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LAPD Is Investigating Buddhist Temple Vandalism Incident As A Hate Crime

Several large metal lanterns were knocked down during the incident. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The LAPD has launched a hate crime arson investigation after the Higashi Honganji Buddist Temple in Little Tokyo was vandalized.

The incident happened around 7 p.m. on Thursday. Reverend Noriaki Ito says a man climbed over the temple's fence and set two wooden lantern stands on fire. He then knocked a pair of large metal lanterns off their stands, and threw a rock that shattered a floor-to-ceiling glass panel at the entrance.

Higashi Honganji Temple after the incident. You can see the boarded up glass on the entrance. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Reverend Ito told us that security cameras aimed at the temple caught the man on tape. He appears to be white and about 30 years old. He was wearing a black baseball cap, yellow shirt and black shorts at the time of the incident, according to LAPD.

There's been a rise in hate crimes aimed at Asian Americans since the start of the pandemic, and Reverend Ito suspects that's at play here:

"We're happy that he wasn't able to get inside into our sanctuary where we have articles from Japan that are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. And so we're fortunate that it all stopped at the exterior of the building."

Reverend Ito says the temple had another incident recently where two people got onto the grounds and injured a security guard who tried to escort them off the property.

The Higashi Honganji Temple was originally founded in Little Tokyo in 1904. The current temple was built in 1976. It's is actually the first Buddhist Temple in Los Angeles.

California just approved funding to the nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate,which has an online tool for community members to report hate crimes against Asian Americans. The organization is tracking that data.

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LA Teachers And Child Care Providers Will Be Eligible For COVID-19 Vaccines Next Week. Here's What You Need To Know.

An example of what an LAUSD classroom could look like. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Educators and child care providers in Los Angeles County will become eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines starting Monday.

But if you’re an educator or child care provider hoping to set up an appointment, be prepared for things to move slowly: The L.A. County Department of Public Health estimates that about 691,000 people in the education and childcare sector will be eligible to receive a vaccine – and the supply is very limited.

L.A. County receives about 200,000 vaccines a week. Next week health officials are allocating about 11% of these doses to education and child care workers.

Based on the first allocation of doses, county health officials said Friday that the ambitious vaccination goals set by leaders of the L.A. Unified School District could be feasible, if supplies stay consistent.

Before reopening elementary school campuses, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner has said he wants 25,000 district staff vaccinated.

Next week, nearly 60,000 vaccine doses will be available to educators, with about half of those set aside for the education sector exclusively. L.A. Unified is supposed to receive 40% of the doses for educators, but the district’s specific allotment has not yet been announced.

Speaking with reporters on Friday, medical epidemiologist Dr. Naman Shah from the L.A. County Department of Public Health was optimistic that Beutner’s goal could be met.

“I think it really depends on our allocations,” Shah said in a press conference. “If our allocations hold steady, I think we’ll certainly be able to complete that number in terms of first doses.”

It would take a full month after the first dose for educators to receive the second shot and be fully protected.

“The week-to-week uncertainty makes planning very difficult,” Shah conceded.

Superintendent Debra Duardo of the L.A. County Office of Education said her staff, along with officials from the county Department of Public Health, are doing their best to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines.

“We are eventually going to get every single teacher and employee vaccinated,” Duardo told LAist. “It’s going to take a little bit of time and we’re going to need some patience.”

The dose allocation per district is based on several factors: population, community COVID-19 case rates, poverty level and the number of staff already working in person.

As the second-largest school district in the nation, with about 465,000 students enrolled and one of the highest concentrations of low-income students in the state, LAUSD is getting more vaccines per staff member than smaller, more affluent districts. Meeting the district’s expectations for staff vaccinations will ultimately depend on dose availability.


If you are a teacher or child care provider, here’s how to prepare.

You will need to bring:

  • A picture ID
  • Proof that you live or work in the county or city where you are getting vaccinated
  • Documentation to prove your employment in the education or child care sector

Because information on what's required is still evolving, a best practice would be to bring multiple forms of documentation with you as backup.

Some examples of documentation include:

  • Center-based early childhood educators (licensed): a copy of State of California license for center; badge; pay stub; letter from your employer
  • Family child care homes (licensed): a copy of State of California license for center
  • Family, friends, and neighbors (FFN) providing subsidized care (license exempt): Copy of attendance sheet or invoice
  • Educators: Work shift schedule including your name; pay stub; letter from your employer

How to stay in the loop:

To make sure that doses go directly to educators and child care providers who need it, some vaccine sites will be invitation-only. Others can sign up through the My Turn system, their health care provider, or their city or county’s vaccination site.

Multiple agencies will be sending out information. If you are an L.A. County child care provider and have a profile on the CA ECE Workforce Registry, you should receive notification. Child care providers can also contact their local resource and referral agency.



