Development and what role it will play in Santa Monica now and in the future dominated the top headlines of 2014, as The Mirror takes a look back on the year that was.
The slow growth movement, which had been gaining momentum in the lead up to this year, had two major victories: the successful referendum drive to halt the controversial Hines development and the election of slow growth advocate Sue Himmelrich to the City Council, shifting the power out of the hands of the previous pro-development majority.
When the 4-3 pro-development majority of Terry O’Day, Gleam Davis, Pam O’Connor, and Bob Holbrook voted to approve Hines’ mixed-used development at 1681 26th Street in February, newly formed grassroots movement Residocracy.org stepped up to the plate, announcing it would gather signatures to veto the development agreement.
Needing signatures from 10 percent of Santa Monica’s registered voting population in 30 days (approximately 6,100 signatures), the movement submitted more than 13,000 signatures to City Hall with several days to spare.
The City Council then decided to rescind the development agreement, opposed to letting voters decide the project’s fate on the Nov. 4 ballot. What happens next with Hines and its property still remains to be seen.
There was another crowded City Council election ballot Nov. 4 with a predominately anti-development and slow growth field making up most of the 14 candidates.
With so many candidates campaigning on the same philosophies the vote was somewhat split on election day, but SMRR endorsed candidate Sue Himmelrich was able to claim retiring councilman Bob Holbrook’s seat, with incumbents Kevin McKeown and Pam O’Connor retaining their seats for another four years.
It was evident at the new City Council’s first meeting on Dec. 9 that the power had shifted, with the slow growth four of Sue Himmelrich, Kevin McKeown, Ted Winterer, and Tony Vazquez setting a strategic play into motion to help them retain power come next election in 2016.
McKeown, who has served on the Council for 16 years and had never been mayor, was the likely choice for the two-year term, which is decided among the seven council members. It was speculated that either Ted Winterer or Tony Vazquez would serve as Mayor Pro Tem as both are up for election in two years.
However, a motion proposed by Himmelrich was passed that will see McKeown serve as Mayor for just one year with Tony Vazquez as Mayor Pro Tem. In the second year, Vazquez will serve as Mayor and Ted Winterer as Mayor Pro Tem – titles that are seen as an advantage going into an election.
Other notable stories of 2014 that grabbed attention far beyond city limits was Santa Monica High School wrestling coach Mark Black who was involved in a scuffle with a student inside a classroom. Black was placed on leave April 4, but was later hailed a hero and reinstated to his position.
The student, 18-year-old Blair Moore, later pleaded not guilty to multiple misdemeanor charges in connection with the scuffle, including two counts of threatening a public school official, one count of possession of a box cutter on school grounds, and one count of possessing marijuana on school grounds. Moore was also charged with a single count of “force or violence against a school employee in retaliation for an act performed in the course of his or her duties.”
Another notable story was Santa Monica City Council voting to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in all non-smoking areas in Santa Monica, including the pier, beaches, and the Third Street Promenade. The law took effect Nov. 13, which was result of an ordinance approved by the City Council in October.
Santa Monica Airport is set to be the biggest story of 2015, as the current agreement held by the City with the FAA expires June 30.
It will be interesting to see what tactics the City takes when it comes head-to-head with the FAA. In February, U.S. District Judge John L. Walter dismissed the City of Santa Monica’s lawsuit against the FAA without much hesitation. The City’s lawsuit had hoped to take future ownership and control of Santa Monica Airport.
Here is a look at some of the top stories from each edition of 2014. 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.
– Santa Monica residents had a first crack at taking part in the public process when City Hall hosted a meeting Jan. 7 to present the conceptual plans of an ambitious “green” Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway project planned for three miles of Michigan Ave. between the beach and Bergamot Station.
– With the arrival of 2014, the Santa Monica Planning Commission spent the month of January poring over the Draft Zoning Ordinance Update, a document governing the many land uses and dedicated to implementing the City’s General Plan.
– Santa Monica peace activist Jerry Rubin said there appeared to be a positive outcome at the start of the New Year for the ‘Save Chain Reaction’ efforts after he met with Santa Monica City Manager Rod Gould to discuss saving the public art sculpture.
– Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences in Santa Monica announced the inaugural honorees – Jen Anderson (Abramson), Paul Cummins, and Baron Davis – into its newly created Athletics Hall of Fame that was created to maintain the rich heritage and tradition of successful athletes at Crossroads.
– City Hall announced a portion of Ocean Ave. would be under construction for up to four weeks starting Jan. 21 to improve the street’s “walkability” between Olympic Dr. and Vicente Terrace.
– Known gang member Jose Zapien, 25, was sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 95 years to life for the 2006 Santa Monica murders of Eduardo Lopez and Miguel Martin and a dozen attempted murders.
