Meet the New Steering Committee for Santa Monica Next



SaMoNextAs the Southern California Streets Initiative continues to grow — in case you missed it, Streetsblog California launched yesterday — it has become apparent that Jason is going to need more help than I can give to grow Santa Monica Next into more than just a top news site.

To that end, we are proud to announce a new steering committee of some of the top volunteers with whom we’ve worked to help with the fundraising, event programming, Vote Local and the publication of Santa Monica Next. If you’d like to volunteer to help in any of these ventures, feel free to contact Jason ( We certainly have plenty to do.

However, allow me a brief moment to welcome our steering committee! Outside of myself (I’m an ex-oficio member of any committee with our non-profit), all are residents of Santa Monica.

  • Abby Arnold – Abby is the Executive Director of the L.A. Trade Technical College Foundation, which awards scholarships to the students who will build our infrastructure, staff our hospitals, and cook our haute cuisine.She lives in Ocean Park, where she raised her two sons in a community that defines the notion of “it takes a village”. Back in the 1980s, she was the director of the Santa Monica Neighborhood Support Center. She has also served on the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Commission, and as President of the Santa Monica PONY Baseball League.
  • Juan Matute – Juan is the associate director of the UCLA Lewis Center and the Institute of Transportation Studies and lecturer UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and UCLA  Department of Urban Planning. In his free time, he serves as chair of the Southern California Streets Initiative, the non-profit publisher of Santa Monica Next. He is also a board member of Downtown Santa Monica, and he chairs Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Parking Reform Task Force. 
  • Grace Philips – Grace enjoys playing the banjo, strolling, and needlepointing. She has three kids and three pets, all of whom are gifted. She is an urban planner in theory, but a landscaper in practice. Grace is the founder of SantaMonicaWalks!, one of the authors of the Santa Monica Urban Forest Master Plan, and is currently the chair of the Urban Forest Task Force. She’s a member of the Clean Beaches and Ocean Parcel Tax Citizens Oversight Committee. She’s the chair of Elemental Strings and Band, an after school orchestra and band program. Her most recent volunteer work was chaperoning the Santa Monica High School Philharmonic Orchestra to San Francisco, her favorite volunteer job yet.
  • Carter Rubin – Carter works for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as as the program manager for the Great Streets Initiative. Since 2010, Carter has been a resident of the Sunset Park neighborhood, where he lives with his fiance. He was recently appointed as a  Planning Commissioner for the City of Santa Monica after serving a year on the city’s Housing Commission. He previously served as secretary/treasurer for the Southern California Streets Initiative. Carter honed his transportation writing as a featured writer at The Source, the official newsblog of Metro. Carter was born at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica and raised on the Westside.
  • Scott Schonfeld – Scott is a principal of Linwood Ventures, a real estate investment and management company. He sits on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce and the Westside Urban Forum. He also plays an active role in conversations surrounding urban planning and land use issues affecting our ever-changing city. Scott is currently leading an effort to realign the 4th Street off-ramp, which will have game-changing effects on access, circulation and traffic for the entire city, including better pedestrian and bike connections to Expo. Scott graduated from Columbia University with a BA in Economics.
  • Joni Yung – Joni is best known for hosting “Yoga Chat with the Accidental Yogist” on and at You can download and listen to recent podcasts of Yoga Chat on iTunes by clicking here. Joni previously worked at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and L.A. Yoga Magazine. When the spirit moves her (or when she finds herself with an abundance of free time, which is very rare), she comments on the LA yoga scene at Follow her yoga/bike/food exploits on Twitter at @ayogist.

We’ll be meeting soon to discuss what our next projects and offline focus will be going forward. I look forward to seeing what’s next as I’m sure all of you do as well.


Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.


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