The Super Bowl overlapped with the Winter Olympics this year.

Overview:

SMDP staff summarized stories from throughout the year and all 12 months will run in chronological order this week.

The City’s Black History Month programming focused on much needed healing for Santa Monica’s Black community. Events began with an opening ceremony and continued with virtual and in-person events centered around the theme of Black health and wellness. Highlights included an art walk at Bergamot Station featuring Black-history themed exhibits and local students’ artwork, the Black History Greens Festival at Virginia Avenue Park and the Celebrating Black Excellence Awards Ceremony. 

Girl Scout Cookie season opened allowing scouts to hone their entrepreneurship skills and raise money for their troop’s activities in front of local grocery stores and businesses. 

The SMPD said crime decreased citywide for the third year running. In 2021, about 2.9 percent fewer Part 1 offenses — crimes including homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, grand theft auto and arson — were reported in the city compared to 2020. This followed a 5.5 percent reduction in those crimes from 2019 to 2020, and a 16 percent reduction from 2018 to 2019. The data came from a news release by the SMPD aggregating serious crime statistics for 2021. 

A team of doctors at Providence Saint John’s were the first in the nation to pioneer a potentially game changing treatment for one of the most severe forms of brain cancer. 

Assembly member Richard Bloom said he would step down from political office, after announcing he was ending his campaign for LA County’s Third Supervisorial District. Bloom had the option to campaign in his newly redrawn district but chose to pursue the Supervisorial seat instead. Upon withdrawing from that race, he said he would end his time as an elected official. 

Nadia Virani, the owner of Marine Market, was locking up the well-loved Ocean Park bodega when she was attacked from behind, maced and knocked to the ground during a purse snatching. 

The Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE)’s Committee on School District Organization planned, but never did, take up a petition that would break up the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) into seven separate voting districts. The proposal was among the first of its kind in the area but was put on hold pending resolution of efforts to split the district between Malibu and Santa Monica. 

City Hall began plans to accommodate 8,895 state-mandated new housing units, of which 6,168 must be affordable, by 2029. While the efforts would eventually implode and cause the City to lose control of its development rules, efforts early in the year focused on mundane changes to local rules. 

The parents of a 12-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl who were decapitated in Lancaster plead not guilty to murder and child abuse charges. The children’s father, Maurice Jewel Taylor Sr., worked in Santa Monica as a personal trainer. Both parents were charged with murder and Taylor is seeking to represent himself in the at trial. 

The LA County Mental Health Commission heard an idea to shelter homeless people on the underutilized roofs of parking structures dotted around greater Los Angeles. While the idea was pitched and discussed, it was never advanced to policy makers. 

A budget update showed $30.7 million in General Fund revenue expected for this fiscal year with recommendations to put the money toward restaffing some positions and increasing services at libraries. 

LA County’s five-member Board of Supervisors announced its unanimous desire to see Los Angeles become a “haven county” for abortion access in the event other states began to restrict access to reproductive healthcare. 

A massive new infrastructure project began near the intersection of Pico Boulevard and Main Street and while construction was disruptive, the final result is nearly invisible to residents as it is a large underground water storage system. 

The cost of settling workers’ compensation claims increased even as workers filed fewer claims. In Fiscal Year 2020-21, workers filed 261 claims with the City, which reflected a 21 percent decrease from the 330 claims filed in FY 2019-20. However, claims cost the City $31.6 million in FY 20-21 compared to $31 million in F Y 19-20. The cost increase was a result of pandemic-era staffing reductions. 

With just days until the Ram’s made a historic kick off at Los Angeles’s SoFi Stadium, the football spirit infused the streets of Santa Monica. Large crowds gathered throughout the weekend as visiting fans filled hotels and locals took in the celebratory atmosphere on the Pier and Promenade. 

