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Santa Monica Mirror’s 2015 Year-In-Review:

The Santa Monica Mirror takes a look back at each edition of 2015. Revisit some of the biggest stories that defined the city now and in the future. The team at The Mirror would like wish all of our loyal readers a very happy holidays and a wonderful start to the New 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.

January 2

-Santa Monica Place confirmed that The Cheesecake Factory was coming to its shopping mall in 2016. The restaurant opened in October.

-Santa Monica College’s Cheerleading Team was among four finalists competing for a $100,000 scholarship for its spirit program, along with a trip to Walt Disney World to perform its winning routine. The competition, organized by ESPN and Disney, invited teams from around the country to submit 30-second videos of cheerleading routines inspired by Disney themes.

January 9

-Despite extensive neighborhood protest, a development for 10 residential units at the site of 802 Ashland Ave., Santa Monica, got the go-ahead, with the design, colors, materials, and landscape plans passed by the City’s Architectural Review Board (ARB). The applicant proposed a new two-story, 10-unit apartment development with one level of subterranean parking providing 20 parking spaces that was approved during the ARB’s meeting.

-Hoping to capitalize on new star player Derrien King’s signing to Washington State on full scholarship, Santa Monica College Men’s Basketball was celebrating a Pac 12 player on the team. King became the first Corsair player to take part in the Pac 12 conference.

-As SMC Community Education’s vibrant Winter Session got under way, it also looked ahead to an even heartier Spring Semester — with more than 170 classes, workshops, and tours, including several new offerings.

January 16

-With the City of Santa Monica moving toward eliminating contract and as-needed workers, nine custodial beach workers banded together in an attempt to secure their positions and livelihoods. Rallying outside Santa Monica City Hall prior to Tuesday’s Jan. 13 council meeting, the Santa Monica beach workers, joining the Industrial Workers of the World, called for recognition of their services. Some had been working in an “as needed” capacity for 28 years.

-Fines of up to $10,000 were set to face Santa Monicans who didn’t toe the water-reduction line following Tuesday night’s City Council meeting where new citywide water-reduction policies were adopted. In response to Council declaring in August a Stage 2 Water Supply Shortage that required a 20 percent reduction in water use from 2013, City staff updated the City’s Water Shortage Response Plan and presented their recommendations to the Council.

-A concerted effort by Santa Monica City staff to raise fees for local outdoor fitness instructors was shut-down by City Council, as the majority of council members agreed that such an increase was unnecessary. While the council voted unanimously during Tuesday’s council meeting on the City’s suggested administrative changes, lengthy debate on a proposed rate hike based on revenue percentages was argued down and eventually replaced by an alternative proposal offered by Santa Monica City Manager, Rod Gould.

January 23

-Gathering a diverse range of Santa Monica’s business, government, and resident communities, the annual State of the City was held and presented an interesting array of thought-provoking topics. Beginning with a networking breakfast, the event, organized by Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, saw the foyer of the SGI Auditorium on Wilshire a hive of activity at 7 am Jan. 20, with new connections made and old ones rekindled.

-After narrowly losing his Santa Monica-Malibu United School District Board of Education seat in recent City elections, Ralph Mechur was appointed to the Board last week after a vacancy arose due to Board member Ben Allen having to resign after being elected to the State Senate. Disappointed by his previous narrow defeat, in which he missed out on a Board seat by 0.52 percent of the vote, Mechur said that he was compelled to put his name forward when the opportunity arose.

-Santa Monica College was given initial approval by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors to develop a Bachelor’s degree in Interaction Design. Out of 34 applicants from the 112 community college system, 15 were selected to offer baccalaureate degrees in fields of high workforce demand as part of a pilot program approved by the Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown last year.

-Newly elected California State Senator Ben Allen (Dem-26th District) chose his old campus of Santa Monica High School for his community swearing-in ceremony, hosting lawmakers and officials from across the region alongside students and grassroots campaigners for a night of community celebration.

January 30

-As Santa Monica City Manager Rod Gould retired from his position Jan. 30, Assistant City Manager Elaine Polachek had her salary bumped up to $27,452 a month to act as Interim City Manager to keep Gould’s chair warm until a new city manager was appointed. Council also handed over $50,000 to a private firm to find his replacement. They produced a brochure.

