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L.A. city, county OK homeless plans, but where will the money come from?
In a fresh bid to confront a problem that has confounded lawmakers for decades, Los Angeles city and county officials approved sweeping plans Tuesday aimed at getting thousands of homeless people off the streets. But one crucial question remains unanswered: Where will most of the money come from? “The real test for us isn’t what we’re approving today,” Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin said. “The real test is going to be in the budget come April and May.” The county has set aside $150 million to implement its homeless strategies in the near term, but Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas acknowledged that the “question of the hour” is how future funds will be secured. Where are L.A.'s homeless? Almost everywhere. The renewed government attention to homelessness was spurred in part by a 12% surge in people living on the streets, in encampments and in vehicles from 2013 to 2015 — pushing the total to more than 44,000 homeless people countywide. The city and county have the most chronically homeless people in the nation, according to federal figures released last year. The problem has become increasingly visible on Los Angeles streets, triggering new calls for action. [Article]
by ABBY SEWELL and EMILY ALPERT REYES, Los Angeles Times. 2016-02-10
 
Aliso Canyon gas leak could be 'controlled' in several days
The leaking gas well in Aliso Canyon could be plugged in the next several days, the Southern California Gas Co. said Tuesday. Residents in nearby Porter Ranch can expect to receive text messages and phone calls once a relief well intercepts the failed well and crews are able to pump in fluids to stop the leak. The state Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources will then be asked to confirm the well has been plugged, a process that could take as long as a week, said Gillian Wright, vice president of customer service for the gas company. The updated timeline was presented to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors before it voted to send a letter to the gas company to ask that relocated residents be given 30 days to move back into their homes. Relief well is closing in on Porter Ranch gas leak "The gas company has failed to consider the victim time and time again," said Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. [Article]
by ALICE WALTON, Los Angeles Times. 2016-02-10
 
Opinion Whatever happened to Project 50?
When a large enterprise like Los Angeles County government attempts something extraordinarily ambitious such as effectively eliminating homelessness, yet repeatedly falls short, it's sometimes hard to tell whether the rubble left by each failure forms a series of impenetrable barriers against the next attempt – or whether it instead forms a staircase layered with experience gained and lessons learned, leading upward toward eventual success. The County Board of Supervisors sees a staircase, and on Tuesday it will try to climb it by adopting a far-reaching homelessness initiative. Much is at stake, not least of which is the well-being of tens of thousands of county residents now living in misery and danger on streets, sidewalks, shelters and jails. The effort also is a test of government's ability to sufficiently cut through its own bureaucratic knots and move past its own political jealousies in order to perform as its constituents demand – and to vindicate democracy as a viable and meaningful system for meeting the challenges of basic human need, justice and equity. [Article]
by ROBERT GREENE / OPINION, Los Angeles Times. 2016-02-10
 
Editorial L.A. finally passes a unified plan to help the homeless – now the hard part begins
On Tuesday, both the county and the city of Los Angeles approved far-reaching and ambitious plans to help homeless people off the streets through a combination of housing, rental subsidies, case management and expanded counseling, therapy and other services. This is not the first time the county and the city have tried to address the problem of homelessness. But this time, they vow, they will succeed. County and city elected officials say that unlike in the past they are now coordinating their plans rather than working at loggerheads, and that they have a level of political will and fortitude that they never had before. “Urgency has to be the mantra of the day,” said county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Let's hope they mean it. The number of homeless in the county rose 12% from 2013 to 2015, to about 44,000 people; they are now found in every council and supervisorial district. This should be an issue of top-level concern to elected officials if only because it is of concern to their constituents, at a level, we suspect, that it has not been in recent years. [Article]
by EDITORIAL, Los Angeles Times. 2016-02-10
 
$500 million in federal funds earmarked for L.A., Orange County transit projects
The Obama administration has earmarked $500 million for transit projects in Los Angeles and Orange County in the proposed federal budget for next fiscal year, local transportation officials said Tuesday. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority could receive up to $125 million for each of three projects. They include two sections of the Westside subway extension and a connector through downtown Los Angeles that will link the region's light rail lines. "The federal funds that President Obama is recommending in his budget for Metro projects will keep thousands of individuals in Los Angeles County hard at work building and providing mobility to millions of local residents," said Phillip Washington, Metro's chief executive. [Article]
by DAN WEIKEL, Los Angeles Times. 2016-02-10
 
How can L.A. fix its homeless problem? Leaders pass broad plans to try
Political leaders in the Los Angeles region upped their attempts Tuesday to address the area’s worsening homelessness problem, approving sweeping plans intended to deliver services and help to those living on sidewalks, under freeway underpasses and in cars. Amid a 12 percent spike in homeless since 2013, both city and county officials moved to commit more money and resources to curbing homelessness, an issue now defined as a crisis by advocates. From downtown Los Angeles to Pomona, encampments are now visible as people create makeshift homes to survive in a region that lacks both affordable housing and accessible mental health services. Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said if the county failed to act, the problem would compound itself. “Urgency has to be the mantra of the day,” he said. [Article]
by DAKOTA SMITH, Los Angeles Daily News. 2016-02-10
 
