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LOOKOUT
Traditional Reporting for A Digital Age

The Santa Monica Lookout, Santa Monica, California -- March 2022

EXTRA -- Mayor Launches Campaign to Hike "Luxury" Real Estate Tax
March 31, 2022 -- Mayor Sue Himmelrich has launched a campaign for a ballot measure that would dramatically hike Santa Monica's transfer tax on "high end" real estate to help fund "homelessness prevention" and build affordable housing.

Local COVID-Related Deaths Have Spiked This Year
March 30, 2022 -- COVID-related deaths have risen dramatically in Santa Monica since the number of Omicron cases reached a record peak in early January, according to an analysis of LA County Health data by The Lookout.

Monthly Poll Finds Most Oppose Homeless Housing Downtown
March 30, 2022 -- A monthly poll of "civically engaged" Santa Monica residents found the vast majority opposed a Downtown housing project for the homeless and stricter mask mandates if COVID rates rise.

Santa Monica Rents Increase for First Time Since October, Report Finds
March 29, 2022 -- Rents in Santa Monica rose 2.8 percent in March, marking the first time since October that the median price for an apartment has increased, according to Apartment List's monthly report released Tuesday.

Homeless Man Charged with Burglary
March 29, 2022 -- Los Angeles County prosecutors on Monday filed burglary charges against a homeless man accused of ransacking a home in the Pico Neighborhood.

Saint John's Plan Includes $10 Million for New Mental Health Campus
March 28, 2022 -- The City Council last Tuesday approved a Master Plan for the expansion of Providence Saint John’s Health Center that includes $10 million in funding for a mental health campus on the Westside.

Pastor Preaches Forgiveness After Church Burglarized
March 27, 2022 -- Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson preached the gospel of love and forgiveness Sunday after burglars made off with more than $100,000 in video and sound equipment from St. Monica's Catholic Church.

Police Arrest Homeless Man Suspected of Burglarizing Local Businesses
March 25, 2022 -- A homeless man believed to be responsible for a number of recent commercial burglaries was arrested early Sunday morning after breaking into a restaurant on Pico Boulevard, police said Thursday.

Santa Monica Among State's Least Safe Cities, Report Finds
March 24, 2022 -- Santa Monica ranked as one of the least safe cities in California -- just above Compton -- based on FBI crime statistics gathered by Safewise, a safety consulting website.

Santa Monica Review Launches Spring Issue with Author Readings
March 25, 2022 -- The Santa Monica Review will celebrate the release of is Spring issue -- which features everything from an updated fairy tale to a fictionalized civic attack -- with a launch party next month.

Council to Resume In-Person Meetings Next Month
March 24, 2022 -- After more than two years holding virtual meetings during the coronavirus shutdown, the City Council will open its Chamber doors to the public on April 12.

Council Approves $1.75 Million Settlement in Officer Involved Shooting Case
March 23, 2022 -- The Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday night voted to pay $1.75 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who was shot by a police officer. Wolfgang Mountford, 31, was shot while he was resisting arrest in the early morning hours of July 14, 2019.

Police Seek Help Finding Driver in Fatal Hit-and-Run
March 23, 2022 -- Police are seeking help finding the driver and vehicle involved in a fatal hit-and-run collision that took place in November.

City Council Taps Third Interim City Attorney in 2 Years
March 23, 2022 -- The City Council tapped Deputy City Attorney Susan Cola on Tuesday to head the legal department, making her the third person to hold the top post on an interim basis in the past two years.

City Poised to Enforce Seismic Retrofit Law
March 22, 2022 -- The City of Santa Monica is poised to crack down on the owners of masonry buildings who failed to meet deadlines set under one of the nation's most aggressive seismic retrofit laws.

City, SMMUSD Sue County Committee to Stop School Districting Plan
March 21, 2022 -- The City of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) filed a lawsuit on Friday seeking to stop an effort to divide the District into trustee areas.

Suicide Attempt Closes California Incline
March 21, 2022 -- A suicide attempt shut down the California incline Monday afternoon when a motorist threatened to kill himself on the pedestrian bridge.

LETTERS -- Prepare for a Bait and Switch on Registration Fees
March 21 2022 -- If am a rent control tenant who rents out a room, will I need to register my roommates and their amenities and pay registration fees each time?

Council Poised to Approve $1.25 million Contract to "Advance Mobility Goals"
March 18, 2022 -- As the economy recovers and gas prices rise, the City Council is poised to renew a contract next week to manage a program that encourages commuters to ditch their cars.

Healing the Ocean Topic of SMC Panel Discussion
March 18, 2022 -- A panel of experts will bring unique perspectives to how our polluted oceans can be healed during a live online panel discussion at Santa Monica College this month.

Those Seeking State Rental Assistance Have Until March 31 to Apply
March 17, 2022 -- Tenants and landlords impacted by the coronavirus emergency have until March 31 to apply for state assistance with rent and utilities.

LETTERS -- Don't Become a Slave of the State
March 17, 2022 -- The Charter Amendment proposed by the Rent Board shows that the more government expands the weaker the citizen is. No one is immune.

Proposed Charter Amendment Requires All Units to Register with Rent Board
March 16, 2022 -- The Rent Control Board last Thursday proposed changes to the City Charter that would, among other things, require rental units not subject to the rent control law to register with the Board.