-A special joint meeting of Santa Monica City Council, the Housing Authority, and the Redevelopment Successor Agency was held Tuesday night during the City Council session, with a stable “probable” economic outlook predicted.

-Santa Monica firefighters stood together against the Fire Chief regarding staffing and dispatch directions for Santa Monica Fire Department.

February 13

-Recent outcries from angry neighbors surrounding the now boutique hotel Palihouse at 1001 3rd Street were raising serious questions in Santa Monica. With a surge in all-night noise, street parking, and outdoor parties, how did the residentially located apartment building become a fully operational hotel in mid-2013? Leading the neighborhood charge of community complaints, Laura Wilson discovered that despite a change in business license in 2008, there was no legal evidence that Palihouse, then Embassy Hotel Apartments, was ever legally operating as a hotel.

-Almost a year after a fatal hit-and-run near the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica police arrested a man believed to be responsible for the crime. It was 1 am on Saturday, March 22, 2014, when a motorist driving an Infiniti G35 struck two female pedestrians in the 1600 block of Ocean Avenue (at the intersection of Colorado). SMPD Sgt. Rudy Camarena said the vehicle involved in the collision fled the scene; one of the females later succumbed to her injuries.

-Santa Monica’s iconic Vidiots video store was looking at new cultural and community directions after being saved by investors from impending closure. The almost 30-year-old business last week announced plans of shuttering, but was saved days later by financial pledges from long-time customer Leonard M. Lipman M.D. and film producer Megan Ellison’s Annapurna production company.

-Santa Monica College president Dr. Chui L. Tsang announced he would retire by June this year, ending a nine-year tenure in the top job. He announced his decision via an email to SMC’s 1,939 employees on Tuesday night.

February 13

-The remaining two residents living at Palihouse Santa Monica, formerly Embassy Hotel Apartments, were set to be evicted in May. The legality of such a process was under the spotlight after stark revelations revealed that the sudden classification of the building from multi-family residential to hotel, was dubious.

-Santa Monica’s new bikeshare system was given a fresh identity, with “Breeze” topping the voting charts due to its light, bright implications. Following a survey that included residents, cyclists and commentators, Breeze was nominated in reference to Southern California’s airy, bright coastal climate and lifestyle and sums up the sensation of bike riding, conveying the ease of bike share transportation, according to City staff.

-A Santa Monica landlord’s decision to take away a parking space of a disabled tenant in an attempt to force the tenant to leave her $555 a month rent-controlled apartment led to the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office filing the first lawsuit under a new Anti-Discrimination Law. According to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Santa Monica Superior Court, the landlord of 1031 16th Street, Solyman Khalili, took away the parking space of a female tenant with a disability without justification, forcing her to park on the street.

-Santa Monica Rotary Club members and guests were enlightened by an exclusive sneak peek at the upcoming Special Olympics World Games on Feb. 6, which was set to take place in summer with Los Angeles as the host city. Before guest speaker Patrick McClenahan (president and CEO of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games) took to the podium, club members were greeted by Rotarians Rick Mateus and Hugh Travis and led into an Armenian invocation by Avo Guerboian.

February 20

-With a total 38 operational guest rooms, and a sizeable staff, Santa Monica’s Palihouse was having its impact felt on surrounding streets. Street parking was backed up for blocks surrounding the boutique hotel, as guests and staff fill available spots, often double-parking until a space freed up. Officially issued with 15 preferential parking tags, and eligible to receive 38, the hotel utilizes the City’s “guest parking” system to generate paper temporary overnight permits that often fill the neighborhood.

-The unique ecosystem of birds and snakes in Palisades Park next to the entry of Santa Monica Pier was endangered by a proposed ban on all wild and exotic pets from the Pier and its surroundings. Santa Monica City Council were set to discuss an ordinance that would prohibit certain exotic and wild animals of snakes, reptiles, non-human primates, and birds at its meeting on Feb. 24.

-Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown presented a City of Santa Monica commendation on Sunday to organizers of Arlington West, the weekly war memorial installation on the beach just north of the Santa Monica Pier that was marking its eleventh anniversary. Every Sunday at dawn, dedicated volunteers install rows of hand-fashioned wooden crosses, stars of David, and crescents in the sand in a configuration resembling the Arlington National Cemetery, the nation’s burial place of honor for war heroes.

February 27

-As the date for Santa Monica City Council to discuss the future of leases at Santa Monica Airport (SMO) fast approached, anti-aviation proponents began re-mobilizing their ranks in an effort to eventually cease airport operations altogether. Airport tenants were also preparing for battle in a push to save their businesses. Santa Monica City’s Airport Commission, which consists of five local residents, and no-one from the airport itself, voted Monday evening to support a move to month-to-month leases for SMO tenants, following the City’s regaining of control of almost all airport land on July 1 this year.

-A Santa Monica-based group of anti-airport activists were left to personally foot the legal bill of failed lawsuits against the filers of Measure D on the November 2014 election ballot and the City of Santa Monica. Measure D was filed on March 27, 2014 as “an initiative measure amending the City charter to require voter approval in order to close all or part of the Santa Monica airport, change use of the airport land, or impose new restrictions on fuel sales or use of aviation facilities,” according to smvote.org.

-The sprawling “circus” of individual exotic animal handlers found near the Santa Monica Pier entrance in Palisades Park were told to pack up and leave permanently after an ordinance to ban them from exhibiting their snakes, reptiles, birds, and non-human primates was passed Tuesday Ð despite pleas from animal handlers for the City to work with them on finding middle ground. City Council voted 6-0 in favor of the ban, Councilwoman Gleam Davis was absent, after hearing from about two dozen speakers, the majority of which urged the Council to pass the ban.

March 6

-Santa Monica Police issued a Citywide call for vehicle owners to be vigilant when it comes to locking their cars and keeping belongings safe. The move followed a 25 percent increase in vehicle break-ins and property theft in downtown Santa Monica in recent months. Statistics comparing Jan. 1 Ð March 1, 2014, with the same period this year, show a significant jump in the number of thefts from vehicles in downtown Santa Monica. The area examined covers Wilshire to Colorado, from 7th Street to Ocean.

-Attendees of the Santa Monica Farmers Market held every Sunday on Main Street took the opportunity to have their preferences heard during a recent survey organized by City staff Feb. 15. Indicating a wish for more farmers and youth entertainment, a clear majority also voted to keep the ponies and petting zoo as part of the regular Sunday event.

-The long-running legal battle between Santa Monica’s Nativity Scenes and the City continued with a three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing oral arguments from both sides Feb. 6 in Pasadena. The Nativity Scenes appealed a lower court’s dismissal of their lawsuit against the City of Santa Monica.

March 13

-Federal authorities on Tuesday confirmed that Harrison Ford’s vintage aircraft crashed last week after it lost power, forcing him to land at Penmar Golf Course in Venice shortly after takeoff from Santa Monica Airport. The preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board said the actor’s plane “sustained substantial damage following a loss of engine power and subsequent forced landing …”

March 20

-The future use of Santa Monica’s curb space and the vehicles currently vying for passenger pickups and drop offs were on City Council’s agenda Tuesday night as an allocated study session discussed how best the City make use of sharing the streets.

-Standing strong in net capital position and with $366 million as the City’s General Fund balance June 2014, it was announced Tuesday evening that Santa Monica received an independent auditor’s stamp of approval for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report financial year 2013-2014.

-Two Santa Monica residents were able to escape their apartment at 828 15th Street without injury early Monday morning after a smoke alarm alerted them to a huge fire in the parking car port directly below them. Santa Monica Fire Department deputy chief Tom Clemo said fire crews responded to a well-involved five bay carport fire at 4:21 am Monday.

April 3

-The empty Paper Mate building, sitting at 1681 26th Street Santa Monica, and previous location of the proposed community-dividing Hines Project, had a new owner and with that, a new plan moving forward.

-With two major construction projects dramatically affecting traffic flow in Santa Monica this past week, the City has been rapidly adjusting traffic management plans following a weekend of bottlenecks and delays. The impending California Incline road closures were set to start April 20.