At 2:30 a.m. an agitated and divided City Council narrowly voted to authorize an investigation into the leaking of confidential information related to the hiring of the City Manager and City Attorney. The investigation was proposed by Councilmember Gleam Davis, who had brought her concerns on information leaks to the City Attorney’s office and was advised that the best course of action was to ask Council to vote to authorize an independent investigation. However, council reversed course at a later meeting and declined to pursue any investigation when Councilwoman Lana Negrete changed her mind. 

Santa Monica City Hall reopened to the public, with the City Clerk, City Attorney, Rent Control, and City Manager’s Office counters, plus passport services and other offices open once again. 

Five talented Samohi science experts earned top marks at the regional Ocean Sciences Bowl tournament — called the Los Angeles Surf Bowl — hosted by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at CalTech. The winners of the Surf  Bowl went on to compete with students from around the country at the national championship. 

After keeping flight doors sealed for most of the pandemic, the Museum of Flying was back in business and invited residents to come explore the fascinating aviation history of Santa Monica. Located at 3100 Airport Ave, the museum is a stone’s throw from the original site of the Donald Douglas Aircraft Company and contains many planes and memorabilia from the factory, which operated in the city from 1921 to 1958. 

The California Department of Housing and  Community Development (HCD) said the City’s plan to meet its housing requirements was not up to par.  As a result, HCD declined to certify the City’s 6th Cycle Housing Element and asked for a revised plan with more research into the feasibility of converting City-identified sites into housing and tweaks to the City’s proposed development programs. 

Before embers had cooled on the Woolsey Fire, public outcry arose alleging failure by all levels of government. In response, LA County Supervisors launched an investigation into the man-made issues surrounding the fire — from preparation to emergency response and everything in between — commissioning an extensive after-action report, which came in the form of a 203-page review by the independent consulting firm Citygate Associates, LLC. The Supervisors formally closed their investigation citing completion of 80 of 86 recommendations in the report. 

Four major league players testified they received oxycodone pills from a former Los Angeles Angels employee accused of providing Tyler Skaggs the drugs that led to the pitcher’s overdose death. Pitchers Matt Harvey, Mike Morin and Cam Bedrosian and first baseman C.J. Cron played for the Angels during the years federal prosecutors say Eric Kay obtained drugs for players. Kay faced drug distribution and conspiracy charges. Kay was eventually sentenced to 22 years in prison for his crimes. 

Sam V. Kardashian, a longtime Santa Monican and the owner of Southern California Disposal & Recycling Company, died at the age of 81, but his 30’x50’ Old Glory flag continued flying on the company’s 100-foot flagpole, a testament to Kardashian’s love of his country. 

Community concern over a proposed 521 residential unit project slated to replace the Gelson’s shopping center exploded after poorly organized public meetings and concerns over the calculations used to justify the development. 

Santa Monica Mayor Sue Himmelrich’s remarks during the State of the City address took an uncharacteristically candid turn as the Mayor described being subjected to “cancel culture” and personal attacks. In her comments, Himmelrich said she was concerned that the current political climate would deter qualified candidates from entering the political arena out of fear of abuse. 

Santa Monica began to see a loosening of mask rules. The LA County Department of Public Health (DPH) reported the County would “enter into a post-surge period.” Although the date aligned with the lifting of statewide mask mandates, LA County’s rule change was due to a drop in daily COVID- 19 hospitalizations to below 2,500. 

A smaller scale version of the iconic 626 Night Market began in Lot 27 by 5th St. and Arizona Ave. and ran for five weekends. The 626 Night Market was inspired by the vibrant night markets of Asia and anchored by the culinary creativity of immigrant communities in the greater Los Angeles area. The festival was named after the area code of the San Gabriel Valley, where many of these communities are located and where the market was first established in Arcadia’s Santa Anita Park. Due to its explosive popularity, the market has since expanded to Orange County and the Bay Area. 

