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Metro to recommend congestion pricing, says CEO - Curbed LA
Metro CEO Phil Washington told members of the transit agency’s congestion, highway and roads committee on Wednesday that staffers would recommend pursuing “some form” of congestion pricing at a meeting of the Board of Directors next week. A congestion pricing policy, in which drivers are charged for using traffic-clogged roadways during peak hours, could have huge ramifications for commuters in the nation’s most gridlocked urban area. [Article]
by , . 2019-01-18
 
L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy to Plead Guilty in Marijuana Warehouse Heist: Federal Prosecutors | KTLA
A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges arising from an audacious heist at a marijuana warehouse. In a plea agreement he signed this month, Deputy Marc Antrim admitted to the elaborate ruse in which he and a team of accomplices posed as narcotics deputies on a legitimate raid in order to steal more than half a ton of marijuana and safes filled with cash. [Article]
by , . 2019-01-18
 
Who could come out strong in the LAUSD teachers' strike when all is said and done? - Los Angeles Times
A week ago, Los Angeles schools Supt. Austin Beutner went to Sacramento to nail down support for the school district if teachers decided to go on strike. He came back sounding very optimistic that lawmakers understood the district’s finances were so perilous that it could not afford what the teachers were demanding. But the images of teachers marching in the rain, often cheered by parents and students, have amounted to powerful politics in this blue state, and have weakened the district’s hand. The teachers have told personal stories that many find hard to argue with: that too many students shouldn’t be crowded into classes, that schools should have nurses on hand every day. And that has up to now trumped Beutner’s grim financial diagnosis, even though it was largely endorsed by a county oversight agency. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2019-01-18
 
Echo Park parents, rich and poor, joined forces to honor teacher picket line - Los Angeles Times
Parents at Elysian Heights Elementary speak proudly of its longstanding culture of civic-mindedness: the after-school art and music classes taught on a volunteer basis. A curriculum that stresses concepts of social justice and community. The mascot, a stray tabby cat fed and nurtured by students in the 1950s. It’s a culture that has motivated parents who can afford private education to send their children to this Title I school in the heart of Echo Park. For them, supporting public education is a matter of moral obligation, especially in a neighborhood that has become whiter and wealthier over the past two decades. Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that just 19 of Elysian Heights’ 300 students showed up for class on Monday, the first day of the Los Angeles teachers’ strike. A tight-knit network of parents — working, stay-at-home, spanning the socioeconomic spectrum — came together to ensure that every student would have access to free childcare and food even if they stayed away during the strike. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2019-01-18
 
A lesson in passion and compassion from teachers on a Venice picket line - Los Angeles Times
On Wednesday — the third day of the strike, when you might expect some of the adrenaline to be dissipating and tempers to be fraying — the striking teachers at my neighborhood elementary school, Westminster, taught me a lesson in enthusiasm and compassion. Westminster is a so-called Title I school, where most children come from families poor enough to qualify for free breakfast and lunch. Paradoxically, it’s on the northern edge of one the most expensive and trendiest neighborhoods on the Westside. The school sits on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, across from the uber-hip Blue Bottle Coffee, and a block away from Blue Star Donuts, where a single buttermilk old-fashioned sets you back about $5. It is also a couple of blocks west of Oakwood, one of the Westside’s few historically black neighborhoods, now in a state of extreme transition because of skyrocketing property values. Westminster’s mix of students reflects all of that. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2019-01-18
 
LAUSD teachers’ strike, Day 4: Talks reopen, attendance falls, losses mount - Los Angeles Times
Negotiations resumed Thursday for the first time in a week to settle the teachers’ strike in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The venue was City Hall; the start time was high noon. More than nine hours later the two sides were still in talks in the mayor’s office, union leaders said. To underscore a renewed sense of purpose, Mayor Eric Garcetti opened the talks by meeting with Alex Caputo-Pearl, the president of United Teachers Los Angeles, and L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner. Caputo-Pearl and Beutner made a joint commitment not to divulge details. Then the negotiating teams for each side went to work. Caputo-Pearl recounted some permissible details during an early evening news conference at union headquarters that was striking for its toned-down rhetoric. In the days leading up to the strike, the union had sharply attacked Beutner for releasing proposals to the media before discussing them with the union’s bargaining team. In fact, the union has attacked Beutner for many things, making him a focus of the strike. But on Thursday, Caputo-Pearl was more conciliatory. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2019-01-18
 
