Last week, The Argonaut looked back at what happened in our local area during the first six months of 2006.

This week, we review the last six months of the year in our local area.


The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District adopted a $109.8 million budget for the 2006-2007 fiscal year, which began July 1st.

The budget is up $2 million from last year’s budget of $107.8 million.

Among the expenditures for the 2006-2007 fiscal year are $54.8 million for certified salaries, $21.4 million for employee benefits and $19.3 million for classified salaries.

Venice civil rights attorney Stephen Yagman, 61, pleaded not guilty in Central California Federal Court July 3rd, to charges of attempting to evade the payment of more than $100,000 in federal income taxes by concealing his assets and committing bankruptcy fraud.

The 19-count indictment alleged that Yagman filed federal income tax returns for the tax years 1994 through 1997, but paid only a small portion of the taxes that were owed to the Internal Revenue Service.

The Santa Monica City Council announced at a special meeting on the steps of Santa Monica City Hall July 3rd, that the city had received a grant from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to fund the Homeless Community Court for a Santa Monica “demonstration” project.

The special court is aimed at benefiting the chronically homeless people of Santa Monica, which has 1,200 to 2,000 homeless people on any given day.

Of the homeless people, approximately 20 to 40 percent are chronically homeless — having lived on the streets for many years, a county supervisor spokesman said.

At the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education annual meeting July 6th, Marlene Canter was elected by the board members to serve a second consecutive one-year term as board president.

Canter represents board District Four, which includes Los Angeles Unified School District public schools in Westchester, Mar Vista and other local communities.

Running legend and World War II hero Louie Zamperini served as the spokesperson and honorary starter of the Keep LA Running event July 16th, at Dockweiler Beach in Playa del Rey.

Zamperini finished eighth in the 5,000-meter run at the historic 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Less than a decade later, he survived World War II after becoming a prisoner of war when his plane crashed in the Pacific and he was rescued by a Japanese patrol boat.

Santa Monica Police Chief James Butts announced that the police department would increase its patrol in the Pico Neighborhood in response to four shooting incidents that occurred in the city in less than one week.

Two men received non-life-threatening injuries in separate Santa Monica shooting incidents July 3rd and 4th, and two more incidents occurred July 7th and 9th.

Dianne Talarico was selected the new superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

Talarico came to Santa Monica from the Canton City School District in Ohio, where she was the first woman superintendent and led the district for five years.

She replaced John Deasy, who resigned to accept a similar position in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Eileen Fogarty, the director of planning and zoning for the city of Alexandria, Virginia, was appointed as the new director of planning and community development for the City of Santa Monica.

Fogarty had served in Alexandria since 2000.

She replaced Santa Monica’s interim planning and community development director Andy Agle, who had held the position since former director Suzanne Frick stepped down to take a similar job in Long Beach.

Starting July 26th, callers within the 310 area code region were required to dial a “1” plus the area code and telephone number — including calls to numbers within the local 310 area — to have their calls completed, due to an area code overlay that took effect.

Calls within the 310 area code that were dialed with seven digits now require 11 digits.

A power outage at a regional radar center halted almost all air traffic at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) July 18th, affecting thousands of passengers.

The outage was caused after a radar center in Palmdale, about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles, lost power.

At LAX alone, 221 flights, including 102 arrivals and 119 departures, were either canceled, delayed or diverted from LAX, airport officials said.

The Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously July 12th, to approve a new Watershed Management Plan and place a new storm-water Clean Beaches and Ocean Funding measure on the November ballot.

The ballot measure, which was approved by voters in the election, creates a Clean Beaches and Ocean Parcel Tax and produces revenue necessary to fund the new Watershed Management Plan.

The main focus of the plan is urban runoff, considered the single largest source of water pollution in the region.

Power was out for days at many businesses on the Third Street Promenade and a number of other downtown buildings in Santa Monica after two Southern California Edison underground electrical vaults exploded July 22nd, beneath Santa Monica Boulevard, near the Promenade.

The force of the explosions blew manhole covers into the air and shot flames up to 15 feet high.

No injuries or property damages other than to the vaults involved were reported.

