Tag: Santa Monica

Suspicious Material Investigated By SMPD

May 20, 2024 ·

The Santa Monica Police Department investigated suspicious materials on May 19. Photo courtesy of Harper Sunday via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On Sunday, May 19, the Santa Monica Police Department informed Canyon News via email that a bomb squad call out was made to authorities.

At approximately 4 p.m., the city of Santa Monica’s Police/Fire Dispatch Center received a call reporting the discovery of what an individual believed to be bomb-making materials found while cleaning a deceased relative’s home.

Before contacting the police, the caller placed the items in their vehicle and began to drive to the Santa Monica Police Station. Officers responded to the vehicle in the field, stopping near 5th and Colorado, where they confirmed the suspicious items. They immediately contacted the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad.

As a precaution, nearby buildings in the area were evacuated, and streets were closed while the Bomb Squad rendered the materials safe. There were no injuries or direct threats to public safety.

Information related to the incident was provided to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The area in question was cleared. The SMPD are not providing any additional details at this time. The public is informed to always report any suspicious activity by contacting 9-1-1.

By Trevor

Santa Monica Working To Improve PCH

May 9, 2024 ·

The city of Santa Monica is aiming to improve safety on Pacific Coast Highway. Photo courtesy of Thomas Ciszewski via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On May 8, the California Office of Traffic Safety announced a press release regarding new plans for safety for Pacific Coast Highway.

The new “Go Safely PCH” campaign and detail the ongoing efforts to make the corridor safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. The goal is to deliver roadway improvements, increased enforcement to deter speeding and safety education for residents and visitors. “Go Safely PCH” is a commitment to keeping everyone headed to Malibu’s beach, shops or restaurants safe.

“Go Safely PCH is more than a campaign – it’s a movement demonstrating our collective commitment to making this beautiful corridor safer for everyone who travels on it,” said Secretary Omishakin. “Through infrastructure improvements, increased enforcement and drivers doing their part by slowing down, we can and will save lives. I thank all our partners for coming together to say in a strong, unified voice: One more life lost is one too many.”

Since 2010, 59 people have been killed on the 21-mile stretch of PCH in Malibu, including the deaths of four Pepperdine University students who were struck and killed by a speeding driver in October 2023. Every day, an average of 12 people are killed on California roads. California’s goal is to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by 2050.

“Death and danger along PCH are unacceptable; we can’t wait to change the status quo. Now is the time for close coordination and meaningful action,” said Lindsey P. Horvath, Chair, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. “While we advance important infrastructure and legislative changes for a safer PCH, education is essential. As summer approaches and Malibu prepares to welcome beachgoers and visitors, the ‘Go Safely PCH’ campaign will foster a safer scenic roadway for the Malibu community and all who enjoy our gorgeous coastline.”

The new education campaign is informing drivers of the increased law enforcement presence and reminding them to slow down on PCH or face consequences. The messages are being shared on billboards, lawn and beach signs, flyers, posters and on social media. Residents of California are encouraged to take a traffic safety pledge and commit to practicing safe driving behaviors when visiting beaches, parks, shops and restaurants along PCH.

“The ‘Go Safely PCH’ campaign is about establishing a strong road safety culture that no longer accepts the death and destruction on PCH,” said OTS Director Barbara Rooney. “We encourage everyone to make a commitment to safe driving on PCH. The beach will still be there when you get there. If you ever feel the need to speed, think of the 59 victims and how your responsible actions behind the wheel will help make sure there are no more deaths and senseless tragedies on PCH.”

Starting in January, the city of Malibu added three full-time California Highway Patrol officers to help the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) with traffic enforcement on PCH in Malibu for the first time since 1991. The support from CHP officers resulted in more than 1,200 citations through April, more than 1,000 of which were for speeding.

In addition, the OTS provided approximately $555,000 in additional funding to the LASD, Los Angeles Police Department and Santa Monica Police Department for increased enforcement on PCH.

