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Ending homelessness: Manhattan Beach joins county plan, hosts community meetings
The City of Manhattan Beach is kicking off its effort to establish a plan to end homelessness with a series of meetings seeking community input. The first meeting, which focused on what the business community can do, took place Tuesday morning at the police/fire conference room. A second meeting takes place March 21. The entire community is invited to weigh in on the issue. The effort is an outgrowth of Measure H, the $355 million sales tax measure passed by LA County voters last year, intended to address homelessness. Abby Arnold, the city’s lead consultant tasked with helping formulate a plan, said that never before has the county marshaled so many resources for this issue. She noted that departments ranging from Beaches and Harbors to Health and even the County library system —  as well as 46 cities — are working in concert to achieve an end to homelessness. Last year, 57,794 homeless people were counted living in the county. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, LA Streetsblog. 2018-03-16
Rain prompts county to warn residents about ocean water
Because of the recent rainfall, the county’s Interim Health Officer, Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, is cautioning residents who are planning to visit Los Angeles County beaches to be careful of swimming, surfing and playing in ocean waters around discharging storm drains, creeks, and rivers. Bacteria, debris, trash, and other public health hazards from city streets and mountain areas are likely to enter ocean waters though these outlets. [Article]
by PERRY SMITH, The Signal. 2018-03-16
As businesses cite blight, overnight RV parking bans on L.A. streets grow — and the homeless scramble
For a while, Vincent Neill and his family parked their weathered RVs on a stretch of roadway in Canoga Park, where the kids had friends down the street. But then business owners began to complain, he said. So Neill, his wife and their seven children relocated their caravan of vehicles to a Chatsworth manufacturing zone. Then a new set of signs went up on that curving street, banning bulky vehicles from parking there between 2 and 6 a.m. "We got evicted by the red zone," Neill said. So the family moved again, this time to another industrial street about a mile away. And Neill said others soon followed: By February, as many as a dozen RVs were regularly stationing themselves on a single block of Irondale Avenue, a nagging frustration to nearby businesses and a stark reminder of a simmering crisis. As dilapidated campers have become rolling homes for the destitute, they have become another battleground over blight, nuisances and the rights of the poor in Los Angeles. Facing complaints about trash, clogged roads and other hazards, the city has banned them from remaining overnight on street after street, but has often ended up merely moving the problem. Across Los Angeles, it was illegal to live in a vehicle until a federal court struck down that citywide ban four years ago. L.A. then passed a new law that barred vehicle dwellers from spending the night near homes, parks and schools, but allowed them to park and sleep on a scattering of streets in industrial and commercial districts, marked in green on city maps. But even those roads can be off limits if the city has posted street-by-street signs banning overnight parking. More than a year after the new law went into effect, the City Council has gradually clamped down on where RVs — the most obvious manifestation of people sleeping in their vehicles — can legally park for the night. [Article]
by EMILY ALPERT REYES, Los Angeles Times. 2018-03-16
By ordering new land-use plan, Trump could spark a fight in California deserts
It looks like a barren no man's land, but the vast desert outside Indio, Calif., has many suitors. Conservationists see its acres of creosote bush and cholla cactus as a rare habitat for tortoises, pronghorn antelope and an elusive variety of mule deer. Energy companies view its sunbaked plains and windswept ridgelines as prime perches for solar panels and wind turbines. Dirt tracks that wiggle across its sandy washes are testament to its popularity among off-road motorsports enthusiasts. Until last year, all parties had reached something of an accord. Obama-era rules ensured that portions of California's sunniest public lands would be reserved for conservation; other parts set aside for large-scale solar, wind and geothermal development and mining; and other sections designated for recreation. But that delicate peace among competing interests could be upended. In a stunning reversal, President Trump one year ago ordered the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to reopen study of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan and consider shrinking the areas it protects and expanding lands available for solar, wind, broadband infrastructure, mining, off-road vehicles and grazing. Now, stakeholders are once again vying for control of some of the most sensitive and sought-after lands in the state — and the winners could determine whether California's deserts become a hub for energy production at the expense of their unique plants and animals. [Article]
by LOUIS SAHAGUN, Los Angeles Times. 2018-03-16
Another 30 miles of California's bullet train route must run at lower speeds, documents show
