THE LATEST

Help us rise to the challenge of covering the coronavirus crisis. Our journalism is free for all to access. But we rely on your support. Donate today to power our journalists.


Here's your daily audio briefing (updated weekdays):




THE L.A. REPORT IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY LLOYD PEST CONTROL

Attention, Pomona And Hawthorne: Something's Missing On Your Mail-In Ballots

Updated
Published
Santa Barbara city FF firefighter battles flames from the Cave Fire near a home off Cieneguitas Road in Santa Barbara on Monday, Nov. 25, 2019. Courtesy Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department

California’s March 3 primary is just under a month away, and vote-by-mail ballots were sent out this week. But there's been a hiccup for voters in a couple of Los Angeles County cities.

If you live in Hawthorne or Pomona, there’s something missing on that absentee ballot in your mailbox.

The L.A. County Registrar says a measure was left off vote-by-mail ballots sent to folks in these two cities. It’s Measure FD, aimed at boosting resources for the county’s 911 system and Fire Department.

Supporters say the parcel tax of 6 cents per square foot on buildings is needed to help L.A. County Fire deal with increasingly destructive wildfires and emergency medical calls. It would raise an estimated $134 million for hiring firefighters and upgrading equipment.

Like all new parcel taxes, Measure FD needs the approval of two-thirds of voters to pass.

The Registrar is sending a supplemental ballot to voters in Hawthorne and Pomona with the missing question.

“We regret the omission,” Registrar Dean Logan said in a press release. “We identified the error and are acting quickly to ensure affected voters receive materials with sufficient time to mark and return both the original and supplemental ballots.”

Those supplementals should arrive a couple days after the first vote-by-mail ballots hit mailboxes.

GO DEEPER:

CA Freelancers May Get A Break After Tough AB 5 Limits

Updated
Published
Freelance and part-time work in a wide range of sectors has been upended by the state's new gig worker law. (Green Chameleon on Unsplash)

The California legislator behind the state’s new gig worker law now says she plans to eliminate the bill’s controversial submissions cap for freelance writers and photographers.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez authored AB 5, a law passed last year that codified a 2018 California Supreme Court ruling making it harder for companies to classify their workers as independent contractors, rather than employees.

Under one of the law's provisions, freelance writers and photographers can only deliver 35 submissions each year to any media outlet before that outlet has to hire them as an employee.

Freelancers in California have lost work as a result, and they’ve been lobbying Gonzalez to change the law.

On Thursday, Gonzalez said on Twitter that she plans to introduce a number of legislative changes to AB 5 in coming weeks, including a replacement for the freelancer submission cap.

San Diego-based freelancer Randy Dotinga, a board member with the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), said, “We’re glad to hear that Gonzalez is willing to revise the bill to protect freelance journalists from the devastation we’ve suffered this year. We look forward to seeing the exact bill language.”

The ASJA has filed a lawsuit against the state over AB 5, arguing it violates freelancers’ constitutional right to freedom of the press. A federal court hearing is scheduled for March 9.

GO DEEPER:

Janitors Rally In LA For Protection Against Rape, Wage Theft

Updated
Published
SEIU-USWW represents janitors in California. (Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/LAist)

Several hundred members of the Service Employees International Union United Service Workers West (SEIU-USWW) marched in downtown L.A. on Thursday to kick off contract talks for about 25,000 members across California.

The union is asking for several things rarely seen in labor contracts.

"We’re seeking for building owners to tell their contractors and to tell their tenants, 'We will respect immigrant workers’ rights in every one of these buildings,'" said Alejandra Valles, the secretary-treasurer of SEIU-USWW.

She said the union wants building owners to say, "'No immigrant worker will be sexually assaulted in these buildings, no immigrant worker will have their wages stolen from them ... and we as building owners will resist when ICE and immigration agents come here and we are going to protect workers’ constitutional rights.'"

Marchers who gathered next to L.A. City Hall carried signs reading, "End Rape on the Night Shift” and “Stop Exploiting Immigrant Workers."

Similar rallies were planned in other California cities. The effort to put protections against harassment into contract language comes more than three years after Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law protections for janitors against sexual harassment.

The march wound its way around downtown L.A. to the offices of CBRE Group, Inc., one of the largest building owners in the country and a target of the union's demands.

In an email, CBRE said it "feels strongly about the fair and ethical treatment of everyone, including the workers and contractors we retain to provide services at properties we manage."

The company pointed to its Supplier Code of Conduct, adding that it has "screened approximately 30,000 suppliers to ensure their compliance with our standards."

