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SoCal Plans To Build More Housing Near Jobs and Transit

Construction workers are seen atop a building of new apartments for sale in Alhambra on March 23, 2012. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Southern California city and county leaders have voted to adopt an eight-year regional housing plan after pushback from some local cities.

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) approved the plan that provides for 1.3 million new housing units across the region by 2029, meeting a requirement set by state housing officials. Each city is required to meet housing goals based on growth, access to transit and jobs.

The plan adds housing near job centers where there aren't enough homes now, says Oxnard Mayor Pro Tem, Carmen Ramírez, a SCAG representative for her area.

"There's not enough housing where the jobs are, and I think that that's a thing that we have to look at: a lot of people are commuting out of the Inland Empire to jobs in Orange County and Los Angeles County because they can afford housing there," she says.

Longer commutes have a cost, increasing pollution, traffic conjestion and making life more stressful for individuals, Ramírez says.

In February, the city of Cerritos sent a letter to SCAG asking them to adjust the housing goals to be based more on household growth. Cerritos and other cities felt the current goals were unfair and that cities did not get enough input on how goals were calculated, but after some debate the plan was approved.


8 LAX Passengers Have Been Quarantined Over Coronavirus Concerns

The exterior of LAX (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

Officials at Los Angeles World Airports today announced that eight LAX passengers have been quarantined over coronavirus concerns.

During a press conference, a spokesperson for LAWA said that he did not have information about where the individuals were taken, but that each was transported from the airport by the Centers for Disease Control and the Los Angeles County Department of Health.

"[It was] different transportation in different situations," he said.

Stationed between two hand sanitizing stations, a LAWA spokesperson addresses questions about the eight travelers who have been quarantined (CBS2)

In a statement released earlier today, LAWA officials detailed the precautions they’re taking regarding coronavirus.

Following the guidelines of federal and local officials, LAWA employees are doing deep cleaning throughout LAX every hour, and focusing on high-touch areas like handrails, escalators, elevator buttons and restroom doors (although there’s been some question as to whether that is actually happening in real time).

They’re placing hundreds more sanitizing stations throughout the airport, and cleaning bathrooms hourly as well.

Passengers who may have been exposed to the virus are being screened in isolated areas.

The virus is affecting revenue for the airport as well. Flights are already down 3.9% for March, and the Transportation Security Administration reported Thursday that passenger screenings were down 20% compared to last year.


Healthcare Workers Express Concern As Coronavirus Cases Rise

Protective face masks are being used to ward off the coronavirus. (Mladen Antonov/Getty Images)

As the number of coronavirus cases has risen past 250 in the United Statesincluding at least 60 in California — so has alarm among health care workers.

Last week, a patient with coronavirus-like symptoms showed up at the Parkview Community Medical Center in Riverside, interacting with at least 10 caregivers. However, the workers didn’t have the proper safety equipment, said John Richardson, a pathology assistant who was briefly quarantined.

“Workers were allowed to come in contact for too many hours without wearing proper safety equipment, and as a result a large number of workers had to be sent home, putting us and our families at risk,” he said in a statement.

Richardson ultimately returned to work after it was determined he hadn’t been exposed.

He and other members of SEIU United Healthcare Workers West have called on hospitals to take action to protect staff from the dangers posed by the virus.

“That kind of chaos can really contribute to the spread of the virus,” said SEIU spokesman Sean Wherley told LAist.

He added that if large numbers of healthcare workers have to stay home, that will put a tremendous strain on hospitals.

The issues go far beyond Southern California. This week, a survey of more than 6,500 nurses in 48 states showed widespread concern over the lack of preparation, communication and equipment.

Less than half of respondents reported that their employer had provided information about the virus and how to respond to possible cases. Just 29 percent were aware of plans to isolate patients with a possible coronavirus case in their facility.

The shortage of testing has also caused problems.

One Northern California nurse said in a statement that she started getting sick after caring for a patient with coronavirus. She said the CDC had made it difficult for her to get a test. “I am appalled at the level of bureaucracy that’s preventing nurses from getting tested,” she wrote.

State Bill Seeks $2 Billion A Year To Fight Homelessness

California Assemblyman Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles speaks at a press conference announcing a new bill seeking $2 billion a year in funding to fight homelessness. (Courtesy of Assemblyman Miguel Santiago's office)

A coalition of state and local leaders are backing a new bill that would allot $2 billion a year to fight homelessness across California.

Assembly Bill 3300 is different than the plan proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom: his budget calls for a one-time allocation of $1.4 billion.

Los Angeles Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, one of the state lawmakers who introduced AB 3300, said a continuous stream of funding is needed to provide long-term solutions to the homelessness crisis:

"You can't fund nonprofits, for example, to do the work of bringing in the homeless population when you can't plan for the following year. So what do we tell people when we help them one year? 'Hey we're gonna help you this year, but guess what, next year you're back out on the street.' That's just not a winning solution."

Most of the money would be divided between local governments, with 5% set aside for affordable housing. The amount of cash received would depend on the number of homeless people in the area.

Local governments would have to report back on how the money was spent and devote some of their own funds toward homelessness. The bill got the backing of L.A. leaders, including Mayor Eric Garcetti and county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.


