Santa Monica

Arts And Literacy Festival April 27

April 15, 2024 ·

Children learning in the classroom. Photo by Andrew Ebrahim via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On April 11, the city of Santa Monica announced in collaboration with Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District welcomes families to the free 10th annual Arts & Literacy Festival on Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Virginia Avenue Park.

The city of Santa Monica indicated in a press release that the theme for 2024 “The robots are here,” and the event will host over 30 different community organizations offering games and activities that align with Santa Monica Cradle to Career Building Blocks for Kindergarten campaign, which brings together community partners to ensure Santa Monica children start kindergarten ready to learn, inside and outside the classroom.

Event activities include:

-reDiscover Center’s Robot Dance Party

-Robotic demonstrations by SaMo Tech Robotics Team

-Santa Monica Public Library’s Storytime Stage featuring robot themed books read by local librarians and Santa Monica Fire Chief Matthew Hallock

-An obstacle course organized by Santa Monica Fire Department

-Delivery robot Coco making special deliveries

-The popular Steve’s Machine Empire featuring participatory machines and contraptions

-Santa Monica Resource Recovery & Recycling’s Curby the Robot will be on hand to teach children about recycling

-Dancing with Bollypop and WeBreak dance companies

-Collecting stamps from activity booths on the event’s Explorer Card, redeemable for a free book at the Santa Monica Public Library booth

Main Stage performance schedule:

-Emcee Sean Hill

-SaMo Tech Robotics Team demonstration

-WeBreak hip hop dance company

-Santa Monica Youth Orchestra’s Mariachi Ensemble and Balkan Ensemble

-Bollypop interactive dance performance

-Elemental Music’s Prelude program

-Santa Monica Ballet Folklorico

For more details, visit santamonica.gov/places/parks/virginia-avenue-park.

By Trevor

SMPD Make Arrests In Organized Retail Thefts

April 15, 2024 ·

Several suspects involved in a theft at a Santa Monica Ulta store have been arrested. Photo by Content Pixie via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On Friday, April 12, the Lt. Erika Aklufi informed Canyon News via email that several arrests were made in connection to a series of organized retail thefts.

The SMPD reported on March 23, before 4 a.m., six suspects armed with sledgehammers broke through the front window of the Ulta Beauty store located at 1234 Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica. The suspects, all wearing hoodies and face masks, used the sledgehammers to break open glass display cases containing high end fragrances, stealing over $23,000 in merchandise.

The suspects fled the location in two dark-colored vehicles. Following an exhaustive and thorough investigation, the suspects were tracked to a location in South Los Angeles and identified.

On April 11, SMPD detectives working in collaboration with the LAPD Organized Retail Crime Task Force served a search warrant in the 1200 block of 90th Place in Los Angeles. The warrant was served by a team comprised of SMPD SWAT, UAS, Patrol, Criminal Investigations Division personnel, and LAPD’s ORCTF.

The team recovered two firearms and merchandise from the ULTA burglary. Three individuals associated with the burglary were arrested and transported to the Santa Monica jail for booking. Based on evidence recovered during the warrant, detectives believe the individuals who burglarized the Santa Monica ULTA store are part of a larger organized retail theft crime ring that may have gang connections.

In custody for burglary (459 PC):

-Caleed Jamari Mouton, 24– Prior arrests for gun possession and domestic violence
-Christine Eelayia Walker, 21– No prior arrests (no booking photo available)
-Mekhai Taveon Ray, 22– Prior arrests for robbery

All of the suspects were released from custody with citations per the Los Angeles County bail schedule. Detectives are confident the other three individuals responsible for the ULTA burglary will be arrested soon.

By Trevor

Fernando Macias Morales Arrested For Sexual Assault By SMPD

April 11, 2024 ·

Fernando Macias Morales. Photo courtesy of Santa Monica Police Department.

SANTA MONICA/WEST HOLLYWOOD—Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department informed Canyon News via email on Wednesday, April 10 that a suspect responsible for a 2023 sexual assault has been arrested.

On September 7, 2023, authorities responded to the 2900 block of Pennsylvania Ave regarding a sexual assault. A woman reported that a Lyft driver picked her up from a restaurant in West Hollywood and sexually assaulted her during the ride home.

The victim, a Santa Monica resident, fell asleep in the car and woke up to inappropriate touching. The suspect offered to walk her to her door, which she refused. Once home, she realized several hours passed since she was picked up.

Santa Monica detectives investigated and identified the driver as Fernando Macias Morales, 34, of Los Angeles. He was arrested him on April 5, 2024, in the San Fernando Valley.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office charged Morales with felony counts of:

  • Kidnapping to commit a sexual act (California Penal Code 209(b)(1))
  • Sexual penetration of a person intoxicated or under sedation (California Penal Code 289(e))
  • Oral copulation of a person intoxicated person or under sedation (California Penal Code 287(i))

His bail is set at $500,000. Anyone with additional details is asked to contact Det. Stephanie Davis at 310-458-2201 x4400, Sgt. Chad Goodwin at 310-458-8931, or the Watch Commander desk 24 hours a day at 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

Michael Parrett Arrested For Threatening Lifeguard

April 10, 2024 ·

Michael Vincent Parrett. Photo courtesy of the Santa Monica Police Department.

SANTA MONICA—On Tuesday, April 9, the Santa Monica Police Department informed Canyon News that a suspect who threatened a lifeguard that resulted in the closure of Pacific Coast Highway has been arrested.

Public Information Officer for the SMPD, Myesha Morrison indicated at approximately 11 a.m., officers responded to the 1200 block of the Beach for an individual threatening a lifeguard with a metallic rod. The suspect, later identified as Michael Vincent Parrett, 38, who police indicated was a homeless man, jumped from the roof of Lifeguard Tower 12 and approached the victim with the rod, thrusting it towards him several times. The victim was able to dodge out of the way and was not injured.

Parrett was found by officers in the 400 block of Palisades Beach Road and ignored the officers’ commands and started running on the sidewalk, approaching multiple bystanders, while still holding the rod. When the officers intervened, the subject ran into the bluffs overlooking PCH. As a result of the risk of the suspect falling onto PCH and into traffic, the California Highway Patrol assisted in closing northbound and southbound traffic.

The suspect threatened that he would not give up without a fight resulting in the Crisis Negotiations Team responding to the location. Dialogue with Parrett continued for over an hour and half with no impact. Parrett informed officers that would have to shoot him before he gave up. Officers attempted to use less than lethal means to have the suspect drop the rod and surrender. He continued to maintain control of the weapon, refusing to drop it.

He was taken into custody with the assistance of a department K9. Parrett was taken to a local area hospital for evaluation before being transported to the Santa Monica Jail. He was booked for 245 (a) 1 PC – Assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to inflict great bodily injury.

By Trevor

Santa Monica Police Department Hiring Crossing Guards

April 9, 2024 ·

The Santa Monia Police Department is accepting applications for Crossing Guards. Photo courtesy of Ground Picture/Shutterstock.

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department announced on their Facebook page that they are currently accepting applications for Crossing Guards.

The position will require applicants to ensure the safety of the community’s children as they travel to and from school.

“As a Crossing Guard, you’ll have the opportunity to make a positive impact by providing essential guidance and instruction on safe street crossings,” the Facebook post states. Duties include escorting children across intersections, monitoring for any suspicious activity near school premises, and promptly reporting traffic accidents or hazardous road conditions.

The position offers candidates to engage with the public and contribute to the overall safety of the streets in Santa Monica. Those with a passion for helping others, excellent communication skills, and a commitment to promoting safety, are encouraged to apply for the position.

To apply visit: https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/santamonica. The position pays $19.73 per hour and is part-time on a temporary basis. Applications started to be accepted on April 1 and will end on April 26. Individuals applying should have at least one year of recent, paid or volunteer experience working with the public and be in possession of a valid Class C driver license. Possession of a valid cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid certificate is desirable.

By Trevor

Anti-Semitic Graffiti Being Investigated By SMPD

April 8, 2024 ·

The SMPD are investigating a string of anti-semitic incidents in the region. Photo by Jon Tyson via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On Sunday, April 7, the Santa Monica Police Department disclosed that they are actively investigating multiple reports of anti-Semitic graffiti discovered in various locations throughout the city, including the Pico Neighborhood (2100-2300 Pico Blvd) marking sidewalks, trees and light posts. The Police Department condemns the hateful acts and indicated such behavior will not be tolerated in the region.

“Let me be clear: there is no place for hate in Santa Monica,” said Police Chief Ramon Batista. “We are appalled by these cowardly acts of anti-Semitism. Our department is fully committed to upholding the safety and dignity of all members of our community.”

The SMPD are taking the incidents seriously and dedicating resources to identify the offender. Anyone with details about these acts is asked to come forward.

To report newly discovered graffiti:

  • Call 310-458-8491 to speak with a non-emergency dispatcher; or
  • Utilize the Santa Monica 3-1-1 App

Canyon News reached out to the Santa Monica Police Department for more details, but did not hear back before print.

By Trevor

Lisa Jones Arrested In Vehicle Vandalism Series

April 8, 2024 ·

The suspect responsible in a series of vandalism incidents has been arrested. Photo by Justus Menke via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On Thursday, April 4, the Los Angeles Police Department disclosed that the West Los Angeles Auto Detectives, in conjunction with LAPD South Traffic Division, Pacific Division, and Santa Monica Police Department, announced the arrest of a suspect believed to be involved in a series of vandalism crimes that transpired in the cities of Los Angeles, Culver City, Burbank, and Santa Monica.

The LAPD reported on March 28, around 5 p.m., the suspect, later identified as Lisa Jones, 30, drove to the 2000 block of Camden Avenue. Jones exited her vehicle with a brick and threw it at a random vehicle’s windshield. Jones picked up the brick from the ground and drove away. The incident was captured on video and garnered national news coverage. Several other vandalism victims came forward in the Venice, Mid-Wilshire, Woodland Hills, and northeast neighborhoods of Los Angeles, as well as the cities of Culver City, Burbank, and Santa Monica.

Detectives from West LA Division, Pacific Division, South Traffic Division, and SMPD worked together to identify Jones. On April 3, West Los Angeles Autos detectives and patrol officers took Jones into custody. She was arrested and booked for 594(B)(1) PC – Felony Vandalism. She is being held with no bail, Booking no. 6787608.

Anyone with details about these crimes or these types of incidents is asked to call the West LA Auto Detectives at (310) 444-1503. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (1-877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can call the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go directly to www.lacrimestoppers.org.

By Trevor

SMPD Focusing On Distracted Driving

April 3, 2024 ·

The BHPD will be looking for distracted drivers behind the wheel in the month of April. Photo courtesy of Why Kei via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department announced that for the month of April they will be looking for drivers violating the state’s hands-free cell phone law. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

“In today’s fast-paced life, it is common to lose focus while driving. Distracted Driving Awareness Month is a crucial reminder that even a moment of inattention or a quick glance at the phone can lead to serious consequences. Let’s get off our apps and keep our eyes on the road. Before starting the car, silence your phone or put it in the glove box, trunk or back seat. Anywhere you can’t reach,” the SMPD stated in a press release.

According to the 2023 California Statewide Public Opinion Survey, over 74 percent of drivers surveyed said that distracted driving because of texting was their biggest safety concern. In 2021, at least 140 people were killed in distracted driving traffic crashes in the state of California. Some numbers could be underreported because law enforcement officers may not always be able to tell that distraction was a factor in a crash.

Under current law, drivers are not allowed to hold a phone or electronic communications device while operating a vehicle, this includes while stopped at a red light. This includes talking, texting or using an app, using a handheld cell phone while driving is punishable by a fine, and violating the hands-free law for a second time within 36 months of a prior conviction for the same offense will result in a point being added to a driver’s record.

For drivers who have to respond to a phone call, text or email o has other distractions, is asked to pull over to a safe parking spot to complete the task without putting themselves or others at risk. Other distractions can be eating, grooming, reaching for something that fell on the floor, putting on or taking off clothing, talking with passengers, or children in the back seat.

Funding for distracted driving enforcement is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

By Trevor

Anthony Pittman Sentenced To 8 Years In Prison

April 1, 2024 ·

A man who sexually assaulted a woman has been sentenced to 8 years in state prison. Photo by Syarafina Yusof via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On Thursday, March 28, 2024, the Santa Monica Police Department announced that in February 2024, Anthony Pittman, who is currently homeless, pled no contest to a series of sexual assaults he committed between August and September 2022.

The SMPD reported on September 27, 2022, at approximately 4 a.m., a female experiencing homelessness was sleeping near the Santa Monica Library when she awoke to a male suspect attempting to remove her blankets. She attempted to run from the suspect but was tackled to the ground where he sexually assaulted her. A few hours after the incident, she walked to the Santa Monica Police Station and made an official report.

The other 2022 incidents occurred in LAPD’s Northeast and Wilshire Divisions. Pittman was linked to his victims, who were all homeless female adults, through DNA evidence.

Pittman, a previously convicted sex offender, was sentenced to eight years in state prison for Forced Sodomy and Assault with Intent to Commit a Felony. The SMPD is asking anyone with information connected to Pittman to contact Detective Sergeant Goodwin at Chad.Goodwin@santamonica.gov, or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

Fire Chief Matthew Hallock Swear-In Ceremony March 27

March 27, 2024 ·

The Santa Monica Fire Department will hold a Swear-In ceremony for Fire Chief Matthew Hallock on March 27. Photo by Marc Kleen via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica announced on its website that the Santa Monica Fire Department will host the swearing-in ceremony for Fire Chief Matthew Hallock on Wednesday, March 27. The event begins at 11 a.m. inside Fire Station 1, 1337 7th St.

Deputy Fire Chief Tom Clemo will open the ceremony followed by a presentation of colors by SMFD Department’s Honor Guard. An invocation will be led by fire department chaplain Josh Young followed by remarks from retired Santa Monica Fire Chief Ettore Berandinelli.

Interim City Clerk Nikima Newsome will perform the swearing-in ceremony followed by a badge pinning by Hallock’s wife, Cheryl.

Chief Hallock will give remarks to close the ceremony, followed by a reception where light refreshments will be served.

The event will be live-streamed and available for viewing on Santa Monica’s YouTube channel here.

By Trevor

Santa Monica Planning To Build 3 Affordable Housing Sites

March 25, 2024 ·

Photo by Blake Wheeler via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On March 19, the Santa Monica City Council approved to move forward with an agreement with Hollywood Community Housing Corporation to add to the city’s supply of affordable and permanent supportive housing.

The proposed projects, which are expected to come back for final approval by the City Council, include approximately 130 units on three city-owned properties at 1217 Euclid Street, 1211-1217 14th Street and 1146 16th Street, in line with the city’s approved Housing Element.

The City’s 2021-2029 Housing Element commits the city of Santa Monica to developing 100 percent affordable housing on specific City-owned sites to meet its share of regional affordable housing. The sites identified in the Housing Element include three surface public parking lots near Wilshire Boulevard and 14th Street. In accordance with the Housing Element, the City released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to evaluate and select a development team qualified to undertake the development of the three sites. An evaluation committee composed of representatives from several City departments and a consultant reviewed proposals from nine teams. Staff recommends the City Council selection of a team led by Hollywood Community Housing Corporation (HCHC) based on the team’s overall experience in development, design, operations, and supportive services, including the strength of its proposal for the sites.

According to a press release from the city’s website, once built, the projects are expected to assist individuals and families making anywhere from 30 to 80 percent of the Area Median Income, as well as individuals experiencing homelessness. Having the projects online will assist the cities goal of Addressing Homelessness and Justice, Equity & Diversity.

The Euclid Street site will include permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals, with The People Concern as the lead supportive service provider. They will provide wrap around supportive services including mental health services, crisis intervention, individual therapy, rehabilitation and therapeutic groups, substance abuse services, life skills education, medication management, benefits assistance and connections to outside services as needed.

“An important part of Santa Monica’s Housing Element is our commitment to dedicate several city-owned properties to advance much-needed affordable housing production,” said Santa Monica Mayor Phil Brock. “I am glad to see these projects moving forward as part of our city’s strategic effort to address homelessness and continue to build a community where all have the ability to live and thrive.”

Hollywood Community Housing Corporation was selected through a competitive bidding process based on experience and other criteria.

Next steps include a community engagement process to allow for input on the design and development plan. A refined proposal incorporating community feedback is expected to return to council for final consideration and approval in 2025.

For more details review the staff report and watch the council meeting.

By Trevor

Repeat Offender Charged With Child Abuse

March 22, 2024 ·

Cell Photo By Humberto Portillo

SANTA MONICA—On Monday, March 14, a man that has repeatedly violently attacked small children has been arrested and charged. Ahsante Lamar Morgan, 23, has been charged with child abuse after attacking multiple small children in separate instances. First reports indicate that the suspect may have been living among the homeless community.

On March 14, Morgan pleaded not guilty to child abuse charges that could have caused great harm or death to a child.

The first reported attack took place on March 10, at approximately 7:00 p.m. The parents of the child reported that a man later identified as the accused Morgan, was acting in an erratic behavior.

The little girl was walking northbound on Main Street with her parents behind the bus stop when Morgan struck the child knocking her violently onto the ground. According to the Santa Monica Police Department, this occurred at Main Street and Marine Avenue in Santa Monica.

On March 14, Morgan also reportedly hit a seven-year-old little boy on the boardwalk in Venice. No more information is currently available. No other victims have come forward.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Inmate Locator, Morgan, who was described as 23-year-old Black male standing six feet one inches tall and weighing approximately 220 lbs. was initially arrested on March 14 on felony charges by the Los Angeles County Police Department (LAPD) Pacific Division. His bail was set at $100,000.00.

On March 19, Morgan was assigned to Twin Towers Correctional Facility located at 450 Bauchet Street in Los Angeles. His next court date is scheduled for April 2, at 8:30 a.m. at the Lax Superior Court Dept. W31 located at 11701 S. La Cienega Boulevard.

By Sharon

SMPD Bike/Pedestrian Safety Operation Set For March 23

March 21, 2024 ·

Driver behind the wheel. Photo courtesy of Giorgio Trovato via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) will conduct a Bike & Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation with focused enforcement efforts on primary collision factors involving motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists on Saturday, March 23.

The Police Department identifies locations where pedestrian and bike collisions are prevalent, along with the violations that led to those collisions. Traffic officers will be on duty patrolling areas where bike and pedestrian traffic and collisions occur in an effort to lower deaths and injuries. Officers will be looking for violations committed by drivers, bike riders and pedestrians alike that can lead to life changing injuries. These violations include speeding, making illegal turns, failing to yield or provide right of way to bicyclists or pedestrians, or failing to stop for signs and signals.

These extra enforcement efforts will take place between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

“We all have places to be and not everyone gets there by car. Bicyclists and pedestrians have the same rights to the road but face even more risk without the protections vehicles have. We should all be looking out for one another,” the SMPD states.

Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

By Trevor

Santa Monica Pier Sells To SC Holdings LLC

March 19, 2024 ·

Santa Monica Pier photo by Venti Views Via Unsplash

SANTA MONICA—On March 14, Santa Monica Amusements announced the sale of the Santa Monica Pier located at 200 Santa Monica Pier to SC Holdings LLC investment firm.

According to reports, SC Holdings who also invests in LeBron James’ Springhill entertainment company, have indicated that they will be investing $10 million into the attraction over the next five years. SC Holdings has also been invested in one of the nation’s newest sports, pickle-ball.

The ownership has changed hands, but according to the Vice President and General Manager of Santa Monica Amusements, Jeff Klocke, day-to-day operations will still be handled by Santa Monica Amusements.

Adrian Williams who is one of the partners at SC Holdings made the following statement about their most recent investment:

“We’re honored to support the Park’s growth through investments in its programs and operations. The Pier and Park are such iconic parts of Southern California’s coastline, and we want to make sure they stay a welcoming place where visitors and locals can come have fun and relax.”

The Santa Monica Pier opened in 1909. The Looff Hippodrome carousel was built in 1922. It has 44 hand-carved horses on it and is still in operation today. The park features a dozen rides in all including the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel, and the Route 66 roller coaster.

Multiple movies including one of Tom Hank’s greatest movies, Forest Gump, used the amusement park on the Santa Monica Pier as their backdrop for some of their scenes. The 70s sitcom, Three’s Company, also had photo shoots at the Pier.

The park has remained an admission-free attraction that reportedly hosts over 10 million guests each year.

By Sharon

Phase 2 Of Santa Monica Beach Restoration Project Completed

March 18, 2024 ·

Photo courtesy of Yaroslav Muzychnko via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On Friday, March 15, the city of Santa Monica announced that it completed Phase 2 of the Santa Monica Beach Restoration Project Thursday, March 14 which will further restore natural dune habitat on the beach just south of the Annenberg Community Beach House.

After completing the first phase of the pilot program that restored three acres of beach dunes, the second phase aims to expand to an additional five acres of native coastal strand habitat. It included installing post, rope and sand fencing to restrict beach city-operated grooming at the site, planting seeds of California native vegetation to promote dune growth and adding interpretive signage to educate the public about the project and the environmental benefits of native coastal habitats.

The city of Santa Monica indicated in a press release that a primary focus was to advance the city’s Sustainable & Connected strategic priority, the dune restoration project combats climate change and protects coastal infrastructure and residences from sea level rise using natural barriers. The project will expand the habitat for notable native species, including the federally threatened Western Snowy Plover.

Nesting was not recorded in the Los Angeles area for over 70 years until the first nest was found in April 2017, within the site for the first phase of the project.

Before launching the second phase of the dune restoration project, staff conducted significant stakeholder engagement, with multiple public meetings in the past year to gather community input on project design and other considerations. Supporters of this project include: LA Audubon Society, Heal the Bay, Climate Action Santa Monica, LA County Beaches and Harbors, and others, along with many Santa Monica residents. The project is funded by the Bay Foundation through the Refugio Oil Spill Trust.

The Bay Foundation (TBF) restored approximately three acres of plants adapted to live on the beach near the shoreline for the Santa Monica Beach Restoration Pilot Project. This community of plants attracted insects and birds, and adapted to the harsh conditions of beach life, including salt spray, wind, and intense sunlight.

As the plants of the coastal strand habitat grow, they capture sand beneath their branches and leaves from the wind. That builds sand dunes that prevent waves and extreme tides from flooding the beach and nearby infrastructure. By reestablishing the habitat, TBF and its partners are able to affordably create beaches that are naturally resistant to sea level rise, while creating refuge for endangered species and adding natural beauty to our beaches.

Scientific monitoring of the pilot project is being used to inform other projects in development by TBF across the coast of Los Angeles County. Sea level rise and more frequently large-wave events are a result of global climate change impacting our coast. The projects together are the beginning of a significant effort to locally adapt to climate change. The goal is to preserve beaches in the region and provide protection against climate change.   To read about the Beach Dune Restoration Pilot, click here.

By Trevor

SMPD Searching For Sexual Assault Suspect

March 18, 2024 ·

Photo courtesy of the Santa Monica Police Department.

SANTA MONICA—On Friday, March 15, Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department informed Canyon News via email they are searching for a sexual assault suspect who is still at large.

On March 1, a sexual assault occurred of a lone female who was waiting for a ride in the 1700 block of Ocean Park Boulevard. At about 8:15 p.m., the male suspect approached the victim as he was pulling down his pants and making lewd statements. The victim turned to leave the area when the suspect grabbed her from behind and began touching the victim inappropriately over her clothing.

The victim struggled with the suspect and was able to free herself and flee the area. The suspect was caught on surveillance camera leaving the location.

The Santa Monica Police Department is asking anyone with details about this incident or individual to contact SMPD Detective Tavera at Ismael.Tavera@santamonica.gov, Detective Sergeant Gradle at Ryan.Gradle@santamonica.gov, or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

Derrick Wright Arrested For Aggravated Assault

March 14, 2024 ·

Derrick Wright. Photo courtesy of SMPD.

SANTA MONICA—On Wednesday, March 13, the Santa Monica Police Department informed Canyon News that a suspect responsible for an aggravated assault was arrested.

The SMPD reported on March 6, at approximately 6:30 p.m., officers responded to the scene of a significant domestic violence incident that left the victim with severe injuries requiring hospitalization. The suspect was the victim’s boyfriend, who attacked the victim and brandished a replica firearm at the victim and her daughter before fleeing the location. SMPD detectives tracked the suspect, identified as Derrick Wright, 46, to an address in Long Beach and obtained a search and arrest warrant.

On March 7, SMPD SWAT Officers along with members of the Criminal Investigation Division, Crisis Negotiation Team, Drone and K9 Officers, took Wright into custody after he fled the first location and broke into a neighboring home in Long Beach.

He has been charged with felony domestic violence with an enhancement for Great Bodily Injury, misdemeanor child abuse for brandishing the weapon at the victim’s daughter, and misdemeanor aggravated trespassing for his actions during the arrest in Long Beach. Wright has a long criminal history, including a misdemeanor arrest by SMPD in July 2023 for domestic violence and a violation of parole.

Anyone with information on the incident or the suspect is asked to contact Detective Holloway at Jacob.Holloway@santamonica.gov, Detective Sergeant Goodwin at Chad.Goodwin@santamonica.gov, or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

Young Girl Attacked By Man In Santa Monica

March 13, 2024 ·

The SMPD are searching for the suspect who struck a little girl on March 10. Photo by Markus Winkler via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department is looking for a suspect who attacked a 6-year-old girl on Sunday, March 10.

Canyon News received an email from Lt. Erika Aklufi of the SMPD who indicated the incident transpired at 7 p.m. on March 10.

A male (not confirmed as homeless) was sitting on a bus bench at Main Street and Marine
Avenue acting erratically. A 6-year-old child and her parents were walking
northbound on Main Street behind the bench when the suspect spun around and
struck the child causing her to fall to the ground.

Authorities indicated the child was not seriously injured. The suspect, described as a Black male, approximately 6 feet and 1 inches tall and between 30-35 years old, wearing a black jacket and blue jeans, fled the location northbound on Main Street and out of sight. He was not apprehended.

There was no warning before the incident transpired. The suspect then got up and started screaming. The girl and her family were visiting Santa Monica from the East Coast. The city of Santa Monica recently started a Homeless Liaison Program aimed at addressing the issue of homelessness in the region.

“An incident like this one is an affront to public safety and will not be
tolerated. Even more so that a child was involved. Any crime committed in
Santa Monica is a crime too many; our department stands strong in the
face of anyone who chooses to victimize those who are in this city. Our
detectives are working hard to uncover more details of the incident and
identify and apprehend the suspect.

We appreciate our partnership with our community, relying on our
residents, business owners and visitors to provide us with information about
criminal behavior. We continue our specialized uniformed deployments on
Main Street and in our Downtown area. Our goal is to be proactive and
present, providing safety and security to our residents and visitors.

In addition, we are deploying our Homeless Liaison Program Team of police
officers and a mental health clinician to provide much needed resources to
those experiencing homelessness. Our efforts, combined with the Therapeutic Transport Team and the Salvation Army, provide us a platform to redouble our efforts to connect individuals with treatment and shelter,” said Chief Ramon Batista in a statement.

The SMPD is asking anyone with information related to the suspect or incident to
contact Detective Diaz and Daniel.Diaz@santamonica.gov, Detective Sergeant
Goodwin at Chad.Goodwin@santamonica.gov, or the Watch Commander (24
hours) at 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

SMPD Bike And Pedestrian Safety Operation

March 12, 2024 ·

A bike on the road. Photo courtesy of Robert Bye via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On March 11, the city of Santa Monica disclosed that the Santa Monica Police Department will conduct a bike and pedestrian safety operation on Thursday, March 14 and Friday, March 15.

The SMPD is conducting a Bike & Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation with focused enforcement efforts on primary collision factors involving motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

The Police Department identifies locations where pedestrian and bike collisions are prevalent, along with the violations that led to collisions. Traffic officers will be on duty patrolling areas where bike and pedestrian traffic and collisions occur in an effort to lower deaths and injuries. Officers will be looking for violations committed by drivers, bike riders and pedestrians alike, that can lead to life changing injuries. These violations include speeding, making illegal turns, failing to yield or provide right of way to bicyclists or pedestrians, or failing to stop for signs and signals.

These extra enforcement efforts will take place on March 14 and March 15 between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

“We all have places to be and not everyone gets there by car. Bicyclists and pedestrians have the same rights to the road but face even more risk without the protections vehicles have. We should all be looking out for one another,” the SMPD stated.

Pedestrians

Be predictable. Use crosswalks, when available.
Take notice of approaching vehicles and practice due care.
Do not walk or run into the path of a vehicle. At 30 mph, a driver needs at least 90 feet to stop.
Be visible. Make it easy for drivers to see you – wear light colors, reflective material and carry a flashlight, particularly at dawn, dusk or at night.
Be extra careful crossing streets or entering crosswalks at night when it is harder to see, or when crossing busier streets with more lanes and higher speed limits.

Drivers

Follow the speed limit and slow down at intersections. Be prepared to stop for pedestrians at marked and unmarked crosswalks.
Avoid blocking crosswalks while waiting to make a right-hand turn.
Never drive impaired.

Bicyclists

Obey traffic laws, use hand signals, use lights at night (front white light and rear red reflector), and wear a helmet.
Bicyclists must travel in the same direction of traffic and have the same requirements as any slow-moving vehicle.
Avoid the door zone: do not ride too closely to parked cars.
If there’s a bike lane, use it, unless making a left turn, passing, or approaching a place where a right turn is allowed.
Yield to pedestrians. Bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians within marked crosswalks or within unmarked crosswalks at intersections.

Funding for the program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

By Trevor

Bike/Pedestrian Safety Operations March 7 And March 8

March 6, 2024 ·

The SMPD will be conducting two Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operations on March 7 and March 8. Photo by Gunnar Madlung via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica announced on its website that the Santa Monica Police Department will be conducting 2 bike and pedestrian safety operations on March 7 and March 8. There will be a focus on enforcement efforts on primary collision factors involving motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

The SMPD identifies locations where pedestrian and bike collisions are prevalent, along with the violations that led to those collisions. Traffic officers will be on duty patrolling areas where bike and pedestrian traffic and collisions occur in an effort to lower deaths and injuries. Officers will be looking for violations committed by drivers, bike riders and pedestrians alike that can lead to life changing injuries. These violations include speeding, making illegal turns, failing to yield or provide right of way to bicyclists or pedestrians, or failing to stop for signs and signals.

The extra enforcement efforts will take place on Thursday and Friday between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

“We all have places to be and not everyone gets there by car. Bicyclists and pedestrians have the same rights to the road but face even more risk without the protections vehicles have. We should all be looking out for one another,” the SMPD stated.

Pedestrians

  • Be predictable. Use crosswalks, when available.
  • Take notice of approaching vehicles and practice due care.
  • Do not walk or run into the path of a vehicle. At 30 mph, a driver needs at least 90 feet to stop.
  • Be visible. Make it easy for drivers to see you – wear light colors, reflective material and carry a flashlight, particularly at dawn, dusk or at night.
  • Be extra careful crossing streets or entering crosswalks at night when it is harder to see, or when crossing busier streets with more lanes and higher speed limits.

Drivers

  • Follow the speed limit and slow down at intersections. Be prepared to stop for pedestrians at marked and unmarked crosswalks.
  • Avoid blocking crosswalks while waiting to make a right-hand turn.
  • Never drive impaired.

Bicyclists

  • Obey traffic laws, use hand signals, use lights at night (front white light and rear red reflector), and wear a helmet.
  • Bicyclists must travel in the same direction of traffic and have the same requirements as any slow-moving vehicle.
  • Avoid the door zone: do not ride too closely to parked cars.
  • If there’s a bike lane, use it, unless making a left turn, passing, or approaching a place where a right turn is allowed.
  • Yield to pedestrians. Bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians within marked crosswalks or within unmarked crosswalks at intersections.

Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

By Trevor

Anthony Romero Arrested For Attempted Sexual Assault, Burglary

March 5, 2024 ·

Anthony Romero. Photo courtesy of the Santa Monica Police Department.

SANTA MONICA—Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department informed Canyon News via email that a suspect involved in an attempted sexual assault, burglary, and indecent exposure has been arrested.

The SMPD reported on February 29, at approximately 2:10 a.m., a male subject entered a residence in the 2400 block of 2nd Street. The victim awoke to the subject standing by her bed and touching her face while he masturbated. The victim ordered the subject to leave, and he complied, fleeing the residence before officers arrived.

Officers arrived on scene and obtained security footage of the suspect entering the victim’s house. The video was immediately shared with detectives who, within hours, identified the suspect as Anthony Romero, 28, currently experiencing homelessness.

On Friday, March 1, at 9:22 a.m., Watch officers located Romero walking in the 400 block of Santa Monica Boulevard. With the help of the UAS/Drone, which was on scene in minutes, and the assisting K9 officer who contacted the suspect, Romero was taken into custody without incident.

He was booked for Burglary, Indecent Exposure, Attempt to Commit Rape, and a Parole Hold (out of San Bernardino County).

“Romero is on parole for a weapons violation.  He has been arrested twice before in Santa Monica, in January 2022 for shoplifting and in June 2023 for public intoxication, resisting arrest, battery on a police officer, and violation of parole,” Lt. Aklufi told Canyon News

Anyone with details on the incident or Romero is asked to contact Detective McCoy at James.McCoy@santamonica.gov, Detective Sergeant Goodwin at  Chad.Goodwin@santamonica.gov, or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

Transit Safety Officer Program Introduced By Big Blue Bus

February 29, 2024 ·

Photo courtesy of Ant Rozetsky via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On Wednesday, February 28, the city of Santa Monica announced on its website that it is reinforcing safety and security on the Big Blue Bus by deploying transit safety officers across its system next month to ensure a comfortable and welcoming environment for customers and staff.

This initiative is aimed as part of a broader customer service plan aimed to enhance Big Blue Bus safety, convenience, and to ensure there is a Clean & Safe Santa Monica.

According to a press release, the new partnership is in collaboration with the Good Guard Security, which is a national leader in security guard services. Starting March 10, Big Blue Bus will station transit safety officers on high-traffic routes and at select bus stops, where they are needed. The specially trained unarmed officers will make passengers feel comfortable and confident riding Big Blue Bus, and will help:

-Assist riders with navigating the regional bus and rail network

-Provide guidance on Big Blue Bus fares and payment methods

-Address safety and maintenance concerns reported by passengers

-Offer support and resource materials to passengers in need

-Educate riders about Big Blue Bus’s Code of Conduct and ensure adherence

“Big Blue Bus has long maintained an exceptionally clean, safe, and secure system,” said Anuj Gupta, director of Santa Monica Department of Transportation. “We are introducing transit safety officers as another component of our multilayered approach to safety and customer experience, and to provide greater support to our dedicated riders and employees.”

Passengers are asked to report suspicious or inappropriate behavior to a transit safety officer or Big Blue Bus operator, or use Santa Monica 311. In case of emergencies, dialing or texting 911 is recommended.

For more details about Big Blue Bus visit bigbluebus.com.

By Trevor

SMPD Conducting DUI Checkpoint March 1

February 28, 2024 ·

The SMPD will be conducting a DUI Checkpoint on March 1. Photo courtesy of Why Kei via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department will be conducting a driving under the influence (DUI) Checkpoint from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. at an undisclosed location on Friday, March 1. DUI checkpoint locations are determined based on data showing incidents of impaired driving-related crashes. The primary purpose of the checkpoints is to promote public safety by removing suspected impaired drivers off the road.

Any prevention measures that reduce the number of impaired drivers on our roads significantly improve traffic safety.

The SMPD is alerting the public that impaired driving is not just from alcohol. Some prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs may interfere with driving. While medicinal and recreational marijuana are legal, driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal.

Drivers charged with a first-time DUI face an average of $13,500 in fines and penalties, as well as a suspended license.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

By Trevor

Big Blue Bus Asking For Community Input To Improve Customer Service

February 28, 2024 ·

Photo courtesy of the city of Santa Monica website.

SANTA MONICA—On February 21, the city of Santa Monica announced in a press release it is reimagining Big Blue Bus, working with community partners to expand access to quicker, more frequent, and reliable transportation in the city and west Los Angeles.

