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:
How Will A Show About Boyle Heights Impact Boyle Heights?
Boyle Heights has been a center of anti-gentrification sentiment for years. The neighborhood itself has a diverse history: predominantly Latino, you can still see remnants of its past as an early hub of the city's Jewish community. The Breed Street Shul stands right off Cesar Chavez Avenue, a street that a lot of locals still call Brooklyn Avenue.
Now, all the existential wrestling over this neighborhood has a new locus: a Netflix show called Gentefied (which btw got its start as a web series).
Set in Boyle Heights, it's the story of three cousins and their immigrant abuelo fighting to save the family's taqueria against a wave of change. Actress America Ferrera — currently of Superstore fame — is one of the executive producers. Here’s how she defined the term:
“a term that was created to describe when a change in a certain community is happening from within”
Ferrera spoke with local news show Take Two about navigating this sensitive topic for the show:
“This issue is a complicated one and one that is very present and very alive in Boyle Heights. One of the beauties of Boyle Heights is that it has this historic identity of activism and organizing and fighting for its own identity, and to better understand them and to better represent them, our creators and our cast spoke to local activists and organizers and organizations in the community doing the work and had conversations to better understand it. You know, that doesn't mean that there aren't still many perspectives on what the impact of making a TV show about Boyle Heights is going to have on Boyle Heights, but the intention is certainly to humanize our communities and our people and to give context to the issues that people are impacted by every single day.”
You can listen to the full interview below:
Latino Voters Could Be A Major Force In This Election
Latino voting power is on the rise in California, a fact that could have national implications, with the potential to sway political fortunes in six congressional districts.
That's what happened in the 21st District in Central California: Latinos cast almost half the votes there during the 2018 midterm and played a big part in flipping it blue. It was a tight contest, but Democrat T.J. Cox eked out enough votes to unseat longtime GOP incumbent David Valadao.
Still, Latino voter turnout continues to be among the lowest in the state. That's something outreach organizations hope to fix. Luis Sanchez, executive director of Power California, says his organization is part of a broader effort to energize Latino voters across the state:
"Candidates, campaigns, parties haven't historically focused on people of color as a majority group, even though now they make up not only the majority of the state, but in terms of the Latinx voters, they make up the plurality of anyone now under the age of 34."
Together, the get-out-the-vote coalition hopes to reach more than 500,000 eligible voters by the March 3 primary.
State Analyst Says Nix Newsom's Early Childhood Plan
Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to streamline the complicated web of agencies that support early childhood in California by creating a new state agency.
Not so fast, says the Legislative Analyst’s Office.
On Friday the nonpartisan agency tasked with advising the legislature released a report recommending lawmakers reject the proposal.
“That’s primarily because of the lack of detail we received to be able to analyze this proposal,” fiscal and policy analyst Sara Cortez told LAist. “It’s really unclear if the proposal addresses the problems.”
California currently subsidizes childcare and preschool for an estimated 413,000 kids through more than a dozen programs and initiatives managed by three different state agencies.
Newsom's proposed Department of Early Childhood Development would consolidate many of those programs under one agency.
“We’re not saying that having a new department to administer these programs is particularly a bad idea, but what we’re saying is we would just need more information to be able to analyze if this is the best option for administering childcare and preschool programs,” Cortez said.
Here are some of the questions the Legislative Analyst's Office wants answered:
- What is the underlying problem the Department of Early Childhood Development would address, and how does the new governance structure specifically address that problem?
- How would the new department result in better services for children and families?
- How would it eliminate duplication or overlap of government services?
- What's it all going to cost?
The LAO also recommended cutting the proposed number of new state preschool slots from 10,000 (at a cost of $32 million) to 1,000.
“We think the State Preschool program is unlikely to accommodate such a large increase, since more than half (about 5,400) of the additional 10,000 slots provided in 2019‑20 will go unused,” the report says.
One reason? Providers aren’t expanding fast enough.