The California bullet train will have another slow segment of track as part of a new cost-savings measure, state rail authority documents reveal. Technical documents attached to the authority's 2018 business plan show that it no longer plans to have dedicated tracks designed for speeds of up to 220 mph over a 30-mile stretch south of San Francisco. Instead, the system would operate between San Jose and Gilroy at 110 mph on ground-level tracks on or adjacent to an existing right of way owned by Union Pacific. The route would make 32 highway crossings, requiring sophisticated barrier gates and sharing a corridor that carries freight and commuter rail. The decision is the third compromise the rail authority has made for money or politics that would create slower sections of track, each incrementally adding travel time to an alternative form of transportation promised to link Los Angeles and San Francisco in less than three hours. In this case, adding several minutes to the trip is estimated to save about $1.7 billion, a significant sum for a project critically short of funding. The 2018 business plan, released last week, acknowledged there is not enough money to build a partial operating system from San Francisco to Bakersfield by 2029. The original design for the San Jose to Gilroy segment had lengths of costly elevated track and would have taken significant private land. A rail authority spokesperson said the new plan also will minimize community disruption and environmental impacts. [Article]
by RALPH VARTABEDIAN, Los Angeles Times. 2018-03-16
California considers lower taxes on pot to help new legal industry compete with black market
Alarmed that California's fledgling legal marijuana industry is being undercut by the black market, a group of lawmakers proposed Thursday to reduce state taxes for three years on growing and selling cannabis to allow licensed sellers to get on their feet. With many California license holders claiming they can't compete because of high state and local taxes, the new legislation would cut the state excise tax from 15% to 11% and suspend a cultivation tax that charges $148 per pound. "Criminals do not pay business taxes, ensure consumers are 21 and over, obtain licenses or follow product safety regulations," said Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), one of five legislators pushing the bill. "We need to give legal businesses some temporary tax relief so they do not continue to be undercut by the black market." California voters approved the 15% tax when they passed Proposition 64 in 2016, allowing legal growing, distribution and sales of marijuana for recreational use and requiring state licenses for the continued sale of pot for medical purposes. License holders began growing and selling pot on Jan. 1. California's licensed pot sellers want the state to crack down on illegal competitors >> Legal growers say the excise and grower's taxes are a burden on top of local taxes adopted by cities and counties, as well as a sales tax that is as high as 9.2% in some counties. Combined, taxes can raise the price of marijuana sold legally by up to 45%, according to the Fitch credit rating agency. That is a major disadvantage, industry leaders say, especially when the state soon will begin charging a $1,000 license processing fee. [Article]
by PATRICK McGREEVY, Los Angeles Times. 2018-03-16
Wildlife officers uncover 'largest raptor poaching case in known California history'
A Northern California man shot more than 130 hawks and other legally protected birds of prey on his land, leaving the carcasses to pile up at the foot of trees and telephone poles, wildlife officials said Wednesday. California Department of Fish and Wildlife managers believe the discovery near the rural town of Standish in Lassen County, on the border with Nevada, marks the largest poaching case involving raptors on record for the state, spokesman Capt. Patrick Foy said. Wildlife officers alerted by an anonymous tip from someone who reported watching a man shooting down a hawk "just started finding one bird after the next," Foy said. "A search of the 80-acre property led to the discovery of an extraordinary number of raptor carcasses, other dead birds and wildlife and spent rifle casings indicating more than 140 potential state and/or federal violations," the CDFW said in a news release. Officers also located two dead bobcats, one taxidermied mountain lion and other nongame birds, all suspected to be unlawfully taken. [Article]
by ASSOCIATED PRESS, Los Angeles Times. 2018-03-16
Audio: Tax on millionaires yields big benefits for mental health services in Los Angeles
A statewide tax on the wealthy has significantly boosted mental health programs in California’s largest county, helping to reduce homelessness, incarceration and hospitalization, according to a report released Tuesday. Revenue from the tax, the result of a statewide initiative passed in 2004, also expanded access to therapy and case management to almost 130,000 people up to age 25 in Los Angeles County, according to the report by the Rand Corp. Many were poor and from minority communities, the researchers said. [Article]
by ANNA GORMAN, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2018-03-16
Audio: Why California officials are killing coyote, after coyote, after coyote
On Wednesday night, a 5-year-old boy was walking with his father on the campus of Cal State Los Angeles when a coyote came up from behind and bit him on the leg. The boy went to the hospital and likely received a rabies shot. But what happened to the coyote? In California, coyotes have the same legal status as pigeons and rats. They’re considered “non-game animals,” which means anyone can kill as many of them as they want, at any time of year.  There are some restrictions: it's illegal to poison them or capture them with a leg-hold trap. [Article]
by EMILY GUERIN, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2018-03-16
As motel voucher expiration dates approach, Santa Ana River homeless lawsuit hearing moves from federal courthouse to city hall
