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Santa Monica Next Is the Little News Outlet That Writes Big Stories. Won’t You Support Our Non-Profit Publication?

Earlier this year, Santa Monica Next relaunched after a couple of years of very part-time publishing. Our goal was to be a different sort of news publication, that both encouraged community involvement in our publication and brought complete coverage to issues. Given our tiny budget, I’m only a part-time editor and the rest of the team is volunteers. I honestly think Next is doing a great job. If you value our work, and haven’t donated this year, please consider making a tax deductible donation, now.

Here are a few examples of how Next has used its team to bring well-rounded coverage to an issue:

One of our first big stories covered how the City of Palmdale had reached out to Santa Monica city staff for a meeting about a possible deal that would allow Santa Monica to skirt the state’s affordable housing construction requirements. Most outlets covered the story, first broken by a newspaper in Palmdale, but Next was the first to publish the city’s response and first to cover that the City Council banned staff from meeting with Palmdale again without getting Council approval. While the debate was still hot, Juan Matute opined at Next that, “Sending Santa Monica’s Affordable Housing to Palmdale Is a Toxic Mix of Climate Denialism and Classism.“

In July, what should have been a routine discussion about how some Councilmembers went over their travel budget; part of the conversation caught the ear of Jason Mastbaum. Councilmembers Phil Brock and Oscar de la Torre both blamed staff for their personal budget issues; but a public records request demonstrated that what the two Councilmembers were saying was just not true. After Mastbaum published his findings at Next, both Councilmembers verbally attacked Mastbaum at the next council meeting either by saying things that also weren’t true (Brock) or by basically admitting Mastbaum was correct but questioning his motives (de la Torre). No other news outlet in Santa Monica even mentioned the controversy.

When the State Supreme Court sent the Civil Rights Voting case back to the appeals court that ruled in favor of the city, the plaintiffs against the city were quick to declare victory. Santa Monica Next was not just the first to report on the ruling, but also the first to note that the narrow wording of the Supreme Court decision isn’t quite the slam-dunk victory that the plaintiffs were alleging. However, because the city doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation and the plaintiffs waged a full media campaign; their spin became the basis for much of the public comment at the City Council that urged the city to settle the case.

In addition to our news coverage, Next republished a trio of pieces by longtime Santa Monica activist Frank Gruber. In his trilogy of works, Gruber explains the history of the case, questions whether or not there is a history of racially polarized voting in Santa Monica, and examines some of the remedies available should racially polarized voting exist.

In 2024, we want to do more of this kind of coverage. But to do that, we need your help. If it’s within your means, please consider supporting Santa Monica Next before the year ends.

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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