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Grand jury investigates Shasta supervisor over conflict allegations
After complaints against one Shasta County supervisor, the county grand jury has asked county officials to explain to the public when members of the Board of Supervisors should not participate in votes on issues that could create a conflict of interest. The grand jury's request follows an investigation into two complaints against a member of the board. And in both complaints, the jury cleared the supervisor of allegations of violating conflict of interest laws. In a report issued earlier this week, the grand jury did not name the supervisor or provide details of the circumstances of the complaints, but Supervisor Patrick Jones acknowledged the jury looked into two complaints against him. One of the complaints alleged the supervisor did not leave the board chambers after he recused himself on a matter before the board that he had a financial interest in, according to the grand jury report. The supervisor also did not recuse himself "on a matter that could financially benefit the supervisor," according to the report. [Article]
by , Redding Record Searchlight. 2024-05-20
 
3.5 million acres of Mojave Desert where military trains designated state’s first Sentinel Landscape – San Bernardino Sun
Millions of acres of the Mojave Desert, home to five military bases and at least 40 protected species, including the desert tortoise and Joshua trees, will have more protection thanks to a designation as California’s first Sentinel Landscape. The 3.5 million acres located north of Los Angeles and the Inland Empire received the distinction this week in an announcement from the Sentinel Landscape Partnership, a collaboration between the departments of Defense, Agriculture and Interior that was formed in 2013. The area includes multi-use public lands, farmlands, recreational lands and military training areas and lies in the desert between Ridgecrest and the Morongo Basin. [Article]
by , . 2024-05-20
 
Why a drug treatment unit for juveniles in LA County custody closed just months after opening – Daily News
Los Angeles County has shut down a much-needed drug addiction treatment unit at a juvenile detention facility in Sylmar over attorneys’ concerns about the involuntary placement of juveniles into the program. The Substance Use Disorder Unit, championed last year in the wake of a fatal overdose and multiple hospitalizations within the juvenile facilities, was meant to provide “close supervision and intensive programming from counselors” to addicted youth confined specifically within the Barry J. Nidorf Secure Youth Treatment Facility. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Daily News. 2024-05-20
 
Michael Smolens: MTS, NCTD focus on keys to increasing ridership: frequency of service and security - The San Diego Union-Tribune
San Diego transit agencies received some modest news recently: Gov. Gavin Newsom expressed a commitment to protect billions of dollars for rail and bus lines in the face of a gaping budget deficit. There’s a caveat, though. Exactly when that money will be released and how it will be distributed remains to be determined. Further delays and potential funding shifts are anticipated. But at least it seems the previously approved funds gained a reprieve from the potential chopping block after Newsom unveiled an outline of his revised budget on May 10. The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District are counting on tens of millions of dollars to upgrade service this year. Some of those plans are aimed at more frequent trolley runs and improved security, along with a new bus line from San Ysidro, and were scheduled to kick in next month. Improving travel time, increasing frequency of trolleys and buses, and making passengers feel safe are widely seen as keys to growing transit ridership. The local plans were put on hold last month when the governor froze $5.1 billion in transit funding. While the money hasn’t been cut, the local transit agencies will continue to delay the service changes until there’s more clarity about the funding. “MTS will remain flexible. If the funds are released, we’re ready to advance the service enhancements as planned,” said MTS spokesperson Hector Zermeño. Gordon Meyer, the agency’s manager of financial planning, told the MTS board on Thursday that the agency could face a “fiscal cliff” by July 1, 2025 if the funds remain frozen, according to KPBS. [Article]
by , San Diego Union-Tribune. 2024-05-20
 
LA County Unemployment Rate Falls Slightly in April – Pasadena Now
Los Angeles County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped slightly to 5.3% in April, down from 5.4% in March, according to figures released Friday by the state Employment Development Department. The 5.3% rate was above the rate of 4.8% rate from April 2023. [Article]
by , . 2024-05-20
 
