Spanish encampment August 3, 1769
Elevation 105 ft (32 m)
|County Los Angeles|
Incorporated November 30, 1886
|Country United States of America|
Santa Monica is a beachfront city in western Los Angeles County, California, United States. Situated on Santa Monica Bay, it is bordered on three sides by the city of Los Angeles – Pacific Palisades to the north, Brentwood on the northeast, Sawtelle on the east, Mar Vista on the southeast, and Venice on the south. The Census Bureau population for Santa Monica in 2010 was 89,736.
- Map of Santa Monica CA USA
- Gang activity
- Elementary and secondary schools
- Elementary schools
- Middle schools
- High schools
- Private schools
- Miscellaneous education
- Post secondary
- Public library system
- Motorized vehicles
- Light rail
- Airport and ports
- Emergency services
- Top employers
- Film and television
- Video games
Map of Santa Monica, CA, USA
Due in part to an agreeable climate, Santa Monica became a famed resort town by the early 20th century. The city has experienced a boom since the late 1980s through the revitalization of its downtown core, significant job growth and increased tourism. The Santa Monica Pier remains a popular and iconic destination.
Santa Monica was long inhabited by the Tongva people. Santa Monica was called Kecheek in the Tongva language. The first non-indigenous group to set foot in the area was the party of explorer Gaspar de Portolà, who camped near the present-day intersection of Barrington and Ohio Avenues on August 3, 1769. Named after the Christian saint Monica, there are two different accounts of how the city's name came to be. One says it was named in honor of the feast day of Saint Monica (mother of Saint Augustine), but her feast day is May 4. Another version says it was named by Juan Crespí on account of a pair of springs, the Kuruvungna Springs (Serra Springs), that were reminiscent of the tears Saint Monica shed over her son's early impiety.
In Los Angeles, several battles were fought by the Californios. Following the Mexican–American War, Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which gave Mexicans and Californios living in state certain unalienable rights. US government sovereignty in California began on February 2, 1848.
In the 1870s the Los Angeles and Independence Railroad, connected Santa Monica with Los Angeles, and a wharf out into the bay. The first town hall was a modest 1873 brick building, later a beer hall, and now part of the Santa Monica Hostel. It is Santa Monica's oldest extant structure. By 1885, the town's first hotel was the Santa Monica Hotel.
Amusement piers became enormously popular in the first decades of the 20th century and the extensive Pacific Electric Railroad brought people to the city's beaches from across the Greater Los Angeles Area.
Around the start of the 20th century, a growing population of Asian Americans lived in and around Santa Monica and Venice. A Japanese fishing village was near the Long Wharf while small numbers of Chinese lived or worked in Santa Monica and Venice. The two ethnic minorities were often viewed differently by White Americans who were often well-disposed towards the Japanese but condescending towards the Chinese. The Japanese village fishermen were an integral economic part of the Santa Monica Bay community.
Donald Wills Douglas, Sr. built a plant in 1922 at Clover Field (Santa Monica Airport) for the Douglas Aircraft Company. In 1924, four Douglas-built planes took off from Clover Field to attempt the first aerial circumnavigation of the world. Two planes returned after covering 27,553 miles (44,342 km) in 175 days, and were greeted on their return September 23, 1924, by a crowd of 200,000 (generously estimated). The Douglas Company (later McDonnell Douglas) kept facilities in the city until the 1960s.
The Great Depression hit Santa Monica deeply. One report gives citywide employment in 1933 of just 1,000. Hotels and office building owners went bankrupt. In the 1930s, corruption infected Santa Monica (along with neighboring Los Angeles). The federal Works Project Administration helped build several buildings, most notably City Hall. The main Post Office and Barnum Hall (Santa Monica High School auditorium) were also among other WPA projects.
Douglas's business grew astronomically with the onset of World War II, employing as many as 44,000 people in 1943. To defend against air attack, set designers from the Warner Brothers Studios prepared elaborate camouflage that disguised the factory and airfield. The RAND Corporation began as a project of the Douglas Company in 1945, and spun off into an independent think tank on May 14, 1948. RAND eventually acquired a 15-acre (61,000 m²) campus between the Civic Center and the pier entrance.
The completion of the Santa Monica Freeway in 1966 brought the promise of new prosperity, though at the cost of decimating the Pico neighborhood that had been a leading African American enclave on the Westside.
The city of Santa Monica rests on a mostly flat slope that angles down towards Ocean Avenue and towards the south. High bluffs separate the north side of the city from the beaches. Santa Monica borders the L.A. neighborhoods of Pacific Palisades to the north and Venice to the south. To the west, Santa Monica has the 3-mile coastline fronting the Santa Monica Bay, and to the east of the city borders are the Los Angeles communities of West Los Angeles and Brentwood.
Santa Monica has a borderline Semi-arid climate/coastal Mediterranean climate (Köppen BSk/Csb). Santa Monica enjoys an average of 310 days of sunshine a year. It is in USDA plant hardiness zone 11a. Because of its location, nestled on the vast and open Santa Monica Bay, morning fog is a common phenomenon in May, June and early July (caused by ocean temperature variations and currents). Like other inhabitants of the greater Los Angeles area, residents have a particular terminology for this phenomenon: the "May Gray" and the "June Gloom". Overcast skies are common during June mornings, but usually the strong sun burns the fog off by noon. In the late winter/early summer, daily fog is a phenomenon too. It happens suddenly and it may last some hours or past sunset time. Nonetheless, it will sometimes stay cloudy and cool all day during June, even as other parts of the Los Angeles area enjoy sunny skies and warmer temperatures. At times, the sun can be shining east of 20th Street, while the beach area is overcast. As a general rule, the beach temperature is from 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to 6 degrees Celsius) cooler than it is inland during summer days, and 5–10 degrees warmer during winter nights.
It is also in September highest temperatures tend to be reached. It is winter, however, when the hot, dry winds of the Santa Anas are most common. In contrast, temperatures exceeding 10 degrees below average are rare.
The rainy season is from late October through late March. Winter storms usually approach from the northwest and pass quickly through the Southland. There is very little rain during the rest of the year. Yearly rainfall totals are unpredictable as rainy years are occasionally followed by droughts. There has never been any snow or frost, but there has been hail.
Santa Monica usually enjoys cool breezes blowing in from the ocean, which tend to keep the air fresh and clean. Therefore, smog is less of a problem for Santa Monica than elsewhere around Los Angeles. However, in the autumn months of September through November, the Santa Ana winds will sometimes blow from the east, bringing smoggy and hot inland air to the beaches.
Santa Monica is one of the most environmentally activist municipalities in the nation. The city first proposed its Sustainable City Plan in 1992 and in 1994, was one of the first cities in the nation to formally adopt a comprehensive sustainability plan, setting waste reduction and water conservation policies for both public and private sector through its Office of Sustainability and the Environment. Eighty-two percent of the city's public works vehicles now run on alternative fuels, including nearly 100% of the municipal bus system, making it among the largest such fleets in the country. Santa Monica fleet vehicles and Buses now source their natural gas from Redeem, a Southern California-based supplier of renewable and sustainable natural gas obtained from non-fracked methane biogas generated from organic landfill waste.
Santa Monica has adopted a Community Energy Independence Initiative, with a goal of achieving complete energy independence by 2020 (vs. California's already ambitious 33% renewables goal). In the last 15 years, greenhouse gas emissions have been cut citywide by nearly 10% relative to 1990 levels, with further reductions being planned by the Office of Sustainability.