-The long-awaited launch of the assessment of Santa Monica’s iconic landmarked “Chain Reaction” peace sculpture near Santa Monica Civic Auditorium began on Wednesday. According to the City, the assessment of the sculpture at 1855 Main Street was needed to determine the integrity of the interior structure and the scope of work required to restore it.

-Santa Monica residents witnessed an unusual sightÐlight-rail trains moving through the area. Testing began Monday, April 6, on the Metro Expo Line extension from Culver City to Santa Monica, with rail cars initially being pulled along the route, and later operating on their own power, according to Metro.

April 10

-Following five years at the helm of Santa Monica Fire Department, Fire Chief Scott Ferguson hung up his City hat May 10 before embarking on a new role as Fire Chief of the Riverside County city Murrieta. With a population just over 105,000, and nestled between Temecula and Wildomar, the semi-rural Murietta will afford an easier way of life, according to the Chief.

-Santa Monica City Council allocated two evenings of discussion to an issue that many believe could change the city irrevocably. Slow-growth, no-growth, pro-development, and moderate voters chimed in on the complex Zoning Ordinance Update, with the topic taking over neighborhood meetings and online forums.

-As one of the pivotal residents’ groups in Santa Monica, Mid City Neighbors held its Annual Meeting that covered all things crime, safety and Zoning Ordinance Update related, with a bit of fun thrown into the mix. The jam-packed agenda kicked off with a keynote address and Q&A session from Santa Monica’s Chief of Police, Jacqueline Seabrooks.

April 17

-Santa Monica City Hall hosted two evenings of heated study sessions this week, with public comment and Council discussion on the proposed Zoning Ordinance Update taking more than 10 hours. Tuesday April 14 saw more than 140 residents line-up to have their two minutes in front of City Council, speaking on zoning issues that ranged from medical marijuana dispensaries, childcare centers, traffic, development issues, and tiered zoning management.

-Santa Monica businesses and organizations saddled up for a commuter challenge that put environmentally friendly transport options to the test, while boosting company culture and creating alternatives to the daily travel grind.

April 24

-Faced with a never-ending background soundtrack of crashing bottles and crunching aluminum cans, residents on Ocean Park and Lincoln voiced they had enough. They called on Santa Monica City to put an end to the cacophony of smashing sounds and the increasing number of homeless people trekking to the area at all hours to cash in recyclables seven days a week.

-Despite months of hype, fear, and predictions of complete traffic chaos, the one-year closure of the California Incline that began Monday amounted to, not much at all. In fact Santa Monica’s streets continued to be seemingly quiet, with traffic flowing freely, even during peak hour.

-Santa Monica’s Shore Hotel celebrated Earth Week by launching a state-of-the-art energy storage system Monday, alongside new fast electric vehicle charging facilities. The launch event saw the hotel and Green Charge Networks unveil the system alongside Kia Motors and Santa Monica’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment.

-A once-convicted bank robber was arrested after a failed attempt to rob a Bank of America branch in Santa Monica, authorities said. The attempted robbery at the B of A branch at 1430 Wilshire Blvd. took place about 9:25 am Saturday, according to SMPD spokesman Sgt. Rudy Camarena.

May 1

-Santa Monica took a monumental step toward protecting housing stock in the City, banning short-term vacation home rentals across the Santa Monica, banning short-term vacation home rentals across the board and taxing home-sharers. The move has been welcomed by some community groups but has raised the question of privacy for industry organizations and home- sharers alike, board and taxing home-sharers.

-A ticket with five numbers in Wednesday night’s drawing of the multi-state Powerball lottery, but missing the Powerball number, was sold at the L&K Market at 2127 Main St. in Santa Monica and was worth $600,140.

-City Hall released its findings from the Wellbeing Index Monday, a collection of wide-ranging data used to better understand the wellbeing of Santa Monica residents. The project aimed to allow the city of Santa Monica to consider new data about how people are doing.

May 8

-A crowd gathered before Tuesday’s City Council meeting in front of City Hall’s steps holding signs that matched the tenor of their shouts: “Too big! Too tall! Too much! Too big! Too tall! Too much!” A speaker trying to address the crowd through a megaphone could only get a couple of words in before the crowd would again erupt in shouts of their mantra.

