Santa Monica beach house owned by Howard Hughes, Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine for sale for $12 million

The former Santa Monica Beach retreat of Cary Grant and Howard Hughes is on the market for the first time in 38 years, with a $12 million price tag. Lisa Johnson Mandell, provided by Published 5:00 pm, Friday, February 23, 2018 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-10', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 10', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-15', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 15', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-20', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 20', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-25', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 25', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-30', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 30', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-35', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 35', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ Continue Reading

A Santa Monica pilot wanted to save the city’s airport. So he gave the mayor a free flight

With the city itching to close it down, pilot Russ Landau seized on a chance to help save the Santa Monica Municipal Airport. The owner of a small single-engine plane, Landau said he was asked to fly Tony Vazquez, then the city’s mayor, to the Central Coast. “I thought cool, I want to meet the mayor,” Landau said. “It was a gift from a friend… a chance for me to have Tony’s ear for a while and show him that pilots are good people.” On Jan. 26, 2016, Landau hopped into his Cirrus SR22 single-piston plane with Vazquez and flew the politician — free of charge — late at night for more than an hour before dropping him off in Salinas. Seven months later, the Santa Monica Council, including Vazquez, voted to close the airport. But with state law limiting gifts to politicians, Vazquez’s free flight is raising legal questions. Vazquez, who is now a councilman, has been enmeshed in a conflict-of-interest inquiry. A recent Times article detailed how his wife, Maria Leon-Vazquez — a board member overseeing Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District — cast several votes approving hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts with his consulting clients. The Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office is reviewing these votes as well as architecture services provided for the couple by an architect who, around the same time, received purchase orders from the school district. The architect later joined the school board. In the case of the free flight, Bob Stern, a good government expert who authored the state law governing gifts to public officials, said the free flight may pose a legal problem for Vazquez. Vazquez did not return calls for comment. There are exceptions to the gift limit that apply to travel under specific circumstances, such as a payment to the city for travel in connection with official city business, or sharing a plane ride with another public Continue Reading

Bird scooter firm settles legal fight with Santa Monica

The startup that placed electric scooters around Santa Monica for riders to share has reached a settlement with the city over allegations that it failed to secure businesses licenses and vendor permits. The scooters, known as Birds, began to mysteriously show up around Santa Monica in September. Since then, residents and visitors, intrigued by the sight of the black scooters resting on sidewalks or in front of businesses throughout the city, have been using Birds as alternatives to cars, buses and bikes. According to a statement released Tuesday from the Santa Monica city manager’s office, Bird Rides Inc. pleaded no contest and agreed to pay more than $300,000 in fines and secure proper business licenses. The agreement also requires the company to run a weeklong public safety campaign on public buses. Bird chief executive Travis VanderZanden, a former Lyft and Uber executive, created the company after moving to Santa Monica from the Bay Area. To operate the scooters, riders have be at least 18, wear a helmet and stay off sidewalks. Eligible users can download an app and pay $1 plus 15 cents a minute to ride them at speeds up to 15 mph. In addition to having safety concerns, Santa Monica officials grew frustrated at Bird’s refusal to obtain permits. Last December, the Santa Monica city attorney’s office filed a nine-count misdemeanor criminal complaint against Bird and VanderZanden. The complaint alleged that Bird began operating its scooters without city approval and that it ignored citations asking the company to obtain proper licenses and remove the scooters from sidewalks. Deputy City Atty. Eda Suh said in a statement that the settlement shows Bird failed to comply with Santa Monica’s business licensing requirements. “Bringing this new business into compliance with local law achieves a fair and positive outcome for the people of Santa Monica,” Suh said. Bird spokesman Marcus Reese said that under the settlement, the city agreed Continue Reading

Sudden appearance of electric scooters irks Santa Monica officials

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Black, electric-powered scooters suddenly began appearing on the downtown streets, suburban sidewalks and beachside a few months ago in this urban coastal city. The dockless shared scooters took Santa Monica by surprise, including the mayor, who says he received a LinkedIn message from Bird chief executive Travis VanderZanden, offering to introduce him to the company’s “exciting new mobility strategy for Santa Monica” — after they landed in town. “If you’re talking about those scooters that are out there already, there are some legal issues we have to discuss,” Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer said he told VanderZanden. And to reinforce the point, the city filed a criminal complaint of nine counts centered on Bird’s failure to obtain a vendor permit, something the company maintains is applicable to food vendors, not dockless shared electric scooters. A woman rides a Bird scooter on the Santa Monica Pier on Feb. 4. (Noah Smith) [Key to saving the redwoods might be in their genetic code.] The criminal case by a cornerstone city of “Silicon Beach” against an electric scooter company illustrates the continuing challenges, years after the onset of now-massive shared economy companies such as Uber and Airbnb, that arise when integrating new technologies, even when those technologies help solve stubborn civic problems such as traffic congestion. At the root of the battle between Bird and the city of Santa Monica is an issue that has increasingly confronted municipal governments facing new tech and business models — a lack of directly applicable existing regulation and precedents. “These scooters literally just began showing up on our streets last fall,” said Anuj Gupta, Santa Monica’s deputy city manager and director of policy. “The challenge is that they decided to launch first and figure it out later.” A Bird representative says the Continue Reading

