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Nurses In Torrance Protest Working Conditions At Their Hospital

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Registered Nurse Maria Vasquez holds a sign at the protest today (Photo courtesy California Nurses Association)

About 30 registered nurses in Torrance protested in front of their hospital, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center, Wednesday morning to demand greater protections during the pandemic.

Their demands include: greater transparency from management about PPE supply levels, an increase in staffing for all units of the hospital and a seat at the table on the hospital's infectious disease task force, among other things. The protest came as the nurses continued negotiation talks for their latest contract.

“We’re asking for better staffing because of how quickly some of these COVID-19 patients can suddenly become brittle and head downhill,” said Roseann Devlin, a nurse who joined the protest. “We’re working 12-hour shifts. We should have break nurses, so we can take our 30-minute lunch breaks and know our patients’ needs are being met.”

Devlin added that it also takes time for nurses to take their PPE on and off and sanitize it properly, which means even more time away from patients with no one to sub in for them.

To help address these concerns and those that may come up in the future, Devlin said nurses need a seat at the table where decisions are being made.

“Having a nurse who works with COVID-19 patients participate in the hospital’s infectious disease task force would create transparency,” she said. “You can have administrators at the top making decisions, but it doesn’t always translate to changes in the real world of nursing.”

In response to today’s protest, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center issued the following statement:

“We do not know why this action is taking place, as forming a pandemic task force is an active issue in negotiations. The hospital has a well established and very effective infection control committee that addresses all types of communicable disease, an existing process applicable to the current pandemic. Although we believe our current process functions effectively and is in line with industry standards, we are willing to discuss the nurses’ concerns."

A representative from the hospital also made an appearance at the protest today to speak with a nurse on the bargaining team.

The California Nurses Association, which represents the nurses, says they hope to work with the hospital to reach an agreement on contracts in the coming weeks.

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California Is About To Mail First Batch of Debit Cards To Immigrants Needing Pandemic Relief

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This worker lacks legal immigrant status so he cannot get unemployment insurance or federal stimulus funds. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

A state program to help immigrants through the pandemic is starting to send out cash aid this week.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, or CHIRLA -- one of a dozen community organizations helping the state process applications -- said it was mailing out the first batch of debit cards on Thursday.

The Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants fund was set up for immigrants who don't qualify for unemployment or federal stimulus money because they aren't in the U.S. legally, but are losing jobs just as other workers are.

CHIRLA reports processing more than 3,000 applications from L.A. and Orange counties. The demand has been overwhelming: The organization reports getting two million calls since the program opened Monday, and having to add a phone line to accommodate applicants seeking help.

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Critics Of Mayor's Budget Proposal Say LA Should Be Investing In '#CareNotCops'

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City Hall as seen from Grand Park. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Angry callers flooded the public comment line during today's remote Los Angeles City Council meeting.

What had them mad? Mayor Eric Garcetti's proposed 2020-21 budget.

Critics using the social media hashtag #CareNotCops claimed the mayor is boosting pay for police officers and firefighters at the expense of social services.

The coronavirus-era budget from Garcetti's office slices $230 million in spending by partially furloughing thousands of city workers and cutting most departments. It must be amended and passed — or accepted as-is — by the council before the new fiscal year begins July 1.

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Just 1 Firefighter Remains Hospitalized After Massive Weekend Fire In DTLA

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Firefighters gather near the scene of the Smoke and Toke fire in downtown Los Angeles. (Chava Sanchez)

Good news in that huge fire and explosion that injured 12 firefighters this weekend at the Smoke Tokes wholesaler in downtown Los Angeles.

Eleven firefighters were injured seriously enough to be hospitalized, but tonight, Los Angeles City Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas says just one is still in the hospital. The chief says that firefighter is in stable condition and beginning his recovery.

A GoFundMe page organized to benefit the injured firefighter, identified on the site as Captain Victor Aguirre, has reached more than $130,000 of a $150,000 goal.

The cause is still under investigation and the ATF is helping with that probe. A nearby location also operated by Smoke Tokes was the scene of another major fire in 2016.

Chief Terrazas said this week that the department will inspect vape and smoke shops around the city to make sure they're all in compliance with fire codes.

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Filming Could Restart Soon In California, But LA Could Be Slow

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Gov. Newsom holds online roundtable on May 20, 2020. (Screenshot from California Governor's live stream)

Governor Gavin Newsom told a panel of filmmakers that the state will introduce guidelines on Monday that could potentially help restart Hollywood production, but he offered few details and cautioned that Los Angeles County might not be ready to implement the new rules.

In what Newsom is calling his "Economic Recovery & Reinvention Listening Tour," the governor solicited feedback from director and producer Ava DuVernay, actor Jon Huertas, and Netflix executive Ted Sarandos, among others.

DuVernay reminded the governor that some of the most affected are crew members who go from one job to the next as gig workers. "I can comfortably sustain myself through these times," she said, but noted that her brother, a barber, "has nothing."

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Plans Drafted For Relocation Of Homeless From Freeways

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Tents above the 101 Freeway in Downtown LA. (Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images)

Both the city and county of Los Angeles have submitted preliminary plans to a federal judge who has ordered the “humane relocation” of thousands of homeless people currently living beneath L.A.’s countless freeway overpasses.

As part of the order, homeless encampment residents must be offered some form of shelter before any action can be taken.

Though the plans are hardly set in stone, court documents outline a rapid expansion of safe parking sites, thousands of modular “pallet shelter” tiny homes, and another option called “Safe Sleep,” modeled after a pilot government sanctioned campsite at the West Los Angeles VA.

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Share Of Asians Dying At Home In LA County Has Gone Up

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Paramedics wearing facemasks work behind an ambulance at the Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, California on March 19, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

We’ve been looking at the number of people dying at home in L.A. County during the pandemic. We requested information for deaths at home from the Medical-Examiner Coroner's department.

What we found in our analysis was a spike in deaths this April compared to last April.

But we also found some interesting data when looking at race: Asian Angelenos are making up a higher percentage of at-home deaths.

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LA Sheriff Says He Will Defy Oversight Panel's Subpoena

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L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. (L.A. County Sheriff's Department)

L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva's running feud with the Civilian Oversight Commission deepened today, when he said he would ignore its subpoena calling on him to testify tomorrow about his efforts to protect jail inmates from COVID-19.

The panel issued the subpoena May 7 after the sheriff was a no-show at previous meetings. Voters gave the commission subpoena power when they overwhelmingly approved Measure R in March.

Villanueva said the measure violates the state constitution, which he argued protects elected sheriffs from this type of local scrutiny.

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State Superintendent: If Funding Is Cut, California Schools ‘Cannot Reopen Safely’

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Several of California’s largest school systems — including Los Angeles Unified and Long Beach Unified — have warned that they would have a tough time reopening campuses this fall if they’re forced to absorb the funding cuts Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed last week.

Today, state superintendent Tony Thurmond agreed with them:

"It’s very important for us to receive more federal funding in order to offset those cuts because we believe that our school districts cannot reopen safely if they have to implement these kinds of cuts. It’s simply just a fact that … we’re going to have unavoidable expenses that schools will need to be able to account for in order to ensure that our schools open safely."

Newsom has said that some of the cuts he’s proposed — including a 10% reduction to the state’s main K-12 funding formula — would roll back if Congress and President Trump approve a new relief package for state and local governments.

Whenever campuses reopen, Thurmond said it’s “widely believed” students and staff will have to wear masks, campuses will have to be cleaned more often, and class sizes will have to be smaller — all of which will cost money.

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Feds Will Demolish 10 Buildings At Santa Susana Field Laboratory, Site Of 1959 Nuclear Meltdown

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A 1956 photo captures the atomic reactor building at Santa Susana as it neared completion. (Valley Times Collection/Los Angeles Public Library Collection)

California has reached a deal with the federal government to remove 10 buildings from the contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory in Ventura County.

The site used during the Cold War to test rocket engines and conduct nuclear research suffered a partial nuclear meltdown in 1959.

The location of the federally owned buildings on the Santa Susana site. (Department of Energy)

In a news release today, the state said the Department of Energy's removal of the buildings will prevent hazardous substances from being released into groundwater in the event of a fire followed by a heavy rain.

State officials say debris from the demolished buildings will be taken out of state for disposal.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement:

“The surrounding communities have waited a long time for decisive action at the Santa Susana Field Lab and today’s Order represents a new and important chapter towards the full cleanup.”

CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld, in the same news release, called the agreement “a significant step forward in the cleanup of this important site.”

The Energy Department, Boeing, and NASA share responsibility for cleanup of the laboratory. The Woolsey Fire, one of the largest recorded fires in L.A. County's history, burned a good portion of the site in 2018, raising questions then about possible contamination of the surrounding areas.

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Joshua Tree Reopens, With Restrictions

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Courtesy National Park Service

Joshua Tree is among the first National Parks to open to visitors since they were closed due to the pandemic.

But not everything is open: Visitor centers and group campsites remain closed and park programs are cancelled. But trails, most bathrooms, regular campsites, roads and parking lots are now open.

Some campsite reservations can be made on recreation.gov. Other sites inside the park can be reserved in person, on a first-come, first-served basis, until Sept. 4, 2020.

Kenji Haroutunian with the nonprofit Friends of Joshua Tree says there's a silver lining post-closure. He says plants have been spotted sprouting on popular unpaved trails:

"They have wildflowers growing and native grasses and other plants that are taking root there in what would have been heavily-trafficked areas."

He says there have also been more wildlife sightings at Barker Dam and other watering holes nearby.

Redwood National Park up north also reopened, beginning May 19, although restaurants, parking lots and visitor centers there will remain closed.

If you're headed to Joshua Tree, some advice: bring plenty of water. There's none at the park. There's also no cell service...so, plan accordingly.

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New Hotline For Members Of LGBTQ Community Hurt By Pandemic

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(Screenshot of Equality California's new COVID-19 website)

So far, not much is known about the extent of COVID-19 cases in California's LGBTQ community. That's because sexual orientation among infected individuals is not currently being tracked.

A bill introduced by Bay Area State Senator Scott Wiener wants to change that. Earlier this month, SB932 was approved by the health committee and referred to appropriations.

The Los Angles-based civil rights organization Equality California, which backs Wiener's bill, said there's already evidence that the LGBTQ community is at risk, both financially and physically.

This week the organizatoin launched a site to connect people with services to help with health and money issues.

Executive director Rick Chavez Zbur says the LGBTQ population is especially vulnerable, because they're overrepresented in hard-hit industries like food service and retail.

They also may have underlying health conditions — LGBTQ people have higher rates of smoking and asthma, for example, and HIV — that put them at more risk from COVID-19.

"We know that folks who are immune suppressed are more likely to contract it and are more likely to have serious health consequences – high rates of cancer, low rates of health insurance and health access."

RESOURCES:

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No Hollywood Bowl This Year Means No 'Sax Man'

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"I was so looking forward to my 37th year," Ken Warfield says, audibly crying. "But that's not gonna be at this time."

If you've passed through the tunnel under Highland Avenue on your way to or from a show at the Hollywood Bowl in the past 36 years, you've heard the sweet sound of Warfield's alto saxophone.

But with the cancellation of the 2020 season at the hundred-year-old amphitheater — compounding the crushing blow to musicians, audiences, and paid staff — comes the silencing of this unsung Hollywood legend.

Sure, the Palais Garnier had the Phantom of the Opera. But the Hollywood Bowl has the Sax Man.

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There's A Class-Action Lawsuit Against The College Board Over The AP Test Drama

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Students and parents frustrated by technical glitches in remote Advancement Placement exams have filed a class-action lawsuit against the College Board, the company that owns the AP program.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, comes during the second week of AP testing.

The college-level exams, which are normally adminstered in person, were offered online this year after the College Board surveyed AP students. "An overwhelming 91 percent reported a desire to take the AP Exam at the end of the course," the testing organization said in a statement.

But the pivot to online testing has come with its own set of challenges, from the digital divide to a platform that reportedly did not accept all students' answers.

Parents and students complained of the technical difficulties on Twitter and Facebook, but the College Board said in a statement that fewer than 1% of test takers were unable to successfully submit responses.

The lawsuit questions that statistic and seeks more than half a billion dollars on behalf of plaintiffs. It also asks the court to order the College Board to accept and score the unsuccessful submissions made by last week's test takers "by time stamp, photo and email."

In a statement, College Board Chief Risk Officer and General Counsel Peter Schwartz called the lawsuit a "PR stunt masquerading as a legal complaint" and characterized it as "wrong factually and baseless legally."

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80% Of LA County's Restaurant Jobs Are Gone; Confirmed Coronavirus Cases Top 40K

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Locked gates at Ye Olde Taco House in Downtown Los Angeles. Chava Sanchez/LAist

In a daily briefing that covered everything from the "sobering" impact on Los Angeles County businesses to the latest death toll, county leaders laid out how they are trying to weigh financial hardship and physical risks to guide the steps to reopening.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger reviewed some of the key figures from yesterday's meeting of the L.A. County Economic resilience Task Force. She noted:

  • 80% of jobs in the restaurant industry are gone
  • 890,000 film and entertainment employees are out of work, "which trickles down to many of the small businesses that provide support for this industry," Barger said.
  • More than 1 million unemployment claims have been filed in the county
  • Over 75% of people who lost jobs were earning less than $50,000 per year on average

"Anyone listening to yesterday's meeting heard loud and clear that employees and businesses are suffering," Barger said, adding:

"I understand the urgency to reopen quickly. But we must do it safely and public health guidance has to be at the [forefront of] what we do to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents."

Barger noted the task is complicated because the "county's economy is powered by small businesses and encompasses many distinct sectors, with their own needs, and with their own challenges."

The task force, she said, has brought those sector leaders together to help make decisions about reopening "because it's not a one-size-fits-all approach — and it isn't feasible for a county our size, and our diversity to do it alone."

‘VIGILANCE IS STILL OUR MOST IMPORTANT WEAPON’

Dr. Christina Ghaly, who oversees the county's Department of Health Services, gave an update on the data modeling of transmission rates in L.A. County, which shows "an increasing downturn in the daily number of new cases."

While that's promising news, she cautioned it will only continue to go down if residents keep following public health guidelines on physical distancing, mask-wearing and sanitation. Why is that important? She explained that we might not immediately know that transmission is increasing again because:

  • People who are infected today will not be ill enough to seek medical care for two to four weeks.
  • By the time we notice an increase in cases, there will have been increased spread for a number of weeks
  • That would causing higher rates of infection and put a strain on our healthcare system and workers.

"Vigilance is still our most important weapon, and it is the steps that you've heard us describe again and again, of those basic core public health measures that will make all the difference."

Dr. Ghaly also presented some projections showing how wide the virus could spread depending on our collective efforts to limit transmission. For example, if the transmission rate were to return to the levels seen before stay-at-home orders were put in place, public health officials estimate 96% of county residents would be infected by Dec. 1.

(Courtesy Los Angeles County Department of Public Health)

BY THE NUMBERS

Los Angeles County officials reported 1,324 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 40,857 cases countywide. Long Beach is currently reporting 1,400 confirmed cases in total (38 of which are not yet reflected in the county totals) and Pasadena is reporting In total, 1,362 cases have been reported in Long Beach and 704 in Pasadena (those two cities operate their own health departments).

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer also reported 57 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 1,970 people.

Of the 57 people who’ve died in the past 24 hours, 30 were over 65 and, of those victims, 24 had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said. Twelve victims were between 41 and 65 and six of them had underlying health conditions. Two victims were between 18 and 40, and both had underlying health conditions.

So far, 92% of those who have died had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said.

The death toll at institutional facilities in L.A. County — particularly at nursing homes — continues to climb. Ferrer reported that 1,033 residents at those facilities have died. Those victims account for 52% of all deaths countywide.

Ferrer also provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information confirmed for 1,826 of the victims:

  • 12% African American [9% of county residents]
  • 18% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
  • 39% Latino / Latina [48.6% of county residents]
  • 29% White [26.1% of county residents]
  • 1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander [0.4% of county residents]
  • 1% identified as belonging to a different race or ethnicity

Ferrer also noted the upcoming Memorial Day holiday encouraged everyone to use technology tools to be "together at a distance" rather than gaather in person. She warned:

“It's still relatively easy to become infected, particularly if you're not taking precautions — and unfortunately, there have been recent parties and gatherings that did result in a number of newly infected people."

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City Council Votes To Start The Process Of Capping Delivery App Fees At 15%

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Logos from Amazon, Uber Eats, Instacart and Doordash displayed on a smartphone on April 10, 2020. (OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously (with one council member absent) this afternoon to move forward with capping the fees that food delivery apps can charge restaurants at 15%.

It's not happening immediately. This is just one step in the process. Today's motion directs L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer's office to draft the ordinance and it outlines what rules the ordinance should include.

Proposed by councilmembers Mitch O'Farrell and Paul Krekorian, the proposed ordinance won't only cap the delivery fees apps such as Uber Eats, Postmates, Grubhub, DoorDash and Caviar can charge restaurants, it will also limit the marketing and promotional fees apps can charge restaurants to 5%.

Several other cities including San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Washington D.C. and Jersey City have already passed similar orders.

An Uber Eats delivery worker rides an electric scooter in Manhattan's Chinatown on March 19, 2020. (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

During today's approximately nearly hour-long discussion, the council overwhelmingly supported the overall motion but there was some back and forth about a couple of its proposals.

Councilmember Bob Blumenfield pushed back at the cap for marketing and promotional fees. But other council members said that if the ordinance didn't include such a rule, delivery apps would simply increase these fees and make them mandatory for any restaurant using its app. Although Blumenfield proposed an ammendment that would have required a separate vote in this issue, other council members shot that down.

The proposed ordinance also requires more transparency for both businesses and consumers about what fees are being charged and where that money goes. For example, most consumers don't know that most apps take a cut of whatever tips drivers receive via the app.

Also, it's temporary. The limits on delivery fee apps would end 90 days after L.A. lifts its ban on dine-in eating at restaurants.

Once again, the proposed ordinance does not address the fees food delivery apps charge consumers. It only affects the fees these apps charge restaurants on the backend.

Although it's quite possible apps could increase the service charges to consumers to make up from declining revenue from its restaurant partners. In fact, we'd bet on that.

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These SoCal Cities Are Moving Toward Al Fresco Dining Options

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A parklet in Long Beach, in front of Lola's restaurant. Brad Davis, AICP/Flickr Creative Commons

The Long Beach City Council moved forward last night with a plan to open some of its streets for al fresco eating -- one of the first cities in Los Angeles County to do so. Pasadena, Sierra Madre and Palm Springs and are considering similar options.

Sierra Madre City Manager Gabe Engeland told us:

"What we're hearing is people are much more comfortable eating outside as opposed to being inside with COVID, and being outside, from all the information we're seeing, is safer. As long as you're still social distancing, practicing good hygiene."

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Why Are There So Many Coronavirus Cases In The Terminal Island Prison?

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Inmates' families protest at Terminal Island. (Emily Elena Dugdale/LAist).

Coronavirus has torn through the low-security federal prison at Terminal Island in San Pedro. Nearly 700 inmates have tested positive at the facility, which specializes in holding people who need long-term medical or mental health care.

Some inmates' relatives want to know why things have gotten so bad at the prison, which is designed to hold just under 800 people but has more than 1,000.

A lawsuit claims prison officials "deliberate indifference" to inmates' safety is at least partly to blame.

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LA Will Consider Opening Up Streets And Sidewalks For Restaurant Dining, New System For Fitness Classes In Parks

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The outdoor seating at King Taco in Boyle Heights has been taped off. (Chava Sanchez/Laist)

In a pair of proposals announced this week, Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin said the city needs to “cut the red tape and think differently” in order to help local businesses bounce back, while still following social distancing guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The first proposal: allow restaurants to create temporary outdoor spaces for customers to dine on sidewalks, streets and in private parking lots — once public health rules allow for that.

Bonin, who represents westside neighborhoods including Brentwood, Sawtelle and Venice, said existing city programs that allow for sidewalk dining and converting streets into pedestrian plazas don’t go far enough. He’s calling on the city’s Department of Transportation and Bureau of Engineering to develop a new one. Bonin wrote in the motion:

“There is an urgent need for innovative ways to expand dining capacity or neighborhoods will lose beloved local institutions and Los Angeles will lose one of its defining cultural assets. Temporarily allowing restaurants to use some available space in the public right of way is a relatively simple and cost-effective way of boosting their capacity and helping them survive.”

The motion was inspired in large part by conversations Bonin had with local business owners, according to spokesman David Graham-Caso, and also by a similar plan floated by the mayor of Long Beach earlier this month.

Bonin’s second motion seeks to make it easier and less expensive for fitness instructors to hold outdoor classes in city parks — again, once public health guidance allows them to.

The current permitting system used by trainers and instructors “can be confusing and time consuming,” Bonin wrote, with varying rates and application processes, depending on the location. He’s asked the Department of Recreation and Parks to put a “streamlined and discounted process” in place for fitness professionals looking to book park space for classes, in ways that don’t conflict with other public use.

“...until there is a vaccine, physical distancing requirements are likely to require these businesses to stay closed or operate a greatly reduced capacity,” Bonin wrote in the motion. “People will not be able to work out in close quarters or use the same gym machinery. Therefore there is an urgent need for innovative ways to expand the ability of these businesses to operate outdoors to provide proper physical distancing.”

The motions have been referred to the council’s transportation and public works committees for review.

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Former WWE Wrestler Shad Gaspard's Body Found, Washed Ashore In Venice Beach

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Shad Gaspard poses as he arrives for the premiere of the film "Terminator Genisys" in Hollywood on June 28, 2015. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Former WWE pro wrestler Shad Gaspard went swimming with his son Sunday afternoon at Venice Beach — and his body was found early this morning, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Gaspard and his 10-year-old son Aryeh had been caught in strong rip currents — lifeguards saved the boy, but Gaspard was pulled under and swept out to sea. Gaspard was 39 years old.

"[The lifeguard] was going to try to rescue both," L.A. County Fire Department lifeguard chief Ken Haskett said. "But the father, in his last few words, said, 'Save my son.'"

Gaspard pushed his son toward the lifeguard before he was pushed back underwater himself, according to Haskett.

The 6'7" Gaspard had two separate runs in WWE as part of the tag team "Cryme Tyme," with partner JTG, between 2006 and 2010. He continued to wrestle on smaller independent shows after being released from WWE — Gaspard and JTG continued wrestling together until Gaspard's death.

The character received criticism for the stereotypical portrayal of the two black athletes as criminals, but Gaspard embraced the role and became a fan favorite.

Before going into pro wrestling, Gaspard played basketball at Georgia Perimeter College and worked as a bodyguard for Britney Spears, P. Diddy, and Mike Tyson. He'd been pursuing an acting career since leaving WWE, appearing in shows like Key & Peele and From Dusk till Dawn, along with movies like the Last Sharknado and doing stunts in the recent Birds of Prey. He even served as the physical model for the massive lead in 2018's God of War video game.

He talked about his acting inspirations in a screen test, including dropping a Shakespeare monologue and telling the story of when his Shakespearean skills were doubted in an audition:

He was well-liked, according to both fans and colleagues.

He also made news in 2016, when someone tried robbing him at a gas station — he grabbed the man's gun, then slammed him to the ground outside, restraining him until police arrived.

The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the area of Lifeguard Tower 26 just before 2 a.m. Wednesday morning, where they found Gaspard's body.

He's survived by his wife Siliana and son Aryeh.

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What LA Leaders Think About Huizar’s Future At City Hall

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City Hall from Grand Park on March 24, 2020. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

On Friday, Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez asked Councilmember José Huizar not to attend any more council meetings, the latest development as federal investigators pursue a sweeping corruption probe involving L.A. city staff, members of the City Council, developers, lobbyists and more.

Huizar has not been charged, but some of his peers have raised concerns about whether he may be implicated, and calls for his resignation are mounting at City Hall.

David Ryu (CD 4) tweeted that Huizar should resign. Paul Krekorian (CD 2) said the people "can no longer have confidence" that Huizar is representing their interests. Bob Blumenfield (CD 3) said his "blood boils" reading about the corruption, and though Huizar has not been indicted, Blumenfield said he should resign, because "where there is smoke there is fire."

Some, including Gil Cedillo, Paul Koretz, and Herb Wesson, have declined to comment.

READ THE FULL ROUNDUP OF RESPONSES:

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LA City Council To Weigh Budget Full Of Program Cuts And Furloughs Due To Coronavirus Crisis

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L.A. City Hall on Tuesday March 24. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The L.A. City Council will hear a presentation Wednesday about Mayor Garcetti's proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, as city leaders signal that uncertainty caused by the global pandemic makes it too hard to plan for an entire year of spending right now.

The city's tax revenues have taken a major hit during the COVID-19 crisis. Last month, Garcetti released a proposal for the next fiscal year that included cuts to most departments and furloughs of thousands of civilian city workers.

But the Office of Finance says revenues could actually be $45 million to $400 million lower than the mayor's projections. And COVID-19 infection rates and possible delays in reopening parts of the economy could mean the council will have to build the budget as the year unfolds.

In a new report, the city administrative officer said the council should not restore any spending that was cut in the mayor’s budget, because even those reductions may fall short of balancing the books if the coronavirus continues to dampen economic activity.

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Morning Briefing: Echo Park’s Taix Could Soon Look Very Different

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(Elina Shatkin/LAist)

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Plans for the development of the space formerly occupied by Echo Park’s Taix restaurant have been revealed. The proposal features a six-story mixed-use space with 13,000 square feet for retail, 170 apartments and a 220-car basement garage.

It’s outsized, it’s grey, and as Elina Shatkin writes:

It's a massive change from the current French Revival-style structure which has been home to Taix since 1962. Visually, the bland, boxy development is so aggressively charmless, it's hard to believe it was designed by an architecture firm. It was.

Sure, all things change. Tastes, culture, real estate, neighborhoods. And Los Angeles needs all the residential units it can get. But do these developments have to be so uniformly ugly?

It’s been clear for a while that the L.A. in which we currently reside will look completely different in 20 years. To an extent, that’s to be expected; the unstoppable passage of time, the inevitable growth of cities, and so forth. But watching it happen one cookie-cutter building at a time from behind our window panes induces a very particular type of existential malaise.

Still, for those who won’t give up on Taix so easily, the good news is that a version of the restaurant will still be open on the ground floor of the new development… we might just have to close our eyes when we go in.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, May 20

Terminal Island in San Pedro has among the highest number of COVID-19 cases of any federal prison. Emily Elena Dugdale talks to some concerned relatives of inmates.

Coronavirus cases have been found at many meat processing plants across the country. Jacob Margolis asks how things are going at Farmer John in Vernon, one of the few in California.

Unemployment recipients who've exhausted their benefits should be eligible for a 13 week extension under new federal legislation. But they haven't gotten it yet, reports David Wagner. That’s leaving some people without income for months during this pandemic.

Libby Denkmann is following today’s presentation to the L.A. City Council about the mayor's proposed budget, which will likely suggest cuts to all manner of non-essential programs due to the COVID-19 crisis.

More than 1,000 psychologists have answered the call from their professional association to provide pro-bono services to frontline workers during the pandemic, reports Robert Garrova.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

L.A., California, The World: There are now 39,573 coronavirus cases and 1,913 deaths in L.A. County, plus at least 81,827 cases and 3,287 deaths in California. Worldwide, there are more than 4.8 million cases and over 322,000 deaths.

Reopening L.A.: L.A. County's rate of positive COVID-19 tests is still too high to move further into stage 2 of reopening, but officials say July 4 is a good target date. In the meantime, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that all car washes, pet grooming and training businesses can reopen.

SoCal Schools: Bucking the trend of public universities staying online for the fall semester, Chapman, Pepperdine and Cal Lutheran say they will resume in-person classes. The LAUSD board held its first open meeting in more than two months. The biggest recipient by far of LAUSD emergency spending has largely flown under the radar: Apple.

Superintendent Under Investigation: The Covina Police Department confirmed that it is investigating allegations against their local superintendent for misconduct, involving three potential victims who are former and current students.

Food And Restaurants: It's the holy month of Ramadan and this year, everything is different, especially iftar — the meal Muslims use to break their daily fast. The new plans for Taix have us wondering: does this iteration even deserve the legendary restaurant’s name? City council will consider capping food app delivery fees at 15%.


Your Moment Of Zen

Someone took the time to bake this adorable little cake and leave it outside the TCL Chinese Theater over the weekend, when the L.A. institution celebrated its 93rd anniversary. *heart eyes emoji*

(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

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