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 March 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.
• Four men involved in Santa Monica’s last fatal gang-related shooting, which occurred on Nov. 3, 2009 at Virginia Avenue Park, were convicted with sentences ranging from 50 to 90 years behind bars.
• Nativity scenes supporters earned a slight reprieve after Council members held off on deciding the fate of the nearly 60 year tradition at Palisades Park by postponing a vote on an ordinance, that if adopted, would ban the exhibition of any displays at any public places within the city.
• Parents and students struggled to come to terms with what was meant to be a public display of art by a Santa Monica High School student at a recent photography exhibition that turned into a controversial issue resulting in the departure of the school’s art teacher, Allan Barnes.
• Step Up on Second was recognized at a breakfast event as the team with the highest score (630) from the Super Bowl-A-Thon XVI held at AMF Bay Share Lanes on Pico Blvd. on Feb. 3.
• Council members appointed seven members to the Santa Monica Pier Interim Pier Board along with approving its budget.
• Three agenda items on the consent calendar carrying a combined budget of more than $6 million were altered by the Santa Monica City Council, with a water main replacement, bicycle parking services, and a new contract for unleaded gasoline highlighting the line-item expenditures.
• Opponents of the Bergamot Transit Village Center project held a press conference on Santa Monica City Hall’s lawn claiming the environmental impacts of the development would be worse than anticipated because the Draft Environmental Impact Report fails to factor in the collective impacts of the six other new projects in the surrounding area.
• Hoping to alter the future of traffic management in Santa Monica, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the City Council adopt a Transportation Implementation Fee, which aims to mitigate traffic in Santa Monica while furthering the goals of the Land Use and Circulation Element.
• City staff gave a presentation to Council members of the Downtown Specific Plan, providing the first insightful look into what could be in Santa Monica’s future downtown.
• Pre-teen members of the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica J.A.M.S. Branch were recognized for their leadership and service to the community with a national award from Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
• Of the 23,000 LA Marathon starting participants, 18,856 completed the 26.2-mile race that wound its way from Dodger Stadium, through Hollywood and the Westside, before ending in Santa Monica.
• The developer of a proposed hotel at 710 Wilshire was told by Council members it must implement a 65-cent per hour increase in wages for hospitality worker: $11.29 or $12.54 per hour (those offered benefits would receive the lower rate).
• Council members unanimously approved giving “Chain Reaction” supporters until Nov. 15 to raise enough money (between $227,372 and $423,172) to help restore the fading piece of public art located near the Civic Auditorium.
• The organizers behind the fourth annual “Tree Hugging Day” in Santa Monica say the day was a success and that the communication between the City and residents in regards to the environment had improved “treemendously” from several years ago.
• About a dozen students circled in front of Santa Monica City Hall in protest of the fatal shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida in February that captured the attention of the nation.
• Torie Osborn claimed the endorsement of Santa Monica for Renters’ Rights for the 50th Assembly District, which disgruntled candidates Richard Bloom and Betsy Butler who were not invited to the event to address its members.
• Hoping future Santa Monica taxpayers do not pay the price for poor fiscal planning, the Council members unanimously adopted a resolution to amend the contract between the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and City Hall, potentially saving the coastal municipality as much as $5.4 million per year by 2032.