An urban runoff facility (SMURFF), the first of its kind in the US, catches and treats 3.5 million US gallons (13,000 m3) of water each week that would otherwise flow into the bay via storm-drains and sells it back to end-users within the city for reuse as gray-water, while bio-swales throughout the city allow rainwater to percolate into and replenish the groundwater supply. The groundwater supply in turn plays an important role in the city's Sustainable Water Master Plan, whereby Santa Monica has set a goal of attaining 100% water independence by 2020. The city has numerous programs designed to promote water conservation among residents, including a rebate of $1.50 per square foot for those who convert water intensive lawns to more local drought-tolerant gardens that require less water.
Santa Monica has also instituted a green building-code whereby merely constructing to code automatically renders a building equivalent to the US Green Building Council's LEED Silver standards. The city's Main Library, for example, is one of many LEED certified or LEED equivalent buildings in the city. It is built over a 200,000 gallon cistern that collects filtered storm water from the roof. The water is used for landscape irrigation.
Since 2009, Santa Monica has been developing the Zero Waste Strategic Operations Plan by which the city will set a goal of diverting at least 95% of all waste away from landfills, and toward recycling and composting, by 2030. The plan includes a food waste composting program, which diverts 3 million pounds of restaurant food waste away from landfills annually. Currently, 77% of all solid waste produced citywide is diverted from landfills.
The city is also in the process of implementing a 5-year and 20 year Bike Action Plan with a goal of attaining 14 to 35% bicycle transportation mode share by 2030 through the installation of enhanced bicycle infrastructure throughout the city. Other environmentally focused initiatives include curbside recycling, curbside composting bins (in addition to trash, yard-waste, and recycle bins), farmers' markets, community gardens, garden-share, an urban forest initiative, a hazardous materials home-collection service, green business certification, and a municipal bus system which is currently being revamped to integrate with the soon-to-open Expo Line.
Santa Monica's population has grown from 417 in 1880 to 89,736 in 2010.
The 2010 United States Census reported Santa Monica had a population of 89,736. The population density was 10,662.6 people per square mile (4,116.9/km²). The racial makeup of Santa Monica was 69,663 (77.6%) White (70.1% Non-Hispanic White), 3,526 (3.9%) African American, 338 (0.4%) Native American, 8,053 (9.0%) Asian, 124 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 4,047 (4.5%) from other races, and 3,985 (4.4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11,716 persons (13.1%).
The Census reported 87,610 people (97.6% of the population) lived in households, 1,299 (1.4%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 827 (0.9%) were institutionalized.
There were 46,917 households, out of which 7,835 (16.7%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 13,092 (27.9%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 3,510 (7.5%) had a female householder with no husband present, 1,327 (2.8%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 2,867 (6.1%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 416 (0.9%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 22,716 households (48.4%) were made up of individuals and 5,551 (11.8%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.87. There were 17,929 families (38.2% of all households); the average family size was 2.79.
The population was spread out with 12,580 people (14.0%) under the age of 18, 6,442 people (7.2%) aged 18 to 24, 32,552 people (36.3%) aged 25 to 44, 24,746 people (27.6%) aged 45 to 64, and 13,416 people (15.0%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40.4 years. For every 100 females there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.2 males.
There were 50,912 housing units at an average density of 6,049.5 per square mile (2,335.7/km²), of which 13,315 (28.4%) were owner-occupied, and 33,602 (71.6%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.1%; the rental vacancy rate was 5.1%. 30,067 people (33.5% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 57,543 people (64.1%) lived in rental housing units.
According to the 2010 United States Census, Santa Monica had a median household income of $73,649, with 11.2% of the population living below the federal poverty line.
As of the census of 2000, there are 84,084 people, 44,497 households, and 16,775 families in the city. The population density is 10,178.7 inhabitants per square mile (3,930.4/km²). There are 47,863 housing units at an average density of 5,794.0 per square mile (2,237.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city is 78.29% White, 7.25% Asian, 3.78% African American, 0.47% Native American, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 5.97% from other races, and 4.13% from two or more races. 13.44% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. There are 44,497 households, out of which 15.8% have children under the age of 18, 27.5% are married couples living together, 7.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 62.3% are non-families. 51.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 1.83 and the average family size is 2.80.
