Ready to Take Your City to the Next Level?

Much more than a hackathon, Hack the Beach: The Contest allows anyone in the community to submit proposals for apps, ideas, processes, and/or technology to help Santa Monica improve our sense of Community, Mobility, and Civic Engagement.

Hack the Beach: The Contest will run from October 2015 to January 2016. Prizes will be awarded for the best ideas; including bringing you and your entire team out on stage at the 2016 Twilight Concert Series, loads of PR, mentorship and coaching from local accelerators, and more.

The Contest

How will you positively impact Santa Monica in the areas of Community, Mobility, and/or Civic Engagement? Hack the Beach: The Contest is accepting submissions now through October 9, 2015 for fresh ideas to take our city to the next level.



Santa Monica is a diverse landscape of over 90,000 residents and hundreds of thousands more who come here for business and pleasure.

Maintaining an inclusive and diverse community means increasing housing affordability, addressing homelessness, and supporting Santa Monica as a learning community.



With the incoming Expo Line and expansion of Big Blue Bus service, Santa Monica is poised to transform the car-centric culture that has gridlocked our region for decades.

How can we integrate multi-modal transportation, both here and across Los Angeles, with the people, to establish a new model of mobility for the future?

Civic Engagement

Civic Engagement

The defining characteristic of Government 2.0 has to be interaction. The government of the future must embrace technology as a means of connecting with, and understanding the needs of, its people.

Santa Monica has an exuberant resident community and firm grounding in civic engagement. Now it's time to take that to the next level.

Meet the Judges

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Adam Weiss

Vice President, Business Affairs & General Counsel
Cornerstone OnDemand

Adam Weiss is Vice President of Business Affairs and General Counsel for Cornerstone OnDemand, In this role, Adam oversees all legal and business matters affecting the company and its international subsidiaries. Additionally, he leads the company’s legal, talent, and administration teams worldwide. Weiss helped guide the company through its successful IPO in 2011 and facilitated the launch of the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation.

Prior to joining Cornerstone, Adam practiced law at Lurie, Zepeda, Schmalz & Hogan (now Lurie, Zepeda, Schmalz, Hogan & Martin).

Adam serves as President of Shalom Institute, and sits on the boards of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce and American Jewish Committee.

Adam holds a J.D. from UCLA School of Law and a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from Stanford University.

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Debbie Lee

Public Affairs and Communications Officer
City of Santa Monica

City of Santa Monica Public Affairs and Communications Officer Debbie Lee oversees the city’s robust communications. As an integral member of the senior management team, she serves as the city’s chief spokesperson. She directs, manages and supervises the city’s integrated communication strategy program, over various platforms including; video production programming, print publications, web management, online communication and social media activities; coordinates intergovernmental and neighborhood relations, legislative affairs, and communication strategies with Council, departments, external agencies and neighborhood organizations to promote transparency of city initiatives.

Debbie’s experience is deeply rooted in Santa Monica. Before joining the city she served as Vice President of Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. for seven years overseeing marketing, special programs, and community involvement. Her responsibilities included website management, social media, public relations, community relations, and government relations. She worked frequently with community organizations, the Santa Monica business community, elected officials and the press. During her time with the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau, Lee served as Vice President of Business Development, responsible for brand awareness, development of marketing materials, media relations, community relations and website management.

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Jory Wolf

City of Santa Monica

Jory Wolf is Chief Information Officer for the City of Santa Monica. His responsibilities include planning and management of all automated information systems and services, including computing, networking, telecommunications, public safety radio, and geospatial and web based technologies. He has held progressively responsible positions at the City and has over thirty five years’ experience in information technology.

Jory launched Santa Monica City Wi-FiSM which provides free internet services to the public through a network of 32 hot zones and wireless coverage in most major commercial and transit corridors throughout the city.

Jory created Santa Monica City NetSM, a 100 gigabit broadband initiative to support an environment for local businesses to compete in the global economy with cutting edge network solutions. The services have been adopted by tech, new media and entertainment companies as well as incubators and local startups. It is a major contributor to local economic development and supports Santa Monica as being the hub of Silicon Beach.

Jory implemented intelligent parking, traffic and transportation systems that today, provide Santa Monica with traffic signal synchronization, transit priority, over 600 public safety and traffic cameras, mass transit management, wireless on-street parking meters, next bus apps and signage, and real-time parking availability signage and apps on smartphones operated by a sophisticated Transportation Management Center.

Jory joined a team of local and national researchers in the study of Community Wellbeing. The team won Mayor Bloomberg’s $1 million Mayor’s Challenge to be the first city in the country to study and create systems for measuring Wellbeing. In the process, the City of Santa Monica also launched its first Open Data portal, offering public access to a growing number of datasets for government transparency and accountability.

A past board member of the Government Technology Conference and Government and Business Technology Group, Jory is also an active member of the Public Technology Institute (PTI), and US-Ignite and is a founding member of Next Century Cities. Jory and his teams have received over 50 awards for information technology projects during his career and in 2012 he received the CIO Lifetime Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Business Journal.

