased five percent, nearing the $2 billion mark, with the average visitor spending $166 a day.

The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) held their annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. Stamp Out Hunger is the largest single-day food drive in the nation, racking up 75 million pounds of food nationwide last year for those in need.

The city’s human resources department said it would develop a formal compensation philosophy to guide labor negotiations after reviewing an independent audit of Santa Monica’s public employee salaries. The City Council also asked staff members to increase transparency online by breaking down how much employees are paid and their benefits.

The Coalition For Affordable Housing organized a picket of the Blackstone Group. According to protesters, Blackstone opposed expanding rent control rules statewide. In addition, protesters said that Blackstone and a subsidiary, Innovation Homes, charge “exorbitant rent increases while failing to address serious maintenance issues.”

Santa Monica College’s Brother to Brother mentor program helped local youth with the transition to adulthood. Brother to Brother is a program designed to mentor young black and Latino male students, pairing up John Adams Middle school (JAMS) students with college student mentors from Santa Monica College (SMC). The program was created in 2016 between a close-working partnership between JAMS assistant principal Dr. Joseph Eure and SMC counselor Dr. Paul Jimenez, with Jimenez adding Black Collegians’ Sherri Bradford and the Adelante program’s Maria Martinez as being instrumental in supporting and developing programs like this to support students.

Santa Monica failed to meet its own affordable housing goals for the third consecutive year, building less than half of the required affordable units. According to a report on Propositions R and I presented to the city, only 13 percent of the residences built were affordable. The City Charter requires 30 percent of new construction be affordable but developers have failed to meet that measurement for several years.

The Santa Monica Police Department investigated two unrelated gun crimes that occurred over the span of a couple of days. In the first, SMPD found a dead, male victim with a single gunshot wound in Alley 24 in the area of the 2300 block of 24th Street. Officers determined it was a suicide. In the second incident no-one was hurt when a group of individuals fired at a victim during a verbal argument.

The old Post Office building in Downtown Santa Monica was once again under new ownership with plans to eventually reoccupy the landmarked building. The property was sold to Allied Santa Monica LLC for $30,000,300. The former owners, SkyDance Productions, purchased the property in 2014 for about $27 million but never occupied the site.

In a 3-2 decision, the Landmarks Commission found wo Western Sycamore trees on California Avenue have “noteworthy interest or value” and are a “familiar visual feature of a neighborhood,” two of the six criteria needed to become a landmark. The debate over whether the trees deserved the distinction became a lightning rod, revealing a split between vocal residents and city staff over whether the trees met the standard (the official city report said they did not) but the Commission eventually chose to landmark the plants.

A Bird rider was sent to the hospital with head trauma in one of the first serious accidents involving the scooters. The rider collided with a car at the corner of 9th Street and Washington Avenue. First responders took the rider, who had been operating a Bird-branded motorized scooter, to a local hospital. Investigators determined the driver of a Honda sedan was heading Westbound on Washington Avenue and had the right-of way. Washington Avenue does not have a stop sign at the intersection. The Bird rider was heading north and did not come to a stop at the posted sign.

After months of delays, Lincoln Middle School’s reconstructed track and field opened. Features of the freshly-built track and field include synthetic turf with environmentally-friendly cork infill, a six lane synthetic track, upgraded and enlarged ADA-compliant restrooms, and the return of lights for the field. The field will be shared by students of LMS as well as City of Santa Monica due to a Joint Use Agreement the city and school have had since 2003.

The Rent Control Board limited the amount of taxes landlords can pass along to tenants to $35 or four percent of their rent, whichever is lower. The new limit provided the most relief for tenants in buildings that have been sold and reassessed during Santa Monica’s recent real estate boom.  Surcharges for about 70 percent of rent controlled tenants are already less than $35, according to a city report. The median surcharge amount is $24.41.

The City began gathering public feedback for a new Parks and Recreation Master Plan. The plan was last updated in 1997 and events where held throughout the city to determine resident priorities.

The City announced plans for changes to 17th Street near the Expo station including a protected bike lane, more lighting, curb extensions and other improvements for carless commuters. City staff anticipate finishing the project by fall of 2021.

Negin Singh the new Executive Director of the Santa Monica Pier Corporation oversaw her first major event with Pier 360. The two-day event included 13 ocean sports competitions, a popup skate ramp, sand sculptures, a beer garden and live music. The summer kick-off event was part of a newly reimagined programming schedule that pushed the annual Twilight Concert Series into the fall.

A Latino parent group reestablished itself in the community to provide a singular home for Spanish speaking parents, students, and community members of Santa Monica High School. The group, Parents, Estudiantes, y Maestros Asociación (PEMA), previously existed as the Hispanic Parent Teacher Student Association then SOL before becoming going dormant. They hope to empower parents and families to become more involved in the academic development of Latino students at Samohi.

Facing ballooning pension costs, the City began reorganizing public employees by shuffling vacant positions and eliminating some jobs. City Council approved a proposed operating budget that alters 69 public positions to realign operations. Even with the departmental shuffling, the city will need to raise fees to keep up with a 4.4 percent rise in compensation costs for Fiscal Year 2018-2019.

Samohi student Rex Evans made history at the debate Tournament of Champions (TOC) at the University of Kentucky by becoming the first sophomore to ever reach the final round in Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debate. Evans debated the resolution “Plea bargaining ought to be abolished in the United States criminal justice system” and clinched second place out of the country’s top 88 competitors.

The City Council increased the maximum allowable size for Accessory Dwelling Units on large lots, increasing the allowable floor area from 650 square feet to 800 square feet on lots larger than 6,000 square feet. The Council also removed a 250 square foot restriction for second floor ADUs to allow homeowners to build apartments above their garages. The average ADU submitted for plan check in the city is between 350 to 550 square feet.

Samohi’s performing arts department earned several Jerry Herman award nominations. The Jerry Herman awards “constructively support local high school performing arts programs” from both private and public high schools. Schools apply for the awards, then Hollywood Pantages theater sends volunteer judges to determine nominees for the awards, with best actor award finalists awarded a trip to New York to participate in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards (The Jimmys).

President Trump became one of the most notable faces in the city’s ragtag collection of street performers alongside North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The performers used a new generation of realistic masks to portray the two men to both the delight and dismay of passersby.  

After a sudden break in the case, police arrested the man who allegedly threatened to bomb a jewelry store on Montana Avenue before escaping into the nearby neighborhood and vanishing for months. Santa Monica Police Department officers arrested 32-year-old Los Angeles resident Robert Art Abalov for the February incident when man walked into Curated Los Angeles at 1603 Montana Avenue holding a suspicious device and demanded jewelry. The suspect dropped the merchandise, jumped into a getaway car and hit several parked cars, injuring one person, before fleeing the area on foot.

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