Los Angeles Times story

The summer of 1958, Santa Monica inaugurated its
dazzling concrete, glass and steel Civic Auditor-
ium, an emblem of the mid-century modern Interna-
tional Style then popular throughout the world.
Two blocks from the ocean, the Civic played host
to the Academy Awards through much of the 1960s.
Comedians Bill Cosby and Bob Hope performed there,
and the exiled Dalai Lama led a “Wheel of Time”
initiation ceremony for thousands of Buddhists
in 1989.

The 3,000-seat venue became a musical mecca for
artists as varied as Eric Clapton, Frank Sinatra,
the Village People, Dave Brubeck, Laura Nyro,
Ella Fitzgerald, Prince and Bob Dylan. And it
was the scene of the mythic 1964 Teenage Awards
Music International concert, which showcased a
fiery James Brown, Chuck Berry, the Beach Boys,
the Supremes, Marvin Gaye and the Rolling Stones,
all immortalized in a legendary film spotlighting
screaming fans and exuberant go-go dancers.

“Pretty much everybody saw their first rock con-
cert there,” said Jessica Cusick, the city’s cul-
tural affairs manager.

Over the years, larger, better-equipped facili-
ties opened in Southern California, and the
city-owned Civic lost its luster, fell into dis
epair and began losing money. On Sunday, 55
years after it its showy debut, the auditorium
will go dark. Its future is uncertain, but pre-
servation-minded residents have made it clear
that they want the venue to have one.

When it opened, the $2.9-million Civic Auditor-
ium was hailed in The Times as “the last word
in modern convention hall construction.”

Designed by Welton Becket, the celebrated archi-
tect behind the distinctive Capitol Records tower,
the building was made of reinforced concrete and
combined the finest elements of a theater, con-
cert hall, and trade show and convention audi-
torium. Parabolic pylons supported the exterior
grand cantilevered canopy fronting a glass curtain
wall and brise-soleil, a patterned wall that re-
duced the effects of the sun’s glare.

The most widely touted innovation was the audit-
orium’s main floor, which in a matter of seconds
could be tilted or lowered by a hydraulic mechan-
ism to form raked seating for theatrical produc-
tions or a flat surface for dancing or exhibits.
The main hall also featured metal acoustical panels
and wall sconces, attributed to Vern O. Knudsen,
an authority on architectural acoustics who also
served, briefly, as chancellor of UCLA.

In the 1980s and ’90s, punk artists such as Bad
Religion and Buzzcocks packed the Civic.

The city designated the building a landmark in 2001.
By then, big-name acts had begun favoring arenas
such as Staples Center. In recent years, other
performers gravitated to Santa Monica’s Broad Stage,
among other venues. Musical bookings all but ceased.

Lately, the Civic has been devoted to craft and
antiques fairs, photo and fashion expos, and trade
shows. The Santa Monica Symphony in May played a
Tchaikovsky concert to bid farewell to the venue.

The auditorium’s systems and performance technologies
are antiquated, and the building needs seismic up-
grades, according to a staff report prepared for the
City Council. It also has been operating at an annual
deficit of as much as $2 million, which the city has
had to cover.

Santa Monica began years ago to plan for a $51.9
-million renovation using redevelopment funds and
negotiated with the Nederlander Organization to
book events. That effort was suspended after Gov.
Jerry Brown dissolved community redevelopment

For a time, there was talk of razing the building
and putting in soccer fields and other amenities,
but preservationists mustered support for saving it
as a cultural facility.

“I don’t think anybody wants to knock it down,”
said Nina Fresco, a landmarks commissioner who heads
Save the Santa Monica Civic, a group that promotes
the formation of an expert task force to chart the
Civic’s course.

Cusick is in firm agreement. “I think the city has
made it clear it sees a future for this building,”
she said, “and the community has said they want that
to be a cultural future.” Cusick said she expected
that the working group, once assembled, would take
18 months to two years to develop a plan. Among uses
suggested so far are film screenings or film fest-
ivals, live theater productions and concerts, and
restaurants. Cusick said any plan would probably
require a combination of funding sources for reno-
vations and programming.

