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Census Stress In Hard-To-Count LA

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The U.S. Census logo appears on census materials received in the mail. (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The U.S. Census Bureau has announced it will complete the 2020 census count a month earlier than planned, with the new deadline to end door-knocking and self-response set for September 30, instead of Oct. 31.

In-person canvassing doesn't even start in L.A. County until August 11.

And so far, only 59% of households in the county have responded.

It means census workers in the county will have less than two months to count the other 41 percent, which is an unlikely goal.

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Apple Fire Likely Started By Tailpipe Exhaust; 12 Structures Destroyed

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File: Flames and heavy smoke approach on a western front of the Apple Fire on Aug. 1. (David McNew/David McNew)

The Apple Fire in Riverside County's Banning Canyon has destroyed 12 structures, but is now burning into a wilderness area.

The fire started Friday and by Tuesday midday had burned 26,850 acres and was 15% contained. Evacuation orders and warnings were still in place for some areas of both Riverside and San Bernardino counties, though some residents in Riverside County were being allowed to return home Tuesday night.

Lisa Cox with the San Bernardino National Forest explains where the fire is burning:

"The terrain is going to be extremely steep and rugged in the San Gorgonio wilderness area, but the vegetation is going to become more sparse due to that. So it's going to kind of move into the timber. There could be some torching behavior, so that could create some spotting up to 400 feet ahead of the line."

Cox says a slight lowering of temperatures and an uptick in humidity today will help firefighters.

Fire investigators believe the fire was sparked by a diesel vehicle emitting combustibles from its exhaust pipe, igniting three separate fires that eventually combined into one.

One firefighter has suffered minor injuries.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, firefighters have had to take precautions by limiting face-to-face interactions only to what is necessary for operations, officials said.

THE BASICS

  • Acreage: 26,850
  • Containment: 15%
  • Damages: 12 structures destroyed
  • Injuries: 1 firefighter
  • Cause: Human caused
  • Resources deployed:
    • Hand Crews: 31
    • Engines: 321
    • Dozers: 28
    • Helicopters: 12
    • Fixed wing: 2
    • Water Tenders: 50
    • Total Personnel: 2,565

EVACUATIONS

  • San Bernardino County:
    • Orders: Oak Glen
    • Warnings: Forest Falls, Pioneertown, Rim Rock
  • Riverside County: Evacuation orders have been lifted for some areas, including areas east of Oak Glen Road, areas west of Potrero Road and north of Wilson Street. Enter your address in this interactive map to see if you're in an evacuation zone.
  • Evacuation Center:
    • Beaumont High School: 39139 Cherry Valley Boulevard in Beaumont (people and animals)

ROAD CLOSURES

At the following intersections:

  • High & Cherry, High & Jonathan, High & Winsap, Orchard & Avenida San Timateo, Orchard & Avenida Miravilla, Orchard & Oak Glen, Cherry Valley Blvd. & Bellflower Ave., Sunset & Wilson, and Bluff & Mias Canyon

OTHER CLOSURES

  • San Gorgonio Wilderness, including Pacific Crest Hiking Trail between the forest boundary and Forest Road 1N01
  • All USFS recreation areas in Forest Fall

This story was originally published at 4 p.m. and has been updated to indicate that some evacuation orders have been lifted.

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Heading to the San Bernardino National Forest? New Rules Are In Place To Prevent More Fires

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Published
Flames from the Apple Fire on Saturday in Cherry Valley, where conditions remain hot and dry. (David McNew/Getty Images)

New rules are in place to minimize the risk of wildfires in the San Bernardino National Forest. The restrictions come amid hot, dry conditions as the out-of-control Apple Fire burns through forest lands in the San Gorgonio Pass.

Lisa Cox with the San Bernardino National Forest says officials have tightened fire rules for campfires, target shooting and smoking:

"We are no longer allowing campfires in yellow post sites, but you can still have a campfire in a developed campground. We're not allowing recreational shooting in the forest anymore other than the contractors that we have under special use permit in the forest."

Some other rules to keep in mind:

  • Smoking is not allowed except when in a vehicle or in a designated location.
  • You can only barbecue on grill stands at Lake Hemet and Lake Fulmor in Riverside County.
  • All stoves and lanterns must have shut-off valves.

Forest officials say the restrictions will be in place until the wet season arrives in late winter. The Apple Fire, which has burned more than 26,000 acres, is currently listed as 15% contained.

