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.
• Two Cessna 172s that departed Santa Monica Airport 13 minutes apart April 29 crashed into each other mid-flight above the Santa Monica Mountains, killing the pilot and passenger in one of the planes. The collision occurred at 2:01 pm about eight miles east-northeast of Ventura.
• The Santa Monica City Council approved at a special meeting April 30 a resolution increasing the landing fee for all aircraft touching down at Santa Monica Airport. The rates increased to $5.48 per 1,000 pounds of aircraft and could go up to $5.89 per 1,000 pounds of aircraft by 2016.
• The Santa Monica City Council approved at a special meeting April 30 a contract for almost $700,000 to repave the airport’s runway; parking lot improvements are also included in the expenditure. PALP Inc., doing business as Excel Paving Company, was the winning bidder for the city contract, which is not to exceed $672,525.
• The Santa Monica Planning Commission unanimously voted May 1 to recommend a science learning center at Crossroads School. The proposed project would be three stories high and feature 12 classrooms inside.
• More than 300 people filled a community room at the Civic Auditorium May 6 to give their two cents about the Downtown Specific Plan.
• Santa Monica athlete Julie Weiss, who ran 52 marathons in 52 weeks to help fight pancreatic cancer, was honored May 19 as Sen. Ted W. Lieu’s 2013 Woman of the Year for the 28th Senate District.
• The final concert of New West Symphony’s 2012/2013 Masterpiece Series season was held May 12 in Santa Monica. The all-Beethoven concert, led by music director Marcelo Lehninger, included Leonore Overture No. 3 in C Major, Opus 72a and the Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Opus 125, “Choral.”
• Fourteen-year-old Jiye Angela Bae, a freshman at Santa Monica’s Crossroads School for the Arts & Science, was chosen as one of Southern California’s most talented teens in the finale performance at The Music Center’s 25th Annual Spotlight Awards.
• A proposed 53-unit development in downtown Santa Monica at 1318 Second Street narrowly earned the City Council’s approval May 14. In a 4 to 3 vote, a development agreement proposed by Century West Partners was told it could move forward.
• Opening statements were heard May 15 in a downtown LA courtroom in the trial of 47-year-old Kelly Soo Park, who was accused in a murder-for-hire plot against aspiring model Juliana Redding in Santa Monica. Park pleaded not guilty at her arraignment July 6, 2010 for killing the 21-year-old who had moved to LA from Arizona.
• The Santa Monica City Council approved as part of its May 14 consent calendar a renewal of the unlimited ride transit program servicing Santa Monica College students who use the Big Blue Bus. The program, known as “Any Line, Any Time,” will cost City Hall $1,317,040 for the 2013-14 Fiscal Year, or $97,560 more than the current rate.
• The final design plans for what is effectively Santa Monica’s welcome center – the Colorado Esplanade – were formally approved May 14. The council unanimously approved only the first phase of the streetscape project located between the future terminus of the regional Expo light rail line, the Downtown, and one of the City’s most prominent landmarks, the Santa Monica Pier.
– Dozens of hospital employees lined Wilshire Boulevard and 16th Street on May 21 and 22 as part of a coordinated strike and sympathy event involving health care workers at University of California-operated hospitals across the state, including Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, in an effort to increase staffing, update pension plans, and demand raises.
• Eric Garcetti claimed the top political office in Los Angeles, as the native Angeleno defeated Wendy Greuel in the run-off mayoral race May 21.
• The Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved two consent calendar items May 14 directing more than $2.5 million to a paving project and an additional $102,000 to the Universally Accessible Playground.
• Reviewing a $1 billion budget is not easy. Yet such was the task at hand for the Santa Monica City Council, which spent 12 hours between May 28 and 29 poring over budget proposals from every department at City Hall. By the end of the two-day study session, both the council and City staff were faced with the prospects of a tough reality: Santa Monica could be operating in the red by the time the next Biennial Budget is up for review, thanks to healthcare and pension costs.
• With the arrival of the warmer months, Santa Monica Place launched “Good Food Fridays” May 31 – a free, family affair event that will be held the last Friday of every month.
• Santa Monica College quarterback Alfonso Medina – who led the Corsairs to back-to-back Conference Championships for the first time in 30 years – was named SMC 2012-13 Student Athlete of the Year on May 23.
• June 2 saw the return of the annual ART for CLARE fundraiser, which offered patrons the chance to purchase art from highly regarded local artists, sample some of LA’s best cuisine, and bid on silent auction items that range from luxury vacations to spa packages.