The Marina del Rey Design Control Board recommended conceptual approval with conditions July 20th, of the proposed Woodfin Hotel Suite and Vacation Ownership project and the adjacent project Neptune Marina Apartments and Anchorage (Legacy).

An 11-member team from St. Monica Catholic Parish’s Holy Cross Africa Ministry from Santa Monica went to Nairobi, Kenya, on a ten-day aid and fact-finding mission to the church’s sister parish, Holy Cross Church.

Holy Cross Church is in the impoverished and AIDS-devastated Nairobi suburb of Dandora.


A weekly farmers market came to Mar Vista for the first time starting August 6th.

The certified Mar Vista Farmers Market operates every Sunday year-round from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Grand View Boulevard, between Venice Boulevard and Pacific Avenue.

About 20 to 25 farmers regularly set up stands at the market to offer an assortment of fresh, locally grown produce, as well as fresh flowers and some prepared foods.

Flights bound for Los Angeles International Airport August 7th were delayed by an average of more than an hour and a half until evening, after a landing system for one of the airport’s runways failed.

The Instrument Landing System, which helps guide pilots to runways during inclement weather conditions by sending a radio signal through the clouds, failed at runway 25 R.

The incident left the runway unable to handle arriving flights and forced all incoming planes to land on a runway normally used for arrivals.

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office filed vandalism charges August 3rd against environmentalist Robert “Roy” van de Hoek alleging that he destroyed the habitat of endangered species in the Ballona Wetlands.

Van de Hoek was charged with two counts of cutting down myoporum shrubs and one count of cutting down a ficus tree.

He was also charged with three counts of violating sections of the city municipal code prohibiting the cutting of plant life without permission from the city Department of Recreation and Parks.

Under an agreement reached in October between prosecutors and van de Hoek’s attorneys, the charges would be dropped if van de Hoek complied with certain conditions, including not removing any vegetation in the wetlands unless he has a permit to do so.

Beaches from Venice Beach to Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey were closed to swimming and surfing August 8th, by Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials after sewage spilled into Ballona Creek from a Culver City pump station.

Approximately 20,000 to 30,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into the water when pumps failed at the Braddock Pump Station in Culver City.

The Los Angeles City Council placed more restrictions on public comment actions at meetings by unanimously approving new “rules of decorum” August 1st.

The new decorum rules are intended to suppress disorderly conduct at meetings, such as the utterance of abusive language, whistling, foot-stamping or other acts that may disturb the orderly conduct of council meetings.

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously August 11th, to approve Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s motion to revive efforts to bring the Metro Green Line to Los Angeles International Airport.

The council called on Los Angeles World Airports to renew joint efforts with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and other agencies to extend the east-to-west rail line to LAX.

Howard Blaine Drollinger, a philanthropist and developer who helped turn Westchester into a thriving community, died August 13th, at the age of 84.

He was widely known as “Mr. Westchester” and had recently joined Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in his efforts to halt the expansion of Los Angeles International Airport.

A 21-year-old Venice man was charged August 10th, with killing 17-year-old Venice High School student Augustin Contreras during a fight on the high school faculty parking lot in June.

The Santa Monica Community College District board of trustees voted August 14th, to establish an independent nonprofit organization to operate and manage the new Madison Campus performing arts center and music academy.

The fine arts complex is under construction and is expected to open in fall 2007. Madison Campus is at 1310 11th St., Santa Monica.

The Engineers and Architects Association, a union representing more than 7,500 City of Los Angeles employees, went on strike August 22nd, after association members did not receive pay raises similar to raises received by police, fire and Department of Water and Power employees.

Union members established picket lines at the Hyperion Treatment Plant in Playa del Rey, but were under a temporary restraining order not to strike at Los Angeles International Airport.

The new LAX Recruitment and Training Center was opened by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and officials from Los Angeles World Airports and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration August 16th.

The center is the first such facility at a U.S. airport to be dedicated to recruiting, training, and testing federal transportation security officers and airport police officers.

Home Depot, Inc. purchased the former U.S. Postal Service Marina Processing and Distribution Center property on Jefferson Boulevard in the Del Rey area.

