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Construction to begin on a $1.9 billion widening of the I-405 freeway in Orange County
A decade of planning for an ambitious widening of the I-405 freeway will soon give way to construction – kicking off five years of roadwork that transportation officials say will ease gridlock, ultimately, on one of the busiest routes in the nation. “That corridor is one of the most heavily congested corridors in the nation,” said Ryan Chamberlain, director of the Caltrans district that covers Orange County. “(Driver’s) are sitting in stop-and-go traffic, wasting time looking at tail lights instead of moving to where they need to be.” With it’s $1.9 billion price tag, the undertaking marks the largest project in the Orange County Transportation Authority’s history, as well as the largest active freeway project in California. [Article]
by SEAN EMERY, Long Beach Press Telegram. 2018-01-22
Massive cost overruns threaten to derail the bullet train. Here's what has to change
Only two years ago, the California rail authority unveiled an ambitious plan to begin operating a segment of bullet train service between San Jose and the Central Valley by 2025. It would take nearly every penny in its checkbook, but the rail authority assured the public it would work. But that plan has been crushed by the acknowledgment Tuesday that the cost of building just 119 miles of rail between the farm towns of Madera and Wasco has soared from about $6 billion to $10.6 billion, siphoning off money that the authority had planned to allocate to the ultimate goal of connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco. It has left the broader high-speed rail project, a lofty objective that Gov. Jerry Brown has pursued since the 1980s, in an existential crisis. Over the next year, Brown, the Legislature and the next governor will have to decide whether to create new revenue sources, dramatically delay its construction or scale it far back from a complete 550-mile system, among other possibilities. "The financial demand for this is so enormous," said Martin Wachs, a UCLA transportation expert and a member of a peer review panel that oversees the project. "We should have been more ready for this. The costs always rise and the schedule always slips, but that doesn't mean the project isn't justified." [Article]
by RALPH VARTABEDIAN, Los Angeles Times. 2018-01-22
'The Art of Protest' at Church of the Epiphany: Eastside landmark is a sanctuary for social justice
The Church of the Epiphany in Lincoln Heights was the Los Angeles home base for Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers movement. The newspaper for the Chicano civil rights movement, La Raza, was printed in the basement. Since the 1960s, the Episcopalian church has served as a sanctuary for Chicano social justice movements, and a gathering place for those involved in them, regardless of religious affiliation. That legacy continues today and is on display through March 29 in “The Art of Protest: Epiphany and the Culture of Empowerment,” an exhibit that features the work of more than 60 artists, including those who organized at the church decades ago as well as contemporary artists. The exhibit is co-curated by Ravi GuneWardena, an architect involved in the preservation of the historic church; Sofia Gutierrez, a Los Angeles County Museum of Art educator; Ricardo Reyes, artist and 1960s Chicano activist; and Roslio Munoz, historian and co-chair of the Chicano Moratorium, which focused its activism around the Vietnam War. Notable pieces include photojournalist Tish Lampert’s pictures of the three-minute “Door of Hope” reunions of families separated on opposite sides of the border; sculptural pieces by Camilo Ontiveros created from the worldly possessions of deported immigrants; a paper-collage mosaic by Mita Cuaron depicting the 1968 Chicano student walkouts; and paintings by members of the 1970s Chicano artist collective Los Four. The art fills the church. It floats above pews and hangs by the altar. At first, congregants and clergy were apprehensive about this total takeover, but once they saw it being installed, they were extremely moved by it, by “how beautiful and powerful it is to have all these voices inside the church,” GuneWardena said. [Article]
by JESSICA GELT, Los Angeles Times. 2018-01-22
California pushes back amid fears of Trump immigration crackdown
