The Daily Press is summarizing the news of the year as published in our pages. Previous. Next.

Pacific Park announced plans to redesign its roller coaster. On the new West Coaster, cars that mimic classic automobiles from Route 66’s heyday will zip past vintage billboards that highlight the attractions along the 2,200-mile highway, including the Chicago Theatre Sign, the St. Louis Gateway Arch, a Saguaro Cactus and the Santa Monica Pier Arch. 

The City celebrated Black History Month with several events including a discussion of nine historic black fraternities/sororities and a step performance at City Hall. Activities also included recognition of black entrepreneurs and a celebration of black culture through food, music and crafts.

A child among 195 people quarantined at a Southern California air base after evacuation from a virus-stricken area of China developed a fever and was hospitalized for testing and observation. The child and a parent of the child were taken by ambulance from March Air Reserve Base to Riverside University Health System-Medical Center, Riverside County public health officials said in a statement.

One of six new developments featuring tiny apartments reached the Architectural Review Board. Under a settlement negotiated between the city and developer WS Communities, the ARB retains its authority over design elements of six proposed projects but the City is required to issue an ARB decision on an expedited timeline with additional time restrictions on Appeals. 

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Ben Drati formed a Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Committee to discuss how the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District — like most districts in the state of California — has been challenged by a structural fiscal deficit spending cycle throughout the last decade.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health advised against special precautions related to a coronavirus outbreak in China. Officials said there was no immediate threat to the general public. Residents, students, workers, and tourists were advised to continue to engage in their regular activities as long as they are practicing good public health hygiene.

Individuals arrested in Santa Monica on nonviolent drug charges had the option to enter substance abuse treatment before facing a judge. The Joint Outreach and Linkage to Treatment, or JOLT program, allowed individuals in Santa Monica Police Department custody to immediately start a month-long course of treatment at a local addiction center before appearing in court. The city of Santa Monica funded the program in the hopes that meaningful treatment will divert low-level drug offenders away from the criminal justice system.

A 40-unit apartment building at 2033-2101 Virginia Ave. was sold to Community Corporation of Santa Monica for $13.7 million, real estate company CBRE announced. The building stands in the heart of the Pico neighborhood, which has for half a century been home to a working-class Latino community that is now facing rising rents and evictions as the neighborhood gentrifies.

Santa Monica parents, community members and businesses supported local public schools during a 10-day match fundraising campaign for the Santa Monica Education Foundation. Inspired by a $50,000 match from Bird, 772 donors contributed $186,154 during the match, which ran from January 21 to 31, 2020. The matching campaign coincided with the end of the Ed Foundation’s annual parent giving campaign this school year.

A plumbing company extracted $92,000 from an elderly Santa Monica homeowner after she hired the company to complete $5,000 worth of repairs and installations. A superior court judge sentenced Jet Speed Plumbing Inc., doing business as Ritz Plumbing, to three years of probation for unlawfully overcharging an 82-year old woman tens of thousands of dollars for contract work. The owner of Ritz Plumbing was ordered to refund the $92,000 to the homeowner and must pay a $45,000 disciplinary bond before trying to reacquire a contractor’s license.

City Council extended its marijuana regulations as dispensaries that have not been allowed to open in the city appealed the permitting process. Santa Monica’s marijuana ordinance allows only medical marijuana dispensaries and some medical marijuana manufacturing. The regulations permit two dispensaries in the city, neither of which have opened.

Santa Monica planned to makeover its portion of Wilshire Boulevard. The 2.4-mile stretch of Wilshire has been the site of six traffic-related fatalities and 29 severe injuries over the past 11 years, prompting local officials to propose adding a suite of safety improvements to the street that could range from $11.5 to $22 million. 

Three people were injured after a driver crashed into a building on 12th Street. A driver was speeding east on Pico Boulevard at about 2:45 a.m. and collided with a building on 12th Street, as well as three parking meters, two trees, a streetlight and a fire hydrant.

