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L.A. Fire Officials Say 19-Year-Old Man Injured In High-Rise Fire Has Died

Damage from a fire at the Barrington Plaza apartments is seen on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. A fire broke out on the sixth floor, injuring 8 people. David Wagner/LAist

Los Angeles Fire Department officials said tonight that a man hurt during the Barrington Plaza fire earlier this week has died.

The fire broke out Wednesday morning in the 11000 block of Wilshire Boulevard. It was the building's second significant fire in seven years. The 25-story high-rise is among 55 remaining in L.A. that are exempted from current building code requiring sprinklers.

Nearly 340 residents were evacuated from Barrington Plaza due to the fire -- seven of whom were taken to a hospital for treatment.


LeBron James Goes Off-Script To Speak To Laker Nation At First Game Since Kobe's Death


Before LeBron James spoke about his good friend, he made sure he said the names of all nine people killed in the Sunday morning helicopter crash: Alyssa Altobelli, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser, Ara Zoboyan, Gianna Bryant.

And finally, Kobe Bryant.

It had already been a tearful evening of pre-game tributes before the Lakers took the court for the first time since the fatal crash. Then James took the mic.

"I got something written down. They asked me to kinda stay on course or whatever the case might be, but Laker Nation I'd be selling y'all short if I read from this s--- so I'm going straight from the heart."

He dropped those prepared remarks on the court. James said at some point he knew there'd be a memorial, but he considered this night a celebration. Listen to what he said:


Have A Great Weekend!

Sunset in L.A. tonight. (Malinda Castaneda / LAist)

It's been a week. From the coronavirus outbreak to the tragic death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant to a frightening high-rise fire on the Westside and of course the ongoing impeachment trial, you may be ready for a news diet.

We're now off to recover and recharge, but not before we leave you with a few tips to help you get the most out of your weekend.

Here are a few events to get you started:

  • Al Di Là: An Evening of Sound Works by Simone Forti: Dancer, choreographer, artist and writer Forti presents an evening of sound-based pieces spanning 50 years. The works are arranged and performed by Forti and Tashi Wada with Julia Holter, Jessika Kenney and Corey Fogel.
  • AirTalk’s FilmWeek: 2020 Oscar Preview: One of KPCC’s most popular events returns, just in time to help fill out your Oscar pool picks. AirTalk host Larry Mantle and the FilmWeek critics debate and discuss this year’s Oscar contenders — and the films that coulda been contenders.
  • Asian Lunar New Year Festival: Celebrate the Year of the Rat at the museum with dance, music and art from China, Vietnam and Korea. Watch the traditional dragon and lion dances by JC Culture, sample an egg roll then create paper lanterns and art scrolls as you contemplate the diligence and positivity of those born in the Year of the Rat.

Not seeing anything that interests you? Check out our full list >>

Utilities’ Bungled Fire Prevention Power Outages Could Mean New Rules

Power poles that burned in the Thomas Fire in December 2017 dangle above Highway 150. (Sharon McNary/KPCC/LAist)

You may be among the more than 2 million utility customers who experienced last year’s dreaded PSPS – Public Safety Power Shutoff. That’s when utilities pulled the plug on their power grid to reduce the chance of sparking fires during times of high wind, low humidity and high temperatures.

Utilities have had the ability to cut power on red flag days for years, but 2019 was the first year that they imposed extensive outages on the populace. That was after big utilities like Southern California Edison and PG&E were blamed for billions of dollars in fire damage in 2017 and 2018.

More than 200,000 customers of SoCal Edison were in the dark during the highest fire risk days of last year from about September through November. As you might expect, customers complained.

Now, the California Public Utilities Commission is revisiting the shutoffs with a set of proposed new guidelines in response to the complaints that the outages lasted too long and caused some residents to also lose their cell phone and water service.

The proposed guidelines include:

  • Power to be turned back on within 24 hours after end of red flag conditions.
  • Utilities to do a more thorough job of communicating about the outages with the public.
  • Specific thought must be given to vulnerable populations like those who need to refrigerate medicines.
  • Better communication with phone and internet companies, local police, fire and social services agencies.

What you can do:

The CPUC is taking public comment about the public safety power shutoffs (read the current rules here) and proposed new rules. Just email, and mention proceeding number R.18-12-005.


Trump Administration Announces Ban On Foreigners Who Have Visited China

Pedestrians wear face masks as they walk outside the New Orient Landmark hotel in Macau on January 22, 2020. (Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images)

Foreign travelers who have been in China in the last 14 days and don't have immediate family in the United States will be banned from entering the U.S. starting Sunday at 2 p.m. Pacific time.

The restriction was announced at a press conference in Washington where U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Azar also said that any U.S. citizen who has been in Hubei Province in the previous 14 days will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine. The capital city of Hubei Province is Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak began.

