Index
Wednesday
May252016

POLITICS/ENVIRONMENT: Oil-drilling sites, neighborhood health impacts?: Editorial, "All oil-drilling neighbors deserve the same treatment as Porter Ranch victims" ....

* Los Angeles Times (editorial):  "All oil-drilling neighbors deserve the same treatment as Porter Ranch victims" - From the LAT:

When the four-month-long leak from the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field was finally plugged in February, Los Angeles County health officials expected that Porter Ranch residents would no longer suffer from the nausea, headaches, nosebleeds and skin rashes that had forced thousands of people from their homes. But weeks after the gas stopped flowing and the odor diminished, residents were still experiencing symptoms.

County health officials commissioned tests of 101 houses in Porter Ranch and 11 outside the Porter Ranch area. The standard air quality sampling found nothing out of the ordinary. But tests of dust in houses near Aliso Canyon found metal contaminants consistent with those found in the well-drilling fluid that was used in attempts to plug the leaking well at the Aliso Canyon facility.

Even though the contaminants, which included barium, manganese, vanadium, aluminum and iron, were found in low levels, they could still be causing short-term problems, according to a county health analysis. For example, barium can cause eye, nose, throat and skin irritation – the very symptoms that many Porter Ranch residents have been complaining of. Health officials believe the chemicals used to try to stop the leak were spewed into the air and settled as dust in surrounding homes, and that their lingering presence is making people sick.

Last week, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered Southern California Gas Co., which owns the Aliso Canyon facility, to pay to clean the insides of up to 2,500 homes in Porter Ranch. On Sunday, the county health department ordered the utility to halt clean-up work because its contractors were not following protocols, which include using specialized vacuum cleaners, wet cleaning the walls and clearing ductwork. One resident told the Los Angeles Daily News that the cleaners hired by the gas company were dusting with dry cloths and didn’t have special filters to absorb the dust.

County officials have been focused on the Aliso Canyon catastrophe, and their vigilance in protecting residents is commendable. But why stop at Porter Ranch? The fact is, people living near oil-drilling sites throughout Los Angeles County have experienced the same symptoms as Porter Ranch residents, year after year. Yet there has been little investigation into what, specifically, is making them sick or how to alleviate their suffering .....................

Wednesday
May252016

L.A. CITY HALL: Homelessness, $1 billion bond measure on November 2016 ballot?: "L.A. councilmen will campaign for $1 billion ballot measure to house the homeless" ....  

* Los Angeles Times:  "L.A. councilmen will campaign for $1 billion ballot measure to house the homeless" - From the LAT:

Two key members of the Los Angeles City Council say they have decided to push for a November ballot measure authorizing a bond of at least $1 billion to build housing for the city's growing homeless population.

Councilmen Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Jose Huizar, the chairman and vice-chairman of the council's homelessness and poverty committee, made their announcement Tuesday armed with a new poll suggesting that such an initiative would enjoy broad support among city voters. Their statements mark the first time city officials have committed to a specific plan for generating most or all of the money needed to carry out their adopted strategy for reducing homelessness over the next decade.

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The pair said they have begun working with prominent L.A.-area political consultants Parke Skelton and Mike Shimpock on the preliminary details of a bond campaign. The full City Council must vote by the end of June whether to place a measure on the November ballot.

Connie Llanos, a spokeswoman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, said in a statement that the mayor "is open to any - state, county or city - initiative that brings our community more resources to tackle this crisis." She declined to say whether Garcetti thinks the bond measure proposed by Harris-Dawson and Huizar is the best approach .......................

Wednesday
May252016

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Bay Area): Berkeley, affordable housing, competing tax measures?: "Berkeley voters could face dueling Robin Hood tax measures" ....

* East Bay Times:  "Berkeley voters could face dueling Robin Hood tax measures" - From the EBT:

BERKELEY -- Taxing the rich to give to the poor is talk one might expect from the People's Republic of Berkeley. But soon the Robin Hood principle could be enshrined in law: Two competing measures likely on the city's November ballot would tax landlords to fund affordable housing.

A measure sponsored by the Committee for Safe and Affordable Homes would increase the business license taxes of rental property owners to between 1.8 percent and 2.8 percent, bringing in $4.5 million to $7 million annually for affordable housing.

