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The most important stories for you to know today
  • The L.A. Report - Weekend Edition
    Here's your daily audio briefing (updated weekdays):
    Juneteenth Special: Its History, Its Future, and Its BBQ
  • Criminal Justice
    Updated Jun. 18, 2021 7:10 PM
    Published Jun. 18, 2021 5:11 PM

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    L.A. DA George Gascón (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
    L.A. DA George Gascón (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    L.A. County District Attorney George Gascon said Friday that the people backing the effort to unseat him, less than six months after he took office, are supporters of former President Donald Trump. The DA spoke to about 50 supporters outside the Hall of Justice, in his first public rally against the recall.

    “You must follow the money,” Gascon said. One campaign finance report showed a top supporter of the recall so far was Geoffrey Palmer, a major real estate developer in Los Angeles who hosted a re-election fundraiser for Trump at his Beverly Hills home in 2019.

    While a recall remains a long shot, the rally was an effort by Gascon to get out ahead of any effort that might gain steam. Recall efforts have become more popular, with campaigns underway against San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and Gov. Gavin Newsom.

    Both Gascon and the campaign to recall him must file more complete fundraising reports June 30. Those reports will provide a better picture of who supports the nascent recall campaign and its viability.

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  • Essays
    Updated Jun. 18, 2021 7:01 AM
    Published Jun. 18, 2021 7:00 AM

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    Flor in Tlaquepaque, Mexico, Nov. 2020.
    Flor in Tlaquepaque, Mexico, Nov. 2020.
    (Courtesy of Flor Arellano)

    Flor Arellano describes herself as "a first-generation American Latina, born and raised in the San Fernando Valley."

    She also describes herself as a "Mexidorian," whose father is from Mexico and her mother from El Salvador.

    She writes for Race In LA:

    At home, I embraced both cultures as one. I spoke Spanish, watched telenovelas, listened to rancheras and cumbias, and my mother cooked both Mexican and Salvadorian dishes. I believed I had the best of both worlds: tacos and pupusas.

    But Arellano has also had to navigate never being enough of one or the other for some people — and it's taken her years to make peace with that.

  • News
    Updated Jun. 18, 2021 5:01 AM
    Published Jun. 18, 2021 5:00 AM

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    WILD - cover art

    Good morning, L.A. It’s June 18.

    On Monday, LAist Studios will launch its newest podcast: WILD, with host Erick Galindo. It’s a show about growing up… kind of. Here’s the story behind the show, in Erick’s own words:

    “This is going to sound wild, but I believe everyone has an origin story. And yeah, I’m talking like some super hero moment that made you fight evil, reverse time, or heal at an incredibly rapid pace.

    “That’s what my new podcast WILD is all about. It’s about those moments that feel too big to overcome but somehow we manage, like when Linda Yvette Chavez was about to pitch Gentefied to FX while trying to leap over a life-long struggle with imposter syndrome. It’s also about the ones that seem small but will change the trajectory of our lives forever. Like when Sarah ‘La Morena’ Palafox tweeted out a video, or when Megan Tan signed up for a dating app.

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    “The wild part about the first season of, well, WILD is that it’s made up of 10 of these types of stories that all happened during the year-and-a-half we spent stuck at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Covid seemed to come at a time when I, as a first-generation millennial from Southeast Los Angeles, was just starting to come into my own. It ripped me from the life I knew and forced me to become resourceful in a world I didn’t quite get yet.

    “But I quickly realized that even though it was difficult, there were triumphs and beauty mixed in. And part of the reason I was able to do that was because I wasn’t really alone. Suddenly, through shared experiences, Zoom windows would open up to vast worlds and deep experiences.

    “And I really needed that.

    “So I wanted to recreate that feeling for everyone out there that needs it, too. Being a young person in this country can sometimes seem like a bad video game where you lose automatically upon respawning. But WILD is an ongoing conversation about how people, especially my generation, are always finding new ways to cope. About what it was like to grow up during this period. And about who we were, who we had to be, and who we’ve become.”

    The first two episodes of WILD will be available on June 21, with subsequent episodes launching weekly. A trailer is available here, and listeners can subscribe to the series now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, NPR One, iHeartRadio and wherever podcasts are available.

