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LA County Asks For A Deeper Study On Vulnerable Homeless Women

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A homeless woman is seen sleeping on the street of Skid Row in downtown L.A. in May. (Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images)

Unaccompanied women are one of the most vulnerable homeless populations in Los Angeles County, and now county supervisors have voted to officially designate them as a subpopulation of homeless residents.

In this year's L.A. homeless count, women as a group made up roughly 32% of the homeless population — a number likely higher with the pandemic. Women are considered unaccompanied if they are over the age of 18 without partners, dependents or children.

Amy Turk is the CEO of the Downtown Women's Center which provides services to homeless women.. who often face gender-based violence:

"Domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking. We know that that compounds into the experience of complex trauma, which then results in more healthcare needs."

The supervisor's vote this week directs county officials to report back with a plan to conduct a countywide assessment of the needs of homeless women. That would lead to strategy development and allocation of resources. San Bernardino is the first and only other county in the country to recognize unaccompanied women as a distinct homeless subpopulation.

Other existing homeless subpopulations in L.A. County include veterans and families.

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Telling The Story Of Historic And Abandoned Pieces Of LA

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At the Safari Inn in Burbank. (Alixan Gorman/Courtesy Jason Horton)

Walking through L.A. isn't the experience it once was during this pandemic. The new book Abandoned & Historic Los Angeles: Neon and Beyond brings together photos and essays about memories of iconic locations and interesting, under-the-radar sites from across our landscape.

Author Jason Horton also hosts a podcast about strange history, true crime, and the paranormal called Ghost Town. He wanted to expand on that project, digging into the history of the city he calls home.

Horton reached out to friends, comedians, and others who he thought might have an interesting take on a part of the city. He took photos, collected images from other photographers, and commissioned some original shots. While the book includes recognizable L.A. landmarks, from the Hollywood Sign to the Capitol Building, his personal tastes are more about the undiscovered and forgotten.

READ THE FULL STORY:

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Soon To Open In LA County: Nail Salons, Outdoor Gaming, Indoor Malls (With Limits)

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Michał Parzuchowski via Unsplash

Over the next 10 days, Los Angeles County will allow some businesses to resume limited operations — . a move that comes even though the county failed to advance in the state's COVID-19 reopening system.

Here's what's new:

  • Indoor malls can reopen at 25% capacity, though food courts must remain closed.
  • Nail salons can restart some indoor services also with 25% capacity.
  • Outdoor gaming will be allowed for card rooms — with no food or beverage service.

County public health director Barbara Ferrer says officials signed off on those businesses after monitoring post-Labor Day case data:

"In order to keep businesses and schools open and progress to tier two, we have to continue to be extraordinarily cautious, and to use every single tool we have available that's been proven to reduce transmission."

The county will announce reopening dates for the respective sectors on Friday.

READ MORE

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COVID-19 Outbreak Grows At Cal State Long Beach

Updated
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Screenshot from Cal State Long Beach's website

A COVID-19 outbreak among Cal State Long Beach students has grown to 22 confirmed cases, most of them students who live in campus dorms.

The university suspended in-person instruction over the weekend after five cases were reported. Of the 17 new cases reported on Wednesday, 10 are students living on campus and seven are in off-campus housing.

A spokesman said contract tracing revealed that the students had attended parties in the last month, in violation of rules Cal State set out for students living in dorms.

“The university is profoundly disappointed in the conduct of the students who violated public health guidance,” said university spokesman Gregory Woods.

The university directed students who live in the dorms to quarantine there. Students will receive meals in their rooms and those who test positive have been moved to separate dorms.

The CSU Long Beach outbreak is significant because the university had restricted its dorm population to about 12% and limited in-person instruction to less than 3% of its usual class offerings.

“[The] university took a very conservative approach by vastly reducing the numbers of students in our residence halls and the number of classes offered on campus,” Woods said.

Chico State and San Diego State saw COVID-19 outbreaks among students soon after the semester began on August 24. Both campuses have significantly more students on campus than Long Beach State. Chico State had 750 students in the dorms; San Diego State had 2,600. At Chico, administrators cleared the dorms after the outbreak. San Diego State did not. Both stopped in-person classes.

At CSU Long Beach, more than 300 students had been living on campus and about 700 students had been taking in person classes.

Nearly all of the remaining students living on campus have been tested, Woods said, so the positive case tally may grow as results come in. In a statement, the university said that so far, “those who have tested positive for the illness are either asymptomatic or report mild symptoms.”

