Chart: Even if the County approves the split, the proposal has a long road. Courtesy image

April

An effort to recall four SMMUSD board members began as organizers submitted signatures to recall board members Laurie Lieberman, Maria Leon-Vasquez, Jon Kean and Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein. The recall petition argued that the four had increased socio-economic inequality, failed to close the achievement gap, neglected to hold incompetent administrators accountable, undermined teachers and hurt the long-term economic viability of the district and City.

The commemoration of the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument took place marking the 79th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which forcibly incarcerated 120,000 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast during World War II. Approximately 1,000 of these residents came from Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu.

Chulita Mexican restaurant in Venice was selected as one of 100 restaurants to participate in a nationwide small business accelerator program, designed to support BIPOC and woman owned restaurants hit by the pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance to say fully vaccinated people could travel within the U.S. without getting tested for the coronavirus or going into quarantine afterward.

A year of isolation took a strong toll on many seniors’ health, but in Santa Monica WISE’s virtual programming helped over 400 aging residents stay fit, mentally stimulated, and socially connected.

City Hall asked school officials to rethink plans that could reduce public access to fields and open space on school grounds.

A divided council advanced plans for the City’s housing element after discussions about meeting state mandates expanded to cover possible solutions to questions of historic racial injustice.

Negin Singh announced her resignation as Executive Director of the Pier Corporation with plans for current Deputy Director Jim Harris to step in as interim director. Singh assumed the role three and a half years ago to help reimagine the Twilight Concert Series and said that the current needs of the pier no longer aligned with her skillset in arts and culture event planning.

The Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Park fully reopened, but crowds of tourists and local residents prompted police to limit access one Sunday night, and local officials said they were prepared to do so again if necessary.

A proposal by two Los Angeles councilmen to set up temporary camps or “tiny homes” for homeless people in beach parking lots drew opposition. The motion asked the city administrative officer to evaluate and identify funding for temporary sites for “single-occupancy tiny homes or safe camping” at Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades, Dockweiler Beach in Playa del Rey and Fisherman’s Village in Marina del Rey. 

Governor Newsom announced plans to lift most coronavirus restrictions on businesses and workplaces June 15, with officials saying enough people should be vaccinated by then to allow for life to almost get back to a pre-pandemic normal.

Efforts to recall members of the school board were derailed due to a lack of signatures on their initial paperwork. That paperwork includes the reasons for the recall and signatures from registered voters; however recall organizers used an incorrect formula for determining the number of required signatures. 

Leaders of the Metro transportation agency explored the feasibility of a completely fareless system. CEO Phillip Washington met with local residents, riders and other stakeholders to discuss a pilot program, expected to launch in January 2022, that would eventually allow low income and K-12 students an opportunity to ride at no cost.

Dozens of volunteers transformed a half-acre piece of property on Will Rogers’ campus into the early stages of a regenerative food forest.

Fed up by the high rates of food insecurity and food waste in L.A. County, 19-year-old Theo Goldstine came up with an app that connects individuals with surplus food with those around them who could use that food.

Santa Monica was allocated $29.3 million from the American Rescue Plan Act and city leaders proposed using the money to continue a Rent Relief Program, fund community projects and reopen City facilities and in-person services.

Inspired by the racial uprisings of the last year, Suárez Dance Theater launched a film series shining a light on the often overlooked stories of Santa Monica’s Black, Indigenous, and Latinx community members. The “Mapping our Stories” project was created in collaboration with filmmaker Leonardo Rivas and three groups of BIPOC performers, whose videos each highlight a different culture and area.

In five decades of lifeguarding, Ed Vodrazka has seen and heard some truly mindboggling acts of heroism and brought them all together in “Stories from Sea Level” — a book recounting 38 epic ocean tales from San Diego to the Sonoma Coast. The stories range from valorous, to humorous, to downright bizarre, and shed light on the close knit yet little known world of California’s lifeguards.

L.A. County expanded vaccination eligibility to all residents age 16 and older and continued to reopen sectors of the economy. Residents ages 16 and 17 had to schedule an appointment at a site offering the Pfizer vaccine, as neither Johnson & Johnson nor Moderna vaccines were approved for use on this age group.

Members of the Rent Control Board voted unanimously to support AB 854, which strives to limit the use of Ellis Act evictions by speculative property investors. The bill did not make it to the Assembly floor.

Suchi Branfman brought the imagined dances of incarcerated individuals to life. Her project, entitled “Undanced Dances Through Prison Walls During a Pandemic”, featured 11 professional artists enacting dances written by prisoners in the California Rehabilitation Center.

