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What You Need To Know Today: How To Make LA Greener, Unhoused Population Slowly Grows, The Significance of LA's Signs

Several people shovels dig into dirt to plant trees; one person holding up a young tree, covering its roots with soil
Outside of Ramona Gardens housing project in Los Angeles a group of people plant trees
(North East Trees )
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Friday, September 9. 

Today in How to LA: The possible weather effects of Hurricane Kay, the importance of making L.A. greener, Latino communities hit hardest by homelessness in last two years

Keep your ice water handy, L.A., and your umbrella within reach. High temperatures are expected to persist through today, but should lessen by Saturday. Hurricane Kay will help cool things off, but may also bring high winds and thunderstorms to parts of Southern California. The effects across L.A. County are still unknown as the storm system is expected to weaken as it moves north, but officials have raised concerns about possible flooding in areas with recent burn scars.

We are probably repeating ourselves, but if one thing became clear during this interminable heatwave, it’s that L.A. and other California counties need to take more action to mitigate the effects of extreme heat in their communities. I am talking about cooling standards for homes and apartments, more shade on school playgrounds, more parks and trees in neighborhoods. It’s all doable.

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Aaron Thomas, with the nonprofit North East Trees, is working on that last part. “Every neighborhood needs more parks,” Thomas says. “Every person should be able to walk out their front door and go to some sort of park.”

Research has shown that city neighborhoods made of asphalt streets and not a lot of green space can be at least six degrees hotter than those areas that do have ample amounts of parks. Research has also shown that more trees do work to bring that temperature down.

My colleagues Brian De Los Santos and Caroline Champlin spent the day with Thomas in the Ramona Gardens housing development where he and his team plan to turn a dirt hill into a park. He also plans to plant some four thousand trees in the surrounding area – and with that inspire others to do so in their neighborhoods. You can read more about Thomas’s vision here.

There are other organizations across L.A. doing this work — TreePeople, for one, and CityPlants will resume tree planting this fall. If you are looking to plant trees in your community, here’s a list of other groups to contact:

Check out the story for a more complete list.

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 unhoused population in Los Angeles continues to grow, though the rate of growth has slowed. The L.A. Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) released the long-awaited results from the 2022 count and new numbers show that on any given night, an estimated 69,144 people are experiencing homelessness across L.A. County – a 4.1% increase since the last count took place in 2020 – and one demographic group experienced significantly bigger changes than others.
  • The ACLU goes to court seeking a judge to order L.A. County to take steps over "abysmal" conditions in the Inmate Reception Center jail. 
  • Angelenos joined communities around the world to remember Queen Elizabeth II who died Thursday at age 96. The Queen’s first visit to California was in 1983 on the invitation of then President Ronald Reagan. (Spectrum News) 
  • California is jumpstarting college savings for every child born in the state with more money set aside for low-income students. Research suggests such seed money can help make college much more accessible.
  • Opponents of the newly signed fast food California worker law are already work hard to get it overturned. (AP)
  • Police allege that an elected official in Nevada killed a Las Vegas investigative journalist because of critical stories the reporter had written. The Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo called the case “particularly troublesome.” (Los Angeles Times
  • The Emmy’s Big Night is coming. Can it avoid another #EmmysSoWhite
  • It may be raining but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself this weekend! Put on your dance shoes for a 2000s Hip Hop Party at Echoplex or watch others take to the stage and enjoy the Pacífico Dance Company at the Ford Theater. There are a ton of other things going on, too. Check it all out here.
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Wait! One More Thing…What The Signs Of Los Angeles Say About The City

The Rialot marquee reads "You are not alone."
A message for a time of isolation.
(Courtesy Jason Horton)

Travel across L.A. and you’ll take in a variety of signage and store fronts — ranging in condition and much of it dating back decades. It took a nighttime walk through the city during the pandemic to make Jason Horton want to capture it.

“You go by and are like, ‘Oh, this will be here forever.’ And then you go, and it’s like, it’s not. It’s gone,” Horton said. “And I’ll be like, ‘I’ll get it next time.’ And for me, today is next time. This is next time.”

Horton started snapping photos whenever and wherever he could. The result is a new book Signs of Los Angeles: Lost in the Dark. The pages are filled with familiar sites — some of it now gone or change — and anecdotes from the people of L.A. about what these places, and these signs, mean to them.

Horton sat down with my colleague Mike Roe to talk about the little details that went into making this book. Read about that conversation here.