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Burbank's Tinhorn Flats Stays Defiantly Open — Even After Getting 'Red Tagged'

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The entrance to Tinhorn Flats, an Old West-themed bar in Burbank. (Elina Shatkin/LAist)

The saga of Tinhorn Flats continues. The city of Burbank has now twice padlocked the Western-themed restaurant and bar for non-compliance with health orders. Twice, the locks have been sawed off by staff and the business has defiantly reopened.

The second padlock-cutting and reopening was yesterday, and that came after the city served Tinhorn Flats with a "red tag" notice marking the building as unsafe and off limits.

"No Entry or Occupancy to the Entire Building and Patio pursuant to the Burbank Municipal Code," the red warning posted on the front door reads.

Next to it is a note on printer paper, encouraging customers to "enter through side gate!"

As of Thursday afternoon, the business was open and serving nearly a dozen unmasked customers who were sitting on the back patio, sipping beer and watching baseball.

Anyone who enters Tinhorn Flats is at risk of being arrested, according to a statement from the city of Burbank. When asked whether the city had a plan in response to the latest reopening, a spokesperson said, "not right now."

There are "multiple fire/life safety violations that have been brought to the business owner's attention,” Burbank Fire Chief Eric Garcia said in a statement yesterday. "These violations may create life safety hazards to any occupants in the structure."

For starters, the business is running on a generator because Burbank cut its power — with the permission of an L.A. Superior Court Judge. (Tinhorn Flats is facing a lawsuit from the city). According to the fire department, connecting the generator to the electrical panel and using electrical breakers as switches is a fire hazard. Plus, the exit lights don't work.

This afternoon, several cars pulled up outside the restaurant, dropping off gasoline to keep the generator going.

The owner's son, Lucas Lepejian, said he's just operating on the patio for now and plans to address some of the violations outlined in the red tag notice and reopen indoor dining next week.

"We've paid our taxes. We're a legitimate business," Lepejian said. "So if [the city wants] to just completely shut you down, there's got to be some kind of cooperation... to help you out money-wise."

No city officials, police officers or fire department personnel have come by the restaurant since they've opened today, Lepejian said.

We have the full timeline of the Tinhorn Flats saga here.

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USC Is Paying $1 Billion To Settle Sex Abuse Claims. Where Does The Money Come From?

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(Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Last week, USC announced that it will pay out more than $1 billion to settle hundreds of sexual abuse claims against former campus gynecologist George Tyndall. Now, the campus is bracing for the financial fallout.

In a letter sent by email to the campus community and posted on the university's website, university President Carol Folt said the settlement will be funded "largely through a combination of litigation reserves, insurance proceeds, deferred capital spending, sale of non-essential assets, and careful management of non-essential expenses." She pledged to preserve the university's academic excellence.

Still, faculty and students are skeptical.

"Faculty have been shut out of any involvement or understanding of the budget," said USC law school professor Ariela Gross. "We kind of have to take their word for it, and that leads to suspicion and doubts."

Seton Hall University Professor Robert Kelcher, who studies higher education finance, said students are likely to pay in the future for building maintenance that the university put off because of the settlement.

"For a university that gets a large share of its revenue from tuition, it's hard to say that students aren't going to pay at least part of the bill in the long run," he said.

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AAPI Mental Health Experts On How To Process The Trauma of Anti-Asian Hate

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Laugh Factory in West Hollywood hosts a candlelight vigil for #StopAsianHate. Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

For some, the attacks on Asian Americans have led some to put up their guard, buying pepper spray and taking self-defenese courses.

Others have channeled their anger into volunteering for community organizations and raising money for targets of hate incidents.

Still others have struggled with anxiety and despair.

In the face of collective trauma that many Asian Americans are sharing, LAist reached out to five mental health experts for advice on how to process the rise in anti-Asian racist acts nationwide.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE

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Theme Parks Can Now Reopen. Six Flags Magic Mountain Is First To Do So

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Six Flags Magic Mountain was closed due to the coronavirus, as seen on March 14, 2020 in Valencia, California. (Rich Fury/Getty Images)

It's about to be a big month for theme park fans.

Theme parks can officially open as of April 1, and the first to take advantage in Southern California is Valencia's Six Flags Magic Mountain.

The theme park is welcoming back members only for the next two days, but admission opens to everyone on Saturday. Well, almost everyone — state rules limit admission to only allow California residents.

You have to buy tickets in advance, wear a mask, and practice physical distancing. Just like everywhere else.

Universal Studios Hollywood will reopen two weeks later on April 16, while Disneyland and California Adventure are set to open at the end of the month. Meanwhile, Knott's Berry Farm plans the return of its theme park in May.

