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Disneyland Pushes Back Opening

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An employee cleans the grounds behind the closed gates of Disneyland on March 14, the first day the park was closed. (David McNew/AFP via Getty Images)

Disneyland and its neighboring Anaheim theme park, California Adventure, will not reopen July 17 as the entertainment giant had planned.

Disney announced the change tonight, but did not say when its new target date for reopening will be.

Here's what we do know: What they're blaming it on. Disney officials are saying in a statement:

"The State of California has now indicated that it will not issue theme park reopening guidelines until sometime after July 4. Given the time required for us to bring thousands of cast members back to work and restart our business, we have no choice but to delay the reopening of our theme parks and resort hotels until we receive approval from government officials. Once we have a clearer understanding of when guidelines will be released, we expect to be able to communicate a reopening date."

They are going to open downtown Disney shopping district on July 9. But there's a story behind this, and the story behind this is that cases in California are surging, with more than 7,000 coronavirus cases reported on Tuesday.

Disneyland employees say they don't feel safe going back to work. In fact, seven unions representing 17,000 workers wrote to Gov. Gavin Newsom saying that they were worried and saying that the state should not give Disney approval to reopen the Anaheim parks. This all comes as Orange County officials revealed very high rates of COVID-19 cases in areas near the parks, information that Anaheim's city manager said county officials had tried to keep secret, according to the Voice of Orange County.

And at the same time, The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that Disney's live action Mulan, which was scheduled to open in late July, also might be postponed. So Disney is shuffling a lot of things right now.

MORE ON DISNEY

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Trump's Latest Immigration Bans Target Certain Workers, Green Card Applicants

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Immigrants await their turn for green card and citizenship interviews at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in New York. (John Moore/Getty Images)

President Trump this week issued a proclamation that expands and extends restrictions on legal immigration that were first set in place in April. At the time, he issued a 60-day ban on most would-be immigrants sponsored for legal residency by relatives in the U.S., except for the spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens. That ban was set to expire this week.

His new proclamation continues to bar these green card seekers, and places new restrictions on several types of non-immigrant work visas. The impact of these bans -- now both set to last until the end of the year -- will reverberate past their expiration dates, immigrant rights groups in Southern California predict.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE:

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LA Moves Ahead With Plans For Unarmed Responders On Some 911 Calls

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Los Angeles Police Department officers patrol an L (Gold) Line station. (Courtesy L.A. Metro)

The Los Angeles City Council today took a step toward creating a “crisis response plan” to replace LAPD officers with unarmed service providers for some emergency calls.

The five-member Ad Hoc Committee on Police Reform approved a motion asking city staff to create a plan and study similar models elsewhere, like one in Eugene, Oregon. The plan can now go to the full city council for a vote. It’s one of a flurry of council motions responding to ongoing protests over police use of force and community safety.

Supporters say that a "one-size-fits-all" approach of sending armed police to respond to every 911 call introduces potential violence to black and brown communities -- and that professionals trained to deal with mental health issues, substance abuse or homelessness would be more effective for non-violent calls.

Councilmembers John Lee, Gil Cedillo and Paul Koretz voted for the motion but raised concerns about funding and questioned if the city is moving too quickly or drastically to cut law enforcement resources.

Councilmember Herb Wesson, who helped introduce the measure, pushed back on critics.

“I understand… that this makes you feel a little uncomfortable,” Wesson said. “Well, welcome to being black. Welcome to being uncomfortable.”

Early this week, the council’s Budget and Finance Committee endorsed cutting $133 million from the police department’s budget. The full council is expected to vote on the cuts next week.

The planned downsizing falls far short of the “People’s Budget” model presented by Black Lives Matter-LA and other community groups last week. That model calls for a near complete defunding of LAPD resources in favor of social services, housing and other community safety alternatives.

READ MORE:

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Monsanto Agrees To Pay $550 Million To Clean Up Ocean And River Pollution

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Scenes from a Monday morning at Malibu Surfrider Beach. (James Bernal/LAist)

Decades ago, cancer-causing chemicals known as PCB's made their way from factories and electrical equipment into West Coast rivers and the ocean. On Wednesday, chemical giant Monsanto agreed to pay $550 million to help clean up the damage.