The Zimmer Children’s Museum is moving to Santa Monica

By Richard Guzman | [email protected] | Press Telegram January 24, 2018 at 6:31 pm The Zimmer Children’s Museum is moving. Its new location promises to be twice as large as its current space with the potential to nearly triple the annual attendance. Currently located in the first and basement levels of the Jewish Federation Goldsmith Center at 6505 Wilshire Blvd. in the Miracle Mile area, the museum is scheduled to move to Santa Monica Place in late 2018. “This is an opportunity to increase our visibility and accessibility,” said Esther Netter, CEO of the museum. “Being at the nexus of the end of the Expo line at the ocean, at Santa Monica Place, in a vibrant downtown is incredible,” she added. The 10,000 square-foot museum, which features interactive exhibits as well as arts and educational programs aimed at children, currently attracts about 85,000 visitors per year. Netter said the new location in a 20,000 square-foot space at the top of the three-story outdoor mall in downtown Santa Monica is expected to draw 250,000 visitors annually after it opens in late 2018. “Our hours are limited, parking is limited and visibility is extraordinarily limited,” Netter said of their current location. The plans for the new museum are still in the early stages. Museum officials will soon contract with designers and architects for the project with renderings expected shortly. Cost figures have not yet been released. But the new location also means new exhibits and programming at the upcoming museum.“We are taking what we know and do well and are designing and creating something completely new,” Netter said. The Wilshire location will close just before the grand opening of the Santa Monica Place location. Santa Monica Place is a busy outdoor mall anchored by high end department stores Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co., as well as restaurants like True Food Kitchen and The Cheesecake Continue Reading

Jonathan Gold finds delight in the secretive Santa Monica restaurant Dialogue

One of the best things I’ve ever eaten was a pressed squab that was part of the Hunt menu at Chicago’s restaurant Next, a bloody, barely roasted bird whose breasts and legs were ceremoniously carved off by a chef at a tableside cart, and its carcass was put into a huge, hand-cranked press to be squeezed like an orange. Ten minutes later, the finished dish and its dense sauce, famously one of the most glamorous preparations of Escoffier, were brought out from the kitchen.I bring this up because Dialogue, a new tasting-menu restaurant in Santa Monica, is the current project of Dave Beran, who was then the chef at Next, and right in the middle of the intimate open kitchen is exactly the gleaming duck press you may have hoped you would see, possibly the only one in the city at the moment. There are no carts — Dialogue, which sits just 18 people, is about the size of a two-car garage. Beran presses his ducks behind the counter, capturing the juices that flow from the silvery spout and reducing them with aromatics until they thicken into a suave gravy, less inflected by booze and innards than the version you may have tasted at Tour d’Argent the first time you went to Paris with a credit card, but perfectly autumnal.Los Angeles, we have noted, has lately become one of the best food cities in the world, at the heart of a great agricultural region, with an astonishingly diverse population, and with an openness to new ideas that you might expect in an entertainment capital. But until lately, there were few non-Asian restaurants that aspired to the highest level of international cooking, the rarefied realm of the World’s Top 50 list, multiple Michelin stars, and reservation lists backed up for three months; of $800 dinner tabs; of 20-course tasting menus that read like symbolist poetry; of sommeliers cross-cutting between elegant Burgundies and stank pét-nats with the fluency of an old-school hip-hop DJ.But Beran is nothing if not Continue Reading

Don’t be scared: New Santa Monica studio aims to take the fear out of acupuncture

In Santa Monica, acupuncture goes mainstream and a gym rolls out a new high intensity interval training class; a new meditation studio in Sherman Oaks offers mindfulness sessions for teens; and a crystal healing workshop is happening in Silver Lake. Here are some well-being options around Los Angeles over the most stressful time of year. At the newly opened Amplify Acupuncture in Santa Monica, founder Yunuen Beristain’s goal is to make the ancient Chinese practice accessible and welcoming. “A lot of people say they’ve always wanted to try it but are intimidated,” said Beristain, a licensed acupuncturist and master of traditional Chinese medicine. “The fact that we are in a retail location with big windows is an open invitation to walk in without an appointment and get a treatment.” Clients sit in zero gravity reclinable chairs separated by dividers in the open-plan 750-square-foot space; mellow music plays in the background as their acupuncture points are stimulated to neutralize stress, encourage better sleep or recover from illness. Info: Amplify Acupuncture, 2717 Main St., Santa Monica. Until Dec. 15, a one-hour consultation and treatment is $60. Thereafter $90. Follow-up 30-minute sessions are $60. For those seeking an effective yet quick workout, Exhale, a spa in Santa Monica that also offers barre and yoga classes, earlier this month introduced its new HIIT 30 workout. The 30-minute class spends five of those minutes just on abs; the rest is a series of intense sequences on a mat, some using weights, done in 50-second intervals. The regimen is designed to keep the heart rate up while providing a full-body workout. Info: Exhale Spa, 101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. $27 a class. Another addition to the wellness landscape in the San Fernando Valley is Soul Hum, a meditation studio in Sherman Oaks that opened in October. Founder Natalie Kiwi said she began to practice in earnest a few years Continue Reading

