Here's your daily audio briefing (updated weekdays):4:40COVID deaths ticking up in L.A. County. Plus: MLK Day events, substitute teachers wanted, and Metro bikeshare closures – The Morning Edition
Housing and Homelessness
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.
Play In LA(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.
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(David McNew)
Federal prosecutors have charged four people in connection with the robbery and killing of an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer.
Education(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.
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(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.
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.
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(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(Alborz Kamalizad)About The Morning Brief
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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:
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
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.