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The Santa Monica Lookout, Santa Monica, California -- January 2018

Santa Monica Rent Control Board Votes to Phase Out Soaring Surcharges Passed Through to Renters
January 31, 2018 -- The Santa Monica Rent Control Board voted last Thursday to phase out surcharges passed through to tenants tied to jumps in local taxes and revaluations.

Local Union Criticized for Lobbying Santa Monica City Hall for Seven-Story Hotel
January 31, 2018 -- Unite Here Local 11, a union for housekeepers lately spreading its wings in Santa Monica, is the source of a new attack for using its clout to win a nod from the City Council for a controversial seven-story hotel in the neighborhood of the Bergamot Station Arts Center.

Santa Monica Police to Hold DUI Checkpoint Friday
January 31, 2018 -- Santa Monica Police will conduct a DUI/Drivers License Checkpoint on Friday from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. at an undisclosed location within the city limits, police officials announced.

New Policy Would Root Out Junk Food at Santa Monica-Malibu Public Schools
January 30, 2018 -- Updating its wellness policy, the Santa Monica-Malibu public school system is considering a proposal to root out junk food for students on campus that also recommends only healthy treats be allowed even during class parties and off-hours special events.

Neil Young Puts Santa Monica Back on the Cultural Map
January 29, 2018 -- For a mid-sized beach town, Santa Monica has plenty of ties to iconic rock stars. Its reputation should receive another boost with the upcoming release of the latest installment in Neil Young's bootleg series, "Roxy -- Tonight's the Night Live," which gives top billing to his band The Santa Monica Flyers.

Pension Costs to Climb Almost 75 Percent at Santa Monica City Hall, Think Tank Estimates
January 29, 2018 -- Total pension costs at Santa Monica City Hall will climb almost 75 percent by the 2024-2025 fiscal year, as the City continues to shoulder a huge unfunded liability -- or pension obligations it failed to fully fund -- and ongoing annual payments, according to a new analysis by a Sacramento-based think tank.

Hotel Workers at Santa Monica JW Marriott Threaten to Strike
January 29, 2018 -- Housekeepers at the JW Marriott Le Merigot in Santa Monica are threatening to picket, boycott and strike over allegations that the luxury beachfront hotel has been retaliating against those who supported the vote last November to join Unite Here, Local 11.

Camera Obscura Resident Artists Offer Workshops in Santa Monica
January 29, 2018 -- Santa Monica's Camera Obscura Art Lab continues its weekly workshops with resident artists Debra Disman and Huong Nguyen, who also will be working during the week on their residency projects.

Employee Pension Costs Poised to Soar in Santa Monica-Malibu Public School System
January 26, 2018 -- Pension costs are jumping by double-digits, health and welfare benefits are rising as well, and per-student spending jumped almost a quarter in just five years, nearly all of it fueled by employee salaries and benefits.

Santa Monica Hires LA's Top Advisior on Homelessness to Fill New Post
January 26, 2018 -- Alisa Orduña -- who currently is in charge of homeless policies for the City of Los Angeles -- will assume a similar post in Santa Monica, City officials announced Thursday.

Mission Looking for Earth-like Planets Focus of Santa Monica College Planetarium Show
January 26, 2018 -- If there are any planets that could sustain life forms, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) scheduled to be launched in March will be looking for them.

Santa Monica Neighborhood Group Fighting Preschool Loses City Council Appeal
January 25, 2018 -- A neighborhood group in the Gandara Park area of Santa Monica on Tuesday lost the appeal it filed with the City Council to stop conversion of a home into a preschool for as many as 20 children.

Santa Monica City Council Temporarily Reins in 'Monster Mansions'
January 25, 2018 -- Heading into the early hours of Wednesday, the Santa Monica City Council voted to to hit the pause button on the growing “mansionization” of single-family neighborhoods.

