The Argonaut looks back on 2007 and some of the local stories that made our news pages during the past year.

This week we review what happened in the local community between January 1st and June 30th. Next week we will continue with July 1st through December 31st.


Rangers with the Conservation Authority began patrolling and monitoring activity in the Ballona Wetlands to secure the property and prevent mistreatment of the ecological reserve.

In addition to counteracting unauthorized activity in the wetlands, part of the rangers task is to help educate people about the coastal habitat.

Kelly Martin was appointed supervising attorney for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Airport Division and general counsel to Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the city agency that operates Los Angeles World Airways (LAX) and three other airports.

Martin, who previously served as chief of staff for former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, was appointed to the position by City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo.

As the airport’s general counsel, Martin is responsible for supervising attorneys and support staff assigned to provide legal counsel to the airport.

Arlington West volunteers in Santa Monica marked the 3,000th U.S. military death in the Iraq War by placing a cross on the beach north of the Santa Monica Pier.

The ritual of placing crosses in the sand each Sunday morning began in 2004, a year after the war began. The crosses represent the lives that have been lost in combat.

Heavy winds caused several power outages on January 5th and 6th in Westchester and West Los Angeles.

Southern California Edison officials said the power outages affected approximately 80,000 customers throughout the Southland. That figure included nearly 1,000 Westside customers.

A superior court judge ordered the Bayside District Corporation to stand trial in a civil case involving an 89-year-old man who plowed into pedestrians at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market near the Third Street Promenade, killing ten people and injuring at least 63.

The corporation, which manages the Third Street Promenade, submitted a motion to the court for summary judgment, which would have absolved it from any liability in the tragedy. Superior Court Judge Valerie Baker denied the motion, setting the stage for one of several lawsuits filed by victims of the crash and their families.

In July 2003, George Russell Weller lost control of his 1992 Buick Le Sabre while driving westbound on Arizona Avenue, where he then crashed into pedestrians. More than 50 civil lawsuits have been filed against Weller and the Santa Monica city government.

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl was named the chairman of the Southern California Regional Airport Authority. The councilman, who represents the local area in the 11th District, was appointed to the position by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The authority, through a joint powers agreement between Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles counties, was established in 2003.

The son of a Los Angeles Police Department captain was sentenced to five years in state prison for his role in an armed robbery at a Westchester boutique on January 9th.

Kyle Jackson Jr., 21, pleaded guilty to robbing the Jennifer Jeanne Boutique in June. His father, Capt. Kyle Jackson Sr., is the commanding officer of the LAPD Robbery Homicide Division.

Several business groups that opposed a Los Angeles ordinance that extended the city’s living wage law to the Los Angeles International Airport gathered over 103,000 signatures in an effort to overturn the legislation.

Opponents claimed that the ordinance improperly extended the living wage law to private sector employers that do not have contracts with the city government.

The legislation requires hotels to pay its service workers at least $9.39 per hour with health benefits or $10.64 without them.

The City Council would later rescind the ordinance.

The Santa Monica City Council authorized a construction contract with Pankow Special Projects for the rehabilitation of the former Marion Davies Estate, located at 415 Pacific Coast Highway.

The 5.5-acre property, which newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst purchased for Davies, a 1920s era actress and Hearst’s mistress, will become a public beach club after renovations are completed.

The city has received a grant from the Annenberg Foundation to operate the club, which will be called the Annenberg Community Beach Club. It is expected to open to the public in 2009.

Lydia Kennard announced that she would leave her position as the executive director for the Los Angeles World Airports to become chief of a new aviation-related real estate company. Kennard, who served as the agency’s executive director for 15 months, had previously held the same post from 1999 to 2003. She returned again to the position in October 2005.

The Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved a ban on nonrecyclable disposable food containers on January 9th. The ordinance excludes all such containers, including clear and expanded polystyrene from all public, private and nonprofit entities in Santa Monica. Polystyrene is commonly known as Styrofoam.

