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Man arrested on suspicion of killing peacocks, released on bond


CHATSWORTH (CNS) – A 61-year-old man suspected of killing two wild peacocks in Chatsworth’s Lake Manor was out of jail on bond this morning.

Floyd Belton was taken into custody at 11:15 a.m. Tuesday at the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lost Hills station in Malibu and was released about 8:20 p.m. His bail had been set at $80,000, according to LASD jail records.

Belton was sought by authorities after witnesses said he used his pickup truck to run over two birds on a street in the community located near Chatsworth Reservoir last month.

“He actually aimed right for them as opposed to stopping,” resident Melanie Kline told ABC7. “How could somebody be that evil?”

A court date for Belton was not immediately scheduled.

No Los Angeles County mental health complex at Central Jail site


Los Angeles County won’t be transforming Men’s Central Jail into a downtown Los Angeles mental health treatment center. At least, not for now.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to cancel a $1.7 billion contract for the center, which would have been built and designed by McCarthy Building Cos. Inc. Originally planned to hold 3,885 beds, the facility was later downsized to 2,500 beds.

If built, it would have been one of the largest mental health centers in the state.

The population of inmates who are medically or mentally ill has surged in recent years, making up an estimated 70% of people held in the county jail system. For that reason, many community advocates have said that the facility could become simply another jail, in the guise of a treatment center.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has argued that such a facility is nonetheless necessary, even if treatment is the ultimate goal.

“The stark reality is we also need a therapeutic environment for those mentally ill inmates who must remain in custody. Unfortunately, due to violent offenders and the need to balance diversion with public safety, there will always be a need for mental health beds within our jails,” Villanueva said in a statement in April.

Activists and advocates, many of whom assembled Tuesday on the steps of the Kenneth Hall of Administration to demonstrate their opposition to the mental health facility, disagreed. According to Supervisor Hilda Solis, who assembled alongside the gathered activists, operating such a treatment center could prove both ineffective and expensive.

“I am more and more convinced that mental health care cannot be done effectively within a custody environment,” she said. “Data collection and community input is needed to better inform what a modern criminal justice system in L.A. County should look like. Without these prerequisites, we do not know what this project would, or should, look like – and therefore it is premature to fund any part of it.”

Solis and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl co-wrote the motion to kill the $1.7 billion design-build contract for the
mental health treatment center.

Hot weather, fire danger confronts Southland


LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A hot spell marked by dangerously hot weather and an increased risk of fire will get underway today amid high temperatures, low humidity and very dry vegetation.

The National Weather Service in Oxnard said the weather will have the potential of causing heat-related illnesses, particularly among infants and the elderly, the homeless, outdoor workers, and anyone taking part in outdoor activities.

The elevated fire danger will result from hot temperatures, low humidity and very dry fuels, it said. Humidity levels will range from single digits to mid teens, according to the NWS.

Forecasters blamed the hot spell on an upper-level ridge of high pressure combined with weakening onshore flow.

“There is an outside chance of dangerously hot conditions developing between Wednesday and Thursday,” according to an NWS statement.

In Orange County, where temperatures are generally lower than in L.A. County, the NWS issued a heat advisory scheduled to be in effect from 11 a.m. Wednesday to 9 p.m. Thursday, but it canceled it early this morning.

Meteorologists at the NWS monitoring station in San Diego said that Orange County highs will reach the mid and upper 90s and get close to 100 in some locations.

The NWS forecast a combination of sunny and partly cloudy skies in L.A. County and highs of 75 at LAX; 76 in Avalon; 84 on Mount Wilson; 86 in Long Beach and downtown L.A.; 90 in San Gabriel; 92 in Burbank; 97 in Saugus; 99 in Woodland Hills; and 100 in Palmdale and Lancaster. Temperatures will climb a few degrees Wednesday and begin slipping back on Thursday, when highs will be around today’s levels.

The NWS forecast sunny skies in Orange County and highs of 75 in San Clemente, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach; 82 on Santiago Peak; 86 on Ortega Highway at 2,600 feet; 88 in Irvine and Fullerton; 89 in Mission Viejo and Anaheim; 90 in Yorba Linda; and 91 in Fremont Canyon and Trabuco Canyon. Temperatures will climb a few degrees Wednesday before beginning a slow retreat Thursday.

NWS meteorologist Curt Kaplan said the coming days would not produce any heat records and that the warmest conditions would not last long enough to be termed a heat wave. But temperatures will reach several degrees above normal. By Friday, he said, temperatures will drop 5-9 degrees.

The NWS urged residents to protect themselves and their loved ones over the hot spell by staying hydrated, wearing light clothing, avoiding the midday sun, checking on friends and neighbors — especially the elderly — and never leaving children or the elderly in cars parked in the heat, even with widows cracked open.

Culver City boosts tenant protections


CULVER CITY (CNS) – Culver City approved a temporary rent control measure early this morning, joining a handful of other Southland cities that have hardened  tenant protections as the state grapples with an affordability crisis, a newspaper reported.