Rick Springfield to Headline Annual Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation Concert
January 25, 2018 -- Grammy-award winning singer and songwriter Rick Springfield will headline the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation's 13th annual benefit concert for the arts on March 10 at Santa Monica High School’s Barnum Hall.

Santa Monica Prosecutors Resolve Second Case of Minimum Wage Law Violations
January 24, 2018 -- Santa Monica City prosecutors announced Tuesday they have resolved a case involving dozens of violations of the City’s 2016 higher minimum-wage law at a janitorial/security services company licensed in the city.

2018 Homeless Count in Santa Monica and Los Angeles County Starts
January 24, 2018 – Volunteers in Santa Monica will fan out tonight to scan for people living in the streets, on the beach, in parks and other public spaces and in shelters as the 2018 homeless count gets underway.

Santa Monica Offers Free Document Shredding Saturday
January 24, 2018 -- Those who have confidential documents to toss can have them safely shredded this Saturday at Santa Monica's City Yards.

Audit Report Finds High Santa Monica Police Cost, Low Clearance Rate
January 23, 2018 -- A new audit of City finances by an outside firm is posing again a longtime question: Is Santa Monica getting its money's worth for the high price of policing?

Treat for Shakespeare Lovers at The Broad Stage
January 23, 2018 -- Dressed in their white nightgowns, a retired man and his long-time wife share a late night conversation.

Santa Monica City Council to Decide Temporary Fate of 'Monster Mansions'
January 22, 2018 -- The Santa Monica City Council will consider on Tuesday imposing temporary limits on the size and heights of proposed “monster mansions” as it searches for a way to permanently protect what is left of the city's quaint single-family neighborhoods.

Nativity Scene Committee Seeks Funds to Keep Santa Monica Holiday Tradition Alive
January 21, 2018 -- When the Nativity scenes that have been a tradition in Santa Monica since 1953 came down earlier this month, the wooden booths that housed them were too rotted to keep.

Award-winning Playwright Luis Alfaro to Present Overview of His Work in Santa Monica
January 22, 2018 -- The region’s growing homeless population will be the focus of an adaptation of a German classic by playwright Luis Alfaro, the new artist in residence at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica. Alfaro will present an overview of his work this Tuesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the beach house.

Santa Monica City Council Poised to Eliminate Library Fines for Youth
January 19, 2018 -- Santa Monica Public Library cardholders who are 18 and under would no longer have to pay fines when materials are overdue under a proposal the City Council will consider Tuesday.

Electric Flight Discussed at Santa Monica Airport Saturday
January 19,2018 -- The benefits of electric flight and the future of flight training will be discussed during a public event at the Santa Monica Airport's Museum of Flying this Saturday.

EXTRA District Probe of Santa Monica-Malibu School Board Member Shies Away from Judgment
January 19, 2018 -- Findings from a district probe of conflict-of-interest allegations released Thursday shied away from passing judgment on the school board member who was the original target, although two others appeared to be cleared of wrongdoing.

Outside Audit Finds Santa Monica Far Outspent Peer Cities for Services
January 18, 2018 -- From police protection to City libraries, planning, housing and buses, the City of Santa Monica generally far outspent comparable peers in Southern California on a per capita basis in the last fiscal year, an outside audit has found.

Santa Monica Pier Board Hires Executive Director to Help Usher in New Era
January 18, 2018 -- With the popular Twilight Concert Series undergoing major changes, the Santa Monica Pier board on Wednesday welcomed a new executive director to help usher in "an ambitious new era.”

Bossa Nova Takes Center Stage at Santa Monica Library
January 18, 2018 -- It's been 55 years since “The Girl From Ipanema” knocked the Beatles from the top spot on the Billboard charts and triggered a craze for the cool swing and gentle sway of Brazil's bossa nova sound.

Ridership Plunges on Santa Monica City Buses as Expo Popularity Soars
January 17, 2018 -- Dashing hopes Expo would lift it from decline, Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus system posted another double-digit drop in ridership last fiscal year, accentuated by a loss of almost a third of riders on routes parallel to light rail line, according to a year-end report.

City, Activists Wait to See if Shortened Santa Monica Airport Runway Reduces Jet Traffic
January 17, 2018 -- Since re-opening on December 23 with a drastically shortened runway, the Santa Monica Airport has experienced a noticeable drop in air traffic, particularly among chartered jets.

Miramar Hotel, OneWest Bank Offer Matching Grants for Santa Monica-Malibu Schools
January 17, 2018 -- The Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows/MSD Capital and CIT’s OneWest Bank have provided a combined $50,000 match challenge to the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation, officials of the non-profit announced Wednesday.

City of Santa Monica's Unfunded Pension Costs Jump 20 Percent
January 16, 2018 – Unfunded pension liabilities for the City of Santa Monica jumped 20 percent in the last fiscal year, rising from $387 million to $461 million “primarily due to the actual returns on the investment portfolio being less than CalPERS’ projected returns,” according to Gigi Decavalles-Hughes, the City’s finance director.

Conflict of Interest Probe Findings Go to Santa Monica-Malibu School Board
January 16, 2018 -- The findings of an internal investigation into possible conflict-of-interest violations by three Santa Monica-Malibu School Board members will go to the board at its meeting on Thursday.

Coastal Landscapes Featured at Santa Monica College Emeritus Gallery
January 16, 2018 -- A local artist whose water color landscapes celebrate the Southern California Coast will be on exhibit the Santa Monica College Emeritus Art Gallery starting this month.

Santa Monica Lawmaker's Rental Bill Fails to Pass Committee
January 12, 2018 -- In a major victory for landlords, a state bill introduced by Santa Monica lawmaker Richard Bloom that would allow California cities to expand rent control failed to pass out of committee Thursday.

Santa Monica Police Remind Riders of Motorized Scooters to Follow the Law
January 12, 2018 -- Santa Monica police are warning riders of the increasingly popular motorized scooters that they must abide by the law, which requires them to have a drivers license and wear a bicycle helmet.

Environmental Leader Blasts Santa Monica Council for Use of Water Funds
January 11, 2018 -- The head of Santa Monica's environmental task force on Tuesday strongly criticized the City Council for allowing $56.4 million to be drained from the City’s water fund to help finance mega-projects not related to water use.

Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)Santa Monica Announce Settlement with eHarmony Website
January 10, 2018 -- (Updated) The dating website giant eHarmony has agreed to pay $1.2 million in penalties and up to $1 million in restitution in a settlement with Santa Monica City prosecutors and others over its automatic renewal practices, the City Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.

FPPC Finds 12 Probable Election-Related Violations by Santa Monica Council Member Pam O'Connor
January 9, 2018 -- An investigation by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has found a dozen probable election-related violations of state law by Santa Monica Council Member Pam O’Connor and her re-election committee.

Santa Monica Planning Commission to Review Four Mixed-Use Projects
January 9, 2018 -- A five-story mixed-use apartment building on Lincoln Boulevard is set for official approval on Wednesday by the Santa Monica Planning Commission, which then turns its perusal to three more similar projects not far away.

Firefighters Rescue Dogs from Santa Monica Apartment Blaze
January 9, 2018 -- Firefighters rescued two small dogs from a blaze that broke out in the kitchen of a two-story apartment building in Santa Monica early Monday morning.

Plan to Cap Santa Monica Freeway with a Park Moves to the Fore
January 8, 2018 -- A decade ago, City planners worried that former Mayor Michael Feinstein's proposal to cap the Santa Monica Freeway was a “crazy idea.” But the concept to link the city’s downtown and Civic Center with a park perched atop a massive deck is poised to move forward as officials prioritize their no-longer stalled development pipeline.

Santa Monica Prepares Five Percent Hike in Water Rate
January 8, 2018 -- The water rate for the City of Santa Monica is poised to rise by 5 percent this year, the same as in the previous two years, but short of the maximum nine percent hike authorized in 2015 as part of a five-year plan.

