The Argonaut looks back on 2007 and some of the local stories that made our news pages during the past year.

Last week we reviewed the local news of January 1st through June 30th.

This week we continue with what happened in the local community between July 1st and December 31st.

JULY

Venice mixed a festive summertime atmosphere with political activism as local residents participated in a “Virtual Town Hall” on recent adverse changes to the environment July 7th.

“Parties for the Planet,” sponsored by the political action group MoveOn.org, featured several of the 2008 presidential candidates, who appeared via video to discuss their respective positions on climate change. Members of the political action group had previously provided each candidate with a list of questions asking them to explain their positions on global warming and, as President, what approach to this important topic they would consider implementing.

The City Council voted 14-0 July 3rd to approve a motion presented by City Councilman Bill Rosendahl that requested the city attorney to prepare an ordinance repealing certain portions of Los Angeles Municipal Code section 42.15, a city ordinance that was being challenged in federal court, also known as the Venice Boardwalk Vending Law.

The specific sections that the council was considering repealing prohibit the vending of items that have more than nominal utility apart from their communication and relate to the regulation of noise on the Boardwalk.

After 38 years in its current facility, a new and improved emergency room (ER) was opened at the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital that was expected to set a new standard for emergency care on the Westside, hospital officials said.

The new 16,000-square-foot Nethercutt Emergency Center opened July 25th, and was the first step of a larger project to rebuild the entire hospital. It is two and a half times the size of the old facility, which was built in 1969.

Santa Monica City Councilwoman Pam O’Connor was named the new chair of the board of directors of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro or MTA) on July 1st. She replaces County Supervisor Gloria Molina, and her term is for one year. She has served on the board since 2001.

O’Connor is also a member of the Joint Powers Authority for the Mid-Cities Exposition Light Rail Project, known popularly as the Expo Line.

Loyola Marymount University (LMU) was awarded a $1 million Upward Bound grant by the U.S. Department of Education.

The four-year grant, which amounted to $250,000 per year, would assist 50 Westchester High School students in preparing for college.

Los Angeles City Council reconfirmed Los Angeles Airport Commissioner Val Velasco to a full term on the Board of Airport Commissioners in an 11-0 vote July 6th. Her new term will end in 2012.

Contractors employed by airlines operating at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) were not providing adequate training to passenger service workers, putting public health and safety at risk, a report alleged.

The Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy released a report July 12th that examines passenger services provided by airline contractors at LAX, including searching airplanes for suspicious items, staffing security checkpoints and escorting the elderly and passengers with disabilities.

A bid to have gas station operators in California adopt fuel-saving measures championed by a Santa Monica-based consumer group was defeated at a national conference July 11th.

The Foundation for Taxpayers and Consumer Rights has calculated that a phenomenon called “hot fuel” costs Californians more money at the pump due to rising gasoline temperatures.

Project Nightlight, a nonprofit organization that teaches children to recognize abuse and aims to inspire them to report incidents of abuse, helped get a new sign on a billboard installed in Venice to increase awareness of child abuse and help more victims reach out.

The sign, which was put up July 15th, at Abbot Kinney Boulevard and Westminster Avenue, near the Westminster Elementary School in Venice, featured the child abuse hotline phone number next to a cartoon-like drawing by Venice artist LeeAnn Goya.

The City of Santa Monica Recreation and Parks Commission voted July 19th to support the establishment of a pilot program that would open the off-leash dog area at Airport Park to non-Santa Monica residents for a period of six months.

Twenty-one-year old actress and singer Lindsay Lohan was arrested by Santa Monica police July 24th and booked for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), possession of cocaine and driving with a suspended or revoked license, police said.

Santa Monica’s Homeless Community Court pilot program completed its first six months of service, with 52 people having been referred to the court.

The court serves the chronically homeless of Santa Monica by providing “therapeutic justice.”

Fourteen alleged gang members were arrested in the Culver City and LAPD Pacific Station area, which served as the command post during a task force effort involving Westside law enforcement agencies. The arrests were made July 28th as part of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) overall strategy of cracking down on gang activity.

Local elected officials, led by City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, officially broke ground July 26th on the $11.6 million street improvement project for Sepulveda Boulevard in Westchester during a ceremony along the major corridor, near Los Angeles International Airport.

