January 9, 2014 |

Culver City Year In Review

January

Legado Crossing

The Culver City Cultural Affairs Commission held a "town hall" meeting on January 8, with speakers from city staff, representatives from local museums and arts organizations, and members of the public all weighing in on plans for the arts in Culver City.

The Culver City Fire Department and Police Department responded to a shooting on Green Valley Circle in the Fox Hills area of Culver City. Initial reports indicated that the victim committed suicide. It was the first reported suicide in Culver City in 2013.

Culver City police assisted the LAPD after the January 10 robbery and hostage situation at the Nordstrom Rack at the Howard Hughes Center. The suspects escaped in a white SUV and LAPD SWAT officers rescued the 14 hostages. An additional 200 patrons were detained inside the nearby theater complex until officers had secured the area. Culver City police located the vehicle early January 11 at Washington Blvd. and Globe Avenue near the 405 Freeway and contacted LAPD.

Representatives of the Culver City Sister Cities program from Sister Cities Uruapan, Mexico and Lethbridge, Canada, visited the City Council on January 14 and were given certificates of recognition.

Twenty four people applied for the newly-formed Finance Advisory Committee. The applicants included a former city treasurer, three former Chairmen of the Culver City Chamber of Commerce, a former Councilmember and Mayor, once current and one former planning commissioner and the publisher of the Culver City Observer.

The City Council approved the construction of "Legado Crossing," a multi-use building at the corner of Washington and National Boulevards next to the Culver City Expo Line station. The five-story project will feature approximately 31,240 square feet of commercial uses and 115 residential units.

February

Culver City Council Member Andrew Weissman, City Manager John Nachbar, and Community Development Director Sol Blumenthal went to Sacramento and met with the State Department of Finance's budget subcommittee to talk about how the "winding down" of Redevelopment Agencies was affecting Culver City. The state committee, Weissman reported to the Council, reversed its stand on approval of the Globe Avenue project, allowing it to move forward.

Charles "Smoke" Hicks, 24, of Culver City was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $2,000 in fines for scheming to bribe ex-Transportation Security Administration agents at Los Angeles International Airport to help smuggle marijuana onto a flight.

Steven J. Rose, President/CEO, of the Culver City Chamber, received the prestigious Russell E. Pettit Memorial Excellence in Chamber Leadership Award. He was honored at the Western Association of Chamber Executives (WACE) Annual Conference in San Francisco.

Dave "Coach" Sanchez, renowned soccer coach at Culver City High, passed away from pancreatic cancer at age 59.

The City Council postponed voting on members for the newly formed Finance Committee when it emerged that applicants seemed to be confused about whether to apply as resident members or as business members.

March

Two qualified marathon runners, Daiki Nitta and Hiroko Hamada, from Sister City Kaizuka, Japan, came to Culver City as guests of the Culver City Sister City Committee to run in the L.A. Marathon.

Culver City became the first location in the state to offer Smart911, the national safety service, for more effective emergency response.

Changes were announced for California's pension plans for government workers. According to Mark Bucher, president of the California Public Policy Center, new GASB (Government Accounting Standards Board) rules "will require California's local governments to acknowledge their actual unfunded pension obligations on their balance sheets," which could cause the finances of many local governments, such as Culver City's, to be "devastated."

Friends of the Culver City Dog Park presented the City Council with a giant mock-up of a check for $35,000. A real check for $35,000 was delivered by hand. The money was to go toward paying for electricity for the Dog Park for the next 20 to 30 years. The major donator was Mike Burnell's Nantworks computer company.

What should have been the first meeting of the newly appointed Fiesta La Ballona Committee was abruptly cancelled after staff failed to post the agenda 72 hours in advance.

Vandals hit Sepulveda Blvd merchants in the early hours of March 24, doing thousands of dollars in damages to storefront windows from Culver Blvd. to Braddock Drive.

The City Council approved $7,711 in support of in-kind services for the annual Exchange Club Culver City Car Show, with the Exchange Club paying a maximum of $14,375 for other event-related services.

April

The Culver City one half cent sales tax increase went into effect on April 1 and was expected to bring an additional eight million to the city's coffers.

El Marino Language Academy won the Sixth Annual Los Angeles Countywide Math Olympiads Tournament, out of 30 teams representing 21 schools.

The City Council elected six members and appointed three more for the Finance Advisory Committee. The three resident members were Crystal Alexander, Alejandro Lara, and Steven Reitzfeld. The three business members were Goran Eriksson, Richard Hibbs, and David Travato. The appointed members were Desmond Burns for Staff Level Bargaining Group Office #7; Allan Azran for Management Level Bargaining Group Office #8; and Sean Kearney for CCUSD Office #9.

