Santa Monica
Traditional Reporting for A Digital Age

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

More Than Two Dozen Council Hopefuls Vie for Five Open Seats
July 31, 2020 -- A total of 27 City Council hopefuls -- including all five incumbents -- have pulled papers as Santa Monica's nominating period enters its final week on Monday.

LETTERS -- 'The Plaza' Project Raises Questions Staff Won't Answer
July 31, 2020 -- Do we really need more hotel rooms when the Coronavirus may impact travel for years? Do we really need more office space when working from home becomes enshrined? Where’s the analysis?

Plaintiffs in Santa Monica Voting Rights Suit File Petition for Rehearing
July 30, 2020 -- Plaintiffs in the voting rights lawsuit against the City have asked the California Appeals Court for a rehearing after it found that Santa Monica's at-large election system does not violate State law.

OPINION -- Local 11 Drowns Out Community Voices In 'Plaza' Debate
July 30, 2020 -- The public outcry against The Plaza suggests residents are tired of being steamrolled by hotel union interests at the hands of their own elected officials.

EXTRA -- Santa Monica Council Votes to Continue Negotiations on 'The Plaza' Project Downtown
July 29, 2020 -- The City Council voted 6 to 1 on Tuesday to continue negotiations on "The Plaza" project proposed on City owned land Downtown, deciding the revenues, jobs and housing it would create outweigh the risks of pending litigation.

Santa Monica College Planetarium Explores Past and Future Efforts to Return to the Moon
July 29, 2020 -- A failure in an oxygen tank shortly after Apollo 13 was launched on April 11, 1970 prevented the third crewed mission from landing on the moon. On Friday, August 7, Santa Monica College's (SMC) Planetarium will look at the fallout from the aborted mission.

Prominent Santa Monica Doctor Featured in Censored Coronavirus Video
July 28, 2020 -- A renown Santa Monica pediatrician was among the doctors who questioned the medical response to the coronavirus pandemic in a viral video censored by major social media outlets Monday.

Santa Monica Extends Coronavirus Emergency Another Month
July 28, 2020 -- Citing the continued spread of the coronavirus, the City of Santa Monica on Tuesday extended its local health emergency and most associated orders through August 31.

Santa Monica Surpasses 600 Coronavirus Cases
July 27, 2020 -- The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Santa Monica surpassed 600 on Sunday, although new cases held steady for the second week in a row after posting a record high.

Police Reform Committee to Hold Meeting Thursday
July 27, 2020 -- Santa Monica community residents will have their first chance to weigh in on local policing policies at a meeting of the newly formed Public Safety Reform Advisory Committee on Thursday at 6 p.m. via teleconference, City officials announced.

OPINION -- A Cautionary Tale for the Council When It Votes on 'The Plaza' Project Tuesday Night
Village Trailer Park was an eye-opening experience for the City in how little it got back for enriching a private developer. The same can happen again with 'The Plaza' Tuesday night.

Council to Consider Ballot Measure Changing Hiring Rules
July 24, 2020 -- The City Council on Tuesday will consider placing a measure on the November ballot that would diversity the City's workforce by making it easier to hire minorities and women.

Santa Monica Lawmakers' Bill Would Allow Housing on Commercial Land
July 24, 2020 -- A bill co-sponsored by a Santa Monica lawmaker that would allow housing developments with affordable units to be built on commercially zoned land is making its way through the Senate.

EXTRA -- Santa Monica Loses LA Marathon
July 23, 2020 -- After a an 11-year run to the finish line through Santa Monica, the LA Marathon announced Thursday that next year's race will end in Century City instead of the Pier. The decision deals a blow to Santa Monica's crippled business sector.

County to Crack Down on Businesses that Defy Health Orders
July 23, 2020 -- After shutting down some 100 businesses for failing to comply with health orders under the cornonavirus emergency, County Health officials announced Thursday that they will step up enforcement.

Residents Ask Council to Scale Back Preferential Parking Restrictions in Two Zones
July 22, 2020 -- In an unusual move, residents in two areas of Santa Monica have asked the City Council to ease preferential parking restrictions on their streets. The Council is expected to make the changes at its meeting Tuesday.

