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December -- Money, Money, Money

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By Lookout Staff

December 30, 2022 -- In December, an audit of the City's homeless programs shows massive spending, a bidding war for a lucrative kiosk contract gets heated and a former mayor dies in a plane crash on Santa Monica Beach.

The month begins with a debate over an eagerly anticipated audit that finds Santa Monica spends an estimated $42.5 million a year on homeless programs and services ("City Spends More than $40 Million on Homelessness But Lacks Way to Gauge Progress," December 1, 2022).

The 110-page Homelessness Study also finds the City lacks a specific plan and the data needed to gauge whether its efforts are paying off.

LA County prosecutors file charges against an armed man shot by police after barricading himself in a Pico Neighborhood apartment with his robbery victims ("Suspect Charged in Officer Involved Shooting," December 2, 2022).

After a halting start and three quick rounds of voting, the City Council elects Councilmembers Gleam Davis and Phil Brock to serve one year each as mayor ("Davis, Brock to Serve Year Each as Mayor," December 6, 2022).

The Council gives members of the City's Police Reform Commission until February 1 to complete the training required to serve or face ejection ("Proposed Resolution Gives Police Reform Commissioners Ultimatum," December 9, 2022).

WSC submits its first full proposal for one of the 15 projects it rushed into Santa Monica's planning pipeline under the "builder's remedy" provision in State Housing law ("WSC Submits Plans for First Builder's Remedy Project," December 13, 2022) .

Hoping to end an acrimonious bidding war, the Council awards a lucrative wayfinding contract to BIG Outdoor while rejecting a proposal to start the process over ("Council Awards Kiosk Contract to Top Bidder," December 14, 2022).

The 20-year contract promises to be an advertising bonanza for the company and a cash cow for the City, which would reap an estimated $14 million a year if BIG Outdoor installs the maximum 50 kiosks -- which amount to electronic billboards -- on commercial sidewalks.

The move, however, may not end runner-up IKE's challenge, which could be headed for court or the ballot box.

The City extends its rent relief program for struggling rent control tenants after fewer than 500 applications are approved, leaving most of the $750,000 in funding unused ("City Extends Rent Relief Program After Fewer Than 500 Households Qualify," December 15, 2022).

The School Board taps Assistant Superintendent Mark Kelly -- who has led human resources development and student services since 2015 -- to run the District on an interim basis ("School Board Hires Interim Superintendent," December 16, 2022).

Former Santa Monica Mayor Rex Minter dies after the small single-engine plane he was a passenger in crash lands south of the Pier. He was 95 ("Former Santa Monica Mayor Dies in Plane Crash at 95," December 25, 2022).

Minter -- who was elected to the City Council in 1955 when he was 27 and served as mayor from 1963 to 1967 -- died at a local hospital after he and the pilot were extricated from the plane by paramedics.

During Minter's tenure, the Council focused on blocking oil drilling in the Santa Monica Bay, redeveloping the run-down Ocean Park neighborhood and building the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

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