As 2007 draws to a close, the Mirror has undertaken to follow up on some of the stories we have covered during the course of the year and see what has happened since the events last appeared in our pages. Of course we cannot cover everything, but we offer a sampling this week and will offer a further sampling next week.
Pico Youth and Family Center
This summer, PYFC received notice that it would have to vacate its space at 828 Pico Boulevard that had been its home since its founding in 2002. The Center was investigating some nearby opportunities, and executive director Oscar de la Torre said hopefully, “Maybe we should call it an expansion rather than just a relocation.”
De la Torre’s hopes have been realized. PYFC began a new lease November 1 on 2200 square feet (the old space was 1800) at 715 Pico Boulevard virtually across the street from Samohi. The Center has started interior construction on the new space and hopes to complete it within three months. Meanwhile, the PYFC administrative staff has moved in amid the construction, and the Center’s programs are operating out of interim space at Virginia Avenue Park and Samohi, where they relocated when they vacated their old space September 30.
“It really is an expansion,” said an excited de la Torre, who just last week became president of the SMMUSD school board.
Airport Runway Safety
After five years of unproductive negotiations between the City and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the City Council voted in November to prohibit certain faster aircraft from using Santa Monica Airport (SMO), a move that would almost certainly put the City in costly litigation with the FAA.
In an effort to find administrative and/or legislative solutions to the runway safety issues that prompted the City Council action, a Washington, D.C. meeting was scheduled for December 5 among a City delegation, the FAA, and Congressional representatives. Acting Airport Director Robert Trimborn reports that the meeting has been postponed to an indefinite date (probably in January) because the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, James Oberstar (D-Minn.), had undergone surgery and was not well enough to make the December 5 date.
The handful of remaining tenants at the once-795-unit Lincoln Place garden apartments in Venice, together with many evicted and otherwise former tenants, had a successful year in the courts in 2007. In one important proceeding, the California Court of Appeal halted further evictions in September and ruled that earlier evictions were unlawful under conditions imposed by the City of Los Angeles pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Although the LA City Council voted not to seek further review of that decision (that city had litigated in opposition to the tenants), property owner AIMCO petitioned the California Supreme Court for review of the decision and to “de-publish” the decision, which was unfavorable to landlords in its interpretation of the Ellis Act.
Only last week, on Wednesday, December 12, the Supreme Court denied AIMCO’s petition for review and depublication, thus finally terminating that case in the tenants’ favor and insuring that the decision can be relied upon as precedent in future cases.
This spring, a Mallard couple built a nest in bushes next to a Santa Monica backyard swimming pool and hatched a brood of ducklings that the homeowners cared for by building an access ramp, providing poultry meal, and even installing a scarecrow. The hen and 10 ducklings and their excretions took exclusive possession of the pool, and homeowners Patricia Stich and her husband Larry Merchant did voice some concern as to how long their hospitality might have to extend.
Ms. Stich reports that the ducks left 10 weeks from the day they hatched, just as predicted by the experts she had consulted – four almost to the 10-week day, five the day after, the hen the next day, and the “runt of the litter” the day after that. After a major clean-up of the pool and deck, she says the experience was “wonderful” but she doesn’t want to do it again. She has gotten a new electric pool cover (the old one was not working properly) so that the next time she sees ducks winging overhead she can activate the cover immediately.
One of the major initiatives of just-retired “homeless czar” Ed Edelman was the Santa Monica Homeless Community Court, designed to address non-violent “quality of life crimes” in a manner that would encourage the perpetrators to obtain help so as to reduce repetition of the offenses. The court held its first session in February with seven cases and convened monthly thereafter with a generally growing caseload.
Many of the cases involved repeat appearances over several months as the court monitored the progress of defendants in working with service providers, so that the growing number of cases called each month were not all new cases.
Julie Rusk of the City Human Services Division this month presented a report compiling court outcomes. Out of the 70 defendants who participated in the program through November, 34 (48%) had citations or warrants dismissed upon program completion, 25 (36%) have entered substance abuse treatment (16 residential and nine outpatient), and 13 (19%) have accessed psychiatric and/or mental health services. Seven persons (10%) have entered permanent housing.
The Mirror will follow up on farmacies, pedestrian fatalities, litigation involving the City, and other stories.