The 20-acre property, at 13031 Jefferson Blvd., across Alla Road from an existing Home Depot store, was purchased for a price in excess of $60 million.

Escrow closed on the former Postal Service site August 15th.

Home Depot was selected as the buyer over 40 initial bidders and a final group of eight.

The transaction occurred nearly a year after the Postal Service put the property up for sale.

Longtime Venice resident Werner G. Scharff died in his sleep August 17th, at the age of 90.

Scharff had restored a collection of Venice properties, including the historic St. Mark’s building on Windward Avenue and the Cadillac Hotel on the Venice Boardwalk, according to his son.

A redevelopment proposal for Villa Venetia, at the south end of Fiji Way in Marina del Rey, garnered a large and angry crowd of people opposed to the project for putting at risk herons nesting nearby.

Uprooting the nesting palm trees of the great blue heron would be an ecological tragedy, said David De Lange, vice president of the Coalition to Save the Marina, at an August 31st Design Control Board meeting.


Deforrest “Moe” Most died of heart failure September 2nd, at age 89. He was a longtime Venice resident and a gymnast who served as director of the original Muscle Beach in Santa Monica 50 years ago.

A 21-year-old Los Angeles man was shot to death by Santa Monica police September 4th, after he fled from officers during a foot pursuit on 21st Street and allegedly turned toward them while holding a handgun.

The man, identified by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office as Christopher Lamont Hunter, was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

Santa Monica College honors student Dean Stewart won the top prize in a national community college literary contest sponsored by the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.

The Open 5.70, a newly designed 20-foot racer out of France, made its way into the Marina del Rey boat racing scene after debuting locally in the Marina del Rey to Seal Beach race.

Jerome Sammarcelli, vice commodore of the South Bay Yacht Racing Club, discovered the boat in his native France and aimed to build a fleet of 5.70s in Southern California.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) observed the fifth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Three of the four airplanes that left Boston and Washington, D.C. airports that day were destined for LAX, with the fourth plane destined for a San Francisco airport.

In a lawsuit settlement reached September 12th, the City of Santa Monica and a group of residents from the Palisades Beach Property Owners Association agreed that construction plans for a public beach club at the former Marion Davies Estate in Santa Monica should move forward.

Under the terms of the settlement, the city agreed that it would not seek changes to specific design and operating conditions required by the Santa Monica Planning Commission for at least seven-and-a half years.

New self-regulating tide gates were installed in the Ballona Creek flood control channel levee, increasing the size of the tidal wetlands by approximately two acres.

The Ballona Wetlands Tidal Gate Restoration Project, a collaborative effort of multiple city, county and federal agencies, entered its final phase.

The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners approved a $576 million contract for a major upgrade of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

Community activist Gwen Vuchsas resigned from her positions as president of the Westchester/Playa del Rey Neighborhood Council and president of the Los Angeles Police Department Pacific Area Boosters Association.

Her resignations occurred while police were investigating a situation in which money was reported missing from the Boosters Association.

Engaged Playa del Rey couple Molly Mouchka and Jason Waggoner won a free dream wedding after taking home the top prize in the seventh annual Today show series “Today Throws a Wedding” on NBC September 20th.

The local couple, together for nearly three years, defeated seven other couples during the seven-week contest to win their luxury ceremony held October 6th.

Santa Monica College held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new $17 million Theater Arts Building September 27th. The 200,000-square-foot theater complex was designed to include 264 seats and full backstage capabilities.


Venice Neighborhood Council member Linda Lucks was appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as one of seven members of the city Board of Neighborhood Commissioners.

Airport officials began implementing a Los Angeles City ordinance regulating the “time, place and manner” in which individuals and organizations can solicit and immediately receive funds for charitable purposes at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved City Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s motion to study a future connection between the not-yet-built Exposition Line and the existing Green Line light rail lines.

Authorities searching for wanted felons living in areas near Los Angeles schools arrested five people in a sweep operation conducted near Venice High School.

The sweep, conducted as part of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Strategy Against Violent Environment Near Schools (LA SAVES) program, also resulted in four children being placed in protective custody.