L.A. teacher strike may be cutting edge of a revolution against what’s rotten in America | Will Bunch
Joseph Zeccola, a part-time playwright and full-time educator whose passion in the classroom earned him Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year honors just last year, said he heard something recently from an out-of-state union activist that really stuck with him, that “the thing about teachers that makes us different is that we’re always adjusting to the status quo.” Zeccola said he’s seen his fellow teachers — even himself — calmly accept that status quo over the last decade as tighter and tighter budgets started strangling classroom education in America’s second-largest city, even as the rest of L.A.'s vibrant economy was booming. That meant passive acceptance of skyrocketing class sizes that often jammed more than 40 kids into a room, or forcing schools to make painful spending decisions whether to make nurses, librarians, or mental health aides only part-time — or to ditch those vital services completely. [Article]
by , . 2019-01-18
 
Oil put L.A. on the map. It may have exaggerated the city's quake risk too - Los Angeles Times
Hoping to escape traffic on her way home from Los Angeles International Airport, Susan Hough found herself driving down La Cienega Boulevard through the heart of the Inglewood Oil Field. It was a jarring scene: Scores of black pump jacks nodded lazily in the scrubby hills, like a herd of mechanical giraffes. One hundred years ago, this would have been a common sight. Rows of derricks once stood watch over Huntington and Venice beaches. The spindly towers crowded the top of Signal Hill and flanked the La Brea tar pits. Oil put Los Angeles on the map, and by the 1930s, the city helped California produce nearly a quarter of the world’s supply. But Hough, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena, thinks there may have been another consequence of all that pumping. Her research suggests it could have caused nearly all of the moderate earthquakes that struck the Los Angeles Basin in the first half of the 20th century, which have previously been attributed to geologic forces. If true, that could be good news for the region. “The L.A. Basin could be a generally safer place for natural earthquakes than what we’ve estimated,” Hough said. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2019-01-18
 
Hiker is critically injured by boulder; mudslides hit Hollywood Hills and Echo Park - Los Angeles Times
The latest in a series of winter storms that have hammered Southern California for days sent soil sliding from beneath a house in the Hollywood Hills, forcing evacuations, and a boulder tumbling down a hillside in Malibu, leaving a hiker critically injured. The 57-year-old woman was pummeled by the large boulder Thursday on Rambla Pacifico Street, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said. No one was injured in the Hollywood Hills slide, but fire officials evacuated five workers from the home, which is under construction above Stanley Avenue, along with residents of about 20 surrounding homes, for several hours. Four of those homes were yellow-tagged; authorities told those residents they could go home but must stay out of their backyards. Geologists will assess the area for potential danger, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said. In Echo Park, a fourplex was red-tagged — meaning no one can go inside — when its staircase collapsed, causing soil and debris to slam into two parked cars, he said. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2019-01-18
 
California’s historic overhaul of cash bail is now on hold, pending a 2020 referendum - Los Angeles Times
A landmark law to abolish California’s money bail system has been put on hold until voters decide its fate in November 2020 after elections officials on Wednesday certified a statewide referendum backed by a coalition of bail industry associations. Elections officials verified more than 400,000 signatures to qualify the referendum for the ballot, setting the stage for a campaign battle between bail companies fighting for their survival and state leaders who have pledged to protect indigent criminal defendants from unjust incarceration and fees. Senate Bill 10, signed by former Gov. Jerry Brown last August, was slated to go into effect this fall. It would give judges greater discretion to decide who should remain in jail ahead of trial and eliminate the payment of money as a condition of release, a practice that critics say traps defendants in cycles of debt, even if they have not been convicted of a crime. Bail groups fought the legislation since it was first proposed three years ago, saying it would result in the release of violent offenders to the streets and decimate a $2-billion national industry, including 3,200 bail agents registered in the state. A day after Brown signed the law, a national coalition of bail agency groups launched its referendum drive, raising about $3 million and collecting more than enough signatures to qualify the measure in just two months. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2019-01-18
 
