Santa Monica
Traditional Reporting for A Digital Age

The Santa Monica Lookout, Santa Monica, California -- February 2018

Member of Santa Monica Audit Advisory Group Urges City to Pay Down $461 Million in Unfunded Pensions by 2030
February 28, 2018 -- The City of Santa Monica is being urged to retire a $461 million debt for unfunded employee pensions in the next dozen years, imposing across-the-board freezes on salaries and/or hiring to pay for the move.

Santa Monica Police Arrest Suspect in Violent Home Invasion Robbery
February 27, 2018 -- Santa Monica police on Tuesday arrested a suspect for attempted rape and assault with a deadly weapon in a home invasion robbery near Downtown last week.

Cost Per Square Foot for Apartments in Santa Monica Rivals Wealthiest Cities in U.S.
February 27, 2017 -- In Santa Monica, the glittering waves of the Pacific beckon, the beach sand in warm and inviting, palm trees sway in a gentle breeze and the sun (almost) always shines. But don’t expect much if you want to rent an apartment there.

LA Man Charged with Murder of Santa Monica Senior
February 27, 2018 -- Homicide and burglary charges were filed last week against a 26-year-old Los Angeles man in connection with the murder of a senior in his Santa Monica apartment.

Santa Monica-Malibu Public School Leaders Give Blessing to Student Walkouts
February 26, 2018 -- In what appears to be an unusual move, the Santa Monica-Malibu public school system is giving its blessings to the class-room walkouts and other protests at campuses next month calling for gun control.

Rube Goldberg Inspired Machine Contest Sunday at the Santa Monica Pier
February 26, 2018 -- Pouring a bowl of cereal may seem an easy task, but in the convoluted mechanical world of cartoonist Rube Goldberg, it could take more than two dozen insanely complex steps. On Sunday students will take up the challenge during the LA Regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at the Santa Monica Pier.

OPINION -- Bird Rides Clear Winner in Settlement Agreement
Even though Bird scooters continue to violate State and Santa Monica laws, the City has dropped its criminal charges against the company and CEO Travis VanderZanden, save one minor infraction carrying a $200 fine. The question remains: Why is the City giving up its most potent leverage against Bird Rides, Inc?

Woman Stabbed Multiple Times During Home Invasion in Santa Monica
February 23, 2018 -- Santa Monica police are looking for a suspect who stabbed a woman multiple times during a violent home invasion robbery near Downtown early Friday morning. The incident took place at approximately 3:30 a.m. in an apartment complex in the 1700 block of 5th Street just north of the 10 Freeway, police said.

Big Blue Bus Proposes City Fee for Drivers Entering Santa Monica During Rush Hours
February 23, 2018 -- With ridership plummeting, the head of Big Blue Bus system suggests in a new report that the City provide more incentive to hop a bus by charging motorists a special fee if they enter Santa Monica during rush hours.

Father Pleads for Financial Help After Daughter Hospitalized in 'Brutal' Incident in Santa Monica
February 23, 2018 -- A father whose young daughter’s head was reportedly slammed onto a concrete floor multiple times in an incident last month on 11th Street in Santa Monica has launched an online campaign to raise money to treat extensive injuries.

Santa Monica's Short-Term Rental Market Thriving
February 22, 2018 -- Short-term rentals in Santa Monica that were listed on sites such as Airbnb generated nearly $2.5 million in hotel bed taxes during the past fiscal year, according to a report issued by the City this month.

Santa Monica Beach Makes TripAdvisor's Top Ten U.S. Beaches
February 22, 2018 -- TripAdvisor, the largest travel site in the world, has named Santa Monica Beach one of the country's top ten beaches. The annual Travelers' Choice awards, which were announced on Wednesday, is based on the number and quality of reviews posted by the site's users.

Santa Monica's 18th Street Arts Center to Feature Installations by LA-Based Latina Artists
February 22, 2018 -- An imagined art school in the middle of the Amazon and the notion of home and place are among the concepts explored in an exhibition of work by two Latina artists at Santa Monica's 18th Street Arts Center.