The project, which was to stretch from the Howard Hughes Parkway on the north to Lincoln Boulevard on the south, was expected to help relieve traffic congestion and beautify the Sepulveda Boulevard corridor in West- chester, officials said.

Venice Unchained, a grassroots nonprofit organization founded two years earlier by Dawn Hollier and Melissa Bechtel, was waging a battle to keep what are known as “formula retail stores” off Abbot Kinney and Ocean Front Walk.

The organization was working with Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, whose 11th District encompasses Venice, to design an ordinance to prevent large chain stores like Pizza Hut and Starbucks from setting up shop along the most frequented streets in Venice.

AUGUST

Noah Rattler, a homeless advocate from Houston, Texas, completed an 1,800-mile walk from his hometown to the Santa Monica shore August 4th.

Rattler, who embarked on the trek to help spread awareness about the plight of the homeless, began the journey March 24th and finished after averaging about 20 miles a day, six days a week.

The Mar Vista community marked the 80th anniversary of its annexation to the City of Los Angeles with a celebration August 5th.

The community was formerly known as Ocean Park Heights and became the 70th community to be annexed to Los Angeles on March 5th, 1927.

The anniversary celebration was held in conjunction with the first anniversary of the Mar Vista Farmers Market.

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously gave its final approval August 1st to an ordinance banning smoking in all of the city’s public parks.

The council voted to expand an existing ordinance that prohibits smoking at certain locations in public parks and at beaches, to prohibit smoking in all city parks.

The law, which would take effect in mid-September, prohibits smoking in all city parks except for some city golf courses where smoking is allowed in designated areas; areas within parks where smoking is authorized for filming purposes only; and designated smoking areas at the Autry National Center, the Greek Theater and the Los Angeles Zoo.

Los Angeles county and city officials introduced more than $6 million in upgraded facilities for Venice Beach.

The beach improvements included reconstruction and expansion of restrooms, refurbishment of parking lots and new entry kiosks. An existing gazebo was also removed for a new picnic area and three new bicycle and skate rental concession buildings were constructed under the proj- ect.

Ralph Mechur, who had been involved in education in Santa Monica for 20 years, was sworn in as the new member of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

He took the seat of former board member Emily Bloomfield, who resigned because her husband had accepted a job opportunity in Washington, D.C.

Marina del Rey boat owners who said they had experienced unfair and exorbitant increases in boat slip fees expressed their frustration at community meetings.

The boat owners said they believed that county officials were seeking to force them away from the Marina with the rental hikes.

County officials countered that they charged fair market rates for the rental of boat slips. The county Small Craft Harbor Commission later sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors detailing the various complaints of boaters regarding the rental hikes.

A U.S. Customs computer system outage left thousands of passengers waiting for hours on airplanes or in the terminal Customs area at Los Angeles International Airport August 11th.

The outage, which was blamed on hardware failure, lasted for about ten hours and affected nearly 17,400 passengers on 73 flights. A second glitch that was unrelated to the first occurred the next day, affecting nearly 1,700 passengers.

Dozens of Los Angeles Unified School District teachers and employees held a rally August 11th in Westchester to demonstrate their collective disapproval of an educational reform effort targeted for Westchester schools and a payroll deduction controversy.

Home Depot USA Inc. paid approximately $10 million to settle a civil case for its failure to properly, responsibly and legally handle dangerous chemicals.

The case was triggered by an explosion at the Home Depot store at 12975 Jefferson Blvd. in Del Rey in May 2004 and ultimately shed light on the company’s policy of storing and transporting hazardous waste and flammable chemicals.

Jacqueline Seabrooks, a 25-year veteran of the Santa Monica Police Department, was appointed as the first female chief of police for the Inglewood Police Department.

The Los Angeles City Council approved a plan for a $1.2 billion mid-field concourse west of Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport. The project was expected to be completed by 2012.

The Santa Monica City Council approved $8.2 million in construction contracts for the Second and Fourth Streets Pedestrian and Streetscape Improvements Project, which called for the removal of 75 trees.

The project, which covers the eight blocks between Wilshire Boulevard and Colorado Avenue, called for the removal of 54 ficus trees and 21 palm trees.

Some residents spoke out against the project and worked to save the trees by obtaining city landmark status.

The Westchester/Del Rey Junior All-Star softball team made it to the championship game of the Junior Little League Softball World Series in Washington but lost 16-6 to the team from Puerto Rico.