The Santa Monica City Council directed city staff to create an ordinance exempting from parking meter fees military veterans who display honorific license plates. City staff was also directed to evaluate any possible revenue implications.

The Santa Monica City Council approved an ordinance for a smoking ban in the city.

The ban prohibits smoking on the Third Street Promenade, all farmers markets, and all outdoor dining areas and outdoor service areas, such as bus stops, ATM lines and movie theater lines, in Santa Monica.

It also bans smoking within 20 feet of entrances, exits or open windows of buildings open to the public.

Gwen Vuchsas was charged with a felony count of embezzling thousands of dollars from the Pacific Area Boosters Association.

The complaint alleged that Vuchsas wrote several checks between June and August totaling more than $34,000 from a Boosters Association account to a personal account, while serving as acting association treasurer.

She later agreed to a plea bargain, which required 45 days of community service. Prosecutor Don Tamura said her case could be downgraded to a misdemeanor charge of grand theft, making Vuchsas eligible for probation if she has successfully completed her community service.

The board of directors of Airport Marina Counseling Service (AMCS) chose Kathleen O’Leary Lefferman to head the 45-year-old mental health clinic in Westchester.

Lefferman has more than 25 years of leadership experience and a background that includes public service, fundraising development, community relations, grant procurement, academia and “friendraising.”

Marina del Rey resident Julian Myers, 88, was the “winningest athlete” at the Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, Utah.

The Venice Neighborhood Council voted to allocate $20,000 to renovate two Venice murals — “Jaya” and “Endangered Species.”

The murals are in need of renovation because of the presence of graffiti.

An option to amend a redevelopment lease for a proposed Del Rey Shores project on Via Marina was recommended by three of four Small Craft Harbor Commission members, with one abstaining.

This meant that the proposed project would move forward for consideration by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Olympic track and field medallist Tommie Smith, internationally renowned rock climber Lynn Hill and table tennis champion Jerry N. Davila-Castro were inducted into this year’s Santa Monica College (SMC) Foundation Sports Hall of Fame.

Gerald D. Zaslaw, a Marina del Rey liveaboard who for 15 years served as president and chief executive officer of Vista del Mar Child and Family Services, died in a boating accident off the cost of Catalina Island at the age of 63.

Kim Blankinship, 31, a former Loyola Marymount University (LMU) standout women’s volleyball player headed for induction into the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame this year, died of heart failure.

Environmentalist Robert “Roy” van de Hoek, co-director of the Ballona Institute in Playa del Rey, accepted an agreement that would allow him to again lead bicycle rides and nature tours of the Ballona Wetlands.

Under the agreement, van de Hoek is not allowed to cut or remove any vegetation in the wetlands or on public property unless he has an individual permit or works for an organization that has a permit to do so, which is currently the law.

The Westchester/LAX-Marina del Rey Chamber of Commerce board of directors voted to change the name of the Chamber to the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce.

Los Angeles chiropractor Thomas Dickershaid, 65, was charged with ten counts of sexual assault of two of his female patients at his office in Westchester, police said.

He was arrested at his Fresh Start Chiropractic office in Westchester on October 11th, and released on $200,000 bail.

Los Angeles County lifeguards rescued an 18-year-old man from the ocean after he jumped off the Venice Fishing Pier.

The man was taken to Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center Marina Campus in the Marina del Rey area, where he was treated for hypothermia.

When asked by officials why he had jumped from the pier, the man reportedly told them that he “wanted to see what it would be like.”

Conceptual approval with conditions for Villa Venetia Apartments and Condominiums at the south end of Fiji Way by the Marina del Rey Design Control Board moved the project on to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for review.

George Russell Weller, an 89-year-old man who drove his vehicle through a farmers market in Santa Monica more than three years before, killing ten people and injuring more than 60 others, was found guilty of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence on October 20th.

He was sentenced November 20th to five years of supervised probation without having to serve time in prison. He could have received up to 18 years in prison.

Marina del Rey Ralphs supermarket employee Patrick Conarpe, 51, of Marina del Rey, was killed in a hit-and-run accident while he was walking in a crosswalk outside Ralphs on October 28th.