– Weeks after the Santa Monica City Council approved design plans for a commemorative wall to be built at Woodlawn Cemetery to honor those with Santa Monica roots who lost their lives while serving in the military on active duty during a conflict, City Hall announced more than 90 people had already been identified to be incorporated on the memorial.
– Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District board member Ben Allen was elected to the Los Angeles Committee on School District Organization.
– Performances began Jan. 17 under Cirque du Soleil’s trademark blue-and-yellow big top tent next to the Santa Monica Pier for the touring production of “Totem.”
– A one-year pilot program was approved by Santa Monica City Council in hopes of scaling down the Twilight Concert Series, including doing away with the jumbotron for the event’s attendees on the sand.
– A new 14-screen ArcLight cinema complex will open in mid-2015 on the third level of Santa Monica Place, according to joint statement released from ArcLight Cinemas and mall owner Macerich on Jan. 14.
– The five-story building on the Third Street Promenade that leases to Subway and McDonald’s was acquired for $20.5 million, after Lincoln Property Company partnered with Centennial Real Estate for the deal.
– Former Santa Monica mayor and councilman Bobby Shriver formally announced his candidacy Jan. 21 for Los Angeles County Supervisor.
– Santa Monica was recognized with an overall tobacco control grade of “A” in the American Lung Association State of Tobacco Control 2014 report released Jan. 22.
– Los Angeles councilman Mike Bonin, who represents Santa Monica’s neighbors such as Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, and Venice, paid a visit to the City by the Sea, speaking Jan. 22 to the Santa Monica Democratic Club at the Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Ocean Park.
– The Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce presented the 2014 State of the City Jan. 27 at a special location – under Cirque du Soleil’s big top next to the Santa Monica Pier.
– The fate of a controversial development agreement considered to be the largest ever in Santa Monica at 1681 26th Street and would transform a portion of Bergamot Station into combined commercial, residential, and transit neighborhood was still up in the air as the City Council held off on deliberating the matter until Feb. 4 after five hours of presentations and public testimony on Jan. 28, which included an estimated 120 speakers.
– Congressman Henry Waxman (Dem-33rd District) announced Jan. 30 he would not seek reelection to the House of Representatives in the fall, which would mark the end of his 20-term career in Congress.
– Santa Monica city officials asked residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce water use 20 percent from 2013 usage in an effort for the community to become water self-sufficient and avoid a drought induced water crisis and mandatory water restrictions.
– A pilot program to help make it easier for people navigate the Third Street Promenade and to activate the northern most section of the Santa Monica thoroughfare was approved Jan. 14 by City Council.
– Despite several hundred people rallying in front of Santa Monica City Hall on Feb. 4 urging council members to vote “no” on a proposed mixed-use development dramatically altering the Bergamot Station area, the City Council narrowly approved a slightly modified development agreement to allow Hines 26th Street LLC to bring a five-building commercial, creative, and residential space to the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and 26th St.
– Santa Monica activist Armen Melkonians, founder of Residocracy.org, announced he would host a referendum launch event Feb. 12 in an attempt to veto the City’s Feb. 4 approval of Hines’ 765,095 square foot mixed-use development at 1681 26th Street.
– The Santa Monica College Board of Trustees appointed public accountant Barry Snell to a vacant seat on its Board on Feb. 4 to fill the unexpired term of David Finkel who resigned due to ill health.
– An estimated 250 people turned out the night of Jan. 29 to help the City of Santa Monica conduct its annual Homeless Count.
– The Residocracy grass roots movement set out to collect signatures from 10 percent of Santa Monica’s registered voters – about 6,100 people – by March 14 to veto Hines’ 765,095 mixed-use development at the corner of Olympic Blvd. and 26th St.
– The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the National Business Aviation Association on Feb. 11 jointly filed an amicus brief in federal court supporting the Federal Aviation Administration’s motion to dismiss the City of Santa Monica’s lawsuit to determine future ownership of Santa Monica Airport.
– Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences broke ground Feb. 9 on its new Science Education & Research Facility, which will house the school’s middle and upper school science programs.
– Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District board member Ben Allen announced his candidacy for the 26th District state Senate seat on Feb. 10 after incumbent Ted Lieu announced he would step down to run for Henry Waxman’s congressional seat.
– A federal judge dismissed the City of Santa Monica’s lawsuit challenging ownership of Santa Monica Airport on Feb. 13.
– A groundbreaking ceremony was held Feb. 21 for a new permanent Santa Monica supportive housing development called Step Up On Colorado at 520 Colorado Ave.
– A 38-year-old Inglewood man Jesus Cazares accused of killing a Santa Monica mother in a hit-and-run incident in October 2013 was sentenced Feb. 19 to one year in County jail moments after he pleaded no contest.
