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Mayor Garcetti Launches Slow Streets Program, Extends Moratorium On Parking Tickets To June
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced today the launch of the city's "Slow Streets" program, which will temporarily restrict traffic to give pedestrians more room to safely engage in activities such as walking, skating and biking, while maintaining the suggested six feet of social distance.
"We're not closing any streets," the mayor clarified. “We know that families still need to be able to drive to and from their homes, so emergency access will always be allowed. But we're going to redirect traffic on some of our local roads for stretches of about two miles, so more of us can have some safety and [more easily] move through our neighborhood streets.”
The mayor said the city has already started the program in two westside neighborhoods -- Del Rey and Sawtelle. The partially closed streets there cover about seven miles. The city has already received a dozen other applications from neighborhood councils around L.A. He advised those who are interested in applying to do so at coronavirus.la-city/slowstreets, noting that sponsorships will be needed to fund closures at the local level.
The Department of Transportation website includes this note: “The City will work with community based organizations in denser, park poor communities to ensure these neighborhoods have the resources needed to apply.”
Garcetti noted that the idea behind the program is focused on equal access to exercise, across L.A.
"It's about enabling folks to get some exercise while you're remaining closer to home, by not having to go to a park or a trail or a beach. It's also about equity. Not everybody lives right next to a park with hills; not everybody's close to the beach. We should make sure that hard hit communities, and those that are more inland or in flatter areas have the same exercise capacity as other places.”
He also said the program will address the recent uptick in fatal traffic collisions, caused by speeding on less occupied roads, by allowing people to walk safely.
When Garcetti first issued the safer-at-home order, he said the city wouldn’t ticket cars in residential neighborhoods for not moving their cars on street sweeping days. “We still were sweeping the streets, but we weren't going to ticket you simply because you couldn't move a car, because you were staying home you needed to be home,” he said.
The city is also holding off on ticketing and towing vehicles that are abandoned, oversized, or have expired registration or parking permits.
All of these temporary moratoriums on parking enforcement were supposed to end May 15, but will now be extended to June 1.
Some regular parking tickets will still be issued, but the mayor said the city is prioritizing tickets for parked cars that are blocking emergency services or curbside pickup zones for newly reopened businesses.
MORE DETAILS ABOUT MASK ORDER
The mayor clarified a couple points about his mandatory mask order, which sparked public confusion and debate when it was announced yesterday. He said specifically that you don’t need to wear a mask while you’re in the car by yourself or if you’re just going outside to check your mail.
Of course that leaves a zillion other scenarios left un-addressed, but the main point seems to be to wear the mask only if you are in close proximity to other people.
“Wearing a face covering isn't an inconvenience," Garcetti said. "It's actually a statement. Wearing a face covering says, ‘I love and I care for my neighbors.’ Wearing a face covering says ‘I have respect for workers on the frontlines.’"
Businesses can call LAPD if anyone violates the mask policy and enters their store or shop without a mask. Grocery stores and pharmacies also have the right to refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask.
“We can't have a police officer in every single store, but law enforcement is always available for confrontations,” he said, referring to a question about a recent incident at a Van Nuys Target store, where an employee's arm was broken.
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THE CURVE
Garcetti said the COVID-19 curve has flattened and plateaued.
- New cases of the virus have plateaued to about 800- 1,000 new cases per day, countywide.
- The number of deaths has now stabilized at about 300 a week.
“The stabilizing of the curve also means the pandemic is not growing out of control,” he added, “and that's a good thing for all of us to hear. We're not seeing the data skyrocket as we did in previous weeks.”
WHY CAN YOU SIT AT PARKS BUT NOT BEACHES?
In response to a question about the consistency of rules about where you can sit, Garcetti said the reason the city is allowing sunbathing/lounging/picnicing at parks, but not beaches because they tend to get more crowded than parks.
“Not everybody rushes to the same park the way that we all rush to the same beaches,” he said. So it’s more of a crowd control thing than a science thing."
He also said he doesn’t want to create a “police state” by stationing law enforcement at the beaches. Plus, they're are just too sprawling to monitor. Instead, he asked that everyone try to respect the guidelines so that we can move forward with reopening plans and not risk a second wave.