The company said SEIU-USWW has not presented it with allegations of misconduct by contractors.

You Get A Tampon And You Get A Tampon And You Get A Tampon, Maybe

Updated
Published
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Aunt Flo is popular in city politics right now — the Los Angeles City Council has advanced a proposal to stock free feminine hygiene products for her at all city-owned facilities. If they could also stock soft pajamas, Advil, London Fog lattes, Cheddar Combos and iron supplement gummies, that would be appreciated, too.

"It's time to end the stigma around periods and menstrual health that has kept policymakers dragging their feet," said Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, who introduced the proposal. "Providing feminine hygiene products at no cost in city-owned facilities should be just as normal as providing toilet paper or soap."

It’s also an effort to reduce the outsized and sometimes prohibitive financial burden on menstruating humans. The United Nations Population Fund calls this period poverty.

The next step is … a report. The city's Department of Recreation and Parks and Department of General Services is tasked with figuring out how much it would cost.

CHER HOROWITZ ON PERIOD INEQUITY:

READ THE MOTION:

Garcetti Wants Funds, Land and Medical Aid From Feds To Fight Homelessness

Updated
Published
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaking about his plans to address homelessness in the city, Feb. 6, 2020. (Caroline Champlin/LAist)

Is L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti really going to work with his archenemy in the White House on homelessness? There has been much rumbling about such a deal in recent months but few details.

Garcetti said Thursday he’s still working with the Trump administration to secure federal help to address homelessness in the city.

That help could come in the form of surplus federal land for new homeless shelters and medical aid.

“There’s not actually many sticking points, a lot of it’s logistics,” Garcetti said.

How much money can we expect from the feds? Unclear.

“Everybody wants to know a number. Not yet,” Garcetti said. The federal government is asking Garcetti to match their offer, which the mayor says he might be able to do with the help of state funding recently offered to L.A.

And with what strings attached? Unclear.

“There’s also an ongoing discussion of law enforcement, as well,” Garcetti said, hinting at pressures from the federal government to enforce anti-camping laws.

On that one, the Trump administration may be at odds with the Supreme Court, which recently declined to revisit a lower court's decision upholding the rights of homeless people to sleep outside.

“The Supreme Court has been very clear, you can’t have that discussion about people not camping unless you have a bed for everyone.”

Garcetti says he plans to continue discussions with Carson at a symposium on homelessness at USC next week.

GO DEEPER:

The Oscars Mean It's Time For Hollywood Street Closures

Updated
Published
What Hollywood street closures will look like this Sunday. The purple streets are closed to everyone other than local residents. (Courtesy the Academy)

The Academy Awards street closures are no joke. They ooze out from the Hollywood and Highland complex and continue expanding up until the day of the show. This weekend might be a great time to stay inside and catch up on the Oscar nominees you haven't seen yet.

The closures started Jan. 19, but they've really started to be felt this week, with Hollywood Boulevard shut down between Highland Avenue and Orange Drive.

Starting Thursday night, Hawthorn Avenue closes between Highland and Orange. Saturday, the closures expand to Orange Drive between Orchid Alley and Hollywood Boulevard.

Finally, on the day of the show, you're going to want to stay away — the area will be blanketed with closures, as seen in the graphic above. That includes Hollywood Boulevard shutting from La Brea Boulevard to all the way to Cahuenga Boulevard, plus Highland Avenue from Sunset Boulevard up to Franklin Avenue — meaning that getting from Hollywood to the 101 Freeway is going to be a drag.

So enjoy the Oscars this Sunday on TV, and enjoy not driving anywhere near there if you can avoid it — and if you do need to head to Hollywood, may we recommend public transportation?

GO DEEPER:

The 2 Freeway Was Supposed To Go To Beverly Hills

Updated
Published
View of Ventura (134) and Glendale (2) freeway interchange, looking north. (Shades of L.A. Collection/LAPL Archive)

The 2 Freeway runs 87 miles from Echo Park to the San Gabriel Mountains. It’s a favorite among many due to its scenic views and relative emptiness. It’s even inspired love letters from residents. Brenda Rees writes in The Eastsider:

“…the 2 throws off its unassuming cloak of ordinary and transforms into an engineering marvel that promises - and DELIVERS - an exhilarating driving experience with matching natural scenery.”

But once upon a time, the 2 was supposed to take a turn and head west all the way to the 405. It was even called the Beverly Hills Freeway.

So what happened?

READ THE STORY:

Will The Chili Bowl Become An LA Monument?