The next hearing in the civil rights lawsuit over the removal of hundreds of homeless people from riverbed tent encampments might balloon into a countywide summit on homelessness. Motel stays for more than 600 people displaced from the Santa Ana River Trail and scattered around the county begin to expire this weekend. U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter earlier in the week summoned attorneys representing Orange County and homeless plaintiffs to a status conference scheduled for 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 17, at Santa Ana City Hall council chambers. Known for his unorthodox approach, the judge also invited representatives of all 34 cities in the county to “share their input” since the fate of the riverbed homeless — and thousands of other people without shelter in Orange County — impacts their communities. The hearing is open to the public. [Article]
by THERESA WALKER, Orange County Register. 2018-03-16
Hearing Saturday will weigh what’s next for homeless moved into motels from Santa Ana River trail
The future of hundreds of homeless people recently removed from the Santa Ana River trail and temporarily housed in motels will be the focus of a federal judge's hearing Saturday in Santa Ana. More than 700 homeless people were moved last month to various motels in Orange County, including some in Costa Mesa, as officials pushed to clear a massive encampment along the river. However, the 30-day motel stays will end in the next week, according to county officials, and homeless advocates contend the county doesn't have enough shelter space to accommodate everyone in need. In light of those concerns, U.S. District Judge David Carter decided Wednesday to move up a status conference among attorneys, county officials and city representatives to determine whether "appropriate resources are being provided" and to hammer out the next steps. The hearing, originally scheduled for early April, will instead be held at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Santa Ana City Council chamber, 22 Civic Center Plaza. Carter invited mayors and city managers from all of Orange County's 34 cities to weigh in at the hearing. [Article]
by HANNAH FRY, Los Angeles Times. 2018-03-16
California cities risk being sunk by unnecessary stormwater cleanup costs
Local governments in California risk being sunk by the cost of projects to clean up stormwater runoff, but a new report by the state auditor says those costs are not always “necessary and appropriate.” The report recommends that the Legislature amend state law to direct the State Water Board to assess whether a study is justified to evaluate the safe level of a pollutant in a specific body of water. As an example, it cited a study of the Los Angeles River that found that a higher limit of a pollutant was safe, saving over a billion dollars. Stormwater cleanup can require the construction of costly infrastructure like pipes, filters and retention basins, changes to pavement and new landscaping features to capture and filter runoff. Local jurisdictions incur hundreds of millions of dollars in costs for planning, construction, operation and maintenance. The cost of compliance with stormwater requirements for Los Angeles County has been estimated at $20 billion over the next 20 years. [Article]
by EDITORIAL, Orange County Register. 2018-03-16
Former LA Times and OC Register Reporter Clark Sharon, Now Homeless, Spends His Days Reading the Papers He Once Wrote For
Clark Sharon sits at a table in the far corner of the Santa Ana Public Library, beside floor-to-ceiling windows. Everything he owns is next to him in a few reusable grocery bags, neatly filled with food, clothing and other necessities. At 65 years old, Sharon has a slight build that doesn’t quite fill out his oversized sweat shirt. Hunched over, nearly parallel to the table, Sharon is immersed in his ritual of reading through a sizable stack of the day’s newspapers. Each day, he enters the first library his mother brought him to as a child and immediately heads for the rags, always grabbing the Los Angeles Times first because, as he says with a mischievous grin, “they are better written.” He moves on to the Washington Post, then to the Orange County Register. [Article]
by ADAM J. SAMAHA, OC Weekly. 2018-03-16
Board of Supervisors appoint Kevin Rogan to Office of Independent Review
The County Board of Supervisors has taken an important step toward expanding the processes of oversight for some of the County’s most powerful government agencies. By approving the appointment of Kevin Rogan as Executive Director of the Office of Independent Review (OIR), the Board has filled a critical gap in the structure designed to restore confidence in our public safety system. The OIR will mitigate conflicts and complaints associated with government agencies that include the OC District Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Department, Probation, and Social Services Agency. The oversight body will be responsible to the County and Board of Supervisors, not to individual department heads who may engage in poor management or misconduct. [Article]
by PRESS RELEASE, OC Breeze. 2018-03-16
San Diego County Gun Owners To Hold California Gun Laws Convention Saturday
Guns have been the focus of a lot of attention this week. The National Student Walkout Wednesday took place in remembrance of the 17 people killed in Parkland, Florida last month and urged lawmakers to put more restrictions on guns. On the other side of the debate — this Saturday, a gun show and a California Gun Laws Convention at the Del Mar Fairgrounds is expected to bring together gun rights advocates, many of whom feel there are already too many restrictions on gun ownership, especially in California. [Article]