A way to support housing options for homeless into a neighborhood - The San Diego Union-Tribune
Most of us tend to agree that we want to see an end to homelessness, that we would prefer to be part of the solution to help people who are unhoused acquire secure, permanent housing. When housing plans and options are suggested for various neighborhoods, though, the loudest response tends to be that we don’t want those options anywhere near us. That’s what happened in Spring Valley earlier this month in response to the building of 150 proposed sleeping cabins on Jamacha Road near state Route 125. Residents cited concerns for safety and that they didn’t feel like their elected officials were listening to their concerns—something that has been repeated in communities across the country when these housing options are proposed. Donald Burnes has seen this happen a lot in his work. As co-founder of the Burnes Institute for Poverty Research at the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, he’s also co-authored four books on the topic of homelessness (including “When We Walk By: Forgotten Humanity, Broken Systems, and the Role We Can Each Play in Ending Homelessness in America”), taught graduate level courses, and has been working in this area for the past 40 years. While there are more people experiencing homelessness today than when he started, he still believes in our collective ability to end homelessness, but it’ll take providing people with an accurate picture of people who are unhoused, correcting misinformation about crime and safety issues, and approaching conversations by engaging with as many people who will be affected, as early in the process as possible. He took some time to talk about his own work and research, and places that have successfully reduced homelessness and created a more welcoming and supportive community. (This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. For a longer version of this conversation, ) Q: Recently, a group of residents in San Diego County’s Spring Valley community voiced their opposition to a proposed plan that would provide housing/shelter options in the form of sleeping cabins for people experiencing homelessness. Among their concerns, residents cited “having them right in a community, right in front of houses and schools,” according to NBC San Diego. This is a common sentiment among opponents to various housing and sheltering plans in communities across the country. Can you talk about some of the myths or stereotypes that people appear to hold about folks who are unhoused? Where do these ideas come from and are they close to the reality of what you’ve studied? A: There are lots of myths. One of the myths is that substance abuse and mental illness are the primary causes of homelessness. That simply isn’t true. All the research suggests that about 25 to 30 percent of people experiencing homelessness have a severe mental illness, and about the same percentage have severe substance use disorders [in 2023, about 30 percent of the people surveyed who were experiencing homelessness reported having a serious mental illness and 24 percent reported conditions related to chronic substance abuse, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness]. A second myth is that everybody has moved, in this case to Spring Valley, because San Diego’s a wonderful place to be and people are just arriving there because of the weather and because of services. All of the national research suggests that somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of people experiencing homelessness, their last actual housing situation was in the same community where they’re now experiencing homelessness [research from the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness notes that 80 percent of people experiencing homelessness said they became homeless in San Diego]. They’re homegrown, they haven’t moved into the area from somewhere else. [Article]
by , San Diego Union-Tribune. 2024-05-20
 
San Diego U.S. Attorney McGrath is focused on environment, guns, fentanyl - The San Diego Union-Tribune
DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO —  Tara McGrath has served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California for a little more than seven months, and depending on the outcome of this year’s presidential election, she could already be halfway done with her term. If former President Donald Trump wins back the White House in November, McGrath and other U.S. attorneys appointed by President Joe Biden will be expected to resign as part of a routine process that happens each time a new administration takes office. McGrath said she doesn’t think about how long her tenure will be. “I don’t think that this is my job,” she said during an interview last month in a conference room at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in downtown San Diego. “I’m a custodian of the United States attorney title.” However long her term ends up lasting, McGrath wants to spend that time focusing on her priorities — fortifying public safety, building public trust in law enforcement and enhancing the office’s already strong record of environmental prosecutions. And within the public safety portion of her priorities, she highlighted her office’s attention on human trafficking, fentanyl and ghost guns and other firearm offenses. [Article]
by , San Diego Union-Tribune. 2024-05-20
 
Several Mission Bay shorelines post water contamination advisories – NBC 7 San Diego
San Diego County health officials have released an updated water contact closure and advisory list for county beaches in effect Sunday. [Article]
by , KNSD NBC San Diego. 2024-05-20
 
California Allocates Nearly $2 Billion for Transportation Infrastructure Projects - Times of San Diego
California is investing in transit projects throughout the state. [Article]
by , Times of San Diego. 2024-05-20
 
Dow Jones stock index crosses 40,000: Good or bad for California? – San Bernardino Sun
The stock market’s venerable yardstick, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, just made history – crossing 40,000 for the first time. Yes, this milestone set Thursday, May 16, is only a brief emotional victory for shareholders. Yet it can be seen as a historical milepost for the broader business climate, especially in California. To honor the moment, the trusty spreadsheet reviewed the Dow’s 5,000-point markers and how California fared in those periods using an economic metric (California unemployment), an interest rate (the average 30-year fixed mortgage), and home prices from the California Association of Realtors. As we begin our data-filled voyage, let’s note the Dow first crossed 5,000 in November 1995 — back when you could buy the median-priced California single-family home for $176,000. [Article]
by , . 2024-05-20
 
California bans public funding for religious schools. With the courts' help, these families want to change that. - The San Diego Union-Tribune
California has long had a hard ban preventing public school funding from going toward any sectarian instruction or sectarian schools. But now families in at least two federal lawsuits in California, encouraged by a Supreme Court that has been friendly to many religious liberty cases, are challenging that prohibition, which they argue discriminates against religious families. Article 9 of the California constitution forbids any public dollars from supporting any sectarian or denominational school, and it forbids any sectarian doctrine or instruction being taught in any public schools including charter schools, either directly or indirectly. Despite that rule, families have found ways to get both public school funding and religious instruction, as the San Diego Union-Tribune reported last week. They do so by home-schooling through certain independent-study charter schools, which give them thousands of dollars a year in funding for educational and enrichment services, and then simultaneously enrolling in religious hybrid instruction programs. [Article]
by , San Diego Union-Tribune. 2024-05-20
 