The city of Santa Monica is consistently among the most educated cities in the United States, with 23.8 percent of all residents holding graduate degrees.
The population is diverse in age, with 14.6% under 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 40.1% from 25 to 44, 24.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.4% 65 years or older. The median age is 39 years. For every 100 females, there are 93.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 91.3 males.
According to a 2009 estimate, the median income for a household in the city is $71,095, and the median income for a family is $109,410. Males have a median income of $55,689 versus $42,948 for females. The per capita income for the city is $42,874. 10.4% of the population and 5.4% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 9.9% of those under the age of 18 and 10.2% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
In 2006, crime in Santa Monica affected 4.41% of the population, slightly lower than the national average crime rate that year of 4.48%. The majority of this was property crime, which affected 3.74% of Santa Monica's population in 2006; this was higher than the rates for Los Angeles County (2.76%) and California (3.17%), but lower than the national average (3.91%). These per-capita crime rates are computed based on Santa Monica's full-time population of about 85,000. However, the Santa Monica Police Department has suggested the actual per-capita crime rate is much lower, as tourists, workers, and beachgoers can increase the city's daytime population to between 250,000 and 450,000 people.
Violent crimes affected 0.67% of the population in Santa Monica in 2006, in line with Los Angeles County (0.65%), but higher than the averages for California (0.53%) and the nation (0.55%).
Hate crime has typically been minimal in Santa Monica, with only one reported incident in 2007. However, the city experienced a spike of anti-Islamic hate crime in 2001, following the attacks of September 11. Hate crime levels returned to their minimal 2000 levels by 2002.
In 2006, Santa Monica voters passed "Measure Y" with a 65% majority, which moved the issuance of citations for marijuana smoking to the bottom of the police priority list. A 2009 study by the Santa Monica Daily Press showed since the law took effect in 2007, the Santa Monica Police had "not issued any citations for offenses involving the adult, personal use of marijuana inside private residences."
In June 2011, the Boston gangster Whitey Bulger was arrested in Santa Monica after being a fugitive for 16 years. He had been living in the area for 15 years.
A shooting in Santa Monica in 2013 left six (including the perpetrator) dead and five more injured.
The Pico neighborhood of Santa Monica (south of the Santa Monica Freeway) experiences some gang activity. The city estimates there are about 50 gang members based in Santa Monica, although some community organizers dispute this claim. Gang activity has been prevalent for decades in the Pico neighborhood.
In October 1998, alleged Culver City 13 gang member Omar Sevilla, 21, of Culver City was killed. A couple of hours after the shooting of Sevilla, German tourist Horst Fietze was killed. Several days later Juan Martin Campos, age 23, a Santa Monica city employee, was shot and killed. Police believe this was a retaliatory killing in response to the death of Omar Sevilla. Less than twenty-four hours later, Javier Cruz was wounded in a drive-by shooting outside his home on 17th and Michigan.
In 1999, there was a double homicide in the Westside Clothing store on Lincoln Boulevard. During the incident, Culver City gang members David "Puppet" Robles and Jesse "Psycho" Garcia entered the store masked and began opening fire, killing Anthony and Michael Juarez. They then ran outside to a getaway vehicle driven by a third Culver City gang member, who is now also in custody. The clothing store was believed to be a local hang out for Santa Monica gang members. The dead included two men from Northern California who had merely been visiting the store's owner, their cousin, to see if they could open a similar store in their area. Police say the incident was in retaliation for a shooting committed by the Santa Monica 13 gang days before the Juarez brothers were gunned down.
Aside from the rivalry with the Culver City gang, gang members also feud with the Venice and West Los Angeles gangs. The main rivals in these regions include Venice 13, Graveyard Gangster Crips, and Venice Shoreline Crips gangs in the Oakwood area of Venice, California.
Elementary and secondary schools
The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District provides public education at the elementary and secondary levels. In addition to the traditional model of early education school houses, SMASH (Santa Monica Alternative School House) is "a K-8 public school of choice with team teachers and multi-aged classrooms".
