Live music above the waves

The Santa Monica Pier is starting its 2013 outdoor music season this Saturday, March 30, with “All Bands on Deck,” featuring the pop-electro acts Yacht, Poolside, DJ Chris Baio of Vampire Weekend fame, and more.

Other acts that will be performing are Kisses, Them Jeans, Guns in the Sun DJs and DJ Mario Cotto.

Live screen printing will be provided by Hit + Run.

Doors open at 3 p.m. and the show begins at 4 p.m. All ages are welcome to attend. Tickets range from $10 to $75 and are available at ticketfly.com.

Brief: Rabbits are pets, not toys

Last year, 30 rabbits found themselves in Los Angeles County Animal Care Centers one week after Easter, officials said.

The Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control is hoping that things don’t repeat themselves this Easter, encouraging families to care for rabbits they same they would care for a dog or a cat, according to a Los Angeles Public Affairs press release.

However, Sgt. Mike Graham of the Santa Monica Animal Shelter said that there is no change in the number of rabbits at the shelter around Easter time.

Rabbits are not the only Easter pets that families give their kids in honor of the holiday. Domestic ducklings have also found their way into Easter baskets in the past, but shelter officials and animal welfare experts advise against this practice as well, according to the Associated Press.

VTP redevelopment approved

After a six-year battle between the residents and owner of the Village Trailer Park on Colorado Avenue, the Santa Monica City Council voted 4-3 in favor of a revised VTP redevelopment agreement last Tuesday night.

The new agreement was adjusted so that the proposed condominiums are converted into apartments, the number of affordable housing units increases, and a portion of the park continues to be allocated for 10 mobile home spaces, which will operate for up to 10 years.

The previous development agreement included 377 total housing units, 216
of those being condominiums. The remaining units would be apartments,
with 16 of them available to very low-income residents, as stated in last Tuesday’s meeting.

However,
the new agreement converts all housing units to
apartments, with 35 retained as affordable housing units for very low income
residents, and three saved for extremely low-income residents.

Of 109 trailers, 99 will be displaced by the redevelopment.

Councilman Kevin McKeown, who voted against the VTP project, was still dissatisfied with the amended proposal.

“The project that was presented and eventually approved [last Tuesday] night doesn’t go beyond what the law requires for affordable housing,” said McKeown. “And yet, that’s the number one priority we have set as a city in negotiating development agreements.”

Current residents who are being forced out have eight relocation options, including moving to Mountain View trailer park, temporarily relocating to an apartment before returning to VTP, or moving to conventional rental housing.

According to the Affordable Housing Production Program, an affordable housing obligation which was implemented under 1990′s Proposition R, multifamily developments, or apartments, can allocate 10 percent of the units to “very low” income households.

Councilwoman Gleam Davis initially voted against the project, but said she changed her vote because the package of relocation benefits had been “significantly improved,” and the amount of affordable housing was increased to meet the AHPP.

“I felt that my concerns had been addressed and I voted ‘yes,’” Davis said.

Another relocation option would allow residents to move to new low-income apartments under construction on Ocean Avenue, across from the Loews Hotel, according to the development agreement.

Lania Bentin, a former resident of the trailer park, relocated to an apartment owned by Community Corporation of Santa Monica, a nonprofit organization committed to developing and managing affordable housing, early last year.

During her public comment at the City Council meeting last Tuesday, Bentin described her positive relocation experience and said that the developer and president of The Luzzatto Company, Mark Luzzatto, and his staff were helpful and compensated her fairly.

“I am grateful for my relocation,” Bentin said. 

Although the development agreement has been approved after years of disputes, there are still some issues to address, such as disagreements regarding parking and architectural details.

Luzzatto was unable to comment on the City Council’s decision due to litigation issues, but he provided a statement by e-mail.

“We think we’ve arrived at a solution that will allow everyone involved to move forward in a very positive way,” Luzzatto said.

This story was co-written with Allie Silvas

Don’t fall victim to Craigslist scams

The Santa Monica Police Department advised peo- ple via their Facebook page to be on the lookout for sketchy Craigslist transactions in order to prevent rob- bery.

Here are their tips:

• Insist on a public meeting place like a cafe, or the parking lot of a police station. If someone is too scared to meet you in the parking lot of the police station then something is probably wrong.

• Do not meet in a secluded place, or invite strangers to your home.

• Be especially careful when buying/selling high value items; many thieves are placing ads for cars that aren’t theirs.

• Tell a friend or family member where you’re going, and keep them constantly updated.

• Take your cell phone along if you have one, and know exactly where you are located so that you can quickly report it to police, i.e. specific address/street.