Venice residents expressed concern with stationary vehicles, including recreational vehicles, that line parts of Rose Avenue and other areas of Venice and remain there for days at a time.

Some residents said the vehicles turn the areas into a campground and listed complaints such as unsanitary conditions and the reduction of parking availability in the neighborhood. Community leaders helped submit applications to the California Coastal Commission to acquire overnight parking districts for the areas.

The El Segundo blue butterfly was spotted at locations in the South Bay and near the butterfly’s largest habitat along the coast near Los Angeles International Airport.

After the sightings of the endangered butterfly, scientists and conservationists were galvanized about the possibilities that the insect could be resurrected in other areas along the coast.

The newly refurbished Santa Monica College Madison Music & Performing Arts Campus opened its doors to students August 27th after being out of service since 2005 for revamping.

The campus is the home for SMC music students, the Music Department and department faculty.

Venice poet laureate Philomene Long, who had ties to the original Venice Beat poetry scene and counterculture, died August 21st at the age of 67.

In addition to being an active poet on the Venice scene for decades, Long was the lover and muse of Beat Generation writer Stuart Perkoff and was later married to the late Venice Beat poet John Thomas.

A bill that sought to create an analysis of the consequences of airplane pollution from the Santa Monica Airport that impacts nearby homeowners and neighboring communities was defeated in the State Senate Appropriations Committee August 30th.

Assembly Bill 700 would have required Santa Monica, which owns and operates Santa Monica Airport, to establish a technical advisory committee to evaluate all available studies and data regarding the airport.

State Assemblyman Ted Lieu called for the Federal Aviation Administration to cut the number of flights at Los Angeles International Airport in response to eight runway close calls that were reported at the airport in less than a year.

september

The Santa Monica City Council accepted a $250,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety to operate a Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) with the goal of reducing collision-related deaths and injuries in the city.

The Santa Monica Police Department was able to secure the grant as a result of its efforts to “reduce the number of deaths and injuries in alcohol-involved crashes,” the department says.

The grant was to be used to operate a one-year Selective Traffic Enforcement Program conducted on an overtime basis, says Chris Cochran, marketing and public affairs manager for the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTC).

After a summer of intense discussions and heated debates about the need to improve the level of academic instruction for Westchester students, two parental education advocates joined forces to seek autonomy from the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Kelly Kane of the Westchester/Playa del Rey Education Foundation and Crissina Johnson of Parents of Westchester With Orville Wright, with the help of dedicated teachers, business leaders, local residents and Loyola Marymount University educators, were determined to create a new paradigm for educational success in Westchester through advocacy for autonomy from the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Loyola Marymount University (LMU) received a $1 million grant from the Fletcher Jones Foundation to help defray the cost of construction of the William H. Hannon Library.

Harbor House Restaurant and Edie’s Diner in Marina del Rey closed their doors permanently and suddenly September 5th with no explanation.

A mixed-use 57-room hotel planned for Abbot Kinney Boulevard near Brooks Avenue in Venice was an issue of contention for some community members but project developers said they remained committed to addressing community concerns.

The Ambrose Group, project developer, planned to construct the five-story Hotel Ray above a two-level subterranean parking garage containing 88 spaces at 901 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice.

The 48,000-square-foot proposed project includes 1,165 square feet of ground floor retail space, a 3,950-square-foot restaurant and an approximately 2,750-square-foot health spa.

The Mid-City/Exposition Light Rail project received an infusion of funds September 5th when the California Transportation Commission agreed to appropriate more than $314 million to the Westside rail line.

Workers at eight hotels near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) alleged that the hotels failed to pay them tips and service fees they are owed, as required by law.

The employees filed lawsuits in Los Angeles Superior court September 5th against LAX-area hotels, including the Four Points, Marriott, Renaissance, Embassy Suites, Courtyard, Westin, Hilton and Radisson, alleging that the hotels violated a city ordinance requiring them to pass along all service fees automatically charged for large events directly to the service workers.

A 52-year-old pedestrian was hit by a Santa Monica Big Blue Bus September 5th at the intersection of Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard in Santa Monica.

The man suffered injuries to both legs in the accident. He was treated at the scene by paramedics from the Santa Monica Fire Department and taken to UCLA Medical Center.

The investigation into the accident was ongoing, but it appeared that the driver of the bus did not do anything out of the ordinary that might have caused the bus to collide with the pedestrian.