I’m visiting Santa Monica, that city by the bay

Back in Santa Monica, where the men are mostly metro and the women all look like breadsticks. See, I cover the waterfront. So I notice these things. As luck would have it, we find ourselves in a bucket of beer near the pier. If Big Dean’s isn’t the best saloon in America, it’s in the conversation. I feel so strongly about it that I posted to Instagram. “Best bar in America, Big Dean’s, where the sand meets the suds,” or something to that effect. My feeling is that if it’s on social media, it must be true. It has the whiff of “right now!” to it, which is one of the measures of news these days. Plus, there are little hearts and kisses — those touches the mainstream media has yet to master. Sure, my post may be too provocative. Big Dean’s might be only the 10th best bar in America. Then again, what are your yardsticks for a think tank like this: Sarcasm? Stickiness? Laughter? Those would be mine. The best joints anywhere — L.A., Chicago or Boston — are held together with one-liners and 300 coats of lacquer. Doesn’t hurt that Big Dean’s is perched on the Pacific, with ocean air drifting right up its big snout. It’s the Cheers of the surf-and-sand crowd. Except nobody knows anybody’s name. It’s a thoroughly L.A. bar, in that everybody is from somewhere else. In that sense, like L.A. itself, I think of it as an all-star organization. No city, not even New York or London, has so much out-of-town talent on its roster. Plus, any bar with my daughters in it gets bonus points. I watch as they give up their bar stools to well-dressed older gentlemen, just like their mother taught them. “Here, Dad. Sit,” my lovely and patient older daughter says. So I do. Their boyfriends are also here, respectful old-school souls with childhood allegiances to the Cubs and Yankees; that’s always fun to witness. Then there are my pals Verge and Eugene, which sort of sounds Continue Reading

Vacant Santa Monica Sears getting a second life with a $50-million makeover

The vacant Sears department store in downtown Santa Monica is poised for an extreme makeover that will turn the former down-to-earth purveyor of general merchandise into a swanky place to work, eat or grab a beer.Soon the Art Deco landmark will be home to sun-drenched offices for rent with a rooftop garden and a market hall where vendors sell food, drinks and other wares such as books or clothing. It will be renamed the Mark 302.The $50-million renovation is yet another example of how developers are repurposing the growing number of empty big-box stores left behind by fading traditional retailers — especially in desirable locations.And it would be hard to find a belly-up store in a better locale.When this one opened on Colorado Avenue in 1947, it was on the edge of the business district of a sleepy blue-collar beach town. The Santa Monica Freeway did not exist.Today, the city is one of the wealthiest in the state, and the building stands at the terminus of the Expo light rail line, across the street from Santa Monica Place shopping center and a short walk from Santa Monica Pier.“It’s a premier, crown-jewel asset — definitely one to be excited about,” developer Kacy Keys said.The Sears was one of many department stores that opened in the years immediately after World War II to capitalize on the booming growth of Southern California and the pent-up consumer demand unleashed once the war ended. It was the 10th Sears store in Los Angeles County.Keys visited the Santa Monica store as a child in the 1970s and remembers running around with her brother and munching free popcorn, a gustatory perk fondly recalled by others who grew up in the neighborhood.Today, Keys oversees development in the West for Seritage Growth Properties, a New York real estate investment trust that owns 253 Sears and Kmart stores that could potentially be redeveloped.Seritage gained control of the stores in 2015 as part of a $2.7-billion deal that involved leasing most Continue Reading

Santa Monica school district’s conflict of interest investigation expands to three board members

A Santa Monica school district’s conflict of interest investigation has grown to include three of the board’s seven members, a school district official confirmed Friday. The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s probe initially focused on Maria Leon-Vazquez, whose husband worked as a paid consultant to at least two district vendors. Santa Monica-Malibu launched its probe after The Times revealed last month that Leon-Vazquez cast a series of votes spanning several years that included hundreds of thousands of dollars in contract approvals with her husband’s clients, the financial advisory firm Keygent, LLC and TELACU Construction Management. That investigation has now widened to include board members Ralph Mechur and Oscar de la Torre, according to a district spokeswoman. The district is looking into possible conflicts of interest related to Mechur’s work as an architect for Leon-Vazquez’s home remodel and a nonprofit involving De La Torre, said spokeswoman Gail Pinsker. The district will release a “summary of findings that we will be sharing publicly in the next few weeks,” she wrote in an email to The Times. She said once the investigation is complete the district will commission an outside agency — likely the California School Boards Assn. or the state Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team — to conduct an independent review. Prosecutors with the public integrity unit of the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office have also opened a review. Leon-Vazquez’s husband Tony Vazquez — who is also a Santa Monica councilman and a candidate for a state Board of Equalization seat — was paid to open doors at school districts by using his political access to arrange meetings with high-level district executives, he testified in a sworn deposition obtained by The Times. This included a meeting he set up three years ago between a TELACU executive and then-Santa Monica-Malibu Continue Reading