March 15, 2018 (Ramona) - The topics of water, farm labor, and NAFTA dominated presentations at Indivisible Ramona’s second community meeting to understand issues of importance to San Diego County, held at the Ramona Library Community Room on February 27th. Speakers included Luawanna Hallstrom, a leading voice on California agriculture for more than 25 years as a member of the California Board of Food and Agriculture, co-chair of the American Farm Bureau Labor Committee, and co-chair of the Agricultural Coalition for Immigration Reform.  Another speaker was Warren Bacon, retired as a former Agriculture Standards Inspector for Agriculture Weights and Measures, San Diego County. [Article]
by JOYCE STRAND, East County Magazine. 2018-03-16
Hepatitis A vaccine clinic for seniors set for Thursday
SAN DIEGO – A clinic being held Thursday for seniors will enable them to receive a second hepatitis A vaccine that health officials say is necessary to maintain long-term immunity against the disease, which has sickened hundreds in San Diego County recently. Vaccinations in the county ramped up last year amid an outbreak of the disease, which attacks the liver, killing 20 and sickening 584 in the region to date. The county vaccinated more than 127,000 residents in the last year as part of its response to the outbreak and health officials say now may be time for a second shot. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, KSWB - Fox News San Diego. 2018-03-16
Survey underway to gauge support for sales tax hike
Oceanside wants residents to sound off about a proposed half-cent sales tax hike that could be on their ballot in November. The city is conducting an online survey to learn more about what people think of the proposed tax measure. If approved by voters, it would boost the city’s 7.75 percent sales tax to 8.25 percent. “The online survey is designed to offer people an inviting way to share their opinions and questions,” Assistant City Manager Deanna Lorson said in an email. Consisting of eight multiple-choice questions and one written comment section, the brief survey on the city’s website,, is designed to give an overview of residents’ priorities and questions. It’s part of the city’s “outreach program” designed with the help of Encinitas-based consultant True North Research. The firm’s work showed about 64 percent of likely Oceanside voters would support a sales tax increase if they were made aware of how it would improve their safety and quality of life. Revenue from the new sales tax would be used to boost the city’s general fund, which pays for police and fire services, parks and recreation, street maintenance and other basic services. [Article]
by PHIL DIEHL, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2018-03-16
San Diego bought an indoor skydiving center for $7 million, and the county just valued it at $6 million
One month after San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer agreed to buy a defunct indoor-skydiving property downtown for $7 million without the benefit of a current appraisal, county assessors have completed a new valuation of the two parcels, placing the value at $6 million. County officials completed their reassessment for the former indoor skydiving center last week, about six months after the property was seized in foreclosure. The report estimates the value as of the last private transaction, in September. No new assessment will be performed because the property has now been purchased by the city, which does not pay property taxes. Faulconer recommended that the City Council approve the purchase of the two parcels at 14th Street and Imperial Avenue early this year. The 26,000-square-foot building is slated to become a “navigation center” to help find permanent housing for homeless people. Faulconer’s report to the council stated that the property was worth up to $22 million, even though the tax assessment at the time valued the property at $5.8 million. The report omitted any mention of a $330,000 lien against the property. Escrow opened and closed within days, under terms demanded by the seller, a family trust represented by financier David Malcolm. City spokeswoman Katie Keach told U-T Watchdog last month that no new appraisal was required and the sale price was reasonable based on multiple reviews by real estate professionals. [Article]
by JEFF McDONALD, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2018-03-16
Is California's Imperial County too small to investigate itself?
When Gilbert Otero said he would investigate the Imperial Irrigation District, he took on a case involving more than $100 million in energy contracts and some of the most powerful people in Imperial County, California, where Otero is the district attorney. If you want to see some of the power players swept up in Otero's investigation, his own Facebook page wouldn't be a bad place to start. Last month, Otero posted a photo of himself socializing with Mike Abatti, an influential farmer and former board member at the Imperial Irrigation District, or IID. Otero described Abatti as a "good friend" — after promising to investigate Abatti's business dealings with IID, including a $35-million contract Abatti got from the public agency. Otero also wrote a Facebook post in which he thanked Abatti's sister-in-law, who happens to be his assistant district attorney, for supporting his re-election campaign. A few weeks later, Otero posted a photo of himself with Ralph Cordova. Cordova is his former assistant DA, and a friend of his — and more recently, an attorney working for the engineering firm ZGlobal Inc., which Otero is also investigating. While consulting for IID's energy department, ZGlobal worked on several energy projects that got big contracts from the public agency, including Abatti's $35-million battery storage facility. [Article]
by SAMMY ROTH, Desert Sun. 2018-03-16
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