“The California Highway Patrol is committed to working with our traffic safety partners to enhance the safety of Pacific Coast Highway for all travelers,” said Commissioner Sean Duryee. “By combining engineering enhancements, educational campaigns, and rigorous enforcement efforts, we not only improve conditions on the highway but also save lives along the way.”

Caltrans is investing $4.2 million for multiple safety upgrades to PCH infrastructure, including lane separators to prevent vehicles from drifting into oncoming traffic or making illegal turns, crosswalk striping at all locations for increased visibility for drivers and pedestrians, more visible road striping, speed limit markings on the road, as well as more speed limit and curve warning signs.

Caltrans has also installed optical speed bars, which are stripes spaced at decreasing distances that make drivers aware of their speed and prompt them to slow down, as well as 13 speed feedback signs. Additional proposed work includes pavement upgrades, new bike lanes and pedestrian access improvements from the McClure Tunnel in Santa Monica to the Ventura County line. A full list of current and planned updates for PCH Safety projects are on the Caltrans District 7 website.

The Malibu City Council declared a Local Emergency to address the dangers on PCH, which is visited by millions of people every year. Malibu has invested $39 million commitment on traffic safety improvement projects, and another $8 million dedicated to future PCH safety improvement projects.

“The epidemic of reckless driving is impacting communities across our country,” said Malibu Mayor Steve Uhring. “I am proud to be in California where we are taking proactive steps to address this issue. The problem will not be solved overnight, but this education program puts a major change agent in our toolbox. On behalf of all Malibu residents, I thank our state partner agencies for their leadership in providing solutions to this important problem.”

Between 2019 and 2023, five people were killed on PCH in Santa Monica, and more than 100 crashes resulted in injuries, including 12 serious injury crashes.

Santa Monica’s Local Roadway Safety Plan identifies PCH as a priority corridor for infrastructure safety improvements as part of the Caltrans PCH corridor study.

“We have seen far too many serious crashes on PCH, and it is absolutely heartbreaking that five people have lost their lives in Santa Monica’s section of the highway since 2019,” said Santa Monica Mayor Phil Brock. “Santa Monica is committed to making our roads safe for everyone. Since we don’t have jurisdiction over PCH, our partnership with the state and regional agencies is critical to our mission to eliminate fatal and severe injury crashes in Santa Monica through our Vision Zero initiative.”

The announcement of the Go Safely PCH campaign follows the work of the PCH Taskforce, a coalition of law enforcement, traffic engineers, Caltrans and local and state elected officials working to find solutions to make PCH safer.

For details on safety updates, campaign pledges and access to digital assets, visit GoSafelyPCH.org.

By Trevor

We Are Essential Community Festival Starts May 19

May 9, 2024 ·

Photo courtesy of Amritanshu Sikdar via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica announced on their website on May 8 that the We Are Essential, a community festival focused around water conservation and zero waste and organics recycling education, kicks off National Public Works Week on May 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Gandara Park.

Gandara Park is located at 1819 Stewart St. in the Pico Neighborhood and is near the City Yards, which is the essential public works services.

The festival, which will feature workshops, activities and performances, is part of a two-year artist-in-residency project with artist Debra Scacco that explores themes of ecological sustainability and justice, the daily work of municipal maintenance and its connections to the community, and the labor of public works essential workers.

The free event will feature activities for the whole family, including:

-Learn about compost workshop

-Tap and purified blind water tasting

-Santa Monica Youth Orchestra and SOL-LA Music Academy performing water-themed music

-Coloring stations

-Seed and compost giveaways

-Closeup photo ops with city utility vehicles

-Recycling themed lawn games

-Vocal artist Sharon Chohi Kim

-Reading by Santa Monica Poet Laureate Anne Carmack

-Participatory truck activation by artist Tanya Aguiñiga

The city will continue celebrating National Public Works Week through May 25, highlighting the role of public works in our daily lives and honoring the essential workers that make it all possible.

Additional Public Works Week activities include:

-A celebratory proclamation delivered by the City Council at its May 14 meeting.