California law enforcement unions seek to block release of officer disciplinary records - Los Angeles Times
A landmark attempt to open up records of police use of force and misconduct in California has turned into a broad legal battle as law enforcement unions across the state have gone to court to stop the release of some of the documents. An Orange County judge on Thursday issued a temporary restraining order to block the Sheriff’s Department from disclosing records from incidents that took place before Jan. 1, when the transparency law went into effect. Like other unions, the Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs argued that applying Senate Bill 1421 retroactively would violate longstanding legal protections for officer personnel files. “To have the rug pulled out from under them isn’t fair,” Jacob Kalinski, an attorney for the AOCDS, said after a hearing on the request. He noted his request is meant to pause any release of records so the legal issues involved can be examined more closely. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2019-01-18
 
Orange County sheriff’s union wins court order blocking release of deputy disciplinary files under new law – Orange County Register
The union representing Orange County sheriff’s deputies won a court stay Thursday blocking the release of disciplinary files under a state police transparency law that took effect Jan. 1. Superior Court Judge Nathan Scott granted the temporary order and scheduled a full hearing for Feb. 7. The Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, following a trend by other police unions in California, contends the law should not be enforced retroactively — meaning documents relating to events before 2019 would remain secret. At least five unions, including one representing San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies, have obtained or are seeking court action to stop police departments from complying retroactively with the statute, which was intended to break more than 40 years of police secrecy. [Article]
by , Orange County Register. 2019-01-18
 
Laguna Hills is latest Orange County city to explore use of organic pesticides – Orange County Register
Laguna Hills will test the use of organic-only pesticides at two parks to see if it can keep weeds and insects at bay effectively at an additional cost the city could absorb. In response to a number of community members approaching City Hall about its use of synthetic products for controlling pests – many of whom made pleas about health concerns in person at a recent council meeting – city leaders took a look at what its contractors have been using and what other Orange County communities have done to make changes. The products used now in Laguna Hills are regulated and approved by state and federal agencies, staffers said. They are mostly for keeping weeds and “invasive plant species” under control and to maintain the landscaping; little spraying is done for insect control. Irvine quit using synthetic pesticides in 2016 and Laguna Hills officials have been looking at how the change has gone for that city. Of note was the increase needed in manpower. [Article]
by , Orange County Register. 2019-01-18
 
Bravo! Successful fundraising, dramatic finishes and more – Orange County Register
Costa Mesa-based Project Independence, a 40-year-old nonprofit that helps adults with developmental disabilities find jobs, develop friendships and live independently, has announced the 2019 events that will comprise its popular Access2Adventure program. Next year, the group will visit the Art of Strength Fitness facility in Irvine to learn about fitness and eating nutritiously, experience the freedom of flight at the iFly indoor skydiving center in Ontario, voyage to Catalina Island and back, root for the Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, visit with the LA Chargers and more. Underwriters of the program include the Newport Beach-based Louis & Gladyce Foster Family Foundation and the Costa Mesa Foundation, which underwrote a Catalina Island Conservancy tour. [Article]
by , Orange County Register. 2019-01-18
 
Housing slowdown creates opportunities for first-time buyers – Orange County Register
What’s up with mortgage rates? Jeff Lazerson of Mortgage Grader in Laguna Niguel gives us his take. Rate news summary From Freddie Mac’s weekly survey: The 30-year fixed averaged 4.45 percent, unchanged from last week. The 15-year fixed rate improved to 3.88 percent, down 1 basis point from last week. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported a 13.5 percent increase in loan application volume from the previous week. Bottom line: Assuming a borrower gets the average 30-year fixed rate on a conforming $484,350 loan, last year’s payment was $116 lower than this week’s payment of $2,440. [Article]
by , Orange County Register. 2019-01-18
 
