In what could be described as a year of big ups and downs for Santa Monica, here is The Mirror’s run-down of the top headlines from the year.
Please note that some of the following stories took place up to a week before or after the publication date, depending on whether it was a recap or preview piece.
• Neighbors of John Carroll Lowery shook their heads with astonishment as the body of their 48-year-old friend was wheeled into the back of a LA County Coroner’s van in the 2900 block of Delaware Avenue at about 8:30 am on Feb. 27. Just hours earlier, Lowery had shot himself in the head after holding hostage his 86-year-old mother-in-law, who also lived in the home, for several tense hours.
• On Feb. 26 the California Heritage Museum launched its “Food Truck Bazaar,” which is set to become a weekly community event on Main Street.
• On the morning of Feb. 25 a group of just six members from anti-gay group Westboro Baptist Church was met by several hundred members of the Santa Monica High School community who stole the spotlight from the controversial group.
• Santa Monica City Council members unanimously approved Feb. 26 a transportation impact fee (TIF) to be applied to developers who build within Santa Monica’s borders. The potential infusion of cash from the TIF would help offset some of the $134 million that City Hall expects to spend on building a better transportation infrastructure in Santa Monica.
• Two anti-airport groups wrote to the area’s federal representatives in Congress to push for the closure of Santa Monica Airport’s air control tower. The letter, dated March 3, was written on behalf of the Citizens Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic and Sunset Park Anti-Airport, Inc., and also sought the cessation of FAA funds to the airport.
• Santa Monica High School Delians Honor Society student, Zaire Overton, was named the 2013 Wendy’s High School Heisman Award Female School Winner and named to the 2013 South Bay Girls Senior Soccer All Star Team.
• Plans for a new 22-story Ocean Avenue hotel with museum were lodged with the City of Santa Monica. The Frank Gehry-designed “Ocean Avenue Project” proposed for the northeast corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Ocean Avenue comprises a 244-foot mixed-use building that includes a 125-room hotel, 22 condominiums, 19 replacement rent-controlled units, affordable housing, a public rooftop observation deck, and street-level retail and restaurants.
• On March 12 the Santa Monica City Council passed an ordinance that asserts the fundamental rights of all Santa Monica residents to comprehensive waste disposal systems that do not degrade the environment, to clean water from sustainable sources, clean air, a sustainable food system, a sustainable natural climate, and a sustainable energy future based on renewable energy sources.
• The City of Santa Monica was awarded $1 million after being named one of the five winners in the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge. Providence was awarded the $5 million grand prize, while Santa Monica joined the ranks of Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia for the $1 million prizes.
• Lincoln Middle School held a groundbreaking ceremony March 12 for its new two-story library and classroom. The $16 million project began in December 2012 and was anticipated to be complete in September 2014.
• Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the 12 local businesses that won this year’s Sustainable Quality Awards at the 18th annual Sustainable Quality Awards luncheon, held March 13 at the Sheraton Delfina hotel.
• The Santa Monica High School boys basketball team played Pleasant Grove High School (Elk Grove, CA) in Sacramento March 22 in the California State Championship game after a nail-biting win against Loyola on March 16. However, the team lost to Pleasant Grove 73-57.
• Thirteen BigBelly Solar Compactors and Recycling units were installed near Main Street’s shops, restaurants, and coffee houses during the week of March 11.
• Herb Alpert and Lani Hall entertained friends and supporters at the opening of The Herb Alpert Educational Village on March 24.
• The 2013 Asics LA Marathon “Stadium to the Sea” course brought together more than 24,000 runners from around the world March 17. Runners started at Dodger Stadium before heading west to the finish line in Santa Monica. Erick Mose of Kenya won the men’s division with a time of 2:09:42. Fellow Kenyans Julius Keter, Nicholas Chelimo, and Weldon Kirui placed 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, respectively.
• Three suspects believed to be part of a crime ring that used stolen credit card numbers to purchase more than $60,000 in property – including more than 7,000 rounds of ammunition – were arrested March 22 after a joint investigation between the Santa Monica Police Department and the Atascadero Police Department.
• Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus went into damage control March 25 after two “suspicious packages” found earlier in the day turned out to be props that were not removed from a training exercise held over the weekend.
• Three members of Santa Monica High School’s environmental science eco-action group, Team Marine, were awarded first place March 23 at the LA County Science Fair in the senior division of Environmental Management. Angelina Hwang, Edie Cote, and Ivan Morales’ project examined the effects of the Santa Monica plastic bag ban on consumer bag choice by comparing pre-ban and post-ban data.
• After 22 years, John Muir Elementary School’s PTA hosted its final monthly Flea Market April 6. Flea Market coordinator Jaime Greger said after examining the past year’s results of the Flea Market, the John Muir PTA realized the Flea Market was a costly and labor-intensive operation to run.