Local Briefs


December 9, 2021

Buena Park Man with AR Rifle, 9 mm Handgun, and Narcotics Arrested in Santa Monica; His Accomplice at Large

11/28/21: At about 7:15 PM, Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) Officers respond to the 900blk of Ocean Ave. regarding a suspicious vehicle. When officers arrived, they located the vehicle, a black Jeep, leaving the area. An officer witnessed the vehicle commit several vehicle code violations. When the officer attempted to initiate a traffic stop, the vehicle fled at a high rate of speed and crashed, striking several parked vehicles and a tree in the 1000 block of 2nd Street. The two occupants fled on foot. However, only one was located a short time after.

A subsequent search of the suspect vehicle revealed a loaded short barrel AR type rifle, a loaded 9mm handgun and a large amount of narcotics. The driver of the vehicle, Ken Lee Fernandez, a 22-year-old male of Buena Park, was booked on weapons and narcotics charges along with delaying and obstructing arrest.

The passenger and outstanding suspect is described as a 20 to 25-year-old Black male, 5'10" – 6'2", thin build, dark complexion, wearing a black hoodie sweatshirt and black sweatpants.

Anyone with any information pertaining to this incident is strongly encouraged to contact Special Investigations Unit (SIU) Detective Khansari at 310-458-4248.

Homeless Man Accused of Setting 6 Fires Caught by SMPD

11.30.21 - The Santa Monica Police were able to detain and arrest a homeless man suspected in the initiation of six fires in Santa Monica. In the pre-dawn hours of November 28, police were called to investigate a series of dumpster fires set in the downtown Santa Monica area.

Dumpster fires are not rare in the alleys and near the garages of the Third Street Promenade, but in this case a witness was able to provide a description of the suspect. At approximately 3:45 am, a police officer saw a man matching the description who ran away from him. Police were able to detain the man subsequently, however, in the 400 block of Arizona Avenue.

The male suspect, identified as Jonathan Powell, 28, is homeless. He was positively identified as the arsonist in one of the fires and is suspected of having started five others. Several lighters were found in his front pants pocket.

Powell was arrested and booked for Arson and Delaying Arrest.

Anyone with any information pertaining to this incident, or any other similar incidents, is strongly encouraged to contact the Criminal Investigation Division at 310-458-8451 or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8426.

John Alle, a property owner on the Third Street Promenade, says he has witnessed at least nine dumpster fires in that area. People have been nearby in every case. He believes the city's management of the downtown and Promenade is largely responsible for the presence of drug addicts and vagrants who leave behind human and other waste and who use open flames. The garages are left open all night with little to no security. Homeless vagrants have taken them over, sleeping in the elevators, stairwells, and their cars.

"The first words out of most of the 'wandering dead'' or others high as a kite are those asking for 'a light.' Dozens of matches, small batteries, and lighters are left behind next to their pools of urine and stacks of feces as they sleep and when they leave," says Alle.

In addition, the dumpster rooms are left open, even at night. Outdated grease machines are left in these rooms and, according to Alle, and they are used by the vagrants to warm food and cook meth. Homeless drug addicts are sleeping on abandoned mattresses just steps away, he says.

"Those who are hurt and injured leave the scene fast. The unlucky ones die, and coroners come fast," says Alle

Anti-Vaxx Message Painted Over

It’s no secret that pro and anti Covid vaccine messaging, has divided Americans throughout 2021.

“Leave the Vax, Take the Cannoli” read an expansive wall mural on the side of an apartment building, three stories above street level on the Venice boardwalk. On December 1st, the message had been painted over.

Huntington Beach Restauranteur Tony Roman previously posted signs at his Basilico’s Pasta e Vino restaurant saying that those wearing masks had to remove them to be served. Last year, he paid for a billboard message on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles, reiterating his anti-mask view.

People on Ocean Front Walk expressed everything from dismay to disgust to agreement in a giant sign along the famous boardwalk that suggests people should disdain vaccines that combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roman has said he believes that face masks and vaccine mandates are a tyrannical theft of the public’s liberty. He previously posted signs at his Basilico’s Pasta e Vino restaurant saying that those wearing masks had to remove them to be served. Last year, he paid for a billboard message on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles, reiterating his anti-mask view.

Sushi Restaurants Close

Two family owned Sushi restaurants joined the list of closed businesses in Santa Monica in November. Sushi Sho at Euclid and Montana Avenue quietly closed. The family owned restaurant was known for it’s salmon teriyaki.

Kimuya Sushi Sports Bar restaurant on Wilshire Blvd also closed.

The pandemic has been hard on restaurant owners. Despite the islands of seating that replaced parking on many streets, including Montana and Main Street, many have folded.

Homeless Housing Project For Venice Canals

12/1/21: The Los Angeles City Council approved a large public housing project straddling the north opening of the Grand Canal in Venice Beach, one of the city's most iconic and expensive neighborhoods.

The 2.7-acre, $75 million Venice Dell Community project will be built on city-owned land, on the site of what is now a large, surface-level asphalt parking lot, and will include 136 housing units. Half the units will be for homeless people and the rest will be for low-income residents, “with half of that reserved for artists.”

"This project is proposed and will be built in a community that has been an epicenter of homelessness for decades," said City Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents Venice and most of West Los Angeles. "It's being proposed in a community that has been losing housing and losing population for decades."

Venice, an area defined in part by skinny streets and small lots, is among the city's most expensive places to live per square foot and also has one of the city's largest homeless populations.

Opponents of Venice Dell have called it the "monster on the Venice canals," a "large barge come ashore," and have criticized its design as "aggressive, harsh and bunker-like."

"This giant, big, ugly box on 40 lots would be a scar on Venice," Robin Rudisill, who unsuccessfully ran to unseat Bonin in 2017, told the City Council.

The complex will also include a community arts center, public parking and retail space. There will be eight full-time staff members to provide supportive services for the formerly homeless residents, four of which will live on-site.


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