-A Pico neighborhood man who was arrested at Virginia Avenue Park during the late evening of April 21, for allegedly violating the City’s park closure ordinance and delaying and obstructing officers in the performance of their duties, was not be charged after public outcry.

May 15

-A GoFundMe fundraiser raised more than $18,000 for the family of Santa Monica High freshman Leo Castillo who was killed Sunday night in a tragic scooter accident.

-After hours upon hours of impassioned public hearings and divisive council discussions that peaked last week with a council meeting that went well into the early morning, the new zoning ordinance and land use and circulation element amendment resolutions came to a close.

-For the second week in a row, a crowd of protesters gathered in front of City Hall on Tuesday to voice their opinion about the City of Santa Monica’s tough new regulations on the booming short-term rental industry.

May 22

-Sandwiched between a cement walkway and Muscle Beach’s eclectic collection of workout structures is a patch of newly laid grass that has at least one man scratching his head asking why it’s there following the City urging residents to get rid of lawns for more drought tolerant landscaping.

-In 2014, tourism injected $1.72 billion into the Santa Monica community, generating $56 million of lodging and sales tax revenues into the city’s general fund, a healthy seven percent rise from 2013.

-Santa Monica City Council on May 12 approved a prefunding of other post-employment benefits for City employees, totaling $2,506,785 in fiscal year 2014-15.

May 29

-The search for a new Santa Monica City Manager ended Wednesday night when Mayor Kevin McKeown announced that City Council had unanimously selected Rick Cole for the position.

-The Fairview Branch Library on Ocean Park Boulevard temporarily closed Monday, June 1, for interior and mechanical improvements. The closure due to remodeling was expected to last about 9-12 months.

-A ribbon cutting ceremony was held celebrate the completion of Phase 1 of the Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway project on Saturday, May 30. It took place at 12th Street and Michigan Avenue from 10 am to 11:30 am.

June 5

-The developer for the proposed 12-story 4th/5th and Arizona project came back in front of the Santa Monica Planning Commission on Wednesday night for a public hearing that lasted more than three-and-a-half hours.

-At the end of the City Council’s recent special meetings, which took place on the nights of May 27-28 for Biennial Budget Study Session presentations, Mayor Kevin McKeown introduced a motion to reconsider a small portion of the Zoning Ordinance.

-The Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce held its 90th anniversary party as part of its recent monthly “Biz @ Sunset” networking mixer held May 20.

June 12

-Incoming Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole was introduced to the public at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, much to the delight of council and Cole himself. It was a feel-good affair from the beginning, with Cole beginning his speech by eloquently thanking Interim City Manager Elaine Polachek for her wonderful job.

-With the Los Angeles City Council passing an ordinance earlier this week that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, Santa Monica City Council was taking steps to follow suit.

-The community was invited to join the Civic Working Group on Saturday, June 13 to comment and provide feedback on the preliminary recommendations that the CWG members have developed over the course of an 18 month community visioning process.

June 19

-A group called the Santa Monica Transparency Project filed complaints against former Santa Monica City Manager Rod Gould alleging he violated Santa Monica’s anti-corruption law after accepting employment with a consulting firm whose contracts he signed while City Manager.

-It may be one of the most crowded places to swim in the summer, but Santa Monica again ranked poorly in an annual report that grades beaches along the Californian coastline.

June 26

-Santa Monica City Council approved a handful of consent calendar items at its Tuesday night meeting, including electrical supplies, heating and air conditioning, plumbing, and water feature services.

July 3

-A 31-year-old agreement between the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) and the City of Santa Monica concerning Santa Monica Airport ended Wednesday, allowing for the city to begin reclaiming its control of SMO, a little at a time.

-The Metro Expo Line extension from Culver City to Santa Monica was about 90 percent complete and on track to open by spring 2016, connecting downtown Los Angeles to the beach in a route Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday called “from Grand to the sand.”

-As of only a couple of weeks ago, Santa Monicans were able to use an application called Transit to track the movement of their Big Blue Bus through real-time GPS updates. In addition to using the schedules posted at stops or looking online Ð which at best only gives a 30-minute window of when a bus could possibly be arriving Ð bus users can now see whether or not their bus is behind schedule.