Community members are invited to share feedback on Big Blue Bus service improvements during two public workshops in March as part of the city’s Brighter Blue service planning initiative.

Through Brighter Blue, Big Blue Bus will establish a roadmap for applying system enhancements over the next five years, taking into consideration the following factors:

-Impacts of COVID-19 on current travel patterns and service conditions

-Changes in the region and operating environment

-Big Blue Bus’s ongoing transition to a zero-emission fleet

“It has been nearly 10 years since Big Blue Bus last conducted a planning effort of this scale, and our riders’ needs have shifted drastically during this period,” said Anuj Gupta, director of the Santa Monica Department of Transportation. “We encourage current and future riders to take part in this process as we seek to better align our system with post-pandemic travel behavior, promote greater connectivity with built and planned regional transportation projects, enhance first-last mile connections, and improve bus frequency and travel speeds.”

Community members are invited to provide input at two public workshops:

Virtual Workshop

Wednesday, March 6

6-8 p.m.

In-Person Workshop

Thursday, March 7

5:30-7:30 p.m.

Santa Monica Main Library – Multipurpose Room located at 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

To attend a workshop, register at brigherbluebbb.com. Those unable to attend a workshop can provide input via an online survey at sur-vey.typeform.com/brighterblue.

To get to the in-person workshop individuals can take the Big Blue Bus Routes 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 18, Rapid 7, and Rapid 10 that serve the Santa Monica Main Library. Parking is available in the library garage (enter on 7th Street, just north of Santa Monica Boulevard).

The Santa Monica Main Library is ADA-accessible. Disability and translation accommodation requests should be made at least three days prior to the meeting by calling (310) 458-1975, ext. 2386. All written materials are available in alternate formats upon request.

For more details about Brighter Blue please visit: brighterbluebbb.com.

By Trevor

Public Invited To Community Solutions Summit March 2

February 27, 2024 ·

Photo courtesy of John Cameron via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On February 22, the city of Santa Monica indicated in a press release that it will host a community solutions summit on Saturday, March 2, as the next phase in the process to create a citywide equity plan.

Everyone is invited to attend the “Community Solutions Summit: Turning Equity Priorities into Action,” which will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Blank Spaces, 1450 Second Street. There will be an option to participate virtually.

The event will feature:

-Community feedback results: Hear about the top priorities the community wants to see included in the citywide equity plan.

-Info about city programs: Learn about existing city programs, policies and priorities related to the priorities recommended by the community.

-Grant info session: Learn how to apply for the Community Solutions Grant Program. The program provides $500 in funding for a Santa Monica community member or organization to host a session to collect community feedback on solutions to the top community priorities announced at the summit.

-Community advocacy session: Learn from an expert in community advocacy about how to take basic ideas and turn them into city council-ready solutions.

Participants can RSVP for the event. Space is limited to 75 spots at the venue. Lunch will be provided for participants who attend in person. Parking is available at Parking Structure 6 and Parking Structure 8 (check the respective websites for parking rates). The city will provide the link to virtual attendees ahead of the event.

Individuals can read the July 18 staff report on the city’s equity work.

By Trevor

Board of Supervisors Announces Homeless Initiative For 25

February 19, 2024 ·

Los Angeles County Homeless Encampment Photo by Levi Meir Clancy

SANTA MONICA—On February 17, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors announced the results of their study from January 22 through January 31 on at-risk youth and elderly homelessness. The new Pathway Home Initiative will relocate 25 of the 25,000 people experiencing homelessness into interim housing to begin the process of transitioning them into permanent housing.

Carter Hewgley, the Senior Manager for the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative made the following statement first reported by the Daily Press:

“The scale of the crisis is much larger than the scale of our resources, but the good thing about the pathway home program is that the county has secured a motel-based interim housing site for two years.

“These 25 people are not just being offered an interim housing stay, they’re also being given a pathway home, which means we’re funding housing, navigation and housing subsidies for them. So, we already have an exit pathway to permanent housing for all of them, which means we’ll be able to reuse the rooms at the hotel to run future operations in Santa Monica, for people experiencing homelessness in Santa Monica.”

In a May 16, 2023, press release by California Governor Gavin Newsom, he announced $1 billion in homeless funding for tiny houses.

The following came from Governor Newsom’s press release that may be found on his webpage:

“After meeting with the Governor late last year, local jurisdictions have set new, more ambitious homelessness reduction goals and may now access $1 billion through round four of the state grant program.

State is delivering 1,200 small homes to Los Angeles, San Diego County, San Jose and Sacramento to provide safe, interim housing for people experiencing homelessness.
Those living in encampments will be prioritized for these new units by the local governments operating the homes and providing services.”

The $1 billion housing grant was to provide homes in the following counties.

500 units in Los Angeles, 350 Units in Sacramento, 200 units in San Jose, and 150 units in San Diego Counties.

For 2024, Governor Newsom has reportedly been on the campaign trail for President Biden while the municipalities in his home state attempt to navigate its ongoing homeless crisis.

Recent reports indicate that moratoriums are being placed on cities who have not adequately provided housing alternatives for their homeless population. Judges such as Judge Kim in Beverly Hills will not allow building permits to be processed until the city provides an adequate housing plan for its unhoused residents.


By Sharon

Coming Soon To Santa Monica, Midnight the Air Taxi

February 16, 2024 ·

SANTA MONICA—On February 15, Archer Aircraft shared the news of their upcoming release of the newest helicopter in the fleet, Midnight. It is a fully electric helicopter designed with with the traveler in mind.

Canyon News initially reached out to Archer Aircraft after learning that the Santa Monica Airport could possibly be one of the first airports to benefit from Midnight, the new air taxi. Hannah Dahlstrom of the Archer Aircraft team responded with the following statement and information.

“Archer’s ultimate goal is to transform urban travel, replacing 60–90-minute commutes by car with estimated 10-20 minute electric air taxi flights that are safe, sustainable, low noise, and cost-competitive with ground transportation. Archer’s Midnight is a piloted, four-passenger aircraft designed to perform rapid back-to-back flights with minimal charge time between flights. We are currently certifying Midnight with the FAA and plan to bring our electric air taxi to market in 2025.”

The air taxi is advertised as one that will take off like a helicopter, and fly like an airplane. IT has all electric tilt-propeller technology. Archer Aviation is currently certifying with the FAA. Archer is predicting flying cars in New York City and Los Angeles as soon as 2025.

“We are currently working through the final stages of certification with the FAA to ensure our aircraft meet the highest levels of safety before they go to mass use.”

Reports indicate that Archer Aviation will be partnering with Atlantic Aviation with their air taxi traveling out of Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO) as it is one of the Atlantic Aviations greatest assets.

Archer Aviation’s home base is located at 190 W. Tasman Drive in San Jose, California.

According to their Instagram account, the Archer CEO and founder, Adam Goldstein kicked off the @dubai_airshow_official by sharing Archer’s vision for the electric air taxi operations in the UAE region in partnership with @investindubai.

The idea of the air-taxi is to take would be travelers that would normally have to drive an hour to 90 minutes one way down to a 20-minute trip. The air-taxi is all electric, and its parts are what has been referred to as a “fully redundant,” meaning that one part breaking down, will not cause an engine fail.

The helicopters are made to be able to have a quick turn around. The engines only need approximately 12 minutes charging time between flights allowing them to make multiple flights in a days time.

A gasoline-free air-taxi by 2025 may be the answer for Californians who have turned to electric vehicles following Governor Newsom’s ban on new gas stations. The electric cars have lost their charge too quickly leaving motorist stranded and not enough charging stations to accommodate the need.

The Governor has since promised to end oil and gas fracking in the state of California by the end of 2024.

For more information on Midnight the air-taxi, or to find out about careers visit Archer Aviation website.

By Sharon

Upsurge In Crime In 2023 For Santa Monica

February 16, 2024 ·

SANTA MONICA—On February 14, the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) released their annual crime report for 2023, with theft being the most prevalent of all the crimes committed. According to the SMPD webpage, if the criminal activity continues as it is now in the remainder of 2024, crime rates could easily surpass last year’s statistics.

On Tuesday, February 13, the Santa Monica City Council heard the updated crime statistics report from SMPD Chief Ramon Batista.

“One of the things we tried to do this year in addressing some of the concerns we had the three major parks was to make sure we had an increased presence in our public service officers and our downtown service officers,” Batista stated.

The takeaway from the report posted on X showed that SMPD received a total of 103,462, calls for service, with a 10 percent increase in police actions, and of those 18 percent of the calls, 18,939 were related to homelessness.

SMPD reported one murder in Santa Monica last year. SMPD Lieutenant, Erika Aklufi, reported the following homicide for 2024.

“On January 25 at approximately 10:25 AM, Santa Monica Police Department officers responded to a call of Shots Fired in the 2600 block of 29th Street in Santa Monica. Officers located the victim of the shooting seated in his parked vehicle. The victim, identified as William Edwards III, a 46-year-old resident of Los Angeles, was transported to a local hospital in grave condition and died at the hospital. The motive for the crime is still being investigated.”

SMPD reported 45 documented rapes were reported in 2023. This is up from 39 in 2022. There were no reported rapes on the website for 2024.

In 2023, there were 460 reported aggravated assaults or what used to be referred to as assault with a deadly weapon. This figure was less than the year prior. There were no reports on the SMPD website for 2024.

There were 80 reports of arson in 2023, which was down from 86 in 2022.

SMPD reported 231 robberies in 2023, which was up from 222 in 2022.

Of all of the robberies and burglaries, strong armed robbery was the most reported crime.

On February 13, Lieutenant Aklufi reported the arrest of four young adults and one juvenile who were captured with the help of a K9 officer on attempted burglary charges after breaking into The Real Real located at 200 26th St.

SMPD responded to 569 incidents of grand theft auto.

Petty crimes or what SMPD refers to as, “Part 2 crimes,” include simple assault, trespassing, public intoxication, vandalism, and other misdemeanor crimes. Of those, simple assault was the most prevalent with 859 cases reported. There were 730 cases of vandalism.

For 2024, the SMPD website shows multiple traffic related incidents, one of which was fatal. Reports of trespassing are also listed in the press releases on the SMPD website for 2024.

By Sharon


Surfers Disregard Raw Sewage Warnings

February 14, 2024 ·

Surfers Disregard Bacteria Warning

SANTA MONICA—On February 13, after nearly a week of rain and reports of sewage-infested waters, California surfers found unusually large swells in the Santa Monica beaches making the waves irresistible to many surfers.

Danger Zone

The following quote is from a group of YouTubers out of Malibu that call themselves, “Salty Beards.”

From Salty Beards:
“5 straight days of dumping rain in Southern California creating disgusting sewage spills into the ocean with storm drains overflowing and wild winds. On the contrary the storm also brought us some pretty unique swell direction, which created some fun waves in places (like Santa Monica) that usually doesn’t get great waves. For about 30 minutes this stretch of beach turned on for pro surfers Yadin Nicol, Luke Davis, Hunter Jones and Jacob Atwood.”

According to a Surfer Health Study, put out by Surfrider, there is an increased health risk to those who surf within 72 hours following a storm. The study was based on findings from a decade ago.

“Although the winters of 2013-14 and 2014-15 were drought years, the region was hit with 10 storms that produced rainfall ranging from 0.1 to over 2 inches. Key Findings 1 & 2: There is an increased rate of gastrointestinal illness from surfing, and that rate increases following wet weather.

The study found that when surfers enter the water during or in the 72 hours following storm events, an average of 30 per 1,000 will contract GI illness, compared to 18 per 1,000 surfers who will contract GI illness without entering the water, and 25 per 1,000 who will contract GI illness when entering the water during dry weather (Figure 1). From a health risk perspective, that is an extra – or excess – risk of 12 surfers per 1,000 on average who will become ill when they enter the ocean in wet weather, compared to when they do not enter the ocean.”

Reports indicate that the sewage spills after a storm is from overflow running into the area lakes, rivers, streams, and the Pacific Ocean.

A report by the San Diego State University (SDSU) updated  on February 13, indicated that in addition to the contamination caused by overflow, there is raw, unfiltered sewage spilling from the Tijuana River basin into the Pacific Ocean.

This study was requested by, Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA-50th District) over health concerns at Imperial Beach.

“This environmental catastrophe has hurt the region for many years, resulting in decades of adverse health consequences. We must approach it as a health and national security concern, which is why I asked the [Conrad] Prebys Foundation to help me build the case that this crisis goes far beyond beach closures; the people of South Bay now endure constant toxic air pollution that damages their health and well-being.”

The Tijuana Watershed begins in the mountains near Mount Laguna. Water then flows into Mexico before entering San Diego County where it reaches the Pacific Ocean south of Imperial Beach.

The following report was published October 11, 2023.  The full text of this statement may be viewed on the California Waterboard website for San Diego.

“Pipeline PB1A Repairs in Mexico

The most immediate reduction of polluted flows will be realized when the ongoing repairs to a pipeline in Tijuana (PB1A) are completed by November 2023. This repair will immediately reduce the flows in the Tijuana River by 30 million gallons per day (mgd, 75-100% of daily flows) and allow IBWC to expedite repairs to the U.S. IBWC South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant (ITP). This pipeline conveys flows diverted from the Tijuana River (PBCILA) and untreated wastewater in the collection system to be discharged on the coast in Mexico at Punta Bandera.

In July 2022, this pipeline failed in Matadero Cañon and damaged pipeline PB1B immediately next to it. PB1B was promptly repaired, but repairs to PB1A were delayed due to its proximity to the border fence, which required federal approvals in both countries, and technical challenges due to an extremely steep slope.”

By Sharon

Attempted Burglary Suspects At The Real Real Arrested By Police

February 14, 2024 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Tuesday, February 13, Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department indicated in an email to Canyon News that several suspects were arrested for an attempted burglary that transpired on February 9.

The SMPD reported at 2:20 a.m., on February 9, officers responded to 200 26th St (The Real Real) as several suspects were observed on security cameras attempting to force entry into the store via the front and rear doors. First officers on scene observed the suspects fleeing the area and a foot pursuit ensued. Three suspects were apprehended nearby.

Officers established a perimeter and with the help of K9 officers and air support from LAPD, two additional suspects were successfully taken into custody.

The following individuals were booked for attempted burglary and resisting arrest:

-Ryan Sims, 18, of Los Angeles

-Julio Mendoza, 18, of Los Angeles

-Isaiah Lloyd, 18, of Los Angeles

-Mikel Nicholson, 19, of Carson

-A juvenile who was cited and released

Lt. Aklufi informed Canyon News that, “The arrestees do not appear to be part of a crew, but the investigation is ongoing.”

Anyone with details related to the individuals or incident is asked to contact Detective Isaac Reyes at Isaac.reyes@santamonica.gov, Detective Sergeant Lozano at Alfornso.Lozano@santamonica.gov, or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

Trespass Arrest Authorization Has Updated Process

February 13, 2024 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Saturday, February 10, the city of Santa Monica announced on its website that as a service to property owners and managers, the city of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Police Department maintains a system for filing trespass arrest authorization letters (“trespass letters”).

According to a press release from the city’s website, trespass letters authorize SMPD officers to enforce trespassing laws without having the owner of the property or their agent present. Prior to January 1, 2024, owners of real property and their agents were required to submit the trespass letters every 30 days (occupied property) or six months (vacant property) through an online system.

At the start of 2024, California State Senate Bill 602 (Archuleta) changed the trespass letter requirements to increase the period for the trespass letter from 30 days to 1 year. The bill further requires that all trespass letters be notarized prior to submission. The form can be found at the following link or using the QR code below.

All property owners are encouraged to do the following:
1. Print out and complete the trespass letter form for each unique address for which you are submitting an authorization.
https://santamonica.gov/media/Police/Trespass%20Arrest%20Authorization %20Form%20020824.pdf
2. Sign the form in the presence of a notary.
3. Mail or personally deliver the original notarized form to the Santa Monica Police Department at 333 Olympic Drive (Special Operations Division) Santa Monica, CA 90401.

For faster processing, the form can be scanned and emailed to HLPTeam@santamonica.gov. The original must be delivered to the Santa Monica Police Department.

By Trevor

SMPD Bike/Pedestrian Safety Operation For February 8

February 7, 2024 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Tuesday, February 6, the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) will conduct a Bike & Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation with focused enforcement efforts on primary collision factors involving motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists on Thursday, February 8 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The SMPD identifies locations where pedestrian and bike collisions are prevalent, along with the violations that led to those collisions. Traffic officers will be on duty patrolling areas where bike and pedestrian traffic and collisions occur in an effort to lower deaths and injuries. Officers will be looking for violations committed by drivers, bike riders and pedestrians alike that can lead to life changing injuries. Violations include speeding, making illegal turns, failing to yield or provide right of way to bicyclists or pedestrians, or failing to stop for signs and signals.

“We all have places to be and not everyone gets there by car. Bicyclists and pedestrians have the same rights to the road but face even more risk without the protections vehicles have. We should all be looking out for one another,” said the SMPD.

Pedestrians
· Be predictable. Use crosswalks, when available.
· Take notice of approaching vehicles and practice due care.
· Do not walk or run into the path of a vehicle. At 30 mph, a driver needs at least 90 feet to stop.
· Be visible. Make it easy for drivers to see you – wear light colors, reflective material and carry a flashlight, particularly at dawn, dusk or at night.
· Be extra careful crossing streets or entering crosswalks at night when it is harder to see, or when crossing busier streets with more lanes and higher speed limits.

Drivers
· Follow the speed limit and slow down at intersections. Be prepared to stop for pedestrians at marked and unmarked crosswalks.
· Avoid blocking crosswalks while waiting to make a right-hand turn.
· Never drive impaired.

Bicyclists
· Obey traffic laws, use hand signals, use lights at night (front white light and rear red reflector), and wear a helmet.
· Bicyclists must travel in the same direction of traffic and have the same requirements as any slow-moving vehicle.
· Avoid the door zone: do not ride too closely to parked cars.
· If there’s a bike lane, use it, unless making a left turn, passing, or approaching a place where a right turn is allowed.
· Yield to pedestrians. Bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians within marked crosswalks or within unmarked crosswalks at intersections.

Funding is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

By Trevor

Bomb Threat At Santa Monica Pier

February 7, 2024 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Monday, February 6, the Santa Monica Pier was evacuated by the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) after reportedly receiving a bomb threat via email.

SMPD posted a warning to the public on their X and Facebook pages promising the public an update when more information is available.

“Attention; for your safety, please avoid the Pier area until further notice. Law enforcement is currently investigating a bomb threat. Your cooperation is crucial in ensuring the safety of everyone in the vicinity.

Please remain vigilant and adhere to any instructions provided by authorities. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding during this situation. Stay safe and stay clear of the Pier until the all-clear is given. Thank you.”

SMPD sent out an SMPD Alert to update the public after determining the Pier was safe.

“Santa Monica Police activity at Pier has ended. The Pier is open to the public. Resume normal activity.”

Bomb threats and what is now referred to as swatting incidents has caused a heavier police presence nationwide.

Swatting refers to a harassment technique most often perpetrated by members of the online gaming community, or cyber activity. Swatting generates an emergency law enforcement response under false pretenses and is illegal.

While some may believe that the threat is only a prank or a hoax, swatting is a federal offense punishable by up to five years prison time.

By Sharon

Santa Monica Earns Prohousing Designation

February 5, 2024 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Friday, February 2, the city of Santa Monica announced on its website that it earned a Prohousing Designation from the Governor of California. The city was highlighted for recognizing the city’s strong commitment to developing affordable housing and opening the door for added funding opportunities to help the city continue this work.

Santa Monica joins 37 other jurisdictions across the state that received the Prohousing Designation for demonstrated success in breaking down barriers to housing production. The city of Santa Monica reported local governments with the Prohousing Designation can apply for funding through the $9.5 million Prohousing Incentive Program and also receive priority when applying for several other funding programs.

The city has added housing production for various income levels with the Santa Monica City Council adopting the 6th Cycle Housing Element Update, with the first phase of implementation adopted in spring 2023.

The updates brought Santa Monica into compliance with new state housing regulations, and also:

-Created a streamlined administrative approval process and more efficient timelines for housing projects.

-Committed city-owned property for the development of affordable housing. Updated zoning development standards and removed barrers to support housing production across the city.

-Allowed new housing to be developed in non-residential zones where housing was previously not permitted.

-Provided opportunities for housing production on residentially zoned surface parking lots and community assembly sites to minimize displacement.

-Encouraged development of moderate-income housing citywide.

“Housing is a key piece of our work to foster a diverse community through equitable access to housing, regardless of someone’s income level. And it’s particularly important to our economic recovery and in our efforts to prevent and address homelessness,” said City Manager David White. “The city has successfully aligned with the state housing laws thereby removing ‘red tape’ for those that want to invest in Santa Monica.”

The city has made strides towards the goal of its housing needs in the first few years of the Housing Element cycle. There are over 5,800 housing units approved, pending, or under construction in the city, about 20 percent of which are aimed for moderate, low and very low income residents.

For more details on the city’s housing progress and approved housing projects, visit santamonica.gov/planning-resources.

By Trevor

Matthew Hallock Appointed Santa Monica Fire Chief

January 29, 2024 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Thursday, January 25, the city of Santa Monica announced on its website that Matthew Hallock was appointed to become the new chief of the Santa Monica Fire Department, City Manager David White disclosed. He comes to the area from the city of Monterey Park, where he has served as fire chief since 2020.

Hallock has over 24 years of experience in public safety and emergency response, starting his fire service career as a reserve firefighter in 1994, then returning as a firefighter in 2002 and rising through the ranks. He has experience working in the private sector, spending four years as an emergency preparedness planner at Southern California Edison.

Photo courtesy of the city of Santa Monica.

As chief in Monterey Park, he led his department and the community through the pandemic, as well as the shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio.

“Chief Hallock showed outstanding leadership and compassion during his tenure in Monterey Park, shepherding the fire department and the entire community through two major crises,” said White. “And with his vast experience in emergency preparedness and response, I am confident he will be a tremendous asset to our city leadership team.”

Hallock replaces Interim Fire Chief Wolfgang Knabe, who has held the acting role since September 2023.

“Santa Monica is known for its commitment to community safety, and I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the exceptional Fire Department team,” said Hallock. “I look forward to building upon the department’s strong foundation and working collaboratively with our community to ensure the highest level of emergency services.”

Hallock has a master’s degree in public policy and administration from California State University, Long Beach and is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer program through the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy. He will begin his position on Monday, February 12, where he will earn a yearly salary of $303,588.

By Trevor

Kayla Denise Mackey Arrested For Fatal Shooting

January 29, 2024 ·

The LAPD are investigating a fatal hit-and-run involving a pedestrian in Studio City. Photo by David Von Diemar via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On January 26, Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department indicated in an email to Canyon News that a suspect has been arrested for a fatal shooting that occurred on January 25.

The SMPD reported on January 25 at approximately 10:25 a.m., officers responded to a call of Shots Fired in the 2600 block of 29th Street in Santa Monica. Officers located the victim in the shooting seated in his parked vehicle. He was identified as William Edwards III, a 46-year-old male from Los Angeles. He was taken to a local hospital in grave condition where he later died.

Witnesses who saw the suspect leave the scene, gave officers with her general direction of travel. Detectives worked tirelessly throughout the day to identify and locate the suspect who was taken into custody on Friday, January 26 in West Los Angeles. A motive for the shooting is still under investigation.

Arrested for the shooting is Kayla Denise Mackey, 27, who the SMPD indicated was experiencing homelessness. Her booking photo is expected to be released in the coming days per Lt. Aklufi.

The SMPD is asking anyone with information related to Mackey or the shooting to contact Detective Burciaga at George.Burciaga@santamonica.gov, Detective Sergeant Gradle at Ryan.Gradle@santamonica.gov, or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

City Council Approves Added Renter Protections To Limit Rising Evictions

January 25, 2024 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Tuesday, January 23, the Santa Monica City Council approved a slate of added protections for renters, including prohibitions against drastic rent increases, unjust evictions and harassment.

According to a press release from the city of Santa Monica, the added protections are in response to a regional increase in eviction filings resulting from the expiration of COVID-related protections, in addition to the current housing crisis. Amendments will be made to the Tenant Protection Code, Housing Anti-Discrimination Code, Tenant Relocation Code, Tenant Harassment Code and Tenant Buyout Agreements Code.

“These amendments further solidify protections for the city’s renters — approximately 70 percent of Santa Monica residents — and create greater housing stability, in alignment with the city’s strategic priorities of Addressing Homelessness and Justice, Equity & Diversity,” reads the press release.

“Renters make up the majority of our Santa Monica community, and many have called this city home for years,” said Mayor Phil Brock. “It is critically important that families who make up the fabric of our city have the ability to stay here.”

The approved amendments will go into effect 30 days after the second reading of the ordinances, which will take place at the meeting scheduled for February 13.

Approved amendments include:

Financial assistance for constructive evictions: amendments to the Tenant Relocation Code will add five additional grounds under which tenants can receive permanent relocation financial assistance, including if:

-their housing is not covered under state or local law on excessive rent increases and their landlord imposes an increase of more than five percent plus inflation, or ten percent, whichever is lower;
-they are forced to move because their living situation is not tenable, including if they’ve been displaced for six months or more or if a building official orders relocation because the housing is unhabitable.

Protections against excessive rent increases: an amendment to the Tenant Protection Code would bar landlords from imposing excessive rent increases that substantially exceed the market rate, a tactic sometimes used to influence tenants to move out, in effect circumventing the requirement for the landlord to have just cause for eviction.

Further strengthening anti-discrimination rules: amendments to the Housing Anti-Discrimination Code will prohibit discrimination based on housing status and bar landlords from refusing to make basic repairs required by the Santa Monica Housing Authority to participate in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program.

Added protections from harassment: amendments to the Tenant Harassment Code to clarify and expand the types of actions that constitute harassment, including:
-changing locks and doors to evict a tenant
-refusing to accept rent payments
-imposing excessive or unlawful rent increases and
-retaliation against a tenant for reporting a violation

The amendments also outline examples of prohibited coercion and intimidation, including:

-refusing to cooperate with a tenant’s request to lawfully replace an occupant who has moved out
-repeatedly offering to buy a tenant out after having been informed the tenant does not want to be bought out

The amendments increase the maximum penalty for harassment from $10,000 to $20,000 per violation.

Extending protections to tenants in non-rent-controlled units: amendments include extending buyout agreement protections to tenants in non-rent-controlled multi-family housing subject to local just cause eviction protections. Any buyout agreement — when a tenant agrees to move out of their unit in exchange for money or a waiver of rent — must be for at least the amount required by the Tenant Relocation Code, and the new rules allow tenants to cite a landlord’s failure to file a buyout agreement with the city as a defense against an eviction.

The Santa Monica City Council informed staff, in consultation with the city’s Rent Control Board, to draft a charter amendment for the voters that would prohibit evictions for tenants with small rental debts and evictions based on a tenant making authorized alterations to their unit without a city permit.

For more information, review the staff report or view the council discussion.

By Trevor

Silent Film Star Marion Davies Being Honored

January 18, 2024 ·

SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica announced on January 17 that on Sunday, January 28 they will be celebrating silent film star and philanthropist Marion Davies. The event will take place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Santa Monica Conservancy and Annenberg Community Beach House. It will be free to all ages.

According to a press release from the city, Davis became famous during the golden age of Hollywood. She was known for her bubbly personality and parties she and her paramour William Randolph Hearst held at their oceanfront estate where the Annenberg Community Beach House currently stands.

The event will take place at the Beach House courtyard where guests can enjoy live music by Natalie Jacob & The Vintage Quartet, learn social dances of the 1920s with James Zimmer and Cynthia Harper, experience magic with Tom Frank, and get a peek into Marion’s original 1928 guest house designed by Julia Morgan and currently part of the Annenberg Community Beach House. Lara Gabrielle, author of “Captain of Her Soul: The Life of Marion Davies” will allow guests to purchase the comprehensive biography about Marion Davies.

Attendees are asked to wear vintage attire. RSVPs are requested. All ages are welcome.
For more details, visit annenbergbeachhouse.com. Future events celebrating the Beach House legacy include Hollywood on the Santa Monica Beach on Sunday, February 11 and the annual Julia Morgan Legacy Day on Sunday, March 3.

The Annenberg Community Beach House is wheelchair accessible and ADA compliant. For disability related accommodations call Guest Services at 310-458-4904.

By Trevor

STEP Court Established For The Homeless In Santa Monica

January 16, 2024 ·

SANTA MONICA—On January 11, the city of Santa Monica revealed in a press release that qualifying individuals experiencing homelessness and mental health or substance abuse issues who commit a misdemeanor in Santa Monica will have access to a monthly Shelter, Treatment, and Empowerment Program, known as STEP Court.

The city indicated that the program had a soft launch on January 10.

STEP Court is a community-based, prosecutor-led collaborative diversion court that focuses on resources instead of criminalization, aiming to streamline connection to social services, address recidivism and decreasing the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in the region.

STEP Court will operate every second Wednesday of the month, and will be overseen by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge in a non-formal setting. Resource navigators from Exodus Recovery, Inc. will meet with program participants to assist with accessing available resources, including but not limited to obtaining identification, mental health and substance abuse treatment, housing voucher applications, and transportation to regional housing authorities.

To ensure program participants are making progress and to address any obstacles, resource navigators will regularly provide detailed progress as participants complete all recommendations. Once a participant has completed all recommendations, including treatment and, where appropriate, obtaining long-term permanent housing, their case(s) will be dismissed.

“A diversion program like STEP Court focuses on helping people off the streets and reclaim their lives through resource navigation rather than continued punitive measures,” said Mayor Phil Brock. “I’m thrilled that the program is already seeing momentum and thank the Superior Court of Los Angeles County for their partnership.”

Wednesday’s inaugural session of STEP Court saw five participants, four of whom accepted the program recommendations and are set to return next month with progress on the orders the judge issued.

“The court is proud to partner with the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office to facilitate the innovative STEP Court program and its mission to assist justice-involved, unhoused individuals in the city of Santa Monica,” said Samantha P. Jessner, presiding judge of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. “STEP Court represents forward-thinking, collaborative justice, and reflects the court’s commitment to work with justice partners and elected officials to address the county’s homelessness crisis. I thank the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office for their partnership and their efforts in making this new program a reality.”

STEP Court is funded for the next 3 years via a grant from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, along with a grant from the State Bar of California and funding from the federal Housing and Urban Development’s HOME Investment Partnerships American Rescue Plan Program.

The program adds to Santa Monica’s goal of diversion initiatives, including the Alternatives to Incarceration Pre-Filing Diversion Program and Retail Theft Diversion, which provide access to resource navigation as well as the chance to prevent criminal charges from being filed.

For more details on homelessness services and resources in SM, visit santamonica.gov/connect-with-homelessness-services.

By Trevor

SMPD Investigating Fatal Traffic Collision

January 15, 2024 ·

The LAPD are investigating a fatal hit-and-run involving a pedestrian in Studio City. Photo by David Von Diemar via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On Saturday, January 13, Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department indicated in an email to Canyon News details about a fatal traffic collision that transpired.

On January 13, at approximately 1:50 a.m., officers responded to the scene of a fatal traffic collision in the 2900 block of Lincoln Boulevard. A vehicle was traveling southbound on Lincoln in the number one lane when it struck a pedestrian also traveling southbound in the roadway pushing a cart.

The pedestrian, a woman in her 50s who appears to be homeless, has not been identified. The coroner responded. The driver remained on the scene and is cooperating with investigators. There were no signs of impairment. The name of the public has not been disclosed to the public.

Anyone with details related to this incident is asked to contact Investigator Raleigh at Evan.Raleigh@santamonica.gov.

By Trevor

Pilot Program Launched To Help Those With Mental Health Crisis

January 9, 2024 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Monday, January 8, the city of Santa Monica announced that first responders will have access to a dedicated behavioral health team to better assist individuals in need of mental health support, as a result of a partnership between the city and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.

The pilot program, launched on Monday provides a specialized therapeutic transport team that will be available five days a week to assist Santa Monica Police and Fire personnel with 911 and non-emergency calls for service that involve individuals who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. The partnership with the Department of Mental Health (DMH) is part of city’s aim to collaborate with regional service providers for a coordinated, holistic approach to addressing homelessness.

According to a news release from the city of Santa Monica, two Santa Monica-based teams will staff the van for eight hours per day to begin. The three-member therapeutic transport teams include a driver, a peer support specialist and a clinical social worker. During the first month of the program it will involve the team training and integration with first responders.

They will be accompanying first responders and have the ability, if appropriate, to independently handle calls for service. That approach will allow for more targeted and tailored responses focused on behavioral health care, while expanding first responders’ capacity to address other emergency calls.

The team will have the ability to do a psychiatric transport to an urgent mental healthcare facility or hospital, as well as impose a 72-hour psychiatric hospitalization, known as a 5150 hold, for any individual who is deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. The team can assist with lower-level needs for someone in crisis. The pilot program will initially focus in the downtown area, with a focus to expanding citywide.

“This pilot allows us to provide a meaningful and appropriate level of response to support someone experiencing a mental health crisis,” said Mayor Phil Brock. “Mental health is a critical community need, particularly when it comes to our efforts to address homelessness, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with our partners at DMH to strengthen and enhance supportive resources in Santa Monica.”

The Santa Monica City Council committed $464,000 to fund the pilot program, and the county of Los Angeles provided $1.7 million for staffing resources. The goal is to expand the program to develop a county behavioral health team, led by a clinical social worker that can be available in Santa Monica 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This new resource builds on the Santa Monica City Council action from 2023 that secured additional funding for community mental health resources.

“Santa Monica’s therapeutic transport program launching this week demonstrates the power of Measure H and Los Angeles County’s emergency declaration for homelessness — a declaration also made by the city of Santa Monica, which has long championed local investments to address homelessness,” said Chair of the Board of Supervisors Lindsey P. Horvath, Third District. “Homelessness will best be solved by scaling solutions just like this one that meet people where they are with care and support from the county’s Department of Mental Health. I’m grateful for city leaders’ resolve to partner, innovate and create lasting solutions for those in greatest need.”

The service will benefit a range of clients, such as a teenager considering suicide, a senior experiencing dementia or a person experiencing homelessness impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder.

Staff are trained to connect people to supportive case management and other recovery-focused interventions, as well as transport them to a behavioral health facility if needed. Santa Monica is the third jurisdiction in Los Angeles County to partner with the DMH to deploy a new approach to responding to mental health needs in the community, and this partnership is set to inform future efforts to deploy behavioral health resources across the county.

“The Department of Mental Health is proud to collaborate with the city of Santa Monica to expand mental health services through this real-time, mobile resource aimed at meeting critical needs on the Westside,” said Director Dr. Lisa Wong. “In the months ahead, we look forward to seeing the results and the impact made by working side-by-side with our partners in the city of Santa Monica.”

For details about behavioral health visit https://www.santamonica.gov/future-of-behavioral-health. For background on Los Angeles County’s Therapeutic Transport Program, click here.

By Trevor

Volunteers Needed For Santa Monica Homeless Count

January 9, 2024 ·

SANTA MONICA—The City of Santa Monica is seeking volunteers for the 2024 homeless count to be held on January 24, from 8:00 p.m. until 12:00 a.m. The effort will be overseen by the Los Angeles Homeless Authority (LAHSA) in an effort to address and strengthen the lives of those living in homelessness.

According to the City of Santa Monica’s webpage, volunteers may register to help with the homeless count at TheyWillCountYou.org. For more information, please contact LAHSA at homelesscount@lahsa.org or call (213)683-3333.

Reports indicate that the homeless count rose by nine percent between 2022 and 2023 in Los Angeles and by 45 percent in Santa Monica. This is an increase from 4,604 in 2022 up to 6,669 people living in homelessness in Santa Monica in 2023.

Los Angeles County is divided into eight service planning areas. Santa Monica is included in SPA 5 along with many of the other cities in our coverage area including, Bel Air, Beverly Hills Brentwood, Laurel Canyon, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, and Westwood.