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

    What Else You Need To Know Today

    Weekend Reads

    There's a lot going on in the world right now, and it’s hard enough to keep up with our day-to-day lives, let alone to stay current on the news. But if you have some time this weekend, here’s what you may have missed:

    The Big One is coming. Here’s your ultimate survival guide. (LAist)

    Allensworth in Tulane County is the first and only town in California founded by Black Americans. (KCRW)

    Tinhorn Flats in Burbank is finally saying goodbye. (LAist)

    LAist contributor Anju Kulkarni reflects on growing up post-9/11 as “the wrong kind of Asian.” (LAist)

    Food vendors who’ve always worked at Echo Park Lake now find themselves fenced out. (The LAnd)

    Many historic buildings in L.A. were shuttered by the pandemic. Here’s what we lost. (Capital & Main)

    Here’s where to find L.A.’s best donuts… (LAist)

    … and here are the to-go cocktails to pair them with. (LAist)

    Before You Go ... This Week's Outdoor Pick: Mt. Wilson

    Mt. Wilson
    Explore Mt. Wilson and the newly reopened observatory this weekend.
    (Courtesy of Mt. Wilson)

    Since it's hot this weekend, you know people are flocking to L.A.'s beaches and swimming pools. Here's some counter-programming: pack a picnic and head to Mt. Wilson to explore the grounds around the Observatory. Located more than 5,700 feet above Pasadena, it should be a bit cooler. There are plenty of hikes to choose from but if they sound too sweaty, chill with a summer picnic.

    Or, you could: Celebrate Juneteenth with block parties, car parades and performances. Play bingo under the stars or pinball at a retro arcade. Thank the father figures in your life on Father’s Day. Dance the last year away as clubs reopen. Check out one of the restaurants or bars that reopened this week. And more.

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  • Transportation and Mobility
    Updated Jun. 18, 2021 8:54 AM
    Published Jun. 17, 2021 3:30 PM

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    A woman wearing a mask sits looking at her phone on a Metro train near signage asking riders to make space for each other.
    A woman wears a face mask while riding an L.A. Metro train amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 1, 2020 in Los Angeles.
    (Mario Tama)

    Vaccinated Californians no longer need to wear masks in most places. One place we do: public transit. Face coverings are required for riders through Sept. 13, per federal guidelines.

    So how is that being enforced on Los Angeles County’s buses and trains? Like many spaces throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s mostly the honor system. L.A. Metro spokesperson Brian Haas says the agency is focusing “more on education, rather than enforcement.”

    “We do regular spot checks to see how people are complying with the face mask federal rules,” he said. “Time and time again, we find that the vast majority of folks have been following the rules, which is great.”

    Metro has also been adding hundreds of mask dispensers throughout its system for anyone riding without one.

    Restoring And Improving Bus Service

    Later this month, Metro will begin restoring pandemic-caused service cuts, with a goal of reaching “pre-pandemic service levels” by September, Haas said.

    He noted that while the level of service will be restored, the quality of that service will be enhanced on many of the agency’s popular bus routes through the NextGen Bus Plan, which has been a few years in the making.

    Metro’s basic strategy is to run buses more frequently (to arrive every five to ten minutes) on more streets and reduce trip times by making fewer stops along those routes.

    Ridership Is Rebounding, But It’s Not Metro’s Top Priority

    An orange Los Angeles Metro bus drives along a street.
    (Courtesy LA Metro)

    With the state reopening and a semblance of normalcy returning to L.A. life, the number of people taking local and regional transit systems is expected to continue to rise. The current average weekday ridership on the county’s system is approaching 650,000, Haas said, compared to 1.2 million in February 2020.

    But reaching pre-pandemic ridership isn’t Metro’s top goal, he said. Remote work and improved car-free mobility will likely continue at some level, and the agency is far more interested in how those changes could affect the county’s congestion and air quality issues, Haas explained.

    "The pandemic gave us a glimpse of what life could be like with people taking fewer car trips alone. Traffic was kind of a dream for a while here — it's still much better than it was pre-pandemic — [and] air quality has been improved. Metro wants to see if we can capitalize on that experience, and sort of not return to normal but develop a new normal, where that lighter traffic and that better air quality is a feature of L.A. and not just a quirk of a pandemic."

    Go Metro, Get Vaccinated

    Metro is also hosting vaccination sites at several regional transit hubs:

    • Union Station - 800 Alameda Street
    • El Monte Bus Station - 3501 Santa Anita Ave.
    • C Line (Green) Crenshaw/105 Station - 11901 Crenshaw Blvd.
    • Harbor Gateway Transit Center - 731 W. 182nd St.
    • A Line (Blue) Del Amo Station - 20220 Santa Fe Ave.

    Information about hours and appointments can be found on Metro’s website.

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  • Climate and Environment
    Updated Jun. 17, 2021 3:29 PM
    Published Jun. 17, 2021 10:21 AM

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    Image from National Weather Service shows bright green and yellow rain pockets moving through Southern California, over a black map.
    Conditions as of about 9 a.m. Thursday morning.
    (Courtesy National Weather Service)

    With another round of potentially record-breaking temperatures on tap for today, parts of the Southland got an unexpected bout of rain Thursday morning.

