LIGHTNING STRIKES VENICE BEACH, KILLS ONE PERSON, INJURES 13

(CNN) — A relaxing day at Venice Beach took a deadly turn Sunday afternoon when a powerful lightning bolt struck the water, killing one person and injuring at least 13, emergency officials said.

The sudden lightning strike at Venice Beach caused panic as people tried to get out of the water and off the beach.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office confirmed one man in his 20s died at a local hospital after he was rescued from the beach.

But it’s too soon to say whether he died from “a lightning strike, drowning or being trampled by the crowd,” according to John Kades with the coroner’s office.

“The day started out clear, but there were storms in the forecast for the region on Sunday,” CNN meteorologist Sherri Pugh said of the isolated thunderstorms that swept through the Los Angeles area.

The lightning hit the water and the beach at 2:51 p.m. PT (5:51 p.m. ET), according to spokeswoman Katherine Main of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Emergency responders assessed the condition of at least 13 victims — all of whom were either in or near the water — at the scene. Of those, seven adults and one teenager were transported to local hospitals.

One was listed in serious conditions and six were listed in fair condition by late Sunday afternoon
The National Weather Service in Los Angeles tweeted around the time of the strike that “cloud to ground lightning” had been reported in nearby Marina del Rey and at the Los Angeles International Airport.

Witnesses tweeted they saw a huge bolt of lightning strike the area, with one Twitter user describing an explosion that blew off nearby roof tiles.

Lightning fatalities are pretty rare in California. Between 1959 and 2012, 31 people died after they were struck by lightning, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In comparison, there were 468 deaths from lightning strikes in Florida during the same time period, followed by 215 in Texas.

The National Weather Service has compiled a list of lightning safety tips on its website.

JUDGE APPROVES STERLINGS’ $2 BILLION SALE OF CLIPPERS

CNN has reported that a deal to sell the Los Angeles Clippers for an NBA record price can move forward, a California probate judge ruled Monday.

Judge Michael Levanas tentatively ruled in favor of Shelly Sterling, saying the estranged wife of Donald Sterling acted properly in removing her husband from the trust that owns the NBA team and in winding up the affairs of the trust.

The sale can go forward regardless of any appeals, Levanas said. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has agreed with Shelly Sterling to buy the Clippers for a league record $2 billion.

Shelly Sterling was within her rights to remove her husband from the trust under which each Sterling had owned 50% of the team, the judge agreed. She became sole trustee after two doctors determined Donald Sterling was mentally incapacitated.

In April, Donald Sterling came under fire for making racist remarks against African-Americans in comments to his companion V. Stiviano. The recorded conversation was published online.

In response, the NBA banned Sterling for life, fined him the maximum $2.5 million and moved toward terminating the Sterlings’ ownership rights in the franchise.

Donald Sterling, in turn, sued the league for $1 billion for alleged antitrust violations in its handling of the matter.

He also is suing Shelly Sterling, the NBA, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver, seeking monetary damages in civil court. Court documents filed by Sterling’s attorneys call the potential deal “unlawful” and “fraudulent,” and ask for an injunction to block the sale.

Donald Sterling revoked the family trust in June, and the lawsuit contends that the move reverted the Clippers back to his sole ownership and therefore Shelly Sterling has no power or right to sell the team. All the stock for the franchise was issued in his name, court documents said.

Donald Sterling has said he will never sell the Clippers.

The NBA Board of Governors, a group of the league’s 30 owners, will also have to approve the sale for it to go through.

Nothing has been said about the apartments the Sterlings own in Santa Monica.
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SIERRA CLUB CHANNEL ISLANDS PETITION

I signed the Sierra Club petition and added the following paragraph to their letter:

Please don’t permit further construction in the Santa Barbara Channel. It’s one of my favorite places for sea kayaking. I take students from UCLA there. We see humpback whales breaching. Curious Common Dolphin in pods of hundreds of animals, come at us at 30 kt speeds, wanting to see what our blue and yellow plastic boats are about. The beaches of the islands host large pinniped populations, some with over 10,000 sea lions.

I see many sea birds, alcids, petrels, skuas fulmars, albatross, as wells gulls, pelicans and shore birds. I can’t get any closer to the rafts of shearwaters around us. The channel is part of a major route for migrating species in the water and sky. If we degrade the channel, we will lose generations of animals moving between the tropics and the Arctic, as well as those traveling between the mainland, Hawaii and other parts of the pacific rim. DON’T ALLOW THE CHANNEL TO BECOME ANOTHER CASUALTY OF OUR SOCIETY’S INSATIABLE DEMAND FOR PETROLEUM, PLEASE.