The cities in SPA 5 outside or on the outskirts of the Canyon News coverage area are Beverly Crest, Century City, Culver City, Holmby Hills, Mar Vista Marina Del Rey, Manchester, Palms, Rancho Park, South Robertson, Venice, and Westchester.

By Sharon

Pedestrian And Bicycle Safety Operation January 4

January 4, 2024 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department is conducting a Bike & Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation with focused enforcement efforts on primary collision factors involving motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

The Police Department identifies locations where pedestrian and bike collisions are prevalent, along with the violations that led to those collisions. Traffic officers will be on duty patrolling areas where bike and pedestrian traffic and collisions occur in an effort to reduce deaths and injuries.

Officers will be looking for violations committed by drivers, bike riders and pedestrians alike that can lead to life changing injuries. Violations include speeding, making illegal turns, failing to yield or provide right of way to bicyclists or pedestrians, or failing to stop for signs and signals.

The extra enforcement efforts will take place on Thursday, January 4 between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

“We all have places to be and not everyone gets there by car. Bicyclists and pedestrians have the same rights to the road but face even more risk without the protections vehicles have. We should all be looking out for one another,” the SMPD stated.

Pedestrians· Be predictable. Use crosswalks, when available.· Take notice of approaching vehicles and practice due care.· Do not walk or run into the path of a vehicle. At 30 mph, a driver needs at least 90 feet to stop.· Be visible. Make it easy for drivers to see you – wear light colors, reflective material and carry a flashlight, particularly at dawn, dusk or at night.· Be extra careful crossing streets or entering crosswalks at night when it is harder to see, or when crossing busier streets with more lanes and higher speed limits. Drivers· Follow the speed limit and slow down at intersections. Be prepared to stop for pedestrians at marked and unmarked crosswalks.· Avoid blocking crosswalks while waiting to make a right-hand turn.· Never drive impaired.

Bicyclists· Obey traffic laws, use hand signals, use lights at night (front white light and rear red reflector), and wear a helmet.· Bicyclists must travel in the same direction of traffic and have the same requirements as any slow-moving vehicle.· Avoid the door zone: do not ride too closely to parked cars.· If there’s a bike lane, use it, unless making a left turn, passing, or approaching a place where a right turn is allowed.· Yield to pedestrians. Bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians within marked crosswalks or within unmarked crosswalks at intersections.

Funding for the program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Photo by Gunnar Madlung.

By Trevor

Movement Made On Future Of Santa Monica Airport

December 27, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On December 20 it was announced that the Santa Monica City Council took a large step forward in the process of closing the Santa Monica Airport, approving an agreement with Sasaki Inc. to assess the existing site conditions, gather public input and propose options for the future of the airport land centered around a “Great Park” consistent with Measure LC.

Santa Monica is planning to hire a new principal design and planning manager dedicated to the project, pending Personnel Board approval in January 2024. With Sasaki and additional staff resources, the Airport Conversion Planning Project is expected to kick off in early 2024.

“Having been a Recreation and Parks Commissioner for almost 14 years, I believe that our city needs more park space,” said Mayor Phil Brock. “I am impressed by Sasaki and look forward to kicking off the process in bringing a great asset to our community.”

According to a press release, Sasaki will lead research and outreach efforts with the public in five distinct phases, wrapping up with a preferred alternative going to the Santa Monica City Council at the end of 2025.

-Phase 1 Charting the Course: Sasaki and staff will conduct extensive review of background materials to produce a summary and analysis that lays out a clear framework for the process. This includes looking at policy documents, historical and cultural resources and gathering information on the environmental, cultural and planning opportunities and limitations for the site, as well as the community’s initial needs and desires.

-Phase 2 Discovering the Place and Setting the Stage: This phase involves a comprehensive assessment of the current environmental conditions, transportation and infrastructure, natural and cultural resources and regulatory frameworks related to the airport site. Sasaki will also explore options for funding strategies for a proposed project and create a draft of the guiding principles. These principles will be the basis for the planning scenarios of Phase 3 and will go before the City Council for comment before moving to the next phase.

-Phase 3 Defining the Future of Place: Sasaki will work with the community to explore and test various scenarios for the future of the airport land, generating alternatives that are environmentally sound, financially viable, and programmatically feasible and closely align with the established guiding principles for the “Great Park” but explore different emphasis and organization of those principles. This work culminates in the preferred scenario that considers the previous information, community input, and City Council approval to date.

-Phase 4 The Path Ahead: The team will develop a detailed strategy for a phased implementation of the preferred alternative from Phase 3, while also considering innovative ways to initiate on-site activations from day one of city possession of the airport land on Jan. 1, 2029. This proposal would be presented to the City Council for review and approval.

-Phase 5 Preferred Scenario Plan Vision Book: Following City Council approval of the preferred alternative, Sasaki -will compile a comprehensive document comprised of the research data, reports, community outreach sessions, and the scenario planning alternatives as well as the details of the preferred plan and next steps for implementation.

During each phase, Sasaki, in partnership with city staff are set to host more than 60 meetings and listening sessions with the community, city boards and commissions and the city council in various formats.

The 227-acre airport property, which was once a park, represents nearly five percent of the Santa Monica’s total land area. The city has obtained authorization to close the airport for aviation uses after December 31, 2028, and passed a resolution in 2017 codifying that plan.

The property is subject to voter-approved Measure LC, which restricts development on the airport property to only allow parks, public open spaces and public recreational facilities and the maintenance and replacement of existing cultural, arts and educational uses.
For more details, review the staff report or watch the Santa Monica City Council discussion.

By Trevor

Polar Bear Plunge Unfolding On January 6

December 27, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The annual Polar Bear Plunge at the Annenberg Community Beach House will take place on Saturday, January 6, 2024 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a plunge in the Pacific Ocean. According to a press release from the city of Santa Monica website, the event has become a tradition.

The Polar Bear Plunge welcomes all ages and abilities. Participants may choose to dip their toes in the ocean, take a quick plunge, or go for the 300-yard swim around the buoy. Unique swimwear is encouraged. After the ocean experience, attendees can head to the historic heated pool for a swim, warm up with a hot chocolate, or take a selfie with the Polar Bear Plunge’s very own mascot Pat the Polar Bear. The heated pool will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Event registration includes admission to the Beach House pool, hot showers and hot chocolate on the pool deck. Regular pool rules apply. Youth under the age of eight and under four feet tall must be accompanied by an adult in the pool at all times.
To register online, click here.

Admission: $10 for adults, $5 for senior adults 60+ and $4 for youth ages 1-17. In-person registration will be available but may be limited on the day of the event.

Event Schedule:

10 a.m. – Check in at guest services and head to the shoreline. Pool is open.

10:15 a.m. – Polar Bear Plunge begins with youth, followed by adults, followed by a 300-yard buoy swim.

2 p.m. – Event end

For more details, visit annenbergbeachhouse.com, call (310) 458-4904, or email beach.house@santamonica.gov. The Annenberg Community Beach House is wheelchair accessible and ADA compliant. Two beach wheelchairs will be available for the Polar Plunge. To reserve a wheelchair or inquire regarding disability-related accommodations call Guest services at (310) 458-4904 or email beach.house@santamonica.gov.

By Trevor

Attempted Homicide Suspect Christopher Williams Arrested

December 26, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department indicated in an email to the Canyon News that a suspect has been arrested to an attempted homicide on Sunday, December 24.

The SMPD reported at approximately 11:26 p.m., officers responded to an apartment in the 1300 block of 14th Street for an assault in progress. After arriving on scene, officers found a male resident inside the unit with serious facial injuries and stab wounds to his forehead, neck and back.

The victim was still conscious and able to describe his attacker, who he knew. Other officers were flagged down by witnesses who heard the argument and spotted the attacker, identified as Christopher Clay Williams, 29. He was taken into custody without incident in the 1300 block of Alley 14.

Williams was booked into the Santa Monica Jail for Attempted Homicide. The victim was transported to a local hospital to be treated for injuries sustained.

Anyone with details related to Williams or the incident is asked to contact Detective Tavera at Ismael.Tavera@santamonica.gov, Detective Sergeant Gradle at Ryan.Gradle@santamonica.gov, or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

Bacteria Warnings For Areas With Heavy Rainfall

December 26, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On December 22, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health (LACDPH) sent out a public health warning for area beaches including Malibu and Santa Monica about bacteria in the water.

“An Ocean Water Quality Rain Advisory has been declared for all Los Angeles County beaches. The advisory will be in effect at least until 8:00 pm, Friday, December 22, 2023. Beach users are cautioned to avoid water contact for at least 72 hours after significant rainfall. This advisory may be extended depending upon further rainfall,” read a statement from the LACDPH website.

They are reminding the public that beach water quality testing is done routinely.

“A beach is closed anytime there is a known sewage or chemical spill impacting ocean waters. Water contact may cause someone to become ill,” the LACDPH noted. 

“A rain advisory is issued when there is significant rainfall that may cause bacteria levels in ocean waters to increase. Bacteria levels can increase significantly during and after rainstorms, as contaminants within the runoff enter the ocean. Bacteria levels may remain elevated for up to three days depending upon the intensity of the rain and the volume of runoff. Elevated bacteria levels in ocean water may cause illness, especially in children and the elderly. The Department of Public Health recommends that beach users avoid contact with ocean water for three days after significant rainfall, especially near flowing storm drains, creeks, and rivers.”

Malibu received a bacterium warning alerting the public to avoid contact with ocean water, creeks, and streams for at least three days following rainfall to avoid sickness from contamination.

According to the National Weather Service, heavy rainfall is expected throughout Southern California with upwards of eight inches of rain possible in some areas.

By Sharon

Suspects Arrested In ORCTF Theft Operation

December 19, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA/BEVERLY HILLS—The Los Angeles Police Department announced on December 13 that on December 5, the Organized Retail Crime Task Force (ORCTF) conducted a retail theft operation near the 700 block of South Figueroa Street. One of the ORCTF strategies in resolving organized retail crime is the utilization of plain clothes operations, where officers work with retail stores in disrupting retail theft.

Personnel from ORCTF consist of detectives from the Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Burbank, Torrance and Glendale Police Departments. The ORCTF was assisted by personnel from LAPD Central Division, LAPD Transit Services Division, and Retail Loss Prevention personnel.

All the suspects who were arrested were spotted concealing merchandise and exiting the stores without paying. Uniform personnel contacted and arrested them.

The following arrests occurred on December 5, near the 700 block of South Figueroa Street:

  • Tinder Math, female White, 43 years old, of Los Angeles, was arrested for 459.5(a)PC- Shoplifting, Release From Custody (RFC) citation #B44029
  • Anthony Williams, male Black, 30 years old, of Los Angeles, was arrested for 459.5(a)PC- Shoplifting, RFC citation #B44032
  • Dominique King, male Black, 33 years old, of Los Angeles, was arrested for 459.5(a)PC-Shoplifting, RFC citation #B44033
  • Gabriel Anthony Rubio, male Hispanic, 31 years old, of Los Angeles, was arrested for 459.5(a)PC- Shoplifting, RFC citation #B44037
  • Tyler Damon Bood, male White, 28 years old, of Los Angeles, was arrested for 459.5(a)PC-Shoplifting, RFC Citation #032321
  • Jessica Mejia, female Hispanic, 31 years old, of Los Angeles, was arrested for 459.5(a)PC- Shoplifting, RFC citation #B44034
  • Alecia Latonya Williams, female Black, 48 years old, of Los Angeles, was arrested for 459.5(a)PC- Shoplifting and a misdemeanor warrant for 484(a)PC- Petty Theft. She was booked and housed at the Metropolitan Detention Center, Booking No. 6721796, bail was set at $15,000.00.
  • Davonte Charles Carter, male Black, 32 years old, of Los Angeles, was arrested for 459.5(a)PC- Shoplifting, RFC citation #B44026

Four juveniles were also detained and arrested for shoplifting and were subsequently released to their parents.

A total of 12 arrests were made during the operation. All stolen merchandise was returned to the retailers and the ORCTF, working with the assistance of divisional personnel, recovered all stolen items. The ORCTF will be conducting additional plain clothes operations during the holidays in the Los Angeles region, with the goal of identifying, locating, and arresting retail thieves.

Anyone with details is asked to call ORCTF Lieutenant II Mike McComas, (818) 374-9420, or email 37111@LAPD.Online. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (1-877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (1-800-222-8477) or go directly to www.lacrimestoppers.org.

By Trevor

Jonathan Holub Chosen As New Executive Director By Rent Control Board

December 18, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Thursday, December 14 that city of Santa Monica announced that after a nationwide search, the Santa Monica Rent Control Board selected Jonathan Holub as its new executive director, replacing retiring administrator Tracy Condon.

The city reported in a press release that Holub currently serves as the rent stabilization division manager in West Hollywood, where he has served since 2010, and as the division manager for the past three years. Before that, he was deputy county counsel for the Office of Riverside County Counsel.

“I am deeply honored to have been selected by the Rent Control Board for this crucial role in an agency that so admirably reflects the defining principles of the city of Santa Monica,” said Holub. “My commitment is to bring a robust approach to the implementation of the Rent Control Charter Amendment and regulations. With nearly two decades of experience in municipal, housing, and rent stabilization law, including leading the city of West Hollywood’s Rent Stabilization Division, I am enthusiastic about utilizing my skills and passion to fulfill the mission of the Rent Control Agency.”

Rent control laws (known as rent stabilization laws) have been adopted by a growing number of jurisdictions in California and have similar provisions as in Santa Monica. West Hollywood’s rent stabilization ordinance, which was adopted in 1985 after the city’s incorporation, has many of the same protections for tenants as does Santa Monica’s rent control law. The cities are similar in that both have a high percentage of the population living in residential rental units.

“Alongside the Board and the Agency’s dedicated professional staff, my goal is to ensure a continuation of the fairness and transparency that Santa Monica has come to expect,” Holub said. “Importantly, I look forward to engaging with tenants, landlords and all stakeholders in the coming months to foster a deeper understanding of the perspectives and concerns currently at the forefront of the community.”

“We are excited to welcome Jonathan to our team,” current Rent Control Board Chairperson Anastasia Foster said. “His deep background in legislation and the legal protections of our charter and for our tenants will continue to protect the stability of this wonderful city, now and into the future.”

Holub will start working with the city of Santa Monica on January 2, 2024. After a brief transitional period, Condon will retire after 37 years with the agency.

By Trevor

Project Approved To Upgrade The Playground At Douglas Park

December 18, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Thursday, December 14, it was announced that the Santa Monica City Council approved a project on Tuesday, December 12, to replace and improve the playground at Douglas Park. The new playground is expected to be universally accessible and is the fifth of its type to be built in the city.

According to a news release from the city of Santa Monica, the replacement propels the city’s Clean & Safe key strategic priority, aimed to protect spaces and enhancing clean and safe neighborhoods, including parks for recreation and leisure activities.

The playground replacement project will start in 2024 and will include two community workshops and other opportunities for community input. The first community workshop will feature a presentation on various concepts, options and themes for the playground.

Feedback from the first workshop will be incorporated and the preferred concept design will be presented in the second and final community workshop, planned for summer 2024.Construction is anticipated to begin in spring 2025 and will be finished by summer 2025.

“I’m thrilled to see this project kick off in the coming months,” said Mayor Phil Brock. “I look forward to seeing the first concept designs and have Douglas Park join Marine Park, Ishihara Park, the South Beach Playground, and the North Beach Playground in being Santa Monica’s next universally accessible playground.”

Project updates will be available at santamonica.gov/places/parks/douglas-park.

By Trevor

Missing Individual Lilian Hanseman Located

December 14, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department announced on Thursday, December 14 that a woman who had been reported missing has been found.

Lilian Hanseman, 73, was reported missing on December 7. She had not been seen since November 24 after she left to walk to either Bob’s Market or Ralph’s Grocery Store.

Hanseman’s roommate discovered Hanseman left her wallet, cell phone, and all belongings in her rented room. Hanseman has no known mental health or medical issues.

The SMPD posted the following message on their Facebook page on Thursday morning:

“Ms. Hanseman has been located. This post will be archived shortly. Thank you to the Santa Monica community for your assistance!”

By Trevor

Mayor Phil Brock Installed As New Santa Monica Mayor

December 13, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica announced on Wednesday, December 13 that Phil Brock was installed as the new Mayor for a one-year term through December 2024, replacing outgoing Mayor Gleam Davis. Lana Negrete will continue serving as mayor pro tempore for a second year.

The City Council Tuesday recognized Davis for her one year of service as mayor after taking the helm as Santa Monica continued its economic recovery from the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic.

Under her leadership, the Santa Monica City Council established five priorities as the most important areas of focus, guiding the city’s budgeting process: Addressing Homelessness; Clean & Safe Santa Monica; Cultivate Economic Recovery & Expand Community & Cultural Offerings; Racial Justice, Equity & Social Diversity; and Sustainable & Connected Community.

During Davis’ term as mayor, the city completed 1.5 miles of bike and pedestrian safety enhancements at 17th St. and Michigan Avenue, implemented zoning changes to invigorate the 3rd Street Promenade and downtown areas, expanded security requirements for vacant properties and other safety measures, expanded requirements for gender-neutral public restrooms and set the stage for the launch of a fully-staffed clinical therapeutic van.

“It’s been an immense honor to rally our work behind five key areas of focus on what matters most to our community,” Davis said. “Keeping focus has been how we’ve been able to adapt and push forward through some of the most challenging times for the city. I want to express my deepest gratitude for our residents, business owners, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, city staff, fellow councilmembers, and countless others who work so diligently to continue to make Santa Monica a great place to live, work and do business. I am eternally grateful.”

Davis first joined the Santa Monica City Council in February 2009 and served as mayor pro tempore from 2016 to 2018. She served as mayor previously from 2018-2019. Davis has been a resident since moving to Santa Monica in 1986.

Brock was elected to the Santa Monica City Council in 2020 and dedicated more than three decades of service to the Santa Monica region. As councilmember, he has expressed safety, security and compassion as his top priorities, while looking to enhance and preserve the quality of life in Santa Monica.

“I’m honored to serve Santa Monica and look forward to working with everyone on the council in advancing the key priorities most important to those who live, work in, and visit our city,” said Brock.

Before being elected, Phil served on the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, including as chair. During his tenure on the commission, Santa Monica expanded the city park system to include The Cove skatepark, Euclid Park, the Annenberg Community Beach House, Airport Park, Tongva Park, Ishihara Park, the greens on Ocean Park Boulevard and Ken Genser Square, expanded Virginia Avenue Park, and established the first universally accessible playgrounds in the city.

While serving on the Arts Commission, he initiated Make Music Day events in Santa Monica, and as part of the Santa Monica Civic Working Group, he advocated for a sports field that later opened in 2020 as part of Historic Belmar Park.

By Trevor

Biden Speaks For 11 Minutes At Hollywood Fundraiser

December 11, 2023 ·

Santa Monica—On December 9, President Joe Biden along with some White House staffers flew into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and then went aboard Marine One to Santa Monica Airport. The President was greeted by Rep. Ted Lieu, Governor Gavin Newsom, and Los Angeles Mayor, Karen Bass.

As the Biden motorcade approached the Holmby Hills home where the event was to take place, Pro-Palestine protestors lined the streets. Security had put a barricade in place to separate those at the fundraiser from the demonstrators.

Reports indicate that there were Pro-Palestine protestors present at last month’s fundraising event with Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman, Doug Emhoff as well.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi(D-CA) First Lady Jill Biden, spoke first, followed by James Costos, and then President Biden who spoke for a total of 11 minutes.

“I’m not going to talk long for a couple of reasons: one, I know that I’m the only thing standing between you and Lenny Kravitz. (Laughter.) That’s number one.”

Biden took time to introduce some of the people in the audience. He made some jabs at his 2024 Presidential opponent, Donald J. Trump. FiveThirtyEight reported that according to YouGov 80 percent of those polled have a favorable view of Trump while Biden has 39 percent of those polled with favorable views of President Biden.

Biden looked at Governor Newsom, who has been at many of Biden’s campaign events, and said, “You’re always there.”

“Let me begin by thanking all of you,” Biden began.

In 2020, the reason we got 81 million votes — more votes than any presidential candidate has ever gotten — is because of all of you. You’re the reason why Donald Trump is a former president. (Applause.) Or as he hates to hear me say, a defeated president. (Laughter and applause).

It’s despicable. It’s simply despicable,” Biden said, then saying, a bit facetiously, “My guess is that he won’t show up at my next inauguration.”

According to those who attended the event, there was no mention of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though the chants of “Cease Fire Now” by the protestors on the other side of the fence could be heard over Biden. The President did speak to the crowd about a new and improved railway stystem.

The event was hosted by designer Michael Smith and the former U.S. ambassador to Spain, James Costos. Co-hosts included Rob Reiner, Peter Chernin, Jim Gianopulos, Shonda Rhimes, Steven Spielberg, and Rick Caruso.

California Governor Gavin Newsom, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass were also present. 

Reports indicate that invitations were sent to those who supported Biden in the 2020 Presidential election in hopes of securing those votes once again.  Ticket prices reportedly started at $1,000 each.

By Sharon

Jill Biden Tours Women’s Health Facilities In SOCAL

December 11, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On December 8, at 12:45 p.m. First Lady Jill Biden arrived at Hollywood Burbank Airport in Burbank, California. She was welcomed by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s President and CEO, Thomas Priselac, Secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), along with his wife, Betty Lieu, and journalist Maria Shriver.

Together, they were a Democrat quorum. Their purpose was to tour women’s health and research facilities and laboratories in southern California as part of the White House Women’s Health Initiative.

Priselac made the following remarks upon the arrival of the First Lady.

“When President Biden announced that you and the White House Gender Police Council would lead the first-ever White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research, a very loud cheer came from our Barbara Streisand Women’s Health Center, our Center for Research on Women’s Health Sciences, our Smidt Heart Insititute, and so many others throughout Cedars-Sinai who know that biomedical research can change the world when the right forces align.”

The first stop the quorum made was to be to Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles. On their website, they advertise that they are one of the only non-profit hospitals, and they deliver the most babies. This hospital has a layout of the type of training medical students can expect each year. The following came directly from the Training and Curriculum, Training Focus for postgraduate year.

“The second year of residency includes core rotations in general obstetrics and gynecology, high-risk obstetrics, gynecologic oncology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Other rotations include a multidisciplinary experience in transgender medicine and a dedicated research block to advance the residents’ research project(s).”

Dr. Jill Biden was also scheduled to visit Streisand’s Women’s Health Center at Smidt Heart Institute before the President and Dr. Jill Biden’s fundraising event in Holmby Hills.

SOCAL reports include alternative traffic routes for those driving in an already congested area.

There are no other reported stops by the President or First Lady. Their agenda had them returning to Deleware following their day in L.A.

By Sharon





Tamarquis Burke Arrested For Attempted Murder

December 11, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department disclosed on December 5 that a suspect has been arrested in connection to an assault that transpired at Palisades Park. The incident transpired on December 1, at approximately 8:55 a.m., when officers arrived at the 200 block of Palisades Park about an assault in progress.

Officers found a transient male later identified as Tamarquis Burke actively strangling another male. The officers immediately intervened. The victim, who was also experiencing homelessness, could be heard pleading for help as officers ran towards him.

Burke quickly responded to officers’ commands to release the victim and was handcuffed without further incident. During the investigation, several witnesses told officers that the attack appeared to be unprovoked.

Tamarquis Isiah Burke, 31, was arrested and booked into the Santa Monica Jail for Attempted Homicide. He is being held on $2,025,000 bail.

Anyone with details related to this individual or the assault is asked to contact Detective McCoy at James.McCoy@santamonica.gov, Detective Sergeant Goodwin at Chad.Goodwin@santamonica.gov, or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

Actor Ryan O’Neal Dead At 82

December 11, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Actor Ryan O’Neal who was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in the drama “Love Story” passed away on Friday, December 8 at the age of 82. The actor previously battled prostate cancer in 2012. An official cause of death for the actor has not been disclosed to the public.

Ryan was born in Los Angeles in April 1941. He was a trained boxer before he transitioned into acting in the 1960s. He had a record of 12-4 as a boxer. His big role came in 1964 on the series “Peyton Place” where he portrayed Rodney Harrington. He parlayed that success into roles in the 1968 film “Rosemary’s Baby” alongside Mia Farrow and in 1967’s “Valley of the Dolls.” His stardom rose with the 1972 film “Love Story” alongside Ali MacGraw, where he earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance. He did win the Golden Globe Award that year for Best Actor.

He appeared in the 1973 drama “Paper Moon” alongside his daughter Tatum O’Neal who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the movie. Ryan was nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for his role in the film. Other notable film roles include “Barry Lyndon,” “A Bridge Too Far,” “The Driver,” “Partners” and “Fever Pitch.”

He was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2021. He was married two times in his lifetime to Joanna Moore (1963-1967) and Leigh Taylor-Young (1967-1974). He later became involved with actress Farrah Fawcett, who he shared son Redmond O’Neal with. His other children include Tatum, Griffin and Patrick. Redmond and Ryan were arrested back in 2008 for drug possession in Malibu.

Ryan’s son, Patrick O’Neal posted the following message on Instagram:

“So this is the toughest thing I’ve ever had to say but here we go. My dad passed away peacefully today, with his loving team by his side supporting him and loving him as he would us. This is very difficult for my wife Summer and I, but I will share some feelings to give you an idea of how great a man he is. My father Ryan O’Neal has always been my hero. I looked up to him and he was always bigger than life. When I was born in 1967 my dad was already a TV star on Peyton Place. That’s where he met my mom Leigh Taylor-Young, and about 9 months later (give or take a date night or two) I was born.

My dad became an international movie star with Love Story at the beginning of the 1970’s, a decade he absolutely crushed by starring in movies like What’s Up, Doc?, Paper Moon, Barry Lyndon, A Bridge Too Far, The Main Event, and The Driver. He is a Hollywood legend. Full stop. The growth spurt of the first name Ryan can be traced back to my dad. That’s a fact. He was Rodney Harrington on Peyton Place three days a week (he starred in 500 shows over five years) and then of course the name Ryan peaked after Love Story (the film that saved Paramount Studios and earned my dad a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame).”

By Trevor

Smash-And-Grab At The Real Real Under Investigation By Task Force

December 6, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department emailed the Canyon News noting that they are investigating a smash-and-grab style robbery that transpired on November 27. The SMPD reported at approximately 10:55 a.m., officers were dispatched to the The Real Real located near the 200 block of 26th Street. The robbery involved multiple suspects.

During the investigation, officers learned that four masked suspects entered the luxury resale location and forced their way past the front door security. After inside the establishment, they used hammers to smash multiple display cases containing brand-name purses worth over $50,000. The suspects fled the scene in a waiting vehicle.

In August 2023, a rise in organized retail thefts prompted the SMPD to join the Los Angeles Police Department in the formation of the Los Angeles County Organized Retail Crime Taskforce (ORCT). The taskforce combines resources from various agencies to investigate and prosecute the organized retail theft rings that are frequently behind these crimes.

The theft incident is being investigated by the taskforce, which has arrested over 90 individuals for similar crimes. Anyone with additional details is asked to contact Santa Monica’s ORCT representative, Detective M. Castruita at Michael.Castruita@santamonica.gov.

By Trevor

Reservable Drop-in Pickleball Program Available At Memorial Park

December 5, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Thursday, November 30, the city of Santa Monica disclosed in a press release that Pickleball players can now reserve court time at Memorial Park and select sessions to be matched with others at their skill level.

Individuals who are at the novice, intermediate or advanced can have player sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5 – 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 8 – 11 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. – 2:15 p.m. There will be a total of 12-16 courts available per session. The cost for reservations is $3 per person per session for all residents of Santa Monica and $5 for non-residents.

Santa Monica’s pickleball program first started in 2015. During the pandemic, the city partnered with the Santa Monica Pickleball Club to continue to offer drop-in pickleball sessions at Memorial Park.

The new reservable system is intended to meet the community’s need for an informal drop-in experience while providing better access to courts. The Santa Monica Pickleball Club continues to be a key partner in offering complementary programming, including pickleball clinics and tournaments.

The tennis/pickleball courts at John Adams Middle School continue to be available for free drop-in play on weekends through the joint use agreement between the city and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

“I’m thrilled to see this new system come online for those who are brand new to the sport, for our intermediate players or for advanced players wishing to play with others at their skill level,” said Director of Recreation and Arts Jenny Rogers. “Through our partnership with the pickleball club and the school district, we are able to offer a diverse array of experiences for pickleball enthusiasts here in Santa Monica.”

For additional details, visit santamonica.gov/programs/pickleball.

By Trevor

Santa Claus Arrives On December 2

November 29, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica announced on Tuesday, November 28 that Santa Claus is coming to town with police officers & firefighters participating. Santa and his public safety helpers will be distributing cheer and thousands of candy canes as part of the 2023, 31st Annual “Candy Cane Drive.”

The city of Santa Monica noted on its website that everyone can participate in festivities sponsored by the Santa Monica Police Officers Association and Santa Monica Firefighters, Local 1109.

This year’s scheduled stops include one per police beat and begins on Saturday, December 2 at the following locations:

-10:00 – 10:45 am Douglas Park – 2400 California Ave (Beat 4)
-11:00-11:30 am Christine Reed Park California Ave & 7th Street (Beat 1)
-1:30 – 2:15 pm Virginia Avenue Park – 2200 Virginia Ave (Beat 3)
-2:30 – 3:15 pm Clover Park – Ocean Park & 25th St (Beat 2)

Children in the city are encouraged to look and listen for the lights and sirens of the public safety vehicles, while parents are asked to bring their cameras.

To learn more details about the event review the following flyer.

By Trevor

Santa Monica Celebrates Bike And Pedestrian Safety Improvements

November 28, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica announced in a press release on Monday, November 27 that on Saturday, December 2, the city will celebrate the completion of the newest addition to its protected bike network with a ribbon cutting event and activities throughout the morning.

The celebration starts at 9 a.m. and will run until 12 p.m. at the 17th St./SMC Metro E Line parking lot at 1610 Colorado Avenue.

According to a news release from the city of Santa Monica, improvements to bike and pedestrian safety have helped the city’s goal of focusing on a Sustainable and Connected Community. The project elevates foundational city initiatives in the community and feedback that came from the adopted Bike Action Plan Amendment, Pedestrian Action Plan, the Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway (MANGo) Plan, and the city’s Land Use and Circulation Element.

“I’m thrilled to see such a robust, thoughtful and important multi-modal project come to completion,” said Mayor Gleam Davis. “By increasing separation from moving traffic and connecting neighborhoods, this project helps make walking and biking easier, encouraging sustainable practices that lead to healthier communities.”

The December 2 event will feature music, performances and workshops, including:

-Santa Monica High School marching band

-LA Jugglers performing with vintage bicycles

-Academia de Danza Ballet Folklorico Flor de Mayo

-Guided bike rides

-Free bike repair and tune ups from Santa Monica College Bike Maintenance Class

-Helmet decorating with Santa Monica Spoke

-Bike basket and accessories workshop with reDiscover Center

-Remarks from Mayor Gleam Davis, Police Chief Ramon Batista, and Department of Transportation Director Anuj Gupta

-Remarks from Cynthia Rose of Santa Monica Spoke

-Free donuts, coffee and hot cocoa

An event schedule is available here.

The Safe Streets for 17th Street and Michigan Avenue advances Santa Monica’s commitment to a Clean and Safe Santa Monica, including the Vision Zero initiative, which has the goal of eliminating severe traffic injuries and deaths on city streets.

Project elements that promote safety include:

-A concrete curb protected bikeway

-Increased lighting to better illuminate sidewalks and bike lanes

-Curb extensions and upgraded accessible curb ramps

-Freshly painted crossings to better define space for bicyclists and pedestrians and increase yielding compliance

-Protected intersections to reduce crossing distances, slow vehicles and turns, and facilitate left turns for bikes and scooters without needing to merge into traffic

-Curb extensions and new curb ramps at 14th and 15th Streets

-Mini traffic circles on 16th and 18th Streets, bringing a calm and predictable flow with landscaping and new trees

-Signal timing adjustments to give pedestrians a head start when crossing the street

Additional projects upcoming and underway within the Sustainable & Connected Community priority include bike and pedestrian improvements on Stewart Street, 20th Street and Wilshire Boulevard.

“I want to thank our community for their patience during construction of these critical upgrades. Projects such as this make our streets safer and more inviting for all users, including pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike, while fighting climate change by encouraging more people to bike, walk, and connect to transit,” said Anuj Gupta. “I look forward to continuing to advance the City Council’s ambitious agenda and working closely with community members to improve safety and the overall experience of getting around our vibrant city.”

For more details, visit www.santamonica.gov/mobility-projects/safe-streets-for-17th-street-and-michigan-avenue.

By Trevor

Suspects In Residential Burglary Arrested

November 27, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department reported that they arrested two suspects in connection with a residential robbery that occurred on Tuesday, November 21. The SMPD reported at approximately 12:45 p.m., officers were dispatched to the 500 block of 9th Street to investigate a possible residential burglary, where a suspicious vehicle was seen driving away.

Officers in the region located a matching vehicle leaving the general area, while additional officers confirmed the residential burglary had occurred. Police officers initiated a traffic stop and detained the occupants of the vehicle.

Jeffrey Owen Wright. Photo by SMPD.

During the investigation, authorities located a safe inside the suspects’ vehicle belonging to the resident, along with other items of evidence. The occupants of the vehicle, Christofer Martinez Infante, 23, and Jeffrey Owen Wright, 22, who were both charged with Residential Burglary and are being held without bail.

The investigation is on-going and limited information is available at this time. Anyone with additional details is asked to contact SMPD Detective Isaac Reyes (310) 458-4852, Detective Sgt. Lozano (310) 458-8774 or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at (310) 458-8426.

By Trevor

Carjacking Suspect Adrian Jose Dugas Arrested

November 16, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department revealed to Canyon News via email on Wednesday, November 15 that a suspect has been arrested for a carjacking that transpired on November 7.

Lt. Erika Aklufi of the SMPD indicated that officers arrested Adrian Jose Dugas, 24, on November 7. Authorities noted that the suspect was experiencing homelessness from the Los Angeles area, and is responsible for a carjacking incident involving multiple people.

At approximately 10:30 p.m., officers responded to the 400 block of Adelaide Drive after receiving reports of a group of individuals holding down Dugas in the middle of the street.

The six victims reported they were returning to their vehicle in Parking Structure 8, when Dugas approached them while simulating a handgun concealed within a duffle bag. He forced his way into the backseat of the vehicle and demanded the victims drive him around the city.

While inside the car, Dugas confiscated their cell phones. He also made multiple threats to shoot the victims if they did not comply and physically assaulted the driver and a passenger in the car.

The victims drove for more than an hour before Dugas ordered all passengers out of the vehicle. Upon exiting, one of the victims was able to place the suspect in a chokehold and they held Dugas down until police arrived.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney charged Dugas with:

• (6) counts of robbery;
• (6) counts of kidnapping during the commission of a carjacking;
• (1) attempted carjacking; and
• (1) count of aggravated assault.

Dugas remains in police custody with bail set at $6.4 million. He is expected to appear in court on November 29.

SMPD Detectives believe the suspect may have attempted an additional carjacking and are seeking other victims. Anyone with information related to Dugas or this investigation is asked to contact Detective Spencer at brian.spencer@santamonica.gov or Sergeant Gradle atryan.gradle@santamonica.gov or call 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

City Council Votes To Support Justice For Renters Act

November 15, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The City of Santa Monica announced in a press release on Tuesday, November 14, that the City Council during its meeting on October 24, voted to support the Justice for Renters Act, a state ballot initiative set for the November 2024 ballot.

The initiative would repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which places limits on municipal rent control ordinances. Under Santa Monica’s current rent control law it limits rent increases and evictions for tenants of approximately 27,000 apartments in the city built before the law went into effect in 1979.

Under Costa-Hawkins, landlords of those rent-controlled apartments are allowed to raise rents to market rate once a tenant moves out.