WILL COMMUNITY POOLS OPEN FOR SUMMER?
Pretty hard no on this one. Although coronavirus doesn’t spread in water, public health experts are concerned about crowding at pools, so the mayor does not expect them to open anytime soon.
“I hate to always sometimes be the bearer of bad news, but I don't think that is right around the corner,” Garcetti said.
Judge Orders Homeless People Living Under Freeways To Be Relocated
L.A. City and County must move homeless people away from freeway encampments and into shelters or alternative sites instead, according to a landmark new ruling that goes into effect on May 22.
It's been handed down by Judge David O. Carter, as part of a lawsuit that accuses local government of neglecting the homelessness crisis in the region.
READ THE FULL STORY:
Column: An Uneasy Life On The Pandemic Frontlines For DACA Workers As SCOTUS Decision Looms
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on whether the Trump Administration can end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program that gave temporary, renewable protection from deportation to young immigrants without legal status who were brought to the U.S. as children.
In the nearly 10 years since DACA began, many recipients have built entire lives, had families, and landed good jobs — in many cases, essential jobs. Like the one held by Mary Kate, who risks exposure to COVID-19 daily in a large grocery store. Then she disinfects her work clothes, comes home, showers, and frets about the possibility of being deported to a country she left at age three.
"'I'm so worried that at any given moment they will take it away," she said. "I depend on it to actually continue working. And it can end at any moment and they can come for me and take me away from my family."
If that feeling sounds an awful lot like the existential fear most people have about getting COVID-19, that's because it is.
READ THE COLUMN:
MORE FROM ERICK GALINDO:
- How A Downey Food Bank Is Helping Feed Families Who Have No Safety Net
- Meet The Woman Who Answers Questions For Undocumented Angelenos
- How A $100 Gift Card Helped A Lynwood Family Start A Menudo Delivery Service
- How My 60-Year-Old Immigrant Mom Is Excelling In Quarantine
- This Is What It's Like To Get Tested for Coronavirus In Los Ángeles
- It Hurts To See Los Angeles This Way
- Living On LA's Margins, There's Not Much Time To Obsess About Coronavirus
- How Carnicerias, Liquor Stores, Tienditas And Latino Supermarkets Are Feeding Their Neighborhoods
- 'I Am Straight Up In Tears Right Now.' Why Kobe Bryant's Death Hurts So Much
LA’s Essential Workers Face High Risk On The Job, Overcrowding At Home
For L.A.’s essential workers, the housing crisis has become a public health crisis.
According to U.S. Census data, L.A. has the most severely overcrowded housing of any large metro area in the country. And essential workers — such as those in food prep, transportation and healthcare — are more likely than non-essential workers to live in cramped quarters.
“There is this kind of multiplier effect of people who are out in the community, and then bringing back risk to additional people in their crowded living conditions,” said Public Policy Institute of California research fellow Paulette Cha.
We Aren't Locked Down, We Are Locked Out: A Homeless Man's Chronicle of Life During A Pandemic
Los Angeles has the largest unsheltered population in America. When California went into lockdown the lives of the homeless community in the county were completely upended. Homeless photographer Bumdog Torres lives this reality everyday.
"We aren't locked down, we are locked out. Locked out of libraries, McDonald's, Starbucks, community centers, gyms, you name it. We all used to hang out at this Coffee Bean, charging our stuff and using the internet. Now we have to find one place to hang out, another place where we can charge our stuff, ANOTHER place to get internet."
Over the last several weeks Bumdog set out to capture how his life and the lives of those around him changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. When speaking on the reality of being homeless during a pandemic bumdog has this to say:
"People are told to stay home and not go anywhere. And if you don't have a home, stay where you are and die. And try not to cough on anyone in the process."
CHECK OUT THE FULL PHOTO ESSAY:
LA County's Coronavirus Infection Rate Is Now 1-1, Down From 3-1
Los Angeles County has reduced the rate of COVID-19's spread from three people for every one person infected to just one, according to public health officials.
The infectiousness of the new coronavirus is one of the factors that has concerned health officials, and county public health director Barbara Ferrer attributes much of the success in slowing the disease's spread to the cooperation of everyone who has been taking precautions such as physical distancing and wearing a face covering.