• Consider having a friend accompany you, or have a friend act as a layoff person to watch the transaction secretly and who can remain calm and call the police if needed. If your friend is in a vehicle, they might be able to give a good description of the thief and the direction they are seen getting away with your property or money.

• When talking to the seller, tell them you are not bringing money with you.

• Do not bring money when first meeting the seller.

• Inspect the item for sale, ensure the seller is the true owner, and check to see if anything is suspicious. If all seems well, then go get the money from a differ- ent location.

• Do not keep valuables on you like an expensive purse, electronics, or jewelry.

High school wins award for bag ban project

SAMOHI — Team Marine, Santa Monica High School’s environmental science eco-action group, was awarded first place in the Los Angeles County Science Fair Saturday for their project on examining the effects of the city’s plastic bag ban on consumers.

The three students from the club awarded the honor were Angelina Hwang, Edie Cote and Ivan Morales.

The two-year study compared pre-ban data with post-ban data, and visually estimated the bag type, age and gender of over 50,400 people exiting five local grocery stores.

With the award, the students advance to the state competition, held at the California Science Center April 15-16, and will also present their data at the AltBuild Expo at the Santa Monica Convention Center May 11, school officials said.

“I hope we’re now giving the next generation the tools to continue the environmental work my generation was unable to finish,” Santa Monica City Councilmember Kevin McKeown said.

Local service offers dogs a home away from home

Tatiana Masterson plays with her dog Auggie in her Santa Monica home, where she cares for other dogs as a host for the company DogVacay. Photo by Alex Vejar

CITYWIDE — For pet owners who would rather leave their little critters in the comfort of a home rather than a kennel during their work day or when they travel, there is a scarcity of options in Santa Monica.

Local company DogVacay is looking to change all that.

The company allows users to find, schedule and book appointments with a host, who cares for dogs in their own home. Prospective clients can also register for a free account, read reviews on the hosts and make payments all on their websit

Tatiana Masterson is one of those hosts. In her professional life she works in the music industry doing public relations, managing, tour support, and more. She became interested in the concept of hosting pets in her home after a friend suggested she do that for her own adopted dog, Auggie, when she traveled for work.

“I fell in love with the concept, and I decided to become a host,” she said.

Masterson has been hosting since July of last year. With the extra money she makes from DogVacay she is able to pay for her puppy’s expenses.

“I’m very thankful because Auggie has the company that he needs and I have the company as well in the way that also I have a little bit of extra cash while working from home,” she said. “It’s been a great experience.”

Prospective hosts go through an approval process before being able to work for DogVacay, said founder and “top dog” Aaron Hirschhorn, who started the company in March of last year in his home with his wife Karine after a negative experience with a dog kennel. The process consists of an online application, a phone interview and reference checks.

“These are people’s babies,” Hirschhorn said of the detailed approval process. “I love my dog so much, our customers love [their] dogs so much. Everything we can do to make them feel good is what our business is about.”

Hirschhorn feels that customers get a different experience than they would if they left their dogs at a kennel.

“What we really feel is so incredible is the opportunity to give your dog individual attention in someone’s home, like what they get normally,” he said.

Hosts can also send photo and video updates of the owner’s dogs while they are away, adding to the unique experience that Hirschhorn promotes.

In case of a pet emergency, DogVacay has a 24-hour service that a host can call, as well as a partnership with VCA Animal Hospitals, which provides emergency veterinary care to all of their customers, all paid for by the company, Hirschhorn said.

The company doesn’t only care for dogs. Customers have used the service for cats, rabbits, and even a pig,  Hirschhorn said.

In the time that it has been in business, DogVacay has grown to having 10,000 hosts all across the United States and Canada, Hirschhorn said.

“The real business is the hosts,” he said.

DogVacay’s pricing ranges from $15 to $50 per night, with the norm being under $30, which can be half of what someone would pay for a kennel depending on the quality of the facility and the types of services offered, Hirschhorn said.

According to the trade group American Pet Products Association, it is projected that people will spend $55.53 billion on services and products related to pets, $5.54 billion for grooming and boarding alone.

For more information, to find a host, or to become a host, visit dogvacay.com.

‘DnA’ becomes podcast

“DnA,” KCRW’s show exploring the world of design and architecture, will become a weekly podcast and a blog, with design journalists reporting on emerging talent in Los Angeles and beyond.

The show was originally broadcasted monthly on the air. The new online format will include interviews, featured articles by guest contributors, video reporting on build- ings and products, and an interactive map of design and landmarks recently discussed in the podcast.

KCRW is a public service of Santa Monica College.

For more information on “DnA,” visit blogs.kcrw.com/dna or kcrw.com/DnA.