Category: Santa Monica

The Night Everyone Counts

Volunteers comb the streets of Santa Monica to take stock of the city’s homeless population By Danny Karel At around 10:30 p.m. last Wednesday (Jan. 23), a small line for coffee began to form in the courtyard of St. Monica’s Catholic High School. A half-hour later, nearly 400 people — a mix of volunteers, police officers and public officials — awaited the stroke of midnight to begin the 2019 Santa Monica homeless count. It was a cold night, but the mood was cheerful. Homeless counts happen each year throughout Greater Los Angeles, mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing...

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Court Grounds Santa Monica Airport Closure Challenge

A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit challenging last year’s FAA consent decree allowing Santa Monica officials to close Santa Monica Airport after 2028. Plaintiff Barry Rosen had sought to invalidate the agreement and force the city to reverse last year’s reduction of the airport’s runway from 5,000 to 3,500 feet, which restricts jet traffic. U.S. Central District Court Judge Philip S. Gutierrez dismissed the case on July 5, ruling that Rosen did not have standing to continue pursuing a case that has been rejected and amended multiple times since last year. “With this ruling, as with several similar rulings from other courts in the past eight months, the U.S. District Court reaffirms the validity of the historic agreement between the city of Santa Monica and the FAA as a Consent Decree,” Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis said in city statement released Wednesday. “Despite frivolous legal challenges over the past year, the city kept on course to improve the lives of residents by shortening the runway and reducing large jets flying over our neighborhoods by over 80%.”     — Joe...

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Santa Monica Will Vote on Term Limits

A good government group wants to stimulate city council turnover, but others argue a 12-year cap on public service would strip power away from the people By Gary Walker A local initiative that would limit Santa Monica City Council members to three four-year terms in office has collected enough signatures to qualify for the November city ballot, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder’s Office. Supporters argue that the status quo of not limiting the number of terms a council member can be re-elected effectively shuts out people who might run for office but are reluctant to challenge longtime incumbents. “The power of incumbency is strong. It’s hard for some people to go against the entrenched interests,” said Mary Marlow, leader of the Santa Monica city government watchdog group The Transparency Project, which is sponsoring the initiative. Five of Santa Monica’s seven city council members have won at least three elections, and only one incumbent council member has lost a re-election bid since the mid-1990s. “We have a situation now where incumbents almost automatically get reelected for decades. They are frequently backed by wealthy special interests with business before the council who pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into each election cycle,” said Marlow, a former telecom executive. However, only two current councilmembers have held office for more than 12 years: Pam O’Connor, first elected in 1994, and Kevin...

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Bird Settles Santa Monica Beef

Scooter network must pay $300,000 and get its paperwork in order By Joe Piasecki The company behind the suddenly ubiquitous Bird scooters has reached a settlement with the city of Santa Monica, both parties announced Wednesday. In exchange for dropping the criminal complaint against them, Bird has agreed to pay more than $300,000 in fines, get its city business paperwork in order and run a weeklong public safety education campaign on the Big Blue Bus. “We are pleased that Bird and the City of Santa Monica were able to work out our differences regarding licensure,” Bird spokesman Marcus Reese...

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Term Limits for Santa Monica?

Ballot measure would force council members to quit after 12 years By Gary Walker Ocean Park resident and retired telecom executive Mary Marlow is one of Santa Monica’s more active government watchdogs. Cofounder of the “follow-the-money” Santa Monica Transparency Project, Marlow recently took two city council members to task for apparent violations of an ethics law that prevents officeholders from accepting contributions from developers whose projects they’ve supported. Now Marlow is calling on Santa Monica voters to impose term limits on their city council members. Joined by Santa Monica City Councilwoman Sue Himmelrich, Marlow announced last week that she...

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