However, you can already visit all of these parks for a metaphorical taste of theme park fun, as well as a literal taste. They're all holding food events currently, including Knott's famous boysenberry festival, held each spring.

Theme parks are currently only allowed to open at 15% capacity in Los Angeles County, but that expands to 25% as of next Monday thanks to L.A. County's move into the orange tier of the state's pandemic reopening plan. Orange County has already loosened its restrictions since moving into the new tier.

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LA Bars Will Be Able To Apply For The City's Al Fresco Program

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The bar at Noa Noa Place. Chava Sanchez/LAist

Starting Monday, bars in Los Angeles will become eligible for the city's Al Fresco program, the city's initiative that launched last May that relaxed the rules that regulate outdoor dining for restaurants.

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced yesterday that bars will now also be able to serve customers on sidewalks, streets and private parking lots.

Garcetti says the program, which provides free, temporary permits for outdoor dining, has helped keep businesses open and customers and employees safe.

"We'll continue this program through the summer months, and work to create a smooth transition to permanent permits for businesses who want to continue taking advantage of our new outdoor life," he says.

Bars that already have established, permitted outdoor spaces can reopen outdoors on Monday, that's when L.A. County is officially moving to the less-restrictive orange tier of the state's color-coded reopening framework.

Bar owners can apply for the Al Fresco program at Coronavirus.lacity.org/LAAlFresco.

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An Opportunity For Vaccination And Education At A South L.A. Child Care Worker Pop-Up Clinic

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Child care site supervisor Edwina Shivers was administered the Pfizer vaccine by David Nguyen at a pop-up vaccination clinic at Macedonia Baptist Church in South L.A. (Stefanie Ritoper/LAist)

L.A. County child care providers have been eligible for the coronavirus vaccine for weeks, but getting an appointment can be a challenge and some providers are undecided about getting the vaccine at all.

Earlier this week, South L.A.’s Macedonia Baptist Church hosted a vaccination clinic targeted at early educators and the surrounding community, which has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the county.

“Accompanying the vaccination is a lot of education,” said Jennifer Baird, the nursing director at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles who helped organize this clinic. The hospital estimates 5,000 child care workers have been vaccinated through its efforts.

"We want to make sure that they feel well-informed and able to make that decision for themselves,” Baird said.

Edwina Shivers, a site supervisor at a child care center said she tried unsuccessfully for two weeks to make a vaccine appointment until her employer pointed her to the pop-up vaccination clinic. She was initially leery about the vaccine, but said she felt better after doing her own research and talking to the nurse at the clinic.

“When I'm at work I don't want to take anything home and vice versa I don't want to be at home and take anything to the center,” she said. Shivers said some of her colleagues haven’t made up their minds about the vaccine yet.

“Even though I think it's an individual choice, we have to look not only for ourselves but, for the protection of others,” Shivers said.

READ THE FULL STORY:

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Orange Shooting: 9-Year-Old Boy Killed, Victims Had Business Relationship With Suspect

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A screenshot from surveillance video police say shows shooting suspect Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez inside Unified Homes. (Courtesy of Orange Police Department)

The four people who were killed Wednesday evening in a shooting in Orange had personal and business relationships with the suspect, officials said.

The shooting occurred around 5:30 p.m. when officers from the Orange Police Department responded to a report of shots fired at a building at 202 W. Lincoln Ave., according to Orange PD spokesperson Lt. Jennifer Amat.

When authorities arrived, police found the gates to the two-story office building, which has an interior courtyard, chained closed from the inside, she said.

Officers exchanged fire with the shooter and eventually forced open the gates. Inside, they found two victims in the courtyard, along with the alleged shooter, who was wounded.

Amat identified the suspect as Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez, 44, and said authorities believe he's been living in an Anaheim motel. Gaxiola is in critical but stable condition at a local hospital, she said.

The victims include an adult man, two adult women and a 9-year-old boy, according to Amat. Two of the victims were found inside the offices of Unified Homes, a mobile home dealer.

The boy -- believed to be the the son of one of the victims who worked at Unified Homes -- was found in the arms of a woman who was also shot. She is hospitalized in critical but stable condition, Amat said.

Authorities will release the names of the victims "as soon as they're available," she said, noting that the coroner is still working to identify them.

There is video footage that shows Gaxiola inside the business, but it will not be released immediately, Amat said.

Police recovered a semi-automatic handgun at the scene, and a backpack containing pepper spray, handcuffs and ammunition, she said.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said Gaxiola could be eligible for the death penalty.

Gaxiola was charged in 2015 with cruelty to a child, assault with a deadly weapon, dissuading a witness from reporting a crime and battery, according to Anaheim city spokesperson Mike Lyster.

