THE LATEST

Help us rise to the challenge of covering the coronavirus crisis. Our journalism is free for all to access. But we rely on your support. Donate today to power our journalists.


Here's your daily audio briefing (updated weekdays):


Fatal Deputy Shooting in East LA May Prompt A Federal Lawsuit

Updated
Published
A memorial for David Ordaz, Jr. set up by his family. (Robert Garrova/LAist)

A fatal shooting by L.A. Sheriff's deputies will likely result in a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the county.

David Ordaz, Jr., 34, was killed in front of his family's East L.A. home Sunday after relatives had called for help because they feared he might take his own life, said family attorney Federico Sayre.

Instead, Ordaz was “executed,” he said.

The Sheriff's Department said deputies opened fire when Ordaz charged at them while holding a kitchen knife.

But bystander video obtained by Fox News does not clearly show Ordaz charging at deputies.

And Sayre said based on video of the incident he’d seen, the department's claim that Ordaz had charged the deputies was “nonsensical.”

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the investigation is in its preliminary stages, and that the shooting was captured on body-worn cameras.

READ OUR FULL STORY ON THE PLANNED LAWSUIT:

If You Need Immediate Help
If you or someone you know is in crisis and need immediate help, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go here for online chat.
For more help:

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletters. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

Manhattan Beach Can't Figure Out How To Apologize For Its Racist Past

Updated
Published
Cyclists in Manhattan Beach, California, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP)

Nearly 100 years after the city of Manhattan Beach seized Bruce's Beach from its Black owners, the city still can't decide whether, or how to, apologize for the racism behind taking the land.

Charles and Willie Bruce, 1886. Courtesy of the California African American Museum.

Willie Anne Bruce and her husband, Charles Aaron Bruce, purchased a tract of land in Manhattan Beach from an L.A. real estate agent in 1912.

The beach became a popular destination for the Black community, according to a report made by the Manhattan Beach city council. That is until George Lindsay, a real estate agent, initiated a series of events leading to the "condemnation and seizure of property from Black families residing near the Bruces' lodge" in 1924.

Lindsay said he was serving the community by working toward a peaceful end to the "negro 'invasion'," the report says.

Ultimately the Manhattan Beach City Council voted to use eminent domain to take the property. They claimed they wanted to build a public park, but the land grab followed years of racist harassment stoked by the KKK.

The Bruce family sued the city for racial discrimination in 1924. The city eventually paid them a settlement, but it was much less than the value of the land.

The Manhattan Beach City Council formed a task force in October 2020 to create recommendations for the city to right the historical wrong... those recommendations included a formal apology.

But the city council decided Tuesday to punt the issue and instead, work on the wording. They also voted to disband the task force.

The city council did approve an art installation about the history of the beach, but Bruce family spokesman Duane Yellow Feather Shepard says the whole ordeal was a missed opportunity to restore "stolen" generational wealth:

"These people were the founders of Manhattan Beach. By losing [that land], we've lost money that could be used to incubate businesses for the family, we've lost student tuitions for college. The generational wealth has just been wiped out."

L.A. County now owns the land and they're mulling over how to return it to the Bruce family...or pay them for it in some way.

READ THE FULL TASK FORCE REPORT BELOW (It includes a 30-page history of Bruce's Beach):

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

DA Gascón: In 3 Months, I’ve Cut Prison Sentences By More Than 8,000 Years

Updated
Published
L.A. District Attorney George Gascón. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón made a claim today you don’t usually hear from a prosecutor: He projected criminal defendants charged in his first three months in office could spend at least 8,172 fewer years behind bars because of his policy of generally not trying to lengthen their time in prison with sentencing enhancements.

Speaking on his 100th day in office, Gascón claimed this will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

The DA’s office calculated the number of years by comparing Gascón’s first three months on the job to the same period a year ago, when Jackey Lacey was DA. The office found under Gascón, prosecutors had filed 5,138 fewer gun, gang and other enhancements during that time, a whopping 71% drop.

If those defendants are convicted, their shorter sentences will save the state prisons $664 million, according to Gascón. He based that estimate on the average yearly cost to imprison someone in California, which is just over $81,000.

“Those savings can now go to education, mental health and housing,” Gascón said. “And obviously those savings will only increase with time.”

“That’s pure fiction,” said Eric Siddall, vice president of the Association for Deputy District Attorneys. He said there would be no savings because the cost of running a prison essentially remains the same, regardless of the size of its population.

Instead, the dramatic drop in prison time means more crime, said Siddall, who predicted “incalculable losses in public safety.”