While the ordinance became effective for city facilities on February 8th, it will be applicable to businesses beginning in 2008.

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District opened the new year with a presentation by author Donzaleigh Abernathy, who had recently written a book titled Partners in History: Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy and the Civil Rights Movement. The author is the daughter of Ralph Abernathy, a 1950s and 1960s civil rights icon who was one of Dr. King’s best friends and who held the number two position behind King at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Partners in History is an inside look at the civil rights movement through Abernathy’s eyes and her personal recollections.


Two teenage boys were stabbed during a fight near St. Bernard High School after a basketball game February 5th.

One 18-year-old suspect was arrested in connection with the stabbing.

The incident occurred after St. Bernard lost a Del Rey League basketball game to one of the school’s rivals, Serra High School of Gardena.

The Venice Graffiti Walls were renamed as the Venice Public Art Walls.

In addition to the new name, new rules and regulations were developed for use of the famous walls, which have been a haven for artists seeking a forum for written self-expression.

Permits are now required for those wishing to paint on the walls, and artists who use the wall must be 18 years or older.

Five teachers in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District received national board certification from the National Board of Teaching Standards. Robert Seymour and Stefanie Suffolk of Lincoln Middle School, Irma Lyons of Will Rogers Learning Community, Ken Harris of Point Dume Marine Science Center and Adam Panish of Malibu High School received their certificates at the first school board meeting in February.

The National Board of Teaching Standards describes board certification as the highest symbol of professional teaching excellence.

Los Angeles City Council rescinded an ordinance that would have extended the living wage law to Los Angeles International Airport area hotels, in order to avoid what city officials say would have been a costly ballot initiative targeted to defeat the ordinance.

The council action came a month after several business groups had collected over 100,000 signatures in an effort to contest the council’s bid to expand the law to the airport area.

A Venice man who spent time in prison for a crime that he did not commit was released after serving 19 years behind bars.

Timothy Atkins, 40, was convicted in 1987 of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted robbery in an attempted carjacking.

Superior Court Judge Michael Tynan overturned Atkins’ conviction after a key prosecution witness, Denise Powell, recanted her earlier testimony.

The California Innocence Project played a vital role in helping Atkins win his freedom.

McKinley Elementary School in Santa Monica received a Title I Academic Achievement Award from the state Department of Education.

This was the second consecutive year the school has received the award.

Tugboat crewmember Piper Cameron was killed at sea February 20th in an accident a few miles off Marina del Rey.

County Marina del Rey Sheriff’s Station detectives said the tugboat was in the process of towing a barge, when one of the towlines suddenly became taut, slamming Cameron into the railing of the ship.

Scott Dekraii, 38, who was also a member of the tugboat crew, was injured in the accident.

The Santa Monica City Council heard a proposal for a medical marijuana dispensary within the city limits February 13th.

In the November 2006 election, Santa Monica voters passed Measure Y with 62.2 percent of the vote. The ballot measure was named “The Lowest Police Priority for Marijuana,” which requires the Santa Monica Police Department to use “the lowest law enforcement priority” for offenses involving private, adult marijuana use.

Adult use is classified as 21 years old and older.

The council directed city staff members to return with detailed information on how the dispensary would be regulated, how it might be permitted, law enforcement concerns and model ordinances that other cities were currently using.

Playa Vista Capital sold 64 acres of land to New York-based Tishman Speyer Properties and Walton Street Capital LLC.

The land that was sold is in “The Campus” portion of Playa Vista, adjacent to the intersection of Centinela Avenue and Jefferson Boulevard. It also includes the area where the hangar is located that housed billionaire Howard Hughes’ “Spuce Goose,” which was built during World War II.

Reports listed the transaction’s sale price at $20 million.

Claude Davis, one of the surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen, was the guest speaker at St. Jerome School in Westchester.

Davis talked to the students about how to be successful in life, how to overcome difficult challenges that they may face and the importance of self-esteem and moral character.

