Santa Monica
Traditional Reporting for A Digital Age

The Santa Monica Lookout, Santa Monica, California -- January 2020

Arts Commission Declines to Seek Explanation for Treasured Mural's Loss
January 30, 2020 -- The Arts Commission on Monday defeated a motion asking the City to reconsider releasing documents that could explain why it rejected a 50-year-old iconic mural without the public's knowledge.

City Council Doubles Water Rates
January 30, 2020 -- Santa Monica residents, landlords and businesses will see their water and wastewater bills double over the next five years after the City Council approved new rates Tuesday.

Fatal Collision with Train Marks Ninth Public Santa Monica Suicide in Two Years
January 29, 2020 -- The pedestrian struck by a Metro train early Sunday morning marked the ninth public suicide in Santa Monica over the past two years, the Los Angeles Coroner has determined.

Council Approves Second Pilot Program for E-Scooters, E-Bikes
January 29, 2020 -- Santa Monica will reduce the number of operators but maintain the maximum number of shared e-scooters and e-bikes under a second pilot program approved by the City Council Tuesday.

Santa Monica College Leads in Transfers for 29th Straight Year
January 29, 2020 -- The last time Santa Monica College (SMC) failed to rank as the top transfer institution to the University of California (UC) system, the vast majority of its students hadn't been born.

Pest Control, Cemetery Transport and Monitoring a Major Dig on Council's Agenda Tuesday
January 28, 2020 -- The City Council on Tuesday is expected to approve contracts to keep pests out of City buildings, transport the deceased to the municipal mortuary and make sure a large major dig doesn't overlook paleontological finds.

OBITUARY -- Joanne Bonner Leavitt (February 9, 1940 - December 22, 2019)
January 28, 2020 -- Joanne Leavitt's living legacy is thousands upon thousands of safer, healthier, happier, more accomplished children busily making the world a better place.

City Council to Consider Doubling Water Rates by 2024
January 27, 2020 -- Santa Monica residents could see water rates double over the next five years under hikes the City Council will consider Tuesday.

LETTERS -- Another Close Call at Site of Fatal Train Collision
January 27, 2020 -- My husband and I got into a serious situation with an oncoming westbound train at this same intersection six weeks ago, an elderly pedestrian writes.

Fatal Collision Sunday Marks Third Pedestrian Killed by Expo Train in Santa Monica
January 26, 2020 -- (UPDATED) A homeless man was killed by an Expo train in Santa Monica Sunday, marking the third such fatality since rail service reached the beach city in 2016.

Santa Monica Arts Commission to Seek Full Disclosure of Iconic Mural's Loss
January 24, 2020 -- The Arts Commission on Monday is expected to take initial steps to uncover key documents that could explain why City officials rejected an iconic mosaic that stood in Santa Monica for 50 years.

EXTRA -- Fire Bombing Suspect Was City Council Hopeful
January 24, 2020 -- Korie Schmidt -- the suspect charged in connection with a series of fire bombings in Santa Monica -- applied for a City Council seat last January citing his "unconventional thoughts" and the possibility of "burnout."

Santa Monica Lawmaker Calls on Baseball Commissioner to Strip Astros of 2017 Title
January 23, 2020 -- A Santa Monica lawmaker introduced a resolution this week calling on Major League Baseball's commissioner to strip the Houston Astros of their 2017 World Series title for cheating.

Assistant City Manager Katie Lichtig to Retire After Second Santa Monica Tenure
January 23, 2020 -- After returning to the City where she launched her career as a municipal servant nearly 30 years ago, Assistant City Manager Katie Lichtig will retire in April, City officials announced Thursday.

Charges Filed Against Suspected Fire Bomber
January 23, 2020 -- Charges were filed Wednesday against a man who reportedly tossed Molotov cocktails onto several Santa Monica streets last weekend, police said.

City Submits Final Brief in Voting Rights Appeal
January 22, 2020 -- Candidates preferred by Santa Monica's Latino voters almost always win, and assuming they prefer candidates with Spanish surnames amounts to stereotyping, the City argued in its final brief filed Tuesday in its voting rights appeal..

SMC Student Film Gets World Premiere Next Month
January 22, 2020 -- A Santa Monica College (SMC) student film will get its world premiere at the school's state-of-the-art Center for Media and Design next month, school officials announced Wednesday.

Santa Monica's Treasured Mosaic to Be Centerpiece of Orange County Museum Expansion
January 21, 2020 -- Santa Monica's iconic "Pleasures Along the Beach" mosaic will be the centerpiece of the expanded Hilbert Museum of Art in Orange County when it opens in the fall of 2022, museum officials told the Lookout.

Suspect Arrested for Murder in Year's First Homicide
January 21, 2020 -- A suspect was arrested for murder in a residence near 14th Street and California Avenue shortly after midnight Monday in what marks Santa Monica's first homicide this year, according to police.

LETTERS -- Protest Water Rate Increases or They'll Continue Going Up
January 21, 2020 -- If the City truly wishes to be sustainable, it must stop accepting new development proposals or water costs will continue going up.

City Leaves Public in the Dark Over Loss of Iconic Mural
January 16, 2020 -- (First of two parts) Santa Monicans may never know how their City came to lose the iconic mural "Pleasures Along the Beach," after repeated requests for documents by a former Arts Commissioner failed to reveal how the behind-the-scenes decision was made.
How the City Failed to Pursue "Pleasures Along the Beach"
January 17, 2020 -- (Second of two parts) As the deadline to accept the iconic mural "Pleasures Along the Beach" inched closer, City officials expressed little or no sense of urgency to act, according to documents obtained by the Lookout.

