Author: vinceechavaria

Residents object to planned post office move from downtown

Santa Monica residents are facing a similar prospect as their neighbors to the south of having a centrally located post office move away. But unlike in Venice, where the postal facility was relocated in the same general area, 400 feet away, the Santa Monica Post Office is proposed to be moved less than a mile away to an area that some residents say is not as accessible by bus or for pedestrians. Some residents note that the current main post office at 1248 Fifth St., built in 1937, is in a central part of the city but say a planned move by the U.S. Postal Service to an annex facility at 1653 Seventh St., near the Santa Monica Freeway, would be away from the downtown area and could create safety concerns for those who have difficulty accessing it. The transfer of retail operations to the carrier annex would be classified as a relocation rather than a closure because services would continue to be provided less than a mile away and the city’s two other postal retail facilities would be unaffected, Postal Service spokesman Richard Maher said. The Santa Monica and Venice post offices have been placed on the list of pending relocations or closures nationwide as the Postal Service seeks to reduce costs and generate revenue through the sales of its buildings. The federal agency, which is not supported...

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City Council expands smoking ban to new multi-unit residences

The city of Santa Monica’s prohibition against smoking has now sifted through the walls of new multi-unit apartment buildings and condominiums. In a 4-2 vote July 10, the Santa Monica City Council approved an ordinance that will ban smoking in newly constructed multi-unit residential properties as well as in existing units that become vacant. If approved on a second reading later this month, the law will additionally require residents living in apartment and condo complexes to designate their home as either smoking or non-smoking. Those who fail to designate would automatically have their unit deemed non-smoking. The records of all units’ smoking status will be kept by landlords, who will disclose that information to current and prospective tenants. Anyone with a medical marijuana card who wishes to continue smoking inside their unit would also have to declare smoking status. The new ordinance follows a trend of anti-smoking protections in recent years in the city, where the council previously banned the activity in common areas and balconies of residential properties but did not cross into the interior of apartments and condos. Several other regional cities had enacted smoking bans in multi-unit properties prior to Santa Monica’s approval, including Pasadena, Baldwin Park, Compton and Huntington Park. Many residents told the council stories of family members with asthma suffering from the effects of secondhand smoke and their inability to enjoy being in...

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Paul Conrad sculpture unanimously approved as city landmark

While its future may still be uncertain, a 26-foot-tall anti-nuclear sculpture’s significance to the city of Santa Monica will not be without recognition. The Santa Monica Landmarks Commission voted unanimously July 9 to designate the late Paul Conrad’s Chain Reaction, a nuclear mushroom cloud sculpture made of chain links, as a city landmark. Installed following a $250,000 anonymous donation, the art piece by the Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist has stood at the Civic Center since 1991. The sculpture, which faces possible removal due to structural safety concerns, is the city’s first public art piece to be landmarked. In approving landmark status the commissioners rejected a recommendation by staff, who said the sculpture’s cultural influence on the city is unclear and there has not been community-wide acceptance of the piece as a representation of the city or its progressive politics. Staff added that Conrad was a renowned cartoonist but was not known as an established master artist. A consultant’s report found that Chain Reaction meets several of the criteria for city landmark designation, with which the Landmarks Commission agreed. Commissioners concluded that the work exemplifies the cultural, social or political history of the city; has aesthetic or artistic interest or value; is identified with historic personages or events; and has a unique location or is a familiar visual feature. The commission noted it was important to acknowledge the work of...

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Paraplegic man gets boost from local motorcycle group

The bond between members of the Chicano Harley Riders motorcycle club has extended beyond the road. The group of 15 Harley Davidson enthusiasts from communities across the Westside, including Venice and Santa Monica, have collaborated to support a variety of local organizations in need. The club has helped raise funds for organizations such as the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Optimist Youth Home of Los Angeles, the Fred Jordan Mission, Westside Children’s Center, several battered women/children centers and the Los Angeles Police Department toy drive. Now, with one of their friends in need following a life-changing accident, the riders are once again coming together to help out. Louis Rosa, 33, a Santa Monica native who has a daughter and two step sons, was paralyzed from the waist down in a car crash involving a wrong-way driver in May 2010. The Chicano Harley Riders have organized a fundraiser to help Rosa, who has been living on limited income since his accident, purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle. The event is scheduled from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Friday, July 6 at the Fraternal Order of Eagles club at 13018 W. Washington Blvd., east of Lincoln Boulevard in Del Rey. There will be live music and a DJ, as well as raffles and 50/50 drawings. Admission is $10. Motorcycle group members say they are inspired by...

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City Council bans unattended winter displays from coastal park

For the first time in nearly 60 years this December, Palisades Park in Santa Monica will be without any type of free-standing winter displays, including one that has traditionally depicted the birth of Jesus Christ. The Santa Monica City Council voted 5-0 June 12 to no longer allow for private, unattended winter displays to be erected in Palisades Park. Council members Pam O’Connor and Bobby Shriver were not in attendance. The council’s vote deleted the exception that has enabled such displays to be placed only in Palisades, which overlooks the ocean, during the holiday season. Included in the ban are the 14 Nativity scene displays of life-size figures depicting events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ, which have been installed consistently since 1953. Other winter displays that have gone up over the years, including one with a menorah and banners with atheist messages, will also no longer be allowed. City officials stressed that such expressions of religion and speech will not be removed from the city, as groups could still erect booths on private property, as part of a community event, or with an attendant during the day. “The ordinance before you tonight is by no means… an attempt to oust religion from the city or oust the Christmas story or Nativity scenes, and would not have that effect,” City Attorney Marsha Moutrie told the council. The recommendation came...

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