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2 years after the gas leak above Porter Ranch, here’s what’s changed — and what hasn’t
Thousands fled their homes after a massive gas leak sprung at the Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, ultimately spewing more than 100,000 metric tons of climate-altering methane into the atmosphere. Two years later, a bruised northern San Fernando Valley community is still demanding answers, a comprehensive health study remains in limbo and a bevy of lawsuits has yet to be resolved. Here’s a reminder of what has happened — and what’s next — in the Aliso Canyon gas leak saga. [Article]
by BRENDA GAZZAR and SUSAN ABRAM, Los Angeles Daily News. 2017-10-23
 
Mental Health Crisis Is a Crime, But it Shouldn’t Be | Opinion
DTLA - Recently, I was walking in DTLA when I was unexpectedly approached by someone in the throes of mental illness. I was startled and felt threatened. The individual quickly turned his attention elsewhere and so did I, only to run into another person in the midst of a mental health crisis. This time the individual was surrounded by police officers. As someone who has invested hundreds of hours and staff time to offer up solutions to address homelessness, that night left me struggling with questions that are as important for the future of Downtown as they are for basic human dignity. They include: Who do you call when you witness someone in the middle of a mental health crisis? And what can we do to help prevent a person’s mental illness from escalating into a crisis? [Article]
by JOSE HUIZAR, Los Angeles Downtown News. 2017-10-23
 
Solar panel projects at Mt. SAC, Occidental inspired years of protest. More like them are planned across Southern California
Broadview, a Christian Science nursing home, had obtained the necessary permits to erect a solar array on a steep hillside amid the secluded Montecito Heights section of northeast Los Angeles. But just after construction began, neighbors became unglued, claiming their canyon views would be blocked and the solar panels would shine a harsh glare into homes and motorists’ eyes on the nearby 110 Arroyo Seco Parkway. One resident called the project “a monstrous carbunkle on the face or our community.” Inundated by angry calls and emails from constituents, City Councilman Ed Reyes acted. The city withdrew the permits and construction was halted. [Article]
by STEVE SCAUZILLO, San Gabriel Valley Tribune. 2017-10-23
 
Art Leahy knows the difference between Metro and Metrolink and other Southern California transit secrets
A job applicant walked into the Metrolink offices expounding on the accomplishments of Metro. He even wrote a follow-up email to Metrolink saying what a great job Metro has been doing with trains and buses. Goes to show ya how many people get those two agencies confused. Metro is the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, responsible for buses, subways and light-rail only in L.A. County. Metrolink uses diesel locomotives pulling train cars on tracks for its commuter rail service operating in six Southern California counties. [Article]
by STEVE SCAUZILLO, San Gabriel Valley Tribune. 2017-10-23
 
Pasadena’s affordable housing program showed lax enforcement, left some units vacant for up to a year
Pasadena’s Housing Department failed to follow city law for nearly one-third of the developments built through its affordable housing program, according to a review of projects finished since 2007, putting 38 low-income units at risk during a time of housing scarcity across the region. The program, known as the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, requires developers to set aside a percentage of the units in any new residential project for very low, low- and moderate-income families, supplying much needed affordable housing and also dispersing it evenly throughout the city. In exchange, developers get to build denser projects and receive fee waivers to offset the costs of the below-market-rate units. [Article]
by JASON HENRY, Pasadena Star News. 2017-10-23
 
Malibu Life Expectancy Among Highest in LA County
A report published by Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health’s Social Science Research Council showed that Malibu has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the county. Malibu currently ranks No. 2—just under Walnut Park—with an average life expectancy of 89.8 years of age for a baby born in 2014. Comparatively, Beverly Hills ranks sixth on the list. [Article]
by SHIVANI PATEL, La Canada Valley Sun. 2017-10-23
 
'It's a superhighway above our heads': South L.A. residents vexed by new LAX flight paths
Thousands of people come every year to meditate and reflect at the Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens, a South L.A. center that dubs itself “a spiritual oasis in the city.” But this year, the tranquility of its green gardens and burbling fountains has been broken by a new and unwelcome sound: the repeated drone of passing jets and airplanes, often only minutes apart. The noise has awoken and aggravated nearby residents, disrupted film shoots at the gardens and elsewhere, and spurred demands from local lawmakers for action. And it hasn’t made it any easier to find inner peace. “The other day it sounded like an airplane was coming down on the roof,” said Valerie Zumwalt, a student at the Jefferson Park seminary on the site. Jefferson Park, West Adams and other stretches of South L.A. along Adams Boulevard are some of the neighborhoods affected by a shift in flight paths into Los Angeles International Airport and other busy airports across the nation, part of a federal effort to save fuel, reduce delays and improve safety. But by funneling air traffic into narrower, more concentrated routes, the new system has sent a steady stream of jets roaring over once-tranquil communities, residents said. [Article]
by EMILY ALPERT REYES, Los Angeles Times. 2017-10-23
 