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Essential Workers In LA County Will Be Able To Make Vaccine Appointments As Soon As This Weekend

A woman receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccine site in Long Beach. Chava Sanchez/LAist

Starting Monday March 1, L.A. County is expanding access to the COVID-19 vaccine to more essential workers, including those that work in education, childcare, food and agriculture, and emergency services.

Dr. Paul Simon, the chief science officer for LA County's Department of Public Health, says this phase will take a while, considering that there are over a million people that'll qualify:

"It will take considerable time to vaccinate these groups, unless vaccine supply significantly increase. We urge the public's patience as we work through this process as swiftly as possible."

If you work in one of these sectors, you'll still need to make an appointment.

You'll also have to bring a photo ID, along with proof that you live or work in L.A. County –- that documentation can include a work badge or pay stub with a valid address.

County-run sites are expected to open appointments specifically for members of each of these groups starting this weekend.

You can find more info on vaccine eligibility, plus current phases/tiers/timelines/FAQ's here.


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Grocers Assn. Plans To Appeal Ruling That Upheld $4-An-Hour 'Hero Pay' Raise In Long Beach

Outside an Aldi on Atlantic Ave. in Long Beach the signs read "heroes work here." (Megan Garvey/LAist)

The California Grocers Association plans to appeal a judge's ruling this week to uphold a "Hero Pay" ordinance in Long Beach. The city law orders grocery stores in the city to give their workers an extra $4 dollars-an-hour during the pandemic.

Here's Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia today:

"We think that a $4 dollar-an-hour pay bump increase is very reasonable for all these grocery workers that have been working so hard. It is only temporary. So this is a four month, 120 day ordinance, and it's absolutely the right thing to do."

When the ruling was announced Thursday, Garcia tweeted:

The CGA argued the ordinance went against the collective bargaining process and excluded other frontline workers.

In a statement, CGA President Ron Fong said:

"The Court... stated that its decision was limited. We remain confident that these extra pay ordinances will not withstand legal scrutiny."

Fong also said the CGA believed the ordinances "will result in unintended consequences like higher grocery prices for customers and store closures, which are already happening in Long Beach and which will harm grocery workers and consumers.”

After the measure passed last month, Ralphs announced it would close two locations in Long Beach.

The CGA is also suing to block similar hero pay laws in Montebello and West Hollywood and has a released a study the organization commissioned on the subject.


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Free Public Transit? LA Metro Unveils Its Plan To Make That A Reality For Many Bus And Train Riders

Riders board a Metro Red Line train in July 2019. (James Bernal for LAist)

During this week’s Los Angeles Metro board meeting, CEO Phillip Washington presented a proposal for a pilot program that would allow a majority of the public transit agency’s riders to take the system free of charge.

The two-phase pilot would offer free trips for low-income bus and rail riders starting January 2022. In August 2022, fareless travel would extend to all K-12 students in L.A. County.

Metro reported that 70% of its riders make less than $35,000 a year and would qualify for free trips under the current pilot proposal.

The pilot would run to June 2023, then Metro’s leaders could decide to continue or expand free transit to more riders and services.

The plan is still a work in progress, and Metro board members expressed concerns about the agency’s process of determining which riders qualify for the program, especially given many local residents' legal or housing statuses.


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The City Of LA Is Switching Street Sweeping To Every OTHER Week, Starting March 1

A street sweeping parking ticket. Ticketing resumed in Los Angeles on October 15. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The city of L.A. is switching its weekly street sweeping of neighborhoods to every other week, starting March 1.

Why? The city attributes the change to the pandemic-related staff reductions.

The good news? If you live on a street with alternate-side parking rules to allow for street sweeping, this means less rushing out to move your car or getting slapped with annoying tickets.

The bad news? This will likely confuse a lot of people.

If you aren't good with calendars/alarms/reminders – or whatever you use to remind yourself to move the car every week – Streets L.A., which oversees street sweeping, now has an app and email reminder system for that.

It's called My311App. Just enter your email and street address and you should receive a notification 24 hours ahead of the sweeper.

You can also find a map of street sweeping dates and times at and sign up for email notifications for move-your-car reminders.

Fun fact: According to Streets L.A., the City of Angels has more than 4,700 curb miles of streets to sweep.

There was a period of time at the beginning of the pandemic when street sweeping tickets were paused, due to the stay-at-home order, but the city began ticketing again for parking violations in October.


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A Nurse Protects Herself By Keeping Race Out Of The Workplace

Nurses and healthcare workers attend a Black Lives Matter rally in front of Bellevue Hospital on June 4, 2020, in New York City. (Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)

Adwoa Blankson-Wood is an ER nurse who's been working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic since last March. Following the death of Nipsey Hussle, exactly a year earlier, she remembered how his death had been dismissed by co-workers as the death of just another "gangbanger." After George Floyd's killing and the protests that ensued, she recalls a shift in conversation not just amongst her colleagues but also with her interactions with patients. As the country was embroiled in a racial reckoning, they all began to perceive her race before seeing her for the job she was there to do.

In this week's Race In LA she writes:

"I had spent my whole life avoiding difficult conversations in the workplace, keeping everything superficial because, to be honest, nobody understands what it means to be Black in America, unless they are Black in America. It was easier to find solace in my job, easier to be just a nurse, than to be a Black nurse."



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LA Is Trying To Figure Out How To Stop Using Police For Mental Health Calls

Psychiatric Technician Connie Villareal inside a county "therapeutic transport" van. (Courtesy L.A. County Dept. of Mental Health)

Last year, L.A. city and county leaders promised to reimagine how to respond to mental health crises. The push came amid calls for broader police reform in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and several deaths at the hands of law enforcement in L.A.

There has been some movement at the city and county levels, albeit fairly incremental.

Perhaps the biggest effort is centered around a city plan to develop an unarmed model of crisis response that would divert non-violent calls for mental health and substance use situations completely away from law enforcement.

That one’s still very much in the works, and we know few details.


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Morning Brief: Vaccine Expansion, The Lasting Effects Of COVID-19, And The Story Of Ramon ‘Chunky’ Sanchez

People walk past a public art installation by Wrdsmith, @_ShowzArt_ and @Willow.inthe.ether aimed at turning boarded up shopfronts into works of art in Los Angeles on April 28, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Good morning, L.A. It’s Feb. 26.

Starting next month, new tiers of L.A. County residents will become eligible for the coronavirus vaccine.

On March 1, teachers, school staff, child care workers, and more emergency service workers can sign up for their first doses. And on March 15, appointments will open up for anyone ages 16-64 with a qualifying underlying health condition, including cancer, Down syndrome and pregnancy.

Along with that advancement comes the necessity of increasing the number of vaccinations received here, but low supply has been dogging distribution in L.A. since the beginning of the rollout.

At first, it wasn’t entirely clear why it was so difficult for eligible individuals to make appointments for first doses. But as my colleagues Emily Guerin and Jackie Fortiér explained in mid-January, county health officials earmarked a certain number of vaccines for second doses — and they were receiving so few from the feds that only a scant amount were available for first-timers.

The problem persisted early this month, when county vaccination sites temporarily resorted to offering only second doses. City sites later followed suit.

However, earlier this week, Gov. Gavin Newsom reported that California’s supply will be steadily increasing, by about 100,000 doses per week. New supersites are also opening, all as part of President Biden’s ambitious goal of vaccinating 100 million people in 100 days.

L.A. city and county officials are gearing up by extending the hours of mobile vaccination clinics, and even offering “midnight clinics,” in which doses that would otherwise go to waste are administered. (According to a county health official, midnight clinics are rare.)

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer has said that as more people become eligible, she expects that it will become more difficult to get a vaccine through March, but she anticipates things will be moving faster by April.

That’s when Pfizer and Moderna will have ramped up production of their vaccines, and a third vaccine from Johnson & Johnson will hopefully be approved.

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

What Else You Need To Know Today

Weekend Reads

There's a lot going on in the world right now, and it’s hard enough to keep up with our day-to-day lives, let alone to stay current on the news. But if you have some time this weekend, here’s what you may have missed:

A new bill would require California to contract with more Black-owned businesses. (L.A. Watts Times)

In the 1970s, a trans woman from L.A. almost single-handedly revolutionized the car industry. A new documentary tells her story. (LAist)

Black journalists and editors in L.A. are examining the question of equity in local newsrooms. (L.A. Sentinel)

An anti-gentrification group in Little Tokyo is working to keep interlopers at bay. (L.A. Taco)

The failures of California’s Employment Development Department have left many residents in dire financial straits. (LAist)

A plan to expand the 605 and 5 Freeways would bulldoze hundreds of homes in Downey. (StreetsBlog L.A.)

If passed, President Biden’s immigration plan would create an eight-year path to citizenship. (LAist)

Shops and condos are starting to go up around SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. (Urbanize L.A.)

Long Beach has become the epicenter of Southern California’s (long-awaited) bread renaissance. (LAist)

Before You Go … Here’s What To Do This Weekend

Grammy-nominated Amythyst Kiah performs a set at the Skirball Cultural Center's virtual concert series. (Anna Hedges)

They say that March comes in like a lion, so while you wait for that fearsome feline to show up, here are some activities to keep you busy.

Head to the drive-in for a screening of Coming to America, just in time for the upcoming sequel, Coming 2 America. Learn about the music and life of Ramon "Chunky" Sanchez. Catch some laughs — and maybe some feels — at a nonbinary, interactive comedy show. Listen to a concert by Joachim Cooder and Amythyst Kiah. Explore Bob Baker's Los Angeles. Tune in for the opening of Historic Belmar Park in Santa Monica. And more.

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