State officials on Thursday blasted the Trump administration over reports of an imminent immigration enforcement sweep of Northern California and said new state laws will make such action more difficult. California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra warned employers he is prepared to seek fines if they violate a new state law that prohibits them from giving information on employees to federal authorities. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León said Wednesday that a planned federal immigration sweep in the state appears to be in response to a new "sanctuary state" law that went into effect this year. "Last week, California beat President Trump in a federal court battle over the future of the DACA program, and the Dreamers who continue to live here under its protection," De León said in a statement. "Now, he is lashing out." News of the sweep plans, reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, came after Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, spoke on Fox News this month and warned California "to hold on tight," saying his agency expected to increase its enforcement presence across the state. [Article]
by PATRICK McGREEVY, Los Angeles Times. 2018-01-22
There's a season for California's 2018 ballot initiatives, and this is it
The folding table full of clipboards and flapping sheets of paper — a staple of ballot measure campaigns and thus a hallmark of California politics — is back in front of neighborhood grocery stores and shopping malls. The race is on to collect voter signatures on any initiative angling for a spot on the Nov. 6 statewide ballot. State elections officials have suggested there are about 90 days left to gather and submit those signatures on initiatives to write state law, borrow money or amend the California Constitution. After that, the odds become long for tallies to be finalized in time for the formal certification of fall ballot propositions. Interviews with political strategists and those who circulate initiative petitions suggest that as many as a dozen measures could end up on the final list. Two years ago, there were 17 propositions — the most since Bill Clinton was president. [Article]
by JOHN MYERS, Los Angeles Times. 2018-01-22
Homeless wonder where they will go as O.C. clears out massive encampments along river
When it’s finally time to pack up and go, Kathy Schuler knows she’ll bring her grandson’s toy cars. Schuler has lived in an ever-growing homeless encampment next to the Santa Ana River for about three years. Now her tidy area has a picket fence and a scraggly Raggedy Ann doll sitting on a wicker chair out front. It’s just a patch of dirt, but she loves yardwork and hopes to someday have a garden. The encampment looks like a home — with generators, concrete posts and even solar panels along the path. But as she stood smoking a cigarette, Schuler’s eyes watered thinking about her grandson, whom she raised until he was 3. The boy is in foster care, but his cars stayed behind. “I’ll go find another homeless encampment if I have to. I’ll take as little as I can, but I gotta take my grandson’s toys.” For the last few months, Orange County has been methodically and deliberately clearing the massive homeless encampments along the banks of the Santa Ana River. They started at the Pacific Ocean and moved north. Beginning Monday, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department will start clearing the last and largest encampment near Angel Stadium in Anaheim. Officials estimate that between 500 and 1,000 people live there. [Article]
by BENJAMIN ORESKES, Los Angeles Times. 2018-01-22
County and City Pensions Still Underfunded Despite 2017 Bull Market
Even after strong investment earnings last year, the pension funds for the county and city of San Diego are still short a combined $6.25 billion of the retirement money promised to former and current employees. The shortfall, known as an unfunded pension liability, is the difference between pension fund assets in the bank and liabilities, or the cost of pension benefits accrued by retirees and current employees. [Article]
by ASHLY McGLONE, Voice of San Diego. 2018-01-22
County working to update McClellan-Palomar Airport
CARLSBAD, Calif. -- San Diego County is finishing a four-year process to update the 20-year master plan for the McClellan-Palomar Airport. Throughout the process, the county is working with the public, business, local cities and the FAA. The plan’s focus is on modernizing the airport to FAA design standards and improving efficiency. The plan is set to be considered by the County Board of Supervisors later in 2018. [Article]
by ZAC SELF, KNSD NBC San Diego. 2018-01-22
County planning commission recommends approval of climate action
SAN DIEGO (COUNTY NEWS SERVICE) — The San Diego County Planning Commission voted 6-1 last week to recommend that the County’s Board of Supervisors approve the County’s revised Climate Action Plan, with some modifications. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider the revised Climate Action Plan and the Planning Commission’s recommendation Feb 14. A draft Climate Action Plan was released for public review and comment last August. It is designed to cut greenhouse gases in the County’s unincorporated communities and County facilities and properties to meet state reduction targets for 2020 and 2030. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, KFMB-TV - CBS8-San Diego. 2018-01-22