Elon Musk gets OK to start digging in early step toward hyperloop dream
Maryland has given transportation pioneer Elon Musk permission to dig tunnels for the high-speed, underground transit system known as a hyperloop that Musk wants to build between New York and Washington. Representatives of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday the state has issued a conditional utility permit to let Musk’s tunneling firm, the Boring Co., dig a 10.3-mile tunnel beneath the state-owned portion of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, between the Baltimore city line and state Highway 175 in Hanover. It would be the first portion of the underground system that Musk says could eventually ferry passengers from Washington to New York, with stops in Baltimore and Philadelphia, in just 29 minutes. Maryland’s approval is the first step of many needed to complete the multibillion-dollar project. Hogan toured a site in Hanover that aides said could become an entry point for the hyperloop. The state does not plan to contribute to the cost of the project, aides said. [Article]
by ERIN COX, SARAH GANTZ, Los Angeles Times. 2017-10-23
 
Hotel rooms near L.A. Convention Center have nearly doubled but aren't enough, city study finds
For years, tourism advocates in Los Angeles have bemoaned the shortage of hotel rooms near downtown’s convention center, saying the city needs thousands more to draw the nation’s biggest conventions. Thanks to a construction boom over the past four years, the city has nearly doubled the number of hotel rooms within walking distance of the Los Angeles Convention Center to 4,637 rooms, according to a city study. In addition to the rooms already built, another 717 hotel rooms are under construction, according to the study, released by Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, whose district includes parts of downtown Los Angeles. The construction boom included the completion this summer of the 73-story InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown hotel, with 889 rooms. Still, the study concluded that Los Angeles ranks 18th in the nation when it comes to the number of hotel rooms within walking distance — three-quarters of a mile — of a convention center. [Article]
by HUGO MARTIN, Los Angeles Times. 2017-10-23
 
County Supervisors Secretly Kill A Potential Downtown for Laguna Niguel
The Orange County Board of Supervisors has secretly brought development of downtown Laguna Niguel to an abrupt halt, quietly killing a contract with a developer of county-owned land. City officials said they didn’t learn the project was dead until their Oct. 17 meeting and county supervisors still haven’t publicly reported their Aug. 22 vote to kill the development. “I can’t tell you how frustrated as well as disappointed that the termination letter came out, especially since we weren’t asked,” Councilwoman Laurie Davies said at the meeting. “I feel like we were completely left out (by the county) and this project is in our backyard.” County officials didn’t confirm details of what happened as of the end of the day Friday and Laguna Niguel council members were trying to find out if city staff knew the project was dead, but failed to tell them. [Article]
by SPENCER CUSTODIO, Voice of OC. 2017-10-23
 
Did firefighters mishandle Canyon Fire 2? An O.C. supervisor wants an investigation
Internal reports that the Orange County Fire Authority bungled its initial response to the Canyon Fire 2 are prompting Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson to ask colleagues for an independent investigation of the fire that burned 9,200 acres and destroyed or damaged nearly 60 homes around Anaheim Hills. “There’s a lot of stuff out there and some of it is not adding up,” Nelson said Sunday, Oct. 22. “We need to find out what’s going on over there. “We have a right to answers,” he added. “And, right now, I don’t know who to believe.” Among the questions Nelson wants investigated: [Article]
by TONY SAAVEDRA, Orange County Register. 2017-10-23
 
What we’ve learned from largest methane gas leak in the U.S.
Invisible disaster: Infrared images from the Environmental Defense Fund show a huge plume spewing from the ground. Two years ago today, the largest U.S. methane leak was discovered. The leak in northwest Los Angeles County focused attention on the state’s aging gas wells. Disaster snapshot The leaky well was one of 115 wells connected to a subsurface storage reservoir in the Aliso Canyon gas field. The field has been used for natural gas storage since 1973 and is the fourth largest facility of its kind in the U.S. [Article]
by KURT SNIBBE, Orange County Register. 2017-10-23
 
Amazon HQ2: 238 cities, counties say they want massive complex
Amazon says it received 238 proposals from cities and regions hoping to be the home of the company’s second headquarters. At least 10 cities were from Southern California, including Irvine, Santa Ana, a combined bid from Long Beach and Huntington Beach, a Los Angeles County supported bid from Pomona, Riverside, and San Diego. The online retailer kicked off its hunt for a second headquarters in September, promising to bring 50,000 new jobs and spend up to $5 billion. Proposals from cities, states and regions were due last week, and Amazon made clear that tax breaks and grants would be a big deciding factor on where it chooses to land. Amazon.com has said the second headquarters will be a full equal to its Seattle home. The company says it will announce a decision sometime next year. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, Orange County Register. 2017-10-23
 