RELATED:

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City of LA and Other Plaintiffs Seek Sanctions Against Census Bureau

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A car caravan rolls through Oceanside to drum up support for the 2020 Census. (Caroline Champlin/LAist)

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Trump Administration, including the City of Los Angeles, believe the government is still trying to end the 2020 Census early, even after a federal judge extended the count through October.

In a motion filed Wednesday, the plaintiffs argued for sanctions against the U.S. Census Bureau because the agency distributed a press release identifying Oct. 5 as a new target date to finish collecting responses.

“Defendants have violated this Court’s orders. The Court has inherent authority to compel compliance, and also has authority to find Defendants in contempt and/or to issue appropriate sanctions for non-compliance,” lawyers for the plaintiff’s wrote in their filing.

This is the latest update in a legal battle between the Trump Administration, several nonprofits and local governments that began more than a month ago, when the administration announced it planned to move up the end date for the census count by a month, from Oct. 31 to the end of September. Plaintiffs argued a shortened census would cause irreparable harm by undercounting hard-to-count local residents, like renters or immigrants. In the city of L.A., that’s more than half of all residents. Los Angeles County is considered especially hard to count.

Last week, Judge Lucy Koh agreed and ordered the Census Bureau to keep counting residents after Sept. 30, the early deadline abruptly chosen by the Trump administration. The government quickly appealed her order to the 9th Circuit Court -- a request that was rejected Wednesday.

When the U.S. Census Bureau announced Oct. 5 as a new target end date for the count this week, Judge Koh asked the agency to explain how that decision was made.

According to internal government documents, this date was chosen by the bureau in order to meet the legal deadline to have census data crunched, Dec. 31st. In her preliminary injunction order, Judge Koh enjoined the government from working toward that deadline.

In a case hearing yesterday, plaintiffs also pointed to the U.S. Census Bureau website, which at that time still listed the Sept. 30 deadline. In response to these developments, Judge Koh encouraged the plaintiffs to seek some penalty against the defendants.

“I just think that an entire schedule that’s predicted on an enjoined date is a violation of my preliminary injunction order,” Judge Koh said. “You don’t have to call it contempt, you can call it something else.”

The plaintiffs filed their motion today but decided against asking for defendants to be held in contempt of court. Instead, they've asked Judge Koh to reaffirm her earlier ruling by forcing the Census Bureau to send text messages to all census takers, informing them of the extension.

The plaintiffs are also asking for sanctions, specifically reports produced by defendants and Census Director Steven Dillingham to check the agency’s compliance. They also want the agency to reopen cases if they were counted according to any shortcuts made under the Trump Administration’s rushed census timeline.

MORE ON THE CENSUS:

What's at stake for Southern California in the 2020 Census? Billions of dollars in federal funding for programs like Medi-Cal, for public education, even disaster planning. Political representation in Sacramento and D.C. A census undercount could cut critical resources in L.A. County, home to the largest hard-to-count population in the nation.

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New Court Ruling Keeps Census Count Going, For Now

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A pamphlet with 2020 census information written in Spanish is included in a box of food to be distributed by the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank in Paramount last month. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A federal appeals court in Northern California has denied the Trump administration's request to temporarily block a lower court order that extends the 2020 census schedule.

The Census Bureau must continue counting as ordered by the lower court for now, according to the new ruling by 9th U.S. Circuit Judge Johnnie Rawlinson and Judge Morgan Christen, who were part of a three-judge panel. Circuit Judge Patrick Bumatay dissented.

Rawlinson and Christen wrote in their order:

"Given the extraordinary importance of the census, it is imperative that the Bureau conduct the census in a manner that is most likely to produce a workable report in which the public can have confidence. The hasty and unexplained changes to the Bureau's operations contained in the Replan, created in just 4 to 5 days, risks undermining the Bureau's mission."

The move comes amid a complicated legal fight over the timeline for the constitutionally mandated head count, which is expected to be used to determine each state's share of seats in the House of Representatives, Electoral College votes and federal funding for the next decade.

READ THE FULL STORY FROM NPR:

MORE ON THE CENSUS

What's at stake for Southern California in the 2020 Census? Billions of dollars in federal funding for programs like Medi-Cal, for public education, even disaster planning. Political representation in Sacramento and D.C. A census undercount could cut critical resources in L.A. County, home to the largest hard-to-count population in the nation.

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Without New Federal Money, California Child Care Providers Brace For Pay Cuts

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A home child care in Los Angeles. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

California home-based child care providers – who already often make less than minimum wage – are bracing for lower reimbursement from the state.