The state doesn’t have data as to why, but the LAO’s report suggests a shortage of facilities and challenges recruiting and retaining staff are part of the problem.
LAist has reached out to the Governor's office for comment.
LA DA Won’t Charge ‘Banditos’ Sheriff’s Deputies For Fight With Other Deputies
No one will face criminal charges for a wild melee among Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies after a September 2018 party.
District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office has concluded that there’s “insufficient evidence” to prove four deputies accused of attacking fellow deputies committed any crimes.
The analysis said the location of the fight was dark and unlit, a nearby surveillance camera didn’t catch any of it, everyone involved had been drinking, participants and eyewitnesses made contradictory statements “and everyone involved has potential bias.”
Among the deputies who said they were attacked, one said he was punched multiple times in the face before being knocked out. Another said he was choked until he passed out.
The DA's office relied on an investigation conducted by the Sheriff’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau.
The analysis said the four deputies who said they were attacked spoke to investigators, as did several other people who were at the party.
But all four deputies accused of carrying out the attacks refused to be interviewed, as did 21 other deputies identified as possible witnesses, according to the analysis.
After the fight, Sheriff Alex Villanueva transferred a number of senior officials out of the East L.A. Station, including the captain, and the four accused deputies were placed on paid leave.
The fight was one of the most alarming incidents listed in a lawsuit by eight Sheriff’s deputies who were stationed at the East L.A. station. The suit alleges the “Banditos” clique of deputies runs the station “like a prison yard,” harassing, intimidating and bullying deputies who fall out of favor.
Adam Schiff: Save Affordable Housing With A New Tax Break For Owners
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) has a plan to stem the rapid loss of L.A.'s affordable housing: offer a tax break to building owners if they sell to someone who will keep the housing affordable. Schiff is in Hollywood today to promote the bill.
The Affordable and Homeless Housing Incentives Act would exempt building owners from having to pay capital gains tax if they sell to an affordable housing operator, like the government or a nonprofit. Property owners would also have to reinvest the proceeds in another property within three years.
The new housing operator would then have to agree to use the property as affordable housing for low-income families, or as a shelter, for at least 30 years.
L.A.'s housing department has estimated that 11,771 units are at risk of converting from affordable to market-rate rents in coming years. Schiff's bill is designed to help affordable housing operators compete for property in tight markets like L.A.
Schiff convened a roundtable on Friday to get feedback on the bill from local legislators, developers and residents. He also planned to tour the Coronel Apartments, recently-opened affordable housing units in East Hollywood.
Police Kill Shooting Suspect At A Long Beach Popeye’s
After reportedly opening fire outside a Popeye’s in Long Beach, a 22-year-old man is dead after being shot by an officer and then struck by a police car.
A man and woman were injured by gunfire prior to police arriving on the scene. Both were taken to a hospital, where the man is in critical condition and the woman is in stable condition, according to the Long Beach Police Department.
Officers believe the 22-year-old man, whose identity hasn’t been released, is responsible for those injuries.
Police were called to the scene at about 9:20 p.m. on Thursday. In a statement, LBPD said that an officer opened fire on the suspect when they saw him at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Market Street.
According to the statement, the suspect then fired at the police car, at which point the officer behind the wheel deliberately hit the suspect with the car.
The incident began with an altercation at the Popeye’s, according to KPCC/LAist media partner NBC4.
Castaic Dam Rides Out Small Quake, But A Massive One Could Unleash A Catastrophe
The 3.5 magnitude earthquake that hit early Friday morning near Interstate 5 was only a mile away from Castaic Dam. That’s important, because the dam has one of the lowest safety ratings in Los Angeles County — due to seismic vulnerabilities.
The dam was inspected after the earthquake and no problems were detected, said Department of Water Resources spokeswoman Maggie Macias. When it was completed in 1974, it was built to a standard meant to withstand a much bigger earthquake.