July 10

-The construction under-way on California Incline had at least one Santa Monica resident wondering why there weren’t more people working on it at a time.

-A long-awaited meeting to discuss Santa Monica Airport was held Wednesday in Washington, D.C. between the Federal Aviation Administration and local elected officials and residents.

July 17

-Santa Monica residents made it abundantly clear at Tuesday’s City Council meeting that the Santa Monica Airport had over-stayed its welcome, but yet it remains Ð for how long was now the question.

-Let’s begin with what is a lobbyist? How does one define a lobbyist? And how does one enforce lobbyist regulations? These were some of the Socratic questions that occupied the discussion of a first reading of a lobbyist ordinance at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

July 24

-The prior week’s Rotary meeting was a crash course lesson in Santa Monica’s genesis. The main theme was the city’s roots as an auto racing destination, and the syllabus included buzzworthy L.A. trivia, as well as which streets used to be the auto track.

July 31

– The proposed bike-share system Breeze made its first major public debut at the Santa Monica Festival in Clover Park, giving Santa Monica its first opportunity to see the bikes up close.

-Lifeguards warned the public on Wednesday of the dangerous rip currents that have formed along the coast of Los Angeles County beaches, including Santa Monica and Malibu.

August 7

-Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole may have one of the most challenging city management positions in California, responsible for the day-to-day administration of the City of Santa Monica, which includes implementation of City Council ordinances and policies, oversight of 14 departments, and an annual budget of $564 million.

-To have a crossing gate or not to have a crossing gate? That seemed to be the million-dollar question as Phase 2 of the Expo Light Rail Line project in Santa Monica was nearing its completion date in 2016. One local man felt strongly that there should be crossing gates implemented at the busy intersection of Colorado Ave. and Lincoln Blvd.

-A Santa Monica bar exam preparation company agreed to a court judgment in the wake of allegations that it advertised grossly inflated pass rates, according to the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office. Barwinners, a Santa Monica-based company that since 1999 has sold bar exam prep courses, paid $130,000 in fines and restitution and agreed to a permanent court injunction following a joint investigation by the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

August 14

-What started as a small grassroots movement three years ago had caught fire and grown into a full-blown effort to improve the busy stretch of Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica between the 10 Freeway and the south city limits at Ozone Ave. It’s called the Lincoln Neighborhood Corridor Plan (or “The LiNC”), and members are committed to working with city leaders, local businesses, and property owners to come up with a positive vision for the future of this corridor.

-Will Santa Monica be following Los Angeles with an increase in minimum wage? That issue was discussed during a special meeting of economic leaders at the Santa Monica Public Library on Wednesday, Aug. 12. The purpose of the meeting was to gather input and feedback from the local business community about a potential Santa Monica minimum wage ordinance, modeled after that of the city of Los Angeles.

-Santa Monica Rotarians didn’t just hear a first-hand account of the Holocaust on Friday, Aug. 7. They were transported to a young boy’s survival story inside a Nazi nightmare, which in turn translated into an entire generation’s story of resilience and humanity.

August 21

-Former pro tennis star Pam Shriver was at the Santa Monica Tennis Club to watch her son compete in a junior tournament this week, and to offer advice on how tennis can become a more popular sport in the United States.

-Forty years after Santa Monica established a sister relationship with Fujinomiya, mayor Kevin McKeown traveled to the Japanese city on the flanks of Mt. Fuji to celebrate the international friendship.

August 28

-The Elizabeth Riel saga just wouldn’t seem to go away. Last year Riel was offered the job of Communications Director for the City of Santa Monica, but the position was later rescinded by former city manager Rod Gould. Riel filed a lawsuit and received a $710,000 settlement in July.

-Residents along the coastline including Santa Monica were rudely awakened to what appeared to be a random fireworks show off the coast Tuesday night. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept. told The Mirror the ruckus was thanks to Khloe Kardashian throwing a birthday party for NBA basketball player James Harden.

-While many people in Southern California were out at the beach or hiking or playing sports on a hot summer day, Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown and members of the City Council spent Sunday in a special session to discuss the top issues and concerns facing the city today.

