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What You Need To Know Today: Homelessness, Public Safety Debated By Candidates; Section 8 Waitlist Reopens, World Surfing Games

A split screen with two men in dark blue suits and ties on either side, chryron below them reads: Debate for L.A. County Sheriff
Sheriff Alex Villanueva and his challenger, former Long Beach police chief Robert Luna, engage in a live debate leading up to the November 2022 election
(Screenshot Courtesy of Fox 11)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Thursday, September 22. 

Today in How to LA: Takeaways from debates between L.A.'s mayoral candidates and candidates running for L.A. County Sheriff; plus, the elite competition at World Surfing Games in Huntington Beach.

Sorry friends, but it’s gonna get hot again. Temperatures start ticking up today, reaching the high 90s over the weekend in Los Angeles, and hitting triple digits in the Valleys and Inland areas. Now, it won’t match the severity of the Labor Day heatwave but please take care to stay cool.

Things certainly got heated last night. In back-to-back debates, the two candidates for L.A. mayor, Congresswoman Karen Bass and real estate developer Rick Caruso, and the two candidates for L.A. County Sheriff, incumbent Alex Villanueva and former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna, faced each other on the issues.

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My colleagues at LAist/KPCC joined a coalition of media and private partners to host the debates, and Civics and Democracy correspondent, Frank Stoltze, participated in both of them. If you missed any of the live event you can watch it here.

Villanueva and Luna took to the stage first and things got combative pretty quickly. When Luna was asked to use one word to describe the state of the Sheriff’s Department, he said “disarray.” Villanueva described it as “persevering.” Villanueva portrayed himself as a lone progressive, just trying to get the best job done with few resources, whereas Luna presented himself as a collaborator who will work well with others. He promised to stop the “us versus them culture and mentality."

The candidates debated on several points last night, including public safety, ethics and criminal justice reform. Not surprisingly, homelessness was the issue that kicked things off. Villanueva defended his record, saying his department had made improvements in places like the Venice boardwalk. But Luna criticized him for seeking the spotlight on encampment cleanups and not working well with other officials or community members on the plans. Both agreed that more needs to be done to get unhoused people off the streets but, predictably, differed on approach.

For more on what was argued during this debate as well as some additional background on the candidates, read here.

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The second hour belonged to Caruso and Bass. They struck a slightly more conciliatory tone than the previous debate but still clashed on several issues. Things got the most tense when their respective roles at USC came up as well as the recent theft of guns from Bass’ home. The robbery topic prompted the moderator to ask Bass to reassess how safe she felt in her community on a scale of 1 to 10. She gave it a 5.

Homelessness though, of course, dominated the first quarter of the discussion. Caruso said he wants to be a “change agent,” build 30,000 shelter beds and add 500 caseworkers and sanitation workers. The price tag on his plan is high at roughly $843 million.

Bass argued that shelters are not the answer because they are too dangerous and people are afraid to stay in them. She stressed that people need to be moved into permanent housing. For more on what the candidates had to say about affordable housing and public safety, read LAist’s analysis here.

Now the candidates are looking to the election in November. In the June primary for mayor, Bass took in about 43% of votes, with Caruso at nearly 36%. For Sheriff, Villanueva received about 30% of the vote and Luna nearly 26%

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

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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! 

  • For the first time in five years, Los Angeles is reopening its waitlist for Section 8 housing vouchers in anticipation of the rising demand for affordable housing due to inflation, the rise in homelessness, and the fallout from the pandemic. Here’s how to check if you’re eligible.
  • The L.A. City Council recently voted to add thousands of bus shelters to bus stops across the city in order to keep riders safe from the intermittent heat surges. However, some residents, including Councilmember Monica Rodriguez, have expressed concern with the city’s ability to execute the contract, citing it has “already shown signs of some unfulfilled promises.”  
  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Latinos are more likely to feel the brunt of climate change - extreme heat, storms and flooding. Just take Puerto Rico as an example. It’s a key reason why Latinos have been more engaged when it comes to environmental issues. 
  • In an effort to close the digital divide, internet service providers have pledged money towards nonprofits that teach digital skills and provide laptops and internet service to the people who need them the most. In turn, they’ve gained some allies when it comes to policy debates. 
  • COVID-19 is still very much real and present, but the demographics have shifted. In the first seven months of 2022, the virus claimed the lives of around 13,500 California residents, compared to 31,400 and 44,000 people in 2020 and 2021, respectively. However, it’s still a leading cause of death, trailing behind heart disease and cancer.
  • With the COVID numbers and hospitalizations continuing to decline, California has made the decision to ease mask mandates, regardless of vaccination status. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Los Angeles has the largest population of  Armenian Americans in United States and many are closely watching the latest clash between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which is said to be the deadliest “spate of violence” since 2020. Here’s what you need to know about the conflict. (NPR)

Wait! One More Thing...Riding The Waves At The World Surfing Games

A woman with blond hair and wearing a yellow jersey holds a surfboard with a Puerto Rican flag on it while high-giving with a man in a white t-shirt. Other people gather around.
Puerto Rican surfer Mia Calderón gets a high five from teammates after her heat on Sept. 20, 2022.
(Jill Replogle

Typically, I like to write about food on Thursday, but I can’t pass this next story up. I love to be by the water and, ever since I moved back to Los Angeles, I have been wanting to check out a big surfing contest (Blue Crush, anyone?). Now I might get my chance.

My colleague Jill Replogle reports that some of the world’s best surfers are in Huntington Beach this week for the 2022 World Surfing Games. The finals are this Saturday. Surfing became an Olympic sport during the last games, held in 2021, and all this week nearly 250 athletes from 51 countries have been vying for a coveted spot at the Paris Olympics in 2024.

It doesn’t cost anything to go catch the action in Huntington Beach. But do you know what to look for in a surfing contest, especially a high-profile one such as this? Jill breaks it all down in her article, outlining who’s competing and how they win their heat (yes, it involves how you’re able to ride the most difficult waves, dude). Here’s a quote from USA head coach Ryan Simmons:

"At Huntington, you have the shorebreak so you're weaving through and trying to end with, like, a big finish," explained USA coach Simmons. "I call it like the exclamation point on your wave. So that's kind of the dynamic of Huntington, a big maneuver out the back or two, reform the wave and try and finish. It's the last thing that judges see to sort of stamp your score."

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