“The Costa Hawkins act has a very pernicious effect on our ability to control people’s financial ability to continue to live in Santa Monica,” said Mayor Gleam Davis. “The Justice for Renters Act will help local governments address some of the root causes of homelessness — skyrocketing rents and unaffordable housing.”

Rent Control Board records display that initial median rents for new tenants have rose each year since Costa-Hawkins went into effect. With the federal standard for affordability, a household would have required an income of at least $115,429 to afford a studio apartment in Santa Monica at the median rental rate set in 2022 for new tenancies.

The Santa Monica Rent Control was adopted by the voters in April 1979 in response to a shortage of housing units, low vacancy rates, and rapidly rising rents.

The law was aimed to alleviate the housing shortage and to ensure that owners received no more than a fair return.

The Rent Control Board and the Rent Control Agency focus on the following:

-Controlling the rent that may continue to be charged for a residential rental unit and providing remedies if excess rent is collected
-Determining the base amenities/services included in the rent and providing remedies for any reduction
-Limiting the grounds for eviction
-Limiting removal of units from the rental market
-Ensuring rental-property owners a fair return

For additional details on Santa Monica’s rent control program visit here.

By Trevor

Hot Prowler And Burglar Charles Marcell Newman Arrested

November 11, 2023 ·

Charles Marcell Newman. Photo courtesy of the SMPD.

SANTA MONICA—Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department indicated in an email to the Canyon News that a suspect was arrested by authorities after they receive a call of a Prowler Now on Wednesday, November 8.

The SMPD reported at 3:27 a.m., officers responded to a call of a Prowler Now in the 200 block of 24th Street. The reporting party for the incident was one of two off-duty law enforcement officers providing private security services for the homeowner. They spotted the subject of the call in the backyard of the home trying to gain entry. When officers arrived, they found the subject being detained by security in the driveway of the property.

The subject was identified as Charles Marcell Newman, 46, currently experiencing homelessness. He is a parolee at large and an out-of-compliance sex registrant. He is also under investigation for burglary and trespassing in Los Angeles.

Newman was the subject of several prowling calls at the same Santa Monica residence in September and October. He was captured on surveillance video trying doors and windows around the perimeter of the home as well as trying car door handles. During an incident on October 31, 2023, he was seen on camera in the backyard trying to open windows. Detectives were able to identify him from the video and place a WANT in the system for his detention and questioning.

The suspect has been arrested by the Santa Monica Police Department for similar crimes (burglary, resisting arrest, violation of parole and probation) in 2012 and again in 2019. Newman was convicted in both prior incidents and served prison time.

Detectives will present the case to the LA County District Attorney’s Office requesting that Newman be charged with a completed burglary, multiple attempted burglaries, and a violation of his sex offender registration conditions. He is currently being held without bail for the parole violation. His first court appearance will be on Monday, November 13.

Anyone with details related to this individual or incident is asked to contact Detective Zamfirov at Peter.Zamfirov@santamonica.gov, Detective Sergeant Lozanoat Alfonso.Lozano@santamonica.gov, or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

Community Can Receive SMPD Service Request Updates On Phones

November 8, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Tuesday, November 7, the city of Santa Monica indicated in a press release that residents, businesses, and visitors can now receive updates for emergency and non-emergency calls for police service via text message.

The Santa Monica Police Department and Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will initiate SPIDR Tech, a Versaterm Public Safety company that will send automated text messages to individuals who have called 911 or the non-emergency phone number and requested service from the SMPD.

The new customer service features will launch in two phases:

-Phase 1, November 7: Launch of automated text messages providing confirmation of the police request for service and status updates.

-Phase 2, December 11: Text-based, mobile-friendly survey asking for customer feedback will be sent 24-hours after a Santa Monica Police request for service has concluded.

Santa Monica’s new text notification updates:

-Will only be sent to individuals who placed their request for Police Department services by calling (310) 458-8491 or 911 using a cell phone

-Will NOT send texts about in-progress calls and situations where a text message may pose safety concerns for the individuals involved

-Can be accessed in Spanish by using the link provided in the text

-Will be delivered from the phone number (424) 484-0511

-Cannot be used to send text communications to dispatchers

-Can be stopped by replying to the text with “STOP”

“Santa Monica’s dispatchers answer over 250,000 calls annually,” said Chief Resilience Officer Lindsay Call, who oversees Santa Monica’s OEM Public Safety Communications Division. “This new technology will help improve communications and transparency between residents, businesses and visitors who report incidents, OEM public safety dispatchers and police personnel.”

In the region, the community should contact 911 if a life-threatening emergency arises and (310) 458-8491 for any other requests requiring police personnel assistance. If one cannot call 911, the public can also text 911 in Los Angeles County to communicate with dispatchers. Police Chief Ramón Batista is asking all those requesting police service to opt in to receive text updates.

“We want everyone who needs police assistance to know the status of their request,” Batista said “It is vitally important that we can confirm with the reporting party that their call for service will be answered and when.”

By Trevor

Paula Crowell Named New Chief Information Officer

November 7, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Monday, November 6, the Santa Monica City Manager David White announced the appointment of Paula Crowell as chief information officer to lead the city’s Information Services Department, after a nationwide recruitment.

Paula Crowell is the new Chief Information Officer for Santa Monica.
Photo courtesy of the city of Santa Monica.

The city reported on its website that Crowell has over 20 years of experience in information technology, and previously served as the director of information services for the Long Beach Utilities Department. She previously served as the IT manager for the city of Temecula and as IT director for the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission in Washington, D.C.

“Technology is a cornerstone that allows us to serve the community more efficiently and effectively,” said White. “Paula is a talented and experienced leader who brings a wealth of hands-on technical knowledge. With her at the helm, I’m confident the department will continue to find innovative ways to enhance and streamline city services.”

Her position will require Crowell to oversee a team of 50 city staff members and a budget of $13 million. The position will include training and support services, the city website, cybersecurity, software engineering, the Santa Monica mobile app, the city’s open data program and CityNet municipal broadband services.

“I’m eager to use my skills and expertise to drive innovation, digital transformation, and efficient technology solutions to address the city’s challenges and enhance the quality of life in Santa Monica,” said Crowell. “I look forward to collaborating with the talented city team and partnering with the community to ensure Santa Monica continues to be a model of innovation and sustainability in the digital age.”

She holds a bachelor’s degree in information systems from the University of Maryland and will start her new position on December 18 with a yearly salary of $223, 836.

By Trevor

SMPD Arrest Suspects In Felony Battery, Robbery Case

November 2, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Lt. Erika Aklufi indicated in an email to Canyon News that two suspects have been arrested for felony battery, elder abuse and a robbery that transpired on October 31. The SMPD reported at about 9:50 p.m., officers responded to a call of a battery that just occurred in the 1200 block of Lincoln Boulevard. Officers located the victim of the battery, a 79-year-old female resident of the city suffering from a blow to the head and other injuries.

The suspects, four males in a Kia sedan and armed with a handgun, robbed the woman of her purse. A witness provided a description of the vehicle and license plate to authorities. The Kia had been reported stolen out of Long Beach.

Additional responding officers located the suspect vehicle on the south side of the city driving recklessly and initiated a traffic stop. The vehicle failed to yield and a pursuit commenced, which later ended at 11th and Wilshire when the driver of the suspect vehicle lost control of the car and crashed into a pickup.

Two of the suspects were located immediately and taken into custody. The third suspect was discovered hiding in a carport off a nearby alley and taken into custody without incident. The fourth suspect pushed his way into an occupied apartment in the 1200 block of 11th Street.

Kejon Stevenson.
Photo courtesy of Santa Monica Police Department.

The resident was able to force the suspect out of the apartment. This suspect was located hiding on the roof of the building by an assisting LAPD helicopter where he was taken into custody. A firearm was also located in the region.

The elderly victim was taken to a local hospital for treatment of her injuries. The occupants of the other vehicle struck by the suspect vehicle were not seriously injured.

All four suspects were booked at Santa Monica County Jail on multiple felony charges. The suspects include:

Kejon Stevenson, 24, of Los Angeles; Jacob Pugh, 19, and two juvenile males, both 17 years old from Los Angeles.

Anyone with details about the incident is asked to contact Detective Tavera at Hector.Tavera@santamonica.gov, Detective Sergeant Gradle at Ryan.Gradle@santamonica.gov, or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

Oscar Santiago Chosen As New Finance Department Director

October 31, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On October 26, the city of Santa Monica announced that Oscar Santiago was chosen as the Director of the Finance Department. His appointment follows the retirement of Gigi Decavalles-Hughes.

As finance director, Santiago will lead a team of 67 staff in 6 divisions, including Budget, Financial Operations, Procurement, Revenue and Risk Management. He will oversee the development of an annual citywide budget of $745 million, ensuring the continuation of public services to residents, visitors and businesses through the protection of financial resources.

“Oscar brings a wealth of institutional knowledge and skill to the finance director role,” said City Manager David White. “His unique perspective and insights will be a tremendous benefit to Santa Monica as we continue to push full steam ahead in our economic recovery.”

Santiago was born in Santa Monica, and worked for the region for over 32 years in various departments. He recently served as the budget manager overseeing the operations, policy development and implementation of the budget and procurement divisions.

He served as a senior administrative analyst for the former Community & Cultural Services Department, a principal budget analyst in the Finance Department and principal administrative analyst and administrative services officer for the Information Services Department, leading administrative and fiscal functions for those departments.

“I grew up in Santa Monica, and was a direct recipient of city services, so I know first-hand the kind of impact the services we provide has on an individual’s quality of life,” Santiago said. “The stewardship of public funds is a critical component to the wellbeing of our community, a responsibility that I take seriously. I look forward to continuing to serve the community and the city organization in this new role.”

Santiago holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and a master’s in public administration from California State University, Northridge. He will begin on December 27, with an annual salary of $223,836.

By Trevor

Yolanda Caldwell Arrested For Bank Robbery

October 27, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Friday, October 27, Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department indicated in an email to Canyon News that a suspect has been arrested for a bank robbery that transpired in September 2023. The SMPD reported that on September 22, at around 9:30 a.m., a solo suspect entered the First Citizens Bank on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, pointed a firearm at employee and demanded money.

The tellers handed over cash to the suspect who fled out the back door of the bank. Officers from the SMPD responded and commenced an investigation. Upon reviewing security camera footage, photos of the suspect and getaway vehicle were released in a public bulletin.

Detectives from the SMPD were able to identify the suspect and obtain a warrant for her arrest. Yolanda Denise Caldwell, 52, of Los Angeles was taken into custody on October 25. She was booked into the Santa Monica Jail for 211 PC, Robbery.

Anyone with additional details on the incident is asked to contact Detective Burciaga at George.Burciaga@santamonica.gov, Sergeant Gradle at Ryan.Gradle@santamonica.gov, or the Criminal Investigations Division at (310) 458-8451 during business hours.

By Trevor

DA’s Office Launches Investigation Into Labor Practices At Local Hotels

October 25, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Monday, October 23, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced an investigation into labor practices within hotels across Los Angeles County. Recent strikes have been organized by UNITE HERE Local 11 about alleged employment of unhoused refugees, particularly from Venezuela, to replace striking workers, notably in the housekeeping departments, as noted in a press release from the DA’s Office.

“We take these egregious allegations with the utmost seriousness,” said DA George Gascón. “The mistreatment of vulnerable workers and their exploitation will not be tolerated. We will conduct an exhaustive investigation, working closely with UNITE HERE Local 11 and other stakeholders to ensure strict compliance with labor laws and protect the rights and dignity of all workers.”

UNITE HERE Local 11 Co-President Ada Briceño said: “Thank you to District Attorney Gascón’s leadership on this issue. We will not stand by while that happens, our union is committed to continue fighting for all workers.”

The investigation is aimed for the hiring practices of hotel employers in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, with a specific focus on the alleged employment of unhoused refugees. The inquiry will examine the circumstances surrounding the transportation of these workers, including claims that some were dispatched from Texas by Governor Greg Abbott, while others sought refuge in Los Angeles after fleeing their home countries because of violence.

Individuals are asked to come forward with any information about labor practices and to share their experiences. Witnesses, hotel employees, and others with knowledge regarding the matter can contact the Consumer Protection Division at (213)257-2540.

The District Attorney attended a news conference with union officials October 23 in Santa Monica to discuss the investigation. State Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles was also present. It is alleged that hotels in LAX and Santa Monica have hired migrant workers who are homeless.

During the press conference one of the migrant workers indicated she was unaware of the agency that was hiring her, she did not know how much pay she would receive and she was unaware how long she would work, she didn’t have breaks or permission to eat. She added, she was also doing the work of “three to four people. She added she received a check without any indication of how much she earned per hour.

“This investigation embodies the district attorney’s commitment to transparency, accountability and fairness within the hospitality industry. The office will provide regular updates on significant developments as the investigation progresses,” the LADA’s said in a statement.

By Trevor

Anuj Gupta Chosen As Department of Transportation Director

October 18, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Santa Monica City Manager David White announced on Tuesday, October 17, the appointment of Anuj Gupta as director of the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), following a nationwide recruitment.

Gupta, who has been serving in an interim capacity since former Director Ed King retired in August, will assume the permanent director position on Monday, October 23. He will manage a team of 472 employees and oversee a $110 million budget.

“Anuj brings a wealth of experience to the table and proven track record of leadership and collaboration,” said White. “I am confident he can build upon the strong foundation of the department to cultivate innovative, accessible, safe and sustainable mobility options.”

He served a total of 15 years of public service experience on both the local and federal levels. Before joining DOT, he served as the city’s deputy city manager for six years, leading the city’s legislative and intergovernmental advocacy work. He managed the communications team to engage and inform the community through the challenges and crises of recent years.

Gupta led several complex interdepartmental policy projects, including Santa Monica’s pioneering framework for shared mobility, while playing a crucial leadership role in the city’s economic recovery, homelessness and business engagement initiatives. Prior to becoming a member of the Santa Monica team, he worked for the Mayor of Los Angeles, the U.S. Department of Justice and with President Barack Obama’s during his administration.

“I am thrilled to lead the extraordinary team at the Department of Transportation into the future with a focus on safety, sustainability, innovation and outstanding customer service,” Gupta said. “One of the many reasons my family and I love Santa Monica is that we can navigate this amazing community by taking a Big Blue Bus, walking or biking instead of always getting in a car — and I look forward to accelerating our city’s work to make these modes safer and more accessible. DOT will continue advancing transformative projects and services that provide an unparalleled array of mobility options in the city, shaping a future that is more equitable and sustainable for all.”

Santa Monica’s DOT combines Big Blue Bus planning, operations and maintenance, traffic engineering, multi-modal transportation planning, programming and design, shared mobility and micromobility regulation, transportation permitting and parking operations and management under one administration. For details on the Department of Transportation, visit santamonica.gov/departments/samodot.

Gupta resides in Santa Monica and will earn an annual salary of $252,792.

By Trevor

Juan Gonzalez Arrested For Bomb Threats At SM Pier

October 13, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department informed Canyon News via email that they arrested a suspect who made bomb threats on the Santa Monica Pier on Monday, October 9.

The SMPD reported at about 2:35 p.m. they received a radio call of a distraught male subject climbing the Ferris wheel in Pacific Park on the Pier. A witness told officers that the man claimed to have a bomb in his backpack.

Officers found the subject, later identified as Juan Gonzalez, 37, of Garden Grove, approximately two-thirds of the way up the Ferris wheel in the steel supports. There were approximately 10 riders on the wheel, which was stopped with Gonzalez in the support structure.

The Santa Monica Fire Department worked to rescue the riders in the wheel’s gondolas while members of the SMPD Crisis Negotiation Team contacted Gonzalez and started talking him down to the Pier Deck. During the negotiations, Gonzalez was agitated and upset and continued to make bomb threats to the officers negotiating with him. The incident lasted for more than an hour before Gonzalez climbed down low enough for officers to take him into custody. He was not in possession of an explosive device or any other weapons.

Based on the multiple threats made to witnesses as well as the continued bomb threats articulated by Gonzalez to the officers, he was placed under arrest for criminal threats (a felony), making a false bomb threat to authorities, and resisting arrest. He was evaluated by the SMFD on-scene and transported to the Santa Monica Jail for booking. The case will be presented to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office for filing on the threats charges.

Lt. Aklufi informed Canyon News that there were no injuries during the incident and the Department is unaware of any prior criminal record with the suspect. Lt. Aklufi told Canyon News on Wednesday, October 11, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed charges for felony criminal threats (422 PC), felony resisting arrest (69 PC), false imprisonment (236 PC) and making a false bomb report (148.1 PC).

By Trevor

Juvenile Arrested For Armed Robbery

October 13, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On October 6, the Santa Monica Police Department indicated in a press release that a juvenile was arrested in connection to an attempted armed robbery that occurred on October 2. The SMPD reported on October 2, at approximately 9:30 a.m., officers arrested a juvenile male (11 years-old) for attempted armed robbery with a knife near the 1300 block of the beach.

The victim of the robbery relayed to officers that he frequently visits the Santa Monica Beach and while seated in his truck he spotted two individuals near the truck bed where his bicycle was tethered. The suspect approached the truck while holding a knife near his chest.  The victim believed the suspect was unaware of his presence inside the truck and was attempting to steal his bike. Upon realizing the truck was occupied, the youth threatened to cut the victim with the knife. The suspect, along with another youth (13 years-old) fled the area but were located shortly after.  The knife, dropped during the foot pursuit, was located by officers and the victim was not physically harmed during the incident.

Both juveniles, reported as runaways from a residential care facility in the city of San Dimas, were issued citations. The younger of the two suspects was issued a citation for attempted armed robbery and the other for obstructing an investigation. Both were released into the custody of staff from the residential facility.  A records check indicates that both suspects were arrested by officers twice in the month of September for carjacking and burglarizing a vehicle.

Anyone with details related to this incident is asked to contact Detective Lucero at hilda.lucero@santamonica.gov, Detective Sergeant Shaun Cooney at shaun.cooney@santamonica.gov or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

SMFD Hosting Activities For Fire Prevention Week

October 6, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Cathy Taylor, the Fire Prevention Coordinator for the city of Santa Monica indicated in an email to Canyon News that the Santa Monica Fire Department will be raising awareness about cooking safety for Fire Prevention Week, October 8 thru October 14 with free community events and activities along with hosting a proclamation at the October 10 City Council meeting.

“I cannot emphasize enough the critical importance of fire prevention when it comes to cooking. Santa Monica has had a total of 378 fires from October 2022 to October 2023.  Cooking related fires are among the most common causes of residential fires, and they can lead to devastating consequences, including loss of life, property damage, and emotional trauma,” said Fire Marshal Joe Cavin. “The use of open flames, hot cooking surfaces, and flammable materials means that a momentary lapse in attention or a small mistake can quickly escalate into a dangerous situation.”

A cooking fire can grow quickly and is one of the most common household fires that can be prevented. Santa Monica Fire Department’s key safety tips to help reduce the risk of a cooking fire include:

-Never leave cooking unattended. Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking, and if you need to leave, even for a short time, turn off the stove or oven.

-Watch what you heat. Always keep a close eye on what you are cooking. Set a timer to remind you that you are cooking.

-Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove. Always keep a lid nearby when cooking. If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner.

-Have a “kid and pet-free zone” of at least 3 feet (1 meter) around the stove or grill and anywhere else hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

-Keep a clear workspace. Ensure that there are no flammable materials such as dish towels, paper towels, or curtains near the cooking area.

-Use appropriate cookware. Choose cookware with tight-fitting lids to prevent grease fires, and always keep a lid nearby to smother a potential fire.

-Be cautious with oils and fats. When frying food, use a thermometer to monitor oil temperature, and never overheat it. If grease catches fire, do not use water to extinguish it; use a fire extinguisher or cover it with a lid.

-Install smoke alarms. Make sure your home is equipped with working smoke alarms in or near the kitchen, as they can provide early warning in case of a fire.

-Have a fire extinguisher. Keep a fire extinguisher rated for kitchen fires within easy reach and know how to use it.

-Educate family members. Teach your family members about fire safety in the kitchen, including how to respond in case of a fire.

A series of free community events in support of this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign include:

-Sunday, October 8, 2023, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Cooking Safety at Santa Monica Main Street Farmers Market. The Fire Department will provide information and giveaways during the popular Main Street market. Located at 2640 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404

-Tuesday, October 10, 2023, 10:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m., Fire Prevention Storytime at Fairview Library: Santa Monica Fire Inspector Engineer Reyes will read for a special story time and participants will have the opportunity to see a fire engine up close. The event is accessible to all, the library’s self-service Open+ Access is not required for entry. Fairview Library is located at 2101 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405

-Tuesday, October 10, 2023, 5:30 p.m. Fire Prevention Week Proclamation at Santa Monica City Hall. Mayor Davis and the City Council will proclaim October 8-14 as Fire Prevention Week during the City Council Regular Meeting. Santa Monica City Hall is located at 1685 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90401

-Saturday, October 14, 2023, 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Open House at Fire Station 1: Participants can get a close-up view to a working fire station. Fire department personnel will provide cooking safety tips and information on preventing household fires. All ages welcome. Fire Station 1 is located at 1337 7th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Fire Prevention Week dates back to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the goal is to educate individuals to be vigilant when it comes to fire prevention. Fire Prevention Week is a partnership with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) — the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for more than 100 years — to promote this year’s campaign, “Cooking Safety starts with you. Pay attention to fire prevention.” The campaign works to educate people about simple, important actions they can take when cooking to keep themselves and those around them safe.

To learn more about Fire Prevention Week programs and activities in Santa Monica please contact the Santa Monica Fire Department at 310-458-8761. For additional details about Fire Prevention Week and cooking safety, visit fpw.org. For fire safety fun for kids, visit sparky.org.

Newsom Signs Assembly Bill 481 Implementing “Robocops”

October 5, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On October 4, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) made the following statement updating public information on robotic police video surveillance.

“Recent reports have indicated that robotic delivery services are providing video footage to the Los Angeles Police Department. This is only true in cases where the robotic delivery company has been the victim of a crime.”

The Los Angeles Police Department is committed to constitutional policing and is sensitive to privacy concerns, while holding those who commit crime accountable.

The Santa Monica Police Department released a statement regarding California Governor Gavin Newsom signing Assembly Bill number 481 into law September 30, for the use of AB-481 Military Equipment to be used by police involving the use of robots in place of, and in addition to, actual police officers.

Authorities indicated what has been referred to as the “Robocops,” have a quicker response time to 911 calls and may be able to gain entry into, a building by breaking glass…without risk of injury to members of the police force.

Governor Newsom has been scrutinized over signing the bill. Reports indicate that Santa Monica has experienced an increase of crime and violence of at least 14 percent in 2023. Some residents indicated they feel more comfortable with humans as their first responders.

Section 1. The Legislature finds and declares all the following:

(a) “The acquisition of military equipment and its deployment in our communities adversely impacts the public’s safety and welfare, including increased risk of civilian deaths, significant risks to civil rights, civil liberties, and well-being, and increment of significant financial costs. Military equipment is more frequently deployed in low-income black and brown communities, meaning the risks and impacts of police militarization are experienced most acutely in marginalized communities.”

(b) The public has a right to know about any funding, acquisition, or use of military equipment by state or local government officials, as well as a right to participate in any government agency’s decision to fund, acquire, or to use such equipment.

Section C details how decisions on funding “should give strong consideration to the public’s welfare, safety, civil rights, and civil liberties based on meaningful input.”

Section D is regarding the “legally enforceable safeguards. Oversight, and accountability measures that must be in place to protect the public’s welfare…”

The 2022 SMPD Annual AB 481 report is available online. The Public Safety Reform and Oversight Commission will conduct a hearing for public feedback during their November 7 meeting.

By Sharon

Brian Barry Clemens Arrested For Felony Assault

October 4, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Lt. Erika Aklufi with the Santa Monica Police Department informed Canyon News that a suspect was arrested for an assault that transpired on Sunday, October 1.

The SMPD reported at 9:23 p.m. officers responded to a residence regarding an assault investigation. The victim and a witness told officers that at about 8:40 p.m. they were heading northbound on Main Street with the victim on an e-bike and the witness, her friend, on foot next to her.

They passed by a male subject, later identified as Brian Barry Clemens, 51, of Los Angeles who was yelling incoherently in their direction. They crossed the street and were walking north across Ocean Park Boulevard when Clemens charged the two women, knocking the victim off the bicycle, pinning her to the ground, and strangling her. A Good Samaritan driving by halted the attack and scared Clemens away. The suspect, Clemens, later flagged down a passerby and asked him to call 9-1-1 for medical help.

The Santa Monica Fire Department transported Clemens to the hospital, as officers obtained a description of the suspect in the assault they discovered it was the same subject transported by the SMFD.

Officers arrived at the hospital and placed Clemens under arrest and took him to the jail for booking.

The victim suffered a leg injury as well as scrapes and bruises. Clemens has prior arrests in California and out of state for being intoxicated in public and driving under the influence.

On October 3, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Clemens for assault with a deadly weapon (245 PC) and felony assault (243 PC).

Anyone with details related to this incident is asked to contact Detective Tavera at Ismael.tavera@santamonica.gov, Detective Sergeant Gradle at Ryan.gradle@santamonica.gov, or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

Jenny Rogers Chosen As New Recreation And Arts Department Director

October 4, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica announced on its website on Friday, September 29 that Jenny Rogers was appointed as director of the newly established Recreation and Arts Department. She has over 28 years of experience in arts, parks, recreation and community services, recently serving as director of community services for the city of Beverly Hills. She started her career with the Cultural Arts Division of the city and county of San Francisco and held director roles at the city of Mill Valley and the Harvey Milk Center for the Arts.

“I am thrilled to bring Jenny onboard and jumpstart the great work of the newly formed Recreation and Arts Department,” city Management David White stated. “Her vast experience and talent will be invaluable in uplifting arts, culture and recreation services and programs that enrich lives and help people thrive.”

During her career she collaborated to enhance recreation programs and facilities, including increasing recreation class enrollment with innovative marketing, adding new community events, increasing cost recovery at community centers and launching a “neighbors helping neighbors” social service program. She led efforts to launch several new and innovative community events, including the Beverly Hills Artwalk and MADE in Beverly Hills celebration.

Rogers has over 30 years as an artist, director and designer in theater. Her work has been featured internationally, earning several grants, awards and recognition.

The Santa Monica City Council established the Recreation and Arts Department in June 2023 with the approval of the 2023-2025 biennial budget. They created a new Housing and Human Services Department — dividing the functions formerly combined under the Community Services Department.

“I believe public service is a calling and the critical services we provide create community, and it is deeply gratifying to serve a place and a people so closely aligned with my own values,” Rogers said. “Santa Monica is such a special place, and this is such a unique chapter in the city. I look forward to working collaboratively with the community and city staff in support of existing facilities and programs and in creation of a diverse array of new recreation offerings, public art and cultural events.”

Rogers graduated from Brown University with a bachelor’s degree in Art and Semiotics and holds a master’s degree in Fine Art specializing in Digital and New Media from Pennsylvania State University, where she was the first University Fellow for the School of Visual Arts. She will join the city on Monday, October 9 with a yearly salary of $227,772

By Trevor

Pedestrian Injured During Traffic Collision

October 2, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department send an email to Canyon News indicating that a traffic collision on Friday, September 29 left a pedestrian injured.

The SMPD indicated at approximately 8:34 a.m., officers were dispatched to the scene of a traffic collision with injuries at the intersection of Ocean Avenue and Marguerita Avenue in Santa Monica.

A 64-year-old male pedestrian crossing westbound across Ocean Avenue was struck by a 2018 Toyota SUV traveling northbound. The driver stayed at the scene and is cooperating with the investigation.

The pedestrian sustained severe non-life-threatening injuries and was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.

Anyone with details related to this incident is asked to contact Sergeant Krueger at nick.krueger@santamonica.gov or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

Former Big Blue Bus Director Stephanie Negriff Dies

September 27, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica announced on its website on Monday, September 25, that Stephanie Negriff, former director of Big Blue Bus, died earlier this month at the age of 67.

Negriff became the Big Blue Bus director in August 2002, previously served in various capacities, including assistant director of operations, manager of transit development and intergovernmental relations and senior administrative analyst. She retired from Big Blue Bus in 2011, after 25 years of service. Before joining Big Blue Bus, she held roles with transit agencies in the states of Texas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

“Stephanie was a visionary leader who helped establish a bedrock of enduring programs and services that continue to support our community’s transportation needs,” said Anuj Gupta, Interim Director of Santa Monica’s Department of Transportation. “She led with care and compassion for Big Blue Bus staff and customers, and embodied the agency’s values of teamwork, community service, integrity, innovation, and continuous improvement. She will be greatly missed.”

As the director of Big Blue Bus, Negriff’s responsibilities included the creation of Downtown Santa Monica’s Transit Mall, the implementation of two bus rapid transit lines, and the completion of the Big Blue Bus campus expansion project. She oversaw development of an award-winning, state-of-the-art bus maintenance facility, and the implementation of student and regional fare programs through innovative partnerships with Santa Monica College, UCLA, and LA Metro.

She helped guide Big Blue Bus’s transition to a clean energy fleet, which included gas/electric hybrid, biodiesel, and compressed natural gas vehicles. She helped in negotiating funding policies for the distribution of Prop C, Measure R and other regional transportation formula programs, to ensure economic sustainability for Big Blue Bus and other municipal transit systems in Los Angeles County.

The Big Blue Bus won the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award in 2011 while Stephanie was the director and she was named APTA Outstanding Public Transit Manager. Her funeral will be held on Friday, September 30 at 10 a.m. at Chapel of the Gardens, Mountain View Mortuary, 2300 N. Marengo Avenue in Altadena. Her family is requesting donations be made in Negriff’s name to the Westside Family Health Center, where she served on the Board of Directors until her passing. She is survived by her husband, Larry, stepchildren Sonya and Liza, and one grandchild.

By Trevor

Mini Fall Festival Returns To Virginia Avenue Park September 30

September 25, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The city will host the Mini Fall Festival on Saturday, September 30, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. during the weekly Pico Farmers Market at Virginia Avenue Park.

The city of Santa Monica reported on its website that the event will feature Santa Monica College’s Glass Pumpkin Sale, seasonal craft activities for kids and a family photo booth. The Pico Farmers’ Market which is weekly, will offer seasonal produce and prepared foods and attendees can receive a free pumpkin, one per family, as supplies last.

There will be one-of-a-kind hand-blown glass pumpkins by students from the Santa Monica College Glass Department.

The Santa Monica Pico Branch Library will be hosting a table along with Department of Mental Health, Providence St. John’s Community Health Program, NAMI and others.

For additional details click here or call 310-458-8688. The event is presented by Virginia Avenue Park, Santa Monica Public Library, Santa Monica Farmers Market and Santa Monica College.

By Trevor

Tyler Keating Arrested For Felony Battery And Robbery

September 24, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department indicated in an email to Canyon News that a suspect has been arrested connected to felony battery and a strong-arm robbery that transpired on Tuesday, September 19.

Authorities indicated at about 3:30 p.m., officers responded to a call of a battery that just occurred in Palisades Park near the intersection with Santa Monica Boulevard. Officers located the victim of the battery down on the ground and suffering from injuries to his face and head. A suspect description and direction of travel were broadcasted to other responding officers.

According to statements from the victim and witnesses, the victim was recording video of Palisades Park on his cell phone when he focused the camera on the suspect. According to the SMPD, the suspect was currently experiencing homelessness and laying on the ground in the park. The suspect did not want to be filmed and stood up to confront the victim, demanding he stop recording. The suspect struck the victim at least one time in the face, knocking him to the ground and took the victim’s phone, which fell to the ground before fleeing the scene.

Officers located the suspect, identified as Tyler Jordan Keating, 35, and the victim’s nearby. He was arrested for felony battery, robbery, and elder abuse and booked into the Santa Monica Jail where he is being held. The case will be presented to the Los Angeles District Attorney for filing.

The victim was transported to a local hospital for treatment of his injuries. Anyone with details on the incident is asked to contact Detective Davis at stephanie.davis@santamonica.gov, Detective Sergeant Goodwin at chad.goodwin@santamonica.gov, or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

Felony Hit-And-Run Suspect Nehemias Rivera-Menjivar Arrested

September 24, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—A suspect has been arrested connected to a hit-and-run that occurred on Wednesday, September 20, the Santa Monica Police Department announced. Authorities reported at approximately 11:20 pm, officers spotted a vehicle run a red light near the 700 block of Montana Avenue. The driver of the vehicle failed to yield to officers and committed additional traffic violations while driving recklessly for several blocks before colliding with a vehicle at 7th and Wilshire Boulevard.

The driver did not stop after the collision, continuing to drive down the Pier ramp and into the Newcomb Lot. The vehicle pursuit terminated when the driver was boxed in near the Carousel building on the Pier.

The driver, later identified as Nehemias Rivera-Menjivar, 21, from Wilmington, CA, exited the stopped vehicle, and attempted to flee on foot. An officer deployed a taser which did not halt Rivera-Menjivar. After repeated demands, Riveria-Menjivar was taken into custody without further incident.

During the subsequent investigation, it was determined that the vehicle driven by Rivera-Menjivar was stolen from an address in Long Beach. The driver admitted to using marijuana.

Riveria-Menjivar was booked for multiple violations including: 20001(a) CVC – Felony Hit and Run; 23104(a) CVC – Reckless Driving; 2800.2(a) CVC – Felony Evading Police; 23153 (f) CVC- Felony DUI (Marijuana); and 148(a)(1) PC – Resisting and Obstructing Arrest

Anyone with details is asked to contact Sergeant Krueger at nick.krueger@santamonica.gov, or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

Traffic Collision/Felony DUI Arrest By SMPD

September 21, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department reported that a SMPD Traffic Services Officer was injured during a traffic collision on September 13. The Police Department reported at 2 p.m., patrol officers responded to a report of a traffic collision with injuries at the intersection of Yale Street and Santa Monica Boulevard on a green light.

Officers found the occupant of the scooter, a SMPD Traffic Services Officer, was ejected from the scooter and was suffering from significant injuries. The Santa Monica Fire Department transported the officer to a local hospital for treatment where she is currently listed in stable condition.

The California Highway Patrol was called to handle the crash investigation and reporting. Officials with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Pacific Division assisted with a DUI exam of the driver of the Audi for suspected drug use. The driver was ultimately arrested for Felony Driving Under the Influence. The name of the driver and age has not yet been disclosed to the public.

“Our hearts are with our injured employee as she begins the long road to healing. This is a hard reminder that we are all at risk, anytime and anywhere, when drivers choose to use drugs or drink and drive. For the safety of all of us in the Santa Monica community, if you see someone who appears to be driving under the influence, call 9-1-1 immediately,” the SMPD indicated in a statement.

Lt. Erika Aklufi of the SMPD informed Canyon News via email that the suspect is Susan Weiss, 66. “Our Traffic Services Officer is still hospitalized but on the road to recovery,” said Lt. Aklufi.

By Trevor

Serial Killer Murders Cellmate

September 20, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Thursday, September 14, Ramon Alberto Escobar, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, was charged and arraigned in the strangulation death of his cellmate, Juan Villanueva on February 24 at North Kern State Prison located at 2737 W Cecil Ave, in Delano.

Villanueva was serving a life without parole sentence for aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 14.

In May of 2022, Escobar was sentenced in a Los Angeles County court to two life sentences without parole after pleading guilty to the 2018 murders of Branden Rideout, 24, and Kelvin Williams, 25, of Los Angeles on September 16th, Steven Cruze, 39, of San Gabriel, and Jorge Martinez, 63, of Santa Monica. Escobar received an additional 124 years added to his prison sentence for previous crimes committed in Los Angeles.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Inmate Locator, on May 6, 2022, Escobar was transported to the state penitentiary in Kern County.

On November 12, 2018, Canyon News reported on a complaint filed against Escobar. At age 47, police reports indicated that Ramon Alberto Escobar was facing four counts of murder, eight counts of attempted murder and six counts of second-degree robbery. Escobar is now listed as a serial killer.

