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Orange Line is going electric: Metro will buy a total of 40 zero-emission buses for Valley route
L.A.’s transit agency will deploy a total of 40 zero-emission buses in an effort to electrify the Metro Orange Line. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or L.A. Metro, said it will increase the number of previously approved buses from 35 to 40 within the next two years, according to Metro spokesman Dave Sotero. It was in July 2017 when Metro’s board approved the fleet of 35 buses. But five more of the 60-foot-long zero-emission buses will be purchased from the New Flyer under a contract partially funded by a no-emissions-vehicles grant from the Federal Transit Administration, according to a report presented to Metro’s Board of Directors last month. Some safety and accessibility improvements will be added, including improved boarding ramps, the report said. [Article]
by OLGA GRIGORYANTS, Los Angeles Daily News. 2018-04-20
 
California doing a poor job on homeless crisis — especially LA County, state audit finds
California is doing a poor job of sheltering the nation's largest homeless population and needs to provide statewide leadership to address the problem, the state auditor said Thursday in a report that also singled out problems with homeless services in Los Angeles County. California has about 134,000 homeless people, roughly 24 percent of the nation's total homeless population, and Los Angeles County has the most within the state — at least 55,000 people, an audit summary said. [Article]
by ASSOCIATED PRESS, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2018-04-20
 
State audit calls for more funding and statewide agency to address nation's worst homelessness problem
California's top auditor Thursday sharply criticized the state's response to homelessness, recommending more spending and a stronger state role. "California should do more to address homelessness," the audit concluded. "California has more people experiencing homelessness than any other state in the nation, and it does a poor job of sheltering this vulnerable population." Other states with large homeless populations spend more per capita to shelter them and have single statewide entities dedicated to addressing homelessness, it said. The audit was ordered last year in response to complaints from state Sen. Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) that the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority was shortchanging the Antelope Valley in shelter funding. [Article]
by DOUG SMITH, Los Angeles Times. 2018-04-20
 
Homeless plan draws ire in Manhattan Beach, but inspires conversation on issue
Some residents worried Manhattan Beach would become like Santa Monica, a beacon attracting the homeless. One resident was angry she’d not heard about the plan sooner and suggested a lot more than 200 people —  the number of people who showed up at a meeting discussing homelessness at the Joslyn Center last month — would be involved if they knew. There was a lengthy discussion on the problem of excrement. [Article]
by MARK McDERMOTT, LA Streetsblog. 2018-04-20
 
SpaceX gets approval to develop its BFR rocket and spaceship at Port of Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to approve a permit that allows SpaceX to build and operate a facility at the Port of L.A. to develop its BFR rocket and spaceship system. The formal approval came days after L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that SpaceX would build its massive, next-generation rocket and spacecraft at the 19-acre site at the former Southwest Marine Shipyard at Berth 240. Bruce McHugh, director of construction and real estate at SpaceX, estimated that production and fabrication of the rocket would begin in about two or three years. When the spaceship is stacked atop the rocket, the two pieces combined are expected to measure more than 340 feet. McHugh told the commissioners at the meeting that the BFR rocket would be made of composite materials and would measure about 35 feet in diameter. [Article]
by SAMANTHA MASUNAGA, Los Angeles Times. 2018-04-20
 
On-Location Filming Rises 2.4% in Los Angeles for First Quarter
Boosted by a surge in feature film activity, total on-location filming in greater Los Angeles increased an impressive 2.4% in the first quarter to 9,724 shoot days, permitting agency FilmL.A. reported Wednesday. Feature film production jumped 11.7% to 814 days —  its first double-digit gain since 2015. FilmL.A. President Paul Audley pointed to the state’s expanded tax credit program, which can cover up to 25% of a film’s budget. “It is exciting to see increases in high job producing categories in film and television production,” Audley said. “The California Tax Credit program is sustaining the industry in our region and demonstrates how critical it is for a continuation of the program.” Incentivized projects, including “Bird Box,” “Peppermint,” “The Devil Has a Name,” “Destroyer” and “Captain Marvel” contributed 20% or 161 of the shoot days in the feature category. [Article]
by DAVE MCNARY, LA Observed. 2018-04-20
 
Some California cities want Amsterdam-style pot lounges, push limits of marijuana legalization
West Hollywood likes to party. For decades, it has embraced its gay and lesbian bars and the rock 'n' roll debauchery of the Sunset Strip. It runs a free nightlife trolley called The PickUp, with a jar of free condoms by the door. Now, it's embracing a different type of social scene: pot lounges. The city is poised to allow cannabis lounges where people can consume the once-taboo product in a social setting. West Hollywood will join San Francisco, Oakland and South Lake Tahoe, which earlier this year became some of the first cities in California to open the consumption lounges modeled after those in Amsterdam. Communities in the Coachella Valley are also joining the ranks. Since California voters legalized cannabis in 2016, some cities have embraced marijuana dispensaries, while others have actively fought against pot sales. The state is home to the largest legal pot market in the country, and proponents see lounges as the next step in embracing pot sales and creating avenues for safe use. [Article]
by SARAH PARVINI, Los Angeles Times. 2018-04-20
 