Jason Sher was appointed as head coach of the Loyola Marymount University (LMU) men’s tennis program.

Sher comes to LMU after spending eight seasons as assistant head coach of men’s tennis at UCLA, where he was instrumental in guiding UCLA to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) title in 2005, the Bruins’ first NCAA tennis title since 1984.

OPCC’s new $6.1-million homeless services facility, the Annenberg Access Center, officially opened its doors September 10th.

The 8,100-square-foot homeless center, at 503 Olympic Blvd. in Santa Monica, is a “drop-in” facility that will serve about 300 homeless people per day, said Kathy Kniss, director of media relations for the project.

A state appeals court in Los Angeles voted unanimously to halt construction on the second stage of commercial and residential development for Playa Vista, dealing the Playa Vista Capital real estate group a potentially costly legal setback.

Almost a year after the city’s smoking ban went into effect, Santa Monica city officials were considering strengthening it by making restaurant owners and managers responsible if they knowingly or intentionally permitted smoking in their outdoor dining areas where smoking is prohibited under current law.

The fallout from the prolonged fiscal crisis in Sacramento continued, and both sides of the political divide, including the governor and his supporters took turns blaming each other for the two month delay in passing the budget.

The budget delay affected social services throughout California as nonprofit groups and municipal and county agencies scrambled to find creative ways to serve their constituents in the face of massive cuts to these services.

Calling it a “good-neighbor decision,” residents of Mar Vista praised the Santa Monica City Council for abandoning that city’s resident restrictions for use of an off-leash dog area at Airport Park.

The City Council voted unanimously September 11th to open the off-leash dog park at the 8.3-acre Airport Park to non-Santa Monica residents and their dogs, provided the pets are licensed and have had vaccinations.

Non-residents will also be required to purchase a recognizable dog tag for an annual fee of $15.50 to take their pets to the off-leash area at Airport Park, at the northwest corner of Bundy Drive and Airport Avenue in Santa Monica.

Determined to stay in their homes long after their neighbors had moved on, the remaining tenants of the Lincoln Place apartment complex in Venice finally got the news they were waiting for.

The 12 remaining households at the 38-acre property, bounded by Penmar Avenue and Lake and Frederick Streets, learned September 19th that they can stay put after a state appeals court ordered an immediate halt to the evictions by property owner Apartment Investment and Management Company (AIMCO) Venezia, LLC.

Avoiding a trial that would have likely addressed racial and hazing issues within the Los Angeles City Fire Department, the Los Angeles City Council agreed to pay nearly $1.5 million to an African American firefighter who filed a racial discrimination lawsuit after he was served spaghetti mixed with dog food by his colleagues at a Westchester fire station in 2004.

The City Council voted 9-2 September 21st to settle the lawsuit filed by 20-year firefighter Tennie Pierce against the city.

Under the settlement, the city will pay Pierce $1.43 million, plus $60,000 in back salary, which makes him eligible to receive a 20-year pension.

The Pierce case was originally scheduled to go to trial September 24th. As part of the agreement, Pierce dropped his claims against the city and retire from the fire department.

Tree advocates continued their efforts to save 54 mature ficus trees along Second and Fourth Streets in Santa Monica from being uprooted and converted to compost or replanted in the city.

About one month after the Santa Monica City Council approved a Second and Fourth Streets Pedestrian and Street-scape Improvements Project that called for the removal of 54 ficus trees and 21 palm trees, about 80 activists and tree lovers gathered for a tree savers rally on September 23rd.

A plan for a mixed-use 57-room hotel, to be called Hotel Ray, on Abbot Kinney Boulevard near Brooks Avenue in Venice that had received opposition from community members and Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl was rejected by the West Los Angeles Area Planning Commission.

Red light cameras — which automatically photograph drivers who run through red lights — were approved for Santa Monica, joining Los Angeles, Culver City, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.

At city staff’s recommendation, the Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously to approve a one-year red light photo enforcement pilot program for the city September 25th.

After three days of deliberation, a jury convicted Thomas Francis Dickershaid, a West-chester chiropractor, of sexually assaulting four of his former patients. The verdict came September 27th in Superior Court at the Airport Courthouse in Los Angeles.

OCTOBER

A superior court judge issued a restraining order prohibiting the Santa Monica city government from removing 54 mature ficus trees along Second and Fourth Streets between Colorado Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard.