In a November 2018 press conference, Los Angeles Police Department Captain William Hayes indicated that Escobar had been known to randomly take a bat and beat individuals living in homelessness. This is what happened to Branden Rideout and Kelvin Williams. They were both severely beaten by Escobar and later succumbed to their injuries while in the hospital.

Escobar struck a plea deal by also pleading guilty to the murders of his aunt, Dina Escobar, and Uncle Rogelio, “Roy,” Escobar of Houston, TX. The suspect was interviewed by police within days of their initial disappearance. The suspect initially denied seeing his aunt and uncle on their reported death dates of August 24th or August 28th. Reports indicate he then traveled out of state to Santa Monica, California soon after this interview.

Texas is a death penalty state. In California, the number of murders he was found guilty of committing, could have also made him eligible for the death penalty under special circumstances. In his plea bargain, the death penalty was taken off the table when Escobar pleaded guilty to killing his aunt and uncle in California rather than Texas.

Multiple reports indicate that Ramon Alberto Escobar had been deported six times prior to these murder convictions. Now, at 52, Escobar faces a new murder charge, this one occurring within the prison.

By Sharon

Traffic Collision/Felony DUI Arrest By SMPD

September 18, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department reported that a SMPD Traffic Services Officer was injured during a traffic collision on September 13. The Police Department reported at 2 p.m., patrol officers responded to a report of a traffic collision with injuries at the intersection of Yale Street and Santa Monica Boulevard on a green light.

Officers found the occupant of the scooter, a SMPD Traffic Services Officer, was ejected from the scooter and was suffering from significant injuries. The Santa Monica Fire Department transported the officer to a local hospital for treatment where she is currently listed in stable condition.

The California Highway Patrol was called to handle the crash investigation and reporting. Officials with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Pacific Division assisted with a DUI exam of the driver of the Audi for suspected drug use. The driver was ultimately arrested for Felony Driving Under the Influence. The name of the driver and age has not yet been disclosed to the public.

“Our hearts are with our injured employee as she begins the long road to healing. This is a hard reminder that we are all at risk, anytime and anywhere, when drivers choose to use drugs or drink and drive. For the safety of all of us in the Santa Monica community, if you see someone who appears to be driving under the influence, call 9-1-1 immediately,” the SMPD indicated in a statement.

By Trevor

SMPD Receives Funding For Retail Theft Crimefighting

September 18, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department was awarded $6.125 million in state grant funding to enhance efforts to combat organized retail theft in the region Governor Gavin Newsom announced this week.

Funding will directly support the ongoing targeted, innovative, and technology-based efforts by the SMPD to improve safety for residents and business owners.

“We are glad that the state has joined forces with local agencies to acknowledge that organized retail theft doesn’t just affect large corporations — it hurts our small businesses, puts employees and shoppers in danger, and it creates feelings of unease and fear in the community,” said Police Chief Ramon Batista.

In an email to Canyon News, Lt. Erika Aklufi noted that further establishes the Santa Monica Analytical Real-Time Center, or SMART Center, which will bring together technology and support staff to synthesize and interpret real-time data to strategically allocate police resources to address crime throughout the region. The SMART Center will help aggregate data and coordinate police response by using existing and coming technology including:

  • Closed-circuit television cameras and a video management system
  • Automated license plate readers, both mobile and at fixed locations
  • Unmanned aircraft systems that can respond to incidents quickly and start collecting information for officers
  • Live911, a program that allows officers to hear 911 calls as they are being received

“There is no understating the benefit our entire community will realize with the establishment of the SMART Center. This cutting-edge hub of information will increase the effectiveness and efficiency of public safety in Santa Monica,” Batista said. “The SMART center will support proactive police work that can prevent crime, acting as an additional layer of safety, identifying crime as it happens.”

Santa Monica was one of 38 local law enforcement agencies awarded funds through the Organized Retail Theft (ORT) Prevention Grant Program. This initiative compliments the continued work the SMPD is doing locally by adding focused deployments in major shopping areas and in conjunction with other local agencies — including joining the Los Angeles County Retail Theft Task Force created to collaboratively address high-profile retail theft incidents.

“Promoting a Clean and Safe Santa Monica is a top priority to support the safety and wellbeing of all who live, work and visit our great city,” said City Manager David White. “I commend the Police Department for the work they’ve already done securing this grant and look forward to seeing the tangible impacts of this funding and future strategic initiatives.”

By Trevor

Gabriel Jarret Accused Of Soliciting Sex From Minor

September 15, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Gabriel Jarret, who is best known for his role in the 1985 cult classic film “Real Genius,” is being accused of allegedly trying to have sex with a 14-year-old girl. The sting operation was led by the Creep Catching Unit which is a child activist organization dedicated to catching predators online who are trying to have sex with minors.

According to one of the investigators, Jarrett wanted to have oral sex with a young girl and the unit turned over the evidence they obtained to the Santa Monica Police Department. Evidence included sexually explicit text messages between Jarret and a decoy who said she was only 14. The two had been texting each other since May 26, 2022.

The actor explained to Fox 11 in an interview that he was a victim of entrapment. The station asked why Jarret sent sexual messages to a 14-year-old girl and responded that she was the one sending explicit messages. He said that he planned on meeting the girl in person to “let her off easy” and tell her to stop texting him.

On Sunday, September 10, Jarret made plans to meet the girl at the Santa Monica Pier. When he arrived, he was met with members of the CC Unit who confronted him. Jarret denied all the allegations and demanded that they turn off their camera. Jarret fled the scene.

In a message to the CC Unit Jarret wrote, “I would be very careful what you do with that video, any attempt to try and embarrass me whatsoever I will defend myself..”

In 2018, TMZ reported that Jarret’s then girlfriend accused him of child molestation, rape, and other crimes. She refused to leave his home and was screaming so loudly at him his neighbors overheard. Jarret later filed a restraining order against his ex-girlfriend who was identified as Jennifer Marie Alfano.

SMPD is currently investigating the case to determine if there is verifiable evidence that meets prosecutable standards that can be presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney.

No arrest have been made.

By Christianne

Zero Bail Rules Start In October 2023

September 14, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department indicated in an email to Canyon News on Wednesday, September 13 that new zero-bail rules are slated to begin October 1, 2023. The SMPD noted that on July 18, the Superior Court of Los Angeles County approved a new set of bail schedules for individuals arrested for misdemeanors and non-violent felony crimes.

As a result, all police departments in Los Angeles County, including the Santa Monica Police Department, must comply with the terms of the zero-bail protocol. The new bail schedule, slated to take effect will dictate one of three possible actions by law enforcement for an arrestee’s release:

  1. Cite and Release– Arrestee is released at the location of the arrest.
  2. Book and Release– Arrestee is booked in jail and then released on their own

recognizance.

  1. Magistrate Review– Select cases referred to an on-call magistrate.

New release protocols will replace traditional bail schedules where instead of assigning a money bail amount to non-violent felonies and misdemeanors, arrestees will now be a Cite and Release or a Book and Release.

With a smaller number of cases, suspects arrested for certain crimes posing an increased risk to the public will be referred to an on-call magistrate who will have discretion to determine the appropriate release terms and conditions. Capital offenses like murder with special circumstances and limited felonies are not eligible for pre-arraignment, zero-bail release.

Under the new protocol, offenses listed as Cite and Release, Book and Release, or Magistrate Review include almost all theft offenses, vehicle code violations, other property crimes like vandalism, and some serious crimes that are deemed non-violent. If an individual is arrested for False Imprisonment, under the new protocol is eligible for Book and Release. Under the previous bail schedule, their bail amount would be $50,000.

If an individual arrested for theft of an automobile is eligible for Book and Release, while under the previous bail schedule, their bail amount was $35,000. Offenses involving guns, sexual battery, crimes against children/elders and contact with minors with intent to commit a sexual offense are examples of offenses subject to Magistrate Review.

The SMPD stated:

“We will not waiver in our commitment to safeguarding our residents, visitors, and business owners even while we work within the processes set forth by the Superior Court of Los Angeles County.”

By Trevor

Charles Randol Plead Guilty To Cryptocurrency Scheme

September 7, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Charles James Randol, 33, of Santa Monica has agreed to plead guilty to using his cryptocurrency exchange business to help scammers and drug traffickers launder millions through his service on Tuesday, September 5.

The charges and the plea agreement were filed on September 5 in a Los Angeles federal court, and he is expected to make his formal plea before the courts in the near future.

According to the plea agreement, Randol owned and operated a virtual-currency money services business known as Bitcoins4Less and later Digital Coin Strategies LLC from October 2017 to July 2021. He provided cryptocurrency exchange services that included ATMs, postal services, and in person. Randol would handle the cryptocurrency transactions that amounted over $10,000 without knowing who his clients were failing to adhere to regulatory requirements.

Those who have a similar business as Randol verify and record identities of their clients. Failure to do so violates the Bank Secrecy Act.

People by the names of “Puppet Shariff,” “White Jetta,” and “Yogurt Monster” were a few of his clients. “Randol did not request a name, proof of identity, social security number, or any other information about (the undercover agent) or the source of the funds being exchanged,” the agreement states.

The defendant admitted to repeatedly violating federal law and his company’s own policies by facilitating suspicious currency exchange transactions and concealing them from law enforcement.

The defendant advertised his services on his website, and third-party sites like localbitcoins.com, which “falsely represented that Digital Coin Strategies was “‘a fully compliant FinCEN registered money services business,'” according to prosecutors. Randol had posted an anti-money laundering policy “to prohibit and actively prevent money laundering and any activity that facilitates money laundering or the funding of terrorist or criminal activities,” that said Digital Coin Strategies would take the above-mentioned actions to comply with the federal law.

Randol operated a network of automated kiosks in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties that converted cash to Bitcon and vice versa allowing criminals to launder funds through his machines which were located in malls, gas stations and convenience stores. He met with anonymous customers in person to complete transactions and utilized the postal service to conduct Bitcon-for-cash transactions.

“Additionally, when defendant received the packages, the cash was often packaged in a suspicious manner, including inside hidden children’s books, concealed inside fake birthday or holiday presents, buried within puzzle pieces, or wrapped within multiple magazines,” the court documents say.

In June 2019, fraud proceeds had been mailed to Randol’s post office and the FBI inquired. Two days after the questioning took place Randol indicated to his clients that he was taking a hiatus from converting cash parcels into cryptocurrency because he “ran into an issue.” Shortly after his announcement, Randol agreed to exchange $10,000 in cash for Bitcoin for the same anonymous client.

Randol faces up to five years in federal prison plus a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the total illicit proceeds from the scams.

By Christianne

Suspects Vandalize Several Businesses In Crime Spree

September 6, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On the morning of Monday, September 4, at approximately 2:30 a.m. surveillance camera video footage picked up a group of people smashing the storefront window of Margo’s Pizza Kitchen located at 1534 Montana Avenue and stole money from them. The Bardonna coffee bar located at 1601 Montana Avenue and the Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt shop at 1612 Montana Avenue were vandalized by the same group of thieves.

Initial reports indicate that this same group is more than likely the same suspects in all three instances. All three businesses were vandalized causing thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. Margo’s Pizza Kitchen was the only business in this crime spree that was burglarized.

According to Neighborhood Scout, “With a crime rate of 51 per one thousand residents, Santa Monica has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes – from the smallest towns to the very largest cities. One’s chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime here is one in 20.”

Canyon News reached out to Santa Monica Police Lieutenant Erika Aklufi, who responded with the following information.

“The preliminary information was three male suspects, unknown on the particulars. They were all wearing hooded sweatshirts and face coverings. The vehicle was a dark sedan that looked like it might be a Dodge Charger, but we have not confirmed the make and model yet.”

The Santa Monica Police Department is working on the investigation. If you have any more information on the whereabouts of the suspects, please contact SMPD at (310) 458-8491.

By Sharon

Cordell Studley Wanted For Attempted Rape, Burglary

September 4, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department is asking for the public’s help to locate Cordell Dionte Studley, 29, for attempted rape and burglary. Lt. Erika Aklufi of the SMPD indicated in an email to Canyon News that on September 2, at approximately 1 a.m., Dispatch received a call from a resident on the 1500 block of 15th Street.

She informed authorities she woke up and found a nude man standing next to her bed. They struggled briefly, before the victim was able to open the front door of her apartment and force her attacker out.

The Santa Monica Police Forensics Unit, in addition to detectives responded to the scene.  Authorities identified that Studley was observed at the apartment complex two times on the previous day. He is wanted for 220(b) PC – Assault with intent to commit rape, 459 PC – Residential Burglary, and 236 PC – False Imprisonment.

Anyone with details about Studley or his whereabouts is asked to contact Detective Brian Spencer 310-458-8420, Sgt. Chad Goodwin 310-458-8931, or the Watch Commander (24 Hours) 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

SMPD Investigating Suspicious Death At Palisades Park

August 30, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department informed Canyon News via email that they are currently investigating a death that occurred at Palisades Park on Monday, August 28.

The SMPD noted that at about 10:48 pm, dispatch received a call that a subject described as a male, black, about180lbs, wearing a grey hoodie, white shirt, black pants and with a black backpack fired once into the air with a handgun in the 1700 block of Ocean Ave on the west sidewalk.

A spent casing was recovered at the location. The suspect was not involved in any disturbance prior to shooting the round and left southbound prior to officers’ arrival.

The victim has been described as a male in his 40s, possibly homeless, but with an associated address in Los Angeles.

On August 28 at 1:12 a.m., officers responded to a call of additional shots
fired near the 1500 block of Palisades Park.

The RP reported that she “saw a male shooting and then shot himself in the face.” Officers located a victim down at the bottom of the Broadway stairs near PCH who was not breathing and with a gunshot wound.

The victim matched clothing and the physical description of the shooter from the earlier call on Ocean Avenue. Preliminary investigation indicates the two incidents are possibly-related.

The Los Angeles County Coroner responded to the scene and are assisting the Police Department with various aspects of the investigation, including identifying the victim and the cause of death.

“Once we have more information we will issue a release,” Lt. AKlufi informed Canyon News.

Anyone with details about the incident is asked to contact Detective Chabot at 310-458-6679, Detective Sergeant Gradle at ryan.gradle@santamonica.gov, or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

SMPD Investigating Death At Palisades Park

August 28, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department informed Canyon News via email that they are currently investigating a death that occurred at Palisades Park on Monday, August 28.

The SMPD indicated that they are actively investigating the death that occurred at the intersection of Ocean Avenue and Broadway and the Broadway stairs.

The victim has been described as a male in his 40s, possibly homeless, but with an associated address in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles County Coroner responded to the scene and are assisting the Police Department with various aspects of the investigation, including identifying the victim and the cause of death.

“Once we have more information we will issue a release,” Lt. AKlufi informed Canyon News.

By Trevor

Kevin Aamir Mumin Arrested For Assault

August 28, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department revealed on Thursday, August 24 that a suspect has been arrested for an assault that occurred. The SMPD indicated that on August 20 at 1 p.m. an unidentified male attacked a worker outside a business on Main Street, striking him in the back of his head with a large wooden dowel.

The victim sustained a concussion with a head injury that required stitches. The Santa Monica Police Department issued a bulletin looking for information on the suspect involved in the attack.

On August 22, the same suspect assaulted two city of Santa Monica employees, throwing a glass bottle in their direction. He fled before officers arrived on the scene. Officers determined both incidents were hate-related.

On August 22, the Los Angeles Police Department issued a bulletin for Kevin Aamir Mumin, 36, who was responsible for a series of hate crimes targeting Hispanic/Latinos in Los Angeles that matched incidents in Santa Monica. Follow-ups led by detectives with the SMPD identified Mumin as responsible for the incidents in Santa Monica.

On August 23, officers from LAPD’s 77th Division took Mumin, who is currently experiencing homelessness, into custody for crimes committed in Los Angeles. The LAPD contacted SMPD detectives to coordinate filing both cities’ cases jointly with the Los Angeles County District Attorney.

On Thursday, August 24, the LADA Hate Crimes Unit filed four counts of Assault with a Deadly Weapon with Great Bodily Injury (GBI), one count of Assault Likely to Produce GBI, a Hate Crime, and a parole violation. Mumin is being held without bail pending his arraignment.

Anyone with details about the suspect or any of the incidents is asked to contact Detective Spencer 310-458-8420, Sgt. Goodwin 310-458-8931, or the Watch Commander (24 Hours) 310-458-8427.

By Trevor

Terrence Allen Arrested For Rolex Theft

August 28, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—A suspect has been arrested by the Santa Monica Police Department who attempted to steal a $40,000 Rolex from the Rolex store located on 159 Santa Monica Place.

On August 21, the SMPD arrived to the Rolex store for a robbery in progress. During the robbery, multiple employees activated emergency alarms, triggering a police response. While officers were enroute, Santa Monica Dispatchers relayed that onsite security were attempting to detain the suspect who was combative during the process.

Upon arrival, officers took Terrence Allen, 26, of Florida, into custody.  During the investigation, officers learned that Allen entered the store, requested to view a watch valued at $40,000 and once in hand, he tried to flee. Allen encountered armed security stationed outside and after a brief struggle the property was recovered.

Allen was booked into the Santa Monica Jail and later charged by the Los Angeles District Attorney with armed robbery (211PC) and Grand Theft (487PC). Bail was set at $125,000.  The suspect was found to be wanted for a robbery out of the state of Georgia.

The SMPD is asking anyone with details of the attempted robbery to contact Detective I. Tavera in the Criminal Investigations Division at 310-458-8451, or the Santa Monica Police Department’s Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8426.

By Trevor

Attempted Murder Suspect Nathanael Roger Lavoie Arrested

August 16, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department announced on August 10th that a suspect was arrested after attacking another man who was found injured near the Santa Monica Public Library, Ocean Park Branch on August 9th.

The SMPD reported at 8:09 a.m., officers responded to the scene after a call of service for a Check the Status. An employee at the library informed authorities they attempted to wake up an individual who was near the front doors who may have been homeless and was badly injured.

The name of the victim has not yet been disclosed, but police indicated the 41-year-old male suffered from blunt force trauma to his face and had a swollen forehead. He was transported to a local hospital by ambulance and is listed in critical condition but is expected to recover.

At approximately 12:35 p.m., detectives spotted a person of interest loitering in the front of the library. Upon making contact with the individual, he became uncooperative and displayed threatening behavior. Additional officers arrived and deployed a Taser after the subject attempted to assault uniformed officers.

The suspect has been identified as Nathanael Roger Lavoie, 40, who was arrested and booked for attempted murder, felony battery on a police officer, giving a false name to a police officer, and resisting arrest.

Canyon News spoke to Lt. Erika Aklufi with the SMPD via email who stated:

“I don’t have anything for you about motive as this is still under investigation.  Similarly, I cannot share if he has an outside criminal record.  I can tell you that we had no contact with him prior to this incident; I understand that he was from out of state and may have only come to the area recently.”

Anyone with details on the incident or with information about the suspect is asked to contact the SMPD Investigations Division during business hours at (310) 458-8451 or the Watch Commander 24-hours at (310) 458-8427.

By Trevor

Pavilions, CVS Clerks Cited For Selling Alcohol To Minor

August 16, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department revealed that detectives conducted a Minor Decoy Operation on August 9. During the operation, a minor who was supervised by department agents tried to buy alcohol from 6 retailers in Santa Monica. Clerks at PAVILIONS, located at 820 Lincoln Blvd., and CVS located at 500 Wilshire Blvd. were cited for selling alcohol to a minor.

As a result, individuals will face a minimum fine of $250, and/or 24 to 32 hours of community service for a first time violation. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Department (ABC) will take administrative action against the alcoholic beverage license of the business where alcohol was sold to a minor. This includes a fine, a suspension of the license, or the permanent revocation of the license.

According to a press release, ABC is conducting the compliance checks statewide to decrease the availability of alcohol to minors. Stats have details individuals under 21 have a higher rate of drunken driving fatalities than the general adult population.

“Minor Decoy operations hold accountable those who sell alcohol to minors,” said ABC Director Eric Hirata. “Keeping alcohol away from youth is a priority.”

Minor Decoy operations have been conducted by local law enforcement in California since the 1980s, where the violation rate of retail establishments selling to minors was as high as 40 to 50 percent. When conducted on a routine basis, the rate dropped in some cities as low as 10 percent or lower. In 1994, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that use of underage decoys is a valid tool of law enforcement to ensure that licensees are complying with the law.

Funding for the program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

ABC encourages licensees to sign up for ABC’s Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs (LEAD) training free of charge. Licensees and their employees can take the training course online or in-person during a classroom setting.

To learn more about ABC enforcement and prevention programs that help increase public safety visit: Enforcement programs and Prevention programs. ABC is a Department of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency.

By Trevor

Wolfgang Knabe Appointed Interim Fire Chief

August 15, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica announced on its website on Monday, August 14th, that Wolfgang Knabe will become the interim Fire Chief. Knabe’s appointment comes after the departure of current Fire Chief Danny Alvarez who will leave his position on August 31st. Knabe has over 43 years of fire department service. He recently retired as the Fullerton/Brea Fire Chief in 2018, after serving Fullerton beginning in 2005, and both cities since 2011 after they merged into one department.

He served as the Santa Monica interim Fire Chief from June 2021 through February 2022, before serving stints as the interim Fire Chief for Manhattan Beach from July 2020 through June 2021, and as the interim Deputy Fire Chief for the city of Beverly Hills from March 2022 through August 2022.

“Chief Knabe’s decades of leadership, knowledge about the Santa Monica Fire Department, and extensive relationships throughout the region will be invaluable during this transition,” said City Manager David White. “I’m grateful to have him return as the City’s interim Fire Chief to ensure our Fire Department has a strong leader while continuing to provide excellent service to our community.”

Knabe’s career started with the Los Angeles Fire Department in 1980 after a tour of duty with the U.S. Marine Corps. He served the LAFD for 22 years before becoming the Fire Chief for San Luis Obispo from 2002 through 2005.

Chief Knabe served as a Reserve Police Officer with the LAPD for 16 years, including 7 years assigned to the department’s SWAT Team.

“I’ve worked first-hand with the incredible women and men of the Santa Monica Fire Department and hope to continue the great work of Chief Alvarez,” Knabe said. “I am looking forward to ensuring that the needs of the department and the community are met as the City searches for a new fire chief.”

He will lead a team of 137 firefighters and staff and manage a budget of $54,447,926. Knabe’s first day on the job will be Friday, September 1st.

By Trevor

Three First Responders Die In Helicopter Collision

August 9, 2023 ·

CABAZON—On Sunday, August 6, firefighters were called out to extinguish a brush fire late in the afternoon. The fire was reportedly spreading quickly. Cal Fire responded to the call with two firetrucks and two helicopters. The larger of the two helicopters was a Sikorsky S-64E. It was reportedly used to douse water on the fires while the smaller Bell 407 was used to help the firefighters with logistics. The helicopter’s proximity was approximately 85 miles (137 kilometers) east of Los Angeles when they collided with one another midair.

In a press conference held early on Monday, August 7, Cal Fire Southern Region Chief David Fulcher, indicated that the Sikorsky aircraft landed safely. “Unfortunately, the second helicopter crashed and tragically all three members perished,” Chief Fulcher reported.

Cal Fire has identified the three first responders who lost their lives in the line of duty as Cal Fire Chief, Josh Bischof, 46, Cal Fire Captain, Tim Rodriguez, 44, and a private contracted fire department fire pilot, Tony Sousa, 55.

On Monday, August 7 at 1:09 p.m. on their Twitter page, Cal Fire gave tribute to three fallen responders.

“It is with great sadness that #CALFIRE shares the tragic loss of our employees who crashed in a midair collision yesterday evening while fighting the Broadway Fire in Riverside County. Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Assistant Chief Josh Bischof, Fire Captain Tim Rodriguez, and Exclusive Use Helicopter Pilot, Tony Sousa. #LODD.”

David Lam of California Today spoke with a 35-year fire service veteran, Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna, who shared that this area in Cabazon is no stranger to firefighter fatalities. In October 26, 2006, 5 firefighters lost their lives close to the same area.

By Sharon

Gunnar Zausniewski Sentenced 12 Years For Attempted Murder

August 7, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department announced in a press release on August 4, 2023, that Gunnar Zausniewski, 37, was sentenced to 12 years in state prison on July 28. Zausniewski was convicted of attempted murder, mayhem and assault with a deadly weapon on July 3rd for a crime committed on August 6, 2020.

The SMPD reported that at 9 a.m. on August 6, 2020, officers responded to a 911 call about a homeless individual brandishing a large knife at Reed Park.

Officers arrived and observed Zausniewski stab someone who was sleeping on the ground before running away. A short foot pursuit occurred, and the suspect was taken into custody. Zausniewski attacked another homeless individual, a 29-year-old, in his abdomen. The victim was taken to a local hospital and treated for injuries sustained, from which he recovered. The name of that victim has not been disclosed to the public.

The SMPD indicated that it was proud of the detectives in the Criminal Investigation Division that took the suspect off the streets.

By Trevor

Fire Chief Danny Alvarez Leaving SMFD Position

August 7, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Wednesday, August 2nd, Santa Monica City Manager David White announced the departure of Fire Chief Danny Alvarez. Alvarez has led the Santa Monica Fire Department since February 2022. His last day with the city will be August 31, 2023. He will transition to the Burbank Fire Department serving as the Fire Chief there.

“Our Fire Department has accomplished so many incredible things under Chief Alvarez’s leadership,” said White. “I will miss working with Chief Alvarez, but I’m happy his career has come full circle and he’s going back home to his Burbank fire family as their top leader.”

Santa Monica Fire Chief Danny Alvarez will be leaving the position on August 31, 2023.

“It has been a tremendous honor to serve as the Santa Monica Fire Chief and work alongside the dedicated staff of the Santa Monica Fire Department, who serve our community with the utmost professionalism and compassion,” said Chief Danny Alvarez. “Santa Monica is a beautiful city and a wonderful community. I am incredibly grateful for all the friendships and professional relationships I have developed with members of our community, City staff, and members of the Fire Department.”

Achievement accomplished by the SMFD during Chief’s Alvarez’s tenure include the following:

-Developed the Santa Monica Fire Department’s first strategic plan

-Received recertification for Class 1 rating with the Insurance Service Organization for outstanding fire protection; Class 1 is the highest rating that can be awarded to any fire department nationwide

-Established a formal Fire Department diversity, equity, and inclusion work group

-Initiated the NARCAN leave-behind program as part of the City’s continued efforts to reduce deaths associated with opioid overdoses

-Completed the construction of a new training facility

-Added grant-funded automated LUCAS CPR devices to all front-line apparatus; These devices increase blood flow to the brain by up to 60 percent compared to manual CPR.

By Trevor

Victim Stabbed Near Beach Restrooms

August 1, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—One individual was stabbed near beach restrooms located near the end of Bicknell Avenue on Monday, July 31.

Officers responded to a 911 call of an assault with a deadly weapon in the 2000 block of the beach at approximately 2:07 p.m., according to a statement by Santa Monica Police Department.

Upon arrival, the officers located the victim near the beach bathrooms “suffering from at least one stab wound to the chest.”

Officers administered first aid and CPR until the Santa Monica Fire Department transported the victim to an unknown local hospital.

The suspect has yet to be identified and was immediately taken into custody at the scene.

No additional details have been provided to the public.

By Paige Strickland

Judgement, Injunction Obtained In Tenant Harassment And Injunction Case

August 1, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica announced in a press release on Monday, July 31, a case brought by the City’s Tenant Harassment Ordinance, COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium, and Home-Sharing Ordinance by the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael E. Whitaker signed a stipulated judgment and injunction against the Defendant-landlord SoCal Investment Company, LLC.

In City v. Youseph Golshirazian et al, Case No. 21SMCV00201, the city of Santa Monica alleged that, SoCal Investment Company, LLC engaged in a campaign to empty out a 30-unit residential building of long-term rent-controlled tenants. Allegations included fraud, intimidation, bad faith baseless evictions during a pandemic surge and in violation of the COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium, failure to provide mandatory disclosures in making buyout offers, and renting units as unlawful vacation rentals after attempting to evict long-term tenants.

The defendants filed eviction cases against five tenants homes in November 2020, during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the city’s  Eviction Moratorium was in effect. The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles represented the tenants in defending the evictions and the cases were dismissed by defendants.

As a part of the settlement with the city of Santa Monica, Defendants Hanokh Golshirazian, Youseph Golshirazian, and SoCal Investment Company, LLC:

-Posted and mailed notices of tenants’ rights to all tenants in properties they own or manage in Santa Monica;

-Attended City-approved landlord-tenant training;

-Paid $125,000 to the City, to be used to support housing protection work within the City; and,

-Agreed to comply with tenant protection and vacation rental laws and to be subject to a minimum penalty of $10,000 for each violation proven in court for four years.

With this stipulated judgment terms indicate the owners must comply with Santa Monica’s tenant protection laws, including the Tenant Harassment Ordinance, the requirement to report attempted evictions, the vacation rental law, and the eviction moratorium.

“The City has passed some of the strongest tenant protection laws in the state,” said City Attorney Doug Sloan. “We made extraordinary efforts to protect tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic and have continued to focus on tenant protection since. Cases like this one show our willingness to enforce these laws to protect the community.” A separate and related case brought by the victim tenants, represented by the law firm Elder & Spencer, LLP, was also resolved.

By Trevor

SMPD To Conduct Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Operation

July 31, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department will conduct a Bike & Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation on August 3 and August 4 between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Officers will be “patrolling areas where bike and pedestrian traffic and collisions occur in an effort to lower deaths and injuries,” according to a notice by the SMPD. 

The SMPD will be leading “extra enforcement efforts” during the Safety Enforcement Operation, looking for traffic violations committed by drivers, bike riders and pedestrians that can lead to “life changing injuries.” 

These violations include “speeding, making illegal turns, failing to yield or provide a right of way to bicyclists or pedestrians, or failing to stop for signs and signals.”

The SMPD advises that pedestrians use crosswalks when available, avoid running in the path of vehicles, and remain visible by wearing light colors or reflective material and carrying a flashlight during dawn or dusk hours.

Drivers are advised to follow the speed limit, slow down at intersections, and be prepared to stop for pedestrians at marked and unmarked crosswalks. Additionally, the Police Department reminds drivers to avoid blocking crosswalks while waiting to make a right-hand turn and refrain from driving impaired. 

Bicyclists are reminded by police to obey traffic laws by using bike lanes where available, hand signals, lights at night (including a white light and rear red reflector), and a helmet. Bicyclists are also advised to be cautious of proximity to parked cars and to yield to right-of-way pedestrians on marked and unmarked crosswalks.

By Paige Strickland

City Council Unanimously Approves Private Security Downtown

July 28, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—City Council unanimously voted 7-0 to approve a pilot program that will deploy a private security company to patrol downtown Santa Monica at a regular meeting on Tuesday, July 25.

The 12-month pilot program, currently set to cost $1.7 million, would employ Covered 6, a private security company based in Southern California. 

Several residents, business owners, and employers of Santa Monica have taken to city council meetings to voice the impact local crime, in combination with the ongoing issue of homelessness, has had on the city’s tourism industry.

“Santa Monica is perceived as unsafe, unclean, and unsuitable for travelers. Addressing this perception is vital as it impacts not only the Fairmont but also all other businesses in the city,” said Sam Jagger, the General Manager of Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica.

“This is the same for our employees. They don’t feel safe going home at night. They don’t feel safe coming in in the morning,” he said.

The Covered 6 security guards will operate on three shifts; morning, afternoon, and night. Their main duties, according to Covered 6 Chief Officer Michael Grant, will involve assisting residents and tourists with directions or recommendations, aiding homeless individuals in finding resources, and de-escalating situations where there is an “imminent threat” until police can arrive.

“This resource is not designed to replace or undermine or in any way determine how we deploy our police department,” clarified City Manager David White.

Chief Grant said the security officers will make contact with homeless individuals, attempt to offer them available resources and follow up with their progress to report back to Downtown Santa Monica Inc.

Much of the questions from council members concerned the fact that one supervising security guard on each shift will be armed with a 9mm Glock. Other security guards on shift will not be armed.

“I’m not comfortable with any private security forces being armed,” said Councilmember Jesse Zwick. “I don’t understand what instance we would ever want private citizens firing weapons on the Third Street Promenade. The use of deadly force, even by our police officers who are highly trained, is a remarkably delicate issue.”

Chief Grant said that a core part of Covered 6 security guard training is being “very reluctant to use force.” 

“They’re very reluctant to use any force at all. In fact, if we see the situation is getting out of hand, of course then we would call law enforcement to standby but we don’t want to become a burden to law enforcement as well,” he said.

According to Grant, each supervising security guard who possesses a gun will have served a California State Police Agency, be licensed through the Bureau of Investigative Services, and receive additional training from Covered 6.

Councilmember Zwick attempted multiple times to add an amendment to the proposal that would prevent the supervising security guard from carrying a gun. There were no seconds on these proposed amendments.

By Paige Strickland

Geologist And Engineers Attempt To Remove Crumbling Bluffs

July 26, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Tuesday, July 25, at approximately 10:30 p.m., work crews began work on the Santa Monica Bluffs that have recently began to show visible wear. For two weeks citizens in the Santa Monica area have contacted authorities with video footage and photos with what appears to be a split in the middle of the bluffs just over the Pacific Coast Highway. Residents have voiced their concerns that the bluffs may indeed fall and crumble onto Pacific Coast Highway.

Santa Monica city officials reported in, The Union Bulletin, that, “The huge fissure running down the bluffs above the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica is hard to miss and was likely caused by heavy rains that soaked southern California earlier this year.”

Geologist and city engineers have rushed to the bluffs to find the safest way to remove the bluffs in the area they are threatening to fall. Specialist will begin to remove the piece that appears to be ready to crumble for the safety and well-being of those traveling on the PCH.

By Sharon

City Announces Freeway Closures To Stabilize Bluffs

July 24, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The City has announced multiple overnight road closures to proactively remove an unstable portion of the Santa Monica Bluffs above Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) between the California Incline and Moomat Ahiko Way. 

A Large crack in the Santa Monica Bluffs over PCH will be removed for the safety of the public, causing road closures. Photo provided by the City of Santa Monica.

Starting at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 25, the emergency removal will prompt the closure of the Moomat Ahiko Way on-ramp from Ocean Avenue to PCH. At approximately 2 a.m. on the morning of Wednesday, June 26, the westbound I-10 at Lincoln Boulevard through northbound Pacific Coast Highway to the California Incline will close.

Map of street closures provided by the City of Santa Monica.

All roads will reopen by 12 p.m. on Wednesday, June 26.

According to the City, “crews will use a large crane with clamshell attachment to remove the top portion of the unstable bluff and slowly break it apart for hauling off-site.”

The Lincoln Boulevard off-ramp to eastbound I-10 will remain open, in addition to the California Incline, the southbound PCH, and the eastbound I-10. Traffic from I-10 Freeway needing to access Pacific Coast Highway will be detoured at the Lincoln Boulevard off-ramp and rerouted using the following streets:

  • Wilshire Blvd./Santa Monica Blvd.
  • Ocean Avenue
  • California Incline

By Paige Strickland

Bacteria Warnings At Santa Monica And Malibu Beaches

July 20, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Los Angeles County Public Health Department continued to warn beachgoers this week after the department released a bacteria alert for Santa Monica, Malibu, and Marina Del Rey beaches on Monday, July 17.

Officials cautioned individuals planning to visit Los Angeles County beaches to avoid swimming, surfing, and playing in ocean waters at the following locations:

-Topanga Canyon Beach in Malibu, 100 yards up and down the coast from the creek.

-Malibu Lagoon at Surfrider Beach, 100 yards up and down the coast from the public restrooms.

-Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, 100 yards up and down the coast from the pier.

-Mothers Beach in Marina Del Rey, the entire swim area.

“These warnings have been issued due to bacterial levels exceeding health standards when last tested,” the Los Angeles County Public Health Department said in the alert.

To view the map of beach up-to-date water quality and for more information, visit PublicHealth.LACounty.gov/Beach/.