A NEW RECOVERY DASHBOARD
As part of its effort to monitor how well the coronavirus pandemic is being contained, Los Angeles County is launching a new recovery dashboard.
Ferrer said the new website will include specific indicators the county is relying on to make decisions about when to further relax restrictions and when new ones may need to be introduced.
"And there are two important questions that we need to always be answering through our recovery journey. The first question is: How capable are we of slowing the spread of COVID-19? This means do we have everything we need in place to make sure we can continue to slow the spread. And the second question we ask is: How effective are we at preventing the spread of COVID-19? This would help us understand if the actions we're taking together are really continuing to work."
Here are the indicators the county is watching to help answer those questions.
HOW CAPABLE ARE WE OF SLOWING THE SPREAD OF COVID-19?
- At least 10% of beds in intensive care units available
- At least 20% of ventilators available
- At least 60% of all hospitals have a 15-day supply or more of personal protective equipment
- 90% of all newly reported cases are followed up within a day
- 15,000 COVID-19 tests a day
HOW EFFECTIVE ARE WE AT PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF COVID-19?
- Average daily deaths decreased or remained stable for last 14 days
- No increases in specific groups by race, ethnicity and income to ensure the county's actions are not increasing health inequities
- Average number of people currently hospitalized decreased or stable
- 90% of nursing homes with one or more reported case are offered testing for all staff and residents in a timely manner
Ferrer reported 47 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 1,755.
She also reported 962 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 36,259 cases countywide. That total includes 1,157 cases reported in Long Beach and 662 in Pasadena (those two cities operate their own health departments).
Of the 47 people who’ve died, 37 were over 65 and, of those victims, 30 had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said. Five people were between 41 and 65 and two of them had underlying health conditions.
Ferrer also provided a demographic breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information for 1,615 of the victims. Those death rates are listed below as the number of deaths for every 100,000 people in the given group:
- 55-150 - Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander (unstable because of the low overall number of deaths)
- 22 - African American
- 19 - Latino/Latina
- 15 - Asian
- 11 White
So far, 92% of those who have died had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said. About 16% of all cases have resulted in hospitalization. Fully 40% are 65 years or younger, which means a lot of people in different age groups who also have underlying conditions have become seriously ill, and some have died, she said.
Of those hospitalized today, 16% are in ICU, and 19% are on ventilators, she said.
L.A. County now has results back on more than 282,000 COVID-19 tests, with 11% returning positive.
FilmWeek: Our Reviews Of 'Scoob!,' 'Capone,' 'Mother’s Little Helpers' And More Movies You Can Stream From Home
Every week, Larry Mantle, who hosts our newsroom's longtime public affairs show AirTalk, and KPCC film critics spend an hour talking about new films.
This week, Christy Lemire, Wade Major and Charles Solomon join Larry to review this weekend’s new movie releases and share some of their recommendations:
- Available on digital everywhere (Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Google Play, FandangoNOW, Vudu, Microsoft & YouTube)
Here's what Charles said:
"This is one of those crazy quilt films that are stitched together out of pieces of other things. For a lot of Gen-Xers, Scooby Doo is really an iconic show -- it’s got all those wonderful childhood memories -- but I don’t understand why, if you want to do a remake of it, you don’t do a remake of it. Scooby Doo was always about the gang solving mysteries... and in this case they’re on this enormous adventure trying to stop Dick Dastardly from releasing Cerberus from the underworld, and it’s not what you watch Scooby Doo for.”
Laemmle’s Virtual Cinemas & digital (iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google Play, FandangoNOW, Vudu & YouTube)
Here’s Wade’s review:
"It is so watchably unwatchable it is magnificent. These come around every so often, and it’s really true when great actors make bad movies, they give the best terrible performances. Tom Hardy is such a good actor that when you stick him in a part that’s this badly written and a movie that’s this bad, he just takes it to the nth degree, and I couldn’t help but think that Al Pacino was watching this in awe. It is really, truly a spectacular trainwreck to behold.”
- Available on digital (Amazon Prime, Google Play, YouTube)
"This is a very familiar kind of genre but it has surprises over and over again. There is a real emotional authenticity going on here, and Kestrin Pantera came up with the story based on some experiences in her own life, and all the other actors playing the siblings contributed to the script, so each character feels very well-defined and distinct. I like the way this is shot with sort of a gauze-y, nostalgic look to some of the flashbacks that gives it a vivid sense of place. It’s a really nice little indie.”