Conarpe was walking westbound in the crosswalk on Mindanao Way at Admiralty Way at about 7:55 p.m. when he was struck by a vehicle traveling southbound on Admiralty.

The vehicle, described only as a light-colored sedan, fled from the scene.

The daughter and son-in-law of Assemblywoman Karen Bass were killed in a car accident on the San Diego (I-405) Freeway near La Tijera Boulevard in Westchester on October 29th.

Emilia Wright, 23, a Loyola Marymount University (LMU) student who was the only child of Bass, was pronounced dead at the scene, along with her husband Michael Wright, also 23.


Democrats swept every seat in the Westside in the November 7th local and state election.

The Argonaut celebrated 35 years of publication.

More than half a year after a revised Los Angeles City ordinance regulating vending and the time, place and manner of public expression activities went into effect on Ocean Front Walk in Venice, a group of Boardwalk activists filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved $1.6 million in funding toward the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ project to dredge the Marina north entrance, an area designated as a federal channel.

The approval completed all the necessary funding to begin the approximately $2.4 million project.

The dredging of the Marina north entrance channel was set to begin before the end of the year, but was later announced to begin January 5th.

The Westside Water Quality Improvement Project — Sawtelle Channel (SAC) was dedicated November 9th by officials from Santa Monica, the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County and the State of California.

Lying beneath a Mar Vista Park parking lot at Palms Boulevard and McLaughlin Avenue, the facility is designed to treat urban runoff from the east side of Santa Monica and parts of West Los Angeles.

Three area elementary schools are among 11 in Los Angeles Unified School District to benefit from a $25,000 grant to the Psychological Trauma Center from the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation to expand the trauma center’s Share and Care Program.

Locally, the program will help students at Broadway Elementary School in Venice, Loyola Village Elementary School in Westchester and Beethoven Street Elementary School in Mar Vista.

A plan by a Venice Beach Orthodox synagogue to create a symbolic enclosure known as an “eruv” several miles along the beach came before the California Coastal Commission November 16th.

The Pacific Jewish Center, 505 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, proposed to erect the enclosure by stretching fishing line between existing street lights and light poles along the beaches in Santa Monica, Venice and near the Marina del Rey entrance channel.

The religious enclosure, or eruv, would permit Orthodox Jews to perform certain work or “carrying” actions in public such as pushing, pulling, lifting and throwing — activities which, under Jewish law, are forbidden on the Sabbath. The coastal commission would later approve the project, but the approval would be opposed by a number of local organizations on environmental grounds.

Step Up On Second, an organization that helps provide support and opportunities for people with mental illness to reintegrate into the community, was denied a $456,000 loan by the City of Santa Monica to help fund a transitional housing facility triplex.

As a result, Step Up On Second pulled out of a deal to purchase the property on which the facility — to have been called “Daniel’s House” — was to be located.

The proposed Daniel’s House, a Daniel’s Place program (which is a project of Step Up On Second), was planned at 1826 Pearl St. to provide housing for adults 18 to 28 years old who are in the earliest stages of mental illness — for example, depression or schizophrenia.

The City of Santa Monica launched a new parking Web site — www.parkingspacenow The site is updated every five seconds and displays the number of available parking spaces in downtown Santa Monica parking structures and at the city’s beaches.

The city hoped the Web site would make it possible for visitors to downtown Santa Monica and the city’s beaches to determine the best available areas to park before even getting into their car, and that it would alleviate traffic problems.

ARSAC (Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion) vice president Denny Schneider was elected president of ARSAC and Robert Acherman was elected vice president by the group’s board of directors after former president Jennifer Dakoske Koslu resigned, citing personal workload issues.

Koslu remained on ARSAC’s board of directors.

The new $11 million Cloverfield Services Center, a 22,000-square-foot housing facility at Cloverfield Boulevard and Michigan Avenue in Santa Monica, was dedicated November 16th.

It was to provide 55 beds for the chronically homeless — those that have been living on the streets the longest — suffering from mental illness and other disabilities.

A tentative agreement was reached between the teachers union and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District for a five-percent salary increase for teachers in the district.