Transit Expert Jarrett Walker has Advice for Los Angeles - Streetsblog Los Angeles
Streetsblog caught up with Jarrett Walker during his recent visit to Southern California. Walker's name is familiar to many Streetsblog readers. He and his firm, Jarrett Walker and Associates, are the strategists behind of numerous successful bus network redesigns, which inspired Metro's NextGen bus service retool. Walker is the author of the book Human Transit, long an invaluable resource for anyone interested in making transit work. In language accessible to non-experts, Walker explains frequency, coverage, trade-offs, technology, and much more. One of his key tenets is "frequency is freedom." Frequent buses provide the most useful service, and correlate to higher ridership. [Article]
by , LA Streetsblog. 2024-05-20
 
They're getting sick because of the cross-border sewage crisis. This committee aims to prove it. - The San Diego Union-Tribune
Cassandra Sutcliffe has been using her inhaler more often to treat her chronic bronchitis. She lives on an oceanfront property in Imperial Beach, one of the southernmost communities impacted by sewage and toxic chemicals that spill over the U.S.-Mexico border. “The smell makes your eyes water and your throat close up,” said Sutcliffe, one of many residents who have reported having similar symptoms and who say they find relief when they leave town. “I was told by (my doctor) that the environment could be the contributing factor (to) my failing health.” But it’s been difficult to correlate symptoms of bacterial illness with nearby wastewater releases. There have not been any deep investigations into the issue by private or public health and environmental entities. A newly formed task force, spearheaded by Imperial Beach Mayor Paloma Aguirre and comprised of San Diego researchers and physicians, aims to change that. The group has yet to decide on its formal name, but it does have an end game. “The community is screaming at the top of their lungs that there’s a problem,” said SDSU environmental health professor Paula Stigler Granados, a task force member. “So, our job as academics is to listen and to try to address it.” They hope to answer some simple questions: What is the link between water quality and air quality? What are people breathing in South County? How many people are exposed and what is that doing to human health? There is a lot of data showing that ocean water quality is poor. And that there are sewage-linked bacteria in sea-spray aerosols at Imperial Beach, according to a 2023 study from UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. [Article]
by , San Diego Union-Tribune. 2024-05-20
 
Flood victims scramble to fix homes. Will they flood again? - The San Diego Union-Tribune
In the four months since Marcela Ralac’s house in Grant Hill flooded, she and her family have spent their nights bouncing between five different hotels. And she has spent her days split between her day job of cleaning other people’s homes and the temporary but necessary job of cleaning her own. It’s quickly become her new normal, as she, her husband and their 22-year-old son squeeze into one room at the Ramada in National City — one of hundreds of displaced families staying in hotels under a county program set to end late next month. But it’s not the same. “When you’re at home, you relax more,” she said in Spanish. When she can truly relax will depend upon what happens next. This is the third time her home has flooded in six years, and she’s scared to move back in without a commitment from the city that it will fix its mess and properly maintain the canal nearby, part of the Chollas Creek watershed. She’s one of hundreds of people suing the city over it. [Article]
by , San Diego Union-Tribune. 2024-05-20
 
Editorial: California blew it on bail reform. Now Illinois is leading - Los Angeles Times
California lawmakers passed a bill eliminating money bail in 2018, but voters overturned the important reform in tumultuous 2020 after a fear-stoking referendum campaign led by the bail bond industry. The state is now slowly picking its way through more modest improvements set in motion by court policies and lawsuits, leaving us with a piecemeal system that is too slowly and inconsistently rolling back the role of wealth and poverty in determining who gets out of jail before trial. That left leadership to other states. The Illinois General Assembly passed a law in 2021 that made the state the first in the nation to eliminate money bail. Opponents (again, supported by the bail bond industry) sued, but the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the law last year. Now people who are arrested stay in jail, regardless of how much money they have, if they are deemed by a judge to be too risky to public safety to be released. Those not considered a risk are set free, sometimes with conditions such as ankle monitors, no matter how empty their wallets may be. Bail reform opponents predicted mayhem. Too many criminals would be caught, ticketed and turned loose to commit more crimes, they said. They were wrong. Nearly a year later, data show Illinois’ no-money-bail program is working out quite well. Arrests for new crimes by people released pending trial are coming in so far at about 4% in Cook County, which includes Chicago and much of the state’s crime. That’s about on par with or slightly better than the pre-reform rearrest rate over the last several years. Defendants who promise to show up for their hearings do, for the most part. Warrants are issued for the approximately 10% who don’t — again, about the same as the proportion previously released before trial with or without having posted bail. Numbers of rearrests and failures to appear across Illinois’ other 101 counties range from similar to sharply lower. There are some costs to the no-money-bail program — for example, in court time. Judges who in the past might have decided to hold or release defendants based on their ability to pay are now spending more time in pretrial hearings to weigh arguments and evidence. That’s as it should be. Imagine a system in which a court hands out convictions or acquittals based on how much money the defendant pays, rather than on the weight of witness testimony and other evidence. Such a system would be the very definition of corruption and injustice. Yet that’s what money bail systems do during the period before trial. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2024-05-20
 
