Category Archives: Neighboring Communities

These posts are about what’s going on in our neighboring communities.


Google spends $120 million on 12 vacant acres in Playa Vista

Google Inc. was reported today to be making a bold move to expand in Southern California,  having spent nearly $120 million on 12 vacant acres next to a historic hangar where aviator Howard Hughes built his famous “Spruce Goose” airplane in a Playa Vista neighborhood near Marina del Rey.

The land is zoned for nearly 900,000 square feet of commercial space that could house offices or studios, vastly more room than Google now occupies in a handful of buildings in Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Google is also expected to lease the Hughes hangar built in 1943,
according to The Times. The 319,000-square-foot building has recently housed soundstages for movie and television production.

“This is phenomenal news for the Westside and for the Los Angeles economy,” City Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the Playa Vista area, said in remarks reported by The Times. “It really makes and brands Playa Vista as the tech and innovation capital of Los Angeles.”

Google, based in Mountain View, California., wouldn’t detail its plans.

But if Google is to develop the land as zoned, the Playa Vista site and the Hughes hangar could be home to as many as 6,000 well-paid, highly educated workers, according to The Times.

Internet firms such as Google commonly set aside about 200 square feet per employee.

Local entrepreneurs and investors told The Times they’re excited about the possibilities that a stepped-up Google presence could bring.


LAX police ask for public’s help after man disappears after getting off flight

Los Angeles police asked for the public’s help in finding a 70-year-old man who got off an Evergreen International Airlines flight and was last seen leaving Los Angeles International Airport’s customs area.

Walter Wenko is a white man with black and white hair and blue eyes. He is 6 feet tall and weighs 130 pounds.

Anyone with information regarding this missing man is urged to contact authorities.
Anyone with information regarding this missing man is urged to contact authorities.

Wenko has medical issues and his family is concerned that he may need medical attention. Wenko was last seen Monday.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts was asked to call the LAPD’s Missing Person Unit at (213) 972-7859.

Halloween Surf

Venice surfers invited to Haunted Heats Halloween Surf Contest Saturday

For an entertaining way to combine the spirit of Halloween and the quintessential SoCal lifestyle, look no further than ZJ Boarding House’s annual Haunted Heats Halloween Surf Contest this Saturday, Oct. 25 at 8 am.

Far from the ordinary surf competition, the participants will be riding the waves of the Pacific Ocean all the while donning their Halloween costumes.

Set to take place near Tower 26 on Santa Monica Beach, the competition is in its seventh year running and attracts an impressive number of both surfers and spectators alike.

“This year, we’re expected to have about 60-70 contestants,” Teddy Vecchione, ZJ Boarding House’s Art and Marketing Director, said. “I’m guessing around 150 people will come to watch.”

The 2013 contest winner, the “ultimate warrior,” earned his crown by thinking outside of the box – or rather inside of it – by incorporating a “wrestling rink” onto his surfboard. Photos Courtesy Steve Christensen
The 2013 contest winner, the “ultimate warrior,” earned his crown by thinking outside of the box – or rather inside of it – by incorporating a “wrestling rink” onto his surfboard. Photos Courtesy Steve Christensen

The competition is welcome to all ages and all skill levels and is complete with a judging panel. However, the focus of the event is not necessarily on the technicalities of the sport. Rather than a serious surf competition, the emphasis lies in the creative abilities of the contestants.

“We’re more focused on the fun,” Vecchione said. “If someone in a ballerina costume is on a surfboard and strikes a ballet pose, that’s sure to get more points [than the average competitor] because they’re taking the role of their costume. It’s necessary to have some skill, of course, but as long as you can catch a wave in your costume, we try to keep [the judging] pretty arbitrary and focus more on the creativity.”

Naturally, the local surfers have brought the best of their creative juices to the competition, with stand-out costumes speckling the waves each year.

“One time, some contestants dressed up as all four of the Teletubbies,” Vecchione recalled with a laugh. “They all surfed on one board together, too. It was pretty impressive.”

Last year’s surf contest winner, the “ultimate warrior,” earned his crown by thinking outside of the box – or rather inside of it – by incorporating a “wrestling rink” onto his surfboard.

“We’ve had Grim Reapers, Baywatch girls, and even a Chia Man, which is essentially a fully grown, human version of a Chia Pet,” Vecchione described.

The same caliber of clever and innovative costumes is likely to be present this year.

“It’s basically a big party,” Vecchione said. “We like to think of [this event] as the best Halloween surf contest west of the Mississippi.”

The surf contest also supports a worthy cause, featuring food and prizes. There will be a raffle for a Firewire 6’2’’ Timber Tek Dominator surfboard, with the proceeds benefiting Boarding for Breast Cancer (B4BC), a youth-focused breast cancer education and prevention foundation.

The non-profit organization seeks to promote early detection of the cancer as well as a healthy, active lifestyle, with the latter aspect aligning with the sports-based nature of ZJ’s Boarding House.

The competition is free to attend. Contest entry admission is $10 for competitors over the age of 18, free of charge for competitors under the age of 18, and $20 for last-minute signups on the beach.

ZJ’s Boarding House is owned by Mikke Pierson and Todd Roberts and is located at 2619 Main St.

For more information, call 310.392.5646 or visit

Police lights

Screwdriver wielding Venice resident arrested after causing havoc in Santa Monica

A 52-year-old screwdriver wielding Venice resident was arrested in Santa Monica on Saturday, Oct. 12 and charged with carrying a concealed weapon.

Officers of the Santa Monica Police Department were called out to the 400 block of Idaho Avenue at 7:30 pm on this day after a citizen had called in a report regarding a man who had rang the citizen’s doorbell and had then thrown rocks at the windows of the residence.

The officers arrived at the location and shortly afterwards detained a man who fit the description of the suspect.

The officers conducted a search of the man and discovered that he had a 10” long tool concealed in his shorts.

The officers asked this man why he had this long screwdriver concealed in his shorts and he responded with the claim that he needed it for protection. The officers questioned this man further and discovered that he had in fact been wandering the neighborhood looking for the home where he believed his girlfriend lived.

The officers arrested this Venice resident, identified as Tom Safron, and he was charged with carrying a concealed weapon. Bail was set at $20,000.

Boat fire

Community embraces couple who lost everything in boat fire

Two Marina del Rey residents, who lost everything that they own when the boat they live in was lost in a fire on the water, are finding that generosity in the community still exists.

A friend of the couple, who are only identified as Tina and James, said the pair jumped the gun and cancelled their insurance a week before the fire because they had sold the boat to a friend, but he had not yet taken possession, or title.

“They had hired a mechanic from Craigslist to work on their Atomic 4 engine before changing ownership. Somehow it burst into flames,” according to the crowdfunding campaign.

The crowdfunding campaign is also raising funds for the mechanic who has 20 years experience.

“The mechanic is a single dad raising his daughter alone,” the campaign said. “He now has third degree burns from his elbows down to his fingertips, and tons of medical bills. Tina and James are homeless with just the clothes on their back. Imagine being at work an hour away and getting that call, ‘um, we think your boat is on fire.’ Imagine rushing home to find a pile of ash, and an even bigger pile of bills.”

The community has come together to raise more than $4,000.

Learn more the fundraising efforts at