-Public displays in the City Hall lobby and the City Yards Operations Center lobby

“The dedicated employees of our Public Works Department keep essential city services running day in and day out,” said Mayor Phil Brock. “I’m thrilled to celebrate and acknowledge our workforce and all essential workers this May and every day of the year.”

By Trevor

Celebrate Fire Service Day At Fire Station 1 On May 11

May 8, 2024 ·

The public can participate in celebrating Fire Service Day at Fire Station #1 on May 11. Photo by Michael Jeffrey via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On Monday, May 6, the city of Santa Monica announced that the Santa Monica Fire Department will host a community celebration May 11 for Fire Service Day at Fire Station 1.

Open house activities for families and children include:

-Exploring fire engines and the ladder truck

-Fire station tours with firefighters

-Hands-only CPR and important emergency preparedness information with American Red Cross

-Stop the Bleed education in partnership with University of California, Los Angeles

The event will be held on Saturday, May 11 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 1337 7th Street.

During the year, the SMFD offers outreach programs, including fire station tours, fire engine visits, and education on fire and life safety topics. The event offers an additional and unique opportunity to meet local firefighters and learn about what they do through a hands-on experience.

Fire Station 1 serves the downtown core and is Santa Monica’s most active station with 7,430 calls for service received in 2023. Fire Station 1 houses the department’s largest equipment, including its ladder truck, which will be on display for Fire Service Day.

By Trevor

Thrive Market Settles Consumer Protection Lawsuit

May 6, 2024 ·

Thrive Market has reached a settlement related to a consumer protection lawsuit. Photo by Bernard Hermant via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On Friday, May 3, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced a settlement was reached with Thrive Market Technologies, Inc., an e-commerce membership-based retailer offering natural and organic food products. The company is expected to pay $1.55 million to settle a civil lawsuit alleging it violated the California Automatic Renewal Law and False Advertisement Law.

State law prohibits companies from automatically renewing consumers’ subscriptions without clearly and conspicuously disclosing the subscription terms or without their affirmative consent. State law also prohibits companies from displaying a price that suggests a discount or a deal without support.

Under a judgment negotiated with the company entered on April 30 in Santa Barbara County Superior Court and signed by Judge Colleen K. Sterne, the company was additionally ordered to comply with the following terms:

-Clearly and conspicuously disclose its automatic renewal terms;

-Obtain consumers’ affirmative consent to the terms through a checkbox before charging for an automatic renewal subscription;

-Email consumers a confirmation of the transaction that includes the automatic renewal terms after they pay;

-Allow consumers to cancel their subscription online at will; and

-Avoid making misleading statements regarding its subscription and products.

The company did not admit any wrongdoing. They were cooperative in the investigation and has taken steps to correct the violations.

The case was investigated by the California Automatic Renewal Task Force (CART). The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office formed CART to address rising consumer complaints against online automatic renewal subscriptions. In addition to LADA, CART includes the district attorneys’ offices of Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Diego, and the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office.

By Trevor

Ordinance Approved For Use Of Low-Carbon Concrete

April 29, 2024 ·

The city of Santa Monica has approved an ordinance for low-carbon concrete. Photo courtesy of Tanner Vote via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—It was announced on April 25 that the Santa Monica City Council approved an ordinance that will require the use of low-carbon concrete for all new construction, swimming pools and spas.

As noted in a press release from the city’s website, traditional concrete is a mix that uses Portland cement, known as clinker, and other materials. The process of creating traditional concrete uses substantial energy that creates large amounts of embodied carbon emissions. Low-carbon concrete uses alternative materials that help decrease future carbon emissions.

“I’m thrilled to see our city continue to advance towards the goal of carbon neutrality,” said Chief Sustainability Officer Shannon Parry. “We know the concrete industry is ready to supply low-carbon alternatives and we are ready to implement this very important step in our fight against climate change.”

City staff conducted outreach to local concrete suppliers and builders in formulating the ordinance, and all expressed support and willingness to provide low-carbon concrete options. These options are available now and at a lower cost than traditional cement.

The city of Santa Monica currently uses low-carbon concrete mixes in city infrastructure projects, one example being the Moongate structure at Woodlawn Cemetery.