Sincerely,
Robert M. Gurfield

SM*A*R*T: DA’S SHOULD BE D.O.A.

By Admin on July 29, 2014 in Development

Santa Monica is undergoing a period of sustained growth. Why are we at a crossroads where even bus shelters can’t be designed successfully.

We have a city budget driving development, and codes allowing Development Agreements (D.A.s) that exceed our zoning codes. It has become the standard for developers to request D.A.’s allowing height and density increases up to 83% in exchange for “community benefits.” This exchange is destroying Santa Monica’s quality of life while providing few benefits to residents. It results in agreements made with little transparency and the selling of our city assets – held in trust for our children! Circumventing zoning requirements has created a toxic atmosphere with reduction of blue skies, mobility, and increasing water demand during the most serious drought in California history.

The current use of the D.A. is to eliminate uncertainty where zoning codes and/or specific plans are not yet approved. But in the rush for short term economic gain, the City has become blind to the long term effects of their policies – more traffic, higher utility rates, streets in shadow, and the loss of the soul of our city. Developers are generally driven by the cash register instead of the songs of birds and blue skies.

Between 1984 – 2009, only 8 major D.A.’s were applied for. Since adopting the current general plan in 2010, the D.A. process created a tsunami of activity and 61 D.A.’s have been approved or are pending. Not one project in the downtown area or along the boulevards is being designed within the zoning codes. Every application requires a minimum of 7 public meetings in a 2 – 3 year process (Hines took 7 years) instead of what could be a simple 3 – 6 month process. This is not the City that residents envisioned in the LUCE.

Our city planning staff has had 4 years to develop specific plans for the Downtown, Bergamot and Memorial Park areas – plans dictating land use for years to come. This process has been largely delayed allowing developers to push through dense and traffic burdensome projects.

To offset increased height, density and traffic with community benefits, the City’s emphasis is on providing 10 – 20% affordable apartment units within each development and generate additional tax revenue. This unfortunately comes at the expense of open space, design, traffic, and additional required infrastructure.

Economically this is a poor exchange. In the case of the Village Trailer Park debacle, the city receives $2.5m in “community benefits.” In exchange, the developer paid less than $5m for the property and, upon receiving D.A. approval, sold it for +/-$62m!!! In other words, while developers are eating cake, we’re getting crumbs. What makes this process even worse is pitting community groups against each other in pursuit of “community benefit” revenues and thereby helping the developers gain city approval.
Let’s look at the effectiveness of the D.A. process to date with recent examples of this rush to judgment –

• 2 mixed-use projects at Lincoln and Colorado with 75% density increase, where 65% are family apartments but less than 1,500 sq ft of rooftop play area is allocated for children, no nearby schools or parks within the recommended 1⁄4 mile, and 22% reduction in required parking but no curb parking for blocks in all directions!!

• Village Trailer Park, in addition to the windfall profit the developer made, is another project with no meaningful play area or greenscape for 140 family apartments in an otherwise concrete jungle, with height and density in excess of LUCE and Bergamot plans.

• 2 hotels at 5th and Colorado provide a “gateway” to downtown from the Expo station at Colorado with designs looking more like gulag developments rather than saying “Welcome to Santa Monica.”
• Mixed-use development replacing Fred Segal’s at 5th and Broadway with overbearing height, repetitive mass and density creating narrow, shaded canyons for open space.

• Hotel at 7th & Wilshire – 7 stories, 80 feet high and covering 2/3’s of the entire block with the “community benefit” package being little more than converting the historic corner office building to a hotel use???

• The Agensys D.A. at Olympic and Stewart where parking concessions saved the developer $4m in costs but resulted in the developer having to rent 100 parking spaces at adjacent Bergamot Art Center and Transit Station, where future parking will be sorely needed.

• Santa Monica Plaza at Arizona and 4th/5th bought by the city with the help of state funds for the purpose of retaining the ice-skating rink, now designed as a massive private 12-story mixed-use project instead of a town square while adding 1,200 cars to the downtown traffic soup.

