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Welcome to 2016, everyone! We hope you were able to enjoy some downtime before coming into the new year. As we get ready for an exciting new year, we’re still want to hear from you about your favorite Santa Monica Next stories of 2015.

There are a lot of important events coming up, including the deadline to vote for L.A. Streetblog’s 2015 Streetsie awards, a chance to volunteer to help Santa Monica combat homelessness, the start of a new fare structure for Big Blue Bus, and the start of a new performance series at the Miles Playhouse.

Support your livable streets heroes

Until Tuesday at noon, you can vote for Los Angeles Streetsblog’s 2015 Streetsie AwardsSanta Monica is represented among the nominees in three of the six categories: Livable Streets-Friendly Business, Civil Servant of the Year, and Elected Official of the Year. Make sure to vote in support of your favorite livable streets heroes. Reader voting accounts for one half of the scoring, with one quarter going to SBLA staff voting, and another quarter going to a SBLA board vote.

Santa Monica needs volunteers to help fight homelessness

Santa Monica officials are calling on the community to help with the annual homeless count from on Wednesday, January 27 from 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Volunteers can register today at www.santamonicahomelesscount.com.

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Why is this important? According to the city’s website, “The Count is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to track each community’s progress towards ending homelessness. Count results have a direct impact on the amount of federal funds allocated to homeless programs nationally and how those funds are distributed. The count and demographic survey will give a snapshot of who is experiencing homelessness and where they are located.”

It’s a big undertaking so the city needs is seeking about 250 volunteers.

Big Blue Bus Fare Change

To help pay for increased service hours and incentivize riders to use passes, the Big Blue Bus will restructure its fares starting on January 10, 2016.

The fare restructuring plan, which was approved in October by the Santa Monica City Council, includes a $0.25 increase to the base cash fare (and a $0.50 increase to the regular Rapid 10 fare) while fares for seniors, passengers with Medicare, and disabled passengers will remain the same throughout the system.

The regular and youth 30-Day Big Blue Bus passes will actually be cheaper under the new plan, reduced from $60 to $50 and $40 to $28 respectively. A new rolling 7-day pass for $14 will be added, according to the Big Blue Bus website. The 30-day youth pass price of $28 would be for 2016 only unless an alternate stream of money is located to offset the $10/pass subsidy.

For more information, visit Big Blue Bus’ website.

Fireside at the Miles Playhouse

The seventh annual Fireside at the Miles performance series kicks off this week on January 8 at 8 p.m. and will run on Friday and Saturday nights through February.

“Events run the gamut from classical music, to jazz, to stand-up comedy to dance to storytelling all presented and performed by outstanding local and regional talent. January performances feature Frances Livings, Greg Poree and the Ipanema Lounge, an audience favorite ‘a cappella’ night, the Los Angeles Flute Orchestra, SHINE storytelling and an evening of original dance by Angela Todaro. February brings Jazz guitarist Scott Detweiler and his Mardi Gras themed concert, an evening of stand-up comedy hosted by Joe Hernandez-Kolski, Orchestra Santa Monica’s Woodwind Quintet, an evening with Paul Linke, and the return of local dancer / choreographer Suchi Branfman presenting two nights of dance and movement with local artists,” according to city officials.

For a complete lineup and to purchase tickets, visit the Miles Playhouse website.