The Council approved an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Gary Mandell of Boulevard Music to produce six free summer concerts.

On April 21 Culver City took part in CicLAvia, a citywide open-streets event in which 15 miles of car-free space was provided for bicycling, walking, strolling, and playing.

On April 22, the City Council chose Jeff Cooper as Mayor of Culver City and Meghan Sahli-Wells as Vice-Mayor.

May

The movement to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the area near Culver City that includes the Inglewood oil field gained momentum as three key bills to ban fracking passed the California State Assembly's Committee on Natural Resources despite intense pressure from the oil industry. One of the three bills, A.B. 1323, was authored by Assembly Member Holly Mitchell, whose 54th District includes Culver City.

Mike Miller, owner of Miller Toyota and Honda in Culver City, passed away on May 13. He had formerly been President and Chairman of the Board of the Culver City Chamber of Commerce.

The City Council passed a ban on plastic bags used in retail stores. The ban also required retail businesses to charge ten cents per paper bag, and to post signage informing customers of the bag charge.

The City Council was informed that the 2013-2014 budget looked better than expected, with Mayor Jeff Cooper remarking that CEO of Finances "[Jeff] Muir has nearly smiled."

The Culver City Finance Department was awarded the Government Finance Officers Association award for its comprehensive annual financial report for the fiscal year.

On May 14 LAPD Pacific Division officers found numerous explosive devices, including pipe bombs, at a suspect's apartment at the border of Culver City. Terrorism was not suspected but streets in the area were blocked off for several hours, snarling traffic.

State Senator Curren Price, whose district included Culver City, was elected to the Los Angeles City Council, creating a vacancy to be filled at a later date.

The City Council split a ordinance governing tree removals and standards for parkways into two separate ordinances, one for trees and one for parkways.

June

The new community group United Parents of Culver City made a surprising move by endorsing School Board candidates Kathy Paspalis (the seated president of the Board) and Steve Levin, while refusing to endorse seated Board member Karlo Silbiger, who was seeking a second term.

The City announced that Fourth of July fireworks would be cancelled for 2013 because of the renovations being done on the high school athletic field where the fireworks ceremony is usually held.

The Culver City 2013-2014 budget was approved without much fanfare.

Matt Cordova, a worker at Pitfire Pizza in Culver City, received a commendation from the City for helping to capture a suspect known as "The Beach Cruiser Bandit."

The Culver City Police Department announced that an ATM had been installed in its front lobby, for 24-7 access.

July

On July 1 the CCUSD School Board rejected a proposed school bond measure, with Karlo Silbiger, Professor Patricia Siever, and Nancy Goldberg voting against it. United Parents of Culver City began circulating a petition for placing the $70 million bond measure on the November ballot.

An anti-fracking amendment to an energy and water appropriations bill by Congresswoman Karen Bass, whose district includes Culver City, was rejected by the House of Representatives.

The Culver City Bus Fleet was named the #1 Best Municipal Fleet in North America, by the 100 Best Fleets National Fleet Certification/Recognition Program.

A proposed shuttle service between businesses in the Hayden Tract and the Expo Line station was rejected by the City Council by a 2-2 vote with one abstention.

August

Culver City School Board Vice President Patricia Siever announced that she would not seek a second term on the Board.

A legal challenge to building Phase Two of the Expo Line by neighborhood group Neighbors for Smart Rail (NFSR) was rejected by the California Supreme Court on August 4. In a split decision, the court ruled that the environmental review challenged by NFSR was legally valid, although four members of the court said the review should have contained an analysis of the project's traffic and air quality impacts near-term.

Fullscreen, a company based at the Culver Studios, was sued by the National Music Publishers Association for "willful copyright infringement" for using music videos without obtaining licenses or paying royalties.

Sue Robins, Culver City parent, former Culver City Middle School science teacher, and education leader, announced her candidacy for School Board in the November 2013 elections.

Due to protests from a large number of Culver City residents, the City Council's motion to install parking meters at specific locations was passed without the language that would have allowed meters on the south side of Jefferson Boulevard.

Dr. Kati Krumpe joined the Culver City United School District as Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services.

Vernon Taylor, a 15-year resident of Culver City, announced his candidacy for the School Board.

The City Council discussed a ban on smoking in multi-unit housing but asked city staff to come back with drafted language for an ordinance.