Weed bank proposal passes first legislative hurdle in California
California would license special banks to handle billions of dollars generated by the legal marijuana market under legislation buoyed by recent comments from the Trump administration and given initial approval by state lawmakers Wednesday. The measure gained momentum just days after President Trump indicated that his administration would not crack down on recreational marijuana in states that have voted to make it legal. Selling and growing marijuana for recreational use was legalized by California voters under a state licensing system that began Jan. 1. Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), who introduced the bill, said the president's policy shift makes it more likely that state-chartered banks would be used by the burgeoning cannabis market, which is projected to grow to $7 billion annually by 2020 in California. "I've spoken to these companies about the problems their businesses face, and until last week, many were under constant threat of getting busted by the feds," Hertzberg said. "If the risk of federal intervention is eliminated, cannabis businesses will feel more confident about opening an account with our limited state charter." [Article]
by PATRICK McGREEVY, Los Angeles Times. 2018-04-20
 
The great California cannabis experiment lurches forward
If you find yourself driving in Venice in the next little while, you may notice that the illuminated "Venice" sign at Pacific and Windward avenues that functions as a gateway to the famous boardwalk has sprouted neon cannabis leaves. The sign, which changes seasonally (red and green bulbs at Christmas, a heart on Valentine's Day, flag-colored bulbs on the Fourth of July) will honor a relatively new holiday: 4/20, which evolved from a Bay Area high school ritual to the most important day of the year for cannabis lovers. To coincide with this "holiday," a technology company with San Francisco roots held an open house this week at its new Venice office, just steps from the sign. Eaze, a platform that connects consumers to dispensaries for home deliveries of cannabis, invited the city's cannabis czar, a dispensary owner and a delivery driver to talk about the newly legalized recreational market. The company, which now occupies the building that was once home to the late sculptor Robert Graham and his wife, Anjelica Huston, also invited a group of social justice activists who are working to make sure that people in communities that have felt the brunt of the wrongheaded drug laws — Latinos and African Americans — are getting a chance to benefit from the brave new world of cannabis legalization. [Article]
by ROBIN ABCARIAN, Los Angeles Times. 2018-04-20
 
Trump's EPA argues more people will die in car accidents unless California fuel rules are weakened
The Trump administration is embracing a curious — and some would say dated — argument as it builds its case to weaken federal rules championed by California that require cars and SUVs to average 55 miles per gallon by 2025. It is warning that the fuel-efficiency targets, seen by most as key to meeting climate and air quality goals in California and nationwide, could actually end up killing people. Taking a cue from auto dealers and free-market think tanks skeptical of mainstream global-warming science, Trump's Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt is tossing aside reams of federal and California data showing the fuel economy standards are perfectly safe. Instead, Pruitt's directive this month to potentially scale back the fuel standard says "an important factor" is the need to reexamine safety issues. The agency is preparing to make the case that tough fuel economy rules could effectively force automakers to sell smaller, lighter and thus less crash-worthy vehicles. That, in turn, would lead to more crash-related deaths. And it warns the rules could drive up the cost of cars to the point that consumers will put off buying new, safer models equipped with life-saving technology improvements. [Article]
by EVAN HALPER, Los Angeles Times. 2018-04-20
 
Gay 'conversion therapy' services would be banned under measure advancing in California
The California Assembly voted Thursday to add gay “conversion therapy” to the state’s list of deceptive business practices, following a debate that focused on the personal experiences of several lawmakers and hinted at potential lawsuits to come. “It is harmful and it is unnecessary,” Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), the bill’s author and one of the Legislature’s most vocal LGBTQ members, said of the practice. Low, who told Assembly members that he explored conversion therapy as a teenager and suffered depression over his sexual orientation, insisted that the bill would be limited to efforts that involve the exchange of money. “There’s nothing wrong with me,” he said in an emotional speech on the Assembly floor. “There’s nothing that needs to be changed.” [Article]
by JOHN MYERS, Los Angeles Times. 2018-04-20
 
L.A. sheriff's narcotics detective accused of involvement in drug-trafficking operation can't be fired, court says
Carlos Arellano was a narcotics detective with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department when the agency received a disturbing tip that he was fraternizing with criminals. After months of investigating, the department accused him of being involved with a drug-trafficking organization, cultivating his own marijuana plants and discussing drug payments in phone conversations that fellow detectives overheard on a wiretap, according to court records. In 2011, two years after the initial tip came in, Arellano was fired. But an appeals court panel this week upheld the veteran deputy's efforts to keep his job, ruling that the law did not allow the department to use evidence gathered from the wiretap in a disciplinary proceeding. [Article]
by MAYA LAU, Los Angeles Times. 2018-04-20
 