Gascón is among a growing number of prosecutors who argue the justice system has locked up too many people for too long with no real public safety benefit. “There generally is no correlation between the length of a sentence and the likelihood that someone will not commit crimes,” he said.

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletters. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

More People Are Flying In And Out Of LAX This Month, Despite CA Travel Advisory

Updated
Published
A traveler wears a face mask while checking their phone on the arrivals level outside the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP)

Los Angeles International Airport has seen a noticeable increase in travelers over the last two weeks.

In February, passenger traffic was about 30% of what it was last year. But in March, that stat increased has increased to about 44%.

Heath Montgomery with LAX says that translates to about 35,000 people going through TSA checkpoints each day. And airport officials expect those numbers to keep climbing:

"We know the airlines have added additional flight capacity for the spring and for the summer. And I think generally the expectation around the country is that as you see a lot of those [state and county] restrictions begin to relax, and more people having access to vaccinations, we will see a pretty steady return to air travel through the rest of this year."

LAX officials are reminding travelers that they're still required to self-quarantine for 10 days once they return to California, if they've traveled out of state...although there's no enforcement plan for that policy (you can read more about how all this is supposed to work here).

The city of L.A. also requires everyone to fill out a travel form when they land at LAX.

There is also still a statewide travel advisory in effect asking Californians to avoid non-essential travel and stay within 120 miles of their homes. Again, whether or not people are following that advisory? Unclear.

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

How To Pay Taxes On California Unemployment Benefits

Updated
Published
A copy of a IRS 1040 tax form is seen at an H&R Block office on December 22, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (CREDIT: Joe Raedle/Getty Images) Joe Raedle/

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many parts of our lives. And if you’re one of the millions of Californians who collected unemployment benefits after losing work last year, the process of filing your taxes is about to change too.

We took some common questions about unemployment benefits (yes, that’s taxable income) and got answers from tax experts in Los Angeles. Among the topics: Will I benefit from the new federal tax waiver on unemployment benefits? What if I can’t afford to pay? And, what if I was sent a tax form for benefits I never received?

To find some tips that will hopefully make filing a bit easier after a tough year, read our full story here.

Disneyland Reopens April 30. Here’s What You Should Expect

Updated
Published
Disneyland theme parks plan to reopen April 30. (Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort)

Disney announced plans to reopen both of its Southern California theme parks — you may know them as Disneyland and California Adventure — starting April 30 after the state issued revised guidelines allowing them to open sooner than expected. It has been a hard year for Disney stans but they're about to experience a whole new world, albeit with limited capacity and health and safety restrictions.

WHAT CAN I DO AT DISNEY THEME PARKS?

You’ll be able to go on popular rides at both parks although some attractions are expected to remain closed due to current restrictions and health concerns. Here’s what we know will be open.

At Disneyland:

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • “New magic” at the Haunted Mansion
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • It’s A Small World
  • King Arthur Carrousel
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Snow White’s Enchanted Wish
  • Space Mountain
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

At California Adventure:

  • The Incredicoaster
  • Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind
  • The Little Mermaid — Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Toy Story Midway Mania

The open rides include the newly revamped Snow White’s Enchanted Wish in Fantasyland, which will reportedly be less scary than the previous version of the ride. There’s still no announcement of when the new Marvel Avengers Campus will open after being delayed from last summer, with Disney noting the California Adventure land will open at a later date.

WHAT SAFETY RESTRICTIONS SHOULD I EXPECT?

As long as Orange County remains in the red tier of California's reopening plan, the park is only allowed to reopen at 15% capacity. Disney plans to manage attendance with a new reservation system. You’ll now need a reservation and an admission ticket for the same park on that day. It’s also only open to California residents, with state guidelines forbidding visitors from elsewhere.

Full safety protocols have not yet been released but the industry organization representing California theme parks has released guidance (including efforts to reduce screaming on thrill rides), while the state has offered a few other details.

Disney plans to invite employees, as well as community residents, to enjoy the parks ahead of the broader public.

New health and safety measures designed to promote physical distancing, reduced contact and enhance cleanliness will be in place. These include mandatory face coverings for visitors over the age of 2. Disney promises to have staff located throughout the parks to answer questions related to COVID-19 safety.

Due to the large crowds that gather for events, parades and “nighttime spectaculars” (including fireworks shows) are on hold.

Some fans are already getting a sneak peek, with California Adventure holding “A Touch of Disney” — a food-themed experience allowing people to visit certain parts of the park and see some of their favorite characters from a distance. It runs from March 18 through April 19, and it's already sold out.

