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State Of The State: Republican Response

Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Oakland would receive 15 unused FEMA trailers for temporary housing, part of his plans to address homelessness. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In his annual State of the State address today, Gov. Gavin Newsom called the homelessness situation in "the richest state in the richest nation" a "disgrace."

Republicans basically agreed. They just differed on where to place the blame. In the party’s official response, Senate Republican Caucus Chair Brian Jones (El Cajon) laid out a few key areas where he said Newsom is falling short, faulting him in some cases for failing to even mention them:

  • On a rise in homelessness here, even as some recent data show it’s declining elsewhere
  • On a dip in housing construction despite a bold “Marshall Plan” on affordable housing
  • On the state’s floundering high-speed rail project
  • On the state’s contentious new independent contractor law
  • On the new snowpack numbers, which suggest the drought is returning to portions of the state


LA Lawmakers Seek To Close Eviction ‘Loophole’ In New State Law

Both L.A. and Long Beach will require landlords to get permits before evicting tenants for remodeling work. (Eduard Militaru/Unsplash)

L.A. lawmakers are trying to close what they see as a “loophole” in a new state law meant to prevent evictions.

AB 1482, which went into effect on Jan. 1, bans some forms of eviction in California. But some Los Angeles renters say they’re now facing eviction because the law allows landlords to remove tenants based on vague plans to remodel their apartments.

The L.A. City Council voted Wednesday to move forward with a plan that would require landlords to first obtain permits for remodeling work before giving tenants notice to leave. The move comes after Long Beach’s City Council voted Tuesday to enact a similar requirement.

Read the full story: Tenants Say They're Facing Eviction Due To Loophole In Anti-Eviction Law

City Workers Reporting More Instances Of Fraud, Abuse And Waste

Los Angeles City Hall (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

More than 33,000 L.A. city workers got some new training in the past year about how to report fraud, waste and abuse — and it seems to have worked. Complaints to an internal hotline jumped by 58%.

This year, city workers reported 543 instances of their colleagues not doing the right thing, 200 more than last year.

The most common complaint was employees’ theft of time, like falsifying time cards.

Other examples included a worker keeping some event tickets that were supposed to go to charity, and some workers, who'd quit their jobs, continuing to use their city-issued credit cards.

About half were outside the City Controller’s jurisdiction and were referred to other departments or agencies. Some employees resigned or were fired, and some face criminal charges.


On the Lookout: Fraud, Waste and Abuse Annual Report (L.A. Office of the Controller)

How To Vote For Judges In The March 3 Primary

A view through the door window of a courtroom at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles March 16, 2009. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images) ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Figuring out how to vote for a judge is often one of the most baffling tasks in any election year because there's just so little information about them. And this year, there are a whopping 12 judicial seats in the L.A. County Superior Court up for our vote in the March 3 primary election.

These judicial positions are important.

Elected judges handle trials that run to gamut from family law, to felony murder, to small claims, to civil cases. And, of course, you or someone you know might end up having to face one of these judges someday in court.

So how do you judge a judge and figure out how to vote? We made a guide for you, based on the advice we got from an L.A. Superior Court judge who's also a past president of the California Judges Association. We hope it helps give you a starting point. Vote wisely.


Election 2020: How To Vote For Judges In The March 3 Primary

Newsom's State Of The State Was All About Homelessness

Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out plans to free up public properties for shelters, ramp up mental health care and tighten the screws on cities that don't build housing. Watch live.

Gov. Gavin Newsom's 2020 State of The State address had a single focus: homelessness.

"Let's call it what it is, it’s a disgrace," Newsom said, "that the richest state in the richest nation — succeeding across so many sectors — is falling so far behind to properly house, heal, and humanely treat so many of its own people."

In a nearly hour-long speech, Newsom announced plans to loosen regulations on building shelters, ramp up mental health care and make it easier to force the mentally ill into treatment.

He also said he would increase pressure on counties to spend tax dollars earmarked for mental health treatment, require local governments to show progress on housing homeless people and work with the legislature to insure more housing, especially affordable housing and housing along transit lines, gets built.

Newsom said he was immediately freeing up 286 state-owned properties to be used to address homelessness.

He also called for a consistent state budget to address homelessness.

"In order to reverse decades of neglect … we're also going to need more than just one-time funding," he said.

We'll have more analysis on Newsom's speech soon.

Hollywood Tour Buses Might Get Banned From Some Ritzy Neighborhoods

A double decker tour bus in Hollywood

Los Angeles is taking a step toward limiting the streets on which tour buses can drive. After months of discussion, the L.A. City Council’s Trade, Travel and Tourism committee advanced a motion Tuesday that would grant authority to the L.A. Department of Transportation to decide which streets are off limits.

The Hollywood Hills are among the most popular routes for tour buses. But according to one tour bus operator, if limitations are imposed, tourists are the ones who will suffer.

“If we are prevented from being able to go anywhere in the Hollywood Hills at any time, it's not so much a loss for us – we're gonna go to other streets,” Jeff Napshin, the President and CEO of Star Track Tours, told KPCC/LAist media partner NBC4. “What's gonna happen is that view, that experience that visitors from all over the world want and want to experience of L.A., they're not gonna have that opportunity.”