Santa Monica Treesavers, a group of local residents led by peace activist Jerry Rubin, argued that the city did not follow the proper environmental procedures regarding the trees according to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl called for a review of City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo’s policies that pertain to the practice of hiring outside law firms that defend the city against lawsuits.

The councilman’s request came on the heels of the city council’s authorization of a $1.3 million payment to the Jones Day law firm.

Jones Day had been hired to defend the city against a lawsuit filed by former Westchester firefighter Tennie Pierce, who had sued the city for discrimination. Pierce settled his case for nearly $5 million.

Jones Day worked on the case for approximately ten months.

Jeremy Pal, an assistant professor of civil engineering and environmental science at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), is one of the contributing authors on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes (IPCC), an international collaboration of scientists that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore.

“It is truly an honor to be a part of a project that that has received such distinguished recognition,” said the professor.

A new study released by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association October 2nd claimed there are fewer runway incursions at Los Angeles International Airport when air traffic control is fully staffed.

The report states that there have been an average of 22.3 combined runway incursions and surface incidents a year at LAX in 2000, 2002 and 2007 — the years when the air traffic control tower was short-staffed.

The Federal Aviation Administration rejected the report’s findings, claiming that the vast majority of incursions are due to pilot error.

Step Up on Second, a Santa Monica organization that helps provide support and opportunities for people with mental illness to reintegrate into the community, reported that it was about to close escrow on the Village Motel. The property will become the home of “Daniel’s Village.”

A rally to protest a plan to build an extended-stay Marriott hotel near Marina Beach, known to locals as Mothers Beach, drew over 100 protesters in Marina del Rey October 6th.

Sign-waving demonstrators voiced their disapproval over what is part of a plan by the Los Angeles county officials for development projects in Marina del Rey, which they say will eliminate parking near the beach and obstruct ocean views for beachgoers.

The Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning determined that the Fisherman’s Village project in Marina del Rey would require an environmental impact report, with public hearings on the project to follow.

At the October meeting of the Small Craft Harbor Commission in Marina del Rey, several disgruntled boating tenants lodged their complaints regarding a steep increase in slip fees over the last six months, with some claming hikes as high as 60 percent.

Representatives from the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors stated that while the increases seemed very high, they are still within the market rate, according to a countywide survey of boat slips.

Reacting to complaints about the number of recreational vehicles parked along streets west of Lincoln Boulevard, Councilman Bill Rosendahl announced that he had secured funding for applications to explore the creation of parking districts in four Venice neighborhoods.

The Santa Monica City Council considered an ordinance that would place stricter limits on faster airplanes that take off and land at the city’s airport at the October 8th council meeting.

Homeowners who live near the airport had protested for years that because the runways have no safety barriers between them and the surrounding residential neighborhood, these planes have the potential to veer off the runways and crash into their homes.

The number of homeless persons in Santa Monica dropped by 24 percent over the preceding two years, according to a report that was introduced at the October 11th Santa Monica City Council meeting.

The 2007 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count was considered to be the largest single community enumeration performed in the United States, said the Homeless Services Authority.

The Venice Gondoliers and the Santa Monica Vikings football teams both opened league play with wins over their respective opponents.

Venice, then ranked 20th in the Southland by the Los Angeles Times, dismantled the Westches- ter High Comets 42-3 in the Western League opener for both teams.

The Vikings shut out the Morningside High Monarchs of Inglewood 33-0.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation that would mandate improved reporting of coastal sewage spills on October 10th.

Assembly Bill 800, which was sponsored by local Assemblyman Ted Lieu clarifies that the entity or person responsible for a sewage spill has the duty to report it to the county public health officers and to the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

Laurel Rosen was chosen as president of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce.

She replaced former president James Lynch, who was terminated after ten months on August 31st.

The driver of a truck that was transporting an industrial crane on Interstate 405 (the San Diego Freeway) was killed after the vehicle struck a center divider and burst into flames October 30th.

The crash, which occurred at approximately 5 a.m., caused extended morning and afternoon rush hour delays.

Renters rights advocates from Santa Monica joined others at a rally at the Los Angeles Convention Center on October 30th to protest a controversial ballot initiative that would outlaw eminent domain, which is the governmental action of taking possession of private property for public use.