National examples of developments that have utilized low-carbon concrete materials include the One World Trade Center in New York and Wilshire Grand Center in downtown Los Angeles.

The ordinance does include exemptions to allow for flexibility, such as for projects that require less than three yards of onsite mixing for immediate needs, during emergencies, in cases of supply chain challenges or if the cost of traditional concrete mix is higher than low-carbon options.

Compliance checks for the new ordinance will be part of the Plan Check process. The ordinance will return for a second reading on May 14 and go into effect 30 days later. For more details, review the staff report, or view the Santa Monica City Council discussion.

By Trevor

Summer Recreation Programs Open April 24

April 24, 2024 ·

Photo courtesy of Gabin Vallet via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On Tuesday, April 23, the city of Santa Monica announced that registration for the city’s summer recreation programs begins Wednesday, April 24, at 6 a.m. for Santa Monica residents, and Wednesday, May 1, at 6 a.m. for non-residents.

Indoor and outdoor recreation classes for all ages are provided at city parks, the Santa Monica Swim Center and the Annenberg Community Beach House seasonally throughout the year.

All classes and camps require an account via ActiveNet, which is the city’s online registration system. Instructions for how to create an ActiveNet account can be found online. Once registration opens, interested individuals can register here.

The Santa Monica Community Recreation Division provides valuable programs and enrichment opportunities for residents of all ages to participate in a multitude of classes, programs, and events throughout its parks, fields, and facilities.

Community Recreation runs programs and facilities that keep Santa Monica active including the Santa Monica Swim Center & Aquatics Program, Memorial Park Gym, the Cove Skatepark, Adult Sports Leagues, and Community Camps & Classes.

Information on Santa Monica’s recreation classes and camps, field permits, sports leagues and more can be viewed at: https://santamonica.gov/topic-explainers/recreation-programs-in-santa-monica.

By Trevor

Public Hearings For Big Blue Bus Service Changes

April 16, 2024 ·

Service changes could be coming for the Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica. Photo by Michael Gordon/Shutterstock.

SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica will host two public hearings in April to discuss proposed service changes to Big Blue Bus set to be implemented over the next five years. According to a press release from the city of Santa Monica from April 11, Brither Blue is BBB’s strategic service planning initiative wants to adapt to rider needs and travel behavior post-pandemic. The goal is to advance the city’s strategic priority of a Sustainable & Connected community.

Changes proposed under Brighter Blue reflect themes identified through stakeholder focus groups, surveys, and written feedback where riders have consistently emphasized the importance of improved frequency, expanded service hours, and greater connectivity to essential destinations. The Big Blue Bus team is asking the community for input on the following enhancements aimed to make transportation more accessible, convenient, and efficient:

-Increase frequency to 15 minutes or better on a network of key Big Blue Bus routes on major corridors

-Expand service hours to allow for all-day travel on weekdays (5 a.m. – 11 p.m.) and weekends (6 a.m. – 10 p.m.)

-Broaden travel opportunities by introducing weekend service on select weekday-only routes

-Ensure direct access to current and planned Metro Rail D Line, C Line, and K Line stations, and the future LAX People Mover

“We are advancing our engagement process to ensure that future Big Blue Bus service aligns with community needs, promotes greater access to high-quality bus and rail service in our region and attracts new riders to our system,” said Director of Transportation Anuj Gupta. “I am looking forward to implementing what we have heard in order to continue to improve our service to the community.”

Online Public Hearing

-Tuesday, April 16 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

In-Person Public Hearing

-Saturday, April 20 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Virginia Avenue Park, Thelma Terry Building 2200 Virginia Avenue

Community members should review the draft service changes an provide feedback at two public hearings. Each hearing will begin with a brief presentation of the proposed changes followed by a public comment period.

To attend a public hearing, register at brigherbluebbb.com. Anyone not able to attend can provide input via an online survey at https://sur-vey.typeform.com/to/N9oGdT41.