LA Priests Among Those Allowed To Work Abroad After Sexual Abuse Accusations

The entrance to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the headquarters for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)

The Catholic Church let at least 51 priests who were credibly accused of sexual abuse move to different countries to continue working as clergy, according to an investigation from ProPublica released Friday. Of those, a handful were accused in Los Angeles prior to going elsewhere.

Among the Los Angeles-based offenders is a man ProPublica reporters describe as, “One of the most notorious cases of an accused priest moving across international borders.”

Rev. Nicolas Aguilar Rivera was transferred to L.A. after being accused of sexual abuse in Tehuácan, Mexico. Once here, Rivera allegedly molested 10 boys. Rather than strip him of his priesthood or report him to the police, however, church leaders transferred him to Mexico once again.

The news outet’s report comes from an analysis of their own database, which gathered lists of credibly accused clergy and made them public and searchable.


What The LA Marathon Is Doing To Address Coronavirus Fears

Men's elite runners take their mark at the 2019 Los Angeles Marathon. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Conqur Endurance Group)

A growing list of events and conferences have been cancelled over coronavirus fears, but the Los Angeles Marathon is still happening this Sunday.

Organizers say they're coordinating with the city's Emergency Management Department along with police, fire and other city agencies to ensure public safety. Among the precautions being taken:

  • Extra hand-sanitizing stations will be placed at the race expo, along the route, and at the start and finish lines
  • Encouraging partipants to follow safety measures, including washing their hands and staying home if they feel sick
  • Participants from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Italy, South Korea, and Iran have had their entries deferred — these are countries to which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended avoiding nonessential travel

On that last point, Dan Cruz with the L.A. Marathon says participants with deferrals will be able to participate in next year's race.

Our own reporter Sharon McNary will be running the marathon this weekend and plans to provide some live updates on KPCC.


A Quick Look At California's Changing Demographics


There are roughly 40 million people in California.

That's more people than live in the 21 smallest states combined. Combined.

California is so diverse that it’s famous for being a majority minority state, where no ethnic group claims more than 50% of the population.

We're about to get a new look at who lives among us in the Golden State. But there are big worries that the 2020 U.S. Census will undercount Californians.


Millions Of Californians Won’t Have To Pay For Coronavirus Testing, If They Need It

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. (CDC)

California Governor Gavin Newsom and state health officials have announced that Californians who have health coverage through Medi-Cal or commercial health plans won’t have to pay out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus testing, if a provider deems it's medically necessary.

There are at least 60 known cases in California.


The governor’s directive, announced late Thursday, applies to all commercial and Medi-Cal plans regulated by the state’s Department of Managed Health Care. It means that the test—if a provider deems it medically necessary—will be free for state residents who have Medi-Cal, employer-based health insurance, or health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

According to the directive, patients who providers determine are in need of testing for the virus won’t be subject to cost-sharing, meaning the out-of-pocket costs that insured patients pay for many covered medical services.

However, “this doesn’t mean every Californian should be seeking a test,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, in a statement from the state’s public health department.

Before being tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, concerned individuals should talk to their doctor or local public health department, officials said — especially if he or she has symptoms or has traveled to countries experiencing outbreaks. A doctor or medical professional will have to decide if the person is eligible for testing.

The new directive also waives costs for emergency room visits, urgent care or provider visits pertaining to COVID-19.

However, some people won’t be eligible for free testing if their employer is self-insured, meaning the company operates its own health insurance plan.


Want Trees Trimmed And Potholes Fixed? Try Your Neighborhood Council

A screenshot of an interactive map shows the location of L.A.'s 99 Neighborhood Councils. (Courtesy of Empower LA)

Knowing who to call at City Hall to get trees trimmed, illegal dumping cleaned up and potholes fixed can be tricky. One solution: contact your Neighborhood Council.

There are 99 across the city, elected groups from different communitues, which aim to make neighborhood life a little more enjoyable. Plus a whole lot more. See it as DIY democracy.

Harbor Gateway North's Neighborhood Council, squished between Carson, Torrance, Gardena and Compton, seemed especially robust to us, so we went to check it out.


LA Galaxy Fans Ready For Chicharito's Debut

Soccer star Chicharito joined LA Galaxy in January 2020 (Courtesy of the LA Galaxy)

Local fans of Mexican soccer star Chicharito (of which there are many — hundreds turned up at LAX when he first landed in LA earlier this year) will be able to see him in action Saturday for the first time. The newest LA Galaxy team member makes his debut at the home opening match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Yesterday, Chicharito told reporters how he's feeling at a news conference:

"Excited. Very motivated to do my best. We all have that mindset that we want to get those three points, and then build something special, from that, try to get to the playoffs and win the championship, of course."

We wanted to see how local fans were feeling about him joining the team. So we visited with Galaxy fans at a recent pick-up game in Hawthorne.


It’s Friday, Mar. 6 And Here Are The Stories We’re Following Today

(Chava Sanchez / LAist)

Concern about coronavirus — which, in case you weren’t sure, tends to live in the nose and mouth — is ramping up in SoCal after L.A., Pasadena, Long Beach and Orange County declared states of emergency. Stay healthy by washing your hands on the regular (although… wash your hands anyway, even when there’s not a pandemic?), also try not to paw at your face.

Here’s what else we’re...

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