“I think all of those things are on the table,”
Mayor Pam O’Connor said. “But that can be done with-
in the wonderful exterior of the mid-century modern

In the meantime, the facility will be available for
rent for filming and sound-stage work or for community

The Civic, on Main Street at the southwestern edge
of the city’s Civic Center, has lost its oomph just
as the city is poised for big changes in the audi-
torium’s frontyard. The long-planned redevelopment
of the Civic Center area is underway. The new multi-
-acre Tongva Park is nearing completion, as are shops
and more than 300 condos and rental apartments at a
$350-million development. In 2015, the Expo Line
light rail will roll into town.

Other familiar sites are facing similar threats. Pre-
servation activists are rallying to save the Works
Progress Administration-era Post Office on 5th Street,
which the federal government plans to sell, and the
anti-nuclear-war “Chain Reaction” sculpture by Paul
Conrad, which has stood near the Civic Auditorium
since 1991 but is in need of repair and maintenance
that the city has said it cannot afford.

For Cusick, such community issues have become part of
the landscape. “To quote Bob Dylan,” she said, “the
times they are a-changin’.”


Los Angeles Times story
The heat wave sweeping through California and the
Southwest has broken records and is expected to
continue through Tuesday.

“It’s early in the heat season. Usually our hottest
months are August and September. We’re not even in
July yet, but this is a massive high pressure system
and it’s just smothering,” said Bill Patzert, a
climatologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
in La Cañada Flintridge.

On Saturday, the National Weather Service warned
that temperatures could rise above 120 degrees in
some desert areas. They predicted 100 to 115 degrees
in valleys, 100 to 105 in lower mountains and up
to 95 in coastal areas.

“We’ll set record highs today,” said National
Weather Service meteorologist John Dumas, noting
that Ojai, at 104 degrees, beat its previous
record of 103, while San Luis Obispo tied its
earlier record of 97.

The minimum temperature in Burbank last night
clocked in at 74.

“That’s making people most uncomfortable,” Dumas
says. “Everybody knows they will be hot by day,
but when it doesn’t drain down at night, it’s a
lot harder. If you can go to bed and cool off
and get a good night’s sleep, you can recover.
But if you can’t, it’s a huge challenge to your
A slight cooling starts Monday through July 4,
though temperatures will still be above normal,
Dumas said.

The last significant heat wave to trap Southern
California was in 2009, when the region baked
in unforgiving heat for two weeks.

In Death Valley, July marks the month with the
most deaths and injuries such as dehydration,
according to statistics, said Chris Stachelski,
meteorologist from the National Weather Service’s
Las Vegas branch. Those most likely to get hurt
are people who don’t realize their limits,
wander and become disoriented, he added.

Death Valley is usually about 12 degrees warmer
than Las Vegas, with normal highs hovering around
114 degrees.

Stachelski predicted that temperatures there will
hit 128 later today, inching up to 129 Sunday
and Monday.

“All records,” he said. “If you don’t have a rea-
son to go there, don’t go there. The last time we
were there to inspect the equipment, in May, it
was only 98.”

In Los Angeles, the heat is a particular concern
to firefighters because it comes in a year of re-
cord dry conditions that have already sparked
several major brush fires in the area.

Fireworks also went on sale Friday in some areas,
adding another fire danger. Fireworks will be
sold in 295 designated communities in the state
through the Fourth of July.

Since January, the California Department of For-
estry and Fire Protection has responded to about
2,900 fires, department spokesman Daniel Berlant
said. In an average year, he said, it would have
responded to fewer than 1,800 by this time.

Dry brush is a reason for the increase in fires,
Berlant said. Current weather conditions are more
typical of late August or early September, he said.


The theme of Santa Monica’s 2013 Fourth of July
parade is heroes, which is fitting, as the parade
was created by residents seven years ago, and has
been organized by residents annually, and, in this
year of discontent, residents are leading the bat-
tle to prevent this beach town we love from being
swamped by a another building boom, in which big
threatens to swamp best.

America’s founding fathers would be very impressed
by these 21st century resident heroes who, in the
midst of the very heated debate over our town’s des-
tiny and the struggle to preserve its unique cha-
racter, have organized this seventh edition of our
Independence Day parade.

The parade was begun and has been produced every
year by the Ocean Park Association.

