Holiday: The end of the year marks a busy holiday season including Dia de los Muertos and Christmas on the Promenade. SMDP photos

Friends of the Venice Library (FoVL) hosted hundreds of people who attended a grand re-opening of the Abbot Kinney Memorial Branch Library that included a reptile show attended by dozens of kids, parents, and other locals.

LA Unified School District (LAUSD) announced plans to supply doses of naloxone, a medication capable of reversing overdoses to schools. SMMUSD has had naloxone in all secondary schools since 2018, 

Local businesses that chose not to enroll in the new permanent Santa Monica Outdoors parklet program closed up their parklets. Changes that made the program permanent also imposed fees on businesses that had enjoyed the fee-free model up to this point, including a one-time wastewater fee of more than $1,300 per additional seat. 

Council voted unanimously to restart negotiations on a $20 million pledge from SMC that would cover the first phase of the extensive Memorial Park redevelopment project to expand the usable area of the park and add additional sports facilities.

The police department’s Traffic Services Division began enforcing a section of the city’s municipal code prohibiting drivers from parking on any sidewalk, parkway, or curb, other than a driveway or roadway. While enforcement was initially limited to warnings, public outcry over the change prompted officials to weaken the rules.

Sylvia Wu, whose famed Santa Monica restaurant drew Hollywood’s biggest stars for four decades died at age 106. Madame Wu’s Garden on Wilshire Boulevard became a dining destination shortly after it opened in 1959, popular for its cuisine and pagoda-style decor featuring jade statues, a stone waterfall and a koi-filled fountain.

Santa Claus celebrates the Lighting of the Tree with a “ho, ho, ho” at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Calif. on Dec. 1. (Anna Sophia Moltke | Santa Monica Daily Press)

After 63 years in business, Big Jo’s announced it would close at the end of the month. The property on Broadway between 19th and 20th streets was sold and while the business was not forced to close by new landlords, the restaurant’s owners said they knew they wouldn’t be able to stay long-term and chose to close. 

More students were missing class in the years following pandemic restrictions on local education with high school seniors missing more classroom hours than any other grade level.

Outraged neighbors said a three-story home under construction where a fire began in the Venice Canals had become a fixture for transients since building at the location started nearly one and a half years ago.

Abortion rights took center stage with both sides of the debate staging protests in Downtown Santa Monica.

A group of music industry giants came to Santa Monica High School to advocate for Prop. 28. Rapper and record producer Dr. Dre, music executive Jimmy Iovine, rapper Lil Baby, advisor Paul Wachter and former LAUSD superintendent Austin Beutner came together for a conversation about the importance of arts and music education in public schools. 

Caltrans began two projects on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) that could shore up the delicate coastal thoroughfare against storms and erosion. 

The union representing Santa Monica’s sworn police deputies threatened the City with a lawsuit over what it characterized as “the lack of commitment to public service and disinterest shown by some commissioners in fulfilling their obligations as members of the PSROC [Public Safety Reform Advisory Commission].” The argument over training for commissioners eventually reached council with City Hall giving commissioners an extension through January 2023 to complete the required training. 

James ‘Jimmy’ Cooley died after what his family said was not an easy life. In 1972, Cooley was a fifth-grade student at McKinley Elementary School on a camping trip in Oxnard when a can of flammable liquid placed on a grill exploded and lit him on fire, resulting in burns to over 80% of his body. The accident left him with life long trauma but he was remembered for his caring personality and love for his family. 

Crash: A drunk driver and his passenger both survived after they drove off the bluffs. SMDP photo

Westside Food Bank’s (WSFB) Annual 5K Hunger Walk returned to Santa Monica in person this for the first time in two years. The event funds programs which provide hundreds of thousands of meals to individuals and families on the Westside.

Parents raised doubts over plans to reopen the shuttered Muir/SMASH campus for the 2024 school year saying they didn’t trust the district to keep to its promises and that plans were discriminating against the neighborhood residents who sent their kids to Muir by potentially depriving them of their traditional style school.

The president of the Los Angeles City Council resigned from the post after she was heard making racist comments and other coarse remarks in a leaked recording of a conversation with other Latino leaders. Several other councilmembers were also heard but at least one refused to resign causing chaos at meetings for the rest of the year. 

Drones zipped around on the Samohi campus driven by students participating in the AviNation Dream Tour, which came to the school for the first time this year. AviNation is an organization that works to attract youth to the field of aviation through outreach and educational events. 

The $375 million Santa Monica College bond on the November ballot faced strong opposition in Malibu. Despite some opposition, Measure SMC passed. 

The City lost control over almost 5,000 new housing units in several proposed developments due to its failure to adopt a compliant housing element. While Council finally approved and adopted a revised version of the city’s 6th Cycle Housing Element, it was late and the delay opened the door for local developers to capitalize on the “Builder’s Remedy” that automatically approves developments with a fixed percentage of affordable units. The result of the failure to adopt a housing element took Council by surprise with most members totally ignorant of the situation despite months of discussion about the process. Despite unfounded assertions that the process could be reversed or at least moderated, developers continued to move through the process unimpeded for the rest of the year. None of the projects broke ground in 2022 and only a few were formalized but developers have several months to finish their paperwork. 