The district maintains eight public elementary schools in Santa Monica:
The district maintains three public middle schools in Santa Monica: John Adams Middle School, Lincoln Middle School and SMASH.
The district maintains two high schools in Santa Monica: Olympic High School and Santa Monica High School.
Private schools in the city include:
Asahi Gakuen, a weekend Japanese supplementary school system, operates its Santa Monica campus (サンタモニカ校･高等部 Santamonika-kō kōtōbu) at Webster Middle in the Sawtelle neighborhood of Los Angeles. All high school classes in the Asahi Gakuen system are held at the Santa Monica campus. As of 1986 students take buses from as far away as Orange County to go to the high school classes of the Santa Monica campus.
Santa Monica College is a junior college founded in 1929. Many SMC graduates transfer to the University of California system. It occupies 35 acres (14 hectares) and enrolls 30,000 students annually. The Frederick S. Pardee RAND Graduate School, associated with the RAND Corporation, is the U.S.'s largest producer of public policy PhDs. The Art Institute of California – Los Angeles is also in Santa Monica near the Santa Monica Airport. Universities and colleges within a 22-mile (35 km) radius from Santa Monica include Santa Monica College, Antioch University Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University, Mount St. Mary's College, Pepperdine University, California State University, Northridge, California State University, Los Angeles, UCLA, USC, West Los Angeles College, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Occidental College (Oxy), Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles Southwest College, Los Angeles Valley College, and Emperor's College of Traditional Oriental Medicine.
Public library system
The Santa Monica Public Library consists of a Main Library in the downtown area, plus four neighborhood branches: Fairview, Montana Avenue, Ocean Park, and Pico Boulevard.
Santa Monica has a bike action plan and recently launched a bicycle sharing system in November 2015. The city is traversed by the Marvin Braude Bike Trail. Santa Monica has received the Bicycle Friendly Community Award (Bronze in 2009, Silver in 2013) by the League of American Bicyclists. Local bicycle advocacy organizations include Santa Monica Spoke, a local chapter of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. Santa Monica is thought to be one of the leaders for bicycle infrastructure and programming in Los Angeles County.
In terms of number of bicycle accidents, Santa Monica ranks as one of the worst (#2) out of 102 California cities with population 50,000–100,000, a ranking consistent with the city's composite ranking. In 2007 and 2008, local police cracked down on Santa Monica Critical Mass rides that had become controversial, putting a damper on the tradition.
The Santa Monica Freeway (Interstate 10) begins in Santa Monica near the Pacific Ocean and heads east. The Santa Monica Freeway between Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles has the distinction of being one of the busiest highways in all of North America. After traversing Los Angeles County, I-10 crosses seven more states, terminating at Jacksonville, Florida. In Santa Monica, there is a road sign designating this route as the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway. State Route 2 (Santa Monica Boulevard) begins in Santa Monica, barely grazing State Route 1 at Lincoln Boulevard, and continues northeast across Los Angeles County, through the Angeles National Forest, crossing the San Gabriel Mountains as the Angeles Crest Highway, ending in Wrightwood. Santa Monica is also the western (Pacific) terminus of historic U.S. Route 66. Close to the eastern boundary of Santa Monica, Sepulveda Boulevard reaches from Long Beach at the south, to the northern end of the San Fernando Valley. Just east of Santa Monica is Interstate 405, the "San Diego Freeway", a major north-south route in Los Angeles County and Orange County, California.
The City of Santa Monica has purchased the first ZeroTruck all-electric medium-duty truck. The vehicle will be equipped with a Scelzi utility body, it is based on the Isuzu N series chassis, a UQM PowerPhase 100 advanced electric motor and is the only US built electric truck offered for sale in the United States in 2009.
The city of Santa Monica runs its own bus service, the Big Blue Bus, which also serves much of West Los Angeles and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). A Big Blue Bus was featured prominently in the action movie Speed.