September 4

– The Independent Spirit Awards announced it was moving, but it would remain in Santa Monica next year. Formerly held at the parking lot at 2030 Ocean Ave., the new location of the Spirit Awards will now be held at the 1550 beach parking lot on Pacific Coast Highway — directly north of the Santa Monica Pier and the site of previous touring Cirque du Soleil performances.

September 11

– The Santa Monica History Museum was getting ready to hold its annual Gala Tribute Benefit Dinner Sunday, Sept. 20 at the Casa del Mar Hotel. The evening was set to feature a silent auction, entertainment, and various surprises.

– Water wasters, be warned. The City of Santa Monica was ready to impose fines and penalties for those who do not follow the rules when it comes to water conservation.

September 18

– For “Star Wars” author and Santa Monica resident Michael Kogge, the past few weeks had been like a fun, fast-paced adventure aboard the Millennium Falcon promoting his new book “Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know.”

– As the head of the Santa Monica Neighborhood Restaurant Coalition, Hunter Hall was deeply concerned about issues affecting local businesses.

– KFA (Killefer Flammang Architects) recently celebrated its 40th anniversary of design excellence at an outdoor party held in its parking lot at Olympic Blvd. and 17th St. in Santa Monica.

September 25

-Underage drinking was still a problem across the nation, but in popular beach communities like Santa Monica and Venice it can be even more of an issue. One group trying to address the problem of teen drinking was the Westside Impact Project.

-Volleyball continued to grow in popularity, especially in California where the sport was booming. In Santa Monica, the West Coast Volleyball Club gained momentum as it entered its second year in existence.

October 2

– The Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica is considered an historical landmark that transcends time, but all things change in time and so it is with this longtime local establishment. Last Tuesday, the council approved some changes that hotel management was seeking. The biggest change from past years is that now the Georgian will soon be even more accessible to locals and tourists who want to eat and drink at the famous hotel.

– Santa Monica Police Detectives were seeking information or additional victims in connection with the arrest of Rabbi Sholom Doyber Levitansky who was accused of sexual abuse charges.

– The distinct possibility of raising the minimum wage in Santa Monica brought out a large group of local residents to the Santa Monica City Council meeting on Tuesday. The locals were forced to wait for hours while other business was being taken care of, but eventually they got their concerns across.

October 9

-Since Willy O’Sullivan opened his bar O’Brien’s on Wilshire Boulevard and 23rd Street 21 years ago, he’s seen the city grow exponentially.

– President Barack Obama made a roughly 6 1/2-hour visit to the Southland Saturday to attend a series of fundraisers for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic National Committee.

October 16

– A two-year pilot car sharing program with Zipcar was approved for the City of Santa Monica by the end of the year.

– Held by the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, the 21st Annual New Heroes Celebration was an opportunity for the business, community, and city to welcome Santa Monica’s newest educators, firefighters and police officers.

– A modern six-story development at 1415 5th Street featuring 64 residential units was approved fairly swiftly at Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday night.

October 23

-With Santa Monica’s Breeze Bike Share’s official Citywide launch set for Nov. 12, some businesses and residents were only now finding out that street parking spaces will be used for the location of some of the 75 stations across Santa Monica.

– This week, more than 4,400 Santa Monica households received mailings notifying them the Santa Monica Police Department was increasing neighborhood party patrols throughout Halloween and the rest of the holiday season.

October 30

– Anyone who had been in the vicinity of 4th Street and Colorado Avenue had noticed an extreme amount of change in recent years with the completion of the terminus station of the Expo Light Rail Line nearing.

– Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday night approved the second reading of an ordinance adopting a five-story, 102,500 square-foot mixed-use project at 1560 Lincoln Blvd. Ð the current site of a Denny’s restaurant.

– North Korea is a time bomb. That was the thesis behind Dr. Bruce Bennett’s talk at the weekly Rotary of Santa Monica meeting Friday, Oct. 23.

November 6

– With the rise of ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft, it had been a rough couple of years for the five taxi companies permitted to operate in Santa Monica under strict franchise agreements.

