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The Santa Monica Lookout, Santa Monica, California -- JANUARY 2021

City, State Extend Eviction Moratorium Through June
January 28, 2021 -- The State legislature on Thursday extended California’s eviction moratorium through June 30 -- a step also taken by Santa Monica -- and proposed using $2.6 billion in federal relief as rental subsidies.

PUBLIC NOTICE -- The January weekend closure of the Santa Monica Pier has been lifted and the Pier will be open this weekend in keeping with the relaxed Los Angeles County Public Health orders.

LETTERS -- De la Torre's Exclusion Marks Sad Day for Santa Monica
January 28, 2021 -- The City Council has raised racism to a whole new level against Hispanics. Yesterday was truly a sad day for our city.

LETTERS -- De la Torre's Participation Jeopardizes SMRR's Grip on the City
January 28, 2021 -- Councilmember Oscar de la Torre is not permitted to be part of something that goes counter to the tenant group's weakening grip on the City.

Santa Monica Continues to See Weekly Drop in COVID-19 Cases
January 27, 2021 -- There were 50 fewer confirmed coronavirus cases in Santa Monica last week than the previous week, although the number of related deaths reported rose by four, according to data from the LA County Health Department.

Education Foundation Taking Donations Through Sunday to Match Miramar Grant
January 27, 2021 -- Education supporters have until Sunday to match a $15,000 grant from the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and its owner to the Santa Monica Education Foundation.

EXTRA -- Council Votes to Exclude de la Torre from Closed Sessions on Voting Rights Case
January 26, 2021 -- In one of the most combative public meetings in recent Santa Monica history, the City Council on Tuesday determined Oscar de la Torre has a conflict of interest and must be excluded from closed door sessions pertaining to the voting rights lawsuit against the City.

Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Stabbing, Attempted Rape in Santa Monica
January 26, 2021 -- A Los Angeles man convicted of stabbing a woman multiple times and attempting to rape her during a 2018 home invasion robbery near Downtown was sentenced to life in state prison this month.

No Violation in Council Vote for Top Posts, DA Says
January 26, 2021 -- The Los Angeles County District Attorney has found that any Brown Act violation in selecting a new mayor and vice mayor on December 8 was "cured and corrected" when a new vote was taken this month.

EXTRA -- Fight Brewing Over De la Torre's Participation in Voting Rights Deliberations
January 25, 2021 -- The City Attorney's office and Councilmember Oscar de la Torre are at loggerheads over whether the newly elected Councilmember can participate in closed session items involving the voting rights lawsuit against the City.

Felon Charged After Shooting at North of Montana Home
January 25, 2021 -- A shot fired at an inhabited North of Montana home led police to a neighboring residence where they arrested the suspect and confiscated a small cache of weapons.

Santa Monica Poised to Permanently Ban National Fast Food Chains on the Promenade
January 22, 2021 -- In an effort to help retain the Promenade's unique character, the City Council on Tuesday is expected to give final approval to a permanent ban on national fast food chains fronting the popular outdoor strip.

Santa Monica to Help County Prepare for Bioterrorism Attacks
January 22, 2021 -- Santa Monica will use the remainder of a $1.3 million grant from Los Angeles County to help area fire chiefs prepare for a potential bioterrorist emergency.

EXTRA -- City to Dip Into Emergency Reserves as Economic Downturn to Last Until 2025
January 21, 2021 -- Despite deep cuts, Santa Monica's crippled economy has pushed the City's current budget into the red, and it's not expected to fully recover for at least another four years, City officials said.

Local Tax Payers to See Lower Bills After SMC Refinances Bonds
January 21, 2021 -- Local residents will see their tax bills go down after Santa Monica College (SMC) refinanced a portion of its general obligation bonds last month, school officials said Thursday.

Santa Monica Faces Lawsuit If It Approves "Hero Pay"
January 20, 2021 -- The California Grocers Association filed a lawsuit against the City of Long Beach Wednesday challenging a "hero pay" ordinance similar to the one being drafted in Santa Monica.

City Extends Eviction Moratorium for Commercial Tenants
January 20, 2021 -- The City on Tuesday extended to March 31 its eviction moratorium for commercial tenants unable to pay rent due to the financial impacts of COVID-19.

15 Coronavirus Cases Confirmed at Santa Monica Public Safety Facility
January 19, 2021 -- Since the start of the year, 15 staff members at Santa Monica's Public Safety Facility have tested positive for the coronavirus and gone into immediate isolation, City officials confirmed Tuesday.

Santa Monica Sees Drop in COVID-19 Cases, Related Deaths
January 19, 2021 -- Weekly coronavirus cases and related deaths dropped in Santa Monica last week as Los Angeles County surpassed the 1 million mark in reported cases.

School Board Chooses Coleman to Fill de la Torre's Seat
January 15, 2021 -- The School Board Thursday night appointed Keith Coleman to fill the seat Oscar de la Torre had refused to relinquish after being elected to the City Council in November.

Police Boost Patrols As Inauguration Approaches
January 15, 2021 -- Santa Monica police will step up patrols this weekend in anticipation of possible protests around the inauguration of President elect Joe Biden on Wednesday, Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks announced Thursday night.

Santa Monica Establishes Civilian Police Oversight Commission
January 14, 2021 -- Spurred by nationwide protests over the deaths of Black citizens at the hands of police, the City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the creation of Santa Monica’s first civilian police oversight commission.