The city of Santa Monica is also served by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (Metro) bus lines. Metro also complements Big Blue service, as when Big Blue routes are not operational overnight, Metro buses make many Big Blue Bus stops, in addition to MTA stops.
Design and construction on the 6.6-mile extension (10.6 km) of the Expo Line from Culver City to Santa Monica started in September 2011, with service beginning on May 20, 2016. Santa Monica Metro stations include 26th Street/Bergamot, 17th Street/Santa Monica College, and Downtown Santa Monica. Travel time between the downtown Santa Monica and the downtown Los Angeles termini is approximately 47 minutes.
Historical aspects of the Expo line route are noteworthy. It uses the right-of-way for the Santa Monica Air Line that provided electric-powered freight and passenger service between Los Angeles and Santa Monica beginning in the 1920s. Service was discontinued in 1953 but diesel-powered freight deliveries to warehouses along the route continued until March 11, 1988. The abandonment of the line spurred concerns within the community and the entire right-of-way was purchased from Southern Pacific by Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The line was built in 1875 as the steam-powered Los Angeles and Independence Railroad to bring mining ore to ships in Santa Monica harbor and as a passenger excursion train to the beach.
Since the mid-1980s, various proposals have been made to extend the Purple Line subway to Santa Monica under Wilshire Boulevard. There are no current plans to complete the "subway to the sea," an estimated $5 billion project.
Airport and ports
The city owns and operates a general aviation airport, Santa Monica Airport, which has been the site of several important aviation achievements. Commercial flights are available for residents at Los Angeles International Airport, a few miles south of Santa Monica.
Like other cities in Los Angeles County, Santa Monica is dependent upon the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles for international ship cargo. In the 1890s, Santa Monica was once in competition with Wilmington, California, and San Pedro for recognition as the "Port of Los Angeles" (see History of Santa Monica, California).
Two major hospitals are within the Santa Monica city limits, UCLA Santa Monica Hospital and St. John's Hospital. There are four fire stations providing medical and fire response within the city staffed with 6 Paramedic Engines, 1 Truck company, 1 Hazardous Materials team and 1 Urban Search & Rescue team. Santa Monica Fire Department has its own Dispatch Center. Ambulance transportation is provided by AmeriCare Ambulance Services.
The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services operates the Simms/Mann Health and Wellness Center in Santa Monica. The Department's West Area Health Office is in the Simms/Mann Center.
Santa Monica is governed by the Santa Monica City Council, a Council-Manager governing body with seven members elected at-large. The current mayor is Ted Winterer.
Santa Monica is home to the headquarters of many notable businesses, including Hulu, Universal Music Group, Lionsgate Films, the RAND Corporation, Beachbody, and Macerich. Supermarine (now Atlantic Aviation) is at the Santa Monica Airport. National Public Radio member station KCRW is at the Santa Monica College campus.
A number of game development studios are based in Santa Monica, making it a major location for the industry. These include:
Fatburger's headquarters are in Santa Monica. TOMS Shoes has its headquarters in Santa Monica.
Former Santa Monica businesses include Douglas Aircraft (now merged with Boeing), MySpace (now headquartered in Beverly Hills), and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. In December 1996, GeoCities was headquartered on the third floor of 1918 Main Street in Santa Monica.
Santa Monica has a strong small business community; Fundera ranked the city the 6th best city for small business in a 2016 study.
According to the City's 2012–2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
The men's and women's marathon ran through parts of Santa Monica during the 1984 Summer Olympics. The Santa Monica Track Club has many prominent track athletes, including many Olympic gold medalists. Santa Monica is also home to the Santa Monica Rugby Club, a semi-professional team that competes in the Pacific Rugby Premiership, the highest-level rugby union club competition in the United States.