It wasn't clear how long the restrictions will be in effect.

Public health officials who spoke at the press conference said the risk to Americans of contracting the virus remains low.


Americans Flown In From China Are Under First Quarantine In 50 Years

The charter plane carrying Americans evacuated from Wuhan lands at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside on Wednesday. (Matt Hartman/AFP via Getty Image)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued federal quarantine orders for 195 Americans who were flown from China to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside -- the first time in 50 years federal authorities have imposed a quarantine.

The passengers, who include U.S. diplomats and their families, were evacuated earlier this week from Wuhan, which is at the epicenter of a worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Their flight was initially scheduled to land at Ontario Airport, a designated repatriation site for the federal government.

The news of the quarantine came as concern about the new virus rapidly grew. American and United Airlines announced earlier today that they are canceling flights out of China, according to the Associated Press.

Later in the day, the Trump administration announced that effective Sunday at 2 p.m. Pacific time, it will prevent entry into the United States of all foreign nationals, except immediate family members of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, who have traveled through China in the last 14 days. Also, U.S. citizens who have been in Hubei Province in the previous 14 days will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine.

We will have more on this developing story shortly


A New Kobe Mural Is Going Up At 1st And La Brea

A photo of Kobe Bryant being painted at First Street and La Brea Avenue, January 2020 (Photo by Mariluz Gonzalez)

Fans all over the world are mourning the loss of Kobe Bryant. In L.A., tributes have been myriad and they have been grand, from the lighting of city buildings in purple and yellow to busses running “RIP Kobe” tickers, from memorials established outside the Staples Center to people buying up gear with his name and number on it.

Among the most recent to take up the torch is artist Levi Ponce, who along with a group of volunteers is putting up a Kobe mural at Custom Auto Craft on First Street and La Brea Avenue.

In conversation with KPCC, Ponce said that he had already been talking with other artists in the community about creating a Kobe memorial when he found out that the wall on La Brea would be available.

“It just happened so organically,” he said. “It just really shows the power of Kobe bringing people together not just through basketball, but just through his presence and his greatness.”

Since Wednesday, Ponce and his team have been outside painting. The mural will include images of his championship trophies, his Oscar, his family life and more.

“We wanted it to reflect his work inside as well as outside of the basketball court,” said Ponce. “For me, for a lot of people, he was so much bigger than basketball.”

Officials Warn Of Fake Report About Coronavirus In Carson

L.A County Supervisor Hilda Solis speaking at a press conference about coronavirus (Caroline Champlin/LAist) LAist

L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis warned today of a forged document circulating on social media that suggested a case of coronavirus had been identified in Carson.

Speaking at a press conference in San Gabriel, she said the document warned people to stay away from certain Asian supermarkets and Panda Express.

What was particularly worrying, she said, was that the official logos of LA County, the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had been used in the document.

Things like this, she said, “just add to the hysteria.”

She reiterated that people should call the LA County Department of Public Health at 211 to find out what’s true and what’s not.

“This is an area with a large number of Asian Pacific islanders and it was meant to instill fear. I know, being an immigrant also, when people discriminate against you because of stereotypes ...about your race and ehtnicity and culture.”

Los Angeles County health officials say the risk of transmission is low, and that there's no need to cancel large group events—like Alhambra’s Lunar New Year Festival, which was postponed today.

“We don’t want people to be alarmed. We want people to have their regular daily life, like Lunar New Year," said Solis. "Go out, celebrate. There’s a big activity in Chinatown on Saturday. We haven’t seen anything to report differently, and when we do, we’ll let people know.”


Spot A Coyote In The SGV? Here’s A Number You Can Call

(Courtesy National Park Service via volunteer Connar L'Ecuyer)

Coyotes are so common now in urban areas, the challenge isn’t so much how to get rid of them as how we co-exist.

That’s the idea, anyway, behind a new outreach effort to teach residents what to do if they see one and how to avoid attracting them in the future.

The new Neighborhood Coyote Program covers 10 cities: Alhambra, Arcadia, Azusa, Covina, Irwindale, Montebello, Rosemead, San Gabriel, San Marino and Temple City.

Natalya Romo with the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments says the goal is to inform residents about coyote behavior, pacing technique, the ecology of coyotes, safety tips and then just utilizing better habits not to attract coyotes into their neighborhood and private property.

The program includes a central number that residents of all 10 cities can call. That number is (626) 278-8039.

There’s also a new social media campaign and a website with more information.


The Senate Housing Bill Is Dead. What Happens Next?

A BART train runs through a neighborhood of single-family homes in Albany. California lawmakers again rejected a bill that would have led to denser development along public transit routes. (Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters)

Senate Bill 50 would have forced cities to allow more mid-rise apartment buildings around public transit and next to some single-family homes, but it failed to get enough votes in the California Legislature to survive in 2020 before time ran out.