MORE FIRE COVERAGE

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LA County Health Officials Won't Allow School Reopening Waivers Until COVID Rate Falls

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Elementary schools in LA County will not be eligible for reopening waivers until the coronavirus case rate drops. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Los Angeles County health officials announced today that they will not consider requests for waivers to reopen elementary schools until the coronavirus case rate falls.

That announcement came a day after state education officials issued requirements for applying for the waivers under a plan rolled out more than two weeks ago by Governor Gavin Newsom. Counties on the state's COVID-19 watchlist are required to do distance learning unless the county is no longer on the watchlist for at least two weeks, or they obtain a reopening waiver for campuses.

But with coronavirus cases still high, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials announced that they will not consider any waiver requests right now.

"This decision will be reconsidered once the case rate falls to the levels recommended by the State."

Those recommended levels call for coronavirus rates to be below 200 cases per 100,000 residents before a county considers waiver applications. L.A. County's current case rate is 355 per 100,000, according to the health department.

Case rates in San Bernardino and Riverside counties are also above the state guidelines. But health officials in Orange County said the current case rate is 149.5 per 100,000 residents. The waiver application process remains open there and officials have posted an application form.

According to the Orange County Health Care Agency, most of the more than 50 schools who have reached out with early interest in the waivers were private schools. We spoke with the head of one of those schools recently.

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Heading To A Ballot Near You: Should LA County Dedicate Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars To Community Investment?

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If voters approve a charter amendment in November, $110 million could be moved from the Sheriff's Dept. budget to community investment initiatives. ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

This November, L.A. County voters will decide whether to divert hundreds of millions of dollars from law enforcement and other programs to community investment initiatives.

On Tuesday, County Supervisors voted to place a charter amendment on the November 3rd ballot to require the county to spend a sizeable chunk of its budget on programs such as housing, youth development, mental healthcare and criminal justice diversion.

If voters give it the green light, the county would be required to designate at least 10% of its locally-generated, unrestricted annual revenue to community investment initiatives. The County CEO’s office projects this could mean reallocating $360-496 million from other budget priorities, including a $110 million cut to the Sheriff’s budget.

Supporters have dubbed this the “Reimagine L.A. County” charter amendment. It was developed with groups pushing for criminal justice reforms and greater spending on social services.

Board Chair Kathryn Barger was the only “no” vote. She cited concerns about how moving the money could result in county worker layoffs or reductions in the sheriff’s department budget.

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Compton Mayor Aja Brown Says Her Community Is Being Terrorized By L.A. County Sheriff's Deputies

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Compton Mayor Aja Brown (R) said on Tuesday that L.A. County Sheriff's deputies continue to inflict injustice on her community. Robert Garrova / LAist

Compton Mayor Aja Brown joined city officials today to call out what they said is continued injustice inflicted on their community by L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputies.

Compton has a multi-million dollar contact with the Sheriff’s Department to protect the city.

But there’s a growing list of residents who say they’ve been unfairly pulled over, arrested and harassed by deputies.

Jermelle Henderson, a well-known local restaurateur who owns Taco Mell, said he was recently pulled over at gunpoint by a deputy and described the experience:

“She said, ‘Oh, this what we do in Compton. And she pulled me out and she put me in handcuffs and then that’s when I told her she was treating me like a criminal, I didn't do anything.”

Mayor Brown said she was once pulled over — with her husband and infant daughter in the car — and asked by deputies if they could search the car for drugs.

“I’m calling for Attorney General Xavier Becerra to stand up for the black and brown people of Compton,” Brown said, adding, “It is unacceptable for us to be terrorized in this community.”

In June, Brown called attention to the violent arrest of 24-year-old Dalvin Price.

Brown said she believes there is gang activity operating out of Compton station -- an allegation also recently made by a current deputy.

The Sheriff’s Department says it’s aware of the allegations and has launched multiple investigations.

“Early on, the Sheriff invited the Federal Bureau of Investigation to conduct their own investigation and information is actively being shared with them,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. “The results of the investigation will be released when legally permissible.”

The department has also been widely-criticized for the handling of the Andrés Guardado case, in which the 18-year-old was shot in the back and killed by a deputy.

