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Fred Segal, Arbiter Of West Coast Cool, Dies At 87

Exterior of the Fred Segal clothing store in Los Angeles, California, June 1, 2002. (Robert Mora/Getty Images)

Fred Segal, the innovative fashion retailer who sold an iconic California casual look through a discerning curatorial eye, died Thursday in Santa Monica. He was 87.

Segal capitalized on proximity to Hollywood and celebrity clientele to promote effortless-looking luxury copied by other brands and immortalized in popular culture, most frequently in the mid-1990s through the early aughts when the store was name-checked in films such as Clueless.

Segal and his buyers "were able to pull what made Los Angeles distinct and put that into the store instead of looking -- as so many others did -- to the runways of New York, or even Europe," said Valli Herman, a lifestyles writer and former L.A. Times fashion critic.

As he spread the gospel about designer jeans paired with high-end T-shirts, Herman also popularized the shop-within-a-shop concept that helped promote SoCal brands such as Juicy Couture.

"Fred Segal defined L.A. fashion and sparked a revolutionary shift in style with the first ever denim bar," Jeff Lotman, CEO and Owner of Fred Segal, said in a statement.

Segal was born in Chicago but made his way west as a traveling shoe salesman. He opened the "Jeans Bar" on Melrose at Crescent Heights in 1960, which, according to the store's website, ended up "attracting crowds and causing traffic jams even though they were selling for the unheard price of $19.95 when jeans were typically $3.00."

Besides selling fashion, the Fred Segal store that opened on Sunset also had a buzzy restaurant that drew celebrities and tourists alike.

Herman sees Segal's legacy in Rick Caruso's properties like The Grove and The Americana at Brand, which elevate "shopping as an activity, not just a place for commerce, where you took all these great super niche boutiques and stores and kind of created a whole universe."

The Fred Segal brand has spread beyond L.A. and Malibu locations to stores at LAX and in Switzerland and Taiwan.

Segal's passing, following the deaths of Stanley Marcus, former CEO of Neiman Marcus, and the bankruptcy travails of Barneys New York, further ushers the end of an era of specialty retailers, said a mournful Herman.

"Too bad, because the retailer had a chance to really know their local market," she said. "And with the loss of these kinds of retailers you've a real sort of interpreter."

Segal is survived by his wife and five children.

Riverside County Sees Decrease In COVID-19 Hospitalizations

(Courtesy LAC+USC Medical Center)

Riverside County is seeing a drop in the number of people hospitalized with coronavirus.

On Friday, county officials reported 361 coronavirus patients in the region’s hospitals, down from 381 the day before — and a dramatic drop from earlier this year.

John Welsh, a Riverside County spokesperson, still advised caution.

“When we're trending in the right direction, everybody gets excited,” he said. “But we do believe that with the number of people in our county getting the vaccine, we hope to increase the trend of going in the right direction.”
Riverside County reported 265 newly confirmed coronavirus cases and 18 additional deaths on Saturday.

Meanwhile, in L.A. County, public health officials reported 1,064 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, and 107 deaths from the virus. There are currently 1,661 people hospitalized with COVID-19, and 32% of them are in the ICU.

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State Lawmakers Want To Curb Development in Wildfire-Prone Areas

Inmate firefighters work as the Bond Fire burns shortly after sunrise in the Silverado Canyon area of Orange County on December 3, 2020 near Irvine, California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Several California lawmakers are considering a bill that would limit sprawl in wildfire-prone areas.

The bill comes on the heels of a new report by the Center for Biological Diversity, which found rampant construction in high fire-risk Southland wildlands to be a major contributor to the increase in costs associated with fire suppression and damages.

Tiffany Yap, a scientist with the center who co-authored the report, said people pose the biggest threat in terms of starting wildfires.

“95% of contemporary wildfires in California are caused by human sources like power lines, car sparks, electrical equipment, cigarettes,” she said. “Building new developments in high fire-prone environments increases unintentional ignition, and places more people in danger.”

The report also highlighted several recently-approved new developments in areas that have repeatedly burned in wildfires, including an Antelope Valley development from the Northlake company approved by L.A. County in 2019, and several developments approved by San Diego County in 2019 and 2020.

The Center for Biological Diversity has sued L.A. County over the Northlake development.

According to the report, wildfires cost the state $23 billion between 2015-18 in areas managed by the California Department of Forestry and Fire. Almost 200 people have died in such blazes since 2015, and more than 50,000 structures were destroyed.

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CA’s Net Neutrality Law Is Now In Effect

People protest during a rally to 'Protect Net Neutrality' as they voice their opposition to the impending FCC vote, outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles, California on November 28, 2017. (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

A federal judge last week cleared the way for California to ban internet providers from slowing down or blocking access to websites and applications that don't pay for premium service.

Advocates for California's landmark net neutrality law — which passed two years ago but has not yet been enforced — called the ruling a major victory.

Barbara van Schewick, who heads the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, said the ruling comes during a critical time.

“We're in the middle of a pandemic and everything we do is stuff we do online... We go to school. We work with the doctor. We see our friends and it ensures that we the people who use the internet get to decide what we do online and that the companies that we pay to get online —Comcast, AT&T and Verizon — don't get to interfere with our choices.”

The net neutrality law also prevents providers from making websites go faster just because they have a business partnership with them.

Our newsroom's local news and culture show Take Two, which airs on 89.3 KPCC, talked to van Schewick this week.



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LA Teachers Union Pushes Back On Proposed April 9 Reopening

College Banners hang above the offices of school staff in an Alhambra public school. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The union that represents 33,000 L.A.-based teachers and school staff is pushing back against the L.A. Unified School District’s attempt to reopen schools on April 9.

On Friday, Cecily Myart-Cruz, president of the United Teachers of L.A., said safety needs to come first.

“We will reject any fixed date that ignores the elements of a safe return,” she said.

The union said that three conditions must be met before school staff will return to the classroom:

  1. The county moving into a safer tier
  2. Staff either being fully vaccinated or have had access to vaccination
  3. Proper social distancing, ventilation and other safety conditions being in place

Austin Beutner, LAUSD’s superintendent, has said earlier that the district won’t reopen until similar conditions are met.

In a weekly address on Feb. 8, he laid out those conditions: The vaccination of 25,000 non-union personnel, including principals, teachers, bus drivers, custodians and librarians; reducing the level of COVID-19 in L.A. to meet state requirements; and implementing health protocols and practices at schools as non-negotiable prerequisites for inviting students back to campus.

Beutner has faced pressure from parents and local officials to reopen for in-person learning, including a threat from L.A. City Councilmember Joe Buscaino to sue the district in order to force a reopening.

Beutner has maintained that L.A. has not yet met the criteria for a safe return to classrooms.

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