By Paige Strickland

Randolph Sherman Dies In Santa Fe Plane Crash

July 19, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The identity of the pilot killed in a red and white Twin-engine Cessna T310R that was scheduled to land in Santa Monica and crashed in Santa Fe, New Mexico has been released on Wednesday, July 19.

Randolph Sherman, 72, was the pilot of the aircraft that crashed into a residence near El Sol Court and the I-25 frontage road in Santa Fe. Sherman was a renowned plastic surgeon and professor at the University of Southern California. He was headed to his home in Santa Monica according to flight data and owned the aircraft.

Angel Flight West which is an organization that provides free flights to people in need of medical services wrote on Facebook shortly after Sherman was pronounced dead.

“Angel Flight West is honored to carry on Dr. Sherman’s legacy of aviation and health care, bridging the gap between home and health for the patients and families who need us,” the organization’s statement read.

Sherman left the Santa Fe Regional Airport at approximately 9:03 a.m. By 9:05 a.m. he called to report “left engine failure.” Police state that they do not believe anyone else was on board at the time of the crash.

Air Traffic Control revealed details of the pilot’s final moments before the accident occurred:

Sherman: “5-1-Charilie’s got an engine failure.”

Tower: “Say again.”

Sherman: “5-1-Charlie’s got an engine failure.”

Tower: “5-1-Charlie, Roger. You can make a left turn to runway 33.”

Sherman: “Roger, 5-1-Charlie.”

Tower: “5-1-Charlie, you’re clear to land on any runway you want. Winds are calm.”

Sherman: “5-1-Charlie, let me get some altitude.”

Tower: “5-1-Charlie, that would be one engine?”

Sherman: “One engine.”

Tower: “Roger.”

Tower: “5-1-Charlie, Runway 33 is just off your left side, that might be the closest one for you. 2 is a little bit further to the north, but your choice.”

Tower: “Crash Rescue 1. Appears the aircraft is down, but well off the field – about two miles off the approach end. I can’t tell exactly where it is, but there is a large plume of smoke.”

Moments after he made his report, he crashed into the home which caused a fire. Within 10 minutes fire officials arrived on the scene to contain the flames. Hot spots did remain after the flames were contained. There was no one in the building at the time of the accident.

Investigators are still gathering information to see if there is a homeowner for the residence.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are conducting an investigation into the accident.

By Christianne

Barnes & Noble Returns To 3rd Street Promenade

July 17, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Barnes & Noble, a nationwide bookselling company, is returning to the 3rd Street Promenade at a new location, according to the City of Santa Monica.

A once-vacant space in the 1300 block of the 3rd Street Promenade began teasing a new bookstore earlier this month. Papers hung in the windows which had book-related puns like “New store coming soon… It’s a real page-turner!”  and “Coming soon… Better late than novel!”

Suspicion of the company’s return to the Promenade began swirling on social media. Suspicions were confirmed when a large banner reading “Barnes & Noble Coming Soon” covered the storefront on July 13.

The space that will soon become the new Barnes & Noble once housed the Midnight Special Bookstore, which sold books to the community for 32 years. Owned by Margie Ghiz, the store was described by Downtown Santa Monica on Facebook as “an iconic Westside bookstore that closed in 2004, and hosted authors including bell hooks, Octavia Butler, Edward Said, Dave Eggers, and more!” 

Midnight Special Bookstore closed its doors in 2004 due to the loss of a reduced rental agreement with the space’s landlord, according to reporting by the New York Times.

A Barnes & Noble store previously occupied a 30,000-square-foot corner space at the cross streets of 3rd Street and Wilshire Boulevard for 22 years. In 2018, the location was permanently closed.

By Paige Strickland

Councilmember Assaulted With Bottle At Promenade

July 17, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—One of Santa Monica’s City Council members was assaulted by a man on Third Street Promenade on Sunday, July 16, around 3 p.m.

Phil Brock and his wife Cathy were walking around the Promenade when the couple observed a man who was tearing down signs posted on an empty storefront located on the 1300 block of the Promenade. The signs were advocating for the removal of needles from parks and the Promenade.

Brock asked the man to throw the remnants of the signs in the trash instead of leaving it across the promenade and identified himself as a Councilmember. This is when the assailant began throwing trash at the Councilmember and his wife.

The suspect was screaming and began using what was reported to be offensive language.

Brock began picking up the pieces of the sign when the suspect grabbed a half-filled bottle from the trash and threw it’s remaining liquid on both the Councilmember and his wife. He then threw the bottle at Brock and left the scene.

The couple made a police report after the assailant left the scene and waited there for them to arrive. As they were waiting the suspect turned around and attacked Brock by pushing him multiple times and trying to grab his hat. The pair struggled and a physical altercation ensued. The suspect got away with the Councilmember’s hat and left the scene.

Brock has suffered two swollen fingers as a result of the altercation.

When police arrived, they located the suspect and made an arrest. He was booked for simple battery and grand theft. The assailant was cited and released.

Brock filed a police report and signed a citizen’s arrest form.

According to Lt. Erika Aklufi the suspect refused to give the police department any address information and appeared to be homeless.

By Christianne

City Tests The Use Of AI To Detect Parking Violations

July 17, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Santa Monica is the latest city to test the use of artificial intelligence camera technology to enforce parking laws. The city’s latest innovation is allowing buses themselves to write tickets instantly for parked cars in the way of bus lanes.

Santa Monica’s Big Blue Buses has worked with Hayden AI on a 45-day pilot program that utilized cameras to detect and identify vehicles that were parked illegally. During the pilot program, the AI system identified more than 500 potential violations.

While buses are on their routes, these cameras capture license plates of cars that are illegally parked or stopped in a designated bus lane.

The cameras are installed on the windshield that capture anything occurring ahead in the bus lane. Information the cameras capture is sent to a computer box inside the bus which allows AI to assess what’s happening in the photos. The cameras are accurate within 10 centimeters, and they can determine if a car is moving or stopped. The system can flag cars that make violations can issues tickets in real time.

In 2022, the bus system provided 7.7. million trips but many were delayed due to cars parked improperly or cars stopped in bus lanes.

There are a growing number of cities who are exploring the use of AI cameras to find parking violations and issue tickets immediately to the offender. Buses in New York City are already equipped with these AI cameras. Officials plan on installing them in Washington DC soon.

Santa Monica hasn’t determined if they will officially implement the technology.

By Christianne

Big Blue Buses To See Upgrades Throughout 2023

July 17, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The City of Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus is upgrading communications and GPS technology to provide “more reliable and efficient” rides, according to an announcement by the bus service made on July 12.

By 2024, a new communication system on all Big Blue Buses will allow dispatchers to track buses and communicate with operators through voice and text messages should any disruptions occur en route. 

GPS location data on Big Blue Buses will also be updated to reflect more accurate bus arrival times on electronic bus stop signs and in apps like Transit and Google Maps. GPS location data updates every 45 seconds with the current technology, but with the upgrades it will update every 10 seconds. 

Monitors on Big Blue Buses will also reflect more accurate information regarding upcoming stops and arrival times as well as destination, detours, and weather information. 

In the meantime, riders can expect incorrect or missing display information on buses and signage while the upgrades continue to roll out.

On July 13, a pilot of the new upgrades was employed through a small fleet of buses equipped with the new communications system as part of a four-week testing period. These buses will provide service on Routes 3, 7, 8, 9 & 41, and Rapids 7 & 12.

According to Big Blue Bus, while testing is being conducted, riders may experience:

  • onboard audio announcements that are mistimed or include incorrect and/or mispronounced bus stops and destinations 
  • Incorrect route or destination information displayed on electronic bus signs
  • Missing or inaccurate real-time bus arrival predictions for select stops 

Questions or comments about the communications system upgrade can be directed to the City of Santa Monica at  santamonica.gov/311

By Paige Strickland

Man Found Dead On Santa Monica Sidewalk

July 17, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—A 40 year old man was found dead along a sidewalk on the 1300 block of Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica on Sunday, July 16, around 6:30 a.m.

Police were summoned to the scene after the Santa Monica Fire department contacted SMPD for assistance with a dead body on 14th and Wilshire. Police discovered the body lying on the curb.

The cause of his death is currently unknown, and his identity is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Houman David Hemmati made a post on Twitter shortly after the discovery. “A sad addition to @BillMelugin’s reporting from @santamonicacity last week. This morning, a dead homeless man on the sidewalk in what should be a bustling seaside community. Tragic because so preventable. Daily occurrence. The same people who shut everything down & spent $$$$ giving homeless hotel rooms to protect from COVID hand out free needles & enable many to die each day.”

“How many more must die before we move everyone who needs help, not needles, into shelters with mandatory rehab & mental health care? Stop using homeless as photo ops and actually do something. Actions speak far louder than words,” Hemmati concluded.

In an email to Canyon News Lieutenant Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police department wrote that the victim did not appear to be homeless and has a Los Angeles address.

By Christianne

SMPD Apologizes For Playing Classical Music At Intersection

July 14, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department has issued an apology after initiating a program meant to deter crime in the neighborhood. SMPD stated that the system would play classical music at traffic lights as a part of a broader city-wide initiative. The new system was installed on Thursday, July 6 near the intersection of Ocean Avenue and Broadway.

Residents complained that the music was too loud and made it difficult to sleep.

“The cameras were installed on Thursday and the volume was set at an acceptable level and unfortunately the software glitched on Tuesday and reset the volume to the highest level possible,” the department explained. “We truly do apologize to all those impacted.”

According to the SMPD, the system was designed to prevent trespassers in the neighborhood protecting the community and enhancing public safety.

Some residents took to social media and expressed their opinion on the new initiative.

“I think it’s a fine idea as long as cameras playing classical music are not a replacement for officers on duty,” wrote Suzie Mannara.

Donn Umber wrote, “Maybe intersperse the classical music with an occasional play of Hawaii Five O’s theme song.”

“Hearing about this today from various friends disturbed me to my core. I can’t describe to you how the lack of consideration for the mental health of residents made me feel,” said Helen Zielinski Landon.

The music has since been turned off and the department welcomes any suggestions and feedback for alternative solutions.

By Christianne

Woman Barricaded in Motel Surrenders After Several-Hour Standoff

July 13, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—A woman who barricaded herself inside a motel room on Lincoln Boulevard was taken into custody on Sunday, July 9, after a several-hour-long standoff with police.

Santa Monica Police Department initially released an alert via Twitter at approximately 1 p.m. on Sunday asking the public to stay away from the area of the American Motel, located at 1243 Lincoln Blvd.

“The SMPD dealing with a person barricaded inside a motel room near the 1200 block of Lincoln,” Santa Monica Police said in a statement on Twitter. 

“For the safety of the officers and firefighters securing the scene, please stay out of the area. We are working to peacefully resolve the incident as swiftly as possible.”

Guests were evacuated from the motel as authorities attempted to make contact with the suspect, communicating through a loudspeaker.

At approximately 5 p.m., Santa Monica Police released an update stating that the “individual was taken into custody without incident.”

According to reporting by the Santa Monica Daily Press, the suspect will “undergo a mental health evaluation.” 

By Paige Strickland

Local Agencies Intervene During Possible Suicide Attempt

July 11, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Traffic traveling both ways along the California Incline was halted on July 6 as law enforcement attempted to make “contact with a distraught individual,” according to a statement by the Santa Monica Police Department.  

“At approximately 09:30 Wednesday morning, Santa Monica Fire Department was dispatched to the 900 block of Palisades Park to assist Santa Monica Police with an adult male along the edge of the bluff threatening to jump,” Fire Captain Patrick Nulty told the Santa Monica Mirror.

Areas of Palisades Park were roped off as both agencies attempted to retrieve the man.

After four hours of communicating with him, police and firefighters were able to approach him and lift him over the concrete barrier to safety. 

“The individual in crisis has been transported to a local hospital for evaluation,” said Santa Monica Police in a statement. Streets were reopened just after 1 p.m.

Santa Monica Police remind the public of the resources available to the public. If you or someone you know is thinking about harming themselves please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

By Paige Strickland

Nutrition And Health Care Access Begins At Virginia Avenue Park

July 10, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica announced on its website that it is partnering with Providence St. John to provide the public with complimentary help with nutrition and health care access at Virginia Avenue Park every Tuesday starting July 11.

As part of Providence St. John’s Community Health Program, trained community health workers will be available to meet in person with community members at the Park Center Building at Virginia Avenue Park on the first Tuesday of the month from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the second, third, and fourth Tuesdays of the month from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The trained Providence St. John’s staff will assist with enrollment in CalFresh, the State of California’s food subsidy program developed to expand nutrition through access to healthy foods. Staff will help community members navigate enrollment and questions for MediCal and Medicare.

Anyone with questions about whether they qualify for benefits or need help completing enrollment forms can make an appointment by calling (310) 458-8688. Drop-ins are welcome.

By Casey

74-Year-Old Carlos Zertuche Missing In Santa Monica

July 9, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department are seeking the public’s help in locating an at-risk man who was last seen in Santa Monica on Wednesday, July 5. 

Carlos Zertuche, 74, was last seen at approximately 6:30 p.m. on the cross streets of Santa Monica Boulevard and 21st Street, according to authorities. On behalf of the Santa Monica Police Department, the California Highway Patrol released a silver alert in Los Angeles, Orange, and Ventura counties, though Zertuche is believed to be on foot.

He was wearing a dark shirt and black pants. He is 5 feet and 9 inches tall, weighs approximately 180 pounds, and has black hair and brown eyes. 

Police caution that Zertuche may “may display aggressive behavior,” and caution the public when approaching him.

Anyone who sees Zertuche or has information about his whereabouts is asked to call 911. An anonymous tip can be made by calling 800-222-8477 or visiting lacrimestoppers.org.

By Paige Strickland

Hotel Worker’s Strike Comes To An End

July 7, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Wednesday, July 5, thousands of employees of the hotel industry in southern California including Santa Monica returned to work following a strike that extended into the Fourth of July holiday. 

The Unite Here Local 11 labor union represents over 32,000 workers in hotels, restaurants, airports, sports arenas, and convention centers across southern California and Arizona.

The union initially requested immediate pay raises of $5.00 an hour for employees currently earning $20.00-$25.00 per hour with $3.00 annual raises to follow in subsequent years of the employee-employer contract.

The Hotels’ bargaining group made a counter offer of an increased hourly wage of $2.50 the first year and $6.25 over the next four years guaranteed with continued pension and healthcare benefits.

Large crowds of people were photographed holding signs and sitting down outside area hotels in what appeared to be peaceful protests. Hotel workers indicated that they were requesting an increase in pay to be able to afford the rising cost of housing.

Canyon News reached out to Maria Hernandez, the media contact for, The Unite Here Local 11 labor union for a statement. 

“On the eve of the Fourth of July, while hotel CEOs were toasting record profits at their vacation homes in the Hamptons, in a show of incomparable strength, thousands of cooks, room attendants, dishwashers, servers, bellmen, and front desk agents walked out in the largest hotel strike in Southern California history. The mass walkout marks just the first wave of strikes and disruption by hotel workers across the region. Workers will not rest until they are paid a wage that allows them to live in the communities where they work. We know the industry can do this – last week, Los Angeles’ biggest hotel, the Westin Bonaventure, agreed to the wages workers need. Now it is time for the other corporations to follow suit. We are grateful for the extraordinary solidarity we have received. This is just the beginning.”

Joy Johnson, who has worked as a housekeeper for the Courtyard Marriott in Downtown L.A. for five years made the following statement:

“We went on strike to show these companies what we were willing to do to win a fair contract. As I get ready to return to work, I am proud to be part of the first wave of strikes, leading the way for the rest of our union to follow.”

Arturo Hueso, a houseman of 30 years at the Fairmont Miramar – Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica said, “Because of my cancer, I have no choice but to fight to keep my healthcare. I am prepared to fight on the picket line, inside the hotel – whatever it takes. This is a fight for my life.”

Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11, says, “This walkout was the first of many actions that may come this summer by workers at hotels across Southern California, and it is only one tool in our toolbox. We have put the industry on notice that the workers have suffered enough.”

By Sharon

Balanced Budget for FY 2023 – 2025 Approved By City Council

July 3, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On June 27, the Santa Monica City Council unanimously adopted a balanced biennial budget for Fiscal Years 2023-2025. The budget reflects the most substantial restoration of services since 2020, and builds on the work done in recent years to help respond to and recover from the COVID-19 emergency as well as make strategic investments to advance priority areas the city council identified at its workshop on March 11, 2023, which include Addressing Homelessness; Clean and Safe Santa Monica; Cultivate Economic Recovery and Expand Community and Cultural Offerings; Racial Justice, Equity, and Social Diversity; and Sustainable and Connected Community.

“As we continue to recover from the pandemic, the approval of the Biennial Budget adds to the City’s momentum and focuses our next two years,” says Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis. “I’m looking forward to the expansion of our beloved programs and ask for the community’s support as enhancements become implemented to address what’s most important to our residents.”

The city reported in a press release that the overall FY 2023-25 Proposed Biennial Budget is approximately $745.0 million in FY 2023-24 and $750.6 million in FY 2024-25, net of reimbursements and transfers. That is a difference of $4.2 million and $4.1 million, respectively, from what was presented at the Budget Study Session in May 2023.

The final budget reflects the Santa Monica City Council priorities and direction and utilizes new revenues from Measure CS adopted by voters in November 2022, including:

-Allocating resources to several public safety initiatives such as adding six police officers and one police sergeant to expand the Homeless Liaison Program team to enable the program to operate seven days per week and augment patrol operations; investing in technology to enhance community safety; enhanced patrol and security services at the Pier, Beach, and Downtown; implementing a transit safety officer program for Big Blue Bus (BBB) to enhance customer and Motor Coach Operator safety on BBB’s 19 routes and 980 stops in the City and the Westside, and further staff restorations to the Santa Monica Animal Shelter.

-Expanded efforts to address homelessness such as the addition of another multidisciplinary outreach team to work east of Lincoln Blvd., in areas outside of the current focus areas Downtown and the Beach; development of a Homelessness Strategic Plan that sets clear policy direction, promotes alignment across City stakeholders, supports regional efforts, and improves focus on measurable objectives and reporting; expansion of SAMOSHEL hours to allow for 24/7 intakes; allocating funds to support eviction prevention; a new 3-1-1 outreach response in partnership with the Salvation Army to respond to requests in the field; and the addition of a dedicated Santa Monica Fire Department case manager.

-Expanded Public Works teams for maintaining clean public spaces such as increasing alley clearing frequencies; enhancing illegal dumping and bulky item pickup services; and enhancing tree pruning in high-traffic areas.

-Organizational realignment to create the Housing and Human Services Department and the Recreation and Arts Department to carry forward the Community Services Department’s work to be responsive to the social and economic challenges residents are facing, the need for community healing and recovery, and to provide services and programs that enrich lives and help people thrive.

-Grants to support the behavioral health needs of vulnerable residents.

-Further restoration of youth programs by enhancing staffing to enable CREST afterschool programs to fully operate at elementary schools and enroll additional participants; ongoing staffing of the Police Activities League and Virginia Avenue Park youth programs that serve the most vulnerable populations in the community, building participation by 480 to 500 youth for a projected total participation of over 2,200 youth served; and supporting SMMUSD’s continued operation of the Playground Club program.

-Further restoration of Santa Monica Public Library’s programs and hours to include the Main Library extending hours to include Saturdays, extending evening hours at all open locations (Monday through Thursday) to 8 p.m., and opening the Main Library one hour earlier (Monday through Thursday) at 10 a.m.

-The continuation of the Art of Recovery program which funds inclusive and diverse cultural activities that support mental well-being, build and connect community, and spur economic recovery.

-Funds to continue essential road maintenance and rehabilitation projects.

-Support for monthly meetings for the Landmarks Commission.

-A new small businesses assistance program.

-Establishing a Citywide ADA Coordinator.

-Restoration of City Traffic Engineer position to advance mobility projects and develop a multi-year traffic signal preventative maintenance program.

-Continuing work on action plans to support zero waste, sustainable water, and electrification of the City’s fleet.

The Adopted Biennial Budget will be posted to finance.smgov.net/budgets-reports/annual for individuals to view.

By Donald

LA Public Health Ocean Water Warnings Continue

June 28, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Ocean water use warnings issued by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health continue to impact beaches this week, including areas near the Santa Monica Pier. They listed six beach areas where bacterial levels in the water exceeded health standards on Monday, June 26. 

Officials caution members of the public to avoid swimming, surfing, and playing in ocean waters of the following beach regions in LA County:

  • Topanga Canyon Beach in Malibu. 100 yards up and down the coast from the lagoon.
  • Inner Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro. The entire swim area.
  • Malibu Lagoon at Surfrider Beach. 100 yards up and down the coast from the public restrooms.
  • Mothers Beach in Marina Del Rey. The entire swim area.
  • Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica. 100 yards up and down the coast from the pier.
  • Las Flores Creek at Las Flores State Beach. 100 yards up and down the coast from the creek.

The Department of Public Health recommends beachgoers check the department’s Beach Water Quality website before visiting a beach to see if there are any beach water quality warnings in effect.

Routine water quality testing is conducted throughout the week, and each location must meet state health standards before the warning can be lifted. 

“Rain flushes contaminants and pollution from city streets into storm drains, creeks, and rivers. Contaminants such as trash, fertilizer, and pet waste may increase the levels of harmful microorganisms called “pathogenic bacteria” in the ocean to potentially unsafe levels,” LA County Department of Health told Canyon News. 

“The pathogenic bacteria can be present at or near the site where contaminants enter the water.”

Swimming in water contaminated by pathogenic bacteria can cause illness and skin infections. People most likely to develop illnesses or infections are children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. 

Gastroenteritis is the most common illness contracted from pathogenic bacteria in the ocean, which typically enters a person’s system through bacteria-contaminated water swallowed while swimming, according to the Department of Public Health. The symptoms of gastroenteritis include nausea, vomiting, stomachache, diarrhea, headache, or fever. 

Other common illnesses from bacteria-contaminated water include ear, eye, nose, and throat or skin infections. In highly polluted water, swimmers may occasionally be exposed to more serious diseases.

“Fortunately, while swimming-related illnesses are unpleasant, they are usually not very serious,” said LA County Public Health. “They typically require little or no treatment or get better quickly upon treatment and are not expected to have any long-term health effects.”

By Paige Strickland

Armed Robbery Suspects Arrested By SMPD

June 28, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department arrested two people in connection to an armed robbery that occurred on June 15. The SMPD reported on its Facebook page that they received a 911 call after 1 a.m. of an armed robbery that just occurred near the 1200 block of 3rd Street.

Two suspects, a male and female, threatened the victim at gunpoint and stole his wristwatch and cash. The male suspect had a revolver style pellet gun in his waistband. The female was carrying a bag with a black bandana that she used to cover her face during the incident.

Both suspects were located nearby and placed under arrest by officers. They remain in police custody pending a court appearance. Bail was set at $50,000 each for both suspects. Their names have not yet been disclosed to the public.

METRO Announces Heightened Security

June 27, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On June 22, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) voted to initiate their plan to heighten security by hiring a security force to patrol the areas in and around Metro’s bus and rail operations, including downtown Santa Monica, and Santa Monica’s Metro line.  On June 27, Metro, announced their plans to the public in a press release.

On May 27, METRO’s Board of Directors approved the hiring of 48 new Transit Security officers. 

“The Board’s actions advance the implementation of the agency’s public safety plan, which calls for layered, human-centered approach that makes the system be and feel more safe,” states the Metro website.

“All of these initiatives build upon work we have been doing over the last year to put our public safety plan into action. This plan utilizes proactive response, strategic enforcement, and equitable rule compliance, and is key to maintaining public safety for our customers. We know we have a lot of work to do, but we are clearly making progress in the right direction,” said Stephanie Wiggins, CEO of Metro.

METRO noted that there is a new Code of Conduct posted on all bus and rails dictating expected behavior of the bus and rail passengers.

In an ongoing effort to enhance security and safety, the Santa Monica Police Department  held a motorcycle safety initiative with extra police officers on patrol June 1 and June 2 as well. In addition, on June 30, the SMPD will hold a DUI/Driver’s license checkpoint from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. at undisclosed locations.

Canyon News reached out to SMPD for comment, but did not hear back in time for print.

The need for more security comes after an influx of crime on or around the Metro line including assaults on riders, and pedestrians waiting for their trains getting pushed onto the rails which has raised safety concerns for authorities to take action.

Two teenagers were arrested in Santa Monica on May 1, for the April 19, assault of a Metro line passenger.  On April 12, a man was beaten and stabbed to death aboard the Metro line in Long Beach.  

By Sharon

24-Hour Emergency Pet Hospital Opens In Santa Monica

June 26, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Veterinary Emergency Group, a 24-hour pet hospital, opened its first Los Angeles location in Santa Monica on Wednesday, June 21.

The pet hospital, also called VEG, has 49 locations open in 19 states, including two other California locations in Encinitas and San Ramon. The founder and CEO, Dr. David Bessler, has been an emergency veterinarian since 2003. 

According to VEG, the Santa Monica location at 2700 Wilshire Boulevard is fully equipped to take on emergency medical care for all pets including birds and exotic animals. 24/7 treatments include care for broken bones, heat stroke, seizures, trouble breathing, and more. Specialists for x-rays, surgeries, ultrasounds, and end-of-life care are on the medical staff roster. 

VEG partners with the non-profit Veterinary Care Foundation to provide a service called VEG Cares, which, according to the pet hospital, covers the costs of life-saving procedures for pet owners that cannot afford them. Funding for VEG Cares comes from donations made by local fundraisers, families, and partners. 

Dr. Samantha Tedesco of the Clifton, New Jersey location recalled a time when VEG Care helped a dog owner in a testimonial on VEG’s website.

“French bulldogs have a difficult time with natural birth, so after an ultrasound revealed Maya’s puppies were in distress, a C-section was discussed with the owners,” Tedesco said.

“The owners were able to come up with half the cost of surgery and thankfully VEG Cares stepped in to help cover the rest. Without VEG Cares, both Maya and her puppies would not have survived.”

Since the pet hospital only handles emergency care, appointments are not available. VEG urges pet owners to call the hospital for pet medical inquiries or bring the pet in for immediate help.

By Paige Strickland

SMPD Will Conduct DUI Checkpoint June 30

June 24, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) announced they will be conducting a DUI checkpoint on Friday, June 30 from 6 pm to 3 am at an undisclosed location within city limits. 

DUI checkpoint locations are selected based on data that shows where impaired driving-related crashes are likely to happen. 

According to SMPD, the purpose of these checkpoints are to “promote public safety by taking suspected impaired drivers off the road,” and to deter drivers from making the decision to drive impaired. 

Driving under the influence includes not only the use of alcohol and illegal drugs, but also impairment caused by prescription medications that may interfere with a person’s ability to drive. While medicinal and recreational marijuana use is legal in California, driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal. 

Drivers charged with a first-time DUI face an average of $13,500 in fines and penalties, as well as a suspended license.

By Paige Strickland

Jordan Thomas Franzino Arrested For Bank Robbery

June 21, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department indicated in an email to Canyon News that a suspect has been arrested for attempting to rob a bank on Tuesday, June 20.

The SMPD reported at about 9:30 am, a lone suspect walked into the Wells Fargo Bank in Santa Monica located at 120 Broadway and used a demand note to rob the bank of approximately $1,100.

The suspect fled the area on a bicycle, and details of the suspect and direction of travel were given to police officers. He was found a short time later in the 2000 block of Ocean Front Walk.

The suspect, who was still in possession of the stolen money, was positively identified by witnesses and arrested for robbery. Jordan Thomas Franzino, 29, who is from out of the state was taken into custody. The SMPD reported the suspect was currently experiencing homelessness.

No additional details about the incident have been disclosed to the public.

By Donald

Pier Bridge Replacement Progresses With Council Approval

June 19, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica City Council’s approved an environmental impact report at a regular meeting on June 13 that will allow the Pier Bridge replacement project to continue.

According to Omeed Pour, a civil engineer and project manager for the city of Santa Monica, the Pier Bridge is an “important asset” for pedestrians to access the Santa Monica Pier. 

“The bridge attracts something around 10 million people every year to our pier, and 95% of them, so 9.5 million people, use the Pier Bridge to get down to the Pier,” said Pour.

In an environmental report, Pour detailed the viable design options to replace the 84-year-old Pier Bridge, which shows signs of wear.

The bridge’s structure is inspected annually by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works to ensure safety. In a recent inspection conducted on March 14, 2022, the bridge was rated at 8.2 out of 100 in terms of seismic sufficiency. The deck and the superstructure have also been rated poorly. 

Images in the environmental report showed visible cracking cement under the bridge. According to Pour, all viable design options for the bridge’s replacement will have a “75-year design life” which will be structurally sound and ensure safe access for people visiting the pier. 

Restoring the bridge has been a decades-long effort. Santa Monica began trying to replace the bridge in the 1990s, but the project failed when federal funding fell through. The project was picked back up in 2006 as a rehabilitation project, but Caltrans decided that completely replacing the bridge would be a more appropriate way to use funding due to the bridge’s aged condition. 

The official replacement project began in 2010, and eight possible alternatives have been researched since.

In August 2010, the cost of building a new Pier Bridge was an estimated $8 million. By 2021, the cost escalated to $27,225,000.

The challenges for the project continue. A total of $27 million comes from Federal Highway Bridge Program funding. This means every part of the project must be approved by Caltrans.

The bridge is also surrounded by historic and cultural resources as well as scenic corridors including the Palisades Park, the pier sign, the Hippodrome building, Carousel Park, and the Pier deck. Preserving these areas limits design options.

Some of the original eight alternatives would’ve included an elevator, but it was found that it may have adverse effects on the Hippodrome located adjacent to the Pier. Due to environmental impacts, the number of possible alternatives for the bridge has dwindled down to two.

Both alternatives feature a design similar to the current bridge with a wider sidewalk to increase efficiency. In Alternative #1, the bridge would feature a 15-foot sidewalk on the North side, as opposed to the current 9.5-foot sidewalk. 

The preferred Alternative #2 would feature a 15-foot sidewalk on the South side to give more visibility to businesses and reduce the “conflict of pedestrians and vehicles.” It would also include shifting the Pier’s sign 10 feet to the North and raising it 3 feet to reduce the risk of cars hitting the sign.  

The Santa Monica City Council motioned to unanimously approve the Environmental Quality Act report.

June will mark the beginning of the finalized bridge design. The bridge is predicted to begin construction in 2025 and be completed by 2027 in time for the 2028 Olympics.  

By Paige Strickland

First Cannabis Dispensary Set To Open In Santa Monica

June 19, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Santa Monica’s first medical marijuana dispensary, Local Cannabis Company at 925 Wilshire Boulevard, is set for a grand opening on Saturday, June 24. 

The Santa Monica branch of Local Cannabis Company is owned by Massachusetts-based Calyx Peak, which invests in, operates, and manages cannabis assets. The first Local Cannabis Company storefront was opened in Swampscott, Massachusetts in December of 2022.

The dispensary is opening six years after the company’s application for a permit was issued in 2017. In October 2021, the dispensary was given permission by the City to operate with a conditional use permit. 

Despite being surrounded by cities that allow marijuana delivery services and non-medical sales, Santa Monica’s municipal code only allows two medical dispensaries within city limits. All customers who visit Local Cannabis Company will need to provide proof of a medical recommendation by a doctor in order to buy marijuana products. 

Zoning restrictions prohibited the dispensary from being within 600 feet of a school, daycare, park, library, social services center, or other cannabis businesses. The location on Wilshire Boulevard met these restrictions.  

By Paige Strickland

Garbage Collection Rates Are Set To Increase This Summer

June 19, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Garbage collection rates are set to increase by 11% each year for the next five years after City council members unanimously approved new rates at a regular meeting on Tuesday, June 13.

For the last three years during the Covid-19 pandemic, garbage rates in Santa Monica have been frozen while residents experienced financial uncertainty. 

“Meanwhile,” said Yvonne Yeung, the City’s Resource Recovery and Recycling (RRR) Manager. “Rising costs and a stronger demand for a cleaner and greener city means a rate adjustment is absolutely needed now.”

Plans for the garbage rate increase gained support from the City Council at a meeting on February 28 of this year. 

Effective August 1, 2023, the new rates will allow Santa Monica to hire additional sanitation workers to meet the community’s needs as well as help the department comply with California’s new organics recycling laws. 

The increase will also fund a new community cleanup program where residents can apply for a neighborhood cleanup day. RRR will provide community volunteers with necessary cleaning supplies and haul away any trash free of charge. 

“A total of 93 essential workers provide 7-day-a-week services including the recycling of blue bin materials, composting of green bin materials, collection of landfill trash, household hazardous waste, street sweeping, illegal dumping cleanup, and public education in order to keep Santa Monica clean, safe and sustainable,” said Yeung.

“It takes 37 million dollars each year for RRR to provide these services including responding to up to 180 illegal dumping and bulky item collection requests per day, which is the number one most requested 3-1-1 service in the city.”

Tackling illegal dumping has been a community priority to keep Santa Monica’s streets clean and safe, but budget cuts during the pandemic created a significant loss of employees. Funds from the increased rates are set to improve and expand the work of the Bulky Item and Illegal Dumping Response Team by hiring more permanent and full-time workers. The team would monitor areas prone to dumping and proactively clean streets and alleyways.

According to Yeung’s report, Santa Monica currently has 444 residents that qualify for California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE). Based on income level and participation in public assistance programs, these residents qualify for discounted electricity, gas, and water rates. A new Solid Waste Rate Assistance Program would extend a 10% discount to garbage collection in order to minimize the financial impacts on eligible ratepayers. 

By Paige Strickland

Report Ranks Santa Monica Pier As Dirtiest Beach In California

June 16, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The beach area located under the Santa Monica Pier was the dirtiest beach in California last year according to an annual water quality report released on Wednesday, June 14.   

For over 30 years, Heal the Bay, a non-profit environmental research group has assessed the water quality of 700 beaches from Washington state to Tijuana, Mexico, releasing an annual summary of the results. The 2022 to 2023 report covered over 500 California beaches. 

The beaches are assigned an A-to-F letter grade based on levels of fecal-indicator bacterial pollution in the ocean measured by County health agencies. According to Heal the Bay, people who come in contact with water with a C grade or lower are at a greater risk of contracting illnesses such as stomach flu, ear infections, upper respiratory infections, and rashes.

In 2022, the beach under the Santa Monica Pier received an F, making it the lowest-graded beach in California. The site is monitored by The City of Los Angeles Environmental Monitoring Division.

The dirtiest California beaches in 2022 were:

  1. Santa Monica Pier (Los Angeles County)
  2. Linda Mar Beach (San Mateo County)
  3. Marlin Park (San Mateo County)
  4. Erckenbrack Park (San Mateo County)
  5. Tijuana River Mouth (San Diego County)
  6. Pillar Point Harbor at Capistrano Avenue (San Mateo County)
  7. Marina del Rey Mother’s Beach (Los Angeles County)
  8. Poche Beach (Orange County)
  9. Gull Park (San Mateo County)

California’s wet winter in 2022 contributed to worse water quality; a higher amount of rainfall increases the number of pollutants that flow through storm drains and rivers into the ocean. Heavy rainfall can also cause sewage lines to overflow and spill over.  

According to Heal the Bay’s report, in 2022, 45 million gallons of sewage were spilled, contaminating beaches across the state. Heal the Bay urges local officials to upgrade sewage infrastructure and public notification protocols to ensure the safety of beachgoers.

“As climate change continues to bring weather whiplash, our water woes will swing from scarcity to pollution. This year, record precipitation produced major impacts on water quality across Coastal California,” said Tracy Quinn, President and CEO of Heal the Bay in a statement. 

“Now more than ever, we must prioritize multi-benefit projects to manage stormwater as both a water quality and supply solution, all while ensuring that the public is kept informed of risks to public health.”

The Heal the Bay annual report provides a list of “Honor Roll” beaches that are monitored weekly over the course of the year, receiving an A+ cleanliness score during all seasons. This year only two of the 500 California beaches monitored made the list: Point Loma Lighthouse Beach in San Diego and Bean Hollow State Beach in San Mateo County. In comparison, 51 beaches made the list last year. 