New Chamber Chair Steps Aside to Pave Way for Santa Monica Resident
July 22, 2020 -- Land use attorney Dave Rand will no longer chair the Chamber of Commerce board, paving the way for a Santa Monica resident to take the helm during the city's economic recovery.

All Five City Council Incumbents Running in November
July 21, 2020 -- All five Santa Monica City Council incumbents whose terms expire in November have pulled nominating papers to run, according to the candidate list on the City Clerk's website.

Arson Suspect Pleads Not Guilty in Sake House Fire
July 21, 2020 -- A West Hills teenager accused of setting fire to a sushi restaurant during the May 31 Santa Monica riots pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a federal arson charge.

Santa Monica Sees Weekly Drop in Coronavirus Cases
July 20, 2020 -- Santa Monica recorded a drop in coronavirus cases last week and added one new death, as the County -- which saw a record number of hospitalizations Sunday -- beefs up is contact tracing efforts.

Los Angeles Man Arrested for Assault on Police Officer During Santa Monica RiotsJuly 20, 2020 -- Santa Monica police have arrested a Los Angeles man who struck an officer in the head with a bottle during the civil unrest and rioting in the city May 31. Drew Miller, 38, was arrested Friday for assaulting a police officer with a deadly weapon. Bail was set at $500,000.

Malibu Seeks Stimulus Funding for Electric Cars
August 5, 2020 -- Santa Monica has long been a champion of converting its City fleet to electric vehicles, but this week Malibu outdid its southern neighbor's lobbying efforts to reach that goal.

Settlement Between State, Santa-Monica Based Lithuanian Foundation to Help Needy in Homeland
July 17, 2020 -- Disadvantaged Lithuanian children and seniors in the former Soviet-occupied country will receive about $7 million in charitable contributions under a settlement agreement between the state and the Santa Monica-based Lithuanian Assistance Foundation.

California Churches Sue Governor Over Ban on Singing During Religious Services
July 16, 2020 -- Three California churches sued Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday for banning singing and chanting in places of worship during the coronavirus emergency but allowing it in other venues.

Santa Monica College Planetarium Explores Mars Probes, Upcoming Meteor Shower During Free Virtual Shows
July 16, 2020 -- Santa Monica College’s John Drescher Planetarium will probe three missions to Mars during a free, live virtual show this Friday.

Council Shelves Ballot Measure Making It Easier to Change Key Commissions
July 15, 2020 -- Worried about sowing voter distrust, the City Council on Tuesday postponed placing a measure on the November ballot that would have made it easier to change key Boards and Commissions.

City Extends Eviction Moratorium, Clarifies Face Mask Use Outdoors
July 15, 2020 -- The City of Santa Monica on Wednesday extended an eviction moratorium for tenants affected by the cornavirus shutdown and clarified an order for the use of face masks during outdoor activities.

EXTRA -- Council Appoints Kristin McCowan to Fill Vacant Seat
July 14, 2020 -- With one swift vote, the Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday made history by appointing Kristin McCowan to fill a vacant Council seat. McCowan's appointment marks the first time a Black woman sits on the Council and the first time women make up a majority on the dais.

FPPC Clears Planning Commissioner of Violating Campaign Finance Laws
July 14, 2020 -- California's top political watchdog has cleared Santa Monica Planning Commissioner Richard McKinnon of allegations he violated State campaign laws in his 2012 bid for City Council.

Superintendent’s Message: SMMUSD to Reopen to Full Distance Learning Model This Fall
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District staff will recommend that the School Board announce a plan to reopen with distance learning, following recent state and local health recommendations and a surge in Covid-19 cases in Los Angeles County.

Santa Monica Sees Record Number of Weekly Coronavirus Cases, As County Re-Shutters Businesses
July 13, 2020 -- A record 65 coronravirius cases were confirmed in Santa Monica last week, as Los Angeles County began re-shutting businesses in an effort to curb a recent spike that has, in fact, resulted in fewer deaths and serious illness, according to an analysis of County data.

Nearly One in Three Americans Failed to Make Full Housing Payment This Month, Survey Finds
July 13, 2020 -- More than one-third of U.S. renters and homeowners failed to make full on-time payments in July due to the economic fallout of the coronavirus shutdown, according to a survey by Apartment List.