In normal times, low-income families in California paid for child care through a combination of state subsidies and an out-of-pocket rate called a family fee, which is based on their income relative to the size of their family.

When the pandemic hit, the state waived these fees for families – both those who needed in-person child care and those who chose to keep their kids home or lost their jobs – and continued to pay providers the fee.

Starting Oct. 1, if kids aren’t coming to child care in person, the state will no longer reimburse the family fee for providers unless there’s additional federal funding. (All the nitty gritty details are in Senate Bill 820, which you can read in full here.) The providers will only receive the state subsidy -- which is not enough, they say, to cover rising operating costs.

Los Angeles provider Sylvia Almaraz, who unlike many providers never closed during the pandemic, estimates she’ll be losing about $900 a month without the fees from families who still haven’t returned to her daycare.

She’s paying more for hard-to-find cleaning supplies, she’s had to upgrade her internet to accommodate distance learning, and she’s now caring for more school-age children, which require more food and other supplies.

“We need to work, We need to pay our bills. So we do it,” Alamaraz said. “We don't know how we do it, but we do it.”

Almaraz could take on more kids -- her license allows her to care for up to 12 at a time -- but she says it doesn’t make financial sense right now.

“If I have more kids, I need more helpers,” Almaraz said. “I need more cleaning stuff. I need more food. It's gonna be more water, more electricity and more supplies.”

Child Care Providers United is holding rallies throughout California today asking state leaders to increase the funding for child care. The union estimates more than 800 home providers in Los Angeles have closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The state agency that licenses child care said in an email that 1,547 child providers, including centers, closed permanently between March and August 31 this year.

READ MORE ABOUT CHILD CARE FROM LAIST

HOW ARE YOU TAKING CARE OF YOUR FAMILY?

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Dear Los Angeles: Your Parking Holiday Is Coming To An End

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A parking meter in Echo Park. Ticketing and parking is now scheduled to go back to normal on October 15, 2020. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

We all knew it wouldn't last forever: The parking holiday is about to end in the city of Los Angeles.

The city put a hold on most parking enforcement when the pandemic began, to make it easier for Angelenos to stay home whenever possible.

But today, the City Council voted to resume normal enforcement on October 15. That means tickets for things like:

  • street cleaning
  • abandoned vehicles
  • oversize and overnight restrictions
  • peak-hour and anti-gridlock zones
  • expired tags

Before the pandemic, L.A.'s Department of Transportation projected parking citation revenue to reach about $135 million in this fiscal year. Now, transportation officials expect that revenue to plummet to just $55 to $60 million.

READ MORE

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Judge Temporarily Blocks Steep Fee Increase For US Citizenship Application

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

Major fee increases for citizenship and other immigration benefits were blocked late Tuesday under a nationwide injunction.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was set to increase the cost of applying for U.S. citizenship by more than 80%, from $640 to $1,170, starting this Friday.

A federal judge with the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction putting the fee hike on hold, saying that the Trump Administration had failed to justify the increases as required by law. Also blocked were changes like a first-ever fee of $50 for those applying for asylum.

The judge also questioned the legitimacy of the fee increases under the acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, who was not properly appointed to the position.

The decision came as the result of a lawsuit filed this summer by a coalition of immigrant rights organizations.

Among the plaintiffs is the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, whose executive director Angelica Salas told LAist that the steep fee hikes would have served only a small number of affluent immigrants, "the wealthy immigrants who can pay these enormous fees that determine these kind of legal benefits," she said.

"Legal petitions would be absolutely out of reach of moderate-income and low-income communities," Salas said.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is a "fee funded" agency and has raised fees for naturalization and other services in the past, but this citizenship fee increase was especially steep: The last time naturalization application fees increased in 2016, during the Obama administration, they went up about 21 percent.

In addition to fee increases, those who have already applied for U.S. citizenship in recent years have been facing much longer wait times.

MORE ON CITIZENSHIP FEES AND BACKLOGS:

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LA County Sees A Surge Of Young People Stepping Up To Be Poll Workers, But Some Volunteers Are Left Disappointed

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A sign outside a Los Angeles County vote center in Palmdale, CA on May 3, 2020. Libby Denkmann for LAist

Close to 17,000 workers are needed to operate L.A. County vote centers for the general election, and the Registrar-Recorder’s office says it’s already nearing its recruitment goal.

The county focused on enlisting election workers at local colleges — and has already blown through its goal for applications, according to Supervisor Janice Hahn.

“We are making a much more concerted effort this year to recruit young people to be election workers, and it is paying off,” Hahn said.