South OC Mayors Propose New Homeless Shelter at Former Silverado School
South Orange County mayors, under pressure from a federal judge, on Thursday chose a closed elementary school along rural Santiago Canyon Road as a site they’d like to see become a new homeless shelter. The proposed site is Silverado Elementary School, which was closed in 2009 and purchased by the county government in 2013. It’s in unincorporated county territory, about a 2.5-mile drive west of the community of Silverado. The property currently has a public library, the Library of the Canyons, as well as a preschool. [Article]
by SPENCER CUSTODIO, Voice of OC. 2018-04-20
 
Audio: OC mayors have proposed a new site — in an unincorporated area — to shelter homeless people
Orange County mayors met Thursday to pick a new site to house homeless people, potentially including some of the hundreds evicted this year from encampments near Angels Stadium and the Santa Ana Civic Center. Federal Judge David O. Carter had challenged cities in South Orange County to find a place for the homeless away from Santa Ana, which he said had hosted the lion's share of the county's unsheltered homeless population. The county initially approved three sites in Irvine, Laguna Niguel and Huntington Beach, but later backed down under protest from residents. [Article]
by EMILY GUERIN, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2018-04-20
 
Santa Ana moves to sue county, three cities that rejected homeless shelter sites
SANTA ANA — Santa Ana officials said they will be filing a lawsuit against Orange County and three cities – Huntington Beach, Irvine and Laguna Niguel – that have opposed potential emergency homeless shelter sites within their boundaries. Fed up with what they see as inaction on homelessness by the rest of the county, the Santa Ana City Council voted Tuesday, April 17, to file the lawsuit, which had not been filed as of Thursday, said Jorge Garcia, assistant to the city manager. Officials with the county and the cities on Thursday questioned whether the suit would result in meaningful cooperation among Orange County governments. [Article]
by ALICIA ROBINSON, Orange County Register. 2018-04-20
 
End federal marijuana prohibition, return responsibility to the states
Federal marijuana prohibition has been nothing short of a grotesque and wasteful failure, which is why we urge President Trump to honor commitments he made last week to support legislation to return responsibility for marijuana policy to the states. Last week, Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, said that Trump personally assured him Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ reversal of Obama-era Justice Department policies limiting federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states that have legalized it won’t impact Colorado’s legal marijuana industry. In addition, Gardner said Trump indicated he will “support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.” [Article]
by EDITORIAL, Orange County Register. 2018-04-20
 
ACLU lawsuit could force public airing of informant scandal; affect races for DA and sheriff
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and Sheriff Sandra Hutchens typically wave off criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California as misinformed, poorly researched salvos from a group that defends sex offenders and gang members. But the ACLU’s latest offensive — a lawsuit alleging that the illegal use of jailhouse snitches remains an active problem in Orange County — comes with teeth, a legal team that dismantled Rackauckas’ gang injunction in the city of Orange in 2011 and collected more than $4 million from the county. Attorney Jacob S. Kreilkamp, one of the lawyers for the ACLU, also was on the team that negotiated police reforms with the city of Chicago and the Illinois Attorney General. [Article]
by TONY SAAVEDRA, Orange County Register. 2018-04-20
 
Open-Space Star Steps into the Spotlight
“50 Years of Preservation,”a documentary which chronicles the history of the Laguna Greenbeltand reveals the conflicts that influenced Laguna Beach,will premier at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 24 at the Susi Q Community Center, 380 Third St. The star of the film, Jim Dilley, a bookstore owner and founder of the open-space advocacy group, motivated thousands of people to support the creation of what evolved into the 22,000-acre wilderness preserve surrounding Laguna Beach. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, OC Metro. 2018-04-20
 
Keolis awarded contract to operate on-demand microtransit pilot for the Orange County Transportation Authority
Keolis, a global leader in managing passenger transportation systems, announced it has been awarded a contract to operate the Orange County Transportation Authority’s (OCTA) first on-demand microtransit pilot – OC Flex. Microtransit systems are an effective method of serving areas with lower transit demand in a city and ensuring that passengers are able to easily access all public transportation options in their region. Microtransit provides another last-mile solution for supporting the diverse transit needs of communities. The OC Flex will connect to the OC Bus network and Metrolink commuter rail stations. Passengers will have the ability to hail rides from their phones and track the status of their trips. [Article]
by PRESS RELEASE, OC Breeze. 2018-04-20
 
Orange County's needle exchange awaits state approval for mobile service
After Santa Ana city officials shut down Orange County's only needle exchange months ago, the program may return as a mobile service in Santa Ana, Anaheim, Orange and Costa Mesa. The move — pending state approval — would widen the influence of the Orange County Needle Exchange Program, which formerly operated out of the Santa Ana Civic Center until city officials denied the group's permit application in mid-January, citing an increased number of discarded syringes in the area. Dallas Augustine, a board member of the needle exchange, said the group submitted an application to the California Department of Public Health on March 23 to hand out syringes and other harm reduction supplies out of a van in the four cities. The needle exchange could operate from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., a minimum of four days a week, Augustine said. The group formerly set up a table at the Civic Center for a few hours every Saturday afternoon, serving hundreds of homeless people who lived in a sprawling encampment. [Article]
by BEN BRAZIL, Los Angeles Times. 2018-04-20
 
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