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Call it the Southern California drought. Rain and snow end Northern California water woes
What was once a statewide drought this week became a Southern California drought. A week of powerful storms has significantly eased the state’s water shortage, pulling nearly all of Northern California out of drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The  report underscores what experts have been saying for several months. As a series of storms have hit Northern California this winter, the drought picture there is improving, but water supply remains a concern in Southern California and the Central Valley. More than 40% of the state is no longer in a drought, according to the data released Thursday. Perhaps most striking, a giant swath of the state was declared to have no signs of abnormal dryness at all. The percentage of the state that fell into that category nearly doubled from 18% last week to almost 35% after the storm.  Still, the drought monitor’s map and its array of colors — from white to dark red — provide a stark illustration of the disparity between hydrologic conditions in the north and south. A week of powerful storms in Northern California has significantly eased the state’s water shortage. Storms drenched the San Francisco Bay Area and created blizzard conditions in parts of the Sierra Nevada over the last week. They dramatically boosted the Sierra snowpack — a key source of water for California — to 161% of normal and helped rectify the state’s water shortage. [Article]
by JOSEPH SERNA and MATT STEVENS, Los Angeles Times. 2017-01-13
What's hurting California's budget: The rich aren't getting richer as fast as they used to
Income growth is slowing for the highest-earning Californians. That’s the single biggest driver of the $1.6-billion deficit projected on a $179.5-billion overall budget by Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday.  And once again it is raising the question of whether California has grown too reliant on taxing rich people with often wildly fluctuating incomes. “We are lining ourselves up for a massive budgetary crisis. It’s a function of when and not if,” said Chris Thornberg, co-founder of Beacon Economics, a Los Angeles-based consulting firm. “It’s hard to feel bad for someone whose income goes from $2 million to $1 million in a year, but the reality is that is going to have a tremendous impact on our budget.” The top 10% of earners — who made an average of $404,184 in 2014 — paid 79% of all personal income tax revenue that year, up from 70% two decades ago. California is so dependent on high earners to fill state coffers partly because of Proposition 30, a measure approved in 2012 that temporarily raised taxes on people earning more than $250,000. Those rates were set to begin phasing out in 2018, but on Nov. 8 voters elected to prolong them by approving Proposition 55, which extends higher taxes through 2030. Those propositions “have increased the dependence of the state on a volatile tax base,” said Jerry Nickelsburg, an economist at the UCLA Anderson Forecast. Supporters of continuing to tax the wealthy at high levels — people earning more than $263,000 in 2015 paid a top state income tax rate of 10.3% — say it’s crucial to keep state money flowing to public services. Although the top 10% may see their income fluctuate from year to year, they point out, rich people have steadily increased their earnings for decades. [Article]
by NATALIE KITROEFF and PARESH DAVE, Los Angeles Times. 2017-01-13
Two LAPD officers who fatally shot a Boyle Heights teen didn't have their body cameras on
Two Los Angeles police officers who shot and killed a 16-year-old last year in Boyle Heights didn’t turn on their body cameras until after the shooting, according to a report made public Wednesday. Chief Charlie Beck said in his report to the Police Commission that the LAPD is investigating why one of the officers delayed turning on the department-issued camera until after Jose Mendez was shot. The officer, Beck wrote, had been trained to use the body camera five months earlier. The second officer who fired his gun was working within a 90-day grace period the LAPD allows officers as they get used to the technology. The shooting came more than a year after the city announced an ambitious plan to put body cameras on more than 7,000 LAPD officers. Supporters say the cameras can help provide transparency and accountability at a time when policing is under intense scrutiny, particularly shootings by officers. [Article]
by KATE MATHER, Los Angeles Times. 2017-01-13
Are you in the 213 or 323 area code? Prepare to change how you make a call – even to the place next door
Everyone in the 213 or 323 area codes, which cover the entire Eastside, should start dialing the phone differently in a few days, according to the Public Utilities Commission. Whether you’re calling Alaska or the house next door, you should dial 1 plus the area code – even if you’re trying to reach someone in your own area code (mobile phone users, however, will only have to dial the area code and phone number). The change goes into effect on Jan. 14. But it won’t becomes mandatory until July 8. [Article]
by BARRY LANK, Los Angeles Daily News. 2017-01-13
L.A. Sheriff's Department to begin using drones to respond to bomb threats, hostage crises
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said Thursday that his agency will begin deploying an unmanned aerial device to aid deputies responding to arson scenes, suspected bombs and hostage situations, but he promised the device would not be used to surveil residents. The use or attempted use of drones by law enforcement elsewhere has come under fire from privacy and civil liberty advocates, and McDonnell and other agency officials avoided using the word “drone” during a 20-minute news conference unveiling the department’s latest technological addition. [Article]