The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of African American fighter pilots who rose to prominence for their record in escorting U.S. bomber pilots during World War II.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa participated in a groundbreaking for the renovation, upgrading and modernization of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) February 26th.

“Tom Bradley International Terminal is one of the most used terminals in the country and the world, and it is only fitting that we keep it modern and up-to-date,” Villaraigosa said. “This renovation project is absolutely critical to the development of this airport and the satisfaction, convenience and safety of our passengers.”

The LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce named Howard Pollack the 2007 Howard Drollinger Achievement Award winner and honored him at the inaugural year of the City of Angels Awards, formerly known as the Business Recognition Dinner, on February 13th. The Drollinger award is named after Westchester developer and philanthropist Howard B. Drollinger, who passed away in August 2006 at the age of 84.

Pollack, owner of Rainbow Acres for the past 26 years, embodies the spirit of the Drollinger award due to his entrepreneurial spirit and his dedication to community service groups, the chamber said.

California State Assemblyman Ted Lieu introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 899 on February 22nd that would create a new government agency whose purpose would be to extend the Metro Green Line rail service to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX.)

The bill, which is co-authored by State Senator Jenny Oropeza of Carson, would create a state Green Line Construction Authority with the sole purpose of connecting the Metro Green Line to LAX, similar to the agency that is involved in advocating for the extension of the Expo Line.

[The Assembly Transportation Committee on April 16th approved the bill 13-0 with one abstention.]

In the Marina del Rey to Puerto Vallarta race, which began February 23rd, Doug Baker’s Magnitude 80 won, breaking a speed record of four days, 23 hours and four seconds, set in 1985.

The Pacific Mariners Yacht Club hosted its annual Wooden Hull Regatta February 24th, in which 15 classic boats in an array of shapes and sizes gathered for a day of sailboat racing on the Santa Monica Bay.

Santa Monica City Council received an update at its meeting February 27th, on proposed runway safety enhancements for Santa Monica Airport, which had remained largely unchanged since the 1940s, said acting airport director Robert Trimborn.

This followed four years of discussion between the City of Santa Monica and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about how to make the Santa Monica Airport safer.


In response to findings of the Los Angeles County Department of Auditor-Controller, which recently reported that records do not exist for 189 of the 208 sewage spills that reportedly occurred in the prior four and a half years in Los Angeles County, local Assemblyman Ted Lieu introduced Assembly Bill 800 (AB 800), which would strengthen state laws affecting the emergency notification and reporting of raw sewage spills.

[The Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee later approved the bill.]

The Airport Marina Counseling Service (AMCS) honored Mary Ellen and Alan Cassman with its Community Builder Lifetime Achievement Award on March 25th.

The Other Venice Film Festival took place March 15th to 18th at the Electric Lodge, featuring 90 film screenings, 60 premieres, live music, art and parties with an emphasis on underground and alternative cinema. All of the films shown either involved local Venetians, were shot in Venice or in some way exemplified the spirit, energy and diversity of the coastal community.

Officials temporarily closed the Encounter Restaurant at the top of the landmark Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) while renovations and repairs were performed on the upper arches of the space-age building.

Airport officials scheduled the renovation project after a half-ton piece of the stucco “skin” broke off the underside of the east upper arch of the building and fell. The incident caused no injuries or major damage.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who represents the 35th District, held a series of town hall meetings throughout the district March 3rd and 10th to discuss the first 100 hours of her ninth House of Representatives term and gather new ideas from constituents.

The world’s largest commercial aircraft, the Airbus A380, left Toulouse, France and touched down at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) at 9:28 a.m. March 19th for its first landing in California and the West Coast. The aircraft remained at LAX for two days to carry out airport function and compatibility checks in conjunction with Los Angeles World Airports and Qantas Airways.