- Available on digital (Vudu, FandangoNow & Google Play)
Here’s Wade’s review:
“These are the fruits of the next generation after Jordan Peele. [He] did something with ‘Get Out’ that really lit a fuse, which was to say you can take social issues and horror and put them together in an artful way. That’s exactly what this is doing, and it’s spinning a story that’s fairly simple, but in an incredibly tense way. The suspense here is so thick you could cut it with a knife.”
“It is moody and suspenseful and kinda strange and really, really gory, so if you’re not good with extreme blood and gore, you’re gonna have a problem here. Especially with teeth ... if you have a problem with teeth, you might have difficulty watching this. But I was surprised at how much I liked it.”
Listen above to hear more in-depth reviews of these films and more:
- “The Ballad Of Esequiel Hernández” on iTunes & Amazon Prime
- "Castle in the Ground” on iTunes, Google Play & FandangoNow
- "Blood and Money” on iTunes, Apple TV & FandangoNow
- “Up From The Streets” at Laemmle’s Virtual Cinema
- "Proximity” on iTunes, Amazon Prime, FandangoNow, & Vudu
- “Samurai Marathon” on AppleTV, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu
ABOUT OUR CRITICS:
- Christy Lemire is film critic for RogerEbert.com and co-host of the ‘Breakfast All Day’ podcast; she tweets @christylemire
- Wade Major is film critic for KPCC and CineGods.com
- Charles Solomon is film critic for Animation Scoop and Animation Magazine
Asked Not To Attend LA City Council Meetings, José Huizar Says He Will Limit Participation Going Forward
Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez is asking Councilmember José Huizar not to attend any more meetings until there’s “legal clarity” regarding his involvement in the city’s “pay-to-play” bribery scheme.
Martinez’s office confirmed the move to us, but stopped short of calling it a suspension. It will mean Huizar is unable to vote on city matters.
Huizar responded in a statement saying he would continue district work but limit participation with the city council:
Statement from CD 14 City Councilmember Jose Huizar: he will continue his work in the district but -- at Council President Martinez's request -- he will "limit" his participation in council going forward @LAist @KPCC pic.twitter.com/udodqj5gnY— Libby Denkmann (@libdenk) May 15, 2020
Back in Nov. 2018, FBI agents raided Huizar’s Boyle Heights home and council district offices. He has not been charged with any crimes.
Martinez's office calls the move an effort to preserve the council’s integrity.
That integrity is under federal investigation at the moment. The FBI has been looking into possible corruption at City Hall in a probe that includes multiple suspected "pay-to-play" schemes involving city officials, developers, investors, lobbyists and others.
So far, three people have pleaded guilty.
That includes George Chiang, a Granada Hills real estate developer who authorities say offered bribes to public officials — including an unnamed member of the City Council — to smooth the passage of real estate projects.
Court papers detail how the councilmember accepted bribes from a Chinese real estate business, for which Chiang consulted.
Chiang became a "close political ally" of a city councilmember on the powerful Planning and Land Use Management Committee, according to Department of Justice officials. Huizar had been a member of that committee before being stripped of his committee duties following the Nov. 2018 FBI raid.
This March, former Councilmember Mitch Englander surrendered to federal authorities and later pleaded not guilty to seven federal counts of obstruction of justice. He faces a maximum of 50 years in prison for allegedly trying to cover up an extravagant Las Vegas trip and accepting $15,000 in cash from an unnamed businessman.
READ MORE ABOUT THE CITY HALL CORRUPTION PROBE:
- Timeline: Follow The FBI's Sweeping LA City Hall Corruption Investigation Through The Years
- 'Absolutely Stunning' Indictment Alleges Former LA Councilman Englander Took Cash Payouts In Casino Bathrooms
- The FBI Is Shaking Up LA City Hall. They May Be Looking For Chinese Money
- After FBI Raid, Richelle Huizar Won't Be Running For Her Husband's Council Seat After All
Judge Will Decide Whether LA Should Humanely 'Remove' Homeless Encampments During Pandemic
A potential order to ban homeless encampments under and around Los Angeles freeways will go before U.S. District Judge David O. Carter today.