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Kat Karimi

Co-Founder & Director
Civic Innovation Lab

Kat is a strategy and innovation expert who has developed a variety of innovation programs that bring together the richness of open data, the values of human-centered design, and the leading-edge methodology of top-tier startup incubators. In 2014, Kat founded Civic Innovation Lab, a platform designed to prototype and test real solutions designed with and for communities throughout Los Angeles. Prior to Civic Innovation Lab, Kat designed and executed open innovation challenges for Fortune 500 companies and the Federal Government, managed a portfolio of companies at a venture accelerator for women-led businesses, and advised early-stage startups on strategy, business modeling, and fundraising. Kat holds a BS from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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Sonya Sepahban

Senior Vice President of Engineering, Development and Technology (retired)
General Dynamics

Sonya Sepahban has demonstrated a unique ability to combine deep expertise in technology and innovation with strong financial acumen, operational experience, and leadership skills to consistently deliver extraordinary results in the US and around the world. She is an engineer with proven track record of successful intrapreneurship in large and complex organizations. As an early seed investor and a Board member, she has combined her passion for technology and business innovation with her experience as an executive with significant P&L responsibility to drive high growth performance.

In late 2015, Sonya retired from General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) as the Senior Vice President of Engineering, Development and Technology, where she was responsible for all new product development and upgrades to GDLS products worldwide. Sonya’s leadership helped transform the GDLS brand to be recognized as more innovative and hi-tech, while concurrently improving performance and expanding margins. She has been credited with spearheading the most successful innovation center built to date in the Defense sector, with thousands of members globally, contributing to the latest advances in tactical and combat vehicles.

Sonya also served as Sector Vice President and Chief Engineer at Northrop Grumman Space Technology (NGST), where she provided broad oversight of programs, product development, and continuous improvement. Her previous roles there included Vice President of Systems Engineering and Chief Technology Officer.

Sonya served at NASA Johnson Space Center in the 1990’s, assuming positions of increasing responsibility on the Space Shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) programs. She led an international team developing a rescue pod for the ISS, which included the joint US-Russian efforts to modify the Soyuz spacecraft to meet NASA requirements for crew transport. Before joining NASA, Sonya’s early career spanned international aerospace companies, including Lockheed Martin and Sligos (a Dassault Aviation subcontractor).

Sonya holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University, a Political Science degree from the Institute of Political Sciences in Paris (France), an MS in Chemical Engineering from Rice University, and an MBA from the University of Houston. She is the recipient of several awards including the Robert J. Collier Award (2009), the Women in Defense Innovation Award (2011), the Technologist of the Year Award (2012), and was inducted into the CCG Hall of Fame in 2015.

Sonya is an experienced Board member, and a Governance Fellow of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD). She currently serves on the Board of Genomenon Inc., a high growth bio-informatics company, as well as on the Investment Committee of the largest Angel Fund in Michigan (MAF). Sonya serves on the Boards of Cranbrook Institute of Science, where she is the Vice-Chair of the Board and Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, and the Inforum Center for Leadership (ICL), where she sponsors STEM initiatives. She has also served on Boards of the Boys and Girls Club of America, and the California Academy of Math and Sciences. She is often sought out for her proven leadership skills and technical expertise. Recent appointments include the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Committee chartered to make recommendations to the Secretary and Chief of the Air Force on Developmental Program Planning, and the subsequent Roundtable to be convened in 2016. She has held leadership positions in professional societies throughout her career, authored numerous papers, contributed to books, and lectured on diverse technical and leadership topics at the university and national levels. Sonya is a private pilot and enjoys traveling.

More Details

What is The Contest?

Hack the Beach: The Contest is an open invitation to anyone in Santa Monica’s incredible tech community to pitch an initiative to improve our city in one of three distinct areas: Community, Mobility, and Civic Engagement. The Contest is open to anyone who works or lives in Santa Monica.

What Should I Submit?

Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:



Civic Engagement

What is the Timeline?

The contest will have several phases during which we will whittle down the number of active applications.

Phase I - Quick Applications

Anyone interested may submit the basics – your team name, your project idea, your contact info, and a brief blurb about how your project aims to impact Community, Mobility, and/or Civic Engagement in Santa Monica.

Timeline: Now through October 9.

Phase II - Detailed Applications

We will review each and every application to ensure that the basic rules of value, viability, and adherence to our three strategic areas of Community, Mobility, and/or Civic Engagement. Those teams who match the listed criteria will be invited to submit a more detailed plan (i.e. a presentation deck or business plan outlining the project’s impact.)

Timeline: October 9 through October 30.

Phase III - Build

Take the next several months to build upon your awesome idea, product, or plan. You will have regular opportunities to meet with City of Santa Monica staff to help guide your development.

Timeline: Now through January 27, 2016.

Phase IV - Final Presentation

Your product is now ready for the spotlight! Showcase what you’ve got in front of our panel of judges, and may the best project win!

Timeline: January 27, 2016.

Phase V - Bask in the Glory

You, residents, visitors, employees, employers, commuters and everyone else will enjoy the fruits of your labor. Take it in, enjoy, and revel in knowing you did this.

Timeline: Permanently.

Why are We Doing This?

We are a large, diverse community with a complex series of needs. We feel that by working together, we can all better understand, and better serve the community. Our leadership team consists of great minds from several of Santa Monica’s top private businesses; we are passionate about making an impact and leading change; won’t you answer the call and join us in building something great?

What’s in it For Me?

You mean aside from having an impact on your community? Well, we have some prizes if you’re into that sort of thing.

Talk About It

Have a question? Let us know! Join the discussion or drop us a line.