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.
• A project proposing to build almost 500,000 square feet of hotel, office, retail, and residential space in the heart of Santa Monica’s urban core at 4th and Arizona would have to wait a little while longer before seeing the light of day. Council members on Aug. 27 voted down a proposal by Metropolitan Pacific Capital (MPC), believing the project as currently designed still had some lingering issues that needed to be addressed. MPC pitched a 12-story development – labeled as “The Plaza at Santa Monica” – on a 2.5-acre lot owned by City Hall.
• The Santa Monica History Museum was awarded a $4,000 grant from the Employees Community Fund of Boeing CA for its “Magic of History: Youth Programs.”
• The long-enduring melodies of Reggae legend Jimmy Cliff concluded the Twilight Concert Series Sept. 12.
• A coalition of residents and groups – Airport2Park.org – formed in hopes of steering the SMO debate and discussion toward building a “great park” on the airport grounds, expanding upon the sports fields and park area already on portions of the premises.
• The fences around Santa Monica’s newest park – Tongva Park – came down Sept. 10, marking the completion of the 6.2 acre project across from Santa Monica City Hall. Designed by James Corner Field Operations, Tongva Park is located on the former Rand Corporation headquarters site at 1615 Ocean Avenue.
• The Santa Monica City Council formally adopted Sept. 10 the Bergamot Area Plan, which seeks to transform the near-geographic center of Santa Monica into a thriving district balancing the arts, commerce, and residence.
• The Santa Monica City Council logged a series of close votes Sept. 10 to allow for an exception to City law in order to allow the use of animated signs for public safety purposes, schools, and traffic circulation.
• Heal the Bay named veteran environmental leader Ruskin Hartley as its new chief executive officer, essentially taking the top leadership role held by Mark Gold for many years before he stepped down in January.
• Santa Monica prepared for an influx of more than 150,000 people Sept. 28 for the third iteration of “Glow “ – a grand-scale event that will transform the Santa Monica Pier and surrounding area into an “outdoor museum.”
• Local real estate businessman John D. (Jack) Jones donated $1 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica for a new community branch located in the Mar Vista Gardens apartment complex.
• Providence Southern California moved closer to assuming sponsorship to take on the day-to-day management of Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. Denver-based SCL Health System, the owner of St. John’s, on Monday signed a nonbinding letter of intent with Providence to assume sponsorship.
• Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) held its Annual Membership Convention Sept. 22 at the Church in Ocean Park. SMRR has enjoyed 34 years of political dominance in Santa Monica electoral politics.
• Congressman Henry Waxman spoke in front of more than 100 people Sept. 25 at the Santa Monica Main Library’s community room. The Santa Monica Democratic Club hosted the event.
• State legislators approved a bill earlier this month increasing California’s minimum wage to $10 per hour by 2016, the highest rate for hourly wage earners nationwide. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the minimum wage bill into law on Sept. 25.
• Santa Monica City officials filed on Sept. 19 a Notice of Preparation for a Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Santa Monica Downtown Specific Plan, informing relevant parties and the general public of pertinent information applicable to the proposed zoning update.
• Aircraft operations slightly decreased at Santa Monica Airport, based upon an annual report submitted Sept. 23 to the Airport Commission. The airport continued to operate below federally regulated noise levels and keep arrivals during the voluntary night curfew to a minimum.