Gaxiola pleaded guilty to the battery charge and the remaining charges were dismissed, Lyster said. He was sentenced to one day in jail, and the court issued a protective order requiring peaceful contact between Gaxiola and others involved in the case.

FROM YESTERDAY:

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This story will be updated.

Gov. Newsom Gets Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine In Baldwin Hills

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine on the first day of eligibility for Californians 50 and over — Newsom is 53 years old. The event took place at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza mall, where others were lined up to get their own shots.

You can watch video of Newsom's vaccination and the subsequent press conference above, or read highlights below.

NEWSOM GETS JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINE

California Gov. Gavin Newsom receives his Johnson & Johnson vaccination from California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly on Thursday, April 1, 2021. (Gov. Newsom's Youtube account)

Newsom received the vaccination from his own health secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly. Newsom left for the 15-minute post-vaccination observation period, and was set to speak with the press afterward.

Newsom noted that all Californians 16 and over will be eligible for the vaccine in two weeks: April 15. He said that his wife, who is under 50, is waiting to be eligible in two weeks.

The governor said that the state is still facing constraints due to vaccine supply — while California administered more than 2-and-a-half million doses last week, just 2.4 million doses are coming next week. Meanwhile, the state has the capacity to administer 5 million doses per week, Newsom said.

It shouldn't be more than a few months before the state reaches herd immunity, Newsom said. There have been more than 18 million vaccine doses given in California so far.

Newsom addressed the apparent manufacturing issue with 15 million Johnson & Johnson vaccination doses from a Baltimore plant. The news hasn't affected the state's three-week projected supply of Johnson & Johnson, though Newsom did note that the state was already expecting to receive less than half as many doses in the two weeks following next week. Beyond that, the impact is an open question, Newsom said.

The governor praised the Biden administration's infrastructure plan as a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

CITY OF LOS ANGELES TAKING OVER CAL STATE VAX SITE

Newsom was joined by local officials, including L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. He praised Newsom for his regular visits to Southern California. Garcetti talked about the city starting to open up as vaccinations increase, including recently going to a mall himself to get his wife's iPhone fixed.

Garcetti said that the city's COVID-19 positivity rate is now 1.4%, the lowest since April 2020. (The state's overall positivity is 1.9%, Newsom later noted.) Garcetti also addressed people of color and those in low-income communities being more likely to die of COVID-19, along with the city's efforts to get these communities vaccinated.

Garcetti announced that the city is taking over operation of the Cal State L.A. vaccination location, with the federal government and state turning over that operation. L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell also spoke, thanking the governor for coming and getting vaccinated in the community.

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UCLA Researchers Are Tracking How Effective The COVID-19 Vaccines Are For Health Care Workers

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A syringe of COVID-19 vaccine is ready on a table at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in December. (Brian van der Brug / POOL / AFP)

UCLA has received a $4.9 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines among 10,000 health care workers across the country.

Researchers at UCLA's Geffen School of Medicine and the University of Iowa are studying vaccinated and non-vaccinated health care workers. Both groups will be tested for COVID-19 if they experience common symptoms of the virus. The researchers will compare the severity of illness of those who test positive.

UCLA's Dr. David Talan is co-leading the yearlong trial. He says he hopes it gives people who are still on the fence about getting vaccinated some useful information.

"The people who are part of this study are the very doctors and nurses and other types of healthcare employees who they may know. We're thinking that this information may be particularly meaningful to people."

Of the 16 academic medical centers involved in the study, Olive View UCLA Medical Center is the only local hospital participating. One other California hospital, Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, is among the 16.

Talan says that at the medical centers participating in the study, about 80% of health care workers have been vaccinated so far.

Health care workers are eligible to participate if they've had symptoms. Those eligible can learn more: Preventing Emerging Infections through Vaccine EffectiveNess Testing (Project PREVENT)

MORE ON VACCINES

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Welp, Looks Like California’s Drought Could Be Back

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It wasn't long ago that California was experiencing its worst drought on record. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

It’s April 1, which means that California’s rainy season has officially come to an end.

So, how are we doing in terms of water?

Terribly.

With this rainy season’s paltry showing, we’re experiencing our second critically dry year in a row. As such, 91% of the state is now experiencing drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

READ THE FULL STORY

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LA’s COVID-19 Vaccine Plan To Be Impacted By Johnson & Johnson Snafu

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A pharmacist from UCI Health preps a COVID-19 vaccine for injection. Chava Sanchez/LAist

An expected April surge of COVID-19 vaccine supply led Gov. Gavin Newsom to expand eligibility to Californians 50-and-over on April 1, and 16-and-over two weeks later. But a manufacturing problem that caused millions of doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be thrown out may delay shots in L.A.’s hardest hit communities.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires just one shot so they are vital for populations that have trouble getting to clincs -- people experiencing homelessness as well as people with disabilities or ambulatory issues -- the population that needs to be vaccinated the most. They are also utilized at vaccination pop-up sites around the county, as well as some mass vaccination sites.

