A Rainbow Garden render.

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.



Local businesses were celebrated for their love of the environment at the 24th annual Sustainable Quality Awards. The awards, produced in a partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and SustainableWorks, recognized local businesses that have successfully put sustainability practices into effect. Awards were given out for Excellence in Economic Development, Excellence in Social Responsibility and Excellence in Stewardship of the Environment.

Second generation restaurateur Chris Anderson took the helm at the beloved Chez Jay restaurant.

Santa Monica’s Broad Stage began its 12th season. Staff said the organization has seen its performance slate grow exponentially in the past decade and those years of experience are now bearing fruit with a performance slate that is adapting to the needs of locals.

Santa Monica College hosted a weeklong series of free panels, walking tours and a screening investigating how to prevent displacement in gentrifying neighborhoods. The eighth annual Public Policy Institute spring symposium began with a walk through the Pico neighborhood, where gentrification has become a concern for longtime residents in recent years.

A ridesharing service for seniors and people with disabilities raised fares for the first time in two decades and capped the number of trips members can take each month. The Big Blue Bus replaced the Dial-a-Ride program with a partnership with Lyft that doubled the number of rides taken each day under the same $600,000 budget and $0.50 one-way fares. BBB director Ed King said it was time to raise the fare to $2 to sustain the fast-growing program.

Hate crime in Los Angeles County rose 32 percent between 2013 and 2017, according to the county’s Commission on Human Relations. Experts discussed local, state and national hate crime data at a hearing hosted by California State Assemblymember Richard Bloom.

More than 50 families with children born prematurely celebrated national Parents of Preemies Day by enjoying a magic show, a bounce house, face painting and other activities at UCLA Medical Center. Parents of children born prematurely – of all ages – connected with other families and sharing information about their journeys.

The 18th Street Arts Center held its inaugural gala fundraiser event. The event, held at La Residence de France in Beverly Hills (the home of the French Consulate General of Los Angeles), celebrated the art center’s 30th anniversary and had a fundraising goal of $100,000 to support the center and its programs.

Four new proposed buildings will add 124 affordable apartments and 92 market-rate apartments to downtown and Ocean Park. Three buildings restricted for low-income households will rise at 2120 Lincoln Blvd., 1514 7th St. and 1238 7th St. A market-rate building will be constructed at 1425 5th St., with its required affordable units included in the 1514 7th St. project. The buildings on 5th and 7th Streets will include stores or restaurants on their ground floors.

The city of Santa Monica hosted a celebration for Santa Monica’s Most Loved Businesses. Voters make their choices during the annual Most Loved competition in February and the winners are announced in partnership with several organizations including the Chamber of Commerce, local business districts, Buy Local and the Santa Monica Daily Press.

Bird Rides Inc. introduced a new electric scooter model in Santa Monica and Los Angeles that riders can buy outright. The Bird One, which is available in black, white and rose for $1,299, is more durable than the five models Bird has previously deployed. The model is available to rent locally.

The owners of the Shore Hotel were hit with a record $15.58 million fine for constructing a high-priced hotel after initially obtaining a permit for a property with moderately priced rooms, in what state officials called a “bait-and-switch” building scheme. Sunshine Enterprises violated a state law that enshrines public access to beach areas, according to the Coastal Commission.

Le Petit Cafe closed after 25 years in business. The owner said the landlord would only offer a month-to-month lease, which would have created large increases in costs.

E-scooter riders were included in a Santa Monica Police Department enforcement sweep alongside drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians for the first time. Officers were looking for traffic violations made by all four groups that put others at risk, including speeding, failing to stop for signs and signals, making illegal turns and failing to yield to pedestrians.

Santa Monica’s tourism industry shrunk slightly in 2018 after several years of sustained growth, with total visitor spending falling 1.4%. Visitors spent $1.93 billion in 2018, a slight decrease from a peak of $1.96 billion in 2017. Spending has still grown 18.4% in the last five years, however, and it generated significantly more tax revenue for the city of Santa Monica last year.

The Santa Monica College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to adopt goals aimed at aggressively combating racial inequities among students. A new state law, AB 1809, Chapter 33, requires all colleges to set goals for the number of students who earn degrees or certificates, transfer to four-year colleges, or find employment in their field of study. The board voted to go beyond the minimum numbers required by the Chancellor’s Office in their plan, known as the Vision for Success Goals.

About half of scooter and bicycle riders used the devices to replace a car trip but locals made up only 35% of total trips in Santa Monica, according to the results of a survey tracking usage of e-scooters and on-demand bike rentals. Many people who ride e-scooters and e-bikes in Santa Monica are young (42% are between 25-34), male (69%) and affluent (37% reported income over $100,000), according to a survey.

Only 46 apartments were built in Santa Monica last fiscal year and just two of those were affordable, according to a report the city of Santa Monica released. There have only been two other years where less than two affordable units were completed since local voters approved Proposition R in 1990. The measure requires 30 percent of all new multifamily housing to be affordable to low- and moderate income households. Although 38 percent of all construction since then has been affordable, Santa Monica has not met the requirement on an annual basis since 2014.

The Bungalow hosted a weekly event with KCRW DJs and food trucks throughout the summer. The Night Market series kicked off with performances by Grammy Award-winning artist Macy Gray and DJ Jeremy Sole.

Santa Monica saw 147 fewer serious crimes in the first four months of this year compared to the same period last year, an almost 8% drop, according to the Santa Monica Police Department.

The Venice Family Clinic Art Walk returned for its 40th anniversary this weekend, an event that featured studio tours, live music, a beer and wine garden, food trucks, hands-on art workshops, a family fun zone and more. The crux of the Art Walk is a silent art auction that showcased the works of over 200 artists. Proceeds from the auction support Venice Family Clinic’s health care services at 12 locations and contribute to homeless outreach across Los Angeles.

A battle over the landmark status of two century-old sycamore trees in Wilmont culminated in a promise from City Council to develop a local law that protects trees on private property but not a landmark designation for those specific trees.

CVS filed paperwork to open a new store at the corner of 5th Street and Wilshire  Boulevard in the former Whole Foods building. The store occupied the current 15,375 square foot property with no changes to the floor area or square footage.

Consumers spent about 17% less on goods and slightly more on restaurants and hotels last holiday season compared to the year before, according to a report from the city of Santa Monica on quarter four sales. Although retailers struggled, taxable sales were up 2.3% overall from October through December compared to the same period last year.

A group of Westside philanthropists pledged more than $170,000 to three local nonprofits that help young adults who have aged out of foster care, teach science to girls in underserved communities and offer design work to people recovering from addiction. The Sustainability, Accountability, Movement Initiative was founded in 2013 by Mindy Freeman and brings together women to pool their financial resources to fund programs in Los Angeles.

SMMUSD’s Project Based Learning campus — located at Olympic High School at 721 Ocean Park Boulevard — was named after former president Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, dubbing the space The Michelle and Barack Obama Center for Inquiry and Exploration.

A development that will provide 56 affordable apartments for seniors downtown moved forward. The Architectural Review Board discussed the design of a seven-story apartment building with ground-floor commercial space planned to rise on a vacant lot at 711 Colorado Ave. The project from WS Communities has been in the works for almost two years. WISE & Healthy Aging has signed on to provide services to the building’s residents.

The city of Santa Monica approved $8.3 million in funding for a new affordable housing development at 14th and Michigan by developer EAH Housing. Total costs for the project are estimated at $29.5 million and the money approved by City Hall is for land acquisition, closing and predevelopment costs. An additional round of city funding is expected once permits for the project are in process with a total projected contribution of about $14.8 million.

In spite of injuries, Santa Monica College men’s swimming and diving team placed seventh at the State Championships. The Corsairs won second place in the 400-medley relay, and third in the 200-medley relay. All five freestyles were All-American. Oliver Kabilka won third place in the 100- meter butterfly. Colin Casey won second place in the 100- meter butterfly and first place in the 200-meter butterfly.

The city of Santa Monica filled 31 openings on 14 boards and commissions. There were annual appointments available for the Airport Commission (2), Architectural Review Board (1), Arts Commission (3), Audit Subcommittee (1), Commission for the Senior Community (2), Commission on the Status of Women (2), Disabilities Commission (2), Housing Commission (2), Personnel Board (1), Planning Commission (3), Recreation and Parks Commission (1), Santa Monica Library Board (1), Social Services Commission (3) and the Urban Forest Task Force (7).