The agreement was discussed at the school board meeting November 16th. Some were concerned about how the agreement would be funded and formal action on the agreement scheduled for December was delayed until January.

For the 16th consecutive year, Santa Monica College (SMC) held on to its number one position in the transfer of students to the University of California (UC) system in 2005-06.

Former UCLA and professional football player Marcus Cassel was killed November 17th, after the vehicle he was driving crashed into a tree at Palisades Park in Santa Monica.

Cassel, a 23-year-old from Los Angeles, was reportedly driving his sports utility vehicle at a high rate of speed westbound on Santa Monica Boulevard at about 5:15 a.m., when the vehicle failed to turn onto Ocean Avenue and went into Palisades Park, striking a tree in the park.

There were no other occupants in the vehicle.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health closed several miles of beaches from Ballona Creek south to the Manhattan Beach Pier, while the Los Angeles City Hyperion Treatment Plant in Playa del Rey inspected a pipeline that carries treated sewage five miles offshore.

Department of Public Health officials said they closed the stretch of beaches, which includes Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey, beginning November 28th, as a precaution to protect the health of visitors to the beaches during the pipeline inspection.

The City of Los Angeles approved a living wage ordinance requiring hotels near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to pay their service workers a “living wage.”

The legislation, which would extend the city living wage law to airport-area hotels along the Century Boulevard Corridor in Westchester, would require the hotels to pay service workers $9.39 per hour with health benefits or $10.64 per hour without.


The Santa Monica City Council approved an ordinance to establish a Child Care Linkage Fee for the development of childcare centers in the city.

The “linkage” or mitigation fee would “ensure that developers of new workplace and residential developments mitigate the increased demand for childcare,” said city officials.

The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners approved the purchase of 30 alternative-fuel buses and trucks for use at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Westchester.

Douglas L. Barry, a 31-year veteran of the Los Angeles City Fire Department, was appointed to serve as its acting chief.

Barry, an assistant fire chief, is the first African American to serve as chief of the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) when he took over for Fire Chief William Bamattre, who announced December 1st, that he was stepping down from the position after 11 years.

Barry, a Rancho Palos Verdes resident, was to assume the interim fire chief position Monday, January 1st, and serve until city officials find a permanent replacement for Bamattre.

The change in leadership in the fire department comes amid allegations of discrimination and harassment within the agency, most recently a lawsuit in which an African American firefighter claimed he was the victim of racial discrimination when he was served spaghetti mixed with dog food at a fire station in Westchester in 2004.

Councilman Richard Bloom was appointed to the rotating position of mayor of Santa Monica at the City Council meeting December 5th. Bloom, who had served as mayor previously, will serve for one year, with Herb Katz serving as mayor pro tempore.

The two will switch positions in a year, with Katz serving as mayor and Bloom as mayor pro tem.

The 2007 Zagat Survey Los Angeles So. California Guide declared Santa Monica “the best area for great restaurants in all of Southern California.”

With traffic passing by as he stood at the corner of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards in Venice, Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl unveiled a transportation plan to help relieve such congested Westside areas.

At a press conference in front of the busy intersection December 7th, Rosendahl outlined a plan for spending more than $11 million on traffic improvement and mass transit studies in the Westside.

The plan included both short-term and long-term initiatives to relieve Westside traffic, from the installation of left-turn signals and synchronization of traffic signals to efforts to create a north-south rail line along Lincoln Boulevard.

The physical education field at Orville Wright Middle School in Westchester received “substantial damage” after an unknown number of suspects used a bulldozer to tear down basketball and volleyball poles and destroy a handball court sometime during the night December 9th, school officials said.

The bulldozer was also used to tear up a freestanding brick wall and a storage unit containing emergency supplies and other equipment at the school, located at 6550 80th St, Westchester.

Some reports estimated the damage at about $200,000.

The City of Santa Monica reached an agreement with a consortium of oil companies to streamline construction of a new water treatment system — tentatively scheduled to open in 2012 — as part of the city’s quest to restore its drinking water.

Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil agreed to pay the city $131 million, which allowed the city to fully fund the companies’ obligations to construct a water treatment plant for water produced from the city’s Charnock Well Field in Mar Vista.