But many would-be election volunteers say they’re still waiting to hear back about their applications. Some may have hit a technical roadbump when the county introduced a new online portal on Sept. 3.

READ THE FULL STORY:

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California Nurse Practitioners Gain More Autonomy - In 2023

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Nurse practitioner Alexander Panis at a mobile COVID-19 testing station in Compton. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

A new law signed this week by Governor Newsom aims to ease California’s primary care shortage by allowing nurse practitioners to operate without a doctor’s supervision.

Nurse practitioners have masters or doctorates in nursing and other advanced training.

Until now, nurse practitioners were required to have a contract with a doctor and pay for oversight. The idea is that they can consult with the doctor if they need to, or in case of emergency. For years, nurse's groups said this requirement was unnecessary and needlessly cost thousands of dollars.

Under the new law, nurse practitioners will be able to see patients in their own practice, but only after working under a doctor's supervision for at least three years. California joins 38 other states that grant some level of autonomy to nurse practitioners — but it doesn’t take effect until 2023.

WHAT THE LAW DOES

AB 890 expands the role of nurse practitioners and allows them to practice independently in some settings, without a supervising physician. State Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) pitched the bill as a way to help combat the state’s provider shortage.

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

Nurse practitioners have been trying to lift restrictions on their scope of practice for years. The nurses’ union as well as the state’s hospital association were among the bill’s supporters.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

California’s doctor lobby argued that the legislation posed a threat to patient safety and that it wouldn't necessarily guarantee growth in the provider workforce.

WHY IT MATTERS:

Nurse practitioners are highly trained nurses with a master’s degree, who work largely in primary care, an area of great need in the state. By some projections, California will need about 8,200 more primary care doctors by 2030.

GOVERNOR’S CALL:

Newsom signed this bill into law on Sept. 29.

Ibarra reports for Cal Matters

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Suspect Charged In Ambush Shooting Of Two LA Sheriff's Deputies

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Sheriff Alex Villanueva speaking the night the two deputies were ambushed. (Josie Huang/LAist)

A Compton man who was arrested two weeks ago for carjacking has been charged with attempted murder in the Sept. 12 ambush shooting of two Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies as they sat in their parked car at a metro station.

Deonte Lee Murray, 36, was scheduled for arraignment in Compton today, District Attorney Jackie Lacey told a news conference. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, she said.

When asked what authorities know about a possible motive for the ambush, Sheriff's Capt. Kent Wegener, head of the homicide bureau, said, "Other than the fact that he obviously hates policemen and he wants them dead, not specifically."

Murray was already in custody facing attempted murder, robbery and carjacking charges for allegedly stealing a black Mercedes Benz sedan on Sept. 1, Lacey said. He pleaded not guilty to those charges and has remained behind bars.

Investigators had identified Murray as the suspect in the Sept. 1 carjacking, and as a potential suspect in the ambush at the Willowbrook Metro station, Wegener said. Deputies arrested Murray Sept. 15 after a chase that ended with him surrounded in a residential Compton neighborhood.

During that chase, Murray threw a pistol out of his car, Wegener said. It was recovered, and was found to be a 40 caliber "ghost gun" with eight bullets, five short of capacity — the same number of shots fired at the two deputies, he said.

Ballistics tests determined that it was the gun used in the ambush, and forensic tests "conclusively linked" the weapon to Murray, Wegener said. Other video evidence showed that Murray was in the area of the ambush "a period of time prior to the shooting," he added.

Murray has a criminal record that includes convictions for burglary, terrorist threats, drug sales and illegal possession of firearms, Wegener said. He said authorities are not releasing a photo of Murray because they're still interviewing witnesses, and because the judge in Murray's carjacking case ordered that his photo not be released.

Murray "is associated with a couple of different gangs," Wegener said, while declining to name the gangs.

Despite authorities saying they're unsure about a motive for the ambush, Sheriff Alex Villanueva put the incident in the context of an "overall increase in brazen attacks on law enforcement," as well as incidents during the protests of recent months in which he said some people threw rocks and bottles at officers.

The two deputies who were shot, a 31-year-old female and a 24-year-old male, are both recovering at home, Villanueva said. They both face a lot of reconstructive surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation, but they're "fortunately doing ok," he said.

This story has been updated.

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How Did Moreno Valley’s Retired City Manager Make $600,000 This Year?