Nuggets of good news brightened the gloomy overtones of the City’s midyear budget review — like the announcement of a $30 million influx of unanticipated revenues, which ever so slightly lessened the sting of the $188 million in revenue lost and over 420 staff positions cut as a result of the pandemic. This $30 million difference between the forecasted general fund revenues from Fiscal Year 2021 to 2022 and what was expected signaled that Santa Monica’s economy was rebounding faster than predicted. This windfall was thanks to an uptick in hotel occupancy, parking, sales and real estate deals, which were a boon for tax revenues. 

Citing “an increase in certain activities posing risks to public safety and the environment occurring in the vicinity of the beach and Santa Monica Pier, including the use of combustible fuels on the Santa Monica Pier,” City Council adopted a new rule to prohibit not only the unpermitted use but the unpermitted possession of combustible fuel in close proximity to the historic structure. 

Four months after announcing plans to close Chess Park following years of health and safety complaints, the City announced it would begin removing the benches and tables. The park was not closed but would become a “flexible, nonprogrammed beach front open space.”

For four weekends in late summer 2021 two blocks of Main Street were transformed into a pedestrian plaza, and while fears were raised about traffic, noise and business disruption, a City evaluation found them to be largely unfounded. Despite the report’s conclusions, the event did not repeat. 

Santa Monica Housing Commissioner Leonora Camner spoke out about what her supporters called a “retaliation item” added to an upcoming City Council agenda: a motion from Council Members Phil Brock, Christine Parra and Oscar de la Torre to have Camner removed from the Commission. Critics said it was unethical for her to be on the commission given her organization Abundant Housing LA advocates for affordable housing but supporters said the failed effort to remove her was a punishment for raising concerns about the housing element. Camner was one of the only local officials to warn the City’s failure to adopt a compliant housing element would result in long-term problems. 

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District invited community members to tour five local school campuses. The two-hour events were a peek behind the curtain at the campuses where community members could learn about existing facilities and discuss educational needs, historical resources, campus plans and future projects.

Council  approved a $3M plan to bulk up enforcement at the Pier more or less in line with a program that began at the beginning of 2022 and the formation of a Pier Task Force. The Task Force included one police sergeant and four officers; one code enforcement supervisor and two officers; two fire inspectors; four public works staff members; and private security officers, who all worked at the Pier on Fridays through Sundays enforcing vendor laws, cleaning up trash and maintaining order. 

A Los Angeles city audit found a $1.2 billion program intended to quickly build housing for Los Angeles’ sprawling homeless population was moving too slowly while costs were spiking, with one project under development expected to hit as much as $837,000 for each housing unit.

The Samohi Girls Basketball team fell to Sage Hill in the CIF Semi-Finals. Despite a supportive crowd and a valiant effort, the Vikings were unable to overcome an early deficit for a final score of 58-41. The girls ended the season with a record of 20-7. 

The City of Los Angeles received $1.7 million from the State of California to rehouse 60 individuals as part of a $50 million initiative to clear encampments. 

Scores of Ukrainians and their supporters rallied in Palisades Park at the foot of the Santa Monica Pier in support of the besieged nation, the day after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a full-scale military invasion. 

Election season was in full swing with an early debate between LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and the four Democratic Party challengers hoping to unseat him. All four blamed Villanueva’s policies and leadership style for issues ranging from discord with the LA County Board of Supervisors to the continued proliferation of deputy gangs. Villanueva eventually lost the race to Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna.

Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus system was still reeling from pandemic-induced challenges with average monthly ridership at less than half of its pre-pandemic levels. In a report, BBB said its ridership was at 46 percent of preCovid levels despite restoring service to about 81 percent of its historic maximum. Officials said several projects were in the works to improve the system’s forecast but lingering impacts, such as funding uncertainty and staffing shortages remain. 

After a two-year hiatus, k9 Connection returned to Olympic High School for their dog training program. Six students (Aleydis Sernas, Esteban Gonzalez, Rodrigo Delcastillo, Tarik Leno, Max Miguel, Blake Rugh) completed the course and received certificates from the organization. k9 Connections uses dog to help teach life skills and has spent much of the pandemic working with homeless individuals and their pets.

January —— March