Santa Monica Watchdog Group Endorses Proposal for City Council Term Limits
February 21, 2018 -- A prominent Santa Monica watchdog group on Tuesday offered its endorsement of a proposal for November’s ballot that would impose term limits on the seven-member City Council.

Completion of Lincoln Middle School Track Project Delayed as Cost Increases
February 21, 2018 -- Delayed by some surprise “challenges,” the track and field construction project for Santa Monica’s Lincoln Middle School is now scheduled for completion in the spring, and at a higher cost. The project was scheduled to be completed last month at a cost of $4,092,000.

Santa Monica College's Emeritus Band to Perform Spring Concert Next Month
February 21, 2018 -- Santa Monica College’s Emeritus Concert Band will take listeners on an eclectic musical journey from Sousa to Soul at its spring concert March 4.

Outside Audit Warns Santa Monica City Might Not Be Able to “Absorb” Coming Recessions
February20, 2018 -- With high personnel costs and record unfunded employee pensions equaling more than two thirds of its operating budget, the City of Santa Monica might not be able to “absorb” the fiscal shock of future recessions, according to the findings of an outside auditor.

Santa Monica State Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Protect Tenants from Ellis Evictions
February 20, 2018 -- Santa Monica State Rep. Richard Bloom introduced a bill last week that would bar landlords who empty rent controlled buildings under the state Ellis Act to return the property "piecemeal" to the rental market.

Equinoxes, Neutron Stars and Commercial Space Flight at the Santa Monica College Planetarium
February 20, 2018 -- Can a billionaire beat NASA to the moon? Can an egg be balanced on its end during the equinox? And what is a gravitational wave?
Those are some off the questions that will be answered next month during five feature shows on Fridays at 8 p.m. at the Santa Monica College John Drescher Planetarium.

Santa Monica Hires Former U.S. Prosecutor as 'Chief of Staff' for City Attorney's Office
February 16, 2018 -- Santa Monica City Attorney Lane Dilg announced Thursday the hiring of a top former U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecutor to act as Special Counsel/Chief of Staff for her office.

Santa Monica City Council Votes to Continue COAST Festival as Attendance Drops
February 16, 2018 -- Undaunted by a 20 percent drop in attendance in the second year of its car-free COAST Open Streets festival, the Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday voted to continue the event annually through 2020.

Santa Monica College to Host Panel on Reducing Violence
February 16, 2018 -- A panel discussion at Santa Monica College announced earlier this week assumed a new urgency after the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday.

OPINION -- Florida Tragedy – A Message from the SMMUSD Superintendent
February 16, 2018 -- Our hearts go out to the families and staff involved in yesterday’s tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Florida. We hope and pray that nothing like that ever happens in our schools or community. However, if it does, we are prepared as much as possible.

City Official Counters Fears Charter Jets Will Continue to Use Santa Monica Airport
February 15, 2018 -- A City official on Wednesday countered fears expressed by an anti-airport activist that Santa Monica Airport's shortened runaway would be routinely used by charter jets. But the official acknowledged a charter jet had landed this week on the newly shortened runway.

Santa Monica Lawmaker Tackles Microfibers
February 15, 2018 -- Under a bill introduced this week by Santa Monica State Rep. Richard Bloom, warning labels would be required on synthetic fabrics that shed tiny fibers when washed.

Bird Rides Agrees to ‘No Contest’ Plea, More Than $300,000 in Fines in Santa Monica Case
February 15, 2018 -- Bird Rides, Inc., the Santa Monica start-up behind the wildly popular motorized scooters zipping through the city's streets, has agreed to a “No Contest” plea and more than $300,000 in fines and restitution, City prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Earthquake-Vulnerable Apartment Buildings in Santa Monica Get Simplified Retrofit Rules
February 14, 2018 -- With retrofit deadlines approaching for almost 1,600 earthquake-vulnerable apartment buildings in Santa Monica, the City has introduced a simplified process to help owners naviagte more easily through a complex law.

Santa Monica City Officials Promise Civic Center Sports Field Will Be Built
February 14, 2018 -- City Officials assured skeptical Samohi parents Tuesday night that the Civic Center sports field they have sought for more than a decade will be built. They also said it would be on time, if not earlier, and hopefully will have adequate parking.

Santa Monica Place to Celebrate Year of the Dog This Saturday
February 14, 2018 -- Santa Monica will join in the global celebration of the Chinese New Year with festivities Saturday afternoon at Santa Monica Place. The celebration takes place from 2 to 6 p.m. and features the Chinese Dragon Dance.

Santa Monica Not Alone as Coastal Cities Grapple with Increases in Homelessness
February 13, 2018 -- Behind a dramatic 23 percent jump in the homeless population throughout Los Angeles County in 2017, coastal cities like Santa Monica experienced a particular blow.

Santa Monica Water Customers to See Five Percent Hike in March Bills
February 13, 2018 -- Time has come to set aside more money for using Santa Monica’s municipal water system, with a five percent hike in the rate set to start showing up on customer water bills on, or about, March 1.

Santa Monica College Gallery Features Work of Public Artist with Exhibit Starting this Month
February 13, 2018 -- Perhaps the best way to experience Anne Marie Karlsen's art is to ride the Red Line Subway to the North Hollywood station and take in the giant mosaic murals she created two decades ago.
Those who want a broader survey of the artist's work will get a chance starting this month during an exhibit at the Santa Monica College Pete & Susan Barrett Art Gallery.

Santa Monica Police Make Four DUI Arrests During Checkpoint
February 12, 2018 -- Police arrested four motorists driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol during a DUI checkpoint this month, Police Department officials said.

Santa Monica Readies More Parking Signs to Ease Downtown Gridlock
February 12, 2018 -- A proposed contract adding more “real-time” parking signs downtown to steer drivers to spots in Santa Monica’s city parking garages goes to the City Council on Tuesday, part of an overarching plan that allows more development downtown but doesn’t require new parking in general.

Food for Thought at Santa Monica's Aero Theater
February 12, 2018 -- Every year, about one third of the food produced for human consumption -- or some 1.3 billion tons -- is lost or wasted, according to the documentary "WASTED! The Story Of Food Waste," which will be screened at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica this month.

City of Santa Monica Poised to Expand Training, Coaching Services for Staff
February 9, 2018 -- The City of Santa Monica is poised to pay an additional $150,000 to provide "staff development, team building and coaching services" at City Hall, according to Tuesday's City Council agenda.

Santa Monica’s Embattled Bus System Coming Under New Scrutiny
February 9, 2018 -- Ninety years ago, Santa Monica’s population had doubled in a single decade when the City launched a municipal bus operation eventually named the “Big Blue Bus” system and christened the “cornerstone” of the City’s future sustainability. What a difference trying to operate a bus system in this century has been.

Communication & Media Series Continues at Santa Monica College
February 9, 2018 -- From comic books to social media, Santa Monica College's Communication & Media Series will explore the opportunities and challenges in today's expanding communications world.

Fiscal Forecast Improves but Red Ink Looms for Santa Monica City Hall
February 8, 2018 -- Cobbling together a record $45 million payment last year for unfunded employee pensions helped postpone a deficit at Santa Monica City Hall, but millions of dollars in red ink are coming anyway, according to a new fiscal forecast.

Five Mixed-Use Apartment Projects Go to Santa Monica Planning Commission
February 5, 2018 -- Five mixed-use apartment projects, most of them downtown and all from three to five stories in height, go to the Santa Monica Planning Commission on Wednesday, as the City’s future of greater density -- but also more housing -- continues to roll forward.

