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Top Stories in 2021: Summer Settles In
By Jorge Casuso
December 29, 2021 -- As summer begins, a series of violent crimes makes headlines, the Council picks a new City Manager and Santa Monica orders that face masks be worn again in indoor public spaces.
On the education front, a County Committee keeps alive Malibu's proposal to split from the School District while a campaign is launched to recall three School Board members.
By summer's end, weekly coronavirus cases drop to the lowest level since the Delta variant began spreading, rents continue rising and data released by the U.S. Census Bureau show Santa Monica is one of the fastest growing cities in the County.
As the month begins, Santa Monica police brace for the fallout when homeless encampments across the Venice border are cleared, while a series of crimes involving homeless individuals prompts Councilmember Phil Brock to warn visitors that Downtown Santa Monica is no longer safe ("Santa Monica Deals With Fallout as Venice Encampments Cleared," July 12, 2021).
Brock's warning comes after a homeless Texas man makes the nighly news when he carjacks a couple exiting a Downtown parking structures then runs the driver over after attempting to sexually assault his female companion ("Texas Man Arrested for Carjacking, Attempted Murder," July 6, 2021.
Later in the month, Santa Monica police arrest a homeless man who allegedly stabbed a victim on the beach, while a 65-year-old homeless man is charged with a hate crime for allegedly assaulting a Korean woman Downtown.
In an effort to curb the spread of the contagious Delta variant, the City issues an order mandating that face masks be worn indoors in public spaces regardless of vaccination status ("Face Masks Must Be Worn Indoors in Santa Monica Again," July 15, 2021).
Michael Gargiulo, known as the "boy next door killer," is sentenced to death for the gruesome murders of two Los Angeles area women and the attempted murder of a third in Santa Monica, where he lived across the alley from his victim ("Serial Killer Arrested by Santa Monica Police Sentenced to Death," July 16, 2021).
On July 7, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge issues a tentative ruling that effectively bars Councilmember Oscar de la Torre from participating in Council deliberations on the voting rights lawsuit against the City ("EXTRA -- De la Torre Has Conflict in Voting Rights Suit, Judge Rules," July 23, 2021).
Four days later, after intensifying its search for a new city manger, the Council unanimously votes to hire Berkeley Deputy City Manager David White ("Council Taps Berkeley Deputy City Manager to Run Santa Monica," July 22, 2021).
After the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant in El Segundo discharges 17 million gallons of raw sewage into Santa Monica Bay, Los Angeles County Health officials begin to issue water quality warnings around the Santa Monica Pier that would be lifted and reimposed for the rest of the summer ("Water Advisory for Santa Monica Beaches Lifted," July 30, 2021).
As August kicks off, Downtown officials unveil a plan to revitalize the Promenade, which has been hard hit by high-tech shopping trends and crippled by the coronavirus shutdown ("Downtown Officials Unveil Plan to Revitalize The Promenade," August 5, 2021).
A woman is struck and killed by a vehicle on Main Street, marking the third pedestrian fatality of the year ("Main Street Collision Marks Third Pedestrian Death This Year," August 9, 2021).
A campaign to recall three Santa Monica-Malibu School Board members begins circulating petitions. The campaign, however, loses steam, fading by the end of the year ("School Board Recall Campaign Kicks Off," August 11, 2021).
Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau find that Santa Monica added more than 3,300 residents over the past decade, making it one of the fastest growing large cities in Los Angeles County ("Santa Monica Among County's Fastest Growing Cities, Census Data Shows," August 13, 2021).
Coronavirus cases in Santa Monica drop after hitting a near record high at the end of July, with no new virus-related deaths reported in nearly four months ("COVID Cases Level Off in Santa Monica, No New Deaths," August 16, 2021).
Before the month ends, the City issues a policy requiring all City employees, contractors and volunteers to be fully vaccinated by October 29 ("Santa Monica Mandates Vaccinations for City Employees,"
August 26, 2021).
Interim Santa Monica City Attorney George Cardona is named chief trial counsel by the California Bar Association as the search for a permanent replacement intensifies ("EXTRA -- Interim City Attorney Cardona Hired by California Bar," August 27, 2021).
August marks the eighth month in a row that sees local rents increase, nearly doubling the rent increase posted for July ("Santa Monica Rents Continue Rising, Report Finds," August 31, 2021).
A rift develops after Santa Monica's Public Safety Reform and Oversight Commission denounces an agreement between the City and police union, calling it a "gut punch" that "undermines" the group's work ("Public Safety Commission Denounces City, Union Agreement," September 3, 2021).
The Council takes steps to stem the flood of items individual Councilmembers themselves place on meeting agendas ("Council Takes Steps to Curb Own Agenda Items," September 17, 2021).
A County Education Committee votes overwhelmingly to keep alive Malibu's proposal to separate from the School District, even though it fails to "substantially" meet eight of the nine conditions required under State law ("Malibu Petition to Split from School District Stays on Track," September 20, 2021).
The Fire Department rolls out a new ambulance unit that provides an alternative response to 9-1-1 calls for homeless individuals ("Santa Monica Launches Ambulance Unit Focused on Homeless," September 13, 2021).
Weekly coronavirus cases drop to a level not seen since the Delta variant began spreading rapidly across LA County in early summer ("Santa Monica COVID Cases See Dramatic Weekly Drop," September 27, 2021).
A monthly report finds that rents in Santa Monica continued rising in September, although more slowly, marking the ninth straight monthly increase ("Santa Monica Rents Tick Up in September," September 28, 2021
Downtown officials announce that for the second year in a row, Santa Monica's holiday season won't feature Downtown's popular outdoor ice-skating rink ("ICE at Santa Monica Canceled Due to Electrical Meltdown," September 30, 2021).
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