The question now is how Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to meet one of his signature campaign goals: building millions of new homes.

"California's housing affordability crisis demands our state pass a historic housing production bill," Newsom said in a statement shortly after the bill was voted down by Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

Here are some approaches such a production bill might take:

  • Pair zoning changes with redevelopment money: A UCLA analysis found that cities across California would likely have to dramatically "upzone" — allow much denser development where it is legally prohibited now — for Newsom to come close to his goal of 3.5 million new homes. That's exactly what SB 50 attempted to do, but zoning rules put a "mathetmatical cap on the new housing you can build," says Sen. Scott Wiener. To make upzoning more attractive for cities who resent the state encroaching on local control over housing decisions, the package may also have to include funding for redevelopment -- a program Gov. Jerry Brown dissolved nearly a decade ago.
  • Wait for the carrots and sticks to kick in: Newsom administration officials point to state efforts already in place to force cities to allow more housing. Trouble is, Newsom's original proposal to withhold gas tax revenue from cities stubbornly failing to meet their state-imposed housing goals failed to garner much support. A replacement scheme that allows a judge to fine non-compliant cities has yet to be tested.
  • Reform the California Environmental Quality Act: Developers have long contended the act is a burdensome tool that labor and neighborhood groups use to block and delay new developments, adding unnecessary costs to projects. But good luck. If Wiener's bill was comparable to climbing Half Dome, so-called CEQA reform would equate to ascending the Himalayas.
  • Cut impact fees: Fees that local governments impose on new developments for parks, schools and other infrastructure represent another cost that developers say inhibits new housing from being built. Here Newsom may find some wiggle room. Cities could be receptive to lowering how much they're allowed to charge as long as they get that revenue from another source. Still, the impact such a cap would make on California's housing shortage falls far short of more sweeping options.


Alhambra's Lunar New Year Festival Postponed Amid Coronavirus Fears


Alhambra has canceled its Lunar New Year celebration this weekend amid fears over the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce said promoters made the decision out of concern for staff, volunteers, and the public.

The 29th Annual Alhambra Lunar New Year Festival was set for 10 a.m. Saturday. The Chamber of Commerce said they're working to reschedule a similar event for June.


The XFL's LA Xtreme: When LA Was A Football Champion Without An NFL Team

Rob Murphy #66 and Jason Chorak #77 of the Chicago Enforcers team up to take down Tommy Maddox #8 of the Los Angeles Xtreme during a game at the L.A. Coliseum. The Xtreme defeated the Enforcers 39-32. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The XFL was a football league started as a thumb in the eye to the NFL, with the league's founder Vince McMahon calling his rivals the "No Fun League." The league folded after a series of injuries and other controversies in just one season, but L.A. got something out of the deal: a championship team.

During the 21 years where Los Angeles had no pro football teams, the L.A. Xtreme were the biggest game in town. And when it came time for that one season's championship game, the Xtreme won, led by Tommy Maddox.

Maddox went on to play in the NFL, but no longer for L.A. — he was with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who would go on to win the Super Bowl just four years later.

Now the XFL is coming back, just a week after the Super Bowl — and they're bringing another L.A. team with them, the Los Angeles Wildcats.


What It Was Like To Moderate That Raucous DA Debate

Security staff removes an unidentified heckler at the DA debate Wednesday night. (Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo)

The crowd at the DA debate on Wednesday night was … challenging. Multiple protests erupted in the audience at the Aratani Theatre in downtown L.A. and security officials escorted some audience members from the venue.

The debate was cosponsored by our newsroom and the L.A. Times and moderated by KPCC/LAist's politics reporter Libby Denkmann and the L.A. Times editorial writer Robert Greene.

We talked to Libby about what it was like to moderate the conversation on stage between incumbent DA Jackie Lacey, former San Francisco DA George Gascon and former federal public defender Rachel Rossi amid all the emotion.

This Q&A is part what we hope will be a regular spotlight on how journalists do their jobs.

Libby Denkmann and Robert Greene address the audience before the debate got underway Wednesday night. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)

Q: Things got very heated Wednesday night. You had to stop the debate multiple times because of protests from some in the crowd at the Aratani Theater. What did it feel like in the room?

A: Emotions were very high. Some people showed up to protest DA Lacey and disrupt the event. Some were from Black Lives Matter or other community groups, and there were also family members of people who had been killed or injured by police.

I recognized they were expressing years of pent-up anger about the way black and brown people are treated by our justice system -- but I also tried to keep things on track by focusing on the issues that our audience and the Los Angeles Times readers asked us to address: how to treat homeless people in the criminal justice system, bail reform, racial disparities in charging and sentencing, community safety, how to calibrate punishment for low-level non-violent crimes, the death penalty, and shootings by police.

So what were some of those issues you drilled down on?