A group of 195 evacuees was cleared to end a two-week quarantine at a Southern California military base after flying out of China during a deadly viral outbreak. After everyone at March Air Reserve Base passed their final health screenings, they threw their face masks into the air and hugged, said Dr. Nancy Knight of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although most municipal employees work in Santa Monica’s transit-rich downtown, just 16% commute by train, bus, bike or walking, according to a report. 

Three years after recreational marijuana became legal in California, Santa Monica prosecutors dismissed 3,000 misdemeanor cannabis convictions as part of a countywide move to bring relief to communities of color who disproportionately suffered the consequences of the state’s drug laws. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office asked a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to dismiss 62,000 felony cannabis convictions for cases that date back to 1961 as well as about 4,000 misdemeanor cannabis possession cases in 10 cities across the county.

City of Santa Monica workers picketed the mayor’s annual State of the City address over cuts to healthcare and pensions. About 100 workers represented by the Teamsters union held a demonstration outside of the Soka Gakkai International Ikeda Auditorium in downtown to protest contract negotiations with the city that have stalled for more than a year.

Crime on L.A. County’s Metro Bus and Rail system decreased 17 percent over the last five years, according to crime figures released by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Between 2015 and 2019, total Part 1 and Part 2 crimes, known respectively as “serious” and “less serious” crimes, have both fallen on the Metro system. Part 1 crimes decreased nearly 23 percent and Part 2 crimes decreased nearly 11 percent. Crime reductions were observed in all major crime categories, including crimes against persons, crimes against properties and crimes against society. 

At the city of Santa Monica’s annual State of the City address, Mayor Kevin McKeown praised the growth of Santa Monica’s technology sector while pointing out that the influx of highly paid workers is straining the city’s limited housing supply. McKeown said there were now more than 31,000 tech jobs in Santa Monica and 3,000 tech companies. The total tech payroll in Santa Monica was more than $5 billion, well over half of the total annual payroll in the entire city.

Five Santa Monica High School student-athletes cemented their future as college athletes during a National Signing Day Ceremony that occurred on-campus. Quincy Hilaire-McGriff, Iternite Reed and Chantal Moawad signed with the University of Texas El Paso, Saint Martin’s University and Brown University, respectively, to showcase their skills on the hardwood, while Donovan Parks and Anthony Arnou intend to head south to Alabama A&M University and the University of San Diego.

Three music teachers in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District received statewide recognition for their contributions to the district’s various music programs. The California Music Educators Association recognized Kirsten Bersch as its 2020 Elementary Music Specialist Award recipient and Joni Swenson as the 2020 CMEA Richard L. Levin Orchestra Educator Award recipient, while Angela Woo was honored with the SCSBOA Gold Award during the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association’s Winter Conference.

Santa Monica’s Edison Language Academy was recognized by the California Department of Education as a 2020 California Distinguished School. Edison, which also earned the award in 2018, was one of the 324 elementary schools that received the honor in the state this year.

Venice Family Clinic launched its 50th Anniversary celebration, kicking off a year of activities to recognize the nonprofit community health center’s leadership in providing comprehensive and high-quality care to people in need, pioneering innovations that improve the lives of patients around the country and effectively advocating for equal access to care.

A video of a pornographic actress and actor performing sexual acts inside a Santa Monica public library surfaced, prompting some residents to call for their arrest. The video showed 19-year old entertainer Elie Elish exposing herself while walking around the library. 

A man was assaulted while sleeping in an alley in Mid-City Santa Monica. Santa Monica Police Department officers responded to reports of a person down on 12th Court between Colorado Avenue and Broadway around 6 a.m. Officers found a man in his 60s who had suffered blunt force trauma to his head. The man told officers he had been sleeping under a blanket when he was assaulted during the night,

Women in Santa Monica make 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man, according to a report released by the Santa Monica Commission on the Status of Women. This was an improvement from 2013, when women earned 72 cents for every dollar earned by men, but still slightly lower than the national average, according to recent data from the US Census Bureau. 

President Trump was met by a small protest as he flew through Santa Monica Airport on his way to a Los Angeles fundraising trip.

