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Responses to building and safety complaints vary widely across L.A.
When Angelenos phone the city to complain about illegal construction, trash piling up next door or other building nuisances, some parts of town have gotten a faster reaction from building inspectors than have others, a Times analysis of city data shows. The delays have been greatest in eastern Los Angeles, where nearly a quarter of code enforcement complaints languished at least three months without a response. That was twice the comparable rate on the Westside and four times that found in South Los Angeles, according to the analysis, which spanned the period from January 2011 to July 2014. Central L.A., where 18% of complaints studied failed to receive a response within 90 days, was the closest to eastern Los Angeles in terms of delays. Inspectors also failed to meet the Department of Building and Safety's own response-time goals — which range from one to 20 days depending on the nature of the complaint — in more than one out of three cases in eastern Los Angeles, a rate nearly 40% worse than the citywide average. [Article]
by EMILY ALPERT REYES AND ARMAND EMAMDJOMEH, Los Angeles Times. 2014-12-19
 
L.A. County fielded numerous complaints before deaths of two children
L.A. County examines whether it could have better protected two kids killed in father's deliberate car crash Over the last eight months, Los Angeles County social workers fielded repeated reports that Alan Dean Edwards' two children were in danger. They opened investigations and let some complaints languish past the state's 30-day deadline, according to county records reviewed by The Times and interviews with officials familiar with the case. Then came news that Edwards had died along with his 8-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter in a car crash this month. Sheriff's deputies believe the father — in the midst of a divorce and custody dispute — deliberately crashed his Honda Accord into a parked big rig on Interstate 5 in Castaic. Officials with the Department of Children and Family Services are now reviewing whether Antelope Valley social workers could have done more to prevent the tragedy. The children's mother declined to comment. Authorities said Edwards, of Lancaster, picked up his son Eric Dean Edwards and daughter Alona Marie Edwards on Dec. 5, a Friday, as part of a custody agreement with his estranged wife. When he didn't drop the kids off Sunday, his wife filed a missing persons report. [Article]
by GARRETT THEROLF, Los Angeles Times. 2014-12-19
 
Gang-related': a controversial term with varying definitions
In a recent training session for gang officers, LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese told a class from across the county that more than half of all killings in the city are gang-related. But that term — "gang-related" — can have varying meanings. And it has long been controversial. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the Los Angeles Police Department use a member-based approach, the agencies said. Such an approach classifies a homicide as gang-related if the victim or the assailant is known to be a gang member. In some cases, a crime can be classified as gang-related if it occurs in a neighborhood where there's an ongoing rivalry, said Lt. John Tippet of the LAPD's South Bureau, which handles about 40% of the homicides in the city. [Article]
by NICOLE SANTA CRUZ, Los Angeles Times. 2014-12-19
 
Why Los Angeles County wants its residents to document wildlife
Biologists are just beginning to fully understand the wilderness hidden in plain sight across the Los Angeles area’s vast urban jungle and suburban sprawl. We catch glimpses all the time — squirrels digging in backyard gardens, lizards sunning themselves along well-traveled hiking trails, bees flitting around bright flowers in office-park landscaping. Yet studies of urban jungles have historically gotten short shrift in favor of more exotic, remote locales. But that’s changing across the greater Los Angeles basin, and scientists leading the effort say success depends on residents becoming “citizen scientists.” Several new, large-scale scientific projects depend on untrained members of the public to gather data about the largely unknown worlds of local wild species. [Article]
by SANDY MAZZA, Los Angeles Daily News. 2014-12-19
 
Los Angeles taxicabs would require electronic hailing apps under new proposal
Taxi drivers in Los Angeles would be required to use electronic hailing apps to compete with newer ride-sharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, under a proposal to be considered next month by the Taxicab Commission. The commission will decide in January whether to form a working group to explore rules requiring taxicabs to subscribe to “e-hail technology” certified by the city. According to the proposal, such technology already exists, but “less than half of the city’s taxi drivers actually use it.” The office of Mayor Eric Garcetti instructed the commission three months ago to “take all steps necessary to basically level the playing field” between traditional taxicabs and ride-share companies that use smartphone apps to connect drivers to riders, Taxicab Commission President Eric Speigelman said at a board meeting today. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, West Side Story Newspaper. 2014-12-19
 