The spring boating season was ushered in with a cannon blast at the Marina del Rey Opening Day ceremonies on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th. Marina del Rey yacht clubs hosted local and county dignitaries, club bridge officers invited from the 94 Southern California Yachting Association (SCYA) member clubs and associations from Santa Barbara to San Diego, plus their own members.

After five months of delay, the collective bargaining agreement between the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association teachers union that called for a five percent teacher pay increase was approved at the March 15th school board meeting.

The teacher pay increase was to be retroactive to July 1st, 2006.

An ordinance exempting from parking meter fees military veterans who display honorific license plates was introduced and unanimously approved at its first reading by the Santa Monica City Council at its meeting March 13th.

Additionally, anyone displaying zero emission vehicle (ZEV) parking decals will be exempt from parking meter fees.

Los Angeles city attorney Rocky Delgadillo announced at a news conference at LAX March 23rd that criminal charges have been filed against eight former employees of the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA), two employees of an airport subcontractor and one transient.

The alleged crimes, which involved thefts of passengers’ property at LAX, included the theft of a limited edition watch reportedly valued at more than $100,000 from hotel heiress Paris Hilton’s baggage and the theft of a $7,000 watch of R& B singer Keyshia Cole, Delgadillo said.

The dredging project completed in March at the north entrance of the Marina del Rey main channel resulted in the removal of over 250,000 cubic meters of silt and successfully returned the north entrance to its design depth of 20 feet, Los Angeles County officials said.

The approximately $2.4-million project conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was started January 6th and completed March 15th.

Residents living on two streets in Venice say they have the sun to thank for making their neighborhood a little bit brighter at night. New solar-powered streetlights were installed on Victoria and Coeur d’Alene Avenues, both within the Presidents Row Neighborhood of Venice, as part of a pilot program of the Los Angeles City Bureau of Street Lighting.

The Associated Students of Loyola Marymount University approved a resolution March 28th calling on the university to boycott the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel in support of low-wage workers.

“Today we made the statement that our university must carry out its mission statement and promote social justice in our own backyard,” said James Duffy, a member of the Student Senate.

The Argonaut office was visited by members of David Asper Johnson’s family on March 23rd, as a prelude to their family reunion picnic in Burton Chace Park in Marina del Rey.

Johnson founded The Argonaut in 1971 and was the editor and publisher until his death in May 2006.

Johnson’s family members traveled from Georgia, Alaska, Oregon, Idaho and cities in California for their family reunion honoring his memory.


A new $5 million seven-acre sports park opened April 1st at Playa Vista to community acclaim. The park features a variety of athletic facilities, including a Little League baseball field, a synthetic turf soccer field, two half-basketball courts and two tennis courts.

A “universally accessible” playground designed by the non-profit organization Shane’s Inspiration allows children with disabilities to play alongside their able-bodied peers.

Los Angeles City and federal aviation officials reopened Runway 25 Left/7 Right on the south side of Los Angeles International Airport April 2nd.

Construction will next begin on a center taxiway to run parallel and between the two south runways, followed by the construction of taxiways linking the two runways to the new center taxiway.

Santa Monica College (SMC) students voted on whether they wanted a smoke-free campus.

The results were that 62.9 percent of students who cast their ballot and answered the question voted “yes” for a smoke-free SMC campus.

Playa Vista and Los Angeles Clippers officials gathered at the Playa Vista site of the future “state-of-the-art” training center for the Clippers, April 5th, to officially break ground for the 42,500-square-foot facility.

The new training facility, built on two acres near the intersection of Centinela Avenue and Bluff Creek Drive in Playa Vista, is scheduled to open early in 2008, Clippers officials said.

The self-guided 13th annual Venice Garden Tour May 5th raised funds to benefit the children of the Las Doradas Children’s Learning Center.

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA)’s $723.5 million makeover of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) continued and a new temporary ticketing lobby for Mexicana Airlines was be opened as renovations to the terminal continue moved forward.

Activities for children and adults filled Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade on April 15th in honor of the 37th Earth Day.