Two presidential candidates opened campaign offices in Santa Monica to court Westside voters ahead of Super Tuesday. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and hedge fund manager Tom Steyer opened field offices a few blocks away from each other.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said California should lower the legal bar for providing forced treatment to the mentally ill and build more homeless shelters. He took the unusual step of devoting most of the annual speech to just two related issues: affordable housing shortfalls and homelessness.

SMMUSD received 625 claims for reimbursement for educational materials after settling a class action lawsuit over school fees. Plaintiffs claim that SMMUSD had required students to pay for expensive calculators, field trips and athletic uniforms and therefore violated the constitutional guarantee to a free education.

The Planning Commission voted to support expediting the process for 100% affordable housing and market rate housing up to 60 feet tall that conforms to existing standards. The recommendation to City Council would allow many housing projects to bypass the Planning Commission itself.

The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk office opened 976 Vote Centers throughout L.A. County in advance of the primary election. 

FBI agents arrested a Santa Monica man on federal charges stemming from a series of distributed denial-of-service – or DDoS – attacks on a website for a candidate who was campaigning for a California congressional seat. Arthur Jan Dam, 32, was taken into custody pursuant to a criminal complaint filed that charges him with one count of intentionally damaging and attempting to damage a protected computer. Dam allegedly staged four cyberattacks in April and May of 2018 that took down the candidate’s website for a total of 21 hours.

The Santa Monica Fire Department extended a temporary station that has cut response times to emergency situations at the beach and Santa Monica Pier. SMFD created a pilot station on the beach after data showed that it took firefighters and paramedics based in the department’s existing five stations much longer to reach the beach than other locations in Santa Monica because of traffic congestion near the beach and I-10.

A rash of car accidents sent several people to local hospitals but despite some spectacular wrecks, there were no reported deaths. In the most visible incident, a car fell from the top floor of a downtown parking garage. The Santa Monica Police Department said the Jeep drove off the sixth floor of Parking Structure 8 and hit the McDonald’s below.

A coalition of government agencies, including the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office, recently secured a settlement with a pair of wine clubs over illegal automatic renewals as part of an ongoing state-wide effort to protect consumers. The Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz county district attorney’s offices and the Santa Monica City Attorney filed lawsuits against Direct Wines and Wine Awesomeness that resulted in a total settlement of $365,000 and an agreement from the companies to change their sales practices.

Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmember Mike Bonin celebrated the opening of the Pacific Sunset A Bridge Home facility in Venice, which provides 100 beds for homeless adults and 54 beds for transitional age youth. The Mayor and Councilmember were joined at the ceremony by representatives from People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) and Safe Place for Youth (SPY), as well as numerous community leaders.

The city of Santa Monica announced a $2 million budget shortfall this fiscal year as tax revenue from tourism, brick-and-mortar retail and parking eroded more quickly than projected.

City Hall temporarily suspended talks with a developer over a proposed project at 4th and Arizona, known as The Plaza at Santa Monica, over concerns the project could violate a newly expanded state law governing surplus government property. The issue was resolved and the City moved forward with the project.

A recent survey of California Community Colleges found that approximately 50% of students were considered “food insecure,” meaning they are unable to access or afford adequate food. Approximately 15,000 Santa Monica College students fall into this category. Everytable, a social business enterprise opened the SmartFridge Lounge at SMC’s Center for Media and Design to address the need.

A local filmmaker tackled the nation’s most pressing political issues through the lens of food in a five-part television series. Brian Falk, a Santa Monica based producer, writer and director, worked with James Beard Award winning TV personality and chef Andrew Zimmern on “What’s Eating America.” 

Tyra Banks’ modeling theme park announced it would open May 1. Banks said she aims to “bring modeling to the masses” with ModelLand, a 21,000-square-foot theme park in Santa Monica Place that will offer interactive beauty experiences such as photoshoots and style consultations.

After unveiling a 7-foot sculpture depicting a homeless man in Santa Monica, artist and social activist Ed Massey is once again working on a project related to homelessness. But this time, it’s one that Massey hopes he never has to complete, distributing 5,000 colorful tents across the area. 

The Samohi’s girls basketball team began a playoff run after finishing its Ocean League season undefeated. The Girls Soccer team also made it to the Division playoffs.