Monsanto starting making PCB's in the 1930s. But even after they were banned in the mid-'70s, the chemicals continue to damage fish and people.

Five years ago, Los Angeles County and Long Beach joined about a dozen other governments in several states and sued Monsanto, demanding it pay to reduce the PCB pollution.

The city and county will each get $7.5 million from the settlement. But more than 2,500 other local governments named in the class action lawsuit could eventually get a share.

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5.8 Magnitude Quake Triggers Rockslide In Eastern Sierra

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An early earthquake warning alert issued to people as far away as Los Angeles (Screenshot/Jacob Margolis)

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck just south of Lone Pine, California at 10:40 a.m. Wednesday morning.

The amount of the damage across the area is still unclear.

The Whitney Portal, about three miles from Lone Pine, is closed due to rockslides near the main parking lot. According to the Inyo Sheriff's department there are currently no known injuries.

Community residents reported buildings shaking around them.

"I looked front and back because I thought a truck hit my building, it hit so hard," said Geoff Brackney, owner of Lone Pine Sporting goods, who grew up in the area. "Never had anything hit the building like that."

"I took off running. This building was built in the thirties. I wasn't going to stick around to see how it was going to damage this thing," he said.

Within a half hour, he said he and his employees had cleaned up the store, picking up small items like bugspray and sunscreen that'd fallen to the ground.

Just two days ago the area experienced a 4.6 magnitude earthquake, now considered a foreshock to today's event.

An earthquake early warning was received by people in Los Angeles, with those as far south as Orange County and as far north as Sacramento, also potentially getting a heads up.

As of 11:40 a.m., there was a four percent probability that an earthquake larger than 5.8 could strike the same area some time in the next week, per the the U.S. Geological Survey. The aftershock forecast will continue to change as time goes on.

Just last year nearby Ridgecrest experienced a 6.4 magnitude foreshock on July 4, which was quickly followed by the mainshock, a 7.1 magnitude quake on July 5.

This is a developing story.


THE BIG ONE IS COMING. GET PREPARED

We don't want to scare you, but the Big One is coming. We don't know when, but we know it'll be at least 44 times stronger than Northridge and 11 times stronger than the Ridgcrest quakes last year. To help you get prepared, we've compiled a handy reading list

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LA Increases Coronavirus Testing Capacity After Appointments Fill Up

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city will immediately scale up testing from 7,700 tests a day to 13,000 tests starting tomorrow (across the seven current city test sites).

The announcement came today as part of the mayor's semi-regular updates on the city's response to COVID-19. It was a response to increased need this week, when testing appointments filled up for several days.

Garcetti added a reminder that those with health insurance can access testing through their health care providers and some CVS pharmacies, free of charge. By law, insurance companies cannot charge a copay, deductible or fee for the coronavirus test.

"But we know a lot of people rely on the city and county testing sites, which is why we want to scale that up immediately."

He added that the city is also working with private insurance companies to cover more of the cost of testing, so it doesn't come out of taxpayer's pockets.

DIFFICULTY SIGNING UP FOR TESTS

The city has recently been the target of a flood of complaints on social media from residents who say they couldn't get an appointment for a test.

Some people say they sign up for a test for several days days, even though health officials have consistently encouraged people without symptoms to get tested.

But the message has been mixed.

Last week, county health officials said they would allocate fewer appointment times for people without symptoms, advising these individuals to contact their doctors instead. Today, Garcetti appeared to reverse course, saying city officials have realized how much people depend on the city and countywide testing sites.

Health officials say next-day appointments are available at four COVID-19 testing sites in the city of Los Angeles, including Dodger stadium.

To sign up, visit covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.

RISE IN INFECTIONS

The mayor said that although the county reported only 1,260 new COVID-19 cases today, it was just days ago that the city saw "some of the largest numbers we've seen since this started."

For more perspective, Garcetti said, one out of every 400 people in L.A. County has been or currently is infected with the coronavirus. The total number of cases is now just under 90,000 in the county, with over 3,000 deaths.

He said that hospitalizatoins have now reached 1,515, which is above recent averages of about 1,350 to 1,450. However, they're still below our peak of over 1,900 in April.