Westside Baseball's Westchester Babe Ruth completed a dream all-star season with an 8-0 shutout of Pacific Northwest Regional Champion Oregon in the finals of the Babe Ruth 14U World Series.

September

The Culver City Federation of Teachers and the Association of Classified Employees endorsed Karlo Silbiger, Claudia Vizcarra, and Vernon Taylor for the CCUSD School Board.

On September 3 the Los Angeles City Council endorsed a resolution by Council member Bernard C. Parks asking for tougher regulations regarding fracking activities, which affect Culver City among other communities.

The Culver City Chamber of Commerce endorsed Sue Robins and Steve Levin for Culver City School Board.

The City Council voted to rename Bush Way after Albert and Ursula Vera, for their years of service and devotion to Culver City.

Assembly member Holly Mitchell was elected to the California State Senate to represent the 26th State Senate District, which includes Culver City,

The Culver City Democratic Club endorsed Karlo Silbiger and Claudia Vizcarra for School Board.

The City Council and Planning Commission sat in a joint meeting to review the city's draft 2013-2021 Housing Element, to hear public comment, provide comments to staff, and direct staff to submit the element to the California State Department of Housing and Community Development.

An intruder was shot and killed when he entered the secure parking lot of Culver City Police Headquarters on September 21. He apparently followed a Culver City Police vehicle that was entering the facility. When officers asked him if he needed help, he produced a handgun which he pointed at the officers, who then shot him, wounding him in the torso. The suspect died in a local hospital and was later identified as David James Ward, 66, a homeless man who lived on the streets of Culver City.

More than 30 speakers talked to the City Council about parking during a discussion of updates to the city's Residential Permit Parking Program. Most of their stories were about parking problems, although some objected to the proposed rates for preferential parking fees.

October

October 1, 2013 marked the first day of a federal government shutdown in which more than 800,000 federal workers were forced into unpaid furloughs and many services were closed. The shutdown was the result of a standoff in Congress because of attempts by Republicans to block President Barack Obama's healthcare law. It was the first such federal shutdown in 17 years.

A Los Angeles resident, Robert Colt Wilson, pleaded no contest to possessing bomb-making materials. An explosive device was discovered in his car on May 14 when he was stopped by Marina del Rey traffic officers. A search of his Culver City apartment later yielded the bomb-making evidence.

Culver City Congresswoman Karen Bass announced that she had signed a petition to "re-open" the federal government.

Construction of the Expo Line Phase Two reached its halfway point, with project manager Brian Freund, of Skanska-Rados Joint Venture announcing that the contractor had worked one million hours on the project since its beginning in June 2011 and had not recorded any shifts lost due to injury.

November

The shooting at LAX's Terminal 3 on November 1 and the subsequent shutdown of the airport and all roads leading into the facility caused massive traffic disruptions, including, in Culver City, Bus Line 6 Local and Rapid, which carried riders on Sepulveda Boulevard between the MetroRail Green Line Station near LAX on the south and UCLA on the north.

In the November 5 School Board election Steve Levin, Sue Robins, and incumbent Kathy Paspalis won seats on the Board. Karlo Silbiger was defeated in his bid for a second term on the board, a loss some attributed to his refusal to support a school bond issue. All three of the winning candidates were endorsed by United Parents of Culver City, making their win a sign of UPCC's clout.

The Sorrento Market, owned by the Vera family, celebrated 50 years in Culver City.

December

The City Council estimated that there was a sum of $17,000 available for funding the summer concert series. This might fund a series of six concerts, the same number as in the 2013 series.

Christopher Patrick King, president of CPK Mortgage and current president of the Culver City Rotary Club, announced his candidacy for Culver City Council in the April 14 election.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas won election to the State Assembly for the 54th district on Tuesday. The district includes Culver City. Ridley-Thomas crushed his two opponents, former Culver City Mayor and Councilman Christopher Armenta and political unknown John Jake, garnering over 60 percent of the votes cast. However, "favorite son" of Culver City, Armenta, carried all but two Culver City precincts and amassed 1310 votes compared to Ridley-Thomas' 744 votes.

Due to talks between the California State Department of Finance and local officials, as well as action by the City Council, money for Culver City redevelopment projects formerly stalled by the dissolution of the redevelopment agencies, was freed up and allocated to the Successor Agency. At this point, it appears that the city will have over two million with which to finance several delayed projects, including, but not limited to, Parcel B (the multi-purpose project in downtown Culver City), the Washington-National Transit-Oriented Development project, and the market hall planned for the intersection of Washington and Centinela.

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