  • Transportation and Mobility
    Updated Jun. 17, 2021 12:14 PM
    Published Jun. 17, 2021 9:33 AM

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    Two people walk down the main shopping and dining street in Burbank, California, currently closed to vehicular traffic to allow restaurants to serve food outside during the coronavirus panademic, November 23, 2020. - Starting November 24 Los Angeles County will suspend outdoor dining for restaurants in hopes of slowing an unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases. The measure has sparked a backlash from eateries and some county officials, who worry about the devastating economic toll. Los Angeles County recorded its highest one-day total for COVID-19 cases on November 23 since the pandemic began. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
    (ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

    In the 15 months since the COVID-19 pandemic upended everything, you probably noticed some changes on local streets and sidewalks.

    Many of us started walking and bicycling more. Los Angeles and other local cities launched Slow Streets programs, designed to limit and slow car traffic on residential streets to promote walking and rolling for cooped-up residents. Al fresco programs took space typically used for parking or driving cars and repurposed it for outdoor dining.

    Repurposing public space has proved popular, with some cities moving to make their programs permanent neighborhood fixtures.

    A woman walks two small dogs across a street in Los Angeles as signs alert drivers that the road is for local traffic only and to slow down and share the road.
    A woman walks dogs past a "Slow Streets" sign on residential streets in an effort to limit traffic and promote social distancing in West Los Angeles, on May 16, 2020.
    (Chris Delmas
    AFP via Getty Images)

    In L.A., the Slow Streets program expanded to 30 neighborhoods before the Department of Transportation announced funding was tapped out and new installations had been put on hold. Spokesperson Colin Sweeney explained that the A-frame barriers, cones and signage placed on residential streets weren’t designed for long-term use.

    “Moving forward, Slow Streets will use more durable materials that can be implemented quickly at low cost,” he said. “This new approach will be tested on existing Slow Streets networks. New funding would also be required to expand into new areas.”

    Two-Wheeled Trips On The Rise

    People on bikes ride on a cement path on a beach. Beachgoers with umbrellas and tents sit by the ocean in the background.
    People bicycle along a beach bike path on the first day of the Labor Day weekend amid a heatwave on Sept. 5, 2020 in Santa Monica.
    (Mario Tama
    Getty Images)

    Bike riding had actually been going up before 2020, according to LADOT data.

    Our 2019 count of people walking and biking showed a 22% increase in biking from two years earlier,” said Sweeney. “We will repeat the count of people walking and biking in the Fall of this year, which will help us confirm what we can see anecdotally — which is an increase in multi-modal mobility during the pandemic.”

    Electric scooters also remained popular through the pandemic, Sweeney said, and data LADOT gets from L.A. Metro showed its bike share program “has seen some of its highest ridership ever in recent months.”

    Mobility Changed, But Not In A Good Way For Everyone

    A sign in the foreground indicates a space dedicated as a public parklet as people dine (slightly out of focus) in the background.
    People eat take-out food outdoors at a public parklet due to Covid-19 restrictions on restaurant outdoor dining in Manhattan Beach on Dec. 12, 2020.
    (Patrick T. Fallon
    AFP via Getty Images)

    If you’ve had the privilege of working from home this whole time, walking and biking was likely a way to exercise, get fresh air and decompress. But for many in L.A. County, walking, biking or taking public transit was necessary to get to work, buy groceries and make other essential trips.

    And as local mobility advocates told me this week, not everyone has experienced their streets and sidewalks the same way.

    “If we really tried to create a resolution during the pandemic for safe, walkable spaces, for communities to enjoy, then we should have been thinking about who really needs it,” said John Yi, executive director of the pedestrian advocacy group Los Angeles Walks.

    But the way the city of L.A. enacted the programs was “fashioned and built to serve those who speak English” and communities “with social and political capital,” he said.

    Jessica Meaney, executive director of the nonprofit group Investing in Place, said she doesn’t believe streets became more equitable.

    People without cars or who couldn’t work from home “fell through the cracks in terms of their transportation and mobility needs,” she told me. That included many who rely on public transit, namely L.A. Metro’s bus lines.

    “What we've heard from community members all throughout the pandemic was that they were boarding crowded buses, Metro had no social distance policy on their buses [and] the only way Metro was adding more buses during the pandemic was if they saw it on social media. That’s what they would tell us. I have a lot of frustration with the way our public space and our transit… met the demand in the pandemic.”

    Our experiences with mobility and public space during the pandemic vary — and we want to hear from you. Tell us how walking, biking, rolling and otherwise getting around during the pandemic went for you. What changes did you like or not? What surprised you? Were your mobility needs met during the pandemic? How has your view of public space changed (or not) as a result of the pandemic?

    We have a questionnaire below, and will be sharing your stories for an upcoming project.

  • Education
    Updated Jun. 17, 2021 9:45 AM
    Published Jun. 17, 2021 7:00 AM

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    An empty classroom has rows of chairs stacked on desks and a mask hanging from the back of the chair in the foreground.
    Community college students say some professors have done a disappearing act during the pandemic.
    (Marco Fileccia via Unsplash)

    There's a distance learning term college students have been using during the pandemic.