Written comments can be mailed to Big Blue Bus, 1660 7th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401, Attn: Alfredo Torales, Transit Planning and Performance, or by email to brighterblue@santamonica.gov.

Written comments will be accepted between April 15 and May 24. All comments will be carefully reviewed by the Big Blue Bus team, and adjustments may be made to the proposed service changes based on the feedback received.

To arrive at the in-person meeting take Big Blue Bus Route 7 which servces Virginia Avenue Park. For those driving, parking is available in the lot on Pico Boulevard and 23rd Street.

For more details about the proposed service changes and Brighter Blue, visit brigherbluebbb.com.

By Trevor

Affordable And Permanent Supportive Housing Coming To Santa Monica

April 16, 2024 ·

Photo courtesy of Nathan Dumlao via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On Thursday, April 11, the city of Santa Monica disclosed in a press release that City Council on April 9 took a step forward in bringing more than 120 affordable apartments, including 50 with supportive services, to the city-owned site on 4th Street.

The Santa Monica City Council approved a design concept for the development that includes a mix of studio, one, two and three bedroom apartments, along with ground floor retail and residential and commercial parking spaces. Staff will be exploring the feasibility of adding an additional floor of apartments and will return to City Council for final approval of a ground lease and a development and disposition agreement.

According to a press release, the development of the site into affordable housing is part of the approved Housing Element aimed at the city’s goal to address homelessness in the region. It is set to serve individuals and families earning from 30 to 80 percent of the Area Median Income, as well as those dealing with homelessness.

Project developer EAH conducted robust community outreach as part of the design review process and incorporated feedback from neighboring residents and businesses.

“Moving forward in bringing affordable and permanent supportive housing to city-owned land is a key step in our strategy to fulfill our Housing Element requirements,” said Mayor Phil Brock. “I look forward to the next steps and ultimately seeing families move into these new homes and thrive.”

The development was made possible by $2 million secured by Representative Ted Lieu as part of the 2022 House Appropriations Bill, along with various state sources. The development furthers the priority of Justice, Equity & Diversity by providing housing opportunities for all.

For more details view the staff report of city council meeting.

By Trevor

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

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

Meeting For Revenue Sharing Agreement In School District Separation Efforts

April 8, 2024 ·

The city of Malibu is having a special meeting to discuss revenue sharing as it pertains to the school separation efforts. Photo courtesy of Ivan Aleksic via Unsplash.

MALIBU—The city of Malibu announced they are inviting the community to join a Special Meeting and Work Session of the City Council scheduled for Wednesday, April 10 aimed at providing residents with a comprehensive understanding of the revenue sharing agreement in the context of the ongoing school district separation efforts.

The city reported on its website that the Special Meeting and Work Session will serve as an opportunity for residents to gain insights into the revenue sharing agreement and its implications for the community. The session will focus exclusively on providing details and fostering discussion among Malibu residents and community stakeholders. The Santa Monica-Malibu School District (SMMUSD) will host community workshops for residents of Santa Monica, in addition to joint sessions in May that will be co-hosted by SMMUSD and Malibu.

Throughout the April 10 Work Session, key guiding principles will be emphasized, including equity, fairness, and local control in education. By upholding these principles, the City remains committed to ensuring that decisions regarding educational policies are made with the best interests of the community in mind.

The Special Meeting and Work Session will feature presentations, discussions, and opportunities for residents to ask questions on the revenue sharing agreement. By fostering open communication and collaboration, the city hopes to empower residents to play a role in the school separation process.

All interested residents are invited to attend the Special Meeting and Work Session and participate in the discussion at 6 p.m. at the Council Chambers at Malibu City Hall (23825, Stuart Ranch Rd, first floor). Viewing and commenting instructions for remote participation will be posted with the meeting agenda in advance on the website.

A second workshop will be held on Saturday, April 20 at 10 a.m. Details regarding the second workshop location will be provided in a subsequent announcement.

For more details on Malibu’s school separation efforts contact Deputy City Manager Alexis Brown at 310-456-2489, ext. 300, email abrown@malibucity.org, or visit the Malibu Unified webpage.