“We are pleased to bring so many family-oriented exhibits to Earth Day, because kids can encourage parents to buy environmentally friendly products, which reduce pollution and global warming, making a healthier future for all of us,” said director Jim Stewart.

The Venice-Marina Rotary Club honored photographer Greg Wenger with a lifetime achievement award for 38 years of community leadership at the California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey April 19th.

Anglers competed in the 33rd Marina Halibut Derby April 21st and 22nd for over $65,000 in cash/prizes. The Marina derby is the largest of its kind on the West Coast, offering the most cash and more prizes than any other regional contest, according to a spokesman.

Derby champion Dennis Cook of Long Beach pulled in a 30-pounder to win a fishing vacation for two to Baja California.

Demolition of the 15,000-square-foot Locker Building at the former Marion Davies Estate at 415 Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in Santa Monica began Monday, April 16th — considered a major step to converting the 5.5 acre estate into a public beach club.

After demolition is complete, the site will be turned over to Pankow Special Projects, which will complete the construction phase of the project. The beach club is expected to be open to the public in January 2009.

The City of Santa Monica held a grand opening April 29th for the new 8.3-acre Airport Park at the corner of Bundy Drive and Airport Avenue on the south side of Santa Monica Airport. Airport Park is the first new city-built park to open in 24 years. The park is a component of the city’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan, a 20-year plan adopted in 1997 for over $142 million of improvements to and expansion of the city’s open space system, city officials said.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles held its inaugural Dawn to Dusk Golf Marathon at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana and raised over $160,000 to go exclusively toward five new townhouses to be built in Santa Monica.

The five townhouses, to be built in partnership with the City of Santa Monica, would soon be residences for five families that work full-time in Santa Monica or currently live in the city. The families were expected to be chosen at the end of May or in early June.

The third annual American Parkinson Disease Association Walk-a-thon came to Santa Monica’s Palisades Park on April 28th. That date had been officially declared Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Day in Los Angeles by the Los Angeles City Council.

One hundred percent of the money raised was to go to research for the disease, say the organizers.

Against the backdrop of rumbling jet engines, dozens of energized, sign-waving protesters held a demonstration against aircraft nuisances at Santa Monica Airport April 21st.

The rally to protest airplane noise, air pollution and lack of runway safety took place one day before Earth Day, which demonstration organizer Martin Rubin said was very befitting.

Traffic capacity on Olympic and Pico Boulevards between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica could be increased by up to 20 percent if the two major corridors were converted into one-way thoroughfares, according to a study released April 16th.

Under the proposal, there would still be two-way bus and van pool lanes on the two streets through the use of “contra-flow” lanes. Left turns and street parking would be restricted during peak hours.

Mar Vista residents expressed frustration with Santa Monica city laws that required dogs to have a Santa Monica dog license to use the off-leash dog area at Airport Park, and thus prevented Los Angeles-licensed dogs to access the site.

Residents from Mar Vista protested the rules at the grand opening for Airport Park, Santa Monica’s first new city-built park in 24 years, located at the northwest corner of Bundy Drive and Airport Avenue.

After Mar Vista residents expressed their concerns at community meetings and Santa Monica officials determined that usage at the new off-leash area was not near capacity, the Santa Monica City Council later voted to open up the site to licensed non-resident dogs for a usage fee.

The Santa Monica Airport Commission recommended that the City Council support legislation that was submitted to the State Legislature to study aircraft pollution.

Assembly Bill (AB) 700, sponsored by Assemblyman Ted Lieu, was crafted to target toxins produced from larger airplanes at Santa Monica Airport. Under the bill, the state Air Resources Board would be required to complete an analysis of air pollution from jets and turboprop airplanes taking off and landing at the airport.

The Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved the activation of Phase Two of a Design-Build Contract with Morley Construction Company for the construction of a maintenance building and site improvements for Big Blue Bus, the city bus company.

In addition to the new 65,000-square-foot bus maintenance facility, which will front Seventh Street and have 21 repair bays and offices, Phase Two of the project includes the installation of a new underground storm water runoff mitigation system.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Big Sunday representatives joined over 50,000 volunteers from Los Angeles and surrounding cities for Big Sunday weekend.

Big Sunday, said to be the largest regional weekend of community service in the nation, was held at project sites throughout Los Angeles, surrounding cities, Orange and Ventura Counties and the Inland Empire.

The Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro and the Whale Rescue Team out of El Segundo worked double-time trying to manage marine mammals and sea birds that suffered the consequences of domoic acid poisoning.

Domoic acid is the product of an algae bloom that produces a toxin that passes through the marine food chain, causing seizures, paralysis and sometimes death.

During the month, an abnormally large number of dolphins, sea lions, seals and sea birds on local beaches and marina basins were in need of rescue and treatment from domoic acid poisoning.


The waste management center at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) became the flashpoint of a dispute that pitted nearby homeowners against school officials.

Determined to rid their neighborhood of what they called a major nuisance, members of an adjacent Westchester community formed an organization in the hope of forcing LMU to relocate the facility. Among the complaints by neighbors were unpleasant sounds, odors and debris from the recycling center.

Discussion has continued between the Westchester neighbors and LMU officials to determine the proper solution to the situation.

Lt. Rod Kusch of the Sheriff’s Department Marina del Rey Station took over as the new operations lieutenant and harbor master.

He replaced Lt. Greg Nelson, who was promoted and transferred to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department headquarters in Monterey Park.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge blocked the City of Los Angeles from enforcing a new ordinance that would have extended the city’s “living wage” to Los Angeles International Airport-area hotels. The judge ruled that the new living wage ordinance approved by the City Council is essentially the same as a previously approved ordinance that was rescinded by the council.

U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, a Democratic presidential candidate, was the keynote speaker at an event held by the West L.A. Democratic Club at the Venice Center for Peace with Justice and the Arts.

Gina Marie Lindsey, a veteran airport manager with 16 years of experience, was appointed executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that operates Los Angeles International Airport and three other Southern California airports.

Lindsey formerly served as managing director of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and was also director of aviation for Anchorage International Airport.

The Santa Monica City Council gave preliminary approval to an ordinance that would prohibit the public from placing food for the homeless in municipal parks, sidewalks and parkways.

The new city law also bans leaving clothing and other items in parks.

Yolanda King, the eldest child of civil rights leaders the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, died in Santa Monica May 15th at the age of 51.

King, who was just 12 years old when her father was assassinated in 1968, was the founder and CEO of Higher Ground Productions, a Culver City-based organization dedicated to teaching people to celebrate diversity and embrace unity.

The Congregational Church of the Messiah, 7300 Manchester Ave. in Westchester, celebrated its 100th anniversary with a special reunion worship service May 20th at the church.

Program activities included the signing of the church covenant by present members and the reopening of the cornerstone, which contains items including old pictures and the church directory.

The City of Santa Monica Landmarks Commission voted May 14th to approve landmark designation for the structure at 2001-2011 Main St., which is now the home of the Horizons West Surf Shop and artist studios.

The building once contained the Jeff Ho and Zephyr Surfboard Productions Shop and was recognized for its association with the Zephyr Surf Team, a group of young skateboarders who helped revolutionize the sport in the 1970s.

Heal the Bay’s 2006-2007 Beach Report Card found that Los Angeles County had the worst overall beach water quality in the state for the second consecutive year.

In the list of the top ten worst “Beach Bummers” in California, beaches that received an “F” grade for water quality, the beach at the Santa Monica Pier ranked sixth.

An educational collaborative to offer expanded college-level opportunities to high school students and strengthen ties between the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and Santa Monica College was announced May 21st.

With the formal collaborative, the efforts between the college and the district will be more organized, more involved and expanded for high school students, district officials said.

Assembly Bill (AB) 889, which would establish a joint powers construction authority for an extension of the Metro Green Line light rail to Los Angeles International Airport, was put on hold for the rest of the year.

The State Assembly Appropriations Committee voted May 31st to table the proposed legislation, effectively ending its chances of reaching the Assembly floor for a vote this year.


New rules took effect June 3rd at the Venice Beach graffiti walls, limiting painting on the walls to daylight hours on weekends and holidays only and requiring artists to obtain a permit.

The rules, which renamed the site the Venice Public Art Walls, came in an effort to help preserve the walls and settle residents’ concerns regarding graffiti vandalism occurring in the community.

A 32-year-old homeless man who was previously convicted of assault was arrested in connection to the fatal beating of another homeless man in Palisades Park in Santa Monica June 3rd.

Santa Monica police detectives arrested Joshua Dante Chiaromonte for the alleged murder of 37-year-old Reza Tehrani, who was found dead with head injuries on a bench in the park.

The Westchester/Playa del Rey Education Foundation hosted a community meeting to discuss the concept of autonomy for Westchester area schools.

The concept gives members of the community whose children are attending Westchester schools more local control, direct community involvement in school policies and a stronger voice in decision-making.

Three Westchester schools, Orville Wright Middle, Orville Wright magnet and Kentwood Elementary School, would vote to join the autonomy movement for independence from the Los Angeles Unified School District later in the year.

Over 300 community members attended a standing-room only town hall meeting June 5th at the Westchester Senior Center to voice their frustrations with the proposal to move the north runways at Los Angeles International Airport closer to Westchester and Playa del Rey.

The Santa Monica College (SMC) District Board of Trustees voted June 11th to make SMC a smoke-free campus.

The vote came several months after students were asked in an election “Should SMC be a smoke free-campus?” and 62.9 percent of the voters said yes.

In the largest deployment of fire personnel to Santa Monica in more than a decade, firefighters battled a fire for more than three hours that broke out at a commercial building on 14th Street in the Pico Neighborhood June 18th.

A Santa Monica firefighter injured his knee during the battle and was treated at a local trauma center. No other injuries were reported.

The Venice community marked the return of the historic Venice sign that hung across Windward Avenue in the first half of the 20th century, with a celebration June 24th.

The effort to bring back the sign was spearheaded by local resident Todd von Hoffman, who helped secure a $10,000 beautification grant from the City of Los Angeles for the project in 2004.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors gave preliminary approval to a new affordable housing policy for Marina del Rey, but some affordable housing proponents claimed that the policy falls short of fulfilling low-income housing needs for the community. The policy is aimed at preserving existing affordable housing units in the Marina and creating new affordable units in compliance with the Mello Act, as well as balancing the county’s ability to generate revenues for public programs throughout the county.

Venice civil rights lawyer Stephen Yagman was convicted on 19 felony counts in Los Angeles federal court June 22nd.

He was found guilty on 17 counts of money laundering and one count each of attempting to evade taxes and bankruptcy fraud. Yagman was to be sentenced to three years in federal prison in U.S. District Court in November.

Former journalist Linda Feldman, the longtime communications director of the Venice Family Clinic, stepped down from the position after seven years at the clinic.

Three design concepts for the expansion of Burton Chace Park in Marina del Rey were presented in a public workshop.

The concepts were based on input gathered from a previous workshop. A speaker at the meeting said the goal was to present contrasting views on how the park could be improved.

The Santa Monica City Council supported, in concept, the permanent home of the city’s last remaining intact “shotgun house” on Norman Place and Second Street June 26th.

The shotgun house, built in the late 1890s and designated a city landmark in 1998, has been moved twice to different storage sites.

Phoenix House Los Angeles on the Venice Beach Boardwalk celebrated the organization’s 40th anniversary June 29th.

Phoenix House started as a substance abuse treatment program in Manhattan and has expanded to 53 different operations in ten states.

Local news highlights of 2007 will continue in next week’s Argonaut.