L.A. County approves sweeping plan to reduce homelessness
Calling the decision historic and unprecedented, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a sweeping plan to reduce homelessness. Prompted by a 12 percent increase since 2013 across the county in the number of people who were identified as homeless during a count last year, the supervisors made the issue of tackling homelessness a priority, along with the L.A. City Council. With the vote Tuesday, the supervisors allocated about $100 million in one-time funding toward the plan. The total cost of the plan is about $150 million. The board dedicates about $50 million for homelessness on an ongoing basis. The question of long-term funding for the initiative remains. [Article]
by SARAH FAVOT, Los Angeles Daily News. 2016-02-10
 
Why L.A. County supervisors want residents to have 30 days to return to Porter Ranch once well is capped
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors wants Porter Ranch residents to have 30 days to return to their homes once a massive gas leak in Aliso Canyon is stopped. The board on Tuesday unanimously supported Supervisor Michael Antonovich’s request to encourage Southern California Gas Co. to extend its eight-day deadline to give residents a month to return to their homes. The original plan was that residents would return 48 hours after the leak is stopped, however, SoCalGas officials and the L.A. City Attorney’s Office announced Monday it had agreed to allow eight days for residents to return. [Article]
by SARAH FAVOT, Los Angeles Daily News. 2016-02-10
 
110, 10 Freeway ExpressLanes are slowing down and officials aren’t sure of the fix
Metro ExpressLanes are not living up to their name. Since miles of pay lanes were created as an experiment three years ago, too many solo drivers are riding the converted car-pool lanes on segments of the 110 and 10 freeways, causing speeds to drop to levels that could result in federal highway funds being withheld. To fix the problem, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) board raised the price of a peak ride by 10 cents per mile as of Feb. 1. Metro lowered the off-peak toll by 15 cents. Both are efforts to move solo commuters out of pay lanes during morning rush hours and into off-peak periods on the ExpressLanes along the Harbor and San Bernardino freeways, explained Shahrzad Amiri, Metro’s executive officer, for congestion reduction programs. [Article]
by STEVE SCAUZILLO , Pasadena Star News. 2016-02-10
 
County to chip in up to $500,000 to preserve Silver Lake open space
SILVER LAKE — The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted today to allocate up to $500,000 to help buy an approximately 10-acre ribbon of land where Red Car trolleys once traveled through the northeast corner of Silver Lake. This is a step forward to purchase what’s called the Red Car Property but much more work and money will be needed. “This is great news,” said blogger and activist Diane Edwardson, who along with other residents has been working for more than 20 years to have the property preserved as open space. “But it’s not a done deal.” [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, Long Beach Press Telegram. 2016-02-10
 
LA homelessness: City, county vote for fixes. Now what?
With homelessness growing in L.A., county and city lawmakers on Tuesday coordinated to pass sprawling new plans to tackle the problem. Supporters of the plans say they represent the most comprehensive blueprints toward fixing homelessness in at least a decade--calling for everything from more storage for homeless people's belongings to a strategy for how to house the most needy Angelenos quickly. But officials acknowledged that finding funding to execute the plans will be a challenge. [Article]
by JOSIE HUANG, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2016-02-10
 
Earthquake: How CA's seismic building codes compare to Taiwan's
Rescue crews in Taiwan are still searching for missing people after Saturday’s 6.4 magnitude earthquake near the city of Tainan that toppled about a dozen buildings, including a high-rise. Experts say the damage would have been worse if it weren’t for Taiwan’s relatively modern building codes based on guidelines known as the Uniform Building Codes. These seismic safety standards were developed in the U.S. and are used by California as well, says structural engineer Michael Cochran of Weidlinger Associates Inc. The codes address which building materials and which designs are best for seismically active regions, he said. However, not all governments use the codes in the same way. California for instance sometimes adds additional guidelines to its building standards, Cochran said. [Article]
by SANDEN TOTTEN, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2016-02-10
 
The 5 biggest unanswered questions about the OC jail escape
Orange County Sheriff's Department officials announced late last week that they're done answering questions about how three inmates managed to cut and rappel their way out of a Santa Ana jail on January 22, at least until the department completes its own internal investigation. “I have initiated an internal administrative investigation to determine the facts of what occurred, contributing factors to the escape and inmate count procedures,” said Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens in the statement released Thursday. “Until the investigation is complete, I am unable to discuss it further.” That leaves a whole lot of outstanding questions. Mainly: [Article]
by ERIKA AGUILAR, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2016-02-10
 
