Joe Natoli, a regular speaker during public comment periods on the City Council agenda, died March 12 at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital of an apparent heart attack. He was 55. Apparently never seen without a baseball cap (no logo), he was also a regular participant at public meetings of the Bayside District Corporation and the Pier Restoration Corporation.
Natoli was remembered by more than 30 people in a ceremony in the lobby of City Hall on Tuesday, March 25, before the City Council meeting. Among those speaking of Natoli were Mayor Katz, Police Chief Jackman, Fire Chief Hone, Bayside District and Pier Restoration directors, Promenade and Parking Structure Maintenance Supervisor Eddie Greenberg, City Councilmembers, Big Blue Bus general manager Stephanie Negriff, and other City employees and private citizens.
Variously referred to as a gadfly, ombudsman, and watchdog, Natoli was a photographer and handwriting analyst. He was the youngest of 10 children and is survived by four sisters and two brothers. Dan Crisafulli, a boyhood friend of Natoli’s in Oswego, New York, now living in Agoura Hills, said that he entered the hospital on the afternoon of March 10 after suffering seizures. He died on the morning of March 12. His remains will be cremated and sent to his brother in Oswego.
Mayor Katz called Natoli a “sincere man” who “believed everything he said,” and stressed that he “really cared about this City” even though he was often critical of City government. “We need people like Joe to keep us alert,” he said. Jerry Rubin, a friend of Natoli’s for 10 years, agreed that “he really loved Santa Monica,” and Eddie Greenberg said he was a “very committed advocate for workers’ rights.” Assistant City Manager Mona Miyasato added that he was “a huge flirt.”