Founders Series: Planning a city, and having fun
Editor’s note: Monday marked the 27th anniversary of Santa Clarita’s founding. This is the sixth in The Signal’s seven-part series about the surviving men and women who made the city a reality. Dennis Koontz became a member of Santa Clarita’s founding City Council because of a longtime dream, a fortuitous accident and a last-minute dash across Los Angeles — twice. “I had a plan I was going to run for City Council in Los Angeles,” Koontz said during a recent interview. “But because I had moved out of town and into Saugus, I could no longer run in L.A.” Koontz was a Los Angeles city firefighter who achieved the rank of captain and got his first taste of politics through the firefighters’ union. As a representative of the Los Angeles Fire & Police Protective League, he championed the causes of his fellow firefighters in the 1970s following his election to that “team” in 1967. [Article]
by JIM HOLT, The Signal. 2014-12-19
 
Management by committee not leadership
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently voted three to two to establish a civilian commission to oversee the county’s Sheriff’s Department. We already have an Inspector General in place, but I guess that is not enough bureaucracy to muddy the waters. Our new sheriff, Jim McDonnell, has voiced support for the new commission, so I guess he is already overwhelmed by his responsibilities to manage the department. [Article]
by EDITORIAL, The Signal. 2014-12-19
 
High-Speed Rail Officials Continue To Work To Address Public Concern
“We had a good crowd at all of the locations,” said Rachel Kesting, information officer for the Southern California Regional Office of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. “(The meetings) went very well. “Several people gave comments during the meetings. For the next step, we analyze and review all of the comments.” Los Angeles County officials urged residents that would be affected by the bullet train to voice their opinions and concerns to the HSR Authority. “Now is a critical time for communities impacted by any of the routes proposed by the High-Speed Rail Authority to provide their input and request information and ask any question they have to ensure that their voice is heard as the authority continues to modify and examine the alternatives that have been provided so far,” said Michael Cano, transportation deputy to Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. “Supervisor Antonovich is adamant that the Authority works very closely with all of the impacted communities to ensure that this process is inclusive of the concerns and the voices of all communities in the region.” [Article]
by JESSICA BOYER, The Signal. 2014-12-19
 
Keep calm and carry on conserving water
After the satisfying series of rain storms that thundered through since Thanksgiving, you could be forgiven for expecting that a significant dent has been put in the statewide drought. You would be right — and emphatically wrong. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, OC Metro. 2014-12-19
 
Recount Results in No Change for Measure J
The recount of the ballots cast in the 2014 General Election North Orange County Community College District, Fullerton/Cypress Colleges Bond Measure J has ended with no change in the vote total. No ballots were recounted in the contest in Orange County – the requesters chose to examine relevant material pursuant to Cal. Code Regs., title 2, section 20813. Although ballots were recounted in the County of Los Angeles, since the recount was not complete, the original certification of the ballots cast in the Measure J election will remain as the official certification. Under California Election Code section 15632, the official certification can only be changed if the votes cast in each and every precinct in the affected jurisdiction have been recounted. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, OC Metro. 2014-12-19
 
Rainy Christmas Likely For San Diego County
High pressure aloft and weak offshore flow will bring much warmer weather to the coast and inland valleys of San Diego County early next week, meteorologists said Friday. However, a significant cool down with possible precipitation is likely for Christmas, according to the National Weather Service. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, KPBS Radio News / San Diego. 2014-12-19
 
Sunrise Powerlink hits milestone in renewable energy carriage
A milestone in the use of San Diego Gas & Electric's Sunrise Powerlink was announced Thursday, as the utility reported that more than 1K megawatts of renewable power is now being delivered to the county through the transmission line. Completed in 2012, the 500-kilovolt transmission line runs from the Imperial Valley Substation in Imperial County to the Sycamore Canyon Substation in San Diego County. The recent completion of the 150-megawatt Solar Gen 2 Imperial Valley solar project and its connection to the transmission line are what pushed Sunrise over the 1000-megawatt hump. [Article]
by JAMES PALEN, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2014-12-19
 
County unemployment rate stays steady
The San Diego County unemployment rate was 5.8 percent in November, unchanged from October. In November of 2013, the rate was 7 percent. Between October and November of this year, the county gained 13,500 jobs. Over the year, the increase was 43K jobs. However, incomes have been dropping as the unemployment rate has declined. According to the Department of Numbers, inflation-adjusted median household income in 2007 was 69,425. Through the end of last year, it had dropped to 61,426. [Article]
by DON BAUDER, San Diego Reader. 2014-12-19
 