OPINION -- Voters, Not Council, Should Choose New Councilmember
July 13, 2020 -- Santa Monica voters do not want the Council to put its collective thumb on the scale with an election just around the corner, writes the head of a political watchdog group.

Council Expected to Choose Between Two Black Applicants for Open Seat
July 10, 2020 -- On Saturday, Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR) will interview two Black applicants vying for an open seat on the City Council, indicating one of them will be chosen by the Council Tuesday.

Santa Monica Announces Appointments to Police Reform Advisory Committee
July 10, 2020 -- The City's first Black Councilmember, the two top local NAACP officials, two Santa Monica police officers and a dozen activists, residents and service providers have been selected to serve on the City's new Public Safety Reform Advisory Committee.

EXTRA -- Santa Monica's Election System Does Not Violate Latino's Voting Rights, Appeals Court Rules
July 9, 2020 -- A State Appeals Court on Thursday ruled that Santa Monica's at-large election system does not violate the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA), a decision the Latino plaintiffs plan to appeal.

Santa Monica Library Launches Curbside Pick-Up
July 9, 2020 -- Santa Monica's libraries haven't opened yet due to LA County's coronavirus shutdown, but that doesn't mean items can't be checked out.

Police Arrest Four Suspects in Patagonia Looting
July 8, 2020 -- Santa Monica police have arrested two men and two women suspected of removing a safe from Patagonia during a looting spree in the city's Downtown May 31.

Santa Monica Lowers Threshold For Nominating Signatures
July 8, 2020 -- (UPDATED) Santa Monica candidates will need to gather fewer signatures to get on the November 3 ballot under a new emergency order issued by the City Wednesday.

Santa Monica Ranks Among Worst Cities to Buy First Home
July 8, 2020 -- Santa Monica is one of the worst cities in the nation for first-time home buyers looking to cash in on mortgage rates that have hit an all-time low, according to a survey by an online financial site.

EXTRA -- Nearly 120 Applicants Seek Appointment to Vacant Council Seat
July 7, 2020 -- An airline pilot, ship captain, beer importer, police sergeant, stunt coordinator, hairdresser, jeweler and Sexydivineamazingthebest Chancey are among a record 117 applicants vying for an appointment to the Santa Monica City Council next Tuesday.

Two Suspects Arrested in Santa Monica Looting Spree
July 7, 2020 -- Two suspects have been arrested for looting the VANS and REI stores during a violent wave of crime that swept through Downtown Santa Monica on May 31.

Weekly Coronavirus Cases Hold Steady in Santa Monica
July 6, 2020 -- The number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths in Santa Monica held steady last week, as Los Angeles County Health officials reported that cases are increasing among younger people.

Santa Monica Beaches Get Mixed Grades in Latest Heal the Bay Report Card
July 6, 2020 -- Santa Monica beaches -- except for the area around the pier -- received top grades for water quality during dry weather but flunked during wet weather, according to Heal the Bay's latest report card.

Homeless Man Commits Suicide from Santa Monica Freeway Overpass
July 6, 2020 -- A man jumped to his death from a freeway overpass in Santa Monica Saturday, marking the second public suicide in two weeks and the 12th in the beach city in less than two and a half years.

Santa Monica Hotels Poised for a Comeback
July 2, 2020 -- Santa Monica's tourism industry is back on track after the coronavirus shutdown, with nearly all of its 41 hotels open for business with heightened safety measures, tourism officials said.

Santa Monica Issues Face-Covering Order
July 2, 2020 -- Santa Monica customers who don't wear face coverings or maintain social distancing can be refused service and fined, according to an order issued by the City Thursday.

Three Suspects Arrested for Arson, Looting During Violent Protests in Santa Monica
July 1, 2020 --
(UPDATED) Three teenagers were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of setting fire to a sushi restaurant and looting seven Downtown Santa Monica businesses during violent protests in the beach city May 31.

City Launches Rental Assistance Program for Tenants Impacted by Coronavirus Shutdown
July 1, 2020 -- Santa Monica tenants who can show they have been economically impacted by the coronavirus shutdown can begin applying for rental assistance from the City on Tuesday.

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