Goodbye golf course, hello olive groves! New Palm Springs enclave to become an ‘agri-hood’
The olive – that familiar little fruit lolling around in your martini – is about to make a splash in the Southern California real estate market. The developer of a new residential enclave in Palm Springs is swapping out an 18-hole golf course for dozens of acres of olive groves. The 300-acre sustainable community, named Miralon, is planned as one of the nation’s largest agricultural neighborhoods, or “agri-hoods,” where new homes crop up around community farms. Agri-hoods are a hot trend. There are about 150 so-called farm-to-fork neighborhoods around the U.S., says Ed McMahon, a senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute. They’re as close as Rancho Mission Viejo in Orange County and The Cannery in Davis near Sacramento, and as far-flung as Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga.; Willowsford in the rolling hills of Loudoun County, Va., and Kukui’ula in Hawaii, where Kaua’i residents can harvest guava, papaya and pineapples. [Article]
by MARILYN KALUS, Orange County Register. 2017-10-23
 
MTS’s Effort to Tame the Chaos at the Border Has Become a Mess of Its Own
Every year nearly half a million people at the San Ysidro border crossing find their way on to and off of buses and vans headed for or coming from Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Bakersfield and other cities to the north and east. The intercity bus market is one element of a hectic scene at the busiest border crossing in the western hemisphere. The area is also home to the region’s busiest transit stop, and the terminus of a superhighway that runs the length of the West Coast. [Article]
by ANDREW KEATTS, Voice of San Diego. 2017-10-23
 
Cal Fire boosts staffing during red flag warning
RAMONA, Calif. – A hundred extra crew members are on stand-by to fight and protect San DIego County during this red flag warning. The Ramona Air Attack Base flight crews are ready to go at a moment's notice with air tankers fully fueled and loaded. FOX 5 had a behind-the-scenes look at what Cal Fire is doing at its oldest and one of its busiest air attack bases Sunday. [Article]
by KRISTEN SHANAHAN, KSWB - Fox News San Diego. 2017-10-23
 
Dangerous fire conditions expected in San Diego County as temper
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Santa Ana winds will rake much of San Diego County Monday and combine with record-high temperatures and extremely dry air to create dangerous fire conditions. The extreme heat, expected to be 20 to 25 degrees above seasonal averages Monday, has prompted schools across San Diego to implement minimum-day schedules, while fire agencies across the county have beefed up staffing to deal with potentially dangerous wildfires. [Article]
by FRANCELLA PEREZ, KUSI - San Diego. 2017-10-23
 
Bills mount as cities switch to district elections
North County cities have spent more than $1 million switching from traditional at-large elections to a system that elects City Council members by voting districts, according to a tally by U-T Watchdog. The change has been spurred by a Malibu attorney threatening to sue cities over voting rights, but many officials see the effort as opportunism rather than any sincere desire to offer better representation to minority communities. “It’s just a money-making scheme,” said Oceanside consultant Mary Azevedo, who’s helped run numerous local political campaigns. “It’s not for the betterment of any city or group of individuals.” The attorney, Kevin Shenkman, said his motives are pure and “it’s about time” that minorities get the voice they deserve in local government. [Article]
by PHIL DIEHL, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2017-10-23
 
Seeking 'patient zero' in San Diego's hepatitis A outbreak
As San Diego’s hepatitis A outbreak has continued to grow, so has a fascination about the identity and importance of “patient zero,” the first person believed to be infected in a surge of illness that has now killed 19 people. At first unwilling to say much at all about this mysterious person, county health officials disclosed twice during public meetings in late September that the apparent first patient — what epidemiologists often call an outbreak’s “index case”— was a homeless man who tested positive for hepatitis infection in East County. Dr. Eric McDonald, chief of the county’s Epidemiology and Immunization Services Branch, reiterated in an email this week that this man was treated in a La Mesa hospital and “when interviewed said that the exposure period was mainly in El Cajon.” Further details on exactly where in El Cajon, and where else patient zero might have lived, have not been forthcoming and a lack of genetic analysis due to his unknown whereabouts have made absolute confirmation of his first-patient status impossible. [Article]
by PAUL SISSON, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2017-10-23
 
Will carbon credits pave the way for new suburban sprawl in San Diego and beyond?
e bar on suburban sprawl in recent years, effectively requiring developers to design ever-greener projects to avoid costly litigation. Now the county of San Diego and a major local developer have embraced what they see as a potential solution to these tightening requirements — carbon credits. The county recently made the use of a carbon-credit market, which would invest in projects that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions locally and around the globe, a centerpiece of its draft Climate Action Plan. And the builder of the proposed Newland Sierra development north of Escondido has said the project will be “carbon neutral” largely thanks to the use of such carbon offsets. “Master-planned communities that aren’t urban infill are not dinosaurs,” said Rita Brandin with developer Newland Communities. “We feel committed to the carbon neutrality of this project, and we’re moving forward, and we’ll defend it rigorously.” Response from environmental groups to the notion of using markets to offset greenhouse-gas emission from sprawling development has ranged from skepticism to condemnation. [Article]
by JOSHUA EMERSON SMITH, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2017-10-23
 
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