The city of Santa Monica recognized 12 businesses for their work in reducing traffic. The 12 businesses receiving awards were Pacific Park, the Carlthorp School, Santa Monica College, Snyder-Diamond, Enterprise Fish Co, Gateway Hotel, Rubin Postaer & Associates, T.J. Maxx, Hulu, Edmunds.com, Abercrombie & Fitch and the Jonathan Club.

Tacotopia brought larger-than-life Mexican food-inspired art installations and of course, tacos, to the Third Street Promenade. The exhibit featured photo ops with such Instagram-ready items as a taco teeter totter, human-sized guacamole bowls, avocado chairs, a Shiva-like taco god holding tacos, a Jarritos lucha libre ring and more.

10-year old Stella Harris co-authored a book ‘Stella Rose and the Sea Dragon’.  The children’s book is an allegorical tale about a young girl named Stella Rose and chronicles how Stella (both real and fictional) overcame her fear of riding a big kid ride at the Santa Monica Pier while becoming friends with a green Sea Dragon. The book was co-written by Stella’s father, Santa Monica Pier historian James Harris and illustrated by Michael Baily.

David Carrillo, 32, of Los Angeles, was convicted on one count of second-degree murder in connection with a 2015 murder that ended with a police standoff in Santa Monica. Carrillo was sentenced to more than 15 years to life in state prison.

About 50 Santa Monica residents gathered at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium to debate updates on Single-Unit Residential (R1) zone district development standards. The community open house was the second of three held by the City of Santa Monica to receive feedback on options for revised codes in six areas: maximum parcel coverage, upper-level outdoor space, retention of existing homes, parking, building height limit, and setbacks.

Santa Monica-based Vinesmoke launched offering pre-packaged wood clippings from vineyards. The wood can be used for grilling or smoking and the practice has its literal roots in the European wine industry where the annual pruning of grape vines would create a surplus of vineyard wood that locals used for cooking.

City Council adopted the Climate Action & Adaptation plan, which is designed to move the city toward carbon neutrality by 2050 or sooner. Staff estimate the plan’s total cost will be about $800 million, including over $383 million in funding that has already been committed over the past two biennial budget cycles to support projects for climate action and adaptation strategies.

A mural at 26th Street and Wilshire Boulevard was removed. The mural lost its landmark status last year and the property owner has said all artwork on the site will be relocated to facilitate its redevelopment.

Santa Monica could combat the loss of its housing supply by prohibiting developers from replacing rent controlled apartment buildings with single-family homes and small condominiums, according to a City of Santa Monica report. Developers are buying small rent-controlled buildings and making swift use of the Ellis Act, a 1985 state law that allows landlords to evict tenants if they want to get out of the rental business, to replace them with single-family homes, duplexes or triplexes, capitalizing on Santa Monica’s skyrocketing home prices and eroding the city’s housing stock.

Volunteers working on the Arlington West veterans’ memorial were attacked on Memorial Day by a homeless man who destroyed part of the display and sent one volunteer to the hospital. David Wilfong, 36, homeless, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse and mayhem for the May 27 incident. He was arrested at the scene by the Santa Monica Police Department.

A proposed educational garden and kitchen at 4th Street and Montana Avenue will be able to hold frequent classes and fundraisers despite concerns from neighbors about noise, light and traffic. City Council voted unanimously to double the number of small events the Rainbow Garden will be allowed to hold, rejecting an appeal from residents that asked the garden to hold only classes and fundraisers, go dark by 9 p.m. on weeknights and 10 p.m. on weekend nights, and close on weekends and holidays.

The bulk of new spending in the city of Santa Monica’s proposed budget will go toward improving transportation and fighting climate change. The biennial budget City Manager Rick Cole released proposed spending $38 million on various mobility projects and $29 million on water sustainability and electric vehicle charging next fiscal year. Under the proposed budget, the city would also spend $4 million on park safety enhancements, a criminal prosecution case management system and a staging facility for the Santa Monica Police Department. Financial assistance for rent-burdened seniors and expanding the waitlist for affordable housing would cost $2 million.

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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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