• And, finally, the ill-fated Hines project (prior to its demise thru the Residocracy referendum), approved by City Council after 7 years of indecisiveness and pleas from LA City and LA County to avoid creating monumental traffic issues. The City allowed a 40% reduction of required parking because of Expo despite the fact that the EIR showed only 3.1% of employees using the train. saving Hines $36m in garage construction while the city realized $2m annually in community benefits. The adjacent residential neighborhood was left to absorb 1,250 cars.

This is what’s taking place in your city on a weekly basis – reviewing projects that have an abundance of serious flaws in return for “peanuts.” The City’s residents are not being fairly compensated. In an 11/29/12 email exchange with city manager Rod Gould, he writes that “… the D.A. process … quite frankly works well for no one as it stands – not the applicants, public, Planning Commission, City Council or staff.”

The City needs to stop approving D.A.’s and adopt a concise, creative zoning ordinance based on a simple 30/40/50 ft concept – 30 ft height in residential neighborhoods, 40 ft for boulevard mixed-use, and 50 ft in downtown. In the end this will benefit developers by creating certainty, saving time and cost, as well as benefitting the City and its residents. Taking a short term view is a long term mistake. And quoting Gandhi – “the world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

Ron Goldman FAIA for
Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow
Ron Goldman FAIA, Mario Fonda-Bonardi AIA, Bob Taylor AIA, Dan Jansenson Architect, Sam Tolkin Architect, Thane Roberts AIA, Armen Melkonians Civil & Environmental Engineer, Phil Brock Chair, Recreation & Parks Commission. SMa.r.t. is a group of Santa Monica Architects concerned about the city’s future. For previous articles, please see santamonicaarch.wordpress.com/writings.

RESIDOCRACY TO HOST ITS FIRST CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES’ FORUM MONDAY, JULY 28

Residocracy.org., in collaboration with neighborhood organizations throughout Santa Monica, will hold its first Santa Monica City Council Candidates Forum on Monday evening, July 28.

All candidates who have filed with the Santa Monica City Clerk will be invited to participate and the event will be open to the public.

It will be held Monday, July 28, from 6:30 to 9 PM in the Marin Luther King Auditorium, in Santa Monica Main Public Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

Doors will open at 6 PM. Seating in the auditorium is limited and will be available on a first come, first served basis.

In preparation for the forum, we have asked our members to send us all the questions residents would
like all the Santa Monica City Council candidates to answer.

Our goal is to make sure that residents’ concerns, yours and ours, are at the forefront and help
the process.

In addition to providing questions, you will have an opportunity to rank the candidates based on their answers.

Following the forum, the Residocracy Advisory Board will meet and review your input and select
the three City Council candidates whom we believe will do the best job of representing residents and addressing your issues and concerns.

Please email your questions for the candidates to:armen@residocracy.org.

See you at the forum and thank you for being part of Residocracy, Our Community Network of Residents.

EDITOR’S NOTE: On May 13, the Santa Monica City Council rescinded its previous vote to approve the Hines project, because well over 13,000 registered voters opposed it. .

We’ve taken our city back. Now it’s time to take the next step and elect City Council candidates who will represent residents and residents’ interests.

It’s our town. We’ve taken it back. Now we must elect Council members whose priorities are our priorities.

PC

first Santa Monica City Council Candidates Forum on Monday evening, July 28..

All candidates who have filed with the Santa Monica City Clerk will be invited to participate and the event will be open to the public.

It will be held Monday, July 28, from 6:30 to 9 PM
in the Marin Luther King Auditorium, in Santa Monica Main Public Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

Doors will open at 6 PM. Seating in the auditorium is
limited and will be available on a first come, first served basis.

In preparation for the forum, we have asked our members to send us all the questions residents would
like all the Santa Monica City Council candidates to
answer.

Our goal is to make sure that residents’ concerns, yours and ours, are at the forefront and help guide
the process.

In addition to providing questions, you will have an opportunity to rank the candidates based on their answers.

Following the forum, the Residocracy Advisory Board will meet and review your input and select
the three City Council candidates whom we believe
will do the best job of representing residents and
addressing your issues and concerns.

Please email your questions for the candidates to:
armen@residocracy.org.

See you at the forum and thank you for being part of
Residocracy, Our Community Network of Residents.

EDITOR’S NOTE: On May 13, the Santa Monica
City Council rescinded its previous vote to approve the Hines project, because well over 13,000 registered voters opposed the project.

We’ve taken our city back. Now it’s time to take the next step and elect City Council candidates who will
represent residents and residents’ interests.

It’s our town. We’ve taken it back. Now we must elect Council members whose priorities are our priorities.