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

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

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

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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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

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

Mudslides Wreak Havoc In Los Angeles County

February 8, 2024 ·

SHERMAN OAKS—February 6 brings reports of the aftermath of torrential rains that hit Southern California including landslides and mudslides across much of the coverage area. The mud flowed downhill into the neighborhoods in Beverly Crest and on Caribou Lane in Beverly Glen in Santa Monica, Lockridge Road in Studio City, and in Sherman Oaks bringing with it trash and debris.

The Los Angeles Fire Department rescue teams were ready to help residents who were essentially getting buried in the mud. Vehicles stuck in the mud left Los Angeles County residents stranded.

As residents were being evacuated from their homes, firefighters were there to help them escape the constant mudflow.

According to the LAFD website, La Tuna Canyon Road was under an evacuation order that was not lifted until Tuesday, February 6.

As of February 6, LAFD reported 475 mudslides, 38 buildings requiring inspections due to the mudslides, four buildings red-tagged for no entry, and nine buildings yellow-tagged for possession collection only. Several buildings located along Lockridge Rd. which had previously been tagged, were reassessed as safe for entry.

The following came directly from the LAFD website:

“The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has reported that as of 4:00 PM PT. Tuesday, approximately 6,600 customers remain without power. Due to crews around the clock, 59,000 have had their power restored since the start of the storm.”

The Department of Public Works reported 390 downed trees/branches, 441 potholes, and “963 catch basins and stormwater conveyance systems [were] cleared.”

The Los Angeles Emergency Management Department also shared the following information update on February 6 at 4:00 p.m.:

“Periods of rain, mountain snow, and possible thunderstorms will continue through this evening. A few hours of moderate rain are possible later Wednesday afternoon and night. Snow levels each day with mountain snow issues increasing. Gusty west to northwest winds will form Wednesday and continue into Thursday. Saturday through at least Tuesday will be dry and warmer.”

There are a reported 1,000 firefighters with boots on the ground to work through the storm and its aftermath.

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

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

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

Tips For Recycling Christmas Trees In SOCAL

January 3, 2024 ·

BEVERLY HILLS—On January 2, city officials in southern California reminded residents how to recycle their Christmas Trees. 

Hauling Christmas Trees

The Los Angeles County Public Works published the following information about the proper disposal of Christmas Trees on their website:

“Most of the Cities in Los Angeles County have requested residents to remove ornaments/decorations, tinsel, plastic containers, metal/plastic/wood stands, nails, and lights. If none shown, please contact your city for options. See below for special instructions. Unless otherwise noted. The Christmas trees can then be placed at curbside next to the recycling and waste containers on scheduled trash collection day(s) during the time-period noted. Please see special instructions for further details and possible exceptions to these rules in your city.”

The city of Bevely Hills collection dates are from December 26, 2023, through January 11, 2024.

The city of Santa Monica indicated on their website they are collecting trees from December 26, 2023, through January 31, 2024. The Resource Recovery and Recycling Administrator, Yvonne Yeung, who authored the post regarding the recycling of the trees advises that there is no need to call 311 for pick-up, and requests patience from the public as they are working diligently in getting the trees off the curbs in a timely manner.

“Place trees by the curb by 6 a.m. on service day. Trees over 6ft must be cut in half. No stands, ornaments or flocked trees accepted,” the city of Santa Monica stated. Residents may call 310-458-2223 or email recycling@santamonica.gov to schedule pick-ups through the end of January.

The city of West Hollywood has pick-up dates from December 26, 2023, through January 6, 2024.

The city of Malibu is allowing Christmas Tree pick-ups from December 26, 2023 – January 16, 2024. and stated:

“Place the tree by the curb by 6 a.m. on service day. Trees over 6ft must be cut in half. Plastic trees/foliage will not be accepted, call to schedule a bulky item pick-up.”

Residents from some parts of the coverage area can take their Christmas trees to the local fire station for recycling.

In Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles Fire Department, Fire Station #88 is currently taking trees at 5101 N. Sepulveda Boulevard.

By Sharon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.”

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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