In an effort to make beaches accessible to all, the Department of Beaches and Harbors installed a new mat on Venice beach providing a firm surface for people to traverse the sand.

Shake Shack hosted the grand opening of its new downtown Santa Monica location at 501 Wilshire Boulevard.

The L.A. City Board of Public Works voted to deny two appeals filed against the coastal permit issued for the proposed conversion of the Venice Ramada Inn to a homeless shelter.

As County officials prepared to hear from both sides of the SMMUSD split debate, dueling proposals from both sides of the issue circled the same idea: County mediation to determine financial terms.

The City of Malibu submitted a proposal to split Santa Monica and Malibu into two districts citing a lack of control over local education, accusations of neglect due to that lack of control and a desire to keep it’s property taxes within the community. The District said Malibu’s proposals are unfair to Santa Monica students and questioned how much revenue each side should retain.

Council mounted a last ditch effort to recruit young and racially diverse residents for the soon to be formed Public Safety Reform Oversight Commission (PSROC).

As the City prepared for pride month, organizers recruited queer artists for a “Miles of Pride” art walk to spread a colorful celebration of love across Santa Monica. The bright and striking rainbow lit pathway spread through several iconic locations including Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica Place and the Santa Monica Pier.

The long awaited hearing of Malibu’s petition to form its own school district played out as a well choreographed recitation of entrenched arguments and opinions. County officials asked no questions of the two sides in the weekend hearing and instead received presentations of equal length before taking exactly one hour of public comment from proponents and opponents of the proposition.

Santa Monica celebrated Earth Day a volunteer cleanup, a sustainable energy rebate program, and online events on combating climate change.

A newly proposed bill in the state assembly would have stripped municipal golf courses of their park status protections and encourage their conversion to low income housing developments. AB 672 was introduced by AD58 Assemblymember Cristina Garcia. Under the bill municipal golf courses could be rezoned into housing developments that offer 25 percent affordable units and 15 percent open-space. The bill did not pass. 

Local residents were worried Santa Monica could soon see incidents similar to the riots of last May as a verdict in the Derek Chauvin case was reached, but police officials assured residents that everything was under control.

Recognizing both the city’s unique heritage and rapidly changing demographics, generations of Venetians worked together to ensure the area’s multi-cultural history is not lost. Collectively they started a grassroots fundraiser and are seeking to raise $115,000 to launch the Venice Heritage Museum.

City Council amended and extended an emergency Interim Zoning Ordinance, which, among other things, allowed Tesla’s proposed 24-hour, self-service electric vehicle recharging facility to move forward with construction.

When Main Street launched its al-fresco program many feared it would be a parking and traffic disaster, but a City study indicated the contrary and found the program to be a vital lifeline for merchants.

Pier and Harbor Service Officers who serve in SMPD’s little-known Harbor Unit performed over 105 ocean rescues in often deadly and dangerous conditions over the past 18 months. These intrepid officers frequently jumped 25 feet off the pier into cold and turbulent waters, battled rip currents, and faced heavy winds in order to complete rescues.

The SMMUSD Board of Education ratified an agreement between SMMUSD and SMMCTA that allowed for students in grades seven through twelve to fully return to in-person learning. 

In celebration of World Book Day, the Amazon Books store in Marina del Rey partnered up with The Book Foundation to provide hundreds of books for youth living at the Pacific Sunset Bridge Home in Venice.

After over a year without live performances, a palatable optimism emanated from local theaters as they made tentative plans for the return of in-person programming. Theaters charted plans to welcome audiences back to performing arts venues across Santa Monica.

After a 10 day pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the County resumed its use in line with the FDA’s recommendation and was confident that the data strongly supports this decision. While some people were hesitant to receive a Johnson & Johnson shot due to rare reports of blood clots in women, officials assured residents that all three approved vaccines are very safe.

Council directed staff to return with a plan that would allow for the implementation of a pilot program that would close Main Street to automobiles and bus traffic.

The Venice Family Clinic hosted a virtual auction of more than 200 pieces of art to help fund vital health services for people in need. Venice Family Clinic was founded in 1970 as a tiny operation running out of a borrowed dental office, and has since blossomed into an essential community resource that serves over 27,000 patients at 14 sites annually.

Natalia Lazarus, multi-talented actress, director and teacher, received a commendation from City Council honoring 25 years of helping international students break into the entertainment industry through her conservatory program.

Council directed staff to begin exploring the feasibility of making Reed Park the site of a neighborhood off-leash dog park. 

MARCH

MAY

editor@smdp.com