A delegation of German scientists, healthcare executives and business and political leaders visited the headquarters of Santa Monica based companies Quantgene and GoodRx to learn about their work detecting and preventing diseases, efforts to extend human lifespan and make healthcare more accessible and affordable. 

Serious crime statistics in Santa Monica were steady year on year according to data that compared the first six months of this year to the first halves of past years. Part 1 crimes decreased by a statistically insignificant nine calls. Less serious crimes increased by 8 percent or just over 100 calls with almost all of that accounted for in a single category: simple assault.

The City formally amended local rules to allow pandemic-era zoning changes to stay in effect long term. The changes included relaxed alcohol service regulations and parking requirements, the removal of per-block restaurant caps on Main Street, permitting multi-use food halls on the Third Street Promenade and more. A separate action to formalize the parklet program angered many businesses who said it would be too expensive for them to keep their outdoor eating spaces. 

Thieves stole 11 paintings, worth about $35,000 from artist Katie O’Neill’s art studio in Pacific Palisades. 

The annual Save the Pier play was performed on the end of the Pier. The performance, written by Pier historian Jim Harris, commemorates the efforts of local residents in the 1970’s to preserve the Pier after decades of neglect. 

Vote By Mail ballots began arriving in mailboxes, kicking off the voting season that ran through Nov. 8.

A quarterly sales tax revenue report covering April through June showed an increase of 6.4% over the same quarter of the previous year. According to the report, hotel occupancy levels soared, marking a 97% increase from Spring 2021. Restaurant sales were also up, accounting for 21% of the City’s quarterly revenue, compared to 14% in the same period the year before.

Tu Madre restaurant opened its fifth location at 6th and Broadway.  Since starting as a small but colorful taco stand in Westwood in 2013, the Mexican restaurant has expanded throughout the LA area with the goal of bringing bold flavors and a fun, festive atmosphere to local communities.

Council began the process for listing the Civic Auditorium and two parcels located between 4th and 5th streets south of Colorado near the E Line (Expo) train as surplus land.  In order for underutilized, or “surplus” city-owned property to be renovated, leased or sold for any purpose, the city must first offer it up to be turned into affordable housing, parks and recreation, or schools.

Locals flocked to the Santa Monica Pier for the newly launched Locals’ Night. The monthly event features activities for all ages on a monthly basis.

A Los Angeles jury said SMMUSD must pay $45 million to the family of special needs twins after a behavioral aid at a Malibu school was found to have physically abused the two autistic seven-year-olds. The district eventually filed for a new trial in the case saying it had been improperly decided and also asked to split the payment, if it stands, over a 10 year period. 

SMMUSD made decisions about spending nearly $7 million from Bond ES. They approved a plan to re-shuffle the budget to put more money into network infrastructure, student devices and creating updated “21st century classrooms,” and less into library technology, computer labs, tech leadership and coaching positions.

Antisemitic hatred inspired by statements from Kanye West hit nearby communities and drew strong rebukes from local lawmakers.

A woman was awarded $4 million in damages after being struck in a crosswalk at Montana and 15th in 2018. 

A pair of residential fires in Venice set residents on edge following the recent destruction of a home on the Canals. For the second time in less than a week, firefighters were called to 657 East Flower Avenue for fire. This time the home was destroyed by the flames.

Samohi’s Latinx Leaders Club hosted an assembly in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, which. The student-led event featured dancers, musicians and guest speakers, as well as student presentations, in both Spanish and English, about Latinx history and culture. 

The Santa Monica Police Department responded to three stabbings and a total of five knife-related crimes in four days with police saying they were already planning to increase patrols in the area.

SMMUSD and the City of Malibu released a “term sheet” outlining a potential deal to split the district in two.  The general terms of the split state that the proposed Santa Monica Unified School District would retain all school sites in the City of Santa Monica as well as all local revenues; the same would be true for Malibu under a new Malibu Unified School District, with the addition of revenue from the unincorporated portions of LA County often referred to as “unincorporated Malibu.” The sheet also guarantees funding levels for both new agencies and acknowledges changes could be made due to disasters or unforeseen changes to tax revenues. 

Early in-person voting opened at St Anne Church and Shrine. The church was the only early voting location in the City.

The Santa Monica Youth Orchestra’s (SMYO) Mariachi Program continued providing education to local students following the establishment of the program in 2019. The program expanded with a high school class after several years of teaching elementary and middle school students. 

Volunteers helped raise $184,855, plus an additional $50,000 in matching gifts, through the Santa Monica Education Foundation’s recent Pledge Week fundraiser. The money will be used to fund programs in Santa Monica’s public schools, which has been the mission of the Ed Foundation since its founding 40 years ago.

November.