HOW TO (NEW) LA: UNDERSTANDING THE ISSUES

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LA Bars Are Still Closed And Parties Are Still Banned. People Aren't Complying

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On a busy weekend night, patrons crowd the bar at the Sassafras Saloon in Hollywood, seen in 2012. (Guzzle & Nosh/Flickr Creative Commons)

Cooped up from months of quarantining, Angelenos are itching to party (maybe they always were) and some of them don't think too much of masks. Two parties in recent days are attracting scrutiny — and questions about enforcement.

Exhibit A: The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has launched an investigation into a party held last Friday night at Sassafras Saloon in Hollywood at which few, if any, people seemed to be wearing masks.

The event, which a PR rep for the bar's parent company told our friends at KCRW was a gathering to "honor a group of first responders," reportedly involved dozens of patrons who were not wearing masks or adhering to physical distancing protocols.

According to CNN, "Dozens of people were plainly visible through the bar's windows from the sidewalk Friday night, drinking cocktails under flashing lights to club music so loud that it vibrated security bars."

Here's what Barbara Ferrer, the county's public health director, had to say when asked about the reports of the party on Monday's news conference:

"There is really zero tolerance for having indoor parties at your business places, whether it's a private or public party. You've potentially created a lot of exposures and the possibility that that moves into the community would be a very unfortunate place for us to be right now, as everyone else is working so hard to reduce the rate of transmission."

Located on Vine near Fountain, Sassafras Saloon is a Southern-themed bar owned by the 1933 Group, which also owns the Formosa Cafe, Highland Park Bowl and several other nightlife venues in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Police Department is also investigating the party, the department said in a statement to KNX reporter Claudia Peschiutta.

CNN reported that at least one LAPD officer attended the party at Sassafras, but the media outlet is not naming him because "identifying his image may impact his safety as a police officer." LAist has not independently confirmed this to be true.

The party first attracted attention when local media outlet Knock.LA tweeted a video in which someone working the door at the event repeatedly referred to it as an "LASD party" and published a story saying the same thing.

The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department issued a statement saying, "the persons identified in the video are not employees of the Sheriff's Department and this event was not hosted by the LASD."

This isn't the only recent party in Los Angeles to cause problems and raise concerns about large gatherings.

Yesterday, the LAPD began receiving calls about a large gathering at a home on Mulholland Drive, which reportedly involved a party bus and a food truck.

Complaints about the party began around 6:30 p.m. Monday night, according to NBC4, which was among several TV stations who captured video of the scene. Police officers showed up and enforced traffic and parking violations, but did not enforce the county health department's order banning large gatherings, the department said.

"Officers just observed a large group of people at the location and cars and pedestrians blocking the roadway," LAPD Officer William Cooper explained, saying they were there to address a noise complaint.

Cooper says officers ordered party-goers to clear the road. While some cars were ticketed, no citation was issued for noise. But since the party was on private property, officers had no jusidiction to enforce health orders, such as mask wearing.

"It was a private party," Lt. Chris Ramirez told NBC4. "It's like me going to your house and telling you what to do on your own property."

More than six hours after police were first called to the home they were back. One woman had been fatally shot and three others were also wounded, authorities said. That shooting took place shortly before 1 a.m.

Ramirez also told NBC4 that the gunfire appeared to be gang-related. No arrests have yet been made.

At today's briefing, California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said:

"I hope that we continue to have our local partners not just saying and reminding people of the message but enforcing public health orders — not just the state public health orders, but the orders at the local level that I know in L.A. County are strong as well. "

Ghaly added that incidents like the one on Mulholland Drive "need to be addressed head on, and we depend on our local partners to enforce U.S. public health orders throughout the state, throughout our communities."

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Disney Reports Massive Losses; Mulan To Get September Streaming Release

Updated
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Yifei Liu stars as Mulan in Disney's live-action adaptation of its animated classic. (Disney)

It’s impossible to quantify the total impact of the coronavirus, but the Walt Disney Co. has figured out what the pandemic cost its theme parks division in the second quarter of the year: $3.5 billion.

That was the media giant’s sober accounting on Tuesday, when it announced quarterly financial results that totaled $4.7 billion in losses. But Disney’s theme parks unit, which also includes its uninhabited cruise ships, was hardly the only division with plummeting income.

The company’s television business, which includes live-sports dependent ESPN, and its movie studio — unable to release films in theaters — also reported lower revenues.

Disney said its overall earnings collapsed 94% in the second quarter from a year ago. Executives did note that the new streaming site, Disney Plus, has attracted more than 57 million subscribers. But even that was below some Wall Street estimates.