“The California Property Owners and Farmland Protection Act,” sponsored by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, would also eliminate future rent control laws. Renter rights proponents said the sponsors of the initiative, which they hoped to place on the November 2008 ballot, downplayed that portion of the proposed law.

A Westchester chiropractor was sentenced to 24 years in state prison on October 29th.

Thomas Dickershaid, 66, was convicted September 27th of multiple counts of sexual assault. He stood accused of sexually assaulting four women over a three-year period.

Rhonda Meister, executive director of St. Joseph’s Center, was named the Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers.

Meister, 58, has directed the center for more than 20 years.

The Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corporation received a $100, 000 grant to fund a year-long celebration and marketing campaign to promote the pier’s 100th anniversary, which is September 9th, 2009.

NOVEMBER

Taking their collective displeasure directly to the source of their discontent, dozens of officers from the Los Angeles Unified School District’s largest teachers union descended upon the district’s headquarters near downtown Los Angeles November 5th to protest the continuing computer malfunction that has resulted in inaccurate teacher paychecks for several months.

The computer glitch, which many teachers say has caused them great financial hardship due to severe reductions in their paychecks, was on the way to being corrected, according to district officials.

After learning that more than $12 million in fees collected from developers that are earmarked for park and recreational improvements in the 11th Council District has accumulated, Westside activists and Neighborhood Council members sought answers regarding the Los Angeles City Council’s plan for allocation of themoney, known as Quimby funds.

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the local 11th Council District, told The Argonaut that nearly all of the funds are earmarked for capital projects in his district, and he would be seeking input from Neighborhood Councils and residents of the communities in his district to help determine what their recreational needs are.

In an attempt to ensure public safety, provide equal access for all Santa Monica beach-goers and maintain high-quality surfing instruction, the Santa Monica city government explored increasing the regulation of surfing instruction on the city’s beaches.

The city’s Open Space Management Division proposed removing the provision in the city ordinance that allows for groups of less than 20 children or any number of adults to operate a surf school without a permit.

The Santa Monica Big Blue Bus opened its new eco-frendly transit store and customer serv- ice center on November 12th.

The store, called “Blue: The Transit Store,” is in downtown Santa Monica at 223 Broadway. Customer service hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

David Tallichet, Jr., the founder of Specialty Restaurants Corporation who opened over 100 restaurants throughout the nation, including Proud Bird in Westchester and Shanghai Red’s in Marina del Rey, died on October 31st. He was 84.

He was credited with being one of the industry’s theme-restaurant pioneers, with such ventures as Pieces of Eight in Marina del Rey (and later, in the same location, Shanghai Red’s), Proud Bird in Westchester, Ports O’ Call, Castaway, 94th Aero Squadron, Crawdaddy’s and Baby Does Matchless Mine.

Workplace safety advocates discussed a citation by the California Occupational Safety and Health Division against a Century Boulevard Corridor hotel at a press conference on November 15th.

Th state agency fined the Hilton Los Angeles Airport Hotel over $14,000 after LAX Hilton housekeepers and the Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health filed a complaint in May, which triggered a six month investigation into the hotel’s workplace safety practices.

Members of the U.S. Men’s Gymnastic Team arrived at Broadway Gymnastic School in Del Rey. They were in town to participate in the U.S. Ambassador Program, an event sponsored by the United States Olympic Committee to bring Olympic hopefuls together to learn what it means to be an Olympian.

Twins Paul and Morgan Hamm, the only two Olympians on the squad, joined four other team members for practice sessions and interviews. They were members of the men’s gymnastic team at the 2004 Athens Olympics, where Paul Hamm became the first American to win a gold medal in the men’s all-around competition.

Santa Monica was named the top digital city for its size in the nation.

A survey conducted by the Center for Digital Government placed Santa Monica in first place among mid-level cities, which are cities whose populations are between 75,000 and 124,999.

The digital survey examines “how cities are using technology to create a seamless environment between local government and constituents,” said officials at the Center for Digital Government, a national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government.

Veteran civil rights attorney Stephen Yagman, after being convicted in federal court on multiple counts of tax violations, vowed to appeal his case to a higher court.

Yagman, known for winning civil verdicts against various law enforcement agencies and taking on the federal government over the rights of prisoners detained at Guant·namo Bay during a 30-plus year career, told The Argonaut in an exclusive interview that he planned to hire Erwin Chemerinsky, a friend and noted constitutional attorney and law professor, to handle his appeal.