California sees its first home sales drop in four years – Orange County Register
California’s housing market ended 2018 on a down note, with sales for 2018 as a whole down for the first time in four years and home price gains showing signs of leveling off, Realtor economists reported Thursday, Jan. 17. A volatile stock market and political and economic uncertainty contributed to the market slowdown, according to the California Association of Realtors. But the main culprit was fewer buyers able to afford a home. “California’s housing market in 2018 was hindered by endlessly rising home prices and interest rate hikes, which combined to erode housing affordability and hamper home sales,” CAR Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young said in a statement. “While the statewide median home price surpassed its previous peak and set a new record in 2018, annual home sales fell for the first time in four years.” In all, 402,705 existing single-family homes changed hands last year, compared with 424,890 in 2017, CAR reported. [Article]
by , Orange County Register. 2019-01-18
 
Who could benefit when biggest utility falls apart? – Orange County Register
If there’s one classic line in the controversial movie “Vice,” it probably comes early in the film, when then-Vice President Richard Cheney is portrayed thinking about the World Trade Center attacks of 9-11 as “an opportunity,” rather than a tragedy. So it might be today in California, where tragedies partly of its own making afflict the state’s largest utility, whose chief executive has left the firm just when it says it will declare bankruptcy. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. faces as much as $29 billion in uninsured lawsuit liabilities from homeowners and others harmed by the massive fires of the last two years, at least some of them started by sparks from PG&E electric transmission lines. Previously, the company suffered a criminal conviction and billions of dollars worth of fines and negative publicity over the 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion that killed eight persons in San Bruno. But just as the filmic Cheney is shown realizing that in other people’s misery lies potential opportunity for him, so it can also be in real life. That’s the case right now with PG&E’s predicament. As the potential extent of the company’s responsibility emerged in recent weeks, its stock price dropped precipitately, losing more than two-thirds of its previous value. [Article]
by , Orange County Register. 2019-01-18
 
Is San Diego County done building single-family homes? - The San Diego Union-Tribune
f you are looking to buy a new single-family home this year, San Diego County might be a tough place to do it. Early estimates for the number of single-family homes coming out for sale this year are around 800, fewer than roughly 940 last year and 1,500 in 2017 and 2016. It reflects a trend of fewer and fewer traditional, detached homes as most building stays focused on apartments, and to a lesser extent, townhouses. Preliminary estimates take into account developers’ projections for how many homes they will release in a given project. Guesses at the start of the year, at least for the last four years, are typically much lower than what ends up being built because developers will increase their production based on how well sales are doing. However, a few things might be different this year. For starters, the end of last year was the first softening of the market in a while. Home price reductions picked up and sales hit their lowest points in years, which most analysts blamed on rising mortgage rates and local wages not keeping up with rising prices. [Article]
by , San Diego Union-Tribune. 2019-01-18
 
Illegal Marijuana Dispensaries Continue To Operate In San Diego County | KPBS
Under Proposition 64, local governments can choose to ban recreational cannabis businesses. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to do just that almost two years ago but enforcing the ban has been easier said than done. San Diego Sheriff's Capt. Marco Garmo, who oversees the Rancho San Diego substation, said the highest concentration of unpermitted dispensaries in the county is in the Spring Valley area, where 14 shops were shut down last year and seven others are still operating illegally. [Article]
by , KPBS - San Diego. 2019-01-18
 
San Diego County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar on border security and recent trip to the White House -
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – After heading to the White House to meet with President Trump about the U.S.-Mexico border, San Diego County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar joined us in studio on Good Morning San Diego to discuss what she talked about. After Gaspar’s trip to meet with President Trump, Lorena Gonzalez went to Twitter to criticize her for what she calls a “photo op.” [Article]
by , KUSI - San Diego. 2019-01-18
 
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