MORE INFECTIONS AMONG YOUNGER AGE GROUPS

The mayor said that the rate of infection is on the rise among younger Angelenos between the ages of 18 and 40 years old. He said 40% of new infections are in this age group. A month ago they accounted for 33%.

He urged people in this age group not to forget that 18-40 year olds are not immune to the disease and that some have died from it.

"Younger people are deciding maybe they're over COVID-19. Or statistically since they're less likely to die from it, that they can now violate some of the public orders that we have to [not] get together in big groups. [Or maybe they are] just done with the physical distancing and wearing of masks."

He urged people in this age group to get tested.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS IN LA:

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Ballot Measure To Overturn State Ban On Affirmative Action Moves Forward

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Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, gives her support for ACA 5 before Wednesday's vote. (Screen shot from California Legislature live stream)

California voters will be asked to scrap the state’s 24-year old ban on affirmative action at the ballot box in November.

The state Senate today ratified Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 (ACA5) in time to get it before voters in the Nov. 3 election. ACA 5 would allow for consideration of race and gender in public education and public hiring and contracting by overturning Proposition 209, which was passed by voters in 1996.

"We've seen enough," said Sen. Steve Bradford, D-Gardena. "It's time to do the right thing. It's time to end the racism that exists in California."

Diamond Bar Republican Sen. Ling Ling Chang said that ACA 5 amounted to legalized racism, and drew parallels with Legislature's support of the Chinese Exclusion Act which discriminated against Chinese immigrants into the 20th century.

"The problem with ACA 5 is that it takes the position that we must fight discrimination with more discrimination," Chang said.

She referred to an anti-ACA 5 petition created by some Chinese American activists that as of Wednesday afternoon had drawn nearly 132,000 signatures.

Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, countered that now many more millions of people than those who signed the petition would have a chance to weigh in on affirmative action.

The amendment needed a two-thirds vote to pass. It got 30 votes — or three-quarters — with Jim Wilk a Santa Clarita Republican, crossing party lines to vote in support.

The measure, authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, passed the Legislature's lower body on June 10.

READ MORE:

Newsom: As California's Coronavirus Numbers Rise, Our Behaviors 'Are Putting People's Lives At Risk'

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Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered an update on California's response to the coronavirus, as well as acknowledging today's 5.8 earthquake in Central California. He recommended that people download the state's MyShake app so they can get an early warning of earthquakes in their area.

You can watch the full press conference above or read more highlights below.

CONSEQUENCES FOR COUNTIES NOT ENFORCING RESTRICTIONS

The governor said there will be consequences for counties that flaunt the rules they've agreed to with the state in order to reopen their businesses. There is $2.5 billion in the state's new budget that won't go to those counties, Newsom said.

"If they decide, 'You know what? Even though the numbers are going up, we're done. We've got this, and we're just going to dismiss these new rules and regulations,' we're going to attach some considerations and consequences to that," he said.

Newsom said he doesn't expect counties to dismiss the rules. Still, he said the state funding will be evaluated on a monthly rather than annual basis.

LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS: RECORD CASES, RISING POSITIVITY RATE

Particular concern remains in 11 counties — including L.A. County, due to the size, scope and scale of the disease here, Newsom said.

Case numbers are rising, from 4,230 positive tests Sunday, to 5,019 Monday, to 7,149 Tuesday. Newsom said more tests lead to more positives, which means that number can be misleading.

The number Newsom recommended watching is the percentage of people whose tests come back positive. That rolling two-week average is currently up to 5.1% for the state — and up to 5.6% over the past week. The peak in the early days of COVID-19 testing was 40.8%, but it was down to 4.6% two weeks ago and has dipped even lower, Newsom noted.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are also increasing — there's been a 29% increase in hospitalizations over the past two weeks, from 3,177 hospitalizations to 4,095 yesterday. Currently 8% of the state's hospital beds are in use for coronavirus patients.

The number of COVID-19 patients ending up in the ICU is also rising. It's up 18% in the past two weeks, from 1,073 to 1,268 in that timespan. About 30% of the state's capacity is being used, Newsom said. There are currently 4,034 ICU beds available, and 11,529 ventilators.

There were 52 deaths in the last 24 hours, and 65 people died in the prior reporting period, Newsom said.

FIGHTING RISING NUMBERS WITH BETTER HABITS

Newsom called for Californians to improve our physical and social distancing habits due to a rise in California's coronavirus numbers. He stressed the importance of practicing physical distancing, whether it be during kids' playdates or events with family and friends.

"It is our behaviors that are leading to these numbers, and we are putting people's lives at risk," Newsom said.

Newsom noted that more young people are being affected by COVID-19 and that they can spread the virus to those who can't handle it, such as the elderly and those with preexisting conditions — including fellow young people.

"There is a sense that a lot of young people are — well, they're young, so you feel a little bit more invincible. But respectfully, often that can be a selfish mindset," Newsom said.

The governor stressed the need to practice physical distancing as people start to do things like invite family or friends over.

"When you're having a barbecue, and you want to say, 'You know what? I miss ya,' to your neighbors, your friends, not just your family members. And you invite them over, and you say 'All right, we're going to do our best to practice physical distancing.' And all of a sudden, two cousins see each other, and they run and hug, and you say 'Boys, you've got to practice social distancing.' And they then run away with the soccer ball, and all of a sudden, you're back having a conversation," Newsom said.

The governor noted the ongoing protests against racism and police brutality. If you're in one of those crowds, he said, wear a mask. And if you're 65 or older, or you have underlying health conditions, you should stay home.

"Look at these numbers, and ask yourself, do you feel safer going out today than you did a few months ago, based upon an unprecedented number of people now that are working around with this virus, and the likelihood so many of them are asymptomatic, and are within just a few feet of where you are?" Newsom said.

Besides stressing the importance of wearing a face covering, the governor emphasized the need for thorough hand washing, including under the fingernails.

When not at home, Californians should minimize their time indoors with multiple people, Newsom said, and move as many activities as they can outdoors. He also advised against going into crowds — for those who do, he underlined the need to wear a mask.

The governor said we're still in the first wave of the pandemic. He said we will get through this and there will be a vaccine, and we will be able to get back to the way things were — though there will be modifications so that something like this doesn't happen again.

DEATH THREATS AGAINST HEALTH OFFICIALS

Newsom also addressed death threats that local health officials have faced, offering an apology and thanks to health directors who have been threatened, including those who've had to quit their jobs over those threats.

"There's no nobility in [threats]. You're not a bigger person because you threaten someone else — you're a weaker person," Newsom said.

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Whats Next For LA's Temporary Slow Streets Program? Maybe Permanence

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(Courtesy Joslyn Treece)

L.A.'s Slow Streets program launced last month as a temporary step to give people more outside space to safely use amid stay-at-home orders. In participating neighborhoods, LADOT workers place signs to indicate certain residential streets are closed to cut-through traffic and urge drivers to slow down and share the road.

Now, L.A. City Councilmember David Ryu wants the city to study what it would take to make the Slow Streets program a permanent fixture in communities that want it.

Ryu filed a motion today, asking LADOT and other city officials to begin a feasibility study on expanding the program to develop "a permanent network of Slow Streets to enable wider access to open spaces for all Angelenos." He said in a statement:

"Since the start of the Slow Streets program, we have seen Angelenos find greater enjoyment and a closer connection to their neighborhood. People are getting outside, the streets are safer for kids and families -- I don't see why we wouldn't make this permanent."

READ THE FULL STORY:

UCLA Economists Say California’s Pandemic Recovery Will Take Years

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Many businesses have reopened but with reduced hours, staff and income. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

In a new forecast published today, UCLA economists predict the U.S. is entering a “depression-like crisis” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and unemployment levels in California will remain high for years to come.

The retail and leisure and hospitality sectors have taken the brunt of layoffs so far. With tourism to California down and consumers fearful of going back to old habits, workers in those fields could take the longest to recover.

UCLA economist Jerry Nickelsburg said:

“Those two sectors are low-income sectors, so it creates an additional problem in that these are folks that are the least capable of making it through without a great deal of suffering.”

READ THE FULL STORY

MORE ON ECONOMIC FALLOUT FROM COVID-19:

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School Police Reform Fails At Marathon LAUSD Meeting

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LAUSD board member Mónica García (upper right) presents her resolution to cut school police funding during the board's June 23, 2020 meeting. (LAUSD screenshot)

After an 11-hour meeting that included hours of impassioned testimony, the board of the L.A. Unified School District could not reach a consensus three resolutions related to school police.

Most of the public comments came out in favor of a resolution by board member Mónica García, which called for reducing funding for the school police – first by 50%, then 75%, and eventually 90% by the 2023-2024 school year, and redirecting the money to “the highest need schools in support of African American students.”

“I do believe that we have the best school department in the country,” she said. “That is not enough.”

The other resolutions were brought forward by board members Jackie Goldberg and George McKenna. McKenna’s called for a committee to look closely at school police policy and practices, and received positive comments from school police supporters.

Presenting his resolution to the board, McKenna, a former principal, largely praised the L.A. School Police and urged against a "reactionary" vote.

The student-led organizing group Students Deserve encouraged supporters of defunding school police to gather outside of LAUSD’s headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.

We'll have more on this story here on LAist and further discussion of the board meeting today on the public affairs shows AirTalk and Take Two on 89.3 KPCC.

READ THE FULL STORY:

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Morning Briefing: Sex, Bribes And City Hall

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An FBI agent carries a case from the Boyle Heights home of Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar on Nov, 7, 2018. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

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It’s the year of stunning events, and in L.A., we can tack on one more: as Angelenos were being priced out of their homes and the city’s homelessness crisis was exploding, City Councilman Jose Huizar was allegedly accepting bribes from big developers in the form of flights on private jets, casino chips, prostitutes and more.

Huizar was arrested yesterday after a years-long FBI investigation, with U.S. Department of Justice officials saying that he ran a “criminal enterprise” through City Hall, funneling money through family members, taking lavish trips to Las Vegas and welcoming campaign contributions.

In seized documents, an executive involved in Huizar’s scheme marveled at the "truly amazing" accomplishment of minimizing affordable units in an Arts District complex.

The charges are very similar to those faced by former City Councilman Mitch Englender. If true, they mean that as some of their constituents were losing roofs over their heads, at least two of L.A.’s elected representatives were actively, callously exacerbating the process in exchange for their personal gain.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today.

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, June 24

A million Angelenos have lost their jobs to because of the pandemic. So far, those households have been protected from losing water, gas or electric service, even if they don’t pay their bills. But when COVID-19 protections ease, some new policies from utility companies might help erase some of that pandemic debt. KPCC’s Sharon McNary has more.

President Trump recently extended and expanded his restrictions on legal immigration, originally initiated in April. Along with refusing many green card seekers, reports Josie Huang, the new restrictions also target certain guest workers, including those with H1B visas.

Never miss an LAist story. Sign up for our daily newsletters.


The Past 24 Hours In LA

Corruption At City Hall: L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar was arrested by FBI agents today, following an FBI investigation into a "pay-to-play" scheme tied to land development.

Policing The Police: The L.A. County Board of Supervisors called for an independent investigation into a Sheriff's deputy's fatal shooting of 18-year-old Andres Guardado in Gardena, after protests on Saturday (and Sunday I think). Black Lives Matter-L.A. co-founder Melina Abdullah spoke to Airtalk’s Larry Mantle about what defunding the police might look like in the city of angels.

Mexico Earthquake: A 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit the Mexican state of Oaxaca mid-morning Tuesday, but information about its aftermath has been slow to trickle into L.A.’s Oaxacan community.

Money Matters: Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, some high school students have been faced with choosing between their online studies and their jobs. L.A. City and County officials voted to add an additional $100 million and $30 million, respectively, to rent relief programs.

Coronavirus Updates: Santa Ana and Anaheim have the highest coronavirus infection rates in Orange County, which has seen a 50% increase in infections since last week. Unions that represent some 17,000 Disneyland employees are expressing their concerns about Disney reopening its parks, hotels and outdoor mall.

“Hollywood, The Sequel” is LAist Studios’ latest podcast mini-series. Host John Horn explores how the film industry will look, now that the pandemic has stopped production in its tracks. Meanwhile, the industry’s power structure is being challenged by the new and growing social justice movement. Kerry Washington shares her thoughts in episode one.

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Photo Of The Day

Juan Constantino, 17, has been around his brother's dad's locksmithing business since he was little. He recently tried to convince his mother to let him help support the family by dropping out of high school and working full-time. She said no.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

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