You know, everyone in this race is claiming to be in favor of criminal justice reform. So we were trying to find the fault lines between their positions.

The candidates clashed over the death penalty. Lacey still pursues it in what she says are the most egregious cases, while Gascon and Rossi say they would never ask for capital punishment.

One of the largest problems for a DA to address is the issue of racial disparities in the criminal justice system -- people of color getting arrested, charged and locked up at a much higher rate than white people.

DA Jackie Lacey says she's a reformer who has pioneered the use of mental health diversion to get people treatment instead of jail time. But she believes reforms have to be done carefully to preserve community safety.

George Gascon and Rachel Rossi say Lacey has stood in the way of change, and they point out she has opposed reforms like Proposition 47, which reduced some non-violent felonies to misdemeanors.


Woolsey Fire Recovery: First Home Is Rebuilt In Malibu


In a week full of tough news, there was a bright spot. Laurie Brennan's home in western Malibu is now the first to be rebuilt and occupied by the owner after 2018's ferocious Woolsey Fire. Brennan and her two dogs are back inside more than a year after the Woolsey Fire destroyed her home and more than 400 others in her city.

It was the most amazing feeling the first night walking down the hallway because a lot of the house I kept the same. I stayed within the same foundation, I was able, my foundation had to be tested. So a lot of the house is the same -- like you walk down the bedroom hallway and you feel like you're back ... like the house didn't burn.

Brennan cut the ribbon alongside city officials on Monday. She spent her first night in her home last week, but said it didn't feel real until after the ceremony. She says she bought her home just a few months before it caught on fire. Malibu city officials say one rental home has also been rebuilt.

The Woolsey Fire broke out in the early afternoon of Nov. 8, 2018. In all the fire:

  • Destroyed 1,075 homes and 46 commercial structures
  • Burned 151.5 square miles across two counties
  • Forced the evacuation of 250,000 residents

Student journalists at Pepperdine University produced the report below.


Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said the ribbon cutting happened yesterday.

UCLA Wants To Boost Supply Of Psych Nurse Practitioners By Offering Online Training

The new online certification program for psychiatric nurse practitioners is aimed at increasing the number of mental health providers, especially outside of major urban centers. (Jacqueline Kelly/Unsplash)

Nurse practitioners who want to work in mental health will soon be able to take an online certification program through UCLA and two other UC schools (UC Davis and UCSF). The goal of the new psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) program is to address the growing shortage of mental health professionals, especially in areas like the Inland Empire.

A 2018 report from UCSF found that 45% of psychiatrists and 37% of psychologists are over 60 years old and are likely to retire or reduce their work hours over the next decade.

PMHNPs, along with psychiatrists and primary care doctors, can prescribe psychotropic medications and treat mental illness and substance abuse disorders, according to Kathryn Phillips, senior program manager at the California Health Care Foundation. The foundation has provided a $1.5 million grant to help develop and launch the online program.

Currently there are only 1,200 PMHNPs in the state. This program’s goal is to add 300 more by 2025.

Previously, the two-year certification course, which includes in-person clinical training, could only be done on UCSF's campus. So nurse practitioners outside the Los Angeles area would either have to make long commutes or move to be near the campus.

Now, nurses practitioners can do the coursework remotely and do clinical training in their region.

“This keeps access in their communities,” Phillips said.

The first cohort will start in fall 2020.


It’s Friday, Jan. 31 And Here Are The Stories We’re Following Today


The forecast calls for a high of 81 degrees in Los Angeles and "abundant sunshine." Is it really the last day of January?

Susanne Whatley, KPCC's Morning Edition host, reports tomorrow will be warmer still. She says to expect Super Bowl Sunday to be cooler and cloudier as a cold storm moves in.

What We're Covering:

  • Over the next decade, 45% of psychiatrists will likely retire or reduce their work hours. Reporter Alyssa Jeong Perry looks at how online training programs could help fill that gap.
  • The Lakers play tonight for the first time since Kobe Bryant's death. The game against the Portland Trail Blazers is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.
  • The XFL football league is coming back for a second run. Reporter Mike Roe looks at their history as an L.A. team run by the guy who created WWE.
  • Our politics reporter, Libby Denkmann, talks to us about what it was like to keep order during this week's raucous DA debate.
  • Christine Ziemba, LAist's events czar, has everything you need to know to plan a terrific weekend.
  • Associate Producer Brianna Flores talked to the woman who is the first to have her home rebuilt in Malibu.

Oh, and in case you missed it, rangers introduced us to P-80, the newest mountain lion to be tracked in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Help Us Cover Your Community:

  • Got something you’ve always wanted to know about Southern California and the people who call it home? Is there an issue you want us to cover? Ask us anything >>
  • Have a tip about news on which we should dig deeper? Let us know >>

The news cycle moves fast. Stories sometimes get postponed or simply don’t pan out. As such, this list is not final.