CSAH is a broad coalition that includes progressive and moderate members of the City Council and diverse community allies. Mayoral candidates and council members Jesse Arreguin and Laurie Capitelli, often at loggerheads over housing and development matters, will ask the council May 31 to place the measure on the ballot. If it agrees, the council will fine-tune the measure, determining the tax increase rate and exemptions.

The competing measure was authored by the Berkeley Rental Housing Coalition, the legal and olicy arm of the Berkeley Property Owners Association. It would increase the busness license tax on all rental property units by about .42 percent, raising about $1.3 million per year.

BRHC submitted the measure to the city clerk as an initiative petition in mid-May with some 3,300 signatures; just 1,932 valid signatures are required to place the measure on the ballot. Proponents of both measures say they want to assist renters priced out of the overheated housing market, but CSAH contents the landlords' initiative is a red herring, cynically designed to kill both measures ................

 

Wednesday
May252016

SACRAMENTO: Former Senator Rod Wright, voter fraud conviction: "Court upholds former California senator's voter fraud conviction" .... 

* Sacramento Bee:  "Court upholds former California senator's voter fraud conviction" - From the Bee:

A Los Angeles County appeals court on Tuesday upheld former state Sen. Rod Wright’s conviction on charges of perjury and voter fraud.

In 2014, a jury found Wright guilty of eight felonies for registering to vote at a home he owned in Inglewood, even though he actually lived several miles away in the upscale neighborhood of Baldwin Hills, just outside the district where he ran for office in 2008. Wright, a Democrat, has argued that he fulfilled all legal requirements to use the Inglewood home as his official address. Claiming prosecutor misconduct, errors in delivering jury instructions and misapplication of the law, he sought a new trial, but the three-member appeals panel roundly rejected his challenge. “Reconsideration at this point,” Judge Sanjay Kumar wrote, “would run afoul of the principles of finality and judicial economy upon which the law of the case doctrine is based.”

Wright resigned from his Senate seat in September 2014, after a judge upheld the jury’s conviction and ordered him to three months in jail. He never saw the inside of a cell, ultimately serving 71 minutes of his sentence.

Wednesday
May252016

L.A. CITY HALL: Downtown Los Angeles, Related Cos., Grand Avenue project: "L.A. leaders take a major step toward providing taxpayer aid for stalled Grand Avenue project" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "L.A. leaders take a major step toward providing taxpayer aid for stalled Grand Avenue project" - From the LAT:

Over the last dozen years, L.A.’s civic leaders have pursued a painstaking makeover of Grand Avenue, the downtown corridor adorned by an array of cultural venues.

Real estate developer Related Cos. put $50 million into the construction of Grand Park, a collection of open spaces and walkways that opened in 2012. The company opened the Emerson, a luxury apartment building, two years later. And last fall saw the debut of the Broad, the boulevard's newest contemporary art museum. Yet one piece has stubbornly gone unfinished: a pair of hotel and residential towers, planned across from Walt Disney Concert Hall and designed by world-renowned architect Frank O. Gehry.

On Tuesday, a Los Angeles City Council committee took a major step toward restarting the project, offering  a financial aid package worth up to $198.5 million over 25 years. Those funds, they said, would help Related construct a four-star Equinox hotel and hundreds of residential units, along with other amenities. Under the proposal, Related would . . . . . . . .

Councilman Curren Price, who heads the committee, acknowledged that downtown has become an economic powerhouse in recent years. But he argued that help is still needed for key developments. “I want to keep [downtown] doing well, and I think subsidies do that,” he said.

City officials said the plan closely resembles a financial aid arrangement first approved in 2008. They estimated the present-day value of the financial aid package at up to $66.6 million, because the value of a dollar declines steadily over time. That amount represents about half of the funding gap faced by the Grand Avenue project, according to John Wickham, the analyst who prepared the city's proposal.

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A Related representative declined to answer questions from The Times about design costs. Instead, the company issued a statement from Kenneth A. Himmel, president and chief executive of Related Urban saying . . . . . . . .

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The council is expected to vote on the Grand Avenue financing proposal next week. Construction is expected to start next year.