– The U.S. Post Office branch at 2720 Neilson Way in Santa Monica’s Ocean Park neighborhood reopened with full service Feb. 19, after testing for possible asbestos contamination forced the temporarily closure of the small facility that contains retail and Post Office Box several days earlier.
– The Santa Monica City Council unanimously voted Feb. 25 to delay selecting from one of three development teams to enter into exclusive negotiations to develop the Bergamot Station Arts Center until more information could be made available to them from City staff.
– The findings of the Citywide 2014 Homeless Count were released at the Social Services Commission meeting Feb. 24 that revealed the point-in-time homeless count found 742 individuals, a decrease from 780 (5 percent) in 2013.
– Providence Health & Services, Southern California, assumed sponsorship March 1 of Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica from the SCL Health System following the approval by church and state officials.
– Hopes for Santa Monica High to repeat as CIF boys basketball champs were abruptly dashed by a visiting Rancho Cucamonga team on Feb. 25 after Rancho Cucamonga took the lead in all four quarters to roll to a 74-56 CIF-SS Division 1AA win against Samohi.
– The owners of Lincoln Pipe & Plumbing Supply at 2919 Lincoln Blvd. announced they would close its doors at the end of the month after selling the land.
– Four nail salons (Cute Nails, Nancy’s Nails, Santa Monica Beach Nail Spa, and Tracy’s Nail Spa) in Santa Monica were recognized March 3 for their collaborative efforts to make healthier work environments
– The Los Angeles Marathon was held March 9 with runners completing the 26.2-mile course in Santa Monica after snaking across L.A. from the start point at Dodger Stadium.
– The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office announced March 4 it had finalized a settlement agreement with the owners and managers of AZ Shores at 1305 2nd St. after tenants at the 49-unit apartment complex filed harassment and privacy complaints.
– Residocracy founder Armen Melkonians and his supporters submitted 13,440 signatures March 11 that sought to overturn the approved Hines development.
– Assemblyman Richard Bloom (50th District) hoped to effectively end Shamu shows at Sea World San Diego and force the theme park to release its 10 orcas back into the ocean following his “Orca Welfare & Safety Act” announcement March 7 on the Santa Monica Pier.
– Former Santa Monica Deputy City Attorney Barbara C. Greenstein (now retired) was named one of this year’s California Lawyer of the Year award recipients (“CLAY Award”) for her work in successfully arguing Harris v. City of Santa Monica before the California Supreme Court in 2013.
– Santa Monica councilman Bob Holbrook opened a discussion of potential e-cigarette regulation in Santa Monica – the council unanimously voted on March 18 to direct staff to research and analyze e-cigarette regulation and potentially follow in the footsteps of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
– For all the recent discussion of whether Santa Monica was developing too fast, the Los Angeles Conservancy believed the city was the standard bearer for preservation of cultural and historic resources after rating the city A-plus in the nonprofit’s annual Preservation Report Card.
– Children’s Hospital Los Angeles celebrated the grand opening of its new outpatient care center in Santa Monica with a special ribbon cutting ceremony March 11, marking the creation of CHLA’s fourth outpatient care center since 2010.
– Crimson California Pipeline, L.P. was told it would have to return to the bargaining table, as council members unanimously authorized city staff on March 18 to renegotiate the franchise agreement with the oil firm to operate an existing north-south crude petroleum pipeline running beneath the city.
– The Santa Monica City Council voted March 25 to develop an airport concept plan based upon low-intensity use and new leasing guidelines.
– Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights membership voted on March 23 to endorse Sheila Kuehl for L.A. County Supervisor (Third District), Richard Bloom for state Assembly (50th District), and Ben Allen for state Senate (26th District) in the lead-up to the June 3 primary.
– The Assistance League of Santa Monica held its annual new board installation luncheon at the Bel-Air Bay Club on March 26, welcoming new executive board members Joyce Landsverk, Gina Peled, Gloria Fowler, Helen Pongoski, Pamela Boyer, Diane Ward, and Angela Grillo.
– As part of a program to help major metropolitan cities and areas remain prepared with homeland security measures, Santa Monica accepted a grant for $799,076 from the 2013 Urban Area Security Initiative.
– Nearly two weeks after a coalition submitted more than 13,000 signatures to Santa Monica City Clerk Sarah Gorman, another three people visited her office March 27 to file a “Notice of Intent to Circulate Petition” to begin the initiative process and challenge the City Council’s plan to potentially shut down Santa Monica Airport as early as next year.
– Three Los Angeles men were arrested in the early morning hours of March 31 after being caught trying to steal copper wire from a handful of light poles in the 800 block of Harvard St.
– Eighteen-year-old Santa Monica High School student Blair Rodrick Moore pleaded not guilty April 8 at the LAX branch courthouse to a handful of misdemeanor charges relating to his suspected involvement in a physical altercation with teacher Mark Black inside a classroom on April 4.
– Thirty-year-old Walter James, of Highland, was killed while riding his 2013 motor scooter on April 5 after a collision with a Santa Monica Police Department cruiser at the intersection of Pico and Fourth St.
– A standing-room only remembrance was held April 6 at Lincoln Middle School to honor the life of 28-year-old James Scott “Jimmy” Bromberg, a Santa Monica native who died March 29 after his fight with cancer.
– The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica introduced new healthier menus including burgers made from antibiotic-free, grass-fed beef and herb roasted potatoes, as well as antibiotic-free chicken breasts.
– Master barbers Steve Moran and his partner Robert Echiribel celebrated the grand opening of their new business Active Barbers at 2509 Wilshire Blvd. on April 11.
– Santa Monica-based Lionsgate announced April 14 a multi-year partnership with Vancouver’s RocketJump Studios to deliver film, television, and digital content.
– Real estate blog Movoto released a list of what it considered the 50 most dangerous places in the United States. While no California cities made the list of top 10, Santa Monica was one of four municipalities in the state that ranked 11 through 25 (Santa Monica was 24th).
– The Santa Monica City Council voted on April 22 to bring a 10- to 13-seat movie theater to the Bloomingdale’s building at Santa Monica Place, making it the first new cinema house to be built in the City since the 1980s.
– The Santa Monica City Council received and filed Residocracy’s petition on April 22 that sought to overturn the Hines multi-use project approved to be built at the former Papermate site at 1681 26th Street, meaning the ordinance authorizing the Hines DA would remain suspended until a final decision on the matter was made.
– A medical marijuana bill on the state Senate floor did not gain the endorsement of the Santa Monica City Council, as council members voted April 22 for a motion against supporting Senate Bill 1262, which, among other things, proposed to allow greater local control of regulating medical marijuana use.
– The Pico Branch Library, located at 2201 Pico Blvd. at Virginia Avenue Park, opened April 24 – the first new branch in the Santa Monica Public Library system in more than 50 years.
– Pacific Park at the Santa Monica Pier held an adults-only fundraiser April 27 for Santa Monica-Malibu public schools, which featured champagne and delectable grown-up hors d’ oeuvres.
– Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger received the Spirit of the Red Cross award on May 3 at Red Cross Santa Monica’s annual gala at the Fairmont Miramar.
– Australian firefighter Michael Yates, from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, began a month long fellowship with the Santa Monica Fire Department’s Training Division.
– The Santa Monica Rugby Club Women defeated both the San Diego Surfers and Tempe Women on April 26 to claim the SoCal Rugby Football Union Division I title and berth to the USA Rugby National Quarterfinals in Dallas, TX.
– The Santa Monica City Council voted 4-1 on May 13 with two abstentions to rescind the Hines DA, nullifying the project previously approved by the elected panel three months earlier and would have brought almost 800,000 square feet of development to 1681 26th Street.
– People are talking – that was the theme of the Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau’s 5th annual Travel and Tourism Summit held May 9.
– The minimum wage for workers of companies who enter into service contracts with Santa Monica City Hall would increase to $15.37 per hour on July 1, it was unanimously decided on May 12 by the City Council.
– More than a dozen officers of the Santa Monica Police Dept. and Santa Monica College Police Dept. were honored at a biennial award ceremony held May 21 at the SGI-USA building, including the officers involved with the tragic series of events surrounding a lone shooter’s rampage around and at SMC on June 7, 2013.
-The second Southern California store of the Japanese lifestyle brand MUJI opened in Santa Monica on June 20.
– The Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved on May 27 a Memorandum of Understanding with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority (Metro) to operate the Expo Line from Olympic and Centinela to just shy of the Santa Monica Pier.
– Council members unanimously approved on May 27 the withdrawal of negotiations between City Hall and Hertz after the latter essentially disappeared from the bargaining table. The two parties had initially connected to bring a pilot car share program to Santa Monica.
– City Hall decided to hire an engineering firm to create list of buildings made of concrete, steel, or wood framing and are at risk of collapsing in a major earthquake, thanks to unanimous vote by the Santa Monica City Council on May 27.
– Community members and civic leaders of all faiths were invited to join the Catholic community in Santa Monica for “Healing Our City,” a day of healing and peace at St. Monica Catholic Church on Saturday, June 7, the date that marked the one-year anniversary of the tragic shootings that occurred in Santa Monica in 2013.
– The race to succeed Henry Waxman to represent the 33rd Congressional District was whittled down from 18 candidates to just two at the June 3 primary election, as attorney Elan Carr and state Senator Ted Lieu topped the ballot for them to square off at the general election on Nov. 4.
– Former State Sen. Sheila Kuehl and former Santa Monica mayor Bobby Shriver found out they would face each other on Nov. 4 in an election to succeed Zev Yaroslavsky in the Third District of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, as both candidates received the top two number of votes at the June 3 primary.
– In what was probably one of the most contested seats in California, Ben Allen and Sandra Fluke were the last two candidates standing in the 26th District state Senate race where less than 6,000 votes separated the top vote getter from fifth place at the June 3 primary.
– It was announced Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. vice president Debbie Lee would leave her post of seven years to lead the City of Santa Monica’s Public Information and Communications Team.
– A group of proponents aiming to amend the Santa Monica City Charter to require voters approve any potential plans to redevelop the local airport submitted more than 15,500 signatures to City Hall on June 10.
– The firing of City of Santa Monica public affairs and communications officer Elizabeth Riel before her first day on the job led to the planned lawsuit and the calling of an investigation by Santa Monica residents at the June 10 City Council meeting.
– The Santa Monica Firefighters Association established a fund to assist the Looney family that was involved in June 6’s tragic crash in Santa Monica’s McClure Tunnel where Noah Looney, 2, was killed on the westbound Santa Monica (10) Freeway.
– Santa Monica Place assistant vice president Julia Ladd was installed as the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce’s 2014/15 chair at a ceremony held at the Fairmont Miramar on June 11.
– The Santa Monica City Council unanimously opted June 10 to figure out how to make a 148-foot proposal work for a development between Fourth and Fifth St. on the south side of Arizona Ave. ahead of an alternate 84-foot high proposal.
– A team of 22 firefighters could be found around the premises of a burning building on the corner of 5th and Colorado on June 16 as part of a training exercise in a building about to be demolished for a new hotel.
– State Senator Ted Lieu honored Santa Monica’s ISU Bob Gabriel Co. Insurance owner Susan Gabriel Potter with the 2014 Business of the Year Award for his Senate district as part of the annual California Small Business Day on June 16.
– The Santa Monica City Council on June 24 directed City staff to put together an ordinance that would prohibit the use of e-cigarettes wherever traditional cigarettes were also banned.
– The Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved a direction on June 24 to find some sort of middle ground with a ballot measure that could compete with another initiative aiming to limit the elected panel’s powers on airport issues. Also approved as part of the direction: have the City Hall backed ballot measure give council members enough power to achieve partial closure of SMO and ensure development on the property is limited.
– At a time of year when many people in the City were filing hopeful candidacies for public office, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District board member Nimish Patel announced June 23 he would not seek re-election in November.
– Bonus Car Wash in Santa Monica celebrated the renewal of its labor contract June 27 – it was the first carwash in the nation to unionize in 2011, and it has since been joined by 20 more in the Los Angeles area and more than 30 nationwide.
– For the eighth year in a row, the Ocean Park Association held its annual 4th of July parade along Main Street with the theme “May the 4th Be with You.”
– The Montana Avenue Merchants Association hung new banners that promoted all that was special about Montana Ave.
– One of Santa Monica’s most awaited summer night traditions – the Twilight Concert Series – returned to the Santa Monica Pier July 10 for its 10-week run on Thursday nights.
– Santa Monica’s transportation agency Big Blue Bus announced plans July 9 to modify elements of its new Bus Stop Improvement Project to improve seating capacity and functionality, citing customer feedback as the reason for modifications.
– The Santa Monica City Council approved a MINI dealership that will bring a 35-foot high building to 1402 Santa Monica Blvd.
– An attempt to place a City-backed initiative on the November ballot to maintain the City Council’s power to determine the future of the Santa Monica Airport was still held at the gate and not yet ready for takeoff, as council members were in a holding pattern on July 8 in trying to figure out how best compete with another voter measure backed by a national pilot’s group.
– Santa Monica College student Sierra McDonald was named the recipient of the second annual Chui L. Tsang Transfer Scholarship worth $30,000.
– The floodgates officially opened July 14 with candidates officially allowed to pull papers for the 2014 four local Santa Monica elections, which was highlighted by the City Council race that had three seats up for grabs.
– Council members approved July 8 a ballot measure for the Nov. 4 election that had the potential to infuse as much as $10 million annually into affordable housing if approved.
– About four miles of pipeline that runs underneath Santa Monica and carries crude oil will continue to operate through at least 2024, thanks to a franchise agreement the City Council unanimously approved July 8.
– Santa Monica Place hosted FIFA World Cup viewing parties on July 12 and 13 at its Center Plaza with nearly 3,500 soccer fans hanging out at the shopping center over the weekend to watch the finals.
– A third time was not always the charm, as the Santa Monica City Council inched significantly closer to a ballot initiative to challenge and compete with an aviation-backed measure to determine the future of the Santa Monica Airport, but a final product was not quite ready.
– Huntington Beach financial consultant Daniel Gilbert Becerril II was sentenced on July 23 to 15 years in prison for murdering elementary school teacher Alexander Merman in his apartment in the 500 block of Montana Ave. in 2008 after Merman had uncovered a complex fraud scheme.
– The race for the Santa Monica City Council continued to shape up, as incumbent Kevin McKeown became the first candidate to qualify for the Nov. 4 ballot on July 21.
– The media and local community were mourning the passing of popular Santa Monica Daily Press managing editor Daniel Archuleta, 38, who died suddenly on July 16.
– Debra Fine, who was shot five times during the 2013 Santa Monica College shootings, spoke about gun violence outside SMC on July 30.
– Mirror Media Group, publisher of the Santa Monica Mirror and the Westside’s largest local media company, acquired the popular online community news website/forum yovenice.com.
– A pair of occupied apartment buildings received new landlords as the Santa Monica City Council unanimously voted July 22 to transfer ownership of two residential properties (419 Ocean Ave. and 1616 Ocean Ave.) to non-profit organizations specializing in affordable housing.
– Santa Monica City Manager Rod Gould announced July 25 he would retire from his post at the end of January 2015 after five years of service.
– An overflow crowd of about 500 people – unofficially estimated to be the largest attendance ever – participated in the Santa Monica for Renters’ Rights convention, but none of the City Council candidates crossed the 55 percent vote threshold to gain SMRR’s endorsement.
– The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District sold the first series of bonds from the Measure ES Bond authorization near historic low interest rates on July 29.
– With the 2014 election nomination period over, it finally became official that Bob Holbrook would not seek an unprecedented seventh term on the City Council after 24 years of service.
– Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights announced it would support only two candidates in the Nov. 4 election: incumbent Kevin McKeown and Planning Commissioner Jennifer Kennedy. The decision was made by SMRR’s 11-member steering committee after the at-large membership of Santa Monica’s largest and oldest political party failed to summon enough votes to make endorsements at its Aug. 3 convention.
– Santa Monica council members unanimously voted to declare what City staff described as a “Stage 2 Water Supply Shortage” and require a 20 percent reduction in water use as compared to last year.
– The 16U Santa Monica Patriots took home the top prize, winning their national championship in Gillette, Wyoming. The Patriots beat teams from California, Colorado, and Wyoming to place first and win the coveted national championship in the ASA Western National Softball Tournament.
– The developer behind the proposed replacement of Village Trailer Park presented updated plans at the Architectural Review Board on Aug. 18, addressing concerns raised earlier in the public process and telling board members certain design elements were complete.
– The Environmental Protection Agency issued a letter to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District stating the school district was currently meeting federal guidelines to ensure the public health of primary and secondary school students in Malibu.
– Never mind the factions making their respective cases for whether or not Santa Monica Airport should remain open and active, but the two groups on polar opposite sides of the debate escalated tensions a little more by arguing the meaning of words and phrases for competing ballot measures LC and D.
– Starbucks Coffee gained support for a conditional use permit by the Santa Monica Planning Commission on Aug. 27 to serve beer and wine at its newest location across the street from City Hall.
– A lawsuit filed a week earlier on behalf of those who want Santa Monica Airport shut down or limited in its operation was dismissed, meaning a pro-airport ballot initiative (Measure D) would be allowed to be presented to voters at the Nov. 4 election.
– A 62-year-old woman who provided outreach services to Santa Monica’s homeless was struck and killed by a landscaping truck on Aug. 22.
– The Santa Monica location of Dunkin’ Donuts opened its doors Sept. 2 at 5 am with the first person in line rewarded with free coffee for an entire year.
– The Santa Monica business community came together at the New Roads School’s Ann and Jerry Moss Theater Sept. 11 for one of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce’s signature annual events – the New Heroes Celebration.
– The redesign of Big Blue Bus’ double-seat unit got underway with anticipated modifications to the seat size, spacing, and the arm/back configurations.
– The future of Bergamot Station Arts Center took a turn in a different direction on Sept. 9 after council members voted against a City staff recommendation to partner with 26th Street TOD Partners. Instead, the council voted to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with Worthe Real Estate Group to develop the City-owned property.
– Following six months of vigorous free-the-pony campaigning, the ponies and petting zoo that have been a familiar sight at Santa Monica’s Main Street farmers market will have to look for greener fields after the city voted Sept. 9 to exclude animals from the weekly event.
– The Santa Monica Rent Control Board obtained a vital court ruling on Aug. 13 that preserved affordable rental housing.
– The future of the Muir Woods mural that adorns the Lincoln Blvd. and Ocean Park corner of Olympic High School was uncertain, with parties for and against the current design headed to mediation.
– The Santa Monica Mirror – under the umbrella of Mirror Media Group (publisher of The Mirror, Westside Today, Brentwood News, Century City News, and Yo! Venice!) – announced it would host three local election forums in the month of October.
– The operator of Brick + Mortar at 2435 Main St. pleaded “no contest” to 14 misdemeanor charges relating to illegal operations as a bar/nightclub, according to the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office.
– Local environmental group Heal the Bay asked residents to join the world’s biggest single-day volunteer event – the 29th annual Coastal Cleanup Day – on Sept. 20.
– Santa Monica City Council on Sept. 23 passed the first reading of an ordinance that banned use of electronic smoking devices in public places where cigarette smoking was not permitted.
– Santa Monica City Council authorized an agreement with the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System and New Flyer of America, Inc., to acquire seven 60-foot low floor articulated Compressed Natural Gas powered buses.
– Supporting classical music is a family tradition that Santa Monica’s John Bohn was carrying on with enthusiasm after it was announced he would sponsor Orchestra Santa Monica’s season opening concert in October.
– Santa Monica’s section of Lincoln Blvd. was up for “reimagining” following the Oct. 1 Planning Commission study session that moved forward with a grassroots effort to see the busy road rebranded.
-The Santa Monica Pier presented the return of Front Porch Cinema Oct. 3, a free community movie experience under the stars every Friday night through Oct. 24.
– Santa Monica College presented “Locals Only!” – a world premiere musical written by the Emmy Award-winning creator of the smash hit “High School Musical” – Oct. 3 through 19 on the SMC Main Stage.
– Santa Monica City Council candidates in the Nov. 4 elections made their financial situations clear, with Sue Himmelrich and Michael Feinstein the frontrunners on the $340,000 money-train with Himmelrich bulking her contributions to a personal loan of $90,000.
– Resident action group Santa Monica Transparency Project hit Mayor Pam O’Connor Oct. 8 with allegations of receiving illegal campaign contributions from developers that she had voted in favor of. O’Connor told The Mirror that the claims were inaccurate.
– At the Santa Monica High School halftime of the Oct. 10 homecoming game at Santa Monica College’s Corsair Field, the Samohi varsity water polo teams participated in one of the longest traditions in the school’s history: running green.
– Perhaps Santa Monica’s oldest centenarian, Virginia Davis celebrated her 107th birthday on Oct. 16 and attributed her longevity to simple living and an active lifestyle.
– Plans for the downtown Santa Monica block bordering Broadway and 5th St. were approved for review, with City Council voting Oct. 14 to move forward with the development process for the site.
– The Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra opened its 70th concert season Oct. 18 at Barnum Hall on the campus of Santa Monica High School.
– Santa Monica resident John Bohn died age 93 on Oct. 11.
– All 14 candidates running in the Santa Monica City Council on Nov. 4 took to the Cross Campus stage on Oct. 21 at Mirror Media Group’s election forum.
– As part of Mirror Media Group’s election forum season, all candidates running for positions on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education and Santa Monica College Board of Trustees met the public Oct. 22 at the Santa Monica Main Library’s MLK Auditorium.
– The Mirror endorsed Kevin McKeown, Pam O’Connor, and Frank Gruber for City Council for the Nov. 4 election to provide a diversity of voices and a balance of supporting business and smart growth.
– With Santa Monica voters set to be asked to vote on five ballot measures at the Nov. 4 election – The Mirror urged a ‘no’ vote on all five: Measures D & LC, Measure H & HH, and Measure FS.
– The ICE at Santa Monica skating rink opened Nov. 1 with a grand opening celebration held Nov. 6.
– Volunteers with brooms took part in operation Clean Sweep on Lincoln Blvd. on Nov. 1 as part of an on-going push to make the Santa Monica strip more visually appealing.
– Kevin McKeown was elected to a fifth City Council term on Nov. 4, topping the 14 candidates vying for the three seats. Planning Commissioner Sue Himmelrich finished second followed by Pam O’Connor who was elected to her sixth City Council term.
– While the results were still unofficial, two new faces including one from Malibu were likely to join the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s Board of Education following preliminary Nov. 4 election results.
– Santa Monica voters re-elected all four incumbents to the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees at the Nov. 4 election.
– State Senator Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, was humble and gracious at his election night party Nov. 4 following his defeat of Republican gang prosecutor Elan Carr in the battle to replace retiring Congressman Henry Waxman (33rd District).
– Santa Monica voters passed Measure FS on Nov. 4 that gave the Rent Control Board the chance to discuss and potentially increase the City’s Rent Control registration fee up to a maximum of $288 per unit annually of which a landlord can pass down 50 percent to renters.
– Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education member Ben Allen defeated women’s right activist and attorney Sandra Fluke in a the race for the 26th state Senate District.
– Former state Senator and Assemblywoman, Sheila Kuehl, was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors following a hard fought victory over ex-Santa Monica Mayor Bobby Shriver at the Nov. 4 election.
– The fate of Santa Monica Airport again rested in the hands of Santa Monica City Council following a 59.73 percent poll vote at Nov. 4’s election in favor of Measure LC. Voters also rejected Measure D with a 58.3 percent poll vote against the effort by aviation groups to require a public vote on any move to shutter the facility or restrict aviation activity.
– With a move to increase commuter mobility, Santa Monica was set to become the first SoCal city to introduce an innovative bike-share system with high-tech smart-bikes stationed following City council approved of a $10 million contract with CycleHop.
– The empty block at 1112 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, will soon see some building action with a 32-unit housing project approved by City Council on Nov. 11.
– Tawnis Ponies struck back at protestors who spent five months campaigning to oust the business from the Santa Monica Farmers Markets on Main Street, by hitting them with a defamation lawsuit.
– After more than two years of construction, Expo Phase 2 reached a significant milestone on Nov. 4 as crews began tying together the electrical components of Phase 2 of the Expo Line with Phase 1 at the Culver City station.
– More than 200 Santa Monicans filled the Lincoln Middle School Auditorium on Nov. 19 to face the Planning Commission and discuss zoning issues and the recently released ordinance that outlines development guidelines for the city.
– Santa Monica police released two images of an arson suspect possibly connected to a portable toilet fire on Nov. 10 in the rear of 1410 3rd St. Promenade.
– Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. announced that it had challenged the Santa Monica and Malibu communities to raise funds to match its $100,000 contribution to the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation.
– Santa Monica’s longest serving council member Bob Holbrook spent his final session as a serving council member Nov. 25, receiving fitting tributes from the community and fellow council members for his 24 years of service.
– Instigated by Santa Monica Recreation & Parks Commission a year ago, regulations to control fitness training in city parks had been put to the test throughout the year with most guidelines looking likely to stay for the next 12 months to come.
– Following a month of garnering suggestions from the community, Santa Monica’s Recreation & Parks Commission voted on war hero Joe Gandara to be honored in namesake at the nicknamed Buffer Park, but City Council will have the final say on the approval of the name in 2015.
– The fifth annual Small Business Saturday was held Nov. 29 – an event celebrated the Saturday after Thanksgiving, dedicated to supporting small businesses nationwide.
– As national retailers wallowed in lower-than-average Thanksgiving holiday trade, Black Friday was a boon for local merchants, capitalizing on great weather, shopper-friendly facilities, and high-end specialty stores to chalk up a positive result after a week of big sales.
– Santa Monica native Ben Allen was sworn into office at the State Capitol in Sacramento on Dec. 1 as part of the first day of the 2015-2016 state Senate Legislative Session.
– The hotly-debated development of Bergamot Station Arts Center was placed in front of Santa Monica City Council once again Nov. 5, with the community and council members deciding to increase the number of advisory committee members and better define the application of a list of guiding principles.
– Santa Monica’s Recreation & Parks Commission gained two new commissioners (John Cyrus Smith and Kurt Schwengel) on Nov. 20, both who have an eye on keeping the city spacious and green.
– A strategic move played out Dec. 9 by Santa Monica City Council’s new slow growth majority, with Kevin McKeown effectively taking one for the team by only being elected Mayor for one year instead of a normal two-year term.
– Santa Monica City Hall was filled with joy and smiling faces Dec. 9 as the top vote getters of the city’s four local election races on Nov. 4 took the oath of office.
– Santa Monica College maintained its hold as California’s number one community college in transferring students to the prestigious University of California system, for the 24th year in a row.
– Santa Monica’s controversial nativity installations were unveiled for their annual Christmas display in the Ocean Park neighborhood on Dec. 14. The lifesized Nativity Scenes grabbed national attention two years ago after efforts were successfully made to ban them from public land in Palisades Park.
– In light of the 2016 opening of the Expo line in Santa Monica and the subsequent duplication of public transit options, Santa Monica City Council gave the go ahead Dec. 16 to move forward with work on a totally revised Big Blue Bus transit integration plan.
– Santa Monica City Council voted Dec. 16 to adopt City staff’s recommendation of a 13 percent year-on-year rate hike come February 2015. The rate increase adopted will begin with a nine percent hike in 2015, equitable with the month two implementation date, and will continue with a 13 percent increase each year until 2019.
– With an increase in the number of complaints of tenant harassment in Santa Monica regarding the strong-arm tactics of landlords hoping to get more money from their properties by ousting occupants, Santa Monica City Council passed two motions Dec. 16 to increase renters’ rights in affordable housing units.