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Tom DeSantis announced in December that he was leaving his job at Moreno Valley City Hall. Keith Plocek

Being the city manager in Moreno Valley is a lucrative gig. No longer being the city manager of Moreno Valley is also a lucrative gig, judging from the payouts given to the last two people to hold the job.

Michelle Dawson made $590,000 in 2018, thanks to a clause in her contract that granted her a full additional year of pay if she were terminated without cause. Her successor, Tom DeSantis, did even better, making $600,000 this year even though he retired in December 2019.

That payout has some Moreno Valley residents wondering just why DeSantis got so much money if he’s the one who decided to leave.

“When you retire, that’s it,” said lifelong Moreno Valley resident Debra Craig. “You get nothing, right?”

Craig has filed a lawsuit in Riverside Superior Court against DeSantis and the city, alleging “a gift of public funds” that was in violation of the law. Regardless of how that case turns out, there are still plenty of unanswered questions about the circumstances surrounding DeSantis’ retirement, and no one at Moreno Valley City Hall is talking.

As an undergrad at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, I spent two months this summer poring over public records and adding up the numbers of DeSantis’ deal. The details are striking.

READ THE FULL STORY

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Mental Health Peer Support Gains Traction In California

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Keris Jän Myrick, chief of peer and allied health professions for L.A. County’s Department of Mental Health. (Robert Garrova/LAist)

L.A.’s mental health peer support services may get a boost in the form of a new law signed by Governor Newsom last week.

The idea behind peer support is simple: people who know what it’s like living with a mental illness helping others with their psychiatric condition. But backers like Keris Jän Myrick, chief of peer and allied health professions for L.A. County’s Department of Mental Health, say it’s time to take the model seriously.

“It’s hard to navigate everything, so [it helps] having somebody who’s been through [it] and they’re kind of like your GPS,” Myrick said.

The new law paves the way to expand the use of peer providers by creating a certification process and opening up the possibility for pilot projects funded by Medi-Cal.

READ OUR FULL STORY ON PEER SUPPORT IN L.A.:

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Morning Briefing: LA, Undercounted

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AltaMed's promotora Estuardo Ardon shuffles around with their mobile census kiosk. (Caitlin Hernandez/LAist)

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

Good morning, L.A.

In case you missed it amidst the constant breaking news of late, the U.S. is currently in the throes of the 2020 census. Households across the country are responding so their communities can receive adequate funding for critical resources, such as Medi-Cal, Medicaid, school lunches, highway planning, foster care, and more.

But in L.A., some census workers believe that officials may have prematurely ended efforts to reach thousands of residents, leaving those folks unaccounted for. Melissa Garza, an L.A.-area census supervisor, told my colleague Caroline Champlin that officials gave up on an estimated 30,000 households after only one day of trying to reach them in person.

“If no one was home, then they closed out the attempt,” Garza said. “Or if somebody had a locked gate, they would close that out, so we wouldn’t go back there again.”

This comes in the middle of an epic back-and-forth between the Trump administration and a group of activists who say that the administration is shutting the census count down too early, leaving underserved communities more likely to be overlooked – and less likely to receive needed federal funds.

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, September 30

As one of the highest paid city managers in California, Tom DeSantis has drawn criticism from Moreno Valley residents after making more than half-a-million dollars after retiring last year. Myra Wu reports for USC's Annenberg Media and KPCC/LAist.

The federal government uses census data to determine funding for Pell grants. Dana Amihere has the story of one local community college student who says a Pell grant helped make a college education possible, which changed her life.

Mike Roe reports on a new book of photography that documents iconic, vintage L.A. locations.

So-called peer respite facilities provide short-term mental health crisis care and are majority-run by peers with lived experience of mental illness. Research indicates they can be a highly effective alternative to hospitalization during crises. Robert Garrova visits one of the two such centers in LA.

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


The Past 24 Hours In LA

L.A. Kids: The L.A. County Board of Supervisors will allow schools to apply for waivers to resume in-person instruction for students in transitional kindergarten up to second grade. The LAUSD board discussed how to reduce the L.A. School Police budget by 35%. For years, California has funded K-12 schools at rates that lag behind other states — and many educators blame Prop. 13.

Census 2020: Some census workers have sent an email to a federal court saying there were tens of thousands of early case-closings in the L.A. area.

Money Matters: Disney is laying off 28,000 theme park employees in the U.S.— about a quarter of its domestic workforce.


Photo Of The Day

A child is baptized at an outdoor ceremony at the historic Our Lady Queen of Angels (La Placita) Church.

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft, and check LAist.com for updates on these stories and more. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

This post has been updated to reflect changes in what's coming up for today.


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