This is part two of our annual Year in Review. SMDP staff have summarized the year’s news as was covered on the front page of the paper. Part three, covering the final four months of the year, will run in the paper of Dec. 26.


The California Court of Appeals overturned a trial court verdict against Santa Monica’s Rent Control Board. Under the ruling, the property will be returned to the rent control inventory and the board will not have to pay any fees associated with the original judgment.

The Westside’s homeless population rose about 20% this year to 3,050, the highest growth of any area in Los Angeles County, according to a January point-in-time count organized by the Los Angeles County Homeless Services Authority. The 20% increase in the homeless population reverses a 19% decrease in 2018.

Santa Monica High School’s track was named in dedication to late Patrick Cady. Cady worked at Samohi for 34 years as a social studies teacher as well as track and cross country coach.

Santa Monica’s first CBD retailer opened on Main Street.

Michelin-starred chef Stefano De Lorenzo opened Colapasta in downtown Santa Monica. Santa Monicans know De Lorenzo for La Botte, a Michelin starred restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard and 7th Street that closed in 2014, and Piccolo Venice, which shut its doors the following year.

The Santa Monica Police Department put a lieutenant on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a Los Angeles Police Department criminal investigation. Lt. Richard Lewis was put on leave after LAPD began investigating him.

The city of Santa Monica released a plan to discourage the demolition of existing homes in single-family neighborhoods. Officials have spent more than a year considering how to incentivize developers to renovate or expand homes rather than replacing them.

A group of teenagers assaulted and robbed another group of teenagers riding the Expo Line from downtown Santa Monica to Culver City. A group of five Culver City High School students between 14 and 17 years old boarded the Expo Line in Downtown Santa Monica after visiting the local beach and were attacked when they reached Culver City.

The jovial energy that typically radiates from Gilbert’s El Indio restaurant was muted with the death of the restaurant’s namesake Gilbert Rodriguez. Rodriguez was a beloved figure in the community and the successful restaurant helps define the city that he came to call home.

City Hall created a six-member task force that will decide how to trim $3.5 million from its budgets over the next three years. The city is planning to reduce spending over the next decade as it grapples with sky-high pension costs and slowing revenues.

SMMUSD agreed to pay a total of $10,000 to two parents who sued the district for allegedly forcing students to buy educational materials, violating a constitutional guarantee to a free education.

A local chef has crafted a unique, award-winning recipe–concocted mostly with General Mills products–for a good cause. Nick Shipp, head chef of Santa Monica’s New American restaurant Upper West, is the 2019 West Region Winner in General Mills’ Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest.

Sushi Sasabune lost its star chef. Nobi Kusuhara, the chef-owner of the high-end sushi restaurant Sushi Sasabune, passed away after a battle with liver cancer.

A Santa Monica resident wants to build the Uber of CPR. Matt Wolf, the founder and owner of the CPR SAVE app, wants to crowdsource certified CPR professionals and have them on call via the app to save people’s lives faster. Wolf started the app after several incidents in his own life that involved a cardiac arrest.

SMMUSD officials removed a patch of contaminated soil from John Adams Middle School to allow the long-awaited remodel of the school’s auditorium to qualify for state funding.

A group of state lawmakers traveled to the U.S. border with Mexico to visit a federal detention center and a nonprofit shelter. Officials said the trip was designed to provide a comparison between the two experiences and possibly prompt further action by elected officials. The group included several Santa Monica based officials including State Senator Ben Allen, Assemblymember Richard Bloom and former Mayor Tony Vazquez.

Santa Monica got a taste of the fictional New York City when the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on the Promenade temporarily converted into a Central Perk store from the TV show Friends. It was the first of two Friends pop-ups to take place in Santa Monica.

City Hall distributed $2 million to hundreds of low-income seniors to help pay their rent. City Council approved the Preserving Our Diversity pilot program in 2017 to set aside $200,000 to subsidize rent for long-term residents aged 62 and older who live in rent-controlled apartments. The council voted to expand the program from its initial 22 participants to up to 400 seniors.

The city of Santa Monica replaced a water main on Ocean Avenue due to two water main breaks. The water main breaks are believed to be related to partial pipe corrosion. The city is replacing the entirety of the corroded pipeline.

A man was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries after he was shot by Los Angeles Police Department officers in Venice.

The chef behind Inotheke, a modern Greek restaurant that shut its doors in downtown Santa Monica earlier this year, returned with a new concept. ELA Greek Eats opened at 307 Lincoln Blvd. in Venice, a few blocks from the Santa Monica border.

The Santa Monica Police Department arrested a suspect who attempted to rob a Brinks armored truck with a knife. The guard fired his gun at the suspect and the suspect managed to grab a bag of money before running away.

Fia, a rustic restaurant with European flair opened in the space that housed Wilshire for 14 years. New owner Michael Greco transformed the building and its spacious patio into an inviting, 300- seat villa where diners can enjoy a menu from chef Brendan Collins that blends Italian and Californian influences.

A Santa Monica teenager turned his love of exercise into a budding triathlon career. Andrew Hanson, a 17-year old Samohi senior, returned from competing in the USA National Triathlon Championships in Cleveland, Ohio.

A local startup that provides microloans to millions of people around the world who lack access to traditional banking received its own financial boost. Tala, a financial services company headquartered in Santa Monica, announced it had raised $110 million in Series D funding.

Enterprise Fish Co. celebrated 40 years in Santa Monica and to celebrate the occasion, the restaurant’s menu items and prices rolled back to what they were 40 years ago.

The first electric bus in the Big Blue Bus fleet began carrying passengers. BBB is aiming for a nearly 70% reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions by transitioning its entire fleet to electric buses by 2030, a goal City Council set three years ago.

Jurors found a man prosecutors have dubbed “The Boy Next Door Killer” was sane when he fatally stabbed two women and tried to kill a third inside their Southern California homes. The decision was announced after less than a day of deliberations in the sanity phase of the trial of Michael Gargiulo.

Santa Monica’s annual free concert series Twilight on the Pier kicked off its 35th year. Former Vampire Weekend member Rostam headlined the opening night on the Santa Monica Pier, along with musical artists Dijon and Jen Awad.

Construction workers severed a gas line at Santa Monica High School, forcing students to evacuate the pool building. Contractors working on the Discovery building severed a gas line in the science quad on the first day of school. The process caused chemicals to spill into the pool, creating a hazard for students.

Members of the Santa Monica College Symphony called for the college to reverse its decision to let their conductor’s contract expire. Since Brian Stone was hired to conduct and direct the symphony two years ago, he doubled attendance at concerts, brought in professional musicians to mentor symphony members pro bono and halved the symphony’s budget, orchestra members said.

A man was shot and killed during a family argument. Two brothers got into an argument resulting in one brother shooting and killing the second. The murder was the second death investigation for local law enforcement and public safety workers over the weekend. Police officers were also called to investigate a suicide behind a Downtown parking structure.

Construction on the Civic Center Multipurpose Sports Field began with a groundbreaking ceremony attended by local officials and community members. The 2.3 acre sports field, which is located across 4th Street from Santa Monica High School, is slated to open next summer and will provide space for Santa Monicans of all ages to play soccer, rugby and lacrosse.

City Council unanimously adopted a local law that establishes safety standards and workload limits for hotel housekeepers and requires hotels to retain workers if they change hands.

Downtown Santa Monica businesses generated $1.2 billion in taxable sales in 2018, a 6.4% increase over the previous year. The area also saw a net gain of 10 new businesses from 48 openings and 38 closings over the past year.

Swingers Diner closed. The casual eatery cited the cost of doing business as the primary reason.

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