Orange County Supervisors to meet less frequently, publish agendas earlier
The Orange County Board of Supervisors will meet less frequently this year, but the public will have more advanced notice about what will be discussed at those meetings, after the board voted Tuesday to alter its annual schedule. The changes will standardize meeting times to the second and fourth Tuesday of every month, cutting at least six meetings from a schedule previously approved in November. The change will likely extend both the agendas and meeting lengths for the remaining dates on the calendar. Supervisor Shawn Nelson said he thought two meetings per month could be too few. [Article]
by JORDAN GRAHAM, Orange County Register. 2016-02-10
 
Supervisors reaffirm support for Huntington Beach's Poseidon desalination plant after lower water-demand estimate
SANTA ANA – The county may need less water than once projected, but the Orange County Board of Supervisors made it known Tuesday that it still supports construction of a proposed $1 billion Huntington Beach desalination plant. One week after the Municipal Water District of Orange County projected that the county’s water demand in 2040 would be 17 percent lower than previously estimated, supervisors voted to reaffirm their support for the desal plant and urged the California Coastal Commission to approve the project’s final permit. [Article]
by JORDAN GRAHAM, Orange County Register. 2016-02-10
 
Orange County detectives get kudos for fraud investigation that led to conviction
LAGUNA BEACH – Three detectives – two from Laguna Beach and one from Newport Beach – are being recognized for their investigations that led to the arrest and eventual imprisonment of a Newport Beach man with a history of fraud in California, Arizona and Hawaii. The case started with a report about a stop payment on a $15,000 deposit for a used Mercedes Benz at Frank’s Motorcars on Coast Highway. [Article]
by ERIKA I. RITCHIE, Orange County Register. 2016-02-10
 
Newport Beach told by judge to be more transparent online with public records
A judge has ordered Newport Beach to make documents more accessible online after siding with a resident who spent a year and “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to get records about a Newport Beach Sister City Association trip to France in which he had concerns about how teens were supervised, according to court documents. Orange County Superior Court Judge Linda Marks said she was “troubled” by how the public records petition, filed in February 2015 by former Sister City Association board member Kent Moore, proceeded in court, according to Jan. 29 court documents. "(Requesting records) is not meant to be a protracted, lengthy process,” Marks said in the court hearing minutes. “It should be transparent. So I would suggest going forward that the city really looks at its website and determines is it easy for … someone in the public to be able to access the information." [Article]
by MEGAN NICOLAI , Orange County Register. 2016-02-10
 
Newport Beach told by judge to be more transparent online with public records
A judge has ordered Newport Beach to make documents more accessible online after siding with a resident who spent a year and “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to get records about a Newport Beach Sister City Association trip to France in which he had concerns about how teens were supervised, according to court documents. Orange County Superior Court Judge Linda Marks said she was “troubled” by how the public records petition, filed in February 2015 by former Sister City Association board member Kent Moore, proceeded in court, according to Jan. 29 court documents. "(Requesting records) is not meant to be a protracted, lengthy process,” Marks said in the court hearing minutes. “It should be transparent. So I would suggest going forward that the city really looks at its website and determines is it easy for … someone in the public to be able to access the information." [Article]
by MEGAN NICOLAI , Orange County Register. 2016-02-10
 
Judge criticizes Newport Beach for hindering resident's effort to get documents
An Orange County judge recently chastised the city of Newport Beach for making it unreasonably difficult for a resident to get documents he was seeking about a city-sponsored nonprofit. According to his lawyer, Kent Moore spent years of his time and hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to track down records related to the Newport Beach Sister City Assn. "It should not have been this difficult," Judge Linda S. Marks said during a Jan. 29 hearing, according to court transcripts. Instead of working with Moore to hand over appropriate documents quickly and efficiently, "I have a governmental agency that says, 'We're going to produce everything we have, except we're going to make it really difficult in how you go about getting that information,'" Marks said. Moore, a former Sister City Assn. board member, filed a public records request with the city in February 2015. [Article]
by JEREMIAH DOBRUCK, Los Angeles Times. 2016-02-10
 
Taxpayers are the real losers in this case
Is the city of Newport Beach guilty of violating the California Public Records Act? A court determined Jan. 20 that it wasn't, but didn't totally let it off the hook. Last September, I wrote about the lawsuit Kent Moore filed against the city of Newport Beach in which Moore's attorney, Melinda Luthin, claimed city officials either ignored or stonewalled Moore's document requests, allegedly violating the records act. The city claimed it responded to the requests, but admitted some records were not produced because they had been either lost or misplaced during the move from the old City Hall to the new Civic Center. The reason Moore and Luthin were requesting documents in the first place stemmed from Moore's concern over reports about the Newport Sister City Assn.'s 2010 trip to Antibes, France. Included in those concerns were alleged acts of incompetent chaperon oversight, an incident of underage drinking and trip expenses Moore felt weren't verified by receipts or other documentation. [Article]
by BARBARA VENEZIA / OPINION, Los Angeles Times. 2016-02-10
 
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