Costly new transmission lines not the only energy choice
Ratepayers in California have been handed a false choice between two evils: Keep burning more and more fossil fuels to keep the lights on and our computers humming or pay the price for massive new solar, wind and geothermal power plants in remote parts of the state and hundreds of miles of new transmission lines. There is a third and better choice, one that won’t send our utility bills skyrocketing, one that is ecologically wiser and one that will create jobs in our communities. But it’s being ignored by our utilities and their regulators. [Article]
by J. David Garmon / EDITORIAL, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2014-12-19
 
Coaster alcohol ban approved
OCEANSIDE — Transit leaders on Thursday imposed a ban on drinking alcohol on San Diego County’s Coaster passenger line, a move that some said was long overdue and others criticized as short-sighted. North County Transit District’s Board of Directors voted 8-0 to approve the ban, with one director absent. The agency has long cited concerns about rowdy, alcohol-fueled behavior on the trains. The board also outlawed the use of electronic cigarettes on all district property. [Article]
by ASHLY McGLONE and CHRIS NICHOLS, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2014-12-19
 
San Diego's wage growth among slowest
Wages in San Diego grew the slowest among the nation’s 10 largest metropolitan areas in this year’s second quarter, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday. From April to June, the average worker in San Diego earned 1,044 per week, a 1.2 percent gain over the same time period in 2013. That pace tied Phoenix for the most anemic among the nation’s 10 biggest regions, including Los Angeles, Orange County, Miami and Houston. San Diego’s gain also trailed inflation, which at the time was around 2 percent nationwide. [Article]
by JONATHAN HORN, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2014-12-19
 
NCTD OKs bonus, raises, for boss
The head of the North County Transit District is getting a 20k bonus and will see his salary rise to 289,179 by 2018 under a new contract awarded Thursday. Executive director Matthew Tucker is currently paid an annual salary of 249,179, which will increase by 10K a year for the next four years for “satisfactory” performance according to his new contract, awarded in an 8-0 vote of the board. The contract also guarantees an additional 5 to 10 percent bonus if he exceeds expectations each year, for a potential 318,000 in pay by 2018. [Article]
by ASHLY McGLONE, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2014-12-19
 
Kids in the county's care get new shoes
SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A San Diego company made a special holiday delivery to the Polinsky Children's center Thursday. Millennium Health donated 500 new pairs of Converse shoes for kids at the emergency shelter and those currently in foster care. About 150 kids who have to be separated from their families are brought to the Polinsky Center each month. They range in age from babies to teens. Officials at the center say today's donation comes at exactly the right time. The holidays are an especially difficult time for kids to be away from their families. "Of course, shoes cannot replace a child's family, but it certainly can brighten a child's holiday," Debra Zanders-Willis of County Child Welfare Services said. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, KFMB-TV (CBS8) (San Diego). 2014-12-19
 
Judge pushing to get Colonies corruption case to trial in fall 2015
SAN BERNARDINO >> A Superior Court judge is pushing to get San Bernardino County’s Colonies corruption case to trial by September or October of 2015, but it is contingent upon a pending appellate court decision and whether new attorneys for two of the defendants are up to speed on the case. During a brief hearing on Friday, defense attorneys Mark McDonald and James Crawford announced they are the new counsel for defendants Paul Biane and Mark Kirk, respectively. McDonald told Judge Michael A. Smith he needs to review 400K pages of documents related to the case, as does Crawford. [Article]
by JOE NELSON, San Bernardino County Sun. 2014-12-19
 
SAN BERNARDINO: Airport board approves budget for sheriff's air base
A new San Bernardino County Sheriff’s air center at San Bernardino International Airport will cost an estimated 12.3mln, an amount approved Wednesday by the airport’s board of commissioners. That is not the final step; the amount will have to be considered by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors. The county is paying for the facility, while the airport is overseeing it. Airport acting executive director Michael Burrows said at the meeting he hoped the matter might be taken up next month. [Article]
by RICHARD K. DeATLEY, Riverside Press-Enterprise. 2014-12-19
 
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