Bulger's mugshot. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

OCTOBER

Beauty Bus, a Santa Monica-based nonprofit, teamed up with St John’s to provide terminally or chronically ill patients who don’t often get the chance to indulge in feeling good about themselves with beauty services to improve self-esteem.

SMMUSD began policy revisions to protect immigrant students. Revisions were made to reflect law AB 699, a law the Immigrant Legal Resource Center describes as requiring “all local educational agencies in California to implement additional protections to ensure that all students, regardless of immigration status or country of birth, have the opportunity to pursue their education without undue fear or risk.”

Uber officially joined the scooter fray with the launch of their bright orange devices under the Jump brand. Jump is one of four companies chosen to operate dockless bikes or scooters in Santa Monica with Lime, Bird and Lyft. The Jump brand scooters were the last to hit the streets as part of the City’s pilot program.

The world of Major League Eating mad a new home on the Pier. The first-annual Pacific Park World Taco-Eating Championship was held on National Taco Day. The event featured 15 Major League Eating competitors from across the nation, all vying to win $5,000 in prizes and to set a new world record for the number of street-style carnitas tacos eaten in 8 minutes.

Santa Monica’s open streets festival, Coast, returned for the third time with a two-mile stretch of car-free activities along Ocean Ave and Main St. Ocean Avenue was closed from Wilshire to Colorado, Main Street will be closed from Colorado to Marine and the Colorado Esplanade was closed.

Data provided by the County of Los Angeles show methamphetamine-related visits to emergency departments began rising in about 2010 and skyrocketed in recent years. Countywide trips to emergency departments for meth use increased from about 7,000 in 2010 to about 24,000 in 2016. Visits tripled in Santa Monica and the West LA area between 2014 and 2016. Deaths attributed to the drug countywide went from 81 in 2010 to 284 in 2016.

The Santa Monica Police Department arrested a suspect in connection with a murder in Tongva Park. Joseph Ramirez Perez, 21, was arrested after a man was stabbed and killed in the park. Officers responded to the park for an assault with a deadly weapon call and found the victim suffering from a wound to the stomach.

Network, a Catholic social justice advocacy group, sent it’s Nuns on the Bus to Ocean View Park as the start of a national tour, with Nancy Pelosi in tow for their Santa Monica event. The group toured throughout the country to educate voters on what they say is a deceitfully-named Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Bird Scooters announced an expanded service that brings a scooter to a customer’s house or business by 8 a.m. with that same scooter being solely reserved for that customer throughout the entirety of the day.

Local Santa Monica restaurants and residents gathered at the Santa Monica Pier for the 4th annual Off the Hook Seafood Festival. The event raises money and environmental awareness for Heal the Bay, a non-profit organization who advocates to clean coastal waters and rivers in the Greater Los Angeles Area.

Santa Monica hosted one of the gaming industry’s biggest events, IndieCade, with organizers citing the city’s technology industry as a primary draw for attendees. The International Festival of Independent Games, better known as Indiecade hosts some of the world’s most ingenious and thought-provoking game designers and developers across all platforms.

High surf pounded much of the southern and central California coast and beachgoers were warned of dangerous waves and rip currents. The National Weather Service said a strong southerly swell from Hurricane Sergio brought waves topping 11 feet to some areas from San Diego to San Luis Obispo.

Regional officials joined the City of Malibu for a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the official opening of Malibu’s new Civic Center Water Treatment Facility. The project supports local efforts to address California’s drought by reducing the use of high-quality drinking water to irrigate our public spaces and parks. At full capacity, the treatment facility will save the Malibu community 70 million gallons of much-needed drinking water annually.

The AltCar Expo returned to Santa Monica. Cars, bikes, trucks and scooters were on hand from manufacturers such as Audi, Honda, Nissan, Tesla and more. Additionally, the event hosted panels with industry experts discussing urban planning, mass transit, energy generation, sustainable lifestyle choices, electric vehicle infrastructure and more.

The Santa Monica Police Department asked for help in investigating a gang-related incident near 18th and Michigan. Officers responded for a call of shots fired and found seven 9mm spent shell casings alongside fresh graffiti at several locations linked to a gang from Culver City.