Some residents, however, are in favor of the regulations, noting that tour bus operators often overstep their boundaries.

“They've been violating privacy,” said Hollywood Hills resident Anastasia Mann. “They literally pull into people's driveways and let tourists get out and look in windows.”

The motion now moves to the full city council.


LAist Investigation Re-ignites State Bill Calling For Rental Registry

(Dan Carino for LAist)

A state assemblywoman wants to collect new data on rental housing in California. The new bill from Oakland lawmaker Buffy Wicks, AB 2406, would track rents, vacancies, ownership and more for landlords with at least 5 units.

Wicks pledged to re-introduce the bill after KPCC broadcast our special report, STUCK, which shined a light on the lack of public information about landlords in California. "I'm bringing the bill back," she said. "It's my number one priority."

We found a rental empire spanning the state, with a track record of dirty, dangerous and even deadly conditions.

Wicks said the data will help California figure out how to address its housing crisis. Currently, she told LAist:

"It's really hard to get information about what's happening. It's hard for the tenants to do that. It's hard for journalists to do it, it's hard for lawmakers to do it. So that's why I think the rental registry is really important."


How Angelenos Are Getting Around (The New And The 'No Duh')

A man rides a shared electric scooter in Santa Monica on July 13, 2018. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

A new survey by USC Dornsife has a number of surprising and not-so-surprising findings about our transportation habits.

The just-released Mobility Report finds that — wait for it — the personal car is still king. The study shows that 33% of L.A. residents rely solely on a personal vehicle, while only 2% rely solely on public transportation.

Public transit is still the most common substitute – the bus more so than the Metro – but people report being concerned about safety and convenience (read: cost, long wait times and a lack of nearby stops).

USC Dornsife psychology professor Wendy Wood says the survey results affirm that the city's transportation crisis can be best addressed "adding some friction to make it more difficult to drive."

The report is based on a survey of 1,400 Los Angeles County residents.

Here are some of the more interesting takeaways:

  • Ride-hailing (think Uber and Lyft) is used with the highest frequency by lower-income residents as a complement to public transit.
  • E-scooters were ranked among the least frequently used forms of transportation. It might feel like there's a Bird and Lime parked on every corner, but 94% of residents say they've never used one.
  • Personal cars are involved in more traffic accidents and collisions by far than any other mode of transportation.
  • Harassment and assault are reportedly happening more often to people walking than riding the bus or Metro (and much more often to women).
  • Nearly half our residents are missing out on social or leisure activities because of transportation problems (commute times were too long or people didn't have access to affordable transportation).



LA Homelessness Agency Launches Plan To Treat Homelessness Like A Disaster

A tent on Skid Row, June 30, 2019. (James Bernal/LAist)

Nearly 60,000 people sleeping on the streets of L.A. sure seems like a disaster to many Angelenos. Now, local leaders plan to treat it like one.

The L.A. Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) plans to start organizing homeless services through a Housing Central Command, modeled after the federal approach to housing people after natural disasters. It presented the plan in a report to the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Since December, LAHSA officials have worked with experts on emergency housing to draft a plan to more quickly house homeless people who qualify for permanent supportive housing in L.A.

Currently, people in LAHSA's system have to wait an average of 10 months between being matched to housing and signing a lease.

The first step of the revamp plan is taking inventory of available units.

This has been challenging, LAHSA’s Interim Executive Director Heidi Marston told the Board of Supervisors, since LAHSA is governed and funded by so many different entities. (LAHSA is an independent body jointly created by the city and county of L.A. It manages over $400 million each year in city, county, state and federal funding to fight homelessness.)

“The intention of Housing Central Command is to bring that universal understanding so that we’re looking at how all of our resources interact with each other regardless of who funds them and who administers them,” Marston said.

LAHSA officials plan to test out the new strategy on housing applicants in Downtown and East L.A. this week. At this point, it’s not clear how many permanent supportive housing units are actually available, but agency officials say they should know more in 30 days.


It’s Wednesday, Feb. 19 And Here Are The Stories We’re Following Today

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

It's warming back up today, and the clouds are going to clear. We're also working to clear any cloudy thinking as you prep for California's primary by adding to our growing list of voter guides on key issues and races.

When you're done doing your civic duty, check out our deep dive into L.A.'s best gumbo spots, and wind down with a delicious bowl. You deserve it. Here's what we are...

Covering Today:

  • We found the best gumbo in L.A.
  • Heading into the March 3 primary, reporter Emily Elena Dugdale profiles incumbent District Attorney Jackie Lacey.
  • Governor Gavin Newsom will deliver his State of the State Address before a joint convention of the California Legislature.
  • The L.A. City Council is taking up a plan to require landlords to submit plans for "substantial remodeling" before evicting tenants through a provision in AB1482. Reporter David Wagner brings us the story.
  • Reporter Brianna Lee offers up more voting guides for the primaries.
  • The L.A. Board of Supervisors is expected to hear a report on barriers to getting more people experiencing homelessness into permanent housing.

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The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft.