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Another Fatal Deputy Shooting, More Questions About Tactics

Raquel and Raquisha Nevilles protesting the killing of Dijon Kizzee. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Another killing of a Black man by L.A. Sheriff’s deputies in South L.A. is touching off protests and questions about why they opened fire.

The Sheriff’s Department says 29-year-old Dijon Kizzee ran away when the two deputies tried to stop him for a traffic violation while he was riding a bicycle. According to an account a sheriff's department official gave to the L.A. Times on Monday, Kizzee allegedly punched one of them and, as he did, he dropped a jacket and a gun. Late Tuesday, the LASD released a statement saying Kizzee "made a motion toward the firearm." That’s when they opened fire.

The incident sparked an impromptu protest Monday night, and another one today. Black Lives Matter leader Melina Abdullah said:

"At the time they shot, he had already dropped the gun. According to their own story, he did not have a gun when they killed him."


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Santa Monica-Malibu Unified Cuts Nearly 100 Early Education Jobs

A classroom sits empty at Kent Middle School on April 1, 2020 in Kentfield, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

If this were a normal year, Jessica Gutierrez would sign up her 4-year-old and 19-month-old sons in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s child care programs. Instead the boys are at home and the family hired a nanny part-time to help out.

“Finding that your child care situation has changed, it just puts a whole new hiccup,” Gutierrez said. “My husband and I are very invested in our careers. We love what we do, but we also love our kids.”

Last year, her sons were two of about 1,000 students in the district’s infant and toddler, preschool or child care programs, which have all gone virtual since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year, enrollment is down to about 200 as parents have opted out of distance learning for their littlest kids and the steep drop in enrollment means dozens of educators are losing their jobs.

“When they made that decision, I kind of felt like, so what about preschool?” says teaching assistant Monica Razon McMillan. “What about the little ones? Because the little ones are going to funnel into your schools.”

The district says it’s not ending the infant and toddler, preschool or child care programs.

But Early Learning Director Susan Samarge-Powell said without tuition from parents, state funding -- mostly from low-income families -- isn’t enough to sustain the program as it existed before. This summer, the district’s board voted to lay off about 34 teachers and 60 support staff.

“We can't be an additional fiscal burden on a district that's already trying to make sure that they are being fiscally sound because they have their own burdens to handle,” Samarge-Powell said.


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Guy In Jetpack Greets Incoming Planes At LAX, Prompts FBI Inquiry

FILE: An entertainer with a jet pack performs before the Formula One Grand Prix of France in 2018. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Air travel during the pandemic is already a somewhat surreal experience. There's the odd passenger wearing a full gas mask, eerily empty airports, the absence of regular flight attendant rounds.

And now you can add the sight of a person floating outside an airplane window to the list of oddities.

The flying man wasn't a coronavirus-induced hallucination or a pilot's flashback to the 1984 Olympics. Remember that?

FILE: A performer wearing a space-age jetpack stuns the crowd during the opening day of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. (Tony Duffy/Getty Images)

This incident — which we don't have photos of — occurred at LAX on Sunday. The pilots of an American Airlines flight called into the tower to report passing a "guy in a jet pack" at an altitude of about 3,000 feet.

The air-traffic controller responded, "Only in L.A."

At least one other pilot aboard a Southwest Airlines flight also spotted the flying man, and an FAA spokesperson confirmed the sighting, too.

The FBI is reportedly aware of the incident and looking into it.
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Judge Blocks SAT, ACT Scores For Admission On All UC Campuses

UC campuses that had opted to continue accepting SAT and ACT test results must stop immediately under a court order. (Seth Perlman/AP)

The University of California must immediately stop using the scores from SAT and ACT standardized tests to decide admissions on all of its campuses under a preliminary injunction issued by a Superior Court judge.

The ruling comes three months after UC Regents voted to phase out the use of those scores by 2025. But Regents gave individual UC campuses the option to accept test scores from students in the interim. UCLA and UC Riverside were among the campuses that planned to continue accepting admissions tests results for the fall 2021 semester.

The preliminary injunction was granted in response to a request from lawyers from Public Counsel and other civil rights groups, who filed a lawsuit last year arguing that higher scores on these tests reflect financial access to test preparation rather than academic achievement.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman agreed with the lawyers’ concerns that pandemic restrictions have greatly reduced the availability of testing centers and accommodations for disabled students are “almost nil.”

The companies that run the SAT and ACT tests did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


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LA Metro Is Exploring How To Become A Free Transit System As Soon As 2021

(James Bernal for LAist)

What would regional public transit and mobility look like if Los Angeles County's buses and trains were free for everyone? The L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is trying to answer that question.

Metro CEO Phillip Washington launched a task force today to study what he has dubbed the "Fareless System Initiative, or Operation FSI." And he wants to move fast.

Last week, Washington told Metro's board of directors he hopes the system could go fare-free as soon as "the beginning of the new year."

During his virtual presentation, he cited the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color and low-income residents as one reason to pursue free transit, which he compared to public services such as firefighting and policing:

"In many cases, people are having to choose between paying rent, paying utilities or utilizing transit. We believe that achieving [a] fare-free public transit system — for young people, for seniors, for working moms and dads, for essential workers, the disabled [and] students — will change the trajectory of millions of people and their families here in the largest county in America."

Washington gave three key goals the agency is striving for, should it go fareless:

  • Improving equity and economic parity for riders, a large portion of whom live under the federal poverty line
  • Creating an incentive to take public transit over personal vehicles, which would alleviate L.A. County's crippling congestion
  • Rethinking public space and how cities are managing streets with more people moving in communities without cars.

The task force will study the complexities of how going fareless could impact ridership, operations and homelessness on the system. They’ll also analyze the current costs of managing fare collection and reduced fare programs, Washington said.

Of course, the biggest question is how to pay for it. Washington said the task force will explore the possibilities of federal and state funding, and reallocating existing agency funds, such as from advertising revenue.

Metro offers reduced fares for certain riders and is exploring free fares for K-12 students, but Washington says those are "Band-Aid" solutions that don't go far enough.

"What we're doing here is ripping the Band-Aid off, and we're saying that as the largest agency in this country to pursue a fareless system, I can see us as a pilot agency. I could see us seeking federal funds to do this as a pilot to show that it can be done."

Several Metro board members spoke in favor of the initiative.

"I think the time is now," said board chair and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. He called the proposal "a brave way forward" to invest in mitigating climate change and rebuilding ridership.

It's important to note that rider fares are a tiny slice of Metro's annual revenue. In the agency's 2020 budget — approved pre-pandemic — fare revenues represented just 4% of the agencies projected resources for that fiscal year.

This pie chart shows L.A. Metro's available resources for the 2020 fiscal year. (Courtesy Los Angeles Metro)

Previously, Washington had been hesitant to offer free fares on Metro. In the early months of the pandemic, as smaller transit agencies in the county and around the U.S. waived rider fares, Washington cautioned against that for L.A. Metro, saying it might draw too many riders and counteract social distancing.

The pandemic hit Metro hard. The agency lost roughly 70% of its riders amid stay-at-home orders. The larger, long-term impact is a drop in sales tax revenue, which accounts for about half of Metro's operating budget. Officials project the agency will lose $1.8 billion through the upcoming fiscal year, ending in June 2021.

Relief from the CARES Act will help close some of that gap.

L.A. County has been granted nearly $1.1 billion specifically for public transit to cover operating expenses impacted by coronavirus, although Metro has joined a coalition of U.S. transit agencies seeking a second round of federal relief.

The Operation FSI task force is expected to come back with recommendations for Metro's leaders by the end of the year. In the meantime, you still have to pay to ride the system.

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Craft Brewers Push LA Officials To Let Them Reopen For Outdoor Service

A beer sampler. (Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr Creative Commons)

If restaurants and bars with kitchens can reopen for outdoor service, why can't breweries? That's the question Los Angeles beer-makers want to know.

As part of its recnetly launched Save LA Brewers campaign, the L.A. County Brewers Guild is pushing the Board of Supervisors to let craft breweries reopen for outdoor service — with safety precautions and partnerships with food vendors in place.

Laurie Porter, owner of Smog City Brewing in Torrance and a member of the guild, thinks many craft breweries can open safely with outdoor seating.

"We now have a 3,500-square-foot outdoor seating area that was fully social distanced in an open-air space where we purchased umbrellas and we did a lot of preparation for this," Porter says.

She says Smog City's profits have dropped nearly 70% since the start of the pandemic, when they had to close their taprooms.

View this post on Instagram

Hi @hildasolis @mridleythomas @supjanicehahn @supervisorkathrynbarger @sheilakuehl. My name is Gracie (or Grayson depending on how I am feeling that day) and I live at Smog City Brewing Co. Hopefully you’ve seen #SaveLABrewers posts this week the decent humans that work at our 93 breweries in the county asking for your help. If not, check ‘em out. They explain pretty puuuurfectly the predicament we’re in right now. . You see, all the really cool cats that used to come enjoy beers at Smog City Brewing Co. are no longer allowed to do that. My life has turned into a hollow shell of what it once was because my humans, who work super hard by the way (too hard if you ask me!), aren’t allowed to let their catstomers (see what I did there!) drink their delicious brews here anymore alongside a meal. Our big, purrrfect outdoor patio and parking lot space are sitting empty. There are no litters of lovely people to fawn over me and tell me how great I am. Where did they all go?!?!?! Also, as much as I hate to admit it, I also miss the canines that used to come hang out too. Rolly and Rosebud used to be regulars here and have vanished. It’s purrty sad. . But, apparently there is a purrty simple solution to the sadness! I was rudely woken from a nap the other day by my humans talking about how every other county in the great state of CA is allowing craft breweries just like ours to be open and use 3rd party food vendors to meet meal requirements. So, if every other county can do it, why can’t we? I may be super lazy, but the rest of the crew at Smog City is totally ready to meet any and all requirements needed to open the doors safely again. Please help us out! I need praise from more people than just my staff! HELP! . Supervisors, throw this cat a sack of catnip and have the @lapublichealth Health Order that prohibits dine-in with a 3rd party food vendor changed. I’ll be lying here on the empty, unused patio until then, dreaming of better days. XOXO Gracie/Grayson.

A post shared by Smog City Brewery (@smogcitybeer) on

In-person tastings and visits are a significant revenue stream for many craft breweries. While some breweries have full kitchens, most don't. The two types of breweries are regulated in slightly different ways and they're regulated differently from bars. This is why you'll often see craft breweries team up with food trucks; they're making sure they follow county regulations about how they can serve customers.

On June 1, officials allowed Los Angeles breweries to open. Then, COVID-19 cases shot up. On June 29, the county ordered breweries without their own kitchens — which means most breweries — to shut down.

"When they shut down the second time, they classified us as bars all of a sudden. They didn't tell us why and they didn't give us an explanation," Steve Leiberman, co-owner of Surfridge Brewing Co. in El Segundo and owner of West 4th and Jane gastropub in Santa Monica, told Santa Monica Daily Press.

The L.A. County Department of Public Health says the COVID-19 case count and rate of community spread are still too high to allow wineries, bars, and other alcohol-based businesses to reopen.


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Gov. Newsom Signs Eviction Relief Bill Into Law

An eviction notice and paperwork. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

A law designed to prevent evictions was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom late last night. The measure protects tenants from being evicted for failing to pay rent between March and August of this year.

"COVID-19 has impacted everyone in California - but some bear much more of the burden than others, especially tenants struggling to stitch together the monthly rent, and they deserve protection from eviction," Gov. Newsom said shortly after signing the bill.

Going forward, they’ll need to start paying a portion of their rent bill.



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Thousands Of Students Will Live In College Dorms. Can They Avoid An Outbreak? 

Occidental College first-year students and their families are welcomed on campus on move-in day on Aug. 23, 2018. (Marc Campos/courtesy Occidental College)

With college dorms reopening around Southern California, campus leaders are taking more stringent measures to avoid COVID-19 outbreaks.

At UCLA, 5,000 students are expected to move into the dorms by the first day of classes on October 1. The university plans to administer COVID-19 tests to all of them; those who test positive will have to isolate for two weeks.

UC Irvine also starts classes on the same day and will require students who move into the dorms to show written proof of a negative COVID test. Administrators say the steps are needed to avoid outbreaks like those plaguing college campuses across the nation.

“We have to have a common goal, hopefully we’re all focused on being here to better our lives,” said UC Irvine senior Dominic Pastorelle, who plans to move into the dorms.

Cal State campuses are not requiring COVID tests but schools in both systems are banning outside visitors to on-campus housing.

Administrators are urging students to practice social distancing, but seven Cal Poly Pomona students who’d just moved in to different dorms a few weeks ago ignored that advice. They had a Friday night party.

“In all honesty, I was a little disappointed,” said Jestin Kiriu-Dela Cruz, a third-year student who lives in the dorms as a resident advisor.

“But at the same time I feel for them, you know, you want to have that first-year college experience,” he said.

Administrators at Cal Poly Pomona said a COVID-19 outbreak in their dorms has higher consequences. It’s opened a limited number of dorm rooms to students who are homeless, low income, or have poor wifi where they live. If the dorms close because of an outbreak, they’ll have few, if any, options.


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State Lawmakers Vote To Ease Employment Rules For CA Freelancers


Freelance writers, musicians and translators may be getting exemptions from California’s strict new employment rules under a bill passed Monday night by the state legislature that now awaits Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature.

The move comes after pushback from California freelancers who said AB 5 — a law that went into effect at the start of 2020 — drove their clients to cut ties with them and instead hire out-of-state freelancers who weren’t as much of a legal liability.

Here are some of the changes outlined in the new bill:

  • It would strike down the 35-submission cap for freelance writers and photographers. Under current rules, any California-based freelancer who contributes more than 35 submissions to an outlet per year must be reclassified as an employee.

  • It would add translators, appraisers and registered foresters to the “professional services” exemption. This exemption currently covers graphic designers, travel agents and marketers, among others.

  • It would allow workers in much of the music industry to continue working as freelancers. The list of exemptions includes recording artists, songwriters, producers, promoters and many others.


Morning Briefing: An Important Gun Control Step

A sign at Gun Effects in City of Industry. (Josie Huang/LAist)

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

When a mass shooting is carried out or attempted by someone whose behavior has raised red flags in the past, it’s often said that preventive measures should have been taken sooner. Starting today, it’s easier to make that happen in California.

A new state law allows teachers, other school staff, employers and co-workers to seek a court order to have a person’s gun removed from their possession for anywhere from three weeks to five years if they’re found to be a danger to themselves or others. Until now, only police or immediate family members could seek such an order.

The law’s expansion was written by State Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco. “It makes sense to give the people we see every day the power to intervene and prevent tragedies,” he said.

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie

Coming Up Today, September 1

California's Judicial Council could lift a statewide order that essentially pauses all evictions as soon as this week. That would radically change the landscape for tenants and landlords, reports Aaron Mendelson, even in municipalities with a moratorium. And in Sacramento, lawmakers are struggling to coalesce around a statewide fix.

Despite holding classes online, Southern California colleges are housing thousands of students in campus dorms. The anti-COVID-19 measures in place for these students will be a test of the decision to keep those housing units open, reports Adolfo Guzman-Lopez.

City Bean paved the way for L.A.'s current coffee scene. In the pandemic, it's trying to highlight the importance of locally owned businesses. LAist contributor Evan Jacoby has the story.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

Coronavirus Updates: L.A. County continues to move in the right direction with declines in COVID-19 cases, hospitalization and death rates — but we're still in the state's Tier One category with widespread transmission.

Preserving Programs: Social programming, nonprofits, support groups and more are at stake in this year’s census for LGBTQ+ Angelenos. The USDA will extend waivers for school nutrition programs through the end of this calendar year, allowing more kids in need to get free meals.

Guns And Money: A new state law adds educators, employers and co-workers to the list of people who can file a request with the court to have someone’s gun removed from their possession. Original Tommy’s will shell out nearly $400,000 in back wages and fines after underpaying its workers for years.

Here’s What To Do: Watch a documentary about four transgender activists, take a forest bath under the light of the full moon, catch a video presentation of La Olla, and more in this week’s best online and IRL events.

Photo Of The Day

A view of the downtown L.A. skyline through a Lincoln Heights window.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

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