The company announced that its repeatedly postponed live-action version of “Mulan,” will now debut on Disney Plus on Sept. 4, but at an additional cost of $29.99.

In other industry news, NBCUniversal said it is cutting staff from its television networks, movie studio and cable channels.

The entertainment arm of media conglomerate Comcast is pink slipping thousands of its 35,000 employees, following sharply lower earnings last week. The Wall Street Journal estimated that the layoffs could be close to 10% of NBCUniversal’s workforce.

At the same time, NBCUniversal is launching an internal investigation into NBC and its entertainment chairman, Paul Telegdy. The Hollywood Reporter last week published an account of what it called a “toxic work environment” under Telegdy.

NBCUniversal did not reply to an email seeking comment.

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DA Jackie Lacey's Husband Charged For Pointing Gun At Protesters

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L.A. County DA Jackie Lacey. (Screenshot from LA County DA's Office video)

When District Attorney Jackie Lacey's husband pulled a gun on protesters who showed up on their doorstep before 6 a.m. on March 2, it was because he feared for their lives, she said. Black Lives Matter protesters had shown up outside their home before, and a week earlier, Lacey said, she had received a death threat.

The state isn't offering much in the way of sympathy. The attorney general's office has reportedly filed misdemeanor charges against David Lacey, three counts each of assault with a firearm against Justin Andrew Marks, Dahlia Ferlito, and Melina Rachel Abdullah — the last person being the co-founder of BLM-LA. Politico posted the court document online.

The incident was caught on video: David Lacey is clearly seen in his doorway, handgun pointed at whoever's on his porch. Someone says "Good morning" and this exchange occurred:

Lacey: "Get off of my porch."

Protester: "Are you going to shoot me?"

Lacey: "I will shoot you."

This was a day before the primary election, and the district attorney quickly (and tearfully) apologized on behalf of her husband.

At the time, Abdullah said she filed no police report, but she was unapologetic about the encounter. She said Lacey had been avoiding a public meeting with protesters, who have long complained that the DA has consistently declined to prosecute police officers for shooting civilians while on duty. She argued that if you're a public official, not even your home is off limits, and that Lacey had left protesters no other way to meet with her.

David Lacey's attorney, Samuel E. Tyre, said his client's "human instinct is forever and always to protect his wife and his family and to keep them safe from physical harm. We look forward to all relevant facts coming to light."

In a written statement, Tyre also offered this from Jackie Lacey:

"The events that took place earlier this year have caused my family immense pain. My husband acted in fear for my safety after we were subjected to months of harassment that included a death threat no less than a week earlier. Protesters arrived at my house shortly after 5 am while I was upstairs. My husband felt that we were in danger and acted out of genuine concern for our well being."

GET THE BACKGROUND ON THIS STORY:

We'll update this story as we learn more.

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California Coronavirus Update: 'Many Weeks And Months To Come'

Updated
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California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly delivered an update on coronavirus in California today. You can watch the video above and read highlights below.

DATA ERRORS IN STATE TRACKING SYSTEM

The state noticed some discrepancies in the state testing system, Ghaly said, so they're working on manually validating that data. They are also working with local health departments to address those discrepancies.

However, hospitalizations and ICU numbers are tracked in a separate system, Ghaly said. Those numbers are beginning to stabilize, though there are hotspots in parts of the state, including the Central Valley. There has been an 11% reduction in hospitalizations over the past 14 days.

MANSION PARTY

Ghaly responded to a question about a large mansion party Monday night in Los Angeles County. He noted that it sounded like a high-risk experience for guests due to the lack of masks and physical distancing, as well as for those close to them — older relatives and those with underlying conditions that place them at higher risk.

Ghaly said the state depends on local law enforcement partners to enforce both the state and local health orders, and that it's important for them to enforce and not just reinforce messaging. He said that it's important for there to be conversations among local law enforcement and local leaders about issues such as large parties.

K-6 IN-PERSON SCHOOL WAIVERS

Counties on the state's coronavirus monitoring list can get waivers to allow for in-process instruction for elementary school children in kindergarten through 6th grade. School district superintendents can request a waiver from their health officer, California State Epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan said.

It depends on the schools' plans for how to deal with both protecting from, and responding to, cases of COVID-19. Schools in counties whose numbers are twice that of the standard for getting off the monitoring list aren't eligible for waivers.