Want to fix the border crisis? Stop playing politics and start working together. – Press Telegram
Recently, I visited our Border Patrol agents at the Campo station in East County San Diego. This was the most recent of my regular visits to our Southern border, and there is no question the situation on the ground has changed for the worse in the last couple of years and is untenable. The men and women of the Border Patrol are doing their job as best they can under extremely difficult circumstances. It is clear to me that they are overwhelmed. Our asylum system is broken. The numbers of people trying to come in have skyrocketed as migrants from all over the world, not just Mexico and South America, seek a better life in America. According to a report by the Brookings Institution, out of the total population of individuals seeking to immigrate to the U.S., Mexicans are still the largest group of U.S. immigrants at 24%, but this is down from 30% in 2000. Other countries that follow include India at 6%, China at 5%, the Philippines at 4%; El Salvador, Vietnam, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic at 3%; and Guatemala and Korea at 2%. At the Campo Station that I visited last week, Ecuador and Colombia are the top two countries of origin. [Article]
by , . 2024-05-20
 
California job losses jump 20% in a year - The San Diego Union-Tribune
California, we have a job-loss problem. All the noise about rising California layoffs — especially at technology companies — is adding up to real pain. Consider a Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis of household employment surveys that shows 482,700 Californians lost their jobs in the year ending in the first quarter. My trusty spreadsheet found California job losses are No. 1 in the nation, though the state was followed by other economic heavyweights. Texas was No. 2 at 274,900, then New York at 220,600, Illinois at 155,700, and Florida at 141,900. And these job cuts were California’s worst in seven quarters. Those pink slips amounted to 16 percent of the U.S. total versus the state’s 14 percent average share in pre-pandemic 2015-19. In addition, they’re growing: The latest pace of California job losses represented a 20 percent increase in a year. But to be fair, rising job cuts aren’t just a Golden State quirk. That one-year bump in layoffs was only the 14th biggest among the states. The largest increase was found in South Dakota, up 79 percent, then Missouri at 51 percent, New Jersey at 47 percent, Alabama at 44 percent and Utah at 41 percent. Texas was up 5 percent while Florida was up 11 percent. And let’s note that the pace of jobs cut fell in 13 states. The biggest decliners were Maine, down 33% in a year, then Pennsylvania (off 32 percent), Mississippi (off 31 percent), Vermont (off 23 percent) and Oregon (off 17 percent). Looking back to pre-pandemic 2015-19 gives us some perspective on how today’s economic patterns look against what might be seen as normalcy. [Article]
by , San Diego Union-Tribune. 2024-05-20
 
SGV Habitat for Humanity is buying 710 freeway homes in El Sereno, with plans to fix up and sell – Daily News
More than 60 years after they were planned to be the site for a now-defunct 710 freeway extension north to the 210, the California Department of Transportation has sold the first El Sereno homes in the footprint of the now-nixed project — though not everyone in the neighborhood is celebrating. State Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles, Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, D-Los Angeles, and Habitat for Humanity officials joined business and community leaders in El Sereno Friday, May 17, announcing the sale of the first two homes to the San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity, which plans to rehabilitate and sell them for no more than $225,000. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Daily News. 2024-05-20
 
New design for lifeguard tower at Moss Beach unveiled as access reopens – Orange County Register
A lifeguard tower that once concerned neighbors at Moss Street Beach for being “too industrial looking ” in a small cove known for its steep cliffs and surrounding historic homes is now being celebrated as something that will add beauty to an already picturesque scene. [Article]
by , Orange County Register. 2024-05-20
 
Ditch the subsidies to get more housing – Daily News
There’s little disagreement that California has a housing-affordability crisis, as the state’s average home value is close to $800,000 and well over $1 million in coastal markets. These astounding prices have put a squeeze on lower-income Californians and exacerbated the homelessness problem, so lawmakers — and voters — continue to approve subsidies for affordable-housing projects. As is common any time the government subsidizes something, the influx of cash is inflationary. Recent affordable-housing projects in Los Angeles and the Bay Area have cost $600,000 to nearly $1 million a unit. The bureaucratic rules that come with such funding are largely to blame. The state will never provide enough homes at those kind of rates. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Daily News. 2024-05-20
 
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