Compiled by Gary Walker

Local Pols Say No to Coastal Drilling

Local elected officials took a stand on Santa Monica Pier, Twitter photo @BenAllenCA

A who’s who of Westside politics gathered on Santa Monica Pier last Saturday to rally support for protecting the Santa Monica Bay against the Trump administration’s plans to expand offshore oil drilling permits along the West Coast.

Congressman Ted Lieu, state Sen. Ben Allen, state Assemblyman Richard Bloom — all of them Democrats whose respective districts include Santa Monica — were joined by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, as well as environmental activists from Heal the Bay and the student-led California Public Interest Research Group.

Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D- Torrance), author of a bill that would challenge any coastal drilling expansion, also spoke during the rally.

Shark Spotted Near Venice Pier

Los Angeles County Lifeguards spotted an eight-foot shark near the Venice Pier on Monday, about 100 feet from shore. While shark sightings in the Santa Monica Bay aren’t totally unheard of, seeing one that close to shore is reason for caution, they say.

The sighting occurred at 12:35 p.m., and it appears the shark was looking for lunch.

“It was stalking a gray whale calf,” Lifeguard Capt. Julio Rodriguez said. “We consider that to be aggressive behavior for a shark.”

The shark was last seen off the beach where Market Street meets Ocean Front Walk.

After spotting a shark, lifeguards make a threat assessment.

“The things that we consider are its size and, next, the behavior. We’ve seen sharks out here, but to see one this close to the Venice Breakwater is unusual,” Rodriquez said.

They advise swimmers who see a shark to exit the water immediately and notify a lifeguard.

Scientists at water quality non-profit Heal the Bay have noticed more sharks coming closer to the coastline in recent years, which they attribute to more potential food sources flourishing in cleaner waters.

“We try to remind everybody that sharks are an important part of the marine ecosystem. And as the water quality in the ocean has improved, we’re probably going to see them from time to time,” Rodriguez said.


Woman Dies in Venice Motorcycle Crash

Cassie Haakenson
Facebook photo

A motorcyclist died last week after striking a car while attempting a left turn onto Venice Boulevard three blocks west of Venice High School during rush hour.

Police say Cassie Haakenson, 36, was turning westbound from Glyndon Avenue at 7:10 p.m. on Jan. 31 when she was struck by a late model sedan. Haakenson suffered multiple traumatic bodily injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Detectives from LAPD’s West Traffic interviewed the driver of the sedan, who stopped after the crash, and released the driver after determining the collision was an accident.

“The motorcyclist appeared to have the sun in her eyes as she was trying to make a westbound turn,” said West Bureau Det. Garry McQueen.

Neighbors told Fox 11 News that crashes occur regularly at the intersection despite a sign prohibiting left turns.

Photos on Haakenson’s Facebook page suggest that she was a native of Wisconsin who lived locally.

Local Killed in Newport Helicopter Crash

A Santa Monica woman was one of three people killed when a four-seat helicopter bound for Catalina Island crashed into a home in Newport Beach on Jan. 30.

Kimberly Lynne Watzman, 45, was general manager of The Standard hotel in West Hollywood and had previously worked at the Viceroy Hotel and the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica.

She and the other two passengers were headed to a retreat for hospitality professionals, according to National Traffic Safety Board Senior Investigator Joshua Cawthra. The NTSB expects to release a preliminary report of its crash investigation as early as this week, NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the company operating the helicopter had been investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration last year for allegations of improper maintenance.

“We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of our friends,” reads a statement by Standard International CEO Amar Lalvani.