Santa Monica Celebrates the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 8, 2018 -- Santa Monica will host two events to celebrate the life of Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this month -- the screening of a documentary on Thursday and the 33rd annual celebration of his birth next Monday.

City Should Use 'Water Settlement Funds' to Help Fund City Yards Project, Finance Director Recommends
January 6, 2017 -- Santa Monica's finance director is recommending that the City spend $64 million in "water settlement funds" to complete the City Yards Modernization project, according to a memo sent to the City Council last month.

Residents Fight to Win Historic Status for Santa Monica Bungalow District
January 5, 2018 -- Once upon a time, Santa Monica was home to neighborhoods of modest but well-built, well-designed and well-loved bungalows built for people of middle-class means. “Friends of 11th Street” is offering its cluster of those homes as proof of that life and asking the City to grant their neighborhood historic status in a bid to preserve it.

Santa Monica Restaurant Week Covers the Map
January 5, 2018 -- Meatless burgers that bleed. Fried sweet potatoes that melt in your mouth. Kale salads, prawn pizza, and even masala ice cream. Santa Monica Restaurant Week, sponsored by Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT), offers an invitation to explore these dishes from January 8 to 14. This year’s theme is the pomegranate.

Santa Monica Mountain Pumas No Longer Receive Automatic Death Sentences
January 5, 2018 -- Cougars in the Santa Monica Mountains and elsewhere in Southern California’s wilderness no longer face automatic death sentences if they prey upon domestic animals, state officials announced Tuesday.

District Probe of Santa Monica-Malibu School Board Members Reaching Conclusion
January 4, 2018 -- A district probe of conflict-of-interest allegations, reportedly now widened to three Santa Monica-Malibu school board members, is winding down and due to be unveiled before the entire board when it meets again later this month, a district representative said Wednesday.

New Anti-Labor Online Site Attacks Hotel Union for Pro-Development Push in Santa Monica
January 4, 2018 -- An anti-labor website debuting today accuses the local hotel union of using disruptive tactics to push for big hotel developments fought by Santa Monica neighborhood groups so it can amass dues from its members.

Santa Monica Police to Focus on Pedestrian, Bicycle Safety
January 4, 2018 -- With the number of fatal pedestrian incidents reaching an all-time high last year, Santa Monica police will hold the year's first Bike and Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operations Friday and Monday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.. The operations focus on traffic violations "that can potentially lead to life altering injuries."

Santa Monica Police Seeking Information in Shooting Last Month
January 3, 2018 -- (UPDATED) The son of a Santa Monica man who unsuccessfully sued police over a videotaped beating in 2002 was among the suspects arrested in an attempted murder that took place near the Pico Neighborhood last month.

New York Public Library Star of Film Screening at Santa Monica Library
January 3, 2018 -- The New York Public Library, the subject of a documentary film that will be screened in Santa Monica Tuesday, is the second-largest library in the nation and the fourth largest in the world.

Santa Monica Poised to Raise Fees for Community and Cultural Programs and Services
January 2, 2018 -- The fees the City of Santa Monica charges for everything from lifeguard training to performances staged at the Miles Memorial Playhouse are expected to increase this summer. Fee adjustments for many of the programs and services were proposed last month by the Department of Community and Cultural Services (CCS).

Public Can Weigh In on Santa Monica Pier Bridge Reconstruction
January 2, 2018 -- The nearly 80-year-old bridge that leads to Santa Monica's iconic pier will soon be torn down and replaced, with a meeting focusing on the environmental impacts of the reconstruction scheduled for next week.

Shakespeare Comes Home in Santa Monica
January 2, 2018 -- What does the world's greatest playwright do after penning "Hamlet," "Macbeth," "Othello" and "King Lear?" He comes home and, unable to sleep, banters with his wife. That's the premise, and dramatic event, used in "Shakespeare his wife and the dog," which receives its U.S. premiere in Santa Monica this month.
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