The End of an Airport
In January, the FAA reached a settlement with Santa Monica officials over a seemingly intractable battle the city had appeared to be losing for more than a decade: the closure of Santa Monica Airport due to local health, safety and noise concerns. The agreement requires the airport to remain open through 2028, but also allowed the city to shorten SMO’s runway in order to restrict jet traffic.
Locals Reject the Alt-Right
When activists from the fringe right — including one or two spotted among the violent white nationalist protests in Charlottesville — started disrupting meetings of the Racial Justice Coalition in Santa Monica, locals fought back by gathering in support of diversity outside the meeting hall in Virginia Avenue Park. As one local put it, “they picked the wrong city.” Venice activists sent a similar message by forcing the cancellation of an alt-right rally planned outside the Google offices on Main Street with a preemptive rally for diversity.
Gun Violence Despite Safer Streets
You wouldn’t know it unless you read The Argonaut, but violent crime actually went down this summer throughout Westside neighborhoods of Los Angeles and on the Venice Boardwalk in particular, according to the LAPD. What held the public imagination were gun tragedies — the death of 32-year-old Marina del Rey resident Michelle Vo in the Oct. 1 Las Vegas mass shooting, the March arrest of a local gang member accused of the broad-daylight shooting death of a construction worker in Oakwood, the June guilty verdict for the man who shot a teenage girl to death in Marina Marketplace, an SMPD shootout with a murder suspect on Main Street in August, and the deadly Santa Monica party bus shooting in November.
Ballona Debate Heats Up
Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Sequel” didn’t exactly set the world on fire like his first film, but he did tell an audience at YouTube Space L.A. in Playa Vista that he’s more optimistic now because technological advances can generate climate change solutions. A few months later, state officials finally overcame five years of delay to release environmental planning documents for restoration of the Ballona Wetlands — setting the stage for a 2018 bareknuckle brawl among environmental advocates over how best to restore the only remaining wetlands in Los Angeles.
Trading Cultural Capital
Protests during real estate-gobbling Snapchat’s IPO and the demise of Abbot’s Habit in Venice (and Joni’s Coffee Roasting Co. on the Marina-Venice border) once again raised red flags about the loss of local character and community gathering places. But the summer of 2017 brought with it some new Westside cultural capital: dedication of the Venice Japanese-American Memorial Monument, the opening of the Annenberg PetSpace in Playa Vista, a resurgence of Venice Pride and subsequent revival plans for Roosterfish, the inaugural ArtSea in Burton Chace Park, restoration of Venice’s POW/MIA Mural and, in October, the Cold War-focused Wende Museum in Culver City’s historic National Guard Armory.