But a massive quake near the dam could have catastrophic consequences if the main dam failed. Within 18 minutes, the rush of water could flood an area less than 2 miles away. Within an hour, it would be under 104 feet of water.
That’s according to the inundation map on file with the state Department of Water Resources.
Everything in the flood path from Magic Mountain to the Pacific Ocean in Oxnard could be washed away.
HOW THINGS COULD UNFOLD
Castaic Lake can hold up to 323,700 acre-feet of water — enough to fill the Rose Bowl stadium 703 times.
If Castaic dam failed and released all its water, a tall wave of water would move south to Castaic Junction, where Interstate 5 meets state Highway 126.
Then it would follow gravity west in a broad destructive path along the Santa Clara River and put Oxnard under 5 feet of water.
It would take the flood wave just 10 hours to reach the Pacific.
HOW WE KNOW
That scenario is public today, and available online, because of the extensive flooding that occurred after the Oroville emergency spillway failed in February 2017.
That spurred state officials to force dam owners — including the owners of Castaic dam — to take a closer look at whether they, too, had faulty spillways, and make more data public, including annual dam safety ratings (posted online), new emergency action plans and inundation maps.
Castaic was already one of a handful of dams in Los Angeles and surrounding counties rated by the state to be in “fair” condition. The dam fell one level short of the top rating of “satisfactory” because its outlet towers and the bridge to access them could be vulnerable in an earthquake. Also, the dam’s left abutment might be unstable, so that’s being evaluated.
The dam is due for repairs that the state characterizes as a “modernization” to bring up the safety rating.
A bridge that workers use to reach a water intake tower needs a seismic retrofit. The state is also evaluating the condition of a 60-foot wide concrete spillway and running earthquake analyses on some other components of the dam. Once they finish evaluating what work is to be done, the repair and upgrade work could take another decade to finish.
LA Leaders Want LAX To Study A Public Transit Incentive Program
Would people take public transit to LAX if it meant they got to jump to the front of the TSA security line? Los Angeles leaders want to find out.
The L.A. City Council approved a motion this week calling on Los Angeles World Airports, which runs LAX, to consider a program to allow public transit riders priority at security checkpoints. That would potentially include people who take Metro rail and buses, the LAX Flyaway Bus, other municipal transit providers, or private bus services, according to the motion filed by Councilman Bob Blumenfield.
The intertwined goal is to reduce car traffic and greenhouse gas emissions by boosting regional transit ridership — which has plummeted in recent years.
Read the full story here:
3.5 Magnitude Quake Wakes Up Castaic
Did you feel it?
Residents in Castaic were rattled by a 3.5 magnitude earthquake this morning. It struck the community about 5:45 a.m.
No damages have been reported.
Here's a look at locations in Southern California where people are telling the U.S. Geological Survey they felt the shaking:
New Vote Centers Open This Weekend, But Most Angelenos Have No Idea
Election “Day” is so 2016. Californians have been voting by mail since the beginning of this month, and in L.A. and Orange Counties, voting in-person starts Saturday morning, when the first round of centralized “vote centers” will open.
Let’s recap the changes for WHERE to vote:
- Most neighborhood polling places are going away, so your old voting spot may no longer be there. Instead, you’ll probably have to travel a bit farther to a new vote center.
The first group of these centers is open for 11 days beginning this weekend. The rest open on Feb. 29th, through election day.
- You can go to any location in the county where you’re registered -- and you don’t need to bring a mail-in ballot to surrender if you decide to vote in-person.
HOW to vote is also different in 2020:
- In L.A. County, most in-person voters will use a new ballot marking machine that prints a paper ballot. If you’d rather vote on paper at your kitchen table, you have until Tuesday, Feb. 25 to request a vote-by-mail ballot.
- At Orange County vote centers, voters will have the choice of hand-marking a paper ballot or using a ballot marking machine.
WILL THESE CHANGES LEAVE SOME VOTERS BEHIND?