The parade begins on Thursday, the Fourth of July,
at 9:30 a.m. on Main Street at Pico in the Civic
Center, moves south on Main to Marine, then west
on Marine to Barnard Way, where it will dis-ass-

Parking is available at the Civic Center, garage
on Fourth Street, and the street. $3. Opens at 6:30
AM. Santa Monica Place, 3 hours free.Enter on Se-
cond Street. Opens at 6:30 AM. Parking meters west
of Main, enter from Neilson Way.

Street closures: Main from Pico to Colorado, 6 to
noon, Main from Pico to Marine, 9 to noon, Neilson
at Marine, 10-11, Pico, Bay, Bicknell,Pacific,
Strand, Hollister, Ocean Park, Hill, Ashland, Pier
and Marine,Between 4th and Neilson Way, 8 AM to Noon.
Expect bus delays and detours.

In addition to their service in the front lines on
behalf of our town, The parade organizers can also
show you how to make a cape out of a tee shirt in
one minute and 20 seconds via a YouTube video.

Deadline for entries is Monday, July 1.

The parade’s commercial sponsors include Buy Local,
the City of Santa Monica, Coalition of Santa Monica
City Employees, Maser Condo Sales, Pardee Properties,
RAND, Wells Fargo, Santa Monica Daily Press, Santa
Monica Mirror, Westside Rentals, Santa Monica Cham-
ber of Commerce, Urth Café, The Victorian, Cuties
Juice, L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Sea
Shore Hotel, Friends of Sunset Park, NOMA, Wilmont,
Santa Monica Place, Assemblyman Richard Bloom, Star-
line Tours, and Santa Monica Free Ride.


Los Angeles Times story

Temperatures across Southern California crashed
through the triple-digit mark Saturday as a heat
wave bore down on the region, leading by broiler
conditions in the Coachella Valley and other
desert locations.

As of noon, numerous valley areas had passed the
century mark including Van Nuys, Chatsworth, Lan-
caster, Woodland Hills, Saugus and Acton. A lit-
tle before 1 p.m., Palm Springs was already at
116 and climbing, according to the National Wea-
ther Service. Bylthe recorded 109 and Needles 114.

Death Valley — one of several locations that
could set new records this — one of several
locations that could set new records this week-
end — was at 116 degrees. Accuweather predicted
it would get to 127 later Saturday.

Downtown L.A. was slightly cooler at 88.

The heat wave was set to continue at least thro-
ugh Sunday.In Los Angeles, the heat is a partic-
ular concern to firefighters because it comes in
a year of record dry conditions that have already
sparked several major brush fires in the area.

Fireworks also went on sale Friday in some areas,
adding another fire danger. Fireworks are to be
sold in 295 designated communities in the state
through the Fourth of July.

Since January, the California Department of For-
estry and Fire Protection has responded to about
2,900 fires, department spokesman Daniel Berlant
said. In an average year, he said, it would have
responded to fewer than 1,800 by this time.
Dry brush is being blamed for the increase in
fires, Berlant said. He added that current weather
conditions are more typical of late August or
early September.

“We’re in a long-term drought,” said Bill Patzert,
a climatologist with the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab-
oratory in La Cañada Flintridge. “The situation
is extremely crispy and dry. That equals incend-

Several agencies opened cooling centers — air-cond-
itioned facilities where the public can escape the
heat — around Los Angeles County. For information
about the centers, call 211, or view an interac-
tive map of the centers online.


The proposed plans for the new Miramar Hotel are
deeply flawed. It’s about the size of Santa Monica
Place – over 500,000 square feet, but the newly
remodeled shopping center covers two city blocks,
while the proposed hotel site measures only one
city block — lotline to lotline.

It will contain fewer, but larger and more luxur-
ious guestrooms (one person’s luxurious is another
person’s nightmare), and 120 condominiums. Unlike
the existing hotel,it will have a gathering of re-
tail stores and restaurants on the Wishire side.

The demolition and reconstruction will probably
take four or five years,tie up a busy intersec-
tion, foul the air, disturb the peace and wreak
havoc in what has long been a quiet residential

AND the proposed faux Art Deco tower will be 320
feet tall, or TWICE the height of the 160-foot
Huntley Hotel! To repeat: the proposed Miramarged-
don tower will be twice as tall as the Huntley

— with thanks to Zina Josephs for uncovering this
extraordinary information.