Tag: santa monica pier

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

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

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

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