El Cajon's homeless feeding ban reconsidered
A city councilmember in El Cajon has proposed rescinding the controversial ordinance that prohibits people from giving food to the homeless in city parks. In a January 18 memo, councilmember Ben Kalasho said that as the hepatitis A outbreak nears the end so, too, should the ordinance. The city council approved the ordinance in October of last year, at the height of the local epidemic. At the time, councilmembers said the ordinance was needed to stop the spread of the deadly virus. [Article]
by DORIAN HARGROVE, San Diego Reader. 2018-01-22
San Diego in midst of hotel building boom
In the span of a year, the number of hotel rooms under construction in San Diego County doubled, outpacing all other counties in Southern California. New year-end figures released by Orange County-based Atlas Hospitality Group document a continued building boom up and down the state, with a record 10,793 hotel rooms that opened in California in 2017 and 125,749 more still in the planning stage. What is less clear is how many of those hotel projects will move forward and whether the pace of development can be sustained well into the future. Atlas CEO Alan Reay, who admits to being a little surprised by the robust pace of growth, remains bullish on development into this year and next. “I would have anticipated a little more caution, both from developers and banks but the opposite has happened,” he said. “It's amazing to see the amount of development going on. It seems a day doesn't go by where you don't hear about the impact of Airbnb and yet the demand for hotels is still very strong.” In San Diego County, there are 2,823 rooms under construction, second only to Los Angeles, with 5,327, Atlas reports. For San Diego, that’s a doubling of the 1,444 rooms that were being constructed in 2016. [Article]
by LORI WEISBERG, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2018-01-22
Gas Tax repeal headed for ballot as money about to flow for road repairs
People rolled through Rock Auto in El Cajon in droves this month to sign a petition to overturn Gov. Jerry Brown’s so-called gas tax. Volunteers wielding clipboards in red t-shirts reading “Stop the Gas Tax” harvested names from drivers eager to support the cause. “You have to stop by if you haven’t signed yet and be part of this citizens’ rebellion against Sacramento mismanagement, high taxes, waste, thuggery, fraud and abuse,” Carl DeMaio boomed over a microphone, broadcasting live from the scene on radio station KOGO 600-AM. For months, the former San Diego City Council member turned conservative talk radio host has held such signature drives all over Southern California. And people have responded enthusiastically, such as longtime Chula Vista resident Mimi January. “It’s ridiculous,” said the 74-year-old from the window of her vehicle at the event in El Cajon. “Once again, the Democrat Party doesn’t understand that we’re sick of it. We’re sick and tired of being taxed to death.” Supporters of Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act, have celebrated the legislation as a huge win for the state. [Article]
by JOSHUA EMERSON SMITH, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2018-01-22
Church for homeless looks for new home
The last official service at International Love Ministries of God was New Year’s Eve, but the spirit of the church still was alive Sunday morning. “The building is not the church,” said Danny McCray, an elder with the ministry. “The church is the people, not the building.” Pastor Steve Smith opened International Love Ministries of God 4½ years ago to serve the homeless, but the property has been sold and his last services inside were Dec. 31. While searching for another site, he and other church members have repeatedly returned to their old building at 419 16th St. to serve food to the needy and hold services on the sidewalk. This was his first Sunday service this year. “And we don’t even have to pay rent,” McCray said. The 11 a.m. service began with about 30 minutes of testimony from about a half dozen members. Next to the makeshift pulpit, volunteers set up tables for free food and clothing, and a line of homeless people grew longer as services continued. [Article]
by GARY WARTH, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2018-01-22
Proposed Daley Ranch Resort seriously flawed
The rural serenity of the Daley Ranch preserve, located between Escondido and Valley Center, could be shattered if a proposed resort and residential development is approved. The so-called Daley Ranch resort would border the protected native habitat, disrupting its wildlife and migration patterns. Of major concern to residents, the development would install a traffic signal halfway down Valley Center grade, snarling traffic and impacting emergency evacuation routes. [Article]
