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What You Need To Know Today: Cooling Off The City With Paint, Settlement Reached In Federal Homelessness Lawsuit, Barriers To State Program for Crime Victims

A man with a neon green vest paints asphalt blue.
A volunteer with Pacoima Beautiful paint the dark asphalt with a coat of paint that mitigates heat absorption at Humphrey Park in Pacoima, Los Angeles.
(Courtesy of Pacoima Beautiful
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Tuesday, September 13. 

Today in How to LA: Exploring the painted pavements in Pacoima, settlement reached in longstanding federal homelessness lawsuit, bureaucratic barriers to free mental health services for crime victims 

Have you ever tried to fry an egg on asphalt in the summer? Really? Not even on Labor Day weekend when the temps were around 112 degrees? It’s okay. I haven’t either. But with these rising temperatures in Los Angeles, I just may get that chance.

As for right now, I’m so glad the weather has finally cooled down enough for me to work outside, feeling the nice, cool breeze on my skin. Unfortunately for our planet and our city, these heatwaves aren’t going anywhere. They’re just going to get a lot more intense and common with climate change. It may seem like there’s not much we can do.

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Luckily for us, there’s some communities around L.A. that are coming up with some cool ideas to beat the heat. Take one of the hottest neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley for instance: Pacoima. Some folks there have painted the asphalt in various shades of blue, red, yellow and orange. 

Yep, you read that right. These colors are lighter than the heat absorbent black asphalt that existed before. But what really matters is that the paint is solar reflective, which means it guards against the dangerously hot sun and rising temperatures (although, we must admit, anything is more aesthetically pleasing than just dark black concrete…so there’s definitely a cosmetic factor). Taming the heat is often a matter of life and death. Especially in predominantly Black and Latino, low-income communities, like Pacoima, that don’t have that much shade and greenery. Often, L.A. households don’t have AC either so it’s essential to be able to get outside and stay cool during a heatwave.

Other neighborhoods in L.A. are experimenting with this cooler pavement, too. These communities include Canoga Park, Pico Union, South Central, Sylmar and Boyle Heights.

Alright, I know you’re curious to see and hear exactly what I’m talking about. Let’s go meet up with my colleagues Brian De Los Santos and Erin Stone at Hubert H. Humphrey Park on today’s How To LA podcast where some of the basketball courts and parking lots are decked out with this special paint. It’s called the Painted Pavement Project.

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*Whispers* Since you made it this far, Brian and Erin conduct this really cool experiment with a little infrared thermometer that has a laser and their findings are really fascinating! Listen here. 

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

The News You Need After You Stop Hitting Snooze

*At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding! 

  • The first monkeypox related death has been confirmed in Los Angeles County, public health officials said Monday. It was reported that the resident who died was severely immunocompromised and had to be hospitalized. 
  • The spread of Monkeypox has slowed nationwide, according to the top White House doctor. But he said that doesn’t mean people should become complacent. 
  • L.A. County has reached a settlement over a federal homelessness lawsuit filed two years ago and has agreed to pay out more than two-hundred million dollars in resources for the city's unhoused population. 
  • In effort to gain safer working conditions, a group of dancers are banding together to unionize an L.A. dive bar. This comes after two dancers were fired after asking for basic safety measures to be enforced.
  • The 74th Primetime Emmy Awards was definitely one for the books (Yes, I cried when actress Sheryl Lee Ralph gave her speech after winning her Emmy!). We have all the winners from last night right here.
  • Naasón Joaquín García, the leader of the Mexico-based megachurch La Luz Del Mundo is facing another lawsuit in response to sexual abuse allegations, this time filed by 5 people within the church. Previously, he pleaded guilty to sexually abusing 3 young female church members and is currently serving time in a state prison. Here’s what we know about the case.
  • Philadelphia rapper PnB Rock was fatally shot at the Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles on Main Street and Manchester Avenue in Los Angeles Monday. Rock was at the restaurant with his girlfriend when police say he was targeted for a robbery.
  • L.A.’s intermittent heat waves beg one important question for those who travel using public transportation: when will the city finally provide more shade for its bus riders? Here is what the city had to say. (Los Angeles Times
  • Looking for something to do in Los Angeles this week? The DTLA film festival kicks off Wednesday. Or you could even get a jump on the spooky season by going to the Valley of Hallows interactive horror theater attraction starting September 15. Click here for a list of events going on in the city this week.
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Wait! One More Thing...The Bureaucratic Barriers For Crime Victims Seeking Free Mental Health Services

A pink and purple graphic depicts a therapist taking notes in a chair as a face looks on.
(Art by Dan Carino )

On Tuesday, I like to tip off our readers to an interesting story they may have missed. Today, the story of a good state program that is not living up to its promise…

After his two cousins were killed by gang violence, Dr. George Meza felt a calling to provide mental health services for victims of violent crimes. 

He started working for California Victims Compensation Board (CalVCB) in 2003, a state program that’s supposed to connect crime victims, and their family members, with services and reimburse them for crime-related expenses. The Board HAS helped patients with the resources they need. But that part about reimbursement? Well, patients and providers say that’s not been happening, and blame too much red tape.

Now Dr. Meza says that after almost 20 years of working for CalVCB he can no longer treat patients through the program. He’s been repeatedly denied reimbursement for services he's provided and said he wasn’t about to bill his clients who’ve just had a traumatic experience. “It would be inhuman to talk to somebody whose child had been murdered… then go back and say ‘you now have to pay us,” Meza said.

To understand the greater impact this has had on the victims themselves, read Robert Garrova’s story here. He digs into the reasons why such a well-meaning program isn't working.

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