In what was at times another high-stakes, high-drama year across Santa Monica, here is The Mirror’s run-down of the top headlines from August 2012.
Please note that some of the stories mentioned took place up to a week before or after the publication date, depending on whether it was a recap or preview piece.
• The Mirror looked at the Nov. 6 election candidates vying for spots in Washington D.C.: Incumbent Democrat Henry Waxman who was up against independent Bill Bloomfield in the race for the 33rd Congressional district while U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein was seeking a fifth term up against Republican challenger Elizabeth Emken. (Waxman and Feinstein breezed to victory Nov. 6)
• Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights’ steering committee voted to endorse Tony Vazquez and Terry O’Day in the race for City Council on Nov. 6. It followed the political organization’s three rounds of member voting the previous Sunday where Ted Winterer and Gleam Davis claimed the organization’s first-pick endorsements.
• St. Anne’s Church priest Rafael Venegas was arraigned at the LAX Courthouse on two charges — sexual battery and providing a minor under the age of 21 with alcohol.
• Food trucks returned to the corner of 14th and Santa Monica Boulevard to be held every Wednesday for lunch and dinner.
• The owners of a new restaurant coming to the Santa Monica Pier asked for an amendment to the Municipal Code to allow for a third story roof dining deck.
• The date August 6, 2012 will forever be etched as the day NASA landed its Mars rover “Curiosity” on the red planet to answer our burning question of whether life has existed or may exist there. By fortunate coincidence, the life of one of NASA’s greatest astronauts, Sally Ride, was remembered one last time at a private ceremony at Woodlawn Cemetery, Mausoleum, and Mortuary in Santa Monica on the same day.
• National Night Out, an annual event sponsored by the Santa Monica Police Department, was celebrated in style in a highly successful event that included child fingerprinting, free food, rock climbing, instructional booths, and a youth rock band in order to promote partnership between the police and the Santa Monica community.
• The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District approved the addition of a $385 million bond called Measure ES to the Nov. 6 ballot for facility improvement projects across the district.
• Council members voted to suspend a few ambitious capital projects including the Civic Auditorium renovation, Civic Center joint use projects, and the Mountain View Mobile Home Park improvements.
• Council members voted unanimously to reinstitute an ordinance that expired in 2010 that allows auto dealerships within Santa Monica to expand their facilities by as much as 750 square feet.
• The Santa Monica College Board of Trustees election on Nov. 6 was canceled after no-one challenged the three board members up for reelection: Susan Aminoff, Robert Rader, and Margaret Quinones-Perez.
• A pilot who fatally crashed in West LA after taking off from Santa Monica Airport was identified as 70-year-old Sean M. McMillan, an attorney-at-a-large for a Century City law firm.
• Council members approved a 10-year lease extension for Rusty’s Surf Ranch, ensuring the pier mainstay will remain at the tourist destination for another decade serving its daily fare of burgers, sandwiches, soups, and salads.
• To ensure the long-term survival of the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra, its 2012-13 concert season was suspended.
• Council members voted to pursue a land swap for a new fire station, trading three parcels of land located at 1337 to 1347 Seventh Street in exchange for City-owned property at 1338 to 1342 Fifth Street.
• Westchester resident Cara Cameron was arrested for striking and killing an Australian tourist near the Santa Monica Pier while she was driving under the influence of alcohol.
• Only weeks after Council members discussed food trucks operating on a lot near Santa Monica Boulevard and 14th Street, Planning Commissioners voted to recommend as many as four more locations primed to house mobile eateries.
• Council members discussed whether the Transportation Impact Fee could cover costs of developing new transportation infrastructure improvements that encouraged increased bicycle, pedestrian, and public transit traffic while managing vehicular congestion.
• The Santa Monica City Clerk’s Office confirmed a 15th City Council candidate had officially qualified for the Santa Monica City Council ballot on Nov. 6 — Civil/Environmental Engineer Armen Melkonians. He submitted his petition on Aug. 15, but the LA County Registrar’s office originally deemed he did not have 100 valid registered Santa Monica voters.
• City Hall came to a settlement agreement with Stanley and Harriet Epstein worth $77,500, ending a 14-month legal matter where the couple alleged a flawed parking citation appeals process and claimed the officials on behalf of the City of Santa Monica violated the California Vehicle Code by failing to provide proper explanations of why drivers were cited.