by RICK MERCURIO / OPINION, Valley Center-Roadrunner. 2018-01-22
Riverside County fire chief removed from position
Riverside County Fire Chief John Hawkins has been removed from his position, which he's held for more than a decade. Details behind his removal weren't provided and a fire department spokesman would only confirm Hawkins still works for the agency. "He's still an employee of Cal Fire, but no longer chief," said Michael Mohler, a Cal Fire spokesman in Riverside County, which contracts with the state for fire services. [Article]
by COLIN ATAGI, Desert Sun. 2018-01-22
Seasonal influenza cause emergency medical services and hospital surges | Valley News
RIVERSIDE – With ambulance service severely strained by an unprecedented number of flu-related visits to hospitals and emergency rooms, health officials in Riverside and San Bernardino counties are offering residents advice about the best ways to avoid the flu, when to call 911 and when to visit the emergency room. The Riverside County Emergency Medical Services Agency and Inland Counties Emergency Medical Agency are reporting a significant increase in recent emergency responses and ambulance transports, combined with increased delays at hospitals during transports. As a result, fewer ambulances are available to respond at any given time to 911 calls. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, Temecula Valley News. 2018-01-22
Environmental groups sue following city’s finalization of Altair approval
Conservation groups sued the city of Temecula last week after the city council approved a high density mixed use development for the foothills west of Old Town. The suit, filed in Riverside County Superior Court, argues that the 1,750-unit Altair project would endanger the local mountain lion population by disrupting important wildlife corridors. It was filed after city council members formally approved the project during a second reading Jan. 9. [Article]
by ALEX GROVES, Temecula Valley News. 2018-01-22
Concert, aquatic field trip slated at Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center
The recent rainfall is beginning to bring new life to the desert plants and animals in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park with members of the Anza Borrego Foundation already hosting a number of special events, beginning Friday, Jan. 19, at the Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center. The weekend activities planned at the Desert Research Center, 401 Tilting T Drive, in Borrego Springs, begin with a lecture by biologist Kate Boersma, Ph.D., on adaptations of Anza-Borrego’s desert-dwelling aquatic organisms and a field class in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in search of often-overlooked creatures. [Article]
by TONY AULT, Temecula Valley News. 2018-01-22
San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department looking for missing jail inmate
San Joaquin County sheriff's officials on Sunday afternoon were looking for a jail inmate who went missing over the weekend. Leonard Earl Barnes, 52, was being held at the jail's Honor Farm in French Camp until Saturday, when jail staff learned he was missing during an inmate count. Barnes was being held at the jail for a charge of possessing a stolen vehicle and had not been sentenced, according to sheriff's officials. Authorities said Barnes is 5 feet and 10 inches tall and weighs 215 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes. [Article]
by ROSALIO AHUMADA, Modesto Bee. 2018-01-22
Northern Mariposa County History Center Set to Reopen After Annual Revamp with Gala on February 3, 2018
January 22, 2018 - The Northern Mariposa County History Center will be reopening its doors to the public on Thursday, February 8th, with a similar schedule as in 2017: Thursday through Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., plus Memorial Day and Labor Day. Gala Reopening Reception February 3rd The Gala Reopening preview taking place from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 3rd is themed: SIERRA TREASURES. It will boast a silent Flora & Fauna art auction featuring works donated by local artists: Lynn Breshears, Dave Conway, Jan DeShera, Andra Ericksen, Al Golub, Rebecca Harvey, Lana Jones, Miriam Jones, Maryanna Kingman, Jim Leitzell, Tessa Milani, Cindy Zozaya, Pam Fondse, Theresa Henman and Sonia Henman.  All but the latter three also have works featured in the 2018 Local Flora and Fauna display.  Both the auction and display feature works of photography, watercolor, oil painting, sculpture, pyrography and weaving.  There will also be some great additional non-art items available at the silent auction. [Article]
by , Sierra Sun Times - Mariposa. 2018-01-22
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