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The Brief

The most important stories for you to know today
  • The L.A. Report
    Here's your daily audio briefing (updated weekdays):
    4:40
    COVID deaths ticking up in L.A. County. Plus: MLK Day events, substitute teachers wanted, and Metro bikeshare closures – The Morning Edition
  • Housing and Homelessness
    Updated Jan. 17, 2022 4:29 PM
    Published Jan. 17, 2022 4:15 PM

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    5c10761f948d9c000a5a2f76-eight.jpg
    Tejon Ranch, 270,000 acres of sprawling private land 70 miles north of L.A., is seen in a stock photo. L.A. County Supervisors on Tuesday approved building 20,000 houses on a portion of the ranch toward the top of the Grapevine. (Photo by Ian Lee/Flickr Creative Commons)

    The battle over a planned sprawling development at the northern edge of L.A. County is not over after all.

    A settlement last month with a third environmental organization seemed to signal an end to the two decades-long fight over the Tejon Ranch Company’s planned 20,000 home development in northern L.A. County.

    But an L.A. County judge decided last week to allow the Center for Biological Diversity and the California Native Plant Society to continue with their lawsuit challenging the project.

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  • Play In LA
    Updated Jan. 14, 2022 2:51 PM
    Published Jan. 14, 2022 1:54 PM

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    An illustration of Martin Luther King Jr is displayed on a laptop computer. The graphic says "MLK DAY." The laptop is against a graphic yellow background.
    Los Angeles is finding safe ways to celebrate MLK Day in 2022.
    (Alborz Kamalizad / LAist / Graphic courtesy of Leadership Long Beach)

    Even though some traditional parades and events honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have been canceled in the Crenshaw District, Long Beach and other locations as pandemic precautions, some Day of Service efforts are still happening, although most are socially distanced, virtual or do-it-yourself.

    We've got a list of several around town.

  • News
    Updated Jan. 14, 2022 1:29 PM
    Published Jan. 14, 2022 1:29 PM

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    Two children carrying stuffed toys walk with an adult.
    Two girls carry stuffed animal toys wearing face masks in Los Angeles, California on January 5, 2022.
    (ROBYN BECK)

    The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is asking the Department of Children and Family Services to expand cultural awareness training for staff, identify translation service gaps and work with established nonprofits to address them.

  • Criminal Justice
    Updated Jan. 14, 2022 12:46 PM
    Published Jan. 14, 2022 12:46 PM

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    An LAPD car with its emblem on the side of the driver's door with the phrase to protect and to serve.
    File: An LAPD patrol car.
    (David McNew)

    Federal prosecutors have charged four people in connection with the robbery and killing of an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer.

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  • Education
    Updated Jan. 14, 2022 4:06 PM
    Published Jan. 14, 2022 12:28 PM

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    A student with his back to the camera wears a dark blue t-shirt and a backpack with anime characters.
    (Shae Hammond for CalMatters)

    The Culver City Unified School District will cancel classes for three days next week, becoming the latest L.A.-area school district to scramble its calendar in response to the latest surge in COVID-19 cases.

    Culver City Unified schools will be closed on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of next week (Jan. 19-21). The district had already planned for a student-free day on Tuesday, Jan. 18, following observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

  • Health
    Updated Jan. 14, 2022 1:15 PM
    Published Jan. 14, 2022 12:08 PM

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    A woman in a red T-shirt sits in the driver's seat of a car and inserts a swab into her nostril. She holds another piece of the test in the other hand. The car is dark, with what appears to be dark gray paint. In the background, it's seen that this car is in an asphalt parking lot, with a nearby attendant in a yellow smock and wearing a hat and a black face mask. A tent and a sign are also in the background. There are orange cones marking paths for vehicles.
    Diane Ahern swabs herself for COVID-19 at a testing site at the Long Beach Airport in Long Beach on Jan. 11, 2022. “I need to get tested every three days to be able to visit my parents at their retirement home,” Ahern said. “I’m nervous.”
    (Pablo Unzueta)

    When Rebecca Santucci of Lakewood learned that her sister, Stacy, may have been exposed to COVID-19, she set out to look for a rapid test. She needed to know quickly whether their 88-year-old father was at risk.

    Pharmacies had been wiped out of home test kits, and testing clinics were booked solid for at least two weeks. On Amazon, she found a set of two at-home tests for $38, but they wouldn’t arrive until next month. And anything that required waiting hours in line wouldn’t work for her sister, who has Down syndrome and anxiety.

    Eventually she found a slot for a rapid antigen test at a private drive-thru clinic on the city of Lakewood’s website. But it was five days after Stacy learned of her potential exposure.

    The price tag for the test: $129.

  • Climate and Environment
    Updated Jan. 14, 2022 12:53 PM
    Published Jan. 14, 2022 11:44 AM

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    Three men wearing masks and hard hats hold a blue sign with white and orange lettering that says "Save Green Jobs, Stop the Solar Tax!"
    Solar workers rally in downtown L.A. on Jan. 13, 2022 to protest the California Public Utilities Commission's proposal to increase the cost of rooftop solar.
    (Erin Stone)

    In the fight against climate change, California’s rooftop solar incentive program has been a success. It’s gotten panels on more than a million roofs and cut costs for consumers. But now, the state is likely to cut those incentives.