The public can view the updated water quality reports of local California beaches at beachreportcard.org or by downloading the app. 

By Paige Strickland

Traffic Stop Yields Replica Handguns/Narcotics Sales Arrest

June 16, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On June 7, the Santa Monica Police Department that officers spotted a vehicle on Neilson Way with tinted windows blaring music at top volume, both violations.

When officers tried to initiate a traffic stop of the vehicle, the officers located a replica handgun in plain view in the back seat.

A subsequent search of the vehicle led to the discovery of a second handgun (another replica), methamphetamine, fentanyl, a scale and calculator, and a large amount of cash.

The driver and passenger were arrested for possession of narcotics for sale. The name of the driver and the passenger has not been disclosed to the public.

By Staff

City Council Discusses The Expansion Of Cannabis Retail In Santa Monica

June 16, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Santa Monica City Council could soon permit the sale of adult use cannabis in the city. 

Ajay Kolluri, HdL’s Director of Cannabis Services provided city council on Tuesday, June 13, with a presentation to help councilmembers decide if they should expand or limit cannabis sales in Santa Monica. There was also a portion of the presentation that showed how the city of Santa Monica is unique in terms of legalizing adult use cannabis compare to other cities in the county.

Kolluri revealed how the city has the largest gap in the state between legal supply of cannabis and demand. “Santa Monica residents therefore can, and most certainly do, cross city limits to purchase adult-use cannabis from LA based businesses,” Kolluri said during the meeting.

Councilmembers discussed converting the existing cannabis businesses in Santa Monica to allow them to sell to those 21 years old or older and start a delivery service. Council discussed their concerns about the proximity of dispensaries to schools or sports fields. “Could we allow the two current medical dispensaries to convert to recreational dispensaries?” Mayor Gleam Davis asked.

No official decisions were made regarding the proposal and council will explore the issue at a later date.  

According to the Santa Monica Municipal Code only two dispensaries are permitted in the city and are only for medical purposes which means that customers must provide a doctor’s authorization in order to purchase products. Customers must also be 18 or older.

Medical marijuana became legal in California in 1996 but the City of Santa Monica hadn’t issued its first permit until 2021. 

The city’s only operating dispensary the Local Cannabis Company provided testimony to Tuesday’s city council meeting explaining that many of their walk-in customers lose interest in their business upon learning they need to apply for a medical card. The majorty of them leave without purchasing anything. 

Massachusetts-based Calyx Peak which is a permitted dispensary opened last week six years after the owners submitted their application. Their permit was granted over a year ago in October of 2021. 

Harvest of Santa Monica was also approved in January of 2022 but has yet to be established. 

In 2022, Santa Monica voters approved Measure HMP with a 66.79% “yes” vote to implement taxes for non-medical cannabis retailers, medical retailers, and all other licensed cannabis businesses.

By Christianne

Elderly Couple Evicted From Home While Wife Is On Dialysis

June 15, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—A 79-year old Ukrainian man, Dimitry Shuster, and his Lithuanian wife, Regina Smolyansky – who underwent a kidney and liver transplant and is currently on dialysis – were evicted from their apartment on the 1400 block of 21st Street on Wednesday, May 31. 

According to documents provided to Canyon News, the court-ordered eviction brought about by Geneva Plaza Inc., claims that Smolysansky breached a material term of the lease by allowing Shuster – an “unauthorized occupant” deemed “a threat to the health and safety of the community” – to live at the apartment. 

Smolyansky has been the named tenant in the apartment since January 2020, under a Housing Assistance Payments Contract for low-income individuals; her monthly rent was $294. Shuster moved in with Smolyansky at the same time and they got married at Van Nuys Superior Courthouse. Shuster was never put on the lease agreement. 

“Regina became sick about a year ago and became hospitalized,” Shuster said. “She expressed a worry that I would leave her, so I told her ‘let’s get married so we can put that worry aside’,” he continued.

Smolyansky underwent surgery and has been in and out of hospitals ever since; she is currently at Beverly Hills Rehabilitation Center receiving dialysis treatment. Shuster visits her almost everyday to bring her “flowers, vitamins, fruit, whatever she needs.” 

Shuster – who has been residing at the residence while Smolyansky remains hospitalized, in poor condition – claims to have been harassed by the property manager, Dawn McKay, starting around the time Smolyansky was no longer at the apartment.

According to Shuster, his first encounter with McKay occurred when CVS Pharmacy staff came to the apartment complex to administer COVID vaccinations. “She told the staff ‘do not give [Shuster] a vaccination, he doesn’t live here’,” Shuster stated. 

The relationship between Shuster and McKay reportedly grew worse. Shuster claims that he was not receiving his mail for three months. On January 6, 2022, he confronted a postal woman at his building to demand why he hadn’t been receiving his mail and showed her his ID with the address.

According to a written statement by McKay, the postal woman – confused as to why his name was not listed on the mailbox – spoke with McKay about the situation who explained that “Shuster is not a resident and not on the lease” therefore his mail should not be coming there. 

According to Shuster, McKay has a drinking problem and in another instance on one particular night, he was playing pool with McKay and other tenants at the building. “She was so drunk that she couldn’t hit a ball with the pool stick,” Shuster said. “[McKay] collapsed under the pool table and I tried to help her up and she didn’t like that, she seemed embarrassed and became angry with me,” he continued.

Shuster explained that there were various times McKay approached him in a hostile manner and he did not want to engage with her because she “smelled of alcohol.” “I called her a drunk and she grew angrier,” Shuster explained. 

By April 12, 2022, McKay filed a restraining order against Shuster as she “[did] not feel safe on the property while he was around.” On May 5, 2022, the restraining order was denied after an evidentiary hearing.  

By November 4, 2022, he was served the first eviction notice addressed to Smolyansky. By January 1, 2023, Geneva Plaza Inc. stopped accepting Smolyansky’s rent checks; several rent checks were returned to Shuster. On Wednesday, May 31, Los Angeles Sheriff Deputies came to escort Shuster out on a court-ordered eviction notice.  

Canyon News reached out to the office of Dawn McKay for comment but did not hear back from McKay before print.

Shuster has yet to tell Smolyansky about the eviction. “I don’t want to add stress to her already deteriorating condition, I just want to fix the situation.” Should she be released from the rehabilitation center, she has no idea that she has no home to go back to.

Shuster is staying at a motel in Santa Monica until he figures out what to do next.

By Lacy

Teen Loses Leg After Drunk Driver Hit Him

June 15, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Gelvy Ortiz, an 18 year old from Santa Monica, had his left leg amputated as a result of a drunk driving incident that occurred back on June 2. Since the accident he has been in the hospital at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Doctors are still working to save his right leg.

On the day of the accident Ortiz was sitting at a bus stop on Wilshire Boulevard and 26th Street when he was struck by a suspected drunk driver. 

According to a GoFundMe page that was established by Amy Roblero, Ortiz’s right leg is still under observation with a big risk that he might lose it as well. 

“Gelvy is the youngest of 3 siblings who are orphans; he (along with his siblings) came to the United States from Guatemala, in hopes of finding a better life with opportunities. Gelvy was a full time high school student, who many describe to be smart and hardworking, as he always managed to obtain the best grades at school, regardless of the language and racial barriers he has faced. He did this all while his brothers worked so that they could support one another. Sadly this has all changed due to the accident, as the only caretakers for Gelvy, his older brothers have stopped working to care for him, therefore these brothers need our help to pay the medical bills, and pay for their basic human necessities (rent, food, bills, etc.).”

The driver who hit and injured Ortiz was arrested for a felony DUI but has been released after posting bail. He is awaiting a trial. 

Canyon News contacted Roblero for more information but did not hear back before print.

SANTA MONICA READS All Summer 2023 Program

June 13, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica announced in a press release on June 6 that the Santa Monica Public Library is inviting the community to participate in the 2023 Summer Reading program for all ages in SANTA MONICA READS All Summer starts June 10 and runs thru August 12.

Sign up in person starting June 10 at the Main Library, Montana Avenue Branch, or Pico Branch, or visit smpl.org/srp to register online now and learn about our free summer events for everyone, from babies to adults.  This summer the community is being challenged to read 600,000 minutes.

Summer Reading helps prevent “summer slide” by ensuring youth retain reading and learning skills over the school break.  Parents can sign up their kids to receive a free board book. Kids and teens can sign up for a 10-, 20-, or 30-hour challenge, and receive a tote bag, free book, and reading log, to track reading and activities during summer through August 12.  At the halfway mark, kids and teens receive a coupon from the Friends of the Library Bookstore.  Upon completing their challenge, kids and teens can choose from a variety of fun prizes, as supplies last.

Adults can participate as the city will feature two SANTA MONICA READS All Summer selections: “Clark and Division” by Naomi Hirahara and “Lady Tan’s Circle of Women” by Lisa See.  Those interested in joining the book discussions will receive one of our featured books upon signing up for Summer Reading, and all adults will receive a reading log, resource guide, and free SMPL tote, while supplies last.  Read 10 hours and receive a coupon from the Friends of the Library Bookstore and be entered in a drawing for a local business gift certificate.

SANTA MONICA READS All Summer is provided with funding from the Friends of the Santa Monica Public Library, Kiwanis Club of Santa Monica, and the California State Library. For more details and other free, public programs, call Santa Monica Public Library at (310) 458-8600 or visit smpl.org.  Library services are currently available 24/7 at SMPL Online.  Contact a friendly library staffer, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., via telephone or email us at library@santamonica.gov.

By Donald

World Of Barbie Coming To Santa Monica

June 13, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Wednesday, June 14, the city of Santa Monica will begin its World of Barbie immersive experience at 395 Santa Monica Place. Barbie enthusiasts from far and wide are flocking to the iconic Barbie Dreamhouse.

Visitors are encouraged to dress up and live the life of Barbie. Other opportunities include relaxing in a life-sized Barbie camper and photo ops in a human-sized replica of the barbie box which the dolls come in.

Individuals can travel to intergalactic destinations aboard the Barbie, Interstellar Airways shuttle. Barbie fans of every age are encouraged to use the microphone to record their music in Barbie’s Music Studio.

There is also a display of all things Barbie including vintage  items along with a customizable wardrobe.

Tickets are as follows:

-Anytime Adult Tickets $51.50

-Adults from 13 and up $34.50

-Children 1-12 years of age $25.50

Add-On dolls are not included in the ticket price. Seniors 65 years of age and older, military personnel, and first responders receive a discount with proper identification.

The Immersive Barbie experience at World of Barbie is available Wednesday through Sunday while tickets last. For more information visit the World of Barbie website.

Online reviews show a likeable score of 4.3 with multiple customers writing in saying that the real-life Barbie immersive experience was “Wonderful,” and “The best money, they’ve ever spent.”

Santa Monica Department Of Transportation Director Ed King Retiring

June 12, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Media Contact, Robert McCall of the city of Santa Monica indicated in an email to Canyon News that the city’s Department of Transportation Director Ed King announced that he will retire in August 2023. King has over 46 years of service in public transportation, spending the last 12 years as director for Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus, and recently the Department of Transportation. His tenure in Santa Monica is preceded by leadership roles at Long Beach Transit and the San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority.

“I started my career in transportation as a traffic checker, then bus operator at the Regional Transportation Authority in Chicago, and am grateful to have worked alongside many remarkable, innovative, and resilient colleagues along the way,” said King. “I have been driven by the meaningful work of keeping communities connected to essential services and opportunities that improve social and economic well-being, and expanding access to safe, sustainable, affordable, and equitable integrated transportation options.”

During his time with Santa Monica, King has led teams whose accomplishments include:

-Developing a state-of-the-art, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certified bus maintenance facility, completed in 2012.

-Becoming one of the country’s first municipal transit agencies to convert its entire fleet to renewable natural gas (RNG), rated 90 percent cleaner than clean diesel, in 2015.

-Completing an award-winning transit system redesign in 2016, resulting in six new bus routes; 53,000 additional annual revenue service hours; construction of over 230 Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible bus stops, and first-last mile improvements through integration with seven E Line (Expo) stations.

-Publishing the Council-adopted Big Blue Bus Service, Design, Performance and Evaluation Guidelines, approved in 2018 and setting clear standards for effective and efficient transit service and ensuring transparent and inclusive stakeholder engagement on service delivery.

-Partnering with rideshare company Lyft to launch Santa Monica’s Mobility On-Demand Every Day (MODE) Program, which has provided nearly 200,000 sedan and wheelchair van rides to eligible residents since its inception in 2018.

-Introducing Big Blue Bus’s first battery-electric bus in 2019, and establishing a Fleet Electrification Master Plan, which outlines the agency’s transition to a 100 percent zero-emissions fleet by 2030.

-Expanding Santa Monica’s bikeway network to over 120 miles and implementing pedestrian access and safety improvements along high-traffic corridors in Santa Monica, including Olympic Boulevard, Ocean Avenue, and Wilshire Boulevard, and at Vision Zero Priority Intersections.

-Maintaining and operating 5,600 on-street parking meters and 46 parking facilities in Santa Monica.

“In his distinguished tenure, Ed has made tremendous improvements to Santa Monica’s transportation network,” said City Manager David White. “He adopted sustainable solutions for our transit fleet, restored services through our economic recovery efforts, and led the Department of Transportation through the challenges of COVID-19. I thank Ed for his steadfast leadership and years of service to our community.”

By Casey

Attempted Arrest Ends With Suspect Committing Suicide

June 12, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department attempted to serve an arrest warrant to a suspect at an Inglewood residence on Friday, June 9, where the suspect after a several hour standoff allegedly killed himself. 

The suspect, identified by authorities as Arthur Isaac, 36, was wanted for two violent felonies committed in the cities of Santa Monica and Inglewood. 

At approximately 5 a.m. on June 9, the SMPD’s Criminal Investigations Unit arrived at a location in the 800 block of E. 65th Street in Inglewood to serve Isaac the warrant. 

After a two-hour negotiation period with Isaac, trying to get him to exit the building, SWAT officers entered the premises to find him deceased. According to authorities, his death appeared to be caused by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

The Los Angeles County Coroner will be investigating the cause of Isaac’s death. No additional details about the case have been disclosed to the public. 

By Paige Strickland

Winning Powerball Ticket Worth $240K Sold At Tobacco Shop

June 12, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—A winning Powerball ticket worth $239,862 was sold at M&A Tobacco on Lincoln Boulevard. During the drawing on Wednesday, June 7, the ticket had five matching numbers, but missed the Powerball number.

The numbers drawn were 16, 21, 29, 53, and 66 with the Powerball being 2. The jackpot payout was $285 million.

Laws about Powerball payouts differ on a state-to-state basis. In California, the law requires the Powerball prize amount to be paid on a pari-mutuel basis. This means that the amount each winner receives changes depending on how many tickets were sold for that particular draw and how many other winners there are at the same level. The more winners there are, the smaller each individual prize will be, and vice versa.

In other states that participate in the Powerball drawing, tickets with five matching numbers, without a matching Powerball number, are worth $1 million or $2 million. 

According to the official Powerball website, the overall odds of winning a Powerball prize are 1 in 24.9. The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million.

California is home to the biggest Powerball winner in history; Edwin Castro won $2.04 billion in the record drawing on November 7, 2022. 

By Paige Strickland

City Council Votes To Allow Transformation Of ArcLight Cinema

June 7, 2023 ·

City Council Votes To Allow Transformation Of ArcLight Cinema

SANTA MONICA—At a regular meeting held May 23, city council unanimously voted to cancel a development agreement with Santa Monica Place, which prevented a shuttered ArcLight Cinema from being repurposed. This decision was one of the last legal steps needed to begin transforming the vacant movie theater into an art museum.

In 2015, an ArcLight Cinema complex was built in a vacant spot on the third floor of Santa Monica Place, an outdoor shopping center with brand-name stores and restaurants. The theater thrived until the spread of Covid-19 which prevented movie-goers from purchasing tickets; it closed its doors permanently in 2020.

Shortly after, Decurion Corporation, which owned the ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theater chains, announced the mass closure of approximately 300 movie screens across Southern California on April 12, 2021. Included was the loss of Hollywood’s historic Arclight Cinerama Dome as well as several other locations across Los Angeles.  

In January of 2023, Macerich, a real estate investment trust based in Santa Monica, announced plans to replace the Santa Monica Place ArcLight location with the Arte Museum. 

The Arte Museum, planned and produced by d’strict, a digital design company, is Korea’s most popular media art exhibition space. 

D’strict is behind the highly acclaimed public art project “WAVE” at K-pop Square in Seoul, South Korea. The installation features a three-dimensional, realistic wave washing across a 300-foot wide by 70-foot tall LED screen. D’strict is also dubbed as the “creative mastermind” behind “Waterfall-NYC” and “Whale #2” in New York City’s Times Square.

“We are very pleased to welcome ARTE MUSEUM, the internationally lauded media art exhibition space, to Santa Monica Place,” said Macerich Executive Vice President Cory Scott in a statement. 

The “48,000-square-foot immersive art destination” at Santa Monica Place is expected to draw one million visitors to the shopping center annually. The Arte Museum is set to open in early 2024.

By Paige Strickland

John Edward Alevizos Charged With Felony DUI

June 6, 2023 ·

John Edward Alevizos

SANTA MONICA—On June 2, just before midnight, the Santa Monica Police Department responded to a 9-1-1 call at the intersection of 26th Street and Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica from a witness to a traffic collision with injuries.

A Volkswagen Jetta left the roadway and struck a pedestrian sitting on the bus stop bench. Police determined that the driver, John Edward Alevizos, 35, of Los Angeles was driving under the influence of alcohol.

Officers arriving at the scene discovered a 19-year-old victim with traumatic injuries to both legs. He was transported to UCLA Medical Center where he has been listed in critical condition.

Alevizos was arrested for drunk driving. Due to the condition of the victim, Alevizos was apprehended and booked into jail on a felony DUI charge.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) Inmate Locator, Alevizos was booked into jail at the SMPD on June 6, at 1:54 a.m. on a $100,000 bail.  

His court date was scheduled for June 6, at 8:30 a.m. at the LAX Superior Court on 11707 La Cienega Blvd. in Los Angeles.  No further information is known at this time.

By Sharon

No Reported Injuries In Santa Monica Plane Crash

June 6, 2023 ·

Santa Monica Airport

SANTA MONICA—On Monday, June 5, at approximately 3:45 p.m. a privately owned airplane crashed at Santa Monica Airport located at 3223 Donald Douglas Loop South.

The Federal Aviation Administration reported that a Cessna plane flipped over and crashed while landing. Only the pilot was on board at the time of the crash. He was able to walk away from the crash unharmed.

According to Textron, who are makers of planes, a small Cessna airplane like that carries a price tag of approximately $432,000 new, for a 172 Skyhawk Model. A used version of the plane could sell for as low as $50,000.

By Sharon

SMPD Decoy Operation Catches Clerk Selling Alcohol To Minor

June 2, 2023 ·

SMPD Decoy Operation Catches Clerk Selling Alcohol To Minor

SANTA MONICA—One Santa Monica business was cited for selling alcohol to a minor on May 5 after the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) conducted a minor decoy operation. 

Minors supervised by ABC agents attempted to purchase alcohol from eight businesses. Those who sold the alcohol to the minor face a minimum fine of $250 and/or 24 to 32 hours of community service for a first violation. ABC will also take action on the business’s alcoholic beverage license, which may include a fine, suspension of the license or permanent revocation of the license.

The name of the business that sold the alcohol to the minor is not available at this time.

The minor decoy operation comes as department officials say statistics show that younger people, under the age of 21, have a higher rate of drunk driving fatalities than the general adult population. 

According to the most recent California Office of Traffic Safety data, from 2016 to 2020, Santa Monica saw 10 alcohol-involved crashes occur in people under 21. In Los Angeles County, there were 1,487 alcohol-involved crashes in minors during the same time frame.

To reduce the availability of alcohol to minors, ABC is conducting statewide compliance checks with businesses that sell alcohol.

“Minor Decoy operations hold accountable those who sell alcohol to minors,” said ABC Director Eric Hirata. “Keeping alcohol away from youth is a priority.”

By Paige Strickland

Salvation Army Celebrates 130 Years Of Service With Free Donuts

June 2, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Salvation Army Santa Monica will celebrate 130 years of service to the community on Friday, June 2, by handing out 1,500 free donuts. The anniversary lands on National Donut Day, which has historical ties to the nonprofit organization.

Donuts will be given out at several locations across Santa Monica, including at the 3rd Street Promenade, 7th and Montana, Santa Monica Police and Fire Station, and the Salvation Army Family Store at 1658 11th St, courtesy of Lionsgate. A program will be held at the Community Center at 1533 4th Street, which will host city officials, clients, and staff who will discuss the work currently happening in the city. The program lasts from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

According to the Salvation Army, During World War I, “lassies” were sent to the frontlines to support American troops. In the camps, there were very few tools available for cooking, but the lassies, later referred to as Donut Lassies or Donut Girls, found flour, grease, sugar, and baking powder. With wine bottles and shell casings as rolling pins, they rolled out a dough they could fry up into donuts. Some were even fried right inside soldiers’ helmets. 

After World War I, the popularity of donuts endured in America. In 1938, National Donut Day was initiated as a fundraiser to help Chicago during the Great Depression as well as honor the work of the Donut Lassies in World War I. Today, National Donut Day is celebrated on the first Friday of June. 

The Salvation Army Santa Monica started serving the community in 1893, and today continues to provide housing, food, and rehabilitation assistance. At the Community Center, hot meals are handed out Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. The food pantry is open from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

By Paige Strickland

SMPD Conducting Motorcycle Safety Enforcement June 1 And June 2

May 31, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) will have extra officers on patrol Thursday, June 1 and Friday, June 2, looking specifically for violation made by drivers and motorcycle riders. The primary crash factors for motorcycles are unsafe speed, improper turning, right-of-way violations, driving under the influence and unsafe lane changes. Speeding is the most common, accounting for nearly a third of all crashes in the state.

To help protect individuals and others on the road, people should keep the following tips in mind while driving or riding:

Drivers

  • Always check twice for motorcycles in your mirrors and blind spots.
  • Use your signal when changing lanes.
  • Never follow a motorcycle too closely. Always keep a safe distance.
  • When at an intersection, allow enough space before turning.

Motorcyclists

  • Always wear a DOT compliant helmet and protective gear.
  • Consider adding reflective tape to make it easier for other drivers to see you.
  • Always keep your lights on, even during the day.
  • Don’t assume drivers see you: signal well in advance before changing lanes and watch for turning vehicles.
  • Although lane splitting is legal, the practice is not encouraged at high speeds in free-flowing traffic.

Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Jonathan Peck Arrested For Assault On Santa Monica Pier

May 30, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Lt. Erika Alufi of the Santa Monica Police Department indicated in a press release to Canyon News that a suspect was arrested for an assault that occurred on Saturday, May 27. The SMPD reported at 7:30 p.m. that DART officers were patrolling the Santa Monica Pier when they were flagged down by the victim of an assault.

The victim was a tourist from Mexico, who informed the officers that about 10 minutes prior, a male suspect approached the victim and grabbed her breast. The suspect, later identified as Johnathan Peck, 25, continued walking past the victim, but stayed in the region.

Jonathan Peck.
Photo courtesy of SMPD.

After the victim told her friend what happened, the friend approached the Peck and confronted him about the sexual assault. Peck responded by using a large, sharpened stick to stab the friend (victim 2) in the face and neck.

The suspect fled the scene, but was quickly apprehended by additional officers to the Pier. While they were conducting their investigation, officers learned that Peck was responsible for additional assault that occurred shortly before the one described above. Peck attacked another female, grabbing her breasts, and another male victim who was also stabbed with the stick.

Two of the victims requiring medical attention were transported to local hospitals and treated for minor injuries. Details on the current condition of the victims have not been disclosed to the public. No additional information about the incident has been disclosed by the SMPD.

By Casey.

SMPD Report Reveals Crime Spike In 2023

May 30, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—A first-quarter crime report released by the Santa Monica Police Department, on May 25, shows that crime, both serious and petty increased compared to 2022 first-quarter results. While calls for police service decreased by 7 percent compared to last year’s first quarter report, there were 259 more arrests.

According to the 2023 first quarter report, there has been an increase in Part I crimes, which include “homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, grand theft auto, and arson.” There were 149 more reports (a 14 percent increase) of Part I crimes than the 2022 first-quarter crime report. 

Larceny accounted for a considerable portion of the increase in Part I crimes. Included in the 2023 first quarter report were 180 incidents of auto parts theft, 81 percent of which were stolen catalytic converters. The most targeted type of vehicle for catalytic converter theft was the Toyota Prius.

A new ordinance approved by Santa Monica City Council last week aims to discourage catalytic converter theft. The ordinance will make it illegal to possess a catalytic converter that is not attached to a vehicle unless documentation can prove lawful possession. Proof may take the form of a bill of sale or legal intent to use in an auto repair shop. An individual without valid proof may be fined $500.

Domestic violence has risen by 19 percent, and rape reports increased from eight incidents to 13 compared to the 2022 first quarter crime report. For information on getting help, identifying abuse, or making a plan for safety visit https://www.thehotline.org/get-help/.

Part II crimes such as simple assault, DUIs, fraud, vandalism, and narcotics increased by 119 crimes (a 19 percent increase) compared to the 2022 first-quarter report. 

Although vandalism accounts for the highest number of incidents in the Part II crime category, incidents of vandalism have dropped from 182 in 2022 to 175 in 2023 during the first quarter report. Simple assault incidents have risen to levels seen in 2019, with 174 incidents reported during the first quarter of 2023.

By Paige Strickland

City Council Approves Fines For Catalytic Converter Theft

May 30, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica City Council approved a new ordinance that includes a $500 fine for suspects in possession of stolen catalytic converters at a special meeting on Wednesday, May 24. Prior to this approval, the city had no laws targeting the possession of stolen catalytic converters.

Catalytic converter thefts in Santa Monica have increased over the last 7 years. According to the Santa Monica Police Department, in 2016, 11 catalytic converters were stolen, and in 2017 that number rose to 35. By 2020, hundreds were stolen each year; there were 229 stolen in 2020, 302 in 2021, and 312 in 2022. In 2023, 215 accounts of catalytic converter thefts were reported as of May 22.  

Santa Monica Police Sergeant Alfonso Lozano indicated Santa Monica averages at least two catalytic converters stolen each day.

Catalytic converters are common in most cars; they remove harmful exhaust pollutants. The part is typically accessible from the exterior of the car, usually underneath the body, which makes it vulnerable to theft. In addition, they are made of three types of precious metals, palladium, rhodium, and platinum, which make it a profitable part for thieves to steal. 

In the past, law enforcement could not hold suspects in possession of stolen catalytic converters accountable unless there was evidence the part came from a victim’s specific vehicle. The new ordinance aims to amend that issue.

The ordinance “will make it unlawful to possess a catalytic converter that is not attached to a vehicle, unless the possessor has valid documentation or other proof of lawful possession,” said Santa Monica Detective Martin Hardy during the City Council meeting.

City Attorney Douglas Sloan said valid proof or documentation can take many forms, such as receipts of purchase, proof to be used by a mechanic, or documentation from a body shop proving ownership. 

“The context matters,” said Sloan at the meeting. “If you work for Toyota, and you’re transporting catalytic converters from a warehouse to a Toyota dealership, and you can show that, then you likely wouldn’t be convicted of this.”

Sergeant Lozano said fines may be issued based on the officers’ “experience” and “intuition.” Officers will utilize investigative discretion; if there is other evidence suggesting the catalytic converters were stolen, this will be taken into account.

“If it’s three in the morning, officers are responding to the radio call, the individuals are under the influence, there’s burglary tools, there’s multiple catalytic converters, they’re not going to have any documentation that they’re going to the mechanics or are coming from a mechanic,” said Sergeant Lozano at teh Santa Monica City Council meeting.

Sergeant Lozano also said that etching the license plate number or last six digits of a vehicle’s VIN number into the catalytic converter can help identify it if it’s found in the possession of a suspect. 

“That does help,” Lozanao stated. “It’s not required, but we do advise people to do that. It’s a linkage type of solution.

By Paige Strickland

SMPD Arrest Suspected Mail Thieves On Federal Charges

May 29, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Friday, May 26, Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department emailed in a press release to Canyon News the arrest of two suspects in connection with the theft of arrow postal keys, and other mail from the United States Postal Service which is a federal crime.

Security footage obtained by the SMPD from a nearby apartment building captured the suspects entering the secured mail room of the apartment complex and leaving with the residents’ mail and packages.

“Just before midnight on May 20, 2023, Santa Monica Police Department officers patrolling in the 2000 block of 4th Street were flagged by a citizen who was chasing a mail theft suspect. Officers detained the suspect who was in possession of multiple counterfeit United States Postal Service Arrow keys [federal offense]. Other officers arrived on scene and discovered a second suspect inside a vehicle who was also detained. Inside the vehicle, officers found stolen pieces of mail, packages, electronics, drugs [crack cocaine] and drug paraphernalia. As officers investigated the incident, they discovered multiple mail packages on a sidewalk, dropped by the suspects as they fled from an apartment building. Officers walked to several addresses and returned the stolen mail and packages. Additional mail belonging to several victims with Los Angeles addresses was booked pending notification of the victims,” the SMPD stated.

Anyone with details related to these individuals or the incident is asked to contact our Investigations Division during business hours at 310-458-8451.

Metro Announces Opening Date Of New Train Line

May 29, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Metro announced the completion of the new Regional Connector train line this week, which is set to bring riders from Santa Monica to East Los Angeles starting Friday, June 16. 

According to Metro, the new route will provide riders with a “seamless journey” through three new underground stations: Little Tokyo/Arts District Station, Historic Broadway Station, and Grand Avenue Arts/Bunker Hill Station. The construction process also included 1.9 miles of new track, merging the L Line (Gold) with the A (Blue) and E (Expo) lines at 7th Street/Metro Center Station. This will create two continuous train lines, eliminating the need to transfer when traveling North to Suth or East to West.

The total travel time from Santa Monica to East Los Angeles will take one hour and nine minutes. The Regional connector will also take passengers from Azusa to Long Beach in 58 minutes.

Construction of the Regional Connector first commenced in 2014, but funding hiccups and the COVID-19 pandemic caused major delays. Metro’s original target date for completion of the Regional Connector was December 2020, making opening day two and a half years late. On the Regional Connector’s opening weekend, Metro is offering free rides to passengers on any route in the Metro transit system. 

Metro plans to continue expanding Los Angeles’ railway system in preparation for the large amount of foot traffic generated by the 2028 Olympics.

Three New Puma Cubs Grace Santa Monica Mountains

May 29, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On May 18, biologists found three baby mountain lions in the Simi Hills of the Santa Monica Mountain range. According to the National Park Service (NPS), the pups are believed to be the offspring of a 5-6-year-old female mountain lion they are tracking named, P-77. She was captured recently in a remote area and recently had a litter.

The father of the kittens is not on the NPS radar. Researchers have indicated that he probably came over from a nearby mountain range during mating season.

“The NPS has been studying how mountain lions survive in increasingly fragmented and urbanized landscapes since 2002. Since then, researchers have monitored more than 100 mountain lions in and around the Santa Monica Mountains north of Los Angeles,” states the National Park Service website. 

The names of the new kits will be: P-113, P-114, and P-115. They too will be captured by NPS to fit with tracking devices.


Regarding the mortality of mountain lions, the NPS reported that as of December 2021, 28 out of 29 mountain lions have tested positive for an anticoagulant rodenticide (rat poison).

It may not be direct poisoning, but secondhand poisoning to kill other rodents. They eat a diet of ground squirrels and other rodents that got poisoned and the mountain lions consume them.

The other cause of death noted by NPS has been from traffic. Despite the wildlife bridges created to protect the mountain lions, the NPS reported that as of 2022, 32 mountain lions (collared and uncollared) have been hit by cars on major roadways.

P-22 was the most famous mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains. He roamed Griffith Park and was the first to grace the front page of a newspaper. He was 12 years old at the time of his death. He was captured after attacking a family dog being walked on a leash. Researchers were concerned about his health due to a noted change in behavior.

According to NPS, when the puma was examined, it was discovered that he had multiple injuries, some to the head, indicating that he may have been hit by a car. P-22 was euthanized. Four local tribes gave P-22, their beloved puma, a proper burial.

The only known mountain lion who lived longer than P-22 was P-1, the father of P-22, who lived 15 years. The birth of P-113, P-114, and P-115 helps the endangered puma population in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Santa Monica Based Company Faces Class Action Lawsuit

May 23, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Beachbody, a Santa Monica-based fitness company, is facing a class-action lawsuit where former exercise coaches are claiming that they were used as low-cost labor to help the company earn a profit, as first reported by the Los Angeles Times on Monday, May 22.

Jessica Lyons, a schoolteacher, who is named as one of the plaintiffs in the case, stated, “I thought becoming a coach for Beachbody was my opportunity to add a second stream of income with an added bonus of helping others reach their fitness goals,” Lyons said. “I didn’t realize how much Beachbody would demand of me and how little income I would see in return.” She is being represented by Tycho & Zavareei, a leading consumer protection class-action law firm, as well as L.A.-based Clarkson Law.

During Lyons employment with the company, she earned only an average of $50 a month in commission sales while putting in about 50 hours a month. During her time with the company, Lyons spent $20,000 in personal funds to pay for expenses related to her coaching role with Beachbody, including paying for new products to try out and the monthly service fee and traveling on her own dime to Beachbody’s annual conference for coaches, the lawsuit said.

Another plaintiff named in the suit claims that she was convinced to join the company after discovering a high-earning coach on YouTube living a glamorous lifestyle. She didn’t expect to be rich when she joined, but hoped to be a coach full-time and earn a reasonable income. The work she did included doing Beachbody workouts to maintain her fitness and back up her personal testimonials, creating content for Instagram, reaching out to people and responding to messages, and following up with clients. After being involved for three years with the Beachbody she found a full-time job and diminished her workload with the fitness company. 

Tycho & Zavareei indicated to Canyon News in an email that Beachbody “operates as a multi-level marketing business and relies on the “direct sales” exemption to California’s misclassification law to justify exploitation of sales personnel. The exemption was written decades ago, and is limited only to those making “primarily in person” sales. It does not reach modern e-commerce operations like Beachbody.  Beachbody’s sales personnel work as “Coaches” and market and sell fitness programs and nutritional supplements and other health and wellness-related goods and services, primarily through online channels and its own apps and platforms.”

“Beachbody exercises significant control over its coaches in their role as social media marketers, requiring them to adhere to extensive rules and regulations pertaining to pricing, advertising approaches, and the company’s intellectual property. Beachbody has created systems that funnel all sales leads towards Beachbody’s website and apps, where Beachbody accepts, processes, and fulfills the orders, while also retaining all customer information as well as the exclusive right to track the customers’ online activities for its own benefit. Because of this model, the plaintiffs allege that few people are making money under Beachbody’s compensation system,” the firm added. 

“MLMs are notorious for profiting off the unpaid work of their sellers, and Beachbody is no exception, relying on an outdated statutory exemption to justify exploiting its hard-working coaches by classifying them as independent contractors,” said Kristen Simplicio, a partner at Tycko & Zavareei LLP. “We applaud Ms. Lyons for taking this brave and important step to hold Beachbody accountable and do right by those who worked so hard to make the company what it is today.

A spokesperson for Beachbody issued a statement to Canyon News regarding this lawsuit:

“The independent contractor status of direct sellers is well recognized on a federal and state level. California’s updated contractor law (AB5) includes an express exemption for network marketing distributors as part of a well-established legal framework that allows distributors to remain independent and allows them to work as much or as little as they want, controlling their own schedule. We will vigorously defend ourselves against these allegations.”

By Christianne

Juveniles Arrested In Robbery, Firearm Incident

May 22, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department indicated in an email to Canyon News that two juveniles were arrested for a series of crimes that has unfolded in Santa in recent months.