Updated
Published
This 1937 photo shows the original Chili Bowl, located at 3012 Crenshaw Boulevard. (Los Angeles Public Library Collection)

Launched in 1931 by former amateur boxer Art Whizin, the Chili Bowl chain was known as much for its architecture as its food. Each building was round and shaped like its titular item — a chili bowl. Diners could belly up to the circular counter, sit at one of the 26 seats and order the restaurant's signature dish: an open-faced burger blanketed with chili.

At its peak, the chain had 22 outposts. Today, only a couple are left. One of them is in West L.A. at the corner of Pico Boulevard, between Bundy and Centinela. It was built in 1935 and originally located in Silver Lake but was moved to its current spot in 1939. (It's currently a Japanese restaurant.)

Today, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission approved a proposal to consider adding the Chili Bowl to the city's roster of Historic-Cultural Monuments. The proposal still has to go through the Planning and Land Use Management Committee and, ultimately, the full city council, to make it official.

Along with Tail o' the Pup, the Chili Bowl is one of L.A.'s most famous examples of "programmatic architecture" — buildings designed to look like food, animals or other items — but it's hardly the only one. Southern California has a rich history of buildings shaped like boots, owls, toads, pigs, airplanes and more.

MORE:

This post has been updated to indicate the results of the Cultural Heritage Commission vote.

In-N-Out Just Dropped New Sneakers

Updated
Published
A pair of In-N-Out's Drink Cup Shoes. (Courtesy of In-N-Out)

Remember when Puma tried to sell those faux In-N-Out sneakers that weren't actually sanctioned by In-N-Out? Yeah... that didn't go so well.

Now, the SoCal-based fast food company has released a legit branded sneaker and it's a slip-on instead of a lace-up.

The Drink Cup Shoes retail for $64.95 on In-N-Out's site we will definitely need a pair to test, strictly for research purposes, of course.

MORE:

Charter Renewal Drama At OC School Of The Arts Goes To The Next Act

Updated
Published
The Orange County School of the Arts is fighting the Santa Ana Unified School District over the terms of its charter renewal. (Carla Javier/LAist)

Last month, we told you about the drama between the Orange County School of the Arts and the Santa Ana Unified School District over the terms of its charter renewal. Last night, the latest act played out before a packed house at the Orange County Board of Education.

The dispute heated up in December when SAUSD said it would renew the wildly popular arts school’s charter if it agreed to make changes in response to a critical district staff report. That report questioned OCSA’s admission policies and funding model. That critique didn’t go over well with OCSA, to say the least. It rejected the conditions and appealed to the Orange County Department of Education to see if its board will authorize OCSA’s charter for the next five years instead.


If you have an experience or information related to this story that you would like to share with us, please contact reporter Carla Javier or email her at cjavier@scpr.org


Last night, both sides — first OCSA’s founder, then a deputy superintendent and lawyer for the school district — spoke before the county department’s five board members. OCSA’s representatives were backed by a large, vocal crowd of supporters which interrupted with applause.

Many of the questions posed by the county board of education were not related to the contents of OCSA’s charter renewal petition itself or SAUSD’s concerns about it. Instead, lawyers fielded questions about whether the county board could take up OCSA’s appeal. They were also asked about the ongoing legal battle between the district and the school over special education funding.

After almost two hours of presentations, public comment, and board member questions, the board closed the hearing, saying they may vote on the appeal at a future meeting. The next one is scheduled for March 4.

GO DEEPER:

Santa Ana To OC Cities: It’s Your Turn To Carry Homeless Burden

Updated
Published
A volunteer hands out food to homeless people camped in the Santa Ana Civic Center on April 12, 2018. The encampment was cleared soon after but many people still sleep on the streets. (LAist/Jill Replogle)

On Tuesday night, the Santa Ana City Council took steps to officially oppose plans by Orange County to open a new homeless shelter in Santa Ana.

“We’ve had to shoulder and carry this responsibility for years, if not decades,” said Councilman Vicente Sarmiento.

He and other councilmembers directed the city manager to draft a resolution opposing a county shelter that would replace and be bigger than the one currently in downtown Santa Ana.

He said Santa Ana spends about $17 million each year to help the homeless. And it’s time for other Orange County cities to step up.

“Irvine has plenty of open space. You have the Fairview Center in Costa Mesa,” he said.

Sarmiento is hopeful the county will agree to place the shelter elsewhere but he’s not ruling out going to court.

