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Burbank Voters Will See Rent Control Initiative, Judge Rules

Burbank City Hall (City of Burbank)

Burbank voters will likely see a ballot measure on rent control in November, after a judge ruled today that a challenge by the City Council did not show a clear conflict with the city’s charter.

If approved by voters, the initiative would:

  • Establish rent control tied to the consumer price index
  • “Just cause” — such as failure to pay rent or breaking terms of a leasee — eviction protections for tenants
  • And revamp the city’s Landlord-Tenant Commission.

The ruling from L.A. Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel left open the door to a post-election challenge from the City Council, but said that deferring a legal battle was the “wiser course.”

"There's going to be a fight on this after the election, even if this wins," Konstantine Anthony, a City Council candidate and proponent of the initiative, said today.

A previous legal challenge from Burbank City Clerk Zizette Mullins was rejected last month. The city could still pursue an emergency appeal later today.

The City Council and Mayor Sharon Springer have voiced opposition to rent control in the past, while tenants around the state have been increasingly aggressive in pursuing the policy. Springer did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.


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California Coronavirus System Failure Led To Inaccurate Case Numbers, Positivity Rates

File: California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly in a video conference on Tuesday, July 21, 2020. California Public Health (via Youtube)

California health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly delivered an update on coronavirus in California, focused on the problems with COVID-19 data reporting in the state.

You can read highlights below or watch the full video above.


On July 25, a server outage caused a delay in lab records coming into the state's reporting system. The state made changes that allowed the records to enter the system more quickly, Ghaly said. Those changes were supposed to be temporary, but they weren't later disabled, which caused further delays in lab reporting data and creating an extensive backlog.

Data was also not being received from one of the largest commercial testing labs for five days between July 31 and Aug. 4. That was due to a certificate the state hadn't renewed, Ghaly said, which meant the data wasn't allowed to be sent to the state.

The state's CalREDIE (California Reportable Disease Information Exchange) system has been challenged by the volume of data, Ghaly said, and short delays aren't uncommon.

"I became aware of the magnitude of the data backlog in the late afternoon on Monday, and alerted the governor and his senior staff shortly thereafter," Ghaly said.


"Our data system failed, and that failure led to inaccurate case numbers and case positivity rates," Ghaly said.

The system failure also kept counties from having some of the data they needed to monitor and respond to the virus in their communities, Ghaly said.

The upside? No changes to COVID-19 response policies were based on the incomplete data, according to Ghaly.

The trends the state discussed earlier this week are believed to remain the same: cases and hospitalizations continue to show slight decreases, he said.


Ghaly said that the state is accelerating the development of a new lab reporting system for COVID-19, to create a long-term solution. The short-term fixes include reversing the previous July temporary technical changes and renewing the certificate that expired.

"Simply put, the CalREDIE system was not built for this volume of data," Ghaly said.

The state is also putting in place new protocols and notifications for when system changes are made, upgrading servers to allow for extra capacity, and adding a system to validate the data and reports.

Oversight and monitoring have been strengthened, Ghaly said.

The governor has also directed a full investigation — Ghaly said that those who made errors will be held accountable.


Over the past 24 hours, the data entering the system has been normalized. In the next 24-48 hours, the backlog is expected to be resolved — it's between 250,000 and 300,000 records, Ghaly said. This should give the state a better sense of how many tests were delayed. Results are being reported to counties.

Those records include testing not just for COVID-19 but for other diseases...and also may include some duplicate records.

"We apologize. You deserve better, the governor demands better of us, and we are committed to doing better," Ghaly said.

Once the state works through its backlog, counties have to verify the positive results and add demographic information, so it may take some additional time for those positive tests to be reported on the state's dashboard.

The county monitoring list was frozen last Friday due to the transition in hospital data to a federal system, so counties on the list haven't been affected by the changes in data. After the backlog is processed, that list will be unfrozen and so counties can pick up where they left off, Ghaly said.

More information on the status of the backlog and how things have been affected, will be released early next week, Ghaly said.

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A Confrontation With The Landlord, Then Vandalism

The two-story apartment building at 920 Everett Street tagged with graffiti. (Courtesy of Chinese Community for Equitable Development)

Over the last year, we've been following the fight of tenants at 920 Everett Street in L.A. to stay in their apartments as they get shuffled from one owner to another.

Their current landlord is trying to force them out so she can renovate the complex. That has tenants worried about where they would go during the pandemic.

They confronted the landlord at her home in Costa Mesa, and the next day their building got hit with graffiti from top to bottom.


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How A Woman-Led Group Is Trying To Help LA's Indigenous Meso-Americans In The Pandemic

Janet Martinez, left, and Odilia Romero of CIELO (Photo illustration by Chava Sanchez, LAist/Photo by June Canedo, CIELO)

Native communities all around the country are being hit disportionately hard by the pandemic.