Film and television
Hundreds of movies have been shot or set in part within the city of Santa Monica. One of the oldest exterior shots in Santa Monica is Buster Keaton's Spite Marriage (1929) which shows much of 2nd Street. The comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) included several scenes shot in Santa Monica, including those along the California Incline, which led to the movie's treasure spot, "The Big W". The Sylvester Stallone film Rocky III (1982) shows Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed training to fight Clubber Lang by running on the Santa Monica Beach, and Stallone's Demolition Man (1993) includes Santa Monica settings. Henry Jaglom's indie Someone to Love (1987), the last film in which Orson Welles appeared, takes place in Santa Monica's venerable Mayfair Theatre. Heathers (1989) used Santa Monica's John Adams Middle School for many exterior shots. The Truth About Cats & Dogs (1996) is set entirely in Santa Monica, particularly the Palisades Park area, and features a radio station that resembles KCRW at Santa Monica College. 17 Again (2009) was shot at Samohi. Other films that show significant exterior shots of Santa Monica include Fletch (1985), Species (1995), Get Shorty (1995), and Ocean's Eleven (2001). Richard Rossi's biopic Aimee Semple McPherson opens and closes at the beach in Santa Monica. Iron Man features the Santa Monica pier and surrounding communities as Tony Stark tests his experimental flight suit.
The documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001) and the related dramatic film Lords of Dogtown (2005) are both about the influential skateboarding culture of Santa Monica's Ocean Park neighborhood in the 1970s.
The Santa Monica Pier is shown in many films, including They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969), The Sting (1973), Ruthless People (1986), Beverly Hills Cop III (1994), Clean Slate (1994), Forrest Gump (1994), The Net (1995), Love Stinks (1999), Cellular (2004), The Cutting Edge: Going for the Gold (2006), Iron Man (2008) and Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009).
A number of television series have been set in Santa Monica, including Baywatch, Three's Company, Pacific Blue, and Private Practice. The Santa Monica pier is shown in the main theme of CBS series NCIS: Los Angeles. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the main exterior set of the town of Sunnydale, including the infamous "sun sign", was in Santa Monica in a lot on Olympic Boulevard.
The city of Santa Monica (and in particular the Santa Monica Airport) was featured in Roland Emmerich's disaster film 2012 (2009). A magnitude 10.9 earthquake destroys the airport and the surrounding area as a group of survivors escape in a personal plane. The Santa Monica Pier and the whole city sinks into the Pacific Ocean after the earthquake.
Raymond Chandler's most famous character, private detective Philip Marlowe, frequently has a portion of his adventures in a place called "Bay City", which is modeled on depression-era Santa Monica. In Marlowe's world, Bay City is "a wide-open town", where gambling and other crimes thrive due to a massively corrupt and ineffective police force.
The setting on a certain portion of Mitch Albom's book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, has similarities to the Pacific Pier along the Santa Monica beach. In the book, it is named Ruby Pier. Mitch Albom even acknowledged the Pacific Pier for its cooperation.
The main character from Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Land That Time Forgot (novel) was a shipbuilder from Santa Monica.
In Al Capone Does My Shirts, the Flanagans move to Alcatraz from Santa Monica.
Tennessee Williams lived (while working at MGM Studios) in a hotel on Ocean Avenue in the 1940s. At that location he wrote The Glass Menagerie. His short story titled The mattress by the Tomato Patch was set near Santa Monica Beach, and mentions the clock visible in much of the city, high up on The Broadway Building, on Broadway near 2nd Street.
Also featured in Rick Riordains "Percy Jackson" Novels, specifically the Santa Monica pier.
Santa Monica is featured in the video games True Crime: Streets of LA (2003), Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines (2004), Grand Theft Auto San Andreas (2004) as a fictional district - Santa Maria Beach, Destroy All Humans! (2004), Tony Hawk's American Wasteland (2005), L.A. Rush (2005), Midnight Club: Los Angeles (2008), Cars Race-O-Rama (2009), Grand Theft Auto V (2013) as a fictional district – Del Perro, Call of Duty: Ghosts (2013) as a fictional U.S. military base – Fort Santa Monica, The Crew (2014), Need for Speed (2015)