The money would also allow the city to pay for replacement water until the treatment plant begins its operation and to maintain and monitor regional test wells as well as perform other related tasks.

The city would now assume sole control of the design and construction of the system.

Eleven of 16 workers at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) area hotels finished a weeklong, water-only fast December 12th that was part of an effort to help secure the recently approved City of Los Angeles living wage law for the hotels.

An ordinance banning nonrecyclable disposable food service containers in the city was introduced in its “first reading” and unanimously approved by the Santa Monica City Council at its meeting December 5th.

The ordinance was expected to be adopted at its final reading at the next City Council meeting, January 9th, and take effect one year later.

The ordinance would ban nonrecyclable disposable food containers, including clear and expanded polystyrene (EPS) from all public, private and nonprofit entities in Santa Monica. EPS is what many know as Styrofoam and is labeled with recycling number 6.

Santa Monica police sought a man and a woman who allegedly stole an ATM from the minimart at an Exxon gas station at Cloverfield Boulevard and Michigan Avenue in Santa Monica December 6th.

The pair took off with the ATM, which contained an unknown amount of money, after the man rammed a large truck into the minimart building, dislodging the machine that was against the outside wall, police alleged.

There were no injuries reported in the incident.

The operator of the Four Points Sheraton LAX hotel called on other Los Angeles International Airport-area hotels to drop their effort to repeal the city’s new living wage law for Century Boulevard Corridor hotels.

Michael Gallegos, chief executive officer of American Property Management Corporation, also said that 12 workers who were told December 12th that they no longer had jobs would be rehired immediately with back pay.

Carol Ogden Swindell was appointed finance director of the City of Santa Monica, effective January 12th.

Swindell — selected following a nationwide recruitment by the executive search firm Teri Black & Co. — replaced Steve Stark, who took a position in Pasadena in September.

Hallie D’Amore, a 64-year-old Hollywood makeup artist who received an Oscar nomination for her work on Forrest Gump, shot and killed her husband Richard D’Amore, 66, and then turned the gun on herself at the couple’s Venice home during the early morning hours of December 14th, police alleged.

The couple had reportedly been married over 20 years and was experiencing marital problems.

A suicide note written by Hallie D’Amore and a gun were found at the scene, police alleged.

A recent University of Southern California (USC) study concerning the likelihood of a Southern California Tsunami stated:

“Recent developments in the modeling of tsunami waves and the analysis of their economic consequences, combined with data from recent offshore mappings of the Santa Barbara Channel and other locations, suggest the mechanism and economic effect of an undersea landslide in the vicinity of Los Angeles that would spawn a tsunami.”

The major areas of tsunami amplification occur along the Santa Monica Bay coastline from Marina del Rey to Redondo Beach, and around the San Pedro Bay coast from the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors to Newport Beach, said Mark Legg, a geophysicist working with USC researchers.

Barak Uslu, a doctoral candidate in the field of civil engineering at USC, and a group of his USC colleagues said they will have made headway within a year in another report that they had just begun that would discuss tsunami risks specifically in the Marina del Rey area.

Two local environmental groups filed a lawsuit challenging the California Coastal Commission approval of a plan by an Orthodox synagogue in Venice to construct a symbolic religious enclosure known as an “eruv” several miles along the beach.

The Marina Peninsula Neighborhood Association and the Coastal Law Enforcement Action Network (CLEAN) filed a lawsuit December 18th, in the California Superior Court of San Francisco against the California Coastal Commission for approving the installation of fishing wire and poles to hold the wires along beaches in Santa Monica, Venice and near the Marina del Rey entrance channel.

Timothy Jackman, 47, former deputy chief of the Investigations Bureau and second in command at the Long Beach Police Department, started his new post as Santa Monica police chief on December 11th, after being chosen by city manager Lamont Ewell for the duty.

Jackman is taking over for former Police Chief James Butts Jr., who stepped down from the position in August after 15 years to become deputy executive director of law enforcement and protection services for Los Angeles World Airports.

Jackman was with the Long Beach Police Department for 23 years.