Yagman’s trial attorney, Barry Tarlow, will join Chemerisky, who is now the dean of law school at the University of California Irvine.

Herb Katz, the longest serving city councilman in Santa Monica, was named mayor December 4th.

Katz was first elected to the City Council in 1984.

The Santa Monica City Council passed an ordinance banning certain airplanes from landing and departing from the municipal airport.

The unanimous vote prohibits airplanes from Categories C and D, which are planes that travel at 121 knots and 141 knots, respectively.

An appeal challenging an Ocean Avenue apartment complex’s landmark status by Harry Wu and SM Ocean Star, LLC was denied by the Santa Monica City Council.

The council action will protect the garden complex, located north of Montana Avenue between Marguerita and Georgina Avenues, from demolition.

Due to a large number of residents who have been using Cabora Road as an access point to go onto the hillside bluffs to hike and walk their dogs, Playa Vista officials, police and representatives of City Councilman Bill Rosendahl acted to step up enforcement of existing trespassing and dog-leash laws on the bluffs.

Playa Vista spokesman Steve Sugerman said officials had tried in the past to do “softer outreach” to warn people to stay off the bluffs, including putting up signs and patrolling the area on a sporadic basis. But the bluffs continued to be accessed and the incidents reached a “crescendo point,” he said.

Jay Moore, a professional personal trainer and ex-Westchester High Comet football star, founded a sports skill and personal development company and helps youth athletes achieve their ambitions.

DREAM (Dedicated to Reaching Excellence through Athletic Mastery) was created by Morris after his athletic career came to a halt due to an injury.

“I wanted the youths to have the opportunity to go to college and athletics is a great avenue,” Morris said. “My main thing is to get them a college degree.”

The Venice High Gondoliers coasted to an easy win over Locke High School in the first round of the Los Angeles City Section football playoffs by a score of 38-14.

DECEMBER

Forty-one boats took part in the Marina del Rey 45th Annual Holiday Boat Parade December 8th.

The parade featured creative designs and a festive atmosphere.

Hillside residents who live near Playa Vista voiced their objections to a chain-link fence and increased patrols on Cabora Road that prevented them from accessing the bluffs above Playa Vista.

Playa Vista officials took action after receiving several complaints that brush and plants were being damaged by residents who walked their dogs there and hiked in the bluffs. Residents countered that Playa Vista could not quantify the number of complaints received.

A 21-year-old Loyola Marymount University (LMU) student was arrested by Los Angeles police Saturday, December 8th, in connection with an online threat of a deadly shooting on one of the main stretches of the LMU campus, police said.

Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Major Crimes Division arrested Carlos Huerta, a senior at Loyola Marymount University, at his on-campus apartment at 10:15 p.m. on suspicion of posting criminal threats on Juicycampus.com, an anonymous blog primarily used by college students, police said.

Huerta, 21, was allegedly linked to the threat, which said he would “shoot and kill as many people as possible on campus before being incapacitated or killed by the police,” authorities said.

After hearing from about 20 members of the public at its December 10th meeting who were asking for an extension, the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission postponed the decision to approve or disapprove the Landmark designation application for the mature ficus trees in downtown Santa Monica until January.

This would allow more time for the landmark designation applicants, Jerry Rubin and Santa Monica Treesavers, to research and thoroughly investigate the city’s recommendation that the Landmarks Commission deny the 40-year-old ficus trees landmark status.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, whose district includes Marina del Rey, addressed the Marina Affairs Committee of the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce December 6th.

The supervisor announced that the California Coastal Commission had agreed to hold its January public hearing for the first time in Marina del Rey regarding the Marina del Rey Local Coastal Program.

A former veteran Santa Monica police officer took over as the new chief of Airport Police for the City of Los Angeles agency that operates four Southern California airports, including Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

George Centeno, a retired lieutenant who served with the Santa Monica Police Department for 28 years, was sworn in December 7th by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as the sixth chief of police for the Airport Police Division of Los Angeles World Airports. Centeno had served as an assistant chief of police for Los Angeles World Airports since February.

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent David L. Brewer lent his voice to the growing cacophony surrounding the possibility of Westchester schools breaking away from the nation’s second-largest school district.

Brewer told an audience of approximately 75 teachers, parents and education advocates at the Westchester High School Auditorium on December 6th that he backed the autonomy movement that has been brewing in Westchester.