"MANY WEEKS AND MONTHS TO COME"

Ghaly used a baseball analogy, saying that California is in the early innings when it comes to dealing with coronavirus, and that there's a lot longer to go. We are still in the initial wave, and it's important to prepare for the second and even potentially third wave in the "many weeks and months to come," Ghaly said.

Ghaly went through the five-step process for what someone should do if they had COVID-19 symptoms. Those steps:

  1. Quarantine with symptom onset
  2. Get a timely COVID-19 test
  3. Isolate if there's a positive test result, staying at home for 14 days and avoiding contact with others
  4. Work with public health officials to identify close contacts — that includes people you live and work with
  5. Quarantine those close contacts

Ghaly also reiterated the importance of wearing a mask, maintaining six feet (or more) of distance, washing your hands, and minimize mixing with others.

CASE FINDING

Ghaly talked about using "case finding" to "corner the virus," limiting the spread and stopping outbreaks. The earlier that cases are found, the earlier the state can act, which is why it's important to address delays in processing tests.

California has conducted 14.4% of all the tests in the U.S., identifying 10.9% of the nation's cases. California has had 6.4% of the nation's deaths. Ghaly noted that one of California's goals is to test at above our percentage of the nation's population, which is 12% of the U.S. population.

These are four reasons that test processing delays are a focus, according to Ghaly:

  1. Timely test results
  2. Data submission from laboratories
  3. Data entry and validation processes
  4. System capacity to process high volumes

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Morning Briefing: 2020 Didn’t Forget About Wildfires

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Morongo Casino scrolls gambling messages across the building as the Apple Fire burns further into national forest territory in Cabazon on Aug. 2, 2020. (Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

Never miss a morning briefing. Subscribe today to get our A.M. newsletter delivered to your inbox.

It’s no secret that 2020 has been one of the most difficult years in many Americans’ recent memory. But it’s only halfway over and now it’s wildfire season — and of course, this unprecedented year of our Lord couldn’t pass without significant blazes in and around L.A.

In Riverside County, the Apple Fire has been burning since Friday, has consumed more than 26,000 acres and is at just 5% containment as of Monday evening. On Saturday, the Water Fire broke out 20 miles away, and is at 70% containment.

Lisa Cox, a fire information officer, told us that when she saw pyrocumulus clouds near the Apple Fire over the weekend, she knew it was bad. “My stomach just dropped," she said.

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, August 4

With the FX series Pose, writer/director Janet Mock became the first trans woman of color to write and direct a TV episode. The show features more transgender actors in regular roles than any other scripted series. In this week’s episode of the podcast, Hollywood, The Sequel, host John Horn talks with Mock about why that kind of representation has real power to change attitudes and behavior toward trans people.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

Coronavirus Updates: The COVID-19 positivity rate in California, the number of hospitalizations and the number of ICU admissions are all showing modest declines. L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said she is “cautiously optimistic” that the county is taking positive steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 — but noted we "still have a ways to go."

From Brutality To Art And Healing: South L.A. organizer Dime Jones formed a nonprofit after the success of her recent cleanup event, which coincided with the protests against systemic racism and police brutality. The new graphic novel, Lizard In A Zoot Suit, takes a metaphorical look at the 1940s Zoot Suit Riots, when members of the military beat up young Mexican Americans in a series of race-driven attacks.

City Hall Scandal: Suspended L.A. City Councilman José Huizar has entered a plea of “not guilty” in a wide-ranging federal corruption case targeting City Hall.

The Apple Fire: The blaze in Riverside County has so far burned more than 26,000 acres and was 5% contained as of Monday evening.

Back To School: LAUSD and its teachers' union have reached a tentative agreement on what distance learning will look like when the fall semester begins on Aug. 18.

Here’s What To Do: With COVID-19 quarantine restrictions, more Angelenos are exploring the city’s great hikes. Go forest bathing, listen to two BFFs talk about friendship, grab the kids for an online cooking class with chef Jet Tila — all that and more in this week’s best online and IRL events. Or, listen to the most recent episode of the LAist Studios podcast, California City, in which host Emily Guerin tells the story of Ken Donney, a young, cocky lawyer who considered himself the "Ralph Nader of the West" – but had a horrific secret.

Final Goodbyes: Hee Sook Lee, founder of the BCD Tofu House chain, has died.


Photo Of The Day

Firefighters arrive at the scene of the Water Fire. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP via Getty Images)

(Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP via Getty Images)

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