Cesar Chavez Day, Juneteenth Designated City HolidaysMarch 16, 2022 -- City facilities and programs will be closed two additional days each year after the City Council on Tuesday designated Cesar Chavez Day and Juneteenth as official holidays.

Proposed Downtown Housing Development for the Homeless Gets $2 Million
March 15, 2022 -- A proposed Downtown housing development for homeless individuals at the site of Parking Structure 3 received $2 million under a massive federal spending bill signed into law Tuesday.

Police to Hold DUI Checkpoint Friday
March 15, 2022 -- The Santa Monica Police Department’s Traffic Unit will hold a DUI Checkpoint Friday at an undisclosed location within the city limits.

OPINION -- CEQA Abuse is Nothing New for LA Hotel Worker Union
March 15, 2022 -- CEQA is one of Unite Here Local 11's favorite tactics to employ against hotel developers that refuse to play ball with the union. Once a hotel agrees to a neutrality agreement, CEQA concerns tend to magically disappear.

Local COVID Cases Drop, Deaths Persist
March 14, 2022 -- There were seven coronavirus-related deaths confirmed in Santa Monica over the past two weeks, bringing to 28 the number of deaths recorded in two months.

Pacific Park Seeks to Fill More than 200 Positions
March 14, 2022 -- Area youngsters 16 and older can enjoy the summer at Santa Monica Beach, meet visitors from around the world and earn some money, all at the same time.

EXTRA -- Coastal Commission Gives Miramar Redevelopment Enthusiastic Approval
March 11, 2022 -- It's been a century since the iconic Miramar Hotal was built on the site that was home to Santa Monica's co-founder, and a dozen years since plans were floated to rebuild it. On Thursday, the California Coastal Commission enthusiastically paved the way for the rebirth of the oceanfront hotel.

District to Drop Indoor Mask Mandate Monday
March 10, 2022 -- Santa Monica and Malibu public school students and staff can choose to take off their masks indoors starting Monday after a unanimous vote by the School Board.

OPINION -- Our Unsustainable Secret
March 11, 2022 -- It is wrong for a responsible and sustainable city to support and participate in the sale and storage of lead and any toxic fuels.

Council Votes to Support Ukraine, Continue Barring In-Person Meetings
March 10, 2022 -- The City Council on Tuesday voted to continue holding strictly virtual meeting until April 7 and to divest Russiann assets from City funds to protest the invasion of Ukraine.

Supreme Court Won't Take Up Santa Monica Murder Case
March 9, 2022 -- The California Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to review the case of a man serving a 15-years-to-life sentence for the 2018 fatal stabbing of a homeless man in Tongva Park.

Confused Council Tables Lobbying Law
March 9, 2022 -- The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to table a proposed lobbying law amid worries it was too confusing and would stifle participation on boards and commissions.

SMC Emeritus Celebrates Release of "Chronicles" with Zoom Reading
March 9, 2022 -- Santa Monica College (SMC) Emeritus students will share stories and poems from the latest edition of "The Emeritus Chronicles" during a live virtual reading this month.

Council to Take Stance on Ukraine
March 8, 2022 -- The City Council on Tuesday will decide whether to make Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy an honorary citizen of Santa Monica and dump any Russian assets from City funds.

Homeless Man Stabbed Outside Salvation Army
March 7, 2022 -- A homeless man was in critical but stable condition Monday after being stabbed multiple times outside the Salvation Army in Santa Monica shortly after midnight.

Council Could Continue Holding Virtual Meetings
March 7, 2022 -- City staff is recommending that the Council on Tuesday vote to continue barring the public from physically attending government meetings for another month.

Parking Structure 3's Long and Winding Road to Demolition
March 4, 2022 -- More than 12 years after the City of Santa Monica triggered a plan to tear down and rebuild Parking Structure 3, the demo crews are set to finally begin rolling in.

Felon Arrested for Armed Robbery
March 4, 2022 -- Police on Friday arrested an armed felon who shot up a garage door and held up a Jack in the Box on Wednesday afternoon.

EXTRA -- Appeals Court Won't Hear Parking Structure Case, Paving Way for Demolition
March 3, 2022 -- A Court of Appeals on Wednesday declined to take up a case filed by a group of Downtown property owners seeking to halt the demolition of Parking Structure 3.

City Poised to Sign Organics Recycling Contract
March 3, 2022 -- The City Council is expected to approve a contract of up to $14.2 million over five years to comply with a State law mandating organics recycling for all residents and businesses.

City Hall Murals to Remain on View
March 2, 2022 -- The historic murals in the City Hall lobby will remain on full view after the City Council last week voted not to cover them with "a temporary artistic scrim."

Burglary Suspect Arrested, Man Stabbed on Train Platform
March 2, 2022 -- A homeless felon was arrested for burglarizing an apartment building in the Mid City Neighborhood Tuesday and, in a separate incident, a man was stabbed on a train station platform.

LETTERS -- The Buck Stops with the Council
March 2, 2022 -- The City Council was voted in to represent the people of Santa Monica and not to abrogate their responsibilities to administrative staff who were never elected by the voters.

Santa Monica Rents Drop Again
March 1, 2022 -- Rents in Santa Monica dipped for the fourth straight month in February, after rising steadily during the first ten months of 2021, according to Apartment List's monthly report released Tuesday.

OPINION -- Santa Monica Continues Support to Local Businesses
March 1, 2022 -- Santa Monica is fortunate to have so many dedicated small business owners who shape our community’s character. City Manager David White shares some ways the City is actively helping them right now.

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