Year in Review: June – Santa Monica Daily Press

Erica Cuyugan was appointed Library Director. She first served as interim director following Maria Carpenter’s departure in 2016 and held the interim role again for ten months following Patty Wong’s departure. Cuyugan first joined Santa Monica libraries as a teen services librarian in 2006 and spent the last sixteen years rising through the ranks and becoming familiar with almost every nook and cranny of the five library branches.

The Santa Monica Elks with the help of the Girl Scouts, Daisies, Boy Scouts, and community members put flags on the graves of Woodlawn Cemetery. There were 50 scouts and community members helping the 23 Elks in attendance. The Santa Monica Elks started the official Memorial Day activities over 75 years ago at Woodlawn Cemetery.

A $250,000 grant from Providence Saint John’s Health Center to the Santa Monica Salvation Army Corps was used to bring resources directly to unhoused individuals through the launch of a street outreach team.

The Santa Monica community came out in force to support local school children at the Santa Monica Wine Auction raising $400,000 for programs at Santa Monica’s local public schools. The Wine Auction at the Miramar Hotel was the first to be held in person since 2019 and was dubbed a success by organizers. All together, the last seven Wine Auctions have raised a combined $1.75 million for public schools.

A pair of separate proposals, each with the power to dramatically reshape SMMUSD, were formally joined at the hip. Staff for the LA County Office of Education (LACOE) said they would pause discussing a petition meant to force SMMUSD away from at-large voting while negotiations over splitting the district into separate Malibu and Santa Monica school districts continued.

LA County COVID metrics were on trend to reach the CDC’s high community transmission level which would have triggered the return of an indoor mask mandate. Despite flirting with the mask mandate throughout the year, the county did not implement any new mask rules.

Santa Monica Brew Works announced their latest collaboration celebrating local businesses would be a partnership with DK’s Donuts to create a Purple Porter named “Ube Heaven.”

CRU: Firefighters adapted to the homelessness crisis with the use of a new unit. SMDP photos

The three female students, who were all enrolled in SMMUSD, were transported to the hospital after reportedly overdosing on fentanyl-laced drugs. The overdoses prompted increased efforts by the district to warn about fentanyl and came on the heels of an announcement from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health that a large amount of ecstasy pills contaminated with fentanyl entered the Los Angeles illicit drug market.

The Frieze Los Angeles art fair announced it would be held across several sites at the Santa Monica Airport in 2023. There will be over 100 exhibitors from countries all over the world, as well as the local community, showcasing their artwork in both a central exhibition tent and several surrounding activities.

Santa Monica High School students staged a walk out to protest for stricter gun control laws and show support for the families affected by the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Students marched from campus to City Hall where they held a moment of silent to mourn the victims of gun violence in schools across the nation.

The City of Malibu Planning Commission approved the proposed Malibu High School reconstruction plan. The Commission made a few changes, but recommended that the city council OK both the multi-year overall plan and the exact plans for the high school complex.

The Summit for the Americas came through town. President Biden and the First Lady hosted a Leaders’ Dinner at the Getty Villa in the Pacific Palisades. Security was tight throughout the area in advance of the dinner including a partial closure of the PCH, increased helicopter activity and additional security measures throughout the local area.

The SMC Board of Trustees voted to place a new bond measure on the Nov. 8 ballot — to the tune of $375 million. Measure SMC was designed to replace temporary classrooms, an obsolete shop-lab, Veterans success center and additional construction projects.

The year’s primary elections were marked by low-voter turnout (around 15 percent of registered LA County voters), shoo-in races and several nail-biters. The tightest races of local relevance were those for County 3rd District Supervisor (Horvath and Hertzberg advanced), County Sheriff (Luna and Villanueva advanced) and LA City Council District 11 (Park and Darling advanced).

first lady dr Jill Biden hosted a luncheon for the spouses of visiting dignitaries at the Marion Davies Guest House as part of the Summit of the Americas. The Summit of the Americas brought together leaders from North, South, and Central America, and the Caribbean and takes places approximately once every three years.

The Main Street July 4 parade announced a planned return. The annual patriotic event was launched in 2007 and had a two year pandemic-induced hiatus.

LA Animal Services announced shelters were at capacity across the county. While Santa Monica has its own animal shelter that was not overrun, officials still asked local residents to foster pets from across the county to help with the crisis.

Notorious among Venice residents for its fires, fights and a shooting incident, the approximately sixty tent encampment at Centennial Park was shut down. Following an outreach period, all unhoused residents accepted temporary housing placements or left the area.

Wall Street tumbled into a bear market after fears about a fragile economy and rising interest rates sent the S&P 500 more than 20% below a record set early this year.

Bound by a set formula in their charter, the Rent Control Board reluctantly passed a 6 percent annual rent adjustment, one of the highest hikes in the agency’s history. Commissioners did not have the ability to enact a lower annual adjustment as it is determined by a calculation based on inflation levels.

The city of Los Angeles moved forward with an ordinance to prohibit bicycle chop-shops on municipal property.

Council approved an Emergency Water Conservation Ordinance to implement Phase 2 Outdoor Watering Restrictions. The new rule limited outdoor watering to two days per week and prohibited watering between 9 am and 5 pm in response to ongoing drought conditions across the State of California.

A federal judge gave final approval to a lawsuit settlement that committed the city of Los Angeles to sheltering or housing thousands of homeless residents within five years.

Santa Monica Place, in partnership with Streetlet, created a retail pop-up, the ‘Made with Pride’ Marketplace. The market showcased over 15 LGBTQIA+ business owners, highlighted their stories, and featured local goods and services made, conceived, and curated in Southern California.

One year after becoming a federal holiday, Santa Monica geared up for its 30th annual Juneteenth celebration with a weekend of community festivities. The longstanding and rich Juneteenth celebration in Santa Monica is thanks to 65 year local resident LaVerne Ross, who in 1992 successfully convinced City Council to establish a Juneteenth event.

A Pico-neighborhood man was injured when his apartment caught fire. The Santa Monica Fire Department responded to a report of a structure fire on the 2300 block of Kansas Ave. with multiple callers reporting fire blowing out of multiple windows of a two-story apartment building. Several engines responded to the scene and found a fully involved fire in an upstairs unit.

US regulators authorized the first COVID-19 shots for infants and preschoolers. The Food and Drug Administration’s action followed its advisory panel’s unanimous recommendation for the shots from Moderna and Pfizer.

Councilmembers voted to repeal two recently designated landmarks, including a property built and formerly occupied by man who fought to prevent Black people from purchasing property in Santa Monica. The two properties are a 1914 multi-unit residential structure located at 1665 Appian Way and a 1937 industrial warehouse located at 631 Colorado Ave. The second property lost its designation due to a lack of historic significance.

Councilmembers voted unanimously to have staff research a ballot measure that would allow the City to place a Santa Monica tax on the sale of recreational cannabis. The measure was ultimately drafted and approved by voters.

A pandemic-era pilot program designed to make local bus trips safer and more efficient — at the expense of rider convenience, according to many — came to an end with the resumption of cash payments aboard the Big Blue Bus. BBB also permanently discontinued paper passes and tokens and added a new 10-ride pass.

WISE & Healthy Aging hosted its first in-person community event since 2019. Sponsored by RAND and Santa Monica College, the Celebration of Caring event was held at The Broad Stage at Santa Monica College’s Performing Arts Center.

Nick Gabaldón Day returned recognizing the effort of the pioneering Black surfer. Nick Gabaldon Day is run in partnership with the Black Surfer Collective and Santa Monica based non-profit Heal the Bay. The Black Surfer Collective organized the first celebration as a tribute to Gabaldón’s life and a means to inspire more surfers of color. Heal the Bay quickly became a partner, recognizing Gabaldon’s contributions to Santa Monica history and the opportunity to act on their mission to expand coastal access.

The Santa Monica Pier has been a notorious “beach bummer” on Heal the Bay’s annual water quality list for almost 30 years, but after a hopeful three year hiatus, the Pier regained its status as one of the most polluted beaches in the state.

Emergency officials plan an active shooter drill at John Adams Middle School (JAMS).

Initial payments to test and investigate the water damage at (SMASH) / John Muir quickly mounted to $180,000.

Beach: Workers cutting a channel from the storm drain to the ocean sunken into the wet sand when they got too close to the waterline. SMDP photos

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the Santa Monica Pier hosted the return of Pier 360, kicking off summer with a bang. The festival featured sports competitions, live music, a beer garden and more. Pier 360 was founded in 2010, one year after the centennial celebration of the Pier’s establishment in 1909 when directors were thinking of creative ways to expand upon their already existing events. This brainstorming resulted in Pier 360, which serves as an ode to the Pier’s past.

In an effort to address barriers to participation at civic meetings, City Council voted to pilot a series of meeting reforms to try to ease the ability for people to provide public comment earlier in a meeting.

While every Council member had issues with the revisions to Santa Monica’s state mandated plan to demonstrate capacity for almost 9,000 new units of housing by 2029, they begrudgingly approved the draft in a six to one revote. Santa Monica originally submitted its Housing Element in October 2021 and in February 2022, it was rejected by HCD. The City was deemed out of compliance and was therefore currently ineligible for state funding for a variety of programs and at risk of incurring penalties, including the loss of local control over approval of certain housing projects. That loss of control ultimately occurred through several “builders’ remedy” projects.

SMPD had a busy month, responding to as many as 41 reports of illegal fireworks displays. With illegal fireworks displays ramping up leading up to Independence Day, pet experts continued to offer advice to dog and cat owners on the best ways to ease anxiety and prevent runaways.

Chef Dan Smulovitz opened his new restaurant. Located in the former Sushi Sho space on Montana Avenue, Savida is an intimate raw seafood restaurant with an ocean to table driven menu. Most dishes consist of around four ingredients and are anchored by the highest quality fish that Smulovitz prepares by hand daily in his tiny kitchen space — which, at just 80 square feet, fits neither an oven nor a stove.

Local veterans demanded the return of a piece of beachfront property in Santa Monica that they believed was deeded for use by disabled veterans in an 1888 land deal. Research into the acquisition showed the property had been legally sold back to the city shortly after being donated.


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