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  • Health
    Updated Jan. 14, 2022 11:46 AM
    Published Jan. 14, 2022 11:36 AM

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    A person in a mask points forward in a store, as the woman behind the counter grabs a bottle. There are various items on the shelves as well as a menu above. The walls are a mix of materials, but include brick, as well as stained wood higher up.
    Natalie Linares, a barista at With Love Market & Cafe, helps Abraham Rivas-Valle with a transaction in Los Angeles, on Aug. 4, 2021.
    (Pablo Unzueta)

    Today, as COVID-19 case rates in California have jumped to their highest levels yet — more than six times the peak of the delta variant wave — updated workplace rules are kicking in to better help protect workers vaccinated against COVID-19.

    The revised rules come from the California Division of Safety and Health — also known as Cal/OSHA — which regulates health and safety in California workplaces.

    Changes include:

    Testing: If there’s an outbreak at work, employers need to make FDA-approved COVID tests available to exposed employees at no cost, during paid time — and now that also goes for vaccinated, asymptomatic workers who were exposed.

  • Housing and Homelessness
    Updated Jan. 14, 2022 12:14 PM
    Published Jan. 14, 2022 10:13 AM

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    Four outreach workers from Urban Alchemy are walking down the street wearing all black and vests that identify them as part of Urban Alchemy, the nonprofit hired by Mitch O'Farrell's district to assist LAHSA with outreach. They are handing out food and water to unhoused people.
    Outreach workers hired by Mitch O'Farrell's council district hand out food and water to unhoused people at an encampment near the Shatto Recreation Center on Nov. 2.
    (Ethan Ward)

    The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) announced Friday it is postponing its 2022 point-in-time count of unsheltered and sheltered people this year until Feb. 22 - 24 due to concerns over the Omicron variant surge in L.A. County.

    The agency said it wants to protect the health and safety of its volunteers, staff and people experiencing homelessness. The 2021 unsheltered street count was also postponed last year due to the pandemic.

  • News
    Updated Jan. 14, 2022 6:30 AM
    Published Jan. 14, 2022 6:30 AM

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    DSCF5477.jpg
    Ahoy! A castle of the City Burbank.
    (Alborz Kamalizad)
    About The Morning Brief
    • The Morning Brief newsletter is sent mornings Monday through Friday. Subscribe to get it delivered to your inbox.

    A bunch of Burbank buildings have bastions. What gives?

    Are castles commonplace in your neighborhood? Not the kind that dish out sliders and draw airheads on Odyssean quests to quell munchies.

    No, the kind that, in a pinch, could provide protection from a trebuchet or two. Siege-worthy structures, the keeps of kings made for maidens and knights alike. LAist reader Samantha Varela in Burbank just had to know:

    Why are there so many castles in Burbank?

    LAist is here to help solve Samantha’s riddle, a riddle more difficult to decipher than determining the airspeed of an unladen swallow.

    Carla Javier, the noble leader of this search for the elusive information, writes:

    “I’ve been doing my reporter thing, looking at some records and making some visits and calls. And so far, I’ve found some initial answers. But not all — not yet. Maybe you, LAist reader, hold the key to the castle conundrum.

    Maybe you grew up in Burbank in the '80s, when many of these buildings were built, according to records from the Los Angeles County Assessor’s office. Maybe you have memories of these buildings or have noticed others like them. If so, you can email me or tweet at me. And maybe together, we can figure it out.”

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

    What Else You Need To Know Today

    • The City of Champions is set for another coronation. The Super Bowl is coming to SoFi Stadium sooner than you think and the venue is ready for its close-up.
    • Speaking of screaming fans, Coachella’s star-studded lineup is set and tickets for Weekend 1 are already sold out.
    • Gov. Newsom denied parole for Sirhan Sirhan, the man who assassinated Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Last year, a state parole board recommended his release. 
    • President Joe Biden’s vaccine-or-test mandate for large private companies was struck down by the Supreme Court Thursday. Read more on the decision here.
    • COVID cases tripled among California’s incarcerated youth last week. A spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation wrote that the situation is being “monitored closely.” 

    Before You Go...A Big Win For Big Cats

    An adult mountain lion walks in a grassy clearing at night with several mountain lion kittens behind her.
    Mountain lion P-65 and her kittens.
    (Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area)

    If completed, the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing over the 101 in Agoura Hills would be the largest urban wildlife crossing in the world. 

    That key “if” to start the above sentence is a lot closer to becoming a “when,” according to Beth Pratt of the National Wildlife Federation.

    Pratt has helped spearhead the project for about a decade and says the project is set for a spring groundbreaking. But the good news doesn’t stop there; $10 million dollars in funding is currently earmarked for phase two of the project in next year’s proposed state budget.

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