Disney is also starting to reopen its hotels. The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa wil open its doors on Thursday, April 29, the day before the parks open. The exclusive Disney Vacation Club Villas will open on May 2 while the Paradise Pier Hotel and Disneyland Hotel remain closed for the moment.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE ECONOMY?

The reopening is expected to be a boost for Southern California's economy, with Anaheim taking a hit this past year due to Disney’s immense influence in the area. A substantial number of employees, or “cast members” in Disney parlance, are preparing to head back to their jobs.

“We’re excited to have more than 10,000 cast members returning to work as we get ready to welcome our guests back to this happy place,” Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock said in a statement.

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

Vaccine Talks: My Grandmother Surprised Me On The Vaccine

Updated
Published
Mary Ann Ibarra with granddaughter Leslye Gama. (Photo by George Moreno)

This is part of a series of conversations that Cal State Northridge students had with loved ones about COVID-19 vaccinations. Planning your own conversation with family or friends? Here are some tips.

Leslye Gama, Oxnard

My grandmother is 73 years old and has worked 43 years as a machine operator for Pac Foundries, including through this pandemic, although she is high risk.

To my surprise, she decided she wanted to get the vaccine to protect herself against COVID-19. My family is very split with the vaccine, although luckily there are also a few family members who were able to get vaccinated and are feeling little-to-no side effects.

This makes my grandmother feel very optimistic. On March 8, she was able to get her first dose of the vaccine. She shows a lot of faith in it and believes it will be a breakthrough during this pandemic and help many people, including herself.

READ THE REST OF OUR 'VACCINE TALKS' SERIES:

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

Morning Brief: What The Red Tier Means, An Explosion In Ontario, And Revisiting ‘The Office’

Updated
Published
A street food vendor parked along Central Avenue selling fresh fruits and veggies. (Chava Sanchez)

Good morning, L.A. It’s March 17.

As we’ve reported, L.A. County entered the less restrictive red tier for reopening this week. While it’s exciting, it’s also confusing — especially given the less-than-ideal job that local government has done with letting us know what we can and can’t do during the pandemic.

With that in mind, my colleague Lisa Brenner created an in-depth guide about what’s open now, how open it is, and what the rules, restrictions and guidelines are around each industry and operation.

“If everything feels confusing and exhausting, that's because it is — but this guide isn't,” she says. “We translated some of the lengthy official-speak into snappy human words, and it's streamlined to take you to the newest rules, direct from the county."

Most businesses can reopen at between 10% and 50% capacity. The 10% limit is reserved largely for places where people will be sweating and moving around a lot, like gyms, and dance and yoga studios. Places where, on the flip side, people will be moving much less or even sitting still — such as malls and personal care services — can reopen at 50%.

Wineries and breweries have the most restrictions (because alcohol), and as with some previous guidelines, one can’t help but wonder how some of these rules are going to be enforced:

  • Reservations required
  • Visits are 90 minutes max
  • Alcohol consumption ends at 8 p.m.
  • Tables 8 feet apart
  • 6 people max per table
  • Table occupants can be from 3 households

Nevertheless, we’re looking forward to enjoying some of the newly permitted activities. Just remember that you still have to mask up and socially distance — we haven’t come this far only to surge again.

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

The Morning Brief newsletter is sent mornings Monday through Friday. Subscribe here.


What Else You Need To Know Today


Before You Go … Looking Back At The Cringey Joy Of ‘The Office’

(L-R) Actors Rainn Wilson, Steve Carell, and Jenna Fischer speak during the NBC executive question and answer segment of the Television Critics Association Press Tour at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on Jan. 22, 2006 in Pasadena. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images, Edited by Chava Sanchez for LAist)

Starting in 2005, The Office gave us an inside look at the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, and introduced us to the signature Jim Halpert look-to-the-camera. A cringe-y boss, a drab corporate setting, and a workplace full of quirky co-workers made for a compelling and way-too-relatable half-hour.

On April 13 at 6:30 p.m., grab your World's Best Boss mug and join LAist's Mike Roe and special guests for the next edition of TV Pilot Club, in which we look back at all the camera confessionals, love triangles, and eye-roll-inducing moments that made The Office a hit. RSVP here.


Help Us Cover Your Community

  • Got something you’ve always wanted to know about Southern California and the people who call it home? Is there an issue you want us to cover? Ask us anything.
  • Have a tip about news on which we should dig deeper? Let us know.

Check LAist.com for updates on these stories and more. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Never miss a Morning Brief. Subscribe to get these in your inbox.