by JAMES QUEALLY, Los Angeles Times. 2017-01-13
Audio: Sheriff launches first police drones in LA County
In the first such move by a police agency in Los Angeles County, the sheriff's department Thursday announced it will begin using an unmanned drone to assist deputies on the ground. Many law enforcement leaders see drones as an important part of policing in the future – particularly in urban areas. In California, 30 police agencies use them. Across the nation, more than 300 departments deploy drones, according to sheriff's Captain Jack Ewell. [Article]
by FRANK STOLTZE, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2017-01-13
L.A. County's public defender quietly retires, praising staff as 'foot soldiers of the Constitution'
Ronald L. Brown, a longtime attorney who led the Los Angeles County public defender’s office for five years, has quietly retired. Brown submitted a letter notifying the Board of Supervisors in November about his decision to step down, effective Dec. 31. As public defender, Brown ran an agency that employs more than 700 defense attorneys who represent indigent defendants in criminal court. “I have worked for this county for over 35 years and I can state unequivocally that this is the best job I have ever had,” he said in his letter. Until the Board of Supervisors appoints a successor, the office is being run by Chief Deputy Public Defender Kelly Emling, according to a spokeswoman for the department. Appointed in 2011 by the Board of Supervisors, Brown became the first African American to hold the public defender post. He succeeded Michael P. Judge, who retired after 16 years in the position. [Article]
by MATT HAMILTON, Los Angeles Times. 2017-01-13
WeHo Stood Out in Voter Support for County Ballot Issues
In the last election, West Hollywood voters stood out for their support of criminal justice changes, increased government funding and educational and environmental measures. That is according to a new report by WeHo by the Numbers based on Los Angeles County voting data. Among Los Angeles County communities, West Hollywood was number one in voting to require background checks for ammunition buyers, give parole more often/let judges decide whether juveniles are tried in adult court, legalize marijuana and end the death penalty. [Article]
by DAVID WARREN, Westside Today. 2017-01-13
The Magic Roads to LA Infrastructure Progress: Measure M … AND Measure S
PLANNING FOR THE PEOPLE-Not long ago I published a piece on the need to stop the LA City Planning Politburo because City Planning has long ago stopped becoming a force for rules and bylaws and started becoming a "build-build-build" shill.  Similarly, I just published a piece on promoting both the Wilshire Subway and reconsidering a long-overdue Metro Rail/Metrolink connection in the City of Norwalk.  And no, the two pieces are not in contradiction, or mutually exclusive.  [Article]
by KEN ALPERN / OPINION, CityWatchLA. 2017-01-13
Life Without Water or … Why the Delta Tunnel Is So Critical to LA
EASTSIDER-After the recent defeat of Proposition 53, a Howard Jarvis backed initiative aimed squarely at Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnel project (aka WaterFix), matters are moving forward with the project.  The CEQA challenges are now finished, and the resulting a 100,000 page document (I kid you not) is on the Governor’s desk. As General Manager of the Metropolitan Water District, Jeffrey Knightlinger quipped at our DWP meeting that the stack of paper is about 40 feet high, roughly the same as the diameter of the Delta tunnels (irony intended).  For reasons that I do not purport to understand, the (Chicago) LA Times is still opposing the tunnels, clear proof that the owners of the Times do not reside in Southern California.  [Article]
by TONY BUTKA / OPINION, CityWatchLA. 2017-01-13
This city's public transit system has the first 24-hour hotline for sexual harassment
If you are female and have ever ridden a train or bus, sexually inappropriate gestures, words and even contact are things you might be all too familiar with. Now the Los Angeles public transit system will be the first in the world to address this problem by offering its riders a 24/7 hotline for sexual harassment, according to a statement from the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.  [Article]
by MARISSA WENZKE, LA Observed. 2017-01-13
A new plan will build 124 homes in the Phillips Ranch area of Pomona
Lennar Corp. has purchased a 13.9-acre site in the masterplanned Phillips Ranch area of Pomona where it plans to build 124 homes and 6,000 square feet of retail space. The Pinewood property, one of the largest in-fill development sites in the San Gabriel Valley, is located along Village Loop Road. Richard Byrd and Tim Barden of the Los Angeles in-fill team of Land Advisors Organization represented Phillips Village Investors LLC in the sale of the property which closed last week. The value of the transaction was not disclosed and representatives with Lennar could not be reached for comment regarding the company’s time line for building the project. [Article]
by KEVIN SMITH, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. 2017-01-13
Audio: California nail salons start to invest in worker safety
What stands out upon entering Mai Dang's nail salon, located on a busy street in Berkeley, Calif., is what's missing — the stinging smell of polish, remover and other nail products. That wasn't always the case. For a decade, Dang suffered from the effects of the chemicals she used at work every day. "When you do nails, workers get itchy skin and watery eyes," says Dang, 40. She also used to have frequent headaches, and one of her workers developed asthma. So when she heard about an opportunity to improve the safety at her salon, she signed up. [Article]