Parent Donations Surge for Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation
February 8, 2018 -- In a 15-day surge, parent donations at the annual fundraiser for the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation (SMMEF) jumped to almost $185,000, Foundation officials said Tuesday.

Suspect Charged in Santa Monica Jewelry Store Theft
February 8, 2018 -- Charges were filed with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Wednesday against a suspect in a jewelry store theft on Montana Avenue last month, police said.

Santa Monica Capital Project Spending Hit $185 Million Last Year
February 7, 2018 -- From a $66 million annex to City Hall to a series of other building projects both big and small, the City of Santa Monica spent, or committed to spending, $185 million as it progressed on hundreds of capital-improvement projects last year, according to a year-end progress report.

Supporters Hope Term Limits for Santa Monica Council is Idea 'Whose Time Has Come'
February 7, 2018 -- Back in 2002, reformers took on the status quo at Santa Monica’s City Hall with a ballot measure which, among other especially divisive proposals, sought term limits for a City Council where turnover was rare.

Santa Monica Library Ocean Park Branch Celebrates Centennial
February 7, 2018 -- When the first branch of the Santa Monica Public Library opened in Ocean Park 100 years ago, the main library building Downtown had grown from 800 donated books when it opened in 1890 to some 20,000 books.

UCLA Study Suggests Low-Income Riders in Santa Monica, Southern California Switching to Own Wheels
February 6, 2018 -- A new study by UCLA is suggesting plummeting ridership on public buses in Santa Monica and across the rest of Southern California is being driven by an unanticipated dynamic.

Santa Monica Finds Itself at Transit Crossroads
February 6, 2018 -- Unlike older metropolitan areas with mass transit, such as New York or Chicago, Southern California grew up in suburban sprawl and was built to serve vehicles with freeways and vast amounts of parking.

OPINION -- The Road Ahead: Mayor Ted Winterer's State of the City Address
February 6, 2018 -- On February 1, Mayor Ted Winterer delivered the annual State of the City Address. "Our work today can build a more resilient and more vibrant community for tomorrow," he said.

Santa Monica Conservancy Offers Walk into the Past
February 5, 2018 -- On Saturday mornings, history buffs can gather outside Santa Monica's oldest building -- a defunct shoe-box saloon -- and for the next two hours walk into the beach city's past. The six-block tour offered by the Santa Monica Conservancy explores more than 130 years of history.

Santa Monica College Celebrates Black History Month
February 5, 2018 -- The history of West Coast hip-hop and the saga of Santa Monica's black community are part of a celebration of Black History Month in the beach city.

Santa Monica-Malibu School Board Member Vows to Produce Documentation Clearing Him in Conflict of Interest Queries
February 2, 2018 -- Santa Monica-Malibu school board member Ralph Mechu said Thursday he will provide all documentation needed to clear him of conflict-of-interest allegations being pursued by investigators for the District Attorney’s Office and California’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).

National Apartment Survey Finds Santa Monica Rents Increased Moderately in 2017
February 2, 2018 -- Rents in Santa Monica stayed flat last month, following a year of increases which were “moderate” for the location, but still 84 percent higher than the national average, analysts said Thursday. Year over year, the city’s rents rose 3.7 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the report by Apartment List.

Santa Monica Police on Lookout for Bike, Pedestrian Violations
February 2, 2018 -- Santa Monica police are holding the year's second Bike and Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operations Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Monday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Proposed Ballot Measure Calls for Term Limits for Santa Monica Council Members
February 1, 2018 –- A relative newcomer to the Santa Monica City Council and the head of a city watchdog group on Monday filed notice they are seeking to put a measure on the November ballot limiting council members to three terms.

Local Union Defends Lobbying Efforts for Santa Monica Arts Colony Hotel
February 1, 2018 -- Unite Here Local 11 on Wednesday jabbed back at a blog attacking its lobbying efforts on behalf of a seven-story hotel in Santa Monica's Bergamot arts colony that was opposed by many tenants and community members.

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