Author: christinahanford

City Councilman Herb Katz dies at 78

Santa Monica City Councilman Herb Katz passed away Wednesday, January 7th, after a longtime battle with cancer. He was 78. He died peacefully and with close friends and family by his side, said Kate Vernez, assistant to the Santa Monica city manager for community relations. A heavily attended public memorial service was held for Katz Monday, January 12th, at St. Monica Catholic Church, followed by a graveside burial service at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica. Katz, who lived in Sunset Park, had for over three decades been involved in public service in Santa Monica, most recently serving as mayor of the city last year. He was first elected to the City Council in 1984 after serving as chair of the Planning Commission from 1977 to 1982. Katz was mayor pro tem from 1986 to 1988. Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl remembers vividly when Katz first ran for City Council because Rosendahl had him as a guest on his cable television show called Local Talk. This was before Rosendahl got into politics. “He went from a friend of mine to a colleague of mine,” Rosendahl noted. Rosendahl was so impressed by Katz and his late wife Ilona — who together had two special-needs sons that have also passed away — that he continued to have Katz on the air. “He’s a true brother of mine,” Rosendahl said of Katz....

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Community suggestions discussed at second meeting regarding exercise activities on median and stairs

The Fourth Street median just south of Adelaide Drive, which draws thousands of fitness buffs — along with the street stairs that enter onto Adelaide Drive — remains a point of contention between residents and those that use the area for exercise. For the past year and a half, the city has received complaints from neighbors about the use of the Fourth Street median and the nearby street, including increased street and sidewalk congestion, and increased traffic, litter and noise, said Department of Public Works director Lee Swain. One neighbor has even complained about alleged fornication there. Despite attempts to use proactive methods to secure compliance, including new signs, education and intermittent enforcement, the median has attracted increasing numbers of people utilizing the area for exercise and other activities that are not permitted, Swain said. An ordinance in effect since 1970 in Santa Monica permits only walking and jogging on the city’s medians. Other activities such as yoga, stretching and group fitness classes are prohibited. A second community meeting was held Thursday, January 8th, to present suggestions the city received from the community at its first meeting on solving the problem, and to gather feedback from the public. The meeting brought many, including residents of Adelaide Drive, neighbors and exercise enthusiasts who have used the street stairs for decades. In attendance were Swain; city attorney Marsha Moutrie; Santa Monica...

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Sponto Gallery owner Mark Kornfeld dies at 59

Mark “Sponto” Kornfeld, the owner of Sponto Gallery in Venice, died suddenly Sunday, December 28th. He was 59 years old. The cause of death is unknown, pending toxicology and other testing, said Ed Winter of the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office. Kornfeld’s friends suspect it may have been a heart attack. “He was complaining of chest pain and pain in his arm right before he died,” said a friend, Venice artist Suzy Williams. An avid art collector and a collage artist himself, Kornfeld, who often went by “Sponto” — a nickname he coined for himself by combining the words spontaneous and pronto into one — moved from New York to Venice in 1971. Thirteen years later, in 1984, he opened Sponto Gallery — the former home of Venice West CafÈ, which was a hangout for many of the Venice Beat poets in the 1950s and 1960s — at 7 Dudley Ave. Since then, the spot has remained a home to many local artists. “The important thing about Sponto is that it was so much more than an art gallery,” said Gerry Fialka, a close friend of Kornfeld and curator of the film screening series at Sponto, called 7 Dudley Cinema, which will continue at other local venues. “Most art galleries don’t do all these other things — poetry readings, live comedy, live music, experimental film screenings. “Sponto nurtured the...

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Venice High School pool to reopen January 19th

The Venice High School pool, which has been closed since September 29th due to leak repairs, is expected to reopen on Monday, January 19th. The year-round pool at 2490 Walgrove Ave. in Mar Vista, owned by the City of Los Angeles, has been closed for over three months. “The repairs are completed,” said Sophie Sabbah, a teacher at Venice High School and coach of the swim and water polo teams there. “We’re just waiting for the pool lights and the ladders and to fill the pool up [with water].” And Sabbah said she couldn’t be more excited about the pool reopening. “I’m just so happy,” she said. “I’m very thankful that they worked so fast to get the repairs done, but also for the community involvement. They helped so much in getting the pool reopened.” Lydia Ponce, a parent of a Venice High School swimmer and a community leader for People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER), is also thrilled about the pool reopening. Ponce and others were concerned that the pool was going to be “shut down altogether because of the economic stress on the state and city — that there weren’t enough funds to fix this pool with all its problems,” she said. Of the pool reopening, Ponce adds, “I just see it as being an all-around win for the community to have the pool open. It gets...

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Ban on text messaging while driving goes into effect in California Jan. 1

As of Thursday, January 1st, text messaging while driving is banned in the State of California. Senate Bill (SB) 28, authored by Senator Joe Simitian of Palo Alto, specifically bans the use of an electronic wireless communications device to write, send or read a text-based communication while driving. The bill will impose a base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. In September, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the legislation that prohibits drivers from using text messaging devices while operating a vehicle. “Banning electronic text messaging while driving will keep drivers’ hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, making our roadways a safer place for all Californians,” Schwarzenegger said. Sgt. Renaldi Thruston of the Santa Monica Police Department told The Argonaut in an interview in September, “We feel it’s definitely dangerous if you’re distracted while you’re driving. That was the purpose of the new law, which prohibits driving and talking on the cell phone. “This will create a safer environment for drivers if they follow the law.” Thruston even noted that texting while driving is probably more dangerous than talking on a hand-held cell phone “because you have to look at the keys, and at some point, you take your eyes off the road.” The ban on text messaging will complement an existing law — also authored by Simitian — that...

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