Santa Monica's MLK Day Celebration Goes Virtual
January 14, 2021 -- Santa Monica will host its first-ever virtual birthday celebration for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday.

Himmelrich, McCowan Solidify Support, Keep Top Council Posts
January 13, 2021 -- After more than a hour of testimony and debate, the City Council Tuesday night voted once again to select Sue Himmelrich as Mayor and Kristin McCowan as Mayor pro tem. Only this time it was unanimous.

OPINION -- Mayor Pro Tem McCowan Denounces "Misguided Accusations"
January 13, 2021 -- I will not allow a few loud voices who know nothing of me or my history to suggest that I am an ethically compromised individual, said Councilmember Kristin McCowan.

School Board to Replace de la Torre Thursday
January 13, 2021 -- City Councilmember Oscar de la Torre is not likely to put up a fight Thursday night when the School Board fills the seat he has held for 18 years.

Santa Monica Sees Weekly Surge in COVID-19 Cases, Record Number of Deaths
January 12, 2020 -- A record 16 Santa Monica residents died with the coronavirus last week, as confirmed cases surged again after a brief drop last week, according to Los Angeles County Health data.

Public Works Director Promoted to Help City Navigate Coronavirus Crisis
January 12, 2020 -- Public Works Director Susan Cline has been promoted to to help advance the City's top priorities during the coronavirus emergency and plan for its recovery, City officials announced Tuesday.

LETTERS -- Include Change Slate Member in New Council Leadership
January 12, 2021 -- Selecting a member of the Change slate will be a nod to the wishes of the residents who had voted out the three incumbents last November.

'Hero Pay' Could Backfire, Grocery Industry Says
January 11, 2021 -- The grocery industry is warning cities like Santa Monica to reconsider "knee-jerk proposals" to raise the pay of grocery workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Man Leaps to His Death from Mall Parking Structure
January 11, 2021 -- A man jumped to his death from a Santa Monica Place parking structure early Monday morning, marking the city's first public suicide this year and the 14th over the past two years.

Santa Monica Rents Continue Dropping, New Survey Finds
January 8, 2021 -- Santa Monica rents continued declining last month, capping a 14.4 percent decrease since the coronavirus pandemic hit last March, according to the latest report by Apartment List.

TOP STORIES OF 2020
PART I -- WINTER - SPRING

December 30, 2020 -- It seemed a routine, if eventful, start to the year, with the coronarirus still half a world away. By mid-Spring, the outbreak would trigger an economic shutdown that put the City deep in the red shortly before riots thrust it into the national spotlight.

PART II -- SUMMER- FALL
December 31, 2020 -- While the coronavirus emergency continued grabbing daily headlines, the voting rights lawsuit moved through the courts, "The Plaza's" fate remained undecided and the groundwork was being laid for the biggest election upset in Santa Monica history.

Miramar's Annual Holiday Donation Drives Help Santa Monica's Needy
January 8, 2020 -- Santa Monica residents may not have been able to gather under the Miramar's iconic fig tree this holiday season, but that didn't stop them from helping the city's most needy.

Santa Monica Could Boost Pay for Grocery, Drug Store Workers
January 7, 2021 -- Local workers at large grocery and drug store chains could soon get an additional $5-an-hour "hero pay" during the coronavirus pandemic under a proposal the City Council will consider Tuesday.

LETTERS -- City Attorney's Position Invites Brown Act Violations
January 7, 2020 -- Without Councilmember McCowan recusing herself during the new vote, we would be reinforcing that it’s okay to violate the Brown Act and there are no consequences to the violation.

LETTERS -- A Distorted View of Property Rights
January 7, 2020 -- The next few years in California will see a further destruction of the housing model. What is the end game?

Council to Redo Vote for Top Posts
January 6, 2020 -- The City Council on Tuesday will redo its selection of a Mayor and Mayor pro tem after concerns were raised that the initial vote on December 8 may have violated the State's open meetings act.

Bloom to Run for County Supervisor in 2022
January 6, 2021 -- State Assemblymember Richard Bloom -- who has championed environmental, housing and transportation bills in his eight years in Sacramento -- announced Wednesday he will run for County Supervisor in 2022.

Santa Monica Woman Pleads Guilty to Hoarding and Price Gouging Mask Scheme
January 5, 2021 -- A Santa Monica spa owner charged with hoarding surgical masks and selling them at greatly inflated prices during the coronavirus pandemic pleaded guilty Tuesday in Los Angeles federal court.

OPINION -- Councilmember de la Torre "Deliberately Fomenting Discord"
January 5, 2020 -- We will not allow ourselves to be distracted as Councilmember Oscar de la Torre continues to seek the limelight by stoking grievance and division, write School Board members Jon Kean and Laurie Lieberman.

Weekly Coronavirus Cases Drop in Santa Monica, While Deaths See Record Spike
January 4, 2021 -- Weekly coronavirus cases in Santa Monica dropped for the first time in five weeks, but the number of virus-related deaths spiked to a record 12, according to Los Angeles County Health data.

The Birth of a Star and Flights to the Moon at Santa Monica College Planetarium
January 4, 2021 -- Santa Monica College’s (SMC) John Drescher Planetarium kicks of the year with a glimpse of a starbirth and a look back at Apollo.

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