Santa Ana is already suing the county over allegations that it "dumps" homeless people from other parts of the county in the city. Residents in south county cities have opposed opening homeless shelters in their region.

Santa Ana residents have become increasingly vocal in recent months about feeling that they continue to shoulder the bulk of the county effort to help residents who are homeless.

“I want the homeless out of my city,” said Marcela Prado, the owner of a travel agency in Santa Ana’s historic business district. She operates inside a quinceañera store, several blocks from a homeless shelter.

“We have a lot of homeless here because of that shelter,” she said.

She’s in favor of opening shelters elsewhere but understands why people are against it.

GO DEEPER:

Whittier May Join Homeless Settlement To Mandate Shelter, Allow Enforcement

Updated
Published
A 2018 lawsuit over a large homeless encampment in Orange County led to a legal settlement that L.A. cities now want to join. (LAist/Jill Replogle)

The city of Whittier is considering joining a legal settlement in Orange County in hopes of being able to enforce anti-camping laws in exchange for building a homeless shelter.

Last year, the city of Bellflower signed onto the settlement.

Whittier Mayor Joe Vinatieri says joining the settlement would allow the city to tackle homelessness on a manageable scale, rather than as part of massive Los Angeles County, where nearly 59,000 people sleep on the streets each night.

"[Los Angeles] is a mess, it's an absolute travesty, it's so big," Vinatieri said.

But Whittier's small size could also be a problem, he said. Without the help of the county, the city might not have enough money to build its own shelters.

“So am I going to cut into the police department to now have to fund homeless housing? That's a tough one for me, personally,” Vinatieri said, adding that law enforcement accounts for nearly half of the city’s budget.

If Whittier does build a shelter, Vinatieri wants it to be for people with ties to the city. In a homeless count conducted by a nonprofit city contractor, over half of the 231 people interviewed said their last permanent address was in Whittier.

GO DEEPER:

It’s Thursday, Feb. 6 And Here Are The Stories We’re Following Today

Updated
Published

Mail-in ballots have been landing in voters' mailboxes, a sure sign that California's moved-up primary is fast approaching. We'll continue to keep you up to speed on how the way we vote is changing.

On this day in history: Ronald Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois. The future president and California governor would have been 109 today.

The forecast for L.A.? High 60s and sunny.

What We’re Covering:

  • The Orange County School of the Arts has been locked in a tense battle with the Santa Ana Unified School District. SAUSD approved OCSA’s charter, but only with conditions. OCSA appealed to the Board of Education to authorize the charter instead, and the board was scheduled to discuss the issue at its meeting last night. Reporter Carla Javier was there, and she'll be updating us on the situation.
  • Whittier is considering whether to join a legal settlement to enforce anti-camping laws in exchange for building a homeless shelter. If it does, the city's mayor wants to make sure beds will go to people with ties to the city. Reporter Caroline Champlin will have the details.
  • Santa Ana, meanwhile, is taking steps to oppose plans by Orange County to open a new homeless shelter there. Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has been talking to city leaders there who say they've been shouldering the responsibility for long enough.
  • Transportation reporter Ryan Fonseca is digging into California's 85th percentile rule, which effectively sets speed limits based on how fast the majority of drivers are going. A new report outlines why the rule is a bad idea and some ways to change it to make streets safer.
  • And, of course, you can start planning your weekend, because contributor Christine Ziemba will have you covered with her usual roundup of cool, fun, and cheap stuff to do.

In Case You Missed It:

  • Former LA Sheriff Lee Baca, who is now 77 and suffering from Alzheimer’s, reported to prison this week. You might recall, the former sheriff was convicted and sentenced in 2017 for obstruction of justice, conspiracy and lying for his part in covering up the systematic abuse of jail inmates.
  • Actor Kirk Douglas died at the age of 103. He was a giant of his era but probably best known for the films “Spartacus” and “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”
  • Hollywood landmark Amoeba Music sold its current building to a developer back in 2015, but it continued operating while it looked for new digs. It’s finally found that new home, just a few blocks away.
  • Five new measles cases were announced in L.A. County. If you’re immunized, you don’t have much to worry about. If not, or you don’t know, you might want to check this map.
  • Former L.A. police rookie Henry Solis was convicted of second-degree murder. He had fled to Mexico after gunning down 23-year-old Salome Rodriguez Jr. in a Pomona bar while off duty in 2015, but authorities there captured him and sent him back. He claimed he'd been robbed and sexually assaulted by Rodriguez and another man and that he'd been trying to make an arrest, but the jury disagreed

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. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft.