Local artist Jonas Never commemorated the Angels pitcher and Samohi alum with a mural.

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.

 

JULY

WS Communities, a spinoff of developer NMS Properties, threatened to sue the city after City Council temporarily banned micro-apartments in response to the developer applying to construct 363 units between 219 and 373 square feet. The city and WS reached a settlement that allows the developer to build the six projects on an expedited schedule under certain conditions.

Dozens of people experiencing homelessness got free haircuts, showers and massages at Rose Avenue and Third Street in Venice. The event was organized by YouTuber Jesse Wellens, who lives around the corner and said he wanted to help people experiencing homelessness in his neighborhood.

Rent increases for rent controlled units were limited to 2% with a maximum monthly increase of $44. Rent control increases are governed by formulas in the City Charter and while the Rent Control Board has no control over the percentage increase they do have a choice when setting the additional dollar cap.

Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died at the age of 27, stunning Major League Baseball and leading to the postponement of the team’s game against the Texas Rangers. Skaggs was a Samohi grad with a strong local following.

Santa Monica celebrated the nation’s independence with a 4th of July parade featuring floats, bands and community groups.

Fewer kindergarteners in Santa Monica were vaccinated this past school year, according to data released by the California Department of Public Health. Before the state repealed its personal belief exemption for vaccines in 2015, the vaccination rates of many Santa Monica kindergartens averaged 75% or lower, far below the 95% threshold that is considered safe. Since the law took effect in 2016, many local schools raised their kindergarten vaccination rates above 95%. But in the 2018-2019 school year, several public and private schools reported vaccination rates in their kindergarten classes lower than rates in the 2017-2018 school year, indicating that the effect of state and local efforts to promote immunization may be weakening.

Every micromobility company authorized to operate in Santa Monica except Lyft has raised prices on scooters and bikes, making public options like Breeze Bike Share substantially cheaper than the venture capital-funded dockless devices.

The Santa Monica Public Library discussed additional security measures in response to an assault and vandalism that occurred at the Main Library. John William Randall, a 49-year-old transient, was arrested June 26 after fighting with another homeless man over a computer, and several volumes in the periodicals area were sprayed with a liquid that staff believes is likely urine.

Cynthia McGregory was named as the principal of Franklin Elementary School at an SMMUSD meeting. Gregory is a familiar face of Franklin who is beloved by the community and the school board.

City Council chambers were approved for a $450,000 upgrade. City Council approved the improvements to the chambers’ audiovisual, agenda and meeting management systems at the urging of city staff, who said the existing equipment and software, which were installed in 2009, are becoming obsolete and unreliable.

Construction on three miles of walking and biking paths along Santa Monica State Beach began. Council approved a $12.3 million contract with two engineering firms for renovations to the Santa Monica Beach Trail and Ocean Front Walk that will make the paths safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

The Santa Monica Daily Press introduced readers to the term “vanlord” with a story on Gary Gallerie who lives in a van in Venice and rents out another 14, most of which don’t run. Bearing bumper stickers that proclaim “Van life is not a crime,” they sit in front of the neighborhood’s multimillion dollar homes for weeks at a time.

Maty Ezraty, co-founder of YogaWorks, which helped spread the practice of yoga across Los Angeles and throughout the country, died this week while visiting Tokyo. She was 55 years old.

Partners Peter Trinh and Jeremy Adler took the dark, enclosed space that cocktail bar Copa d’Oro occupied for 10 years and turned it into a bright lounge, Lanea, where patrons unwind with drinks featuring health and wellness ingredients and tacos made by Barba Kush owner Petra Zavaleta.

The Rent Control Board recommended to City Council that renters should be allowed to challenge citations that code enforcement officers issue to their landlords. The board voted unanimously to write a letter to the council recommending the local law be amended to allow a tenant to challenge a citation issued to their landlord pertaining to their unit.

More than 1,400 buildings in Santa Monica are still seismically vulnerable despite efforts by the city to ensure building owners retrofit their properties. A report released by the city’s building and safety department one week after two major earthquakes shook the Los Angeles area shows that 77% of vulnerable buildings in Santa Monica have not yet been earthquake-proofed.

A Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) officer non-fatally shot a man resisting arrest. Wolfgang Mountford, 29, of Van Nuys, was struck by a single gunshot after he allegedly charged an officer at about 2:15 a.m.

SMMUSD changed its employee conduct policy to better protect students from sexual abuse. The new policy sets new behavioral boundaries, mandates that every employee report misconduct that they observe or hear about, and outlines disciplinary consequences for employees, who would be defined as any adult that interacts with children, including volunteers and coaches.

Back on Broadway closed after 38 years of service. The restaurant’s sister site, Back on the Beach Cafe, will remain in operation with most employees moving to that location as well.

A change to the local regulations governing dockless devices required Bird to pull 250 scooters out of Santa Monica while allowing Lyft an additional 500 scooters and Jump 250 more bikes.

Santa Monica property values were the third-highest in Los Angeles County, according to data the county assessor released. The combined assessed value of the city’s properties has soared 27% over the past five years to $39.5 billion and is now second only to Los Angeles and Long Beach.

A black family who visited Nike’s Santa Monica Place location said the store’s manager was motivated by racism when she accused them of stealing a basketball they bought for their son and summoned police officers.

A local artist painted a mural commemorating a Los Angeles Angels player and Samohi alumnus who recently died. Jonas Never, who specializes in murals featuring local icons, painted a portrait of Tyler Skaggs near the high school where he first made his mark as a pitcher.

Hot Dog on a Stick announced plans to demolish the company’s original stand and rebuild a new beach-side stand. The remodel, which proposes a storefront five feet wider than the current structure, began in November and will finish within four to five months.

A collection of businesses and private property owners considered the formation of business improvement districts on and near the Santa Monica Pier to fund services such as litter removal, spot cleaning, visitor hospitality, business outreach and contacting homeless individuals.

Aviation industry professionals and enthusiasts gathered at the Santa Monica Museum of Flying for a reception launching Eco-Aviation Foundation International. The Santa Monica-based 501 c3 non-profit organization, founded four months ago, aims to promote awareness and early-adoption of zero emission electric aircraft technologies.

The 33 properties in Santa Monica with development agreements were complying with their contracts, according to an annual review that the City Council. A real estate development agreement, or DA, allows developers to build beyond zoning restrictions if they include public benefits, such as public space or fees paid to community funds. The agreements contain different requirements because each agreement is individually negotiated.

Cedars-Sinai announced that it has awarded grants totaling $1.2 million to 17 nonprofit programs and organizations on the Westside. The grants will support programs to help homeless individuals get stable housing, fund mental and behavioral health services, and build clinical and financial capacity at community clinics.

The Los Angeles City Council let a law that prohibited living in a vehicle in residential areas and near schools and parks expire. The council passed a law in November 2016 that allows overnight vehicle dwelling only in non-residential areas and at least one block away from schools and parks. With the expiration of the law, it became temporarily legal to car-camp throughout the area.

The county Board of Supervisors approved a proposal to increase fees at county beaches and facilities. The increases are estimated to generate an additional $873,000 annually. Parking fees required approval from the California Coastal Commission.

Police said a 25-year-old man who died near 5th and Rose avenues in Venice may have been murdered by fellow gang members. Three men fought with and overwhelmed the man, said James Setzer, captain of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Pacific Division.

Damik A. Disdier, 40, faced one felony count of fleeing a pursuing peace officer’s motor vehicle while driving recklessly in connection with a chase that began in Westminster and received significant attention as Disdier wore a Joker clown mask during the incident that ended in Venice.

Los Angeles transportation officials considering transit lines using Sepulveda Pass to connect the Westside and the San Fernando Valley say the cost estimates range from $9.8 billion to $13.4 billion. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it has four options — three routes using heavy rail trains of the kind already in use on its subways and a fourth route using a monorail.

A cluster of 14 homes and apartments in Ocean Park dating back to the early 20th century become Santa Monica’s fifth historic district. The City Council voted unanimously to landmark the district at Ocean Park Boulevard and 4th Street, overturning last month’s tied Landmarks Commission vote that effectively denied the Santa Monica Conservancy’s application.

Businesses were warned about a group of men breaking into restaurants in Santa Monica and other nearby cities late at night and stealing thousands of dollars in cash. Four to five young men wearing athletic clothing and drawstring hoodies pulled down over their faces were breaking into restaurants through glass front doors that lack bars or roll up gates.

Total taxable sales on the Third Street Promenade rose 4.2% last year while the City’s other shopping districts, Main Street and Montana Avenue, both saw a roughly 3% drop in sales. The Promenade’s sales increased every year between 2010 and 2015 as the retail market recovered from the recession, but the growth of online shopping precipitated 5.5% and 2.9% drops in 2016 and 2017.

A historic, five-bedroom house near Santa Monica Canyon was converted into an Airbnb housing up to 36 people. The 1924 Pueblo Revival home at 710 Adelaide Place had been listed on Airbnb since March, when it was sold for about $2.9 million, according to the Multiple Listing Service. Neighbors said the home, a local landmark known as the Zuni House, was being operated as a de facto hostel and disturbing nearby residents. The situation prompted City Hall to revise its home-sharing rules to crack down on large homes becoming quasi-hotels.

Senator Bernie Sanders returned to Santa Monica and addressed an energized crowd at Samohi’s Memorial Greek Amphitheater, pledging to take on the health insurance, pharmaceutical and fossil fuel industries, break up Wall Street and guarantee Medicare and free college for all.

A group of Venice residents filed an opening brief in a lawsuit to stop the construction of a temporary facility that would house 154 people experiencing homelessness. The Venice Stakeholders Association’s lawsuit asks Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff to declare the city’s of Los Angeles approval of the project invalid and halt construction. The judge ruled against residents, allowing the facility to go forward.

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...

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