“That is going to set us back,” said L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

“We were, here in L.A. County, anticipating that about 20% of our doses over the next three months would be Johnson & Johnson doses,” Ferrer said. “We rely so heavily on having increased production. There can be problems and challenges that are unanticipated, and we'll have to adjust for that.”

Ferrer said her department would continue to move vaccine doses around to target areas of the county that have been hardest hit by the virus.

Health officials are racing to get the majority of adults immunized by June as cases in other parts of the country rise.

As of Wednesday, Johnson & Johnson had provided about 6.8 million doses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's online vaccine tracker.

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Californians 50 And Older, It’s Your Turn: You’re Now Eligible For A COVID-19 Vaccine

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A COVID-19 vaccine station at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Willowbrook. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Starting today, Californians who are age 50 or older are eligible for a free COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of occupation or any other criteria.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to get a vaccine right away. That depends on supply, which has increased but still remains limited.

“While the county received more vaccine doses this week than we have before, we don’t yet have enough doses to vaccinate everyone that’s eligible,” Los Angeles County Department of Public Health director Barbara Ferrer explained. “We’re going to need to ask folks to be patient.”

And in just two weeks, on April 15, even more Californians –- ages 16 to 49 -– will become eligible for the free COVID-19 vaccines.

In L.A. County, that means another 3.8 million people who haven’t gotten COVID-19 shots yet.

Public health officials estimate that if vaccine supply to the county averages around 575,000 doses a week, it will take 12 weeks to vaccinate 80% of eligible Angelenos.

All of this is to say: if you are eligible and want to get a COVID-19 vaccine, it’s time to start making your plan.

We have a guide for that.

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

READ OUR ONGOING COVERAGE OF COVID-19 AND THE VACCINE ROLLOUT:

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Morning Brief: Shots All Around, A Congressional Rematch, And UCLA Goes For Glory

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A couple walks their dog in downtown Los Angeles. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Good morning, L.A. It’s April 1.

Today marks a moment that many of us have been anticipating for more than a year. Staring this morning, all Californians over the age of 50 are eligible for the coronavirus vaccine. And on April 15, everyone in the state ages 16-and-over will become eligible. (The vaccine hasn’t yet been approved for those under 16.)

So. Now what?

My colleague Carla Javier put together a guide addressing exactly that. The first thing to know is, you probably won’t get a vaccine immediately, today or on April 15; so many residents are becoming eligible all at once that it will take some time before everyone can schedule an appointment. In L.A. County, officials estimate that 1.4 million people between the ages of 50 and 64 haven’t yet been vaccinated.

The speed at which the state can get through all residents who want the vaccine will also depend largely on supply coming from manufacturers. And that will likely be impacted by Wednesday's news that 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were ruined by an ingredient mix-up.

That said, a volunteer vaccine navigator suggested refreshing appointment sites throughout the day, and asking community leaders if there is a mobile site in your neighborhood.

Once you’ve been vaccinated and waited the required two weeks to reach immunity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has clear guidelines on what you can and cannot do. For instance, vaccinated people can gather with one unvaccinated household at a time, indoors and without masks. And, unless you live in a group setting, you don’t need to quarantine if you’ve been exposed to the virus.

As vaccinations have increased and L.A. County is about to expand reopening of businesses, restaurants and public spaces, public health director Barbara Ferrer continues to remind residents that we could still experience a surge if people aren’t careful.

“We've seen what happens ... if we're not really careful,” she said early last month. “I try to think of it as, we've gotta keep everyone alive.”

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

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What Else You Need To Know Today


Before You Go … UCLA Men’s Basketball Team Lands In Final Four After Upset Victory

Jaylen Clark (#0), Johnny Juzang (#3) and Kenneth Nwuba (#14) of the UCLA Bruins celebrate after defeating the Michigan Wolverines 51-49 in the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

For the first time since 2008, the UCLA men's basketball team is headed to the Final Four, after a 51-49 upset win over the Michigan Wolverines, who were the top seed in their region.

Sam Connon, a sports writer for the Daily Bruin, was in Indianapolis covering Tuesday night's game. He says while the arena seemed to contain more Michigan fans, Bruin supporters weren't drowned out.

"It got loud,” he said. “UCLA fans were out there for real.”


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