If clicks were all we cared about, we’d be giving you cat videos. But the world has enough of those already. Though celebrity involvement certainly helped some of these stories pop online, in the end it was two deeply reported community news features that attracted the most attention.

Maybe the Internet doesn’t have to be such a vapid place after all. And for that, dear readers, we thank you.

— Joe Piasecki

11. Pier 44 Rebuild would bring in Trader Joe’s (March)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The move to replace Marina del Rey’s Pier 44 boating center with a 13-acre retail and recreation complex has both triggered anxieties about overdevelopment and wetted appetites for jars of cookie butter.

10. Remembering Santa Monica’s Black Beach (May)

In the Jim Crow Era, the Inkwell — a strip of beach in Ocean Park where African-Americans could enjoy fun in the sun without racially motivated harassment — was both a slur and a badge of pride that strengthened bonds among the city’s early black community.

9. Has Mar Vista Become the Rehab Capital of Los Angeles? (September)

Mar Vista residents called for a moratorium on sober living homes and other residential care facilities, saying there are already far too many in the 90066. A new group home for trauma survivors (and some pretty inflammatory misinformation about it) set them off.

8. Coaching Boys into Men (August)

Though no charges were filed, allegations in March that as many as 14 boys had repeatedly sexually assaulted two girls at Venice High School hit the community hard. The school’s athletic programs responded by making respect for women part of the sports curriculum.

7. Undercover Sting Targets Kombucha at Venice Spiritual Center (May)

Who knew kombucha was considered booze? The Full Circle spiritual center on Rose Avenue found out after undercover state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents seized several containers of it that were being served during an outside fundraising event there.

6. Khloe Kardashian’s Midnight Fireworks Surprise (August)

There are Kardashians, and then there are the rest of us. Khloe K woke up Marina del Rey and beyond with a weeknight fireworks show over the harbor, and no one could do a thing about it because county fire officials had quietly given the OK.

5. Suspicious Package Prompts Bomb Scare at Whole Foods Playa Vista (August)

It turned out to be nothing, thank goodness, but a suspicious package left in a Playa Vista parking lot caused evacuations, a partial closure of Jefferson Boulevard and a lockdown at Animo Westside Charter Middle School. A need-to-know story at a need-to-know moment.

4. Ripped from the Headlines (November)

After we broke news of the Venice kombucha raid (see No. 7), the Internet took the story and ran with it. Some websites claimed teen heartthrob turned Full Circle founder Andrew Keegan had been arrested, but he wasn’t even there at the time — prompting defamation lawsuits.

3. Evolution and Reconstruction (July)

The story of how former Civil Wars vocalist Joy Williams found a truer personal voice after moving to Venice resonated with both her web-savvy legion of fans and the local creative community.

2. The Short Goodbye (August)

Venice lost a piece of its soul with the eviction of artist William Attaway from his Sunset Avenue art studio of the past 35 years, and he isn’t the only one feeling the culture-disrupting squeeze of higher commercial and residential property values in Venice.


Photo by Mia Duncans

Photo by Mia Duncans

1. The Keeper of Dogtown (May)

Former pro skateboarder Jesse Martinez has cleaned the Venice Skate Park at sunrise nearly every day for the past five years — all without pay. His story shows that sometimes one determined individual can do more for a cause than the entirety of a city government.