A longtime teacher was placed on non-disciplinary leave after recounting memories of a young Stephen Miller who went on to become an advisor to Donald Trump. Nikki Fiske, a 30-year teacher at Franklin Elementary, was placed on “home assignment” after her story appeared in the Hollywood Reporter. She returned to the classroom soon after being suspended.

Middle Schooler Theodore Jiang was one of ten young scientists from across the country selected as a finalist for the 2018 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. The competition picked middle school students that demonstrated innovative, scientific thinking that could improve lives in their local communities or globally.

The City of Santa Monica’s L.E.A.R.N. (Learn, Excel, Achieve and Read Now) program returned to provide free tutoring for local  youth. The free after-school tutoring program began last year to provide homework help and more to first through eighth graders.

SMMUSD established a Mariachi Education pilot program at Edison elementary school with the goal of eventually branching out to more school sites. SMMUSD said the goal is to provide students of various ethnicities “an exceptional educational experience that would expand their cultural awareness and promote a lifelong appreciation for music.”

The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District launched an energy dashboard to monitor energy usage throughout the district in conjunction with a districtwide energy-saving competition. The dashboard contains information such as comparisons of energy use amongst schools, energy and cost savings, and how much solar energy a given school site is generating.

A City employee was arrested for child molestation related to volunteer work with the Santa Monica Police Activities League (PAL). Eric Uller, an analyst with the city was arrested by the Los Angeles County Sheriff ’s Department and charged with several felonies for conduct dating back more than a decade. Some residents accused officials of ignoring complaints about Uller for years and the City is in the midst of an internal investigation. Uller killed himself several weeks after his arrest.

Council approved joining a local power generation project at the highest level of renewable energy. Santa Monica will be part of a Community Choice Aggregation system next year that gives customers the ability to choose who they purchase electricity from and what percentage they receive from renewable sources. Locals will be automatically enrolled in a default option as of January 1.

A local attorney filed a class action lawsuit against two scooter companies alleging the scooters themselves are unsafe, the distribution model is illegal and the companies should be held liable for the bad behavior of some riders. The suit, filed by the firms Costell & Cornelius and McGee, Lerer & Associates, names Bird and Lime as operators. It also names scooter manufacturers Xiaomi and Segway.

Council revised taxi rules as the industry continues to face massive losses brought about by changes in transportation systems. While some rules provide more flexibility for taxi companies to set rates, others will limit the ability of companies to function in Santa Monica unless they are based here. Only Taxi! Taxi! is currently able to use some city infrastructure as they are the only company based in the city.

Amazon opened its eighteenth Amazon Books store at Waterside in Marina Del Rey. The retail location is the Amazon shopping experience made physical with shelves lined with books, recommendations for those books, Amazon-branded devices, a locker to have items shipped to and more.

City Council voted to create legislation to protect hotel workers from sexual violence and unreasonable workloads, as well as train them to identify human trafficking when it occurs in their workplaces.

Santa Monica’s last factory announced it will close early in 2019 after battling parking issues, rising rent and labor costs. Pioneer Magnetics had manufactured power supplies for six decades in Santa Monica. Television and radio stations, financial institutions, flight simulators, ultrasounds, and computers around the world all use technology manufactured on Berkeley Street but the company was sold.

Council changed rules to allow Santa Monicans to charge their vehicles overnight at the city’s public charging ports. Though there are currently only four public ports in Santa Monica, all of which are located in Virginia Avenue Park, the City is planning to install at least 10 more in Clover, Gandara, Marine, Memorial, and Airport parks.

The City of Malibu celebrated the Marine Protected Areas that preserve the coastal environment at Honor the Ocean. The event included blessings from local native American tribes and participation from several ocean-themed organizations.

The City of Santa Monica prosecuted four major cases for minimum wage violations on its path to a $15 minimum wage in 2020, three of which convicted hotels or businesses operating inside them. Working with the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs Wage Enforcement Unit, the City has ordered the convicted businesses pay a total of $45,000 in penalties and $47,000 in back wages for more than 60 employees.

James “Whitey” Bulger, the murderous Boston gangster who benefited from a corrupt relationship with the FBI before spending 16 years as one of America’s most wanted men, was slain in federal prison. He was 89. Bulger was previously arrested in Santa Monica after years on the run.

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