by JENNY GOLD, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2017-01-13
Want a job at Amazon? Company plans 100,000 jobs over 18 months
Amazon will add 100,000 full-time jobs over the next 18 months, the company said Thursday. The e-commerce giant, which has created more than 150,000 jobs in five years, is on an auspicious growth plan for its delivery, online sales and software divisions. Although the company wasn’t specific, jobs are available in engineering, software development and entry-level positions. Many of the new jobs will be at fulfillment centers under construction, including a facility in Irvine, Amazon said. [Article]
by HANNAH MADANS, Orange County Register. 2017-01-13
Fire at fire station near Knott's destroys 4 fire vehicles, including 100-foot-long aerial truck
BUENA PARK – Orange County Fire Authority firefighters battled a blaze at one of their own station houses for much of Thursday that left the structure severely damaged and destroyed four vehicles including a 100-foot-long aerial fire truck. The fire broke out around 3:30 a.m. at Station 61, at 8081 Western Ave., across the street from Knott’s Berry Farm. It was unclear what caused the flames at the aging station house, earmarked to close and make way for a new, $13 million station house nearby. [Article]
by JOSHUA SUDOCK and BRIAN WHITEHEAD, Orange County Register. 2017-01-13
As San Diego Leaders Vow Action On Homelessness, Child Lives In Peril On Streets
At about 4 feet tall with brown curly ponytails, Desire Navas is homeless. Just 7 years old, her childhood is unfolding on the streets of downtown San Diego. "We sleep in cots, and then there’s a row, like a row of people to sleep," explained Desire, whose round, smooth face shows her young age. She spends her days in school and her nights in God's Extended Hand emergency shelter, located in an old rundown, two-story building on the corner of Imperial Avenue and 16th Street. Desire and her mom line up at 6 every night, along with dozens of other desperate people, hoping to get a place to sleep when the shelter doors open at 8 p.m. "I wait for a long time for the doors to open," said Desire. "And I'm always tired when I wake up in the morning." [Article]
by SUSAN MURPHY, KPBS - San Diego. 2017-01-13
AirTalk | CA Congressman Darrell Issa introduces bill to reform the H1B visa
With the topic of U.S. jobs filled by foreign workers fanning the heat of the presidential campaign, there's a new House bill that would restrict a controversial visa program for highly skilled overseas employees. The H-1B program is widely used by the technology industry and many large U.S. companies to annually bring in tens of thousands of foreigners, many from South Asia. But the program has its detractors. [Article]
by LESLIE BERESTEIN ROJAS, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2017-01-13
Voyager: How Has Climate Change Affected the Oceans at a Local Level, Particularly La Jolla Shores (San Diego, Calif.)?
Well before humans settled in what is now San Diego, natural climate variability was changing the look of the California coastline. Some 20,000 years ago, sea level in Southern California was lower than it is now by 120 meters (400 feet), the equivalent of a 50-story building. The current San Diego coastline would have been well inland then. The melting of glaciers that ushered in the current interglacial period has elevated sea level since, with the natural rise tapering off in the last millennium. In the past century, La Jolla Shores has experienced much smaller but measurable changes. The record of ocean temperatures at Scripps Pier shows that in 1917, the first full year that daily temperatures were taken there, the average water temperature was 15.5° C (59.9° F). By 2011, the average had jumped to 17° C (62.6 ° F). [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, UC Irvine Campus Newspaper. 2017-01-13
What a difference a few days make: many Inland areas get upwards of an inch of rain
Southern Californians have seen weather the likes of which usually hangs over Seattle these past few days and as a reward for their patience, about 40 percent of the state is no longer in a drought. But after many areas received more than an inch of rainfall in recent days, the area isn't completely out of the woods as forecasters had previously predicted. That having been said, no rainfall like what the area has seen in the last two or so days is on the menu for the weekend. In fact, the weekend is expected to be a good deal drier than the week was, according to the National Weather Service. [Article]
by ANNE MILLERBERND, Riverside Press-Enterprise. 2017-01-13
Tree-trimming deaths prompt investigation
Cal/OSHA on Wednesday announced an investigation and statewide safety campaign after four deadly tree-trimming incidents in six weeks, including the death of a man in a December tree-trimming incident in Redlands. In a Dec. 4 incident in Redlands, Luis Fernando Rodriguez Perez, 48, of West Covina was working as part of a tree-trimming crew in the 300 block of Bellevue Avenue at 10 a.m. when dry palm fronds collapsed and trapped him. Witnesses had said the fronds collapsed suddenly. Firefighters spent 40 minutes trying to reach Perez. He was taken to Redlands Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to a San Bernardino County coroner’s report. [Article]
by JOHN M. BLODGETT, Riverside Press-Enterprise. 2017-01-13
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