On Monday, May 15, at 2 pm, the SMPD received a 911 call of an armed robbery that just occurred near the intersection of 3rd Street and Idaho Avenue. The victim, a delivery driver, was threatened by two suspects, one of whom brandished a firearm and pointed it at the driver during the theft.

About 20 minutes later, authorities received a call of shots fired in the 800 block of 2nd Street. Officers in the area investigating the robbery discovered that the second call was an accidental discharge of a firearm by one of the suspects involved in the incident at 3rd and Idaho Ave. The injured suspect shot himself in the hand while inside a residence. Officers responding to the shots fired call located the two robbery suspects inside the residence; both who were juveniles.

The uninjured youth, a resident of Santa Monica, was booked at the Santa Monica Police Department and transported to juvenile hall. The injured suspect was transported to the hospital for treatment. He was released from the hospital the next day, booked at the SMPD, and transported to juvenile hall.

Subsequent investigation of the incidents tied the two youth to multiple additional crimes that occurred in the area over the past few months, including residential and vehicle burglaries, auto theft, and a stabbing. They have both been charged with the robbery. Additional charges are pending for both suspects.

Anyone with details pertaining to this incident or individuals involved is asked to contact SMPD Criminal Investigations during business hours at 310-458-8451.

By Casey

Two Youths Arrested In Connection to Several Local Crimes

May 18, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—According to a tweet released by Santa Monica Police Department, two youths were apprehended by police Monday, May 15, following their involvement in an armed robbery and accidental discharge of a firearm. Subsequent investigations found the youths to be connected to several other crimes that occurred in the area, including residential and vehicle burglaries, auto theft, and a stabbing.

Police initially received a 911 report of an armed robbery that occurred at the intersection of 3rd Street and Idaho Avenue on Monday, May 15. A delivery driver told police that he was threatened by two suspects, one with a firearm pointed at him when the theft took place. 

While in the area investigating the robbery, approximately 20 minutes later another 911 call reported shots fired in the 800 block of 3rd Street. Police discovered that both suspects from the armed robbery were located inside a residence. One of the suspects accidentally discharged the firearm, shooting themself in the hand. Police apprehended both of the suspects; the uninjured youth was transported to juvenile hall. The injured youth was taken to a hospital for treatment and subsequently transported to juvenile hall the next day.

Both suspects have been charged with armed robbery and all other additional charges are pending. The Santa Monica Police Department urges anyone with information pertaining to this incident or persons involved to contact Santa Monica Police Department Criminal Investigations during business hours at 310-458-8451.

By Paige Strickland

City Council Votes To Extend Local Emergency On Homelessness

May 15, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Santa Monica City Council members unanimously voted to extend the local emergency order on homelessness to May 31, 2024, at a regular meeting on May 9. The Council’s action followed a comprehensive report presented by City staff delivering the results of the 2023 Homeless Count in January. The count showed that 926 people were experiencing homelessness in Santa Monica, a 15 percent increase from the 2022 Homeless Count where 807 individuals were identified as unhoused.

“There’s an imbalance of resources in the system across Santa Monica and throughout the region,” said Santa Monica City Manager, David White. “We live in a region that has failed to maintain and develop an adequate supply of housing. Adequate levels of affordable housing and permanent supportive housing are the most critical components to homelessness prevention and resolution.”

In February of this year, the Council declared a local emergency on homelessness, and in March, authorized the city to move forward with investments in homelessness prevention now that resources are available. According to White, the new initiatives presented in the Strategic Plan to Address Homelessness on Tuesday, build upon “the police department’s homelessness liaison team, outreach teams staffed with medical, mental health, and substance abuse professionals, eviction protection, and right to council resources.” 

Santa Monica also has plans to launch a pilot program featuring a therapeutic transport van where medical professionals will “co-respond to incoming emergency calls related to, or presumed to involve, non-combative, medically stable individuals experiencing a mental health crisis,” according to a press release posted by the City on May 11. With the goal of implementing a 24/7 service, the City has allocated $464,000 to the program. 

The City’s initiatives were detailed in four pillars of strategy:

Preventing Homelessness:  Preventing housed Santa Monicans from becoming homeless and increasing affordable housing opportunities.

Behavioral Health:  Addressing the physical and behavioral health needs of vulnerable residents by providing more access to healthcare.

Safe Public Spaces:  Continuously enhancing our approach to maintaining equitable access to safe, fun, and healthy open spaces.

Regional Capacity:  Strengthening regional capacity to address homelessness.

“Sitting here and being a lifelong resident of Santa Monica, I think it’s safe to say that this is the most robust plan to address homelessness in the history of the city,” said Council Member Oscar de la Torre. “In terms of resources, in terms of programs, it’s the most we’ve ever done, and it’s probably still not going to be enough.” 

A concern of several city council members was the large number of homeless individuals in Santa Monica not from the area. De la Torre said he spends a lot of time speaking with unhoused people in Santa Monica, and “98% of people,” he estimated, are from out of state. As a result, De la Torre also said a key focus of these initiatives shoul

d be the pillar of regional capacity, calling on surrounding regions to introduce their own initiatives and share the financial burden in support of Santa Monica. 

“On the horizon this year are new developments,” said O’Shea Stevenson of the Community Services Department. “Las Flores with 73 units, 1819 Pico Boulevard with 48 units, the Laurel with 57 units, and Little Berkeley with 13 units.” 

In addition, according to Stevenson, “Parking structure 3 located at 1318 4th Street was demolished in Fall of 2022 to make way for a 100% affordable housing development with at least 100 units, and the planning for that continues.”

For progress updates and more information, visit the City of Santa Monica’s website at https://www.santamonica.gov/topic-explainers/homelessness.

By Paige Strickland

Teen Fentanyl Overdoses In Santa Monica Lead To Federal Case

May 12, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Federal and local law enforcement agencies filed charges on Tuesday, May 10, against a man accused of selling counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl to three teenage girls in Santa Monica. Two of the teens who consumed the counterfeit pills experienced life-threatening overdoses. 

On May 24, 2023, the three teenage girls allegedly purchased blue pills, believed to be ecstasy, online from 22-year-old Adrian Benavides-Schorgi of Jefferson Park, Los Angeles. The following night at 11 p.m., officers from the Santa Monica Police Department responded to an address in the 2000 block of 20th Street near Pico Boulevard after receiving a report of overdoses. Two of the teens were in critical condition and transported to the hospital for medical attention. One teen was still conscious and alert. 

Authorities arrested Benavides-Schorgi on April 27, 2023, to be held without bond at a hearing the next day.

Upon an investigation by law enforcement, Benavides-Schorgi was charged by a federal grand jury with one count of distribution of fentanyl resulting in serious bodily injury. The trial for this case is scheduled to begin June 20, 2023, while the DEA and SMPD continue their investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Jeremy Beecher of the General Crimes Section is the prosecutor on the case. 

This is just one of 12 new federal cases involving fentanyl announced by law enforcement on National Fentanyl Awareness Day this Tuesday. Four of the cases involve suspects from cities in Los Angeles County, including Santa Monica, North Hollywood, Montebello, and Torrance.

The case against Benavides-Schorgi is only one of the 12 that does not involve the death of at least one victim. 

By Paige Strickland

Santa Monica Releases 2023 Homeless Count Results

May 9, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Thursday, May 4, the city of Santa Monica released the results of the 2023 Homeless Count held in January. The results indicated 926 people experiencing homelessness were counted in Santa Monica, an overall increase of 15 percent from the 807 individuals counted during the 2022 Homeless Count.

A total of 73 more individuals were counted on the street and in vehicles, and 46 more individuals were counted in the Shelter and Institutional count, which consists of emergency motels, shelters, hospitals and the Santa Monica jail, the city of Santa Monica reported in a press release.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) is expected to release the results of the 2023 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count between June and September 2023, which will provide perspective for Santa Monica’s results within the County. Preliminary analysis suggests that multiple factors may have contributed to this year’s increase. In 2022, the 11 percent decrease in overall homelessness as compared to 2020 was due to the significant reduction in the local shelter capacity following COVID-19 public health guidance. In 2022, the number of individuals counted on the street and in vehicles increased by approximately 1 percent. As public health guidelines eased, shelter capacity increased, allowing more individuals to obtain shelter beds than in 2022.

Additionally, while local shelter capacity increased since the 2022 Homeless Count, the temporary regional motel shelter capacity implemented during the pandemic continued to wind down, including the 50-room Project Roomkey facility in Venice. This regional demobilization and decrease in the availability of motel rooms may have contributed to an increase in demand on local shelters, which increased shelter counts, and possibly the street count as individuals were displaced from neighboring motels.

“Addressing homelessness is a top priority for the City Council,” said Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis. “It is an absolute tragedy that more than 66,000 people are experiencing homelessness in LA County, and Santa Monica remains committed to doing our part to advocate for our most vulnerable community members and connect them to housing and services.”

“Acknowledging the urgent need to address the mounting impacts of homelessness, the Council declared a Local Emergency on Homelessness on February 14, 2023,” said Santa Monica City Manager David White. “This action, combined with an infusion of funds from the passage of Measures CS and GS, will allow us to seize this moment of public support to expand and implement evidence-based best practices and cut through obstacles both internally and in working with our regional partners.”

City staff will present a comprehensive update on homelessness to the Santa Monica City Council and community at its regular meeting on Tuesday, May 9 at 5:30 p.m. The update responds to questions and concerns brought forward by the City Council and the community, and will help them consider investments for the FY 2023-25 budget including:

-Expansion of the City’s homeless multidisciplinary outreach teams’ work beyond the Downtown and Beach area, adding coverage to the entire city.

-Redesign of the SAMOSHEL interim housing program to accommodate 24/7 intakes, giving additional options for after-hours intake and facilitating SMPD transports for people experiencing homelessness and non-urgent behavioral health issues.

-Adding police officers to expand the Police Department’s Homeless Liaison Program (HLP) to make it operational seven days a week and to augment Police Department staffing where it is most needed to address community needs. Resources will also go toward the Directed Action Response Team (DaRT), which addresses matters of public safety in the Downtown, Pier and Beach areas.

-Expansion of public space maintenance investments, including enhancements to ensure higher-risk cleanup activities are performed safely, using an additional, specialized pilot Homeless Support Team (HoST) to address “hot spots” and respond to 3-1-1 requests.

For more details, visit santamonica.gov/topic-explainers/homelessness.

By Donald

Skeletal Remains Of Beau Mann Discovered In Santa Monica

May 8, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA/STUDIO CITY—Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department indicated in an email to Canyon News that authorities discovered human remains in the courtyard of an abandoned property in the 2900 block of Santa Monica Boulevard.

The Los Angeles County Coroner took possession of the remains and are currently working to determine the cause of death. On Saturday, May 6, the coroner positively identified the remains as those of Beau Mann, who was born on February 1, 1982.

Mann was last seen on November 30, 2021 leaving a 7-Eleven around 2 p.m. Mann sent a text to 911 before his disappearance. He was reported missing to the Los Angeles Police Department on December 4, 2021. The LAPD reported he was last seen on Berkeley Street and Santa Monica Boulevard. Less than 10 minutes later, a text was sent to 911 from Mann’s cellphone, indicating that he needed help and was in an Uber. Mann gave no further details as to why he needed help.

According to Mann’s fiancé, Jason Abate, Uber records show that Mann was dropped off at the 7-Eleven at around 2:05 p.m. It then shows that he was dropped off at Berkeley Street in Santa Monica, California at 2:35 p.m. “Nobody heard from him again, and he hasn’t been heard from since,” Abate said in a Facebook live video.

He last spoke with family on November 28, 2021. His family alerted authorities at the time that Beau was struggling with mental health issues and they were concerned about his safety. Beau was last seen wearing a blue baseball cap, dark sweatshirt, dark pants, and black shoes. He was carrying a large backpack.

Police reached out to him twice and got no response, Amy Mann, Beau’s mother, told the Telegram.

Abate runs the HelpFindBeauMann Facebook page and frequently does Facebook and Instagram Live’s to raise awareness about his fiancé’s disappearance. “The thing that saddens me the most is that we really don’t have any tips,” Abate said on a Facebook live on April 11, 2022.

“We’ve done everything you can possibly think of and more. You have no idea how much we actually have done as far as trying to figure out where Beau is or went. Yes we have gone through his accounts, yes we have pulled his credit report numerous times,” Abate said.

Mann is the founder of Sober Grid, an app designed to provide people suffering with substance abuse, with “easy access to private support at any time and at any stage of the recovery journey,” the app’s website states. The goal of the app is to help users “maintain their path to sobriety.”

When he was younger, Mann suffered from substance abuse issues and wanted to create a support system for people to stay clean and sober, Abate told Dateline.

This individual helped discover the remains of Beau Mann.

Sandra H. Eggers, who was a close friend of Beau released the following statement on Facebook:

“Unfortunately Beau has been found dead. Jason is devastated and is not up to posting. Pls send him your love and support. It seems his body was found in yard at last address he was dropped off at by Uber driver.  At the current moment, there are no further details. We will be investigating and keep you posted. Rest In Peace Beau. Your smile will always light us up. So many fond memories. You are missed and will always be remembered.”

Beau’s aunt, Rhonda Mann posted on Facebook:

“This is a very hard time for all of us. As Beau’s aunt, I wanted to send this statement from the family:

‘We were notified by the Santa Monica, California police this weekend that Beau’s remains were found in a grassy area about a mile from where an Uber dropped him off on November 30, 2021. His identity was confirmed through dental records. At this point, we have no further details on what led to his death.

We want to thank all of those who helped us search for him and who prayed for Beau’s safe return over the past year and a half. Beau was a beautiful soul who spent the better part of his life helping others. We miss his infectious smile and positive attitude every day. We know his spirit will live on through his company and passion, Sober Grid, as it continues to help those struggling with the grip of addiction.’”

Anyone with any details pertaining to this incident or person(s) involved is asked to contact SMPD Detective Ismael Tavera at 310-458-2256, Ismael.tavera@santamonica.gov, or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

Stolen Credit Cards And Loaded Gun Found During Arrest

May 2, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Two suspects were arrested by the Santa Monica Police Department on Monday, May 1 for possession of stolen credit cards and a loaded gun.

Officers pulled over the two suspects after discovering that they were driving a stolen vehicle. During their investigation, authorities seized stolen credit cards and a loaded gun that were found inside the car. 

The names and details about the suspects have not been released to the public.

Canyon News reached out to the Santa Monica Police Department for more information but did not hear back before print.

By Christianne

Big Blue Bus Receives $22.9 Million State Grant

May 2, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) announced that Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus (BBB) will receive a $22.9 million grant to purchase 5 battery electric buses (BEBs) and develop infrastructure to support on-site charging for more than 100 buses.

The city of Santa Monica indicated in a press release from April 27 that the BBB is one of 28 transit agencies in the state to be awarded grant funding through CalSTA’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP). It is part of a multiyear investment to improve the state’s transit system to support transportation equity, improve service and mobility options, and reduce overdependence on driving.

Funding will help BBB complete Phases 2 through 4 of its Fleet Electrification Master Plan, which outlines the agency’s fleet transition from renewable natural gas to zero-emission by 2030. It will support electric utility and charging equipment upgrades at BBB’s depot, including construction of a large canopy with overhead reel charging dispensers. The grant will allow BBB to create green jobs, provide over 1,100 hours of advanced, high-voltage safety training for its staff in partnership with the California Transit Training Consortium, and improve transportation outcomes for marginalized communities impacted by climate change.

The Big Blue Bus will use TIRCP funds to enhance the customer experience, by purchasing and deploying 5 BEBs on Route 3 and Rapid 3, as part of a comprehensive plan to reimagine service along the Lincoln Boulevard corridor, between Downtown Santa Monica and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Route 3 and Rapid 3 will be rerouted to connect to both the Metro Rail K Line and the LAX People Mover, when the new LAX/Metro Transit Center is completed in 2024.

An additional mile of bus lanes will be implemented on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice during peak hours, and BBB will add 11,500 service hours annually on Route 3 and Rapid 3, to increase frequency to every 10 minutes during the day.

“This is a landmark moment for Big Blue Bus and the City of Santa Monica in our collective efforts to realize carbon emission reduction goals; provide frequent, sustainable, and equitable transit service to low-income and disadvantaged communities; and strengthen the region’s transportation network,” said Ed King, Director of Santa Monica’s Department of Transportation. “The funds will be used to make substantial investments in climate and workforce resilience, as well as capital improvement projects that increase ridership and improve the customer experience on our system.”

As part of Phase 1 of the Fleet Electrification Master Plan, BBB installed 20 standalone chargers at its depot and purchased 19 BEBs. In February 2023, the Santa Monica City Council approved BBB’s request to purchase 15 additional BEBs. Funds received from CalSTA’s TIRCP will elevate the agency’s number of zero-emission buses to 39, and support the construction of infrastructure capable of charging up to 104 buses at its depot.

TIRCP provides grants from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, to fund transformative capital improvements that modernize California’s transportation systems and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, vehicle miles traveled, and congestion.

By Casey

SMPD Conducting Driver’s License Checkpoint Friday May 5

May 2, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department’s Traffic Unit will conduct a driving under the influence (DUI) Checkpoint on Friday, May 5, from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. at an undisclosed location within the city limits.

DUI checkpoint locations are determined based on data showing incidents of impaired driving-related crashes. The purpose of DUI checkpoints are to promote public safety by taking suspected impaired drivers off the road.

“Impaired drivers put others on the road at significant risk,” said Lieutenant Cody Green. “Any prevention measures that reduce the number of impaired drivers on our roads significantly improves traffic safety.”

The SMPD is committed to keeping the traveling public safe. The safety of our community is and always will be our mission. We are looking for impaired drivers because driving under the influence is dangerous and puts others on the road at risk.

The SMPD is alerting the public that impaired driving is not only alcohol. Some prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs may interfere with driving. While medicinal and recreational marijuana are legal, driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal.

Drivers charged with a first-time DUI face an average of $13,500 in fines and penalties, as well as a suspended license.

Funding for the program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

One Person Killed In Two-Car Collision

May 1, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Two vehicles collided on Saturday, April 29 on Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica that resulted in one person being killed and nine others injured. The crash occurred at 3:10 p.m. in the 1000 block of PCH, near the California Incline, Santa Monica Police Lt. Erika Aklufi indicated.

“A Kia with six adults and two small children was northbound on PCH and attempting to turn left into Beach Lot Four North when it was T-boned by a southbound Toyota Camry with two adults,” said Lt. Aklufi.

All of the passengers were transported to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood. A passenger in the back of the Kia suffered a major leg injury and later died at the hospital. The name of the victim has not been disclosed to the public.

Authorities indicated the of the injuries were minor.

The Santa Monica Police Department shut down northbound lanes of PCH between the 900 and 1000 blocks of road, and the California Highway Patrol issued a SigAlert at 4:50 p.m., shutting down the westbound Santa Monica (10) Freeway at Fourth Street.

By Rob

Man Assaulted By Two Teenagers With Skateboards

May 1, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—A man was attacked by a group of 8 teenagers two of which have been charged with assault after they were caught beating a man with their skateboards on a Santa Monica E-Line Train.

The incident occurred on Wednesday, April 19, at around 11:24 a.m. It began as a confrontation on a westbound E-Line and escalated to an assault once the train arrived at 4th Street and Colorado Avenue. Officers from the Santa Monica Police Department arrived at the platform and summoned medics to treat the injured victim. 

The victim who was later identified as Eric Lewis and multiple witnesses were able to describe the assailants and the direction they were heading. According to reports, the group of teenage boys were delaying the train by preventing the doors from closing. Many of the passengers were headed to work and pleaded with the boys to stop so they could make it to work on time.

The group of boys targeted Lewis. They began to taunt, harass and throw items at him. According to Lewis, he kept his head down and tried ignoring them. As the train made its last stop the boys exited. Lewis left the train through an emergency exit located in the opposite side of the train. When he got off the train he was hit in the back of the head and turned around a saw one of the boys swinging his skateboard. 

“The first thing out of my mouth was ‘did you just hit me with your skateboard?’” Lewis said to Santa Monica Daily Press in an interview. He took his phone out and said he was going to call the cops then the group of boys started screaming and yelling at him. They tried taking Lewis’s phone away from him as he was trying to dial. 

Image of the injuries the victim sustained.

The group of boys beat Lewis with their fists, feet, and skateboards. One of the assailants was able to reach into the victim’s pocket and grabbed his phone. The group stopped and Lewis fled in the direction of the nearby Marriott Courtyard Hotel.

He found a security guard at the hotel and asked for help. 

Lewis looked for his phone and work clothes that he left at the scene when one of the assailants met with him. This assailant was described as the “leader” of the group of teenagers. Lewis asked for his phone back when the suspect raised his hands with his skateboard and slammed it against the victim’s head which cracked his skull. 

The group of teenagers ran away as Lewis sat on the sidewalk waiting for help. 

Officers located the suspects and arrested them with no incident. The victim was able to identify them after he was shown some images. 

Lewis was encouraged to go to the hospital by authorities but at the time was confused by their question. He was taken to St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica where he arrived at the emergency room around 12:30 p.m. He was suffering from a deep laceration to his scalp requiring eight staples, as well as a cracked rib, multiple abrasions on his back, arms and shoulders, and a concussion that he was told was the cause of his light sensitivity, dizziness, headaches, word comprehension and nausea.

An officer found Lewis’s phone later that day and it had been smashed to pieces. 

Two suspects were taken to the police station, processed and released to their parents or guardians per county rules relates to youthful offenders. 

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office filed assault charges against two minors who officers said were seen striking the victim with their skateboards. 

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact SMPD Criminal Investigations during business hours at 310-458-8451.

By Christianne

Soulja Boy Ordered To Pay $235,900 in Kidnapping Case

April 27, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA/MALIBU—A Santa Monica Superior Court jury decided on April 21, that rapper Soulja Boy, whose real name is DeAndre Cortez Way, 32, was liable for the payment due to an alleged incident that occurred at his Malibu home on February 1, 2019. Kayla Myers claims she was held against her will and assaulted by the rapper. The rapper rose to fame in 2007 with the single, “Crank That (Soulja Boy).”

Myers indicated in the complaint that Soulja Boy and his assistant assaulted her after she was booted from a party at his home. An argument with the assistant ensued, which Soulja Boy broke up and punched and kicked her. She alleged to be pistol-whipped and tied to a chair in the garage where she was held for over six hours with an extension cord or duct tape.

“Way held the gun to Ms. Myers’ head and told her she was going to die that night and she would not make it home,” the original complaint read.

The rapper denied the allegations and claimed the damage inflicted to Myers was inflicted by his manager. He also claimed Myers was the aggressor on the night of the incident. The jury awarded $1,800 of the damages due to “mental health expenses” and $234,100 towards “physical and mental pain and suffering.”

Soulja Boy has not yet commented on the verdict that was recently announced.

By Rob

Allegations Of Sexual Abuse Settled By City Of Santa Monica

April 26, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Tuesday, April 25, the Santa Monica City Council approved settlements with 124 claimants in the amount of $122.5 million, resolving all lawsuits against the city from allegations of sexual abuse by former City employee Eric Uller.

“My heart goes out to the victims who have experienced so much pain and heartbreak,” said Mayor Gleam Davis. “The settlement is the City’s best effort to address the suffering of the victims in a responsible way, while also acknowledging that the harm done to the victims cannot be undone.”

The city reported in a press release that the claimants alleged that Uller sexually abused or attempted to sexually abuse them between the late 1980s and early 2000s when many were youth participating in the Police Activities League (“PAL”) program.

On November 15, 2018, Eric Uller was found dead inside his home from an apparent suicide. The former city employee was charged with three counts of lewd acts upon a child, two counts of oral copulation of a person under 18, and one count of continuous sexual abuse. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office revealed that Uller, 50, of Marina del Rey was expected back in court on November 15, 2018. The defendant is alleged to have abused the victims between the ages of 12 and 16 years old from December 1986 to September 1995, the prosecutor indicated.

Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer at the times issued the following statement on October 30, 2018:

“The recent arrest of a City employee has raised legitimate concern in our community, from this Council and from our City staff, so I want to provide a brief announcement on what we know and are able to share. Our hearts go out to anyone impacted by these deeply disturbing circumstances.  And I want to acknowledge the bravery of any and all victims that come forward to report sexual misconduct.”

“Over the last several days, there have been allegations that the City may have been aware of criminal conduct by Mr. Uller and failed in the past to address it. We take this concern seriously. We are committed to transparency and accountability. The City Attorney’s Office has retained outside counsel to conduct a comprehensive investigation of these allegations. The City is also conducting a comprehensive review of the procedures in place to protect youth participants of the PAL program,” said Mayor Winterer.

The city of Santa Monica released the following statement in response to Uller’s death:

“The City was shocked to receive this news.  Mr. Uller had been expected to appear in court this morning on the criminal charges previously filed against him.  The court was also advised of his death. The City had initiated an independent investigation into allegations that the City previously knew or should have known of, but failed to address, Mr. Uller’s alleged criminal conduct.  The City remains committed to seeing this investigation through.  The City has retained Irma Rodríguez Moises and Gabriel Sandoval at the law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo to conduct an independent investigation of these allegations.  The independent investigation is already underway, and will also review whether the City had in place sufficient procedures to encourage reporting of such conduct and to ensure that reports are acted on.  The City continues to encourage anyone who has information relevant to the independent investigation to reach out directly to the independent counsel at https://www.aalrr.com/contact-cerritos or 562-653-3200.

The City also remains committed to conducting a review of the policies and practices of the many youth programs funded and operated by the City, including PAL.  The City is in the process of retaining an outside consultant, Praesidium, Inc., to review the policies and practices of its youth programs and provide guidance on best practices for preventing any future incidents of abuse.  Information about Praesidium can be found at its website, https://website.praesidiuminc.com/wp/.”

After the first allegations of sexual abuse by Uller in 2018, the city of Santa Monica expanded requirements for Child Abuse Mandated Reporter Training for all employees, volunteers, and contractors for any City-managed youth program; and created a Child Protection Committee, and established a Child Protection Officer, to oversee implementation of child abuse prevention measures across City programs.

“The City has remained vigilant by implementing best practices and strict policies to ensure that these unconscionable acts do not occur again,” said City Manager David White.

Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Santa Monica will pay $122.5 million into a qualified settlement fund, which will be allocated among the plaintiffs with the assistance of a neutral retired judge retained by plaintiffs’ counsel.

By Donald

Funeral Mass Of Former Mayor Richard Riordan Announced

April 25, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA— Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan passed away on Wednesday, April 19 at age 92.

Archbishop José H. Gomez will preside over the Friday, April 28 2 p.m. Mass, and the homily will be delivered by Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson, pastor at St. Monica Catholic Church. The service will also be streamed on YouTube  olacathedral – YouTube

He moved to Los Angeles in the mid 1950s to pursue a career in law. He co-founded the Riordan & McKinzie firm in 1975. They later merged with Bingham McCutcheon in 2003.

Riordan served as Mayor from 1993-2001. He was the first Republican Party mayor in 36 years.

He succeeded Democrat Tom Bradley as mayor who served five terms.

Completion of the Red Line subway’s (2000) and the opening of the Green Line (1995) both occurred during Riordan’s time in office.

Riordan was married on four occasions and had five children.

By Rob

Felony Assault Occurs At California Pizza Kitchen

April 24, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Lt. Erika Aklufi of the Santa Monica Police Department indicated in an email to Canyon News that the department are investigating a felony assault that transpired at a California Pizza Kitchen on Thursday, April 20.

At approximately 7:43 p.m., the SMPD received a 911 call of an assault at the California Pizza Kitchen located at 210 Wilshire Boulevard. Patrol officers assigned to the Department’s Downtown Services Unit were on scene within two minutes.

In the outdoor seating area at the restaurant, officers found a table on its side and broken dishes and food on the floor. The victim of the attack was bleeding after suffering cuts on his hand. When authorities arrived, the suspect had already fled the scene.

The victim and several witnesses told officers that just a few minutes before, a male suspect, who was not known to the victim, without provocation approached the victim and his dining partner while they sat at their table, picked up two chairs, and slammed them on the table.

During the incident, the victim fell to the ground and cut his hand on broken dishware on the floor. The victim was taken to the hospital for treatment for the lacerations.

The suspect is described as White male, standing 5 foot and 8 inches tall and weighing 180-200 pounds. His age is unknown. He had a full beard, wearing a green or brown jacket, orange sweater, white undershirt, blue jeans, and blue framed glasses. No further details about the suspect has been disclosed to the public.

Anyone with information about the incident or person(s) involved is asked to contact SMPD Sergeant Goodwin during business hours at 310-458-8451, chad.goodwin@santamonica.gov, or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

By Casey

Improvements To Wilshire Boulevard To Enhance Safety, Transit Service

April 19, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica reported on its website that construction for safety enhancements on Wilshire Boulevard on the corridor between Ocean and Centinela Avenues is slated to begin on Monday, May 1. Developed as part of the Wilshire Safety Study, which evaluated the 2.4-mile corridor, incorporated community feedback and crash data analysis to determine the most effective and high-impact approach to enhancing transportation safety and transit service. The modifications aim to enhance safe routes to schools while also promoting pedestrian and bicycle travel to nearby establishments such as grocery stores and health care facilities.

“I am thrilled about the upcoming safety improvements to Wilshire Boulevard,” says Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis. “These changes will enhance the safety of our residents and visitors while promoting a more walkable and livable community. Santa Monica is committed to intelligent street design that promotes safety, equity, and accessibility for all modes of transportation.”

Planned Wilshire Boulevard improvements include:

-Infrastructure Upgrades: Complete repaving of Wilshire Boulevard followed by improved road markings, refreshed crosswalks, and painted areas to make it clearer where pedestrians can cross.

-Pedestrian Visibility: Highly visible flashing beacons at five intersections will signal to motorists that they must yield to the pedestrian crossing the street.

-Hot Spot Solutions: To reduce the number of collisions at 14 intersections without traffic signals, the side streets will be restricted to right turns only. Although few vehicles continue straight or turn left at these intersections, they are involved in a disproportionately high number of collisions. Approximately one out of every five collisions at these locations occurs when drivers make a left turn or continue straight.

-Transit Improvements: Bus stops will be marked with bright red pavement to discourage private vehicles from blocking them. Loading zones will be installed next to bus stops so that vehicles have a space to pick up and drop off passengers without creating blockages. Bus stop enhancements will improve transit service for Big Blue Bus Route 2, and Metro Routes 20 and 720. Transit ridership is expected to increase in the Wilshire Boulevard corridor upon completion of the Metro Purple (D Line) subway extension to Westwood, scheduled to open in phases between 2024-2027.

-Better Bike Connections: Special markings at four intersections will create dedicated space for cyclists to safely cross Wilshire Boulevard.

“With these changes, the community is taking a major step toward realizing our Vision Zero goal of eliminating fatal and severe injury crashes from our streets by 2026. Additionally, we will be able to provide faster and more reliable bus service for our customers, ultimately making it easier for them to access all that Santa Monica and the Westside has to offer,” said Ed King, Director of the Santa Monica Department of Transportation. “We are committed to creating a transportation network that meets the needs of our community, and these improvements are an important step towards that goal.”

The commu

nity engagement process which lasted over a year, included close to 20 presentations to neighborhood groups and schools, stakeholder meetings, on-the-street canvassing, digital outreach, and a comprehensive social media campaign. Forty percent of public comments identified difficult crossing conditions as a concern on Wilshire Boulevard.

The improvements are part of a comprehensive initiative to make the street more accessible for pedestrians and will continue with Phase 2 next year. Phase 2 improvements are in the design stage and will focus on more permanent changes like concrete curb extensions, and improved lighting.

For more details about the Wilshire Boulevard Safety Enhancements, visit santamonica.gov/mobility-projects/wilshire-boulevard-safety-enhancements.

By Donald

SMC To Celebrate New Malibu Campus On April 22

April 6, 2023 ·

MALIBU—Santa Monica College will celebrate the opening of its new Malibu Campus. “[At] 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 22. The event, which is open to the public, will be held at SMC Malibu Campus, 23555 Civic Center Way, located next to the Malibu Library. Ample parking is available on site, and along Civic Center Way. The open house will include live class demonstrations, campus tours, with Malibu High School and Malibu Community Library (part of the Los Angeles Public Library system) participating to provide information tables for attendees and activities for children, and more,” reads the SMC website.

Santa Monica College is a two-year community college. The main campus is 38 acres and located at 1900 Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica. There are five other satellite locations located across Santa Monica. They offer over 180 degree and certificate programs. Over 30,000 students study at SMC. Eight men’s sports and ten women’s sports are available at the college.

A list of programs available at the college are available using at: https://www.smc.edu/academics/areas-of-interest/all-programs.php

A virtual tour of athletic facilities are available at: https://www.smccorsairs.com/general/2020-21/Virtual_Athletics_Tour

The SMC Historical brochure can be viewed at:                            https://www.smc.edu/about/documents/SMC-HistoricalBrochure.pdf

High school students requesting to speak with an SMC recruitment specialist can do so by filling out the form available at: https://www.smc.edu/student-support/welcome-center or email Outreach@smc.edu  for more details.
By Rob

Residents Escape Santa Monica Apartment Fire

April 4, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Captain Patrick McNulty, Public Information Officer for the Santa Monica Fire Department indicated in an email to Canyon News that on Sunday, April 2, they received multiple 911 calls at 10:39 a.m. of a structure fire at 1011 4th Street in the Wilmont Neighborhood.

Upon arrival, firefighters discovered a fire in one unit on the first floor of a three-story apartment complex. Firefighters attacked the fire while simultaneously searching adjacent units to ensure no occupants were trapped. Three residents and one dog were forced to jump into the swimming pool to escape the blaze prior to the fire departments arrival.

Within 20 minutes, the fire was extinguished before it spread to the units above and was confined to the first-floor unit where the fire originated.

Due to the size and complexity of the apartment complex and the potential for fire spread and trapped occupants, the SMFD requested resources from LAFD to assist along with help from Santa Monica Public Safety Communications, Santa Monica Police, Building & Safety, and McCormick Ambulance. There were no injuries to residents or first responders, and no residents were displaced as a result of the blaze. The cause of the fire is under investigation by SMFD investigators.

By Donald

Biker Rescued In Santa Monica

December 12, 2021 ·

SANTA MONICA—A mountain biker was injured while riding in the Santa Monica Mountains on Saturday, December 11. He was rescued by Los Angeles Fire Department officials near the Pacific Palisades and Encino region. 

The report was made before 11:30 a.m. along Topanga State Park. The 23-year-old cyclist was found critically injured. He was wearing a helmet. He sustained injuries to his head, arm, and shoulder. Officials were present to medically assist him. 

Rescue helicopters were able to rescue the biker and he was airlifted to a regional trauma center. The name of the biker has not been released. His current condition has not been made public. 

By Christianne

Vaccination Required For Bars, Wineries, Breweries And More

September 20, 2021 ·

BEVERLY HILLS—The city of Beverly Hills indicated in a press release that the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) will issue a new Health Officer Order that requires customers to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination prior to entering indoor bars, wineries, breweries, nightclubs and lounges.

Under the modified Order, employees and customers are required to have at least one vaccine dose by October 7 and both doses by November 4.

The New Health Officer Order will require workers and attendees at outdoor mega events (consisting of crowds over 10,000 people) to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before working or attending the event.

Attendees at indoor mega events are already required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test prior to entry. These requirements will also apply to theme parks within the county.

While not required, LACDPH also recommends vaccine verification at indoor portions of restaurants to reduce transmission risk.

This announcement impacts businesses in the City of Beverly Hills. When available, theupdated Health Officer Order can be viewed at beverlyhills.org/coronavirus.

To find the nearest vaccination site, visit VaccinateLACounty.com or beverlyhills.org/covidvaccine. For questions about business impacts from the new Health Office Order, email businessrecovery@beverlyhills.org.

To stay updated on the latest COVID-19 news, visit beverlyhills.org/coronavirus or call the City’s COVID-19 Hotline Monday-Friday from 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. at 310-550-4680.

By Donald