The city and county of Los Angeles had to deliver a plan to the judge on the quickest and most humane way to remove freeway encampments. The judge previously cited concerns over public health and safety issues for the homeless community during the spread of COVID-19.
Daniel Conway with the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights says the move could be the seed for much larger change.
"Not only would it require the city and county to work together to relocate thousands of people to more safe conditions. But in doing so they could create a prototype of how to do that of other folks living unsheltered."
In March, the Alliance, a coalition of Skid Row-based businesses and formerly homeless individuals, sued the city and county over not doing enough to address the homeless problem in Downtown L.A.
You may remember Judge Carter from an Orange County case that led to the dismantling of the Santa Ana riverbed encampment and a continued battle over placement of homeless shelters.
MORE ON HOMELESSNESS
- Judge Slams LA's 'Inadequate' Attempts To Improve Homeless Conditions
- Judge Carter Is Ready To Force LA Leaders To Deal With Homelessness As Coronavirus Hits
Morning Briefing: What It’s Like To Have COVID-19
Never miss a morning briefing, subscribe today to get our A.M. newsletter delivered to your inbox.
Lots of us are trying to make the best of quarantine — we’re baking bread, catching up with old friends or finally watching a Netflix series from 2018. Others among us are eating frozen food, napping a lot or wearing the same clothes for days (weeks?) in a row. Unless we personally experience the coronavirus, it’s hard to comprehend what's going on in the world outside.
To get a better understanding of it, Elly Yu talked to an ER doctor who survived the coronavirus after contracting it from a patient. In a rush to intubate her spiraling charge, Mizuho Morrison wasn’t able to get a face shield in time.
"We do the best we can and we adapt, but these are just high-risk procedures at baseline," Morrison told Yu. "You know, we don't have these like white paint Tyvek suits that China has."
Morrison was out of work for a full month with a cough, difficulty breathing and a fever. Still, compared to other people who’ve had the disease, "I'm definitely one of the luckier ones,” she says.
Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.
Coming Up Today, May 15
Bumdog Torres, a homeless photographer we've profiled on the site, is producing a first hand account of life as a homeless person in the time of coronavirus, in collaboration with visual journalist Chava Sanchez.
AirTalk's regular Filmweek critics share their picks for what to stream at home while theaters are closed.
It's the holy month of Ramadan and this year, everything is different, reports Elina Shatkin, especially iftar — the meal Muslims use to break their daily fast.
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The Past 24 Hours In LA
L.A., California, The World: There are now 34,552 coronavirus cases and 1,663 deaths in L.A. County, and at least 73,143 cases and 2,974 deaths in California. Worldwide, there are more than 4.4 million cases and over 302,000 deaths.
Testing Positive: The Cambodian community in Long Beach seems to be hit harder by the coronavirus than other local Asian populations. Across the country, at least 164 children have fallen ill with a rare inflammatory condition, and some have tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. An ICE employee at the Adelanto detention center has tested positive. The majority of new coronavirus deaths in L.A. County occurred within institutional settings.
Money Matters: Daigou agents, who work as personal shoppers in the U.S. for residents of China, are seeing their industry implode. California faces a $54.3 billion budget shortfall, but state agencies responsible for tackling wildfires could see some boosts in their coffers if Gov. Gavin Newsom's revised budget passes as is. State officials say CalState campuses have increased fees without adequate justification.
How We’re Surviving: We talked to an ER doctor who survived COVID-19. A mother and son have opened a new channel of communication with him through letter-writing. Despite far fewer cars on the road, traffic fatalities haven’t gone down.
L.A. Arts And Entertainment: Friends of Griffith Park is buying land that was once used to film the 1960s TV version of Batman. Winesplaining, The Beastly Ball, Totally '80s aerobics, New French cinema and more. Actress Glenn Close spoke with us about her quest to end discrimination around mental illness, and why she thinks her "Fatal Attraction" character "added to the stigma" around it.
Your Moment Of Zen
Digital Producer Gina Pollack discovered this blooming bougainvillea in Echo Park.
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The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft, and check LAist.com for updates on these stories and more. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.