It's been particularly hard for indigenous people who are part of the Latin American diaspora. They do not have a centralized tribal system to help with the most basic communication, to begin with. Meso-American indigenous communities are often erased or overlooked by being lumped in with Latino populations, which further complicates getting government assistance or traditional forms of aid.

Most are immigrants from places like Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, but many do not speak Spanish as a first language. And many lack legal status, meaning they're struggling without government aid.

One local group has been raising relief funds, but the need is greater.



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State and County Record Wide Disparity In Coronavirus Cases In LA Child Care

Children play in an outdoor space at Centro Alegria, a child care center in Boyle Heights operated by Proyecto Pastoral. (Courtesy Proyecto Pastoral)

Depending on which agency you ask, there have either been 52 or 302 coronavirus cases related to child care centers and homes in Los Angeles County.

The larger number is from the California Department of Social Services, which licenses child care statewide and is collecting reports of cases in staff, parents and children.

The smaller number is from the L.A. County Department of Public Health, which is also counting on providers to report cases to them.

Either way, it appears the reported cases affect a small fraction of the 7,247 licensed child cares open in the county. But the discrepancy is a source of concern for researchers trying to get some clarity on how and where the virus is spreading in local communities.

The L.A. County Department of Public Health has also investigated one coronavirus outbreak at a child care center where five teachers tested positive for COVID-19.

Proyecto Pastoral executive director Cynthia Sanchez said staff followed the safety guidelines laid out by state and local agencies.

“What has become really obvious to us is that we are responsible and accountable for having the kind of standards that may exceed the standards of the Department of Public Health,” Sanchez said.


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Many Californians Who Went Back To Work Are Getting Laid Off — Again

A closed restaurant at L.A.'s Grand Central Market. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

California has been on a business reopening rollercoaster, and that means some people are now losing their job for the second time.

Earlier this summer, bars and other businesses were given permission by the state of California to reopen. But then coronavirus cases spiked, and many had to shut down again.

Researchers with the California Policy Lab found in a recent analysis that lately, more than half of unemployment claims are coming from workers who are reopening old claims.

This likely reflects situations in which people were laid off early in the pandemic, then called back to work, and then laid off again.

People getting laid off twice tend to work in hard-hit industries like food service and retail, said researcher Till von Wachter, a UCLA economics professor.

He told us:

“These are sectors that typically hire low-wage workers. These are workers that are often women, often young workers, often less educated workers, often Black or Hispanic workers.”

Since the pandemic began, 46% of Black workers in California have filed an unemployment claim.



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Morning Briefing: A Dubious Honor

Los Angeles freeways in the age of COVID-19. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

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

As L.A. enters the fifth month of our quarantine, stay-at-home, social distancing mash-up, we also now have the highest number of coronavirus cases of any American county. Since officials began tracking, over 201,000 Angelenos have tested positive for the virus.

And the ripple effects continue to grow. Public school districts aren’t reopening. Universities are fully digital. Essential employees are beyond burned out.

If you’re interested in a deeper dive into how we got here – not just as a county, but as a nation – the New York Times has a look at exactly what went wrong.

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie

Coming Up Today, August 7

Back in 1956, Shirlee Smith got a job as a telephone operator for a big local hospital. The person hiring her didn’t know what she looked like. Everything was fine until she came in.

There are relatively few cases of the coronavirus linked to L.A. child care centers. But the data is inconsistent, and there’s been at least one outbreak at a facility that says it followed safety guidelines, reports Mariana Dale.

A new study shows that a lot of the people who lost their jobs to the pandemic then got them back, have lost them again. David Wagner has the story.

Josie Huang has the latest chapter in the saga of tenants who've been fighting eviction from their apartment complex, in which their landlord allegedly covers the building with graffiti.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

Coronavirus Updates: Since the pandemic began, more than 200,000 Angelenos have tested positive.

California Kids: California’s Department of Education ruled that LAUSD did a sloppy job explaining how it spent $1 billion in state funds to support low-income students, English-language learners and foster children. USC's welcome ceremony for incoming students was held online.

Blazing Out: By the time December rolls around, it's not uncommon for California firefighters to feel burned out – but fears and frustrations related to COVID-19 are making it much worse, much earlier.

Controversy On Campus: Cal State L.A.’s pick for interim dean of the College of Ethnic Studies is causing controversy; Black Lives Matter-L.A. founder Melina Abdullah has been pushing hard for the job, and has lined up supporters who say she should be appointed instead, immediately.

Here’s What To Do: Peep crazy cult movie art, adopt a kitty looking for a forever home, learn the history of the Colorado Street Bridge, and more in this week’s best online and IRL events. Pick up some dahi puri, papdi chaat, vada pav or googli paratha at Pasadena’s Namaste Spiceland, which LAist contributor Virali Dave writes is one of the few spots in L.A. that reminds her of home.

Collaborate With Us! Our newsroom is looking for caregivers and educators in Southern California to document what it's like to care for other people's kids in a pandemic.

Photo Of The Day

A Koreatown Taekwondo class moves outside, with masks.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

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