New research is painting a troubling picture about whether Angelenos know about the new vote centers, spelled out in a 2016 law called the Voter’s Choice Act.
On Thursday, the USC Price-Schwarzenegger Institute published results from its California Issues Poll showing just over 37% of likely voters in the 15 counties implementing Voter’s Choice Act changes in 2020 were aware that where and how to cast ballots was changing.
In Los Angeles, 62.2% either didn’t know about the changes or couldn’t answer the question. In contrast, over half of respondents (51%) in Orange County knew about the changes.
Collect $3,000 — Free — To Retrofit Your Home
When a big earthquake hits your area, your house might fly off its foundation and collapse if:
- It’s wood–framed
- Built before 1980
- Has a crawl space and/or a cripple wall
- It’s never been retrofitted before
The good news is that this year the California Earthquake Authority (CEA) is offering as much as $3,000 each to 4,400 California homeowners to help pay for retrofitting their places.
There are an estimated 1.2 million homes across the state that could be vulnerable, according to the CEA. Considering it could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in fixes, and years out of your house if your home is thrown off of its foundation, the program might be worth looking into.
We have all the details:
Newsom Is Offering State Property For Homeless Housing. One City Already Has An Idea
Governor Newsom’s plan to reduce homelessness includes leasing state-owned property to local governments for shelters or other homeless services.
The Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa is one of those properties on the table. Mayor Katrina Foley already has a plan: 1,500 units of affordable, veterans and homeless housing.
“That would basically end veteran’s homelessness in Orange County,” Foley said of her proposal.
The current buildings would be demolished after the last resident moves out of the facility later this year. The development center had been slated for closure.
Foley submitted her proposal to Newsom last month. She said the initial response from his office was positive. Still, she said she doesn’t know how much the new units will cost, who will pay, or who would run it.
“We’re up in the treetops. We’re very conceptual at this point,” Foley said.
She doesn’t expect anything to be built for at least another year.
- Costa Mesa council endorses vision of mixed-income housing on Fairview Developmental Center property (Daily Pilot)
- Governor Newsom Went All In On Homelessness For His State of the State (LAist)
- Ad Hoc Committee plan for Fairview (Costa Mesa City Council)
It’s Friday, Feb. 21 And Here Are The Stories We’re Following Today
Clouds will begin to gather today as the weather cools off a bit from yesterday’s highs in the low 80’s.
We didn't get caught up in the bee swarm that sent five people in Pasadena to the hospital after a hive was discovered at a hotel near Pasadena City College yesterday (that's a few miles from our headquarters). Ouch.
Here's a look at what we're...
- Jacob Margolis reports on California’s Earthquake Brace + Bolt program, which provides grants up to $3,000 for homeowners in high-risk areas to lessen the potential for damage during an earthquake with a seismic retrofit.
- The GOP has been distributing confusing Trump campaign mailers that look like census forms, reports Josie Huang. Democrats in Orange County are pushing back.
- Gov. Gavin Newsom announced 286 state-owned properties that can be leased for homeless services. What's available in L.A., and how can they be used?
- Nontraditional voting centers, like car dealerships, that will replace traditional polling places in L.A. County will open Saturday.
In Case You Missed It:
- California state lawmakers voted on a resolution to apologize for interning 110,000 people of Japanese descent during World War II.
- USC announced that it would waive tuition for students whose families make less than $80,000 a year.
- State officials agreed to direct $50 million towards literacy programs as part of a settlement.
- The work of photographers who’ve captured the devastation of wildfires over the past few years is on display at the California Museum of Photography in Riverside.
- In an $18.8 million settlement, Time Warner Cable is reimbursing customers who said they didn’t get the internet speed they paid for.
- After a teacher was placed on leave for using a racial slur towards a student, more kids at Long Beach Polytechnic High School say they’ve been interviewed by police.
- L.A. officials opened the doors to a new homeless navigation center in North Hollywood.
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.