– The American Film Market opened Wednesday for its 36th edition, which ran through Wednesday, Nov. 11 with more than 80 new buying companies participating with the largest growth coming from South Korea, China, Germany, and India. Nearly 1,600 buyers were expected from more than 70 countries.

– Community members celebrated the new and improved playground at Ozone Park on Sunday, Nov. 8.

November 13

-For supporters of the Chain Reaction sculpture near the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Tuesday was a major victory following the City Council’s unanimous vote to grant funds up to $275,000 to restore the peace sculpture.

– A section of a highway in the La Mirada area was dedicated Friday in memory of the first Los Angeles Police Department undercover officer to be killed in the line of duty. The officer was killed in Santa Monica during an undercover operation.

– Santa Monica resident Kristine Hart loves Christmas, but had been at odds with her neighbors since Oct. 15, the day the home across the residential street near Santa Monica College lit up their annual Christmas display.

November 20

-Describing an extraordinary significance that is coming sooner perhaps than people realize, Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole spent time at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting to discuss the Expo Light Rail Line that ends just four blocks from “our iconic Pier.”

– A 12-screen ArcLight cinema complex opened on the third level of Santa Monica Place, complete with a full bar, cafe, and concessions. Guests 21-years and over can enjoy wine, beer, and cocktails in the lounge and during screenings.

November 27

– The Dream Orchestra’s performance of Handel’s “Messiah” was so popular last year that two concerts were planned for this year. The performances were held Thursday and Friday, Dec. 3 and 4, at St. Monica Catholic Church, 725 California Ave.

– The Santa Monica Rotary Club merged with its sister club in Westwood Village Friday, Nov. 20 to revel in the greatest cross-town rivalry in football: USC vs. UCLA.

– The Santa Monica College Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday, Nov. 17 to appoint Kathryn E. Jeffery, PhD, as the new Superintendent and President of Santa Monica College. Jeffery is currently president at Sacramento City College and brings over three decades of higher education experience to the role of SMC’s Chief Executive Officer.

December 4

– Former Santa Monica City Manager Rod Gould was forced to resign from his new job at Management Partners as part of a settlement agreement after it was alleged he violated Santa Monica’s anti-corruption law by accepting employment with the consulting firm whose contracts he signed while City Manager. Transparency Project filed a complaint against Gould in June after he retired as City Manager at the end of January this year, and accepted a role as vice president at Management Partners’ West Coast office in San Jose in May.

-The quick response of two Santa Monica women aboard a cruise ship led to the rescue of a passenger who went overboard into the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Italy. Dr. Sherry Ross and Dr. Peggy Gutierrez witnessed a woman plunge into the water at approximately 1:30 am on Nov. 8, as the ship traveled from Civitavecchia to Portoferraio. They immediately reported the incident to the crew of Windstar Cruise’s Star Breeze, then made every attempt to keep the victim in sight, while calling words of encouragement and keeping the victim engaged.

-New Roads School, one of Southern California’s leading independent schools for students in grades K-12, announced that Luthern Williams had been named Head of School. Williams previously served as Acting Head of School and the Director of New Roads Middle School.

December 11

-Proud 30-year resident Tony Vazquez was installed as Santa Monica Mayor and Councilmember Ted Winterer as Mayor Pro Tempore at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, positions which they will serve in for the next year. The official installation ceremony saw Kevin McKeown step down as mayor, making way for Vazquez and Winterer to assume their new positions as part of a strategic move initiated late last year following the installation of Santa Monica City Council’s new slow-growth majority.

– The Federal Aviation Administration ruled last Friday that the City of Santa Monica is obligated by grant assurances to operate Santa Monica Airport until Aug. 27, 2023. In the hours that followed the ruling, then-Mayor Kevin McKeown expressed his exasperation in response to the long awaited Director’s Determination by the FAA on the Santa Monica Airport “Part 16” complaint.

December 18

-Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday voted to designate the San Vicente Boulevard Courtyard Apartments Historic District.

An 18-wheel truck collided with a Metro Test Train after making an illegal left turn at 7th and Colorado in Santa Monica last Thursday.

Twenty residents have been left without a home for the holidays following an apartment building fire at 1605 Ocean Front Walk on Saturday night.

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