    “Ghost professor.”

    “They're not teaching, you don't see them, they don't do Zoom, they don't have office hours,” said Santa Monica College political science student Jonnae Navarro. “I've had office hours where it's completely text — I'm texting my professor, and waiting for her to get back to me.”

    She and students at other Southern California community college campuses complain of professors who give them a list of YouTube videos, produced by someone else, and questions as the teaching for the entire semester. Other students described instructors who didn’t start out as “ghost professors,” but went in that direction as distance learning continued.

    “I just would like teachers to be more present. If you're requiring your students to do work and be present in your class, you should be present as well,” Navarro said.

    Most of the students interviewed said they’d had only one or two “ghost professors” during this one year of distance learning.

    But even so, it's important for college administrators to listen to student complaints about these instructors.

    “There needs to be an actual conversation that goes beyond evaluation and talks about what it is that the students are feeling,” said Natacha Cesar-Davis, psychology professor at Diablo Valley College in the Bay Area, and an expert on community college teaching.

    Mt. San Antonio College student Malcolm Sibley was willing to go a little easier on “ghost professors.”

    “Always give the professors the benefit of the doubt,” Sibley said. “They've had to make the transition to teaching online and an environment they're probably not used to,” he said.

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  • Climate and Environment
    Updated Jun. 17, 2021 9:51 AM
    Published Jun. 17, 2021 6:00 AM

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    A firefighter works the scene as flames push towards homes during the Creek fire in the Cascadel Woods area of unincorporated Madera County, California on September 7, 2020.

    Over the past 10 years, Californians have suffered through some of the most destructive and deadly wildfires in the state’s recorded history. The problem is only expected to get worse.

    It’s exhausting dealing with this seemingly constant existential threat. But while you may not have much influence over how a fire starts and spreads, you get reading in case of emergency. That’s what this guide is for; a bit of insight into why things have gotten so bad and a whole lot of practical advice that’ll help you and your family get ready.

    And if I didn't answer your question, you'll have the chance to ask me to track down the answer.

  • News
    Updated Jun. 17, 2021 4:03 PM
    Published Jun. 17, 2021 6:00 AM

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    An older Vietnamese American woman practices self-defense moves on a male volunteer with the new group Seniors Fight Back outside the Asian Garden Mall in Westminster.
    An older Vietnamese American woman practices self-defense moves on a volunteer with the new group Seniors Fight Back outside the Asian Garden Mall in Westminster.
    (Josie Huang/LAist)

    A rise in attacks on Asian Americans has led to a burst of new groups. But what is their staying power?

    Historians say not since the Asian American movement that began in the late 1960s and the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin has there been such a surge in grassroots participation, though it remains to be seen how lasting and impactful it will be.

  • News
    Updated Jun. 17, 2021 5:01 AM
    Published Jun. 17, 2021 5:00 AM

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    People gather on the beach on the second day of the Labor Day weekend amid a heatwave in Santa Monica, Caifornia on September 6, 2020.
    (APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

    Good morning, L.A. It’s June 17.

    In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s very hot this week. Temperatures broke records, and some places in the state saw highs between 20-35 degrees hotter than average. The National Weather Service reports that temps could stay high all week, and this is likely a foreshadowing of what L.A.’s summer is going to be like.

    With that said, we have something to be very grateful for: libraries are reopening. As of now, 42 branches of the L.A. Public Library are welcoming back visitors — and all facilities have air conditioning and no time limits (though masks are still required).

    Joyce Cooper, interim director of branches at LAPL, said her colleagues have seen more customers because of the weather, and that they’re ready for even bigger numbers.

    About The Morning Brief
    • The Morning Brief newsletter is sent mornings Monday through Friday. Subscribe to get it delivered to your inbox.

    “We are preparing to host a lot of people in our branches this summer that need to escape the heat,” she said.

    Meanwhile, unhoused Angelenos are facing a potential health hazard; with no shelter, overheating and dehydration during heat waves present significant dangers.

    Mayra Lozano, who works with Water Drop L.A., oversees volunteers who distribute thousands of gallons of water to residents on Skid Row every week.

    “This is a population that is already very vulnerable,” she said, “so heatwaves like the one that L.A. is going through can be very detrimental.”

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

    What Else You Need To Know Today

    Before You Go ... Some Pacific Theaters Might Not Be Gone, After All

    Pacific Theatres at The Grove (Photo by Prayitno via the Creative Commons)

    The movie business loves comeback stories. And a surprising revival tale could literally be coming to a theater near you.

    Pacific Theatres said in early April it was closing all of its screens for good. In recent days, however, some of its forsaken venues reappeared on ticketing sites ... under the name of AMC Theatres. (The fate of the Arclight theaters and the Cinerama Dome remain unclear.)

    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.