Sasha Cohen, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist and the 2006 national figure skating came to Santa Monica on December 6th to perform at the opening ceremony of the ice skating rink at Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue.

“I’m so excited to be here,” Cohen said, noting that it was nice to be ice-skating outdoors in Southern California. “I’m used to skating in colder weather, like at the Rockefeller Center [in New York City] or in Canada.”

U.S. champion and world bronze medallist Evan Lysacek also made an appearance at the rink and escorted children around the ice.

The Santa Monica City Council unanimously gave direction to city attorneys to draft an ordinance amending current smoking legislation to make restaurant owners and managers liable for knowingly or intentionally allowing smoking in outdoor dining areas at its December 11th meeting.

This move came just over a year after the current ban went into effect, which prohibits smoking on the Third Street Promenade and in all farmers markets, all outdoor dining areas and outdoor service areas, such as bus stops, ATM lines and movie theater lines, and within 20 feet of entrances, exits or open windows of buildings open to the public.

Local environmental groups and wetlands advocates cheered a state Supreme Court decision on December 12th that upheld an appellate ruling to halt further development of the second stage of the planned community of Playa Vista, known as The Village.

The Second District Court of Appeals in September ordered the last phase of the residential and commercial development project shut down after it found that the Los Angeles City Council had violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when it approved an Environmental Impact Report in 2005 that allowed construction of Playa Vista’s Phase II.

The St. Bernard Vikings football team saw its impressive run come to a close with a 35-21 loss to host Nordhoff High School of Ojai in the Northwest Division game December 1st.

The Vikings (8-5) defeated North Torrance High 38-14 in the first round of the playoffs and then had to get through top-ranked Morro Bay High in the second round. In a stunning upset, the Vikings defeated visiting Morro Bay 48-45 in overtime, handing Morro Bay its only loss of the season.

But in the battle against Nordhoff, St. Bernard struggled with costly turnovers early and Nordhoff took advantage of the early miscues.

Fire Station No. 62 moved to its new location at 11970 Venice Blvd. in Mar Vista near Inglewood Boulevard in May, and the Los Angeles Fire Department was planning a grand opening for the new station on Saturday, January 5th.

The original fire station, which was built in the 1950s, was near Charnock Road and Centinela Avenue.

Orville Wright Middle School, the magnet school at the middle school and Kentwood Elementary School were the first Westchester schools that voted to join the autonomy movement for independence from the Los Angeles Unified School District. The vote was held on December 11th.

Over 98 percent of the parents who voted at Kentwood cast ballots in favor of autonomy. Of the votes cast by parents at the Orville Wright magnet school, over 95 percent voted yes, and the middle school’s percentage was 90 percent.

Longtime Santa Monica resident Bob Gabriel, a former City Council member, and board member and co-founder of the Santa Monica Historical Society, died December 13th at the Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center.

Gabriel, owner of ISU Bob Gabriel Insurance Company, had been battling cancer. He was 84.

Santa Monica High School senior Josh Miller was named a finalist in CNN’s Hero Award for establishing the “Resilient Youth Foundation,” a student-run nonprofit group that aims to motivate all students to achieve and excel.

Miller began the foundation after losing his close high school friend, an innocent bystander who was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2006.

Hero Award finalists were selected for six categories, such as extraordinary commitment to the welfare of young people and advancing the cause of civil or equal rights. In being named one of the 18 finalists in the six categories, Miller was selected from more than 7,000 nominations submitted by viewers in 80 countries.

Macerich, the company that owns Santa Monica Place, has completed the entitlement process for its planned redevelopment of the indoor mall after receiving approval for the project from the California Coastal Commission and the Santa Monica Architectural Review Board.

Macerich announced plans to transform the enclosed traditional mall into a modern open-air retail and dining destination in the heart of downtown Santa Monica, according to company officials.

Plans were to close Santa Monica Place Thursday, January 31st, and start construction in the spring. The Macy’s department store in the mall would remain open during the construction.

Officials at Loyola Marymount University pledged their continued support for Westchester schools that choose to break way from the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The university, which had acted as a facilitator for the district and Westchester schools seeking educational reform, will provide valuable resources to all schools that make the transition to having local control.

Three schools voted for autonomy in December, and the remaining five were expected to vote in January.

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