Santa Monica Lawmaker Introduces Bill Calling for More Humane Animal Blood Banking
January 17, 2020 -- A Santa Monica lawmaker on Friday introduced legislation that will expand the pool of animal blood donors in California and make animal blood banking more humane.

Fireside at the Miles Offers Eclectic Musical Lineup
December 16, 2020 -- The Miles Playhouse is an ideal setting enjoy Saint-Saens' classic "Carnival of the Animals," which will be performed inside the historic structure Friday night. The concert by the Orchestra Santa Monica Woodwind Quintet is part of the 11th Annual Fireside at the Miles performance series.

EXTRA -- Sheriffs Probing Alleged Child Molestation Cover-up Involving City Hall, Sources Say
January 15, 2020 -- A Los Angeles County Sheriff's investigator confirmed Wednesday that the Department's Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau is engaged in an ongoing probe of Santa Monica City Hall. The probe centers on a possible cover-up of alleged child molestation cases by a former City employee, said a source interviewed for the investigation.

Council Approves "Overstay" Fee at EV Charging Stations
January 15, 2020 -- Come spring, electric vehicle drivers in Santa Monica who overstay the time limit posted at public charging stations will face a $1-per-minute fine.

Shore Hotel Executive Faces Four Felony Counts
January 14, 2020 -- Steve Farzam, chief operating officer of the Shore Hotel in Santa Monica, is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday on four felony counts, according to court records.

Workers' Compensation Costs Rose in Santa Monica Last Year, Report Says
January 14, 2020 -- The City's workers' compensation liabilities grew to $32.6 million in the past fiscal year due to a spike in disability payments and settled claims, according to a recent report from the finance department.

Santa Monica to Consider EV Charging Fees
January 13, 2020 -- With electric vehicles eating into parking revenues and boosting charging station costs, Santa Monica is rethinking its policies encouraging their use.

City Revs Up for Annual Homeless Count
January 13, 2020 -- Next Wednesday night, some 300 volunteers are expected to comb every Santa Monica street, alley and park as they attempt to count every homeless person living in the city.

'"Promises of Democracy" Theme of MLK Day in Santa Monica Monday January 13, 2020 -- Amanda Gorman, the nation's first youth poet laureate, will be the keynote speaker at Santa Monica's Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration Monday.

Ring Fired Four Employees Who Abused Access to Customer Videos
January 10, 2020 -- Ring, the Santa Monica-based surveillance doorbell company, fired four employees who viewed video that "exceeded" what was necessary to do their jobs, company officials said.

Council Expected to Approve Nearly $9 Million in City Hall Improvements
January 10, 2020 -- The City Council on Tuesday is expected to approve nearly $9 million in City Hall improvements to pave the way for the opening of its new state-of the-art City Services Building this spring (CSB).

Parties in Voting Rights Suit Duel Over District Mapping
January 9, 2020 -- One thing is certain in the voting rights case against the City currently before a California Appeals Court: The regularly scheduled November election will be held. The big question is: If a district election is mandated, who will draw the lines?

Year's Top Stories

Council Set to Beef Up Park Ambassador Program and Help Stressed-Out Part-time Workers
January 9, 2020 -- The City Council on Tuesday is expected to extend an ambassador program at Reed Park, expand a program for stressed out employees and beef up software for its housing division.

Repeat Offender Arrested for Arson in Huntley Fire
January 8, 2020 -- A homeless man with a long record of misdemeanors was arrested for arson in connection to an alley dumpster fire last month that spread to the Huntley Hotel.

Majority of Mental Health Population in County Jail Capable of Being Released, RAND Study Finds
January 8, 2020 -- The largest mental health facilities in the U.S. are now county jails, with nearly a third of those incarcerated in Los Angeles County suffering from mental illness, according to a recent study by the Santa Monica-based RAND Corporation.

Sweet, Tarty Kumquat Featured During Santa Monica Restaurant Week
January 8, 2020 – Food lovers have until Sunday to sample local offerings from award-winning Santa Monica eateries during the eighth annual Restaurant Week.

SPECIAL REPORT -- Santa Monica Was Home for Renown Conceptual Artist
January 7, 2019 -- When conceptual artist John Baldessari died in his Venice home last Thursday, he left behind a vast body of work created inside a cavernous but cluttered warehouse studio in Santa Monica near Main Street and Pico Boulevard.

Education Foundation Raises More than $200,000 Spurred by Miramar Matching Grant
January 7, 2020 -- The Santa Monica Education Foundation raised $213,000 in donations last month spurred by a $25,000 matching grant from the Miramar Hotel, Foundation officials announced Monday.

Plaintiffs File Response in Voting Rights Appeal
January 6, 2020 -- (UPDATED) Emphasizing that only one Latino candidate has ever been elected to serve on the City Council, plaintiffs in a voting rights lawsuit last month urged an appeals court to uphold a ruling that Santa Monica's election system should be replaced.

StoryCorps Makes Month-Long Stop in Santa Monica
January 6, 2020 -- Santa Monicans have a chance to add their oral stories to one of the largest single collections of human voices ever recorded during StoryCorps month-long visit to the beach city.

Minor Decoy Operation Finds Santa Monica Alcohol Outlets in Compliance

January 6, 2010 -- A decoy operation to catch outlets selling alcohol to minors turned up no violations, Santa Monica police announced Monday.

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