In a 4 to 1 vote that followed a five-hour discussion, the city council capped annual increases to 3% in buildings built on or before February 1, 1995. Tenants in those properties will have just-cause evictions protections as well, meaning a landlord can’t remove them unless certain conditions are met, such as failure to pay rent, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The “rent freeze” is set to expire in a year — a move officials say is needed to prevent landlords from jacking up rents while a permanent measure is debated.

“We need to have the freeze in order to have the conversation because the conversation causes displacement,” Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells told The Times before the vote.

Restrictions on rent increases and evictions are gaining ground in California as homelessness has surged and tenants at times face rent hikes of more than 50%.

Earlier this year, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors extended temporary caps for unincorporated areas while it works on a permanent version. Inglewood did the same amid concerns that investors, attracted by the new Rams Stadium, were displacing longtime residents.

Glendale, Pasadena and Long Beach took less aggressive approaches but mandated relocation payments for many tenants forced to leave after steep rent increases.

In those areas, the fight for more protections was led by a growing tenant movement flexing its muscle through protests and rent strikes, said Joe Delgado of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a low-income advocacy group, according to The Times. In some cases, renters have even taken protests directly to their landlords’ homes.

But in Culver City, the effort for greater tenant rights has been driven by Protect Culver City Renters, which described itself as a group of mostly homeowners, as well as some renters and small landlords.

San Fernando Valley runoff election set for City Council District 12


LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A special election will be held today in the northwestern San Fernando Valley, where John Lee and Loraine Lundquist are vying to fill the District 12 seat on the Los Angeles City Council, with the candidates espousing varied views on issues facing the area.

Lundquist is an astrophysicist and longtime “social justice” activist who backs the city’s Green New Deal, which calls for strong efforts to address climate change and environmental interests.

Lee is looking to become the second aide in the 12th Council District to ascend to council member. He was the chief of staff for then-City Councilman Mitch Englander, who was previously the chief of staff for then-Councilman Greig Smith. Englander resigned last year to take a job in the private sector, and Smith has been filling the council seat on a temporary basis pending Tuesday’s election.

The city’s Green New Deal is a localized version of the much-debated national proposal aimed at addressing climate change. It sets a goal of powering the city completely emission-free by 2050 through various outreach and community projects, as well as adding restrictions on non-renewable energy. Among its ambitious goals is having one-quarter of the city’s drivers using electric vehicles by 2025.

Lee, while recognizing the effects of climate change, has questioned aspects of the Green New Deal, suggesting it is overly ambitious and would threaten good local jobs. He has also said a push to rapidly reduce emissions would involve major costs for taxpayers.

Lundquist has dismissed such claims as indicative of Lee’s support from the union representing Los Angeles Department of Water and Power workers, which has been critical of the Green New Deal. She said transitioning to clean energy will create many more jobs than it eliminates.

Both candidates have put forth ideas for addressing homelessness and pointed to their past work on the issue.

Lundquist has been the co-chair of the homelessness committee of Northridge East Neighborhood Council and is a founding member of the West Valley Neighborhood Alliance on Homelessness. She said she backs creating more permanent supportive housing to help reduce the number of people on the streets.

According to his website, Lee has volunteered for a variety of charities in his district. One of his goals is to not just get the homeless population off the streets but to help them find employment. He also wants to establish more neighborhood security teams and create a “more effective” intervention system to help families on the brink of losing their home.

As of Monday, Lee’s campaign had out-spent Lundquist by about $196,000.

Although the race is nonpartisan, District 12 — which includes the communities of Chatsworth, Northridge, Porter Ranch, Granada Hills and West Hills — has traditionally leaned Republican. Lee is a Republican. Lundquist is a Democrat.

But the district’s political bent may have been affected by the massive leak at the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility in Porter Ranch that forced thousands of residents from their homes and has prompted sustained calls for its immediate closure. Both Lee and Lundquist have called for its closure.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voter precincts can be found at www.lavote.net/home/voting-elections. Voter registration status can be checked at that site as well. People who do not know their voter registration status can still fill out a provisional ballot on election day, which will later be verified by the county.

OPINION: Hollywood dreams could become nightmare under new contractor rules

Activists have been battling against a proposed change to the way California defines independent contractors.
Kee Broussard
For The Hub

Los Angeles is the city of dreams. Many come here with hopes of making it in Hollywood. But, chasing acting dreams is an uphill battle that involves a few side jobs to earn income while waiting for that “big break.”

Like many in tinsel town, I needed another job to support my family between TV and movie roles. Being a mom and a successful actress are my priorities, but I have to earn an income, too.

Today, I drive for Postmates, an app-based on-demand meal delivery service that allows app users to place an order that drivers pick up and deliver. As a Postmates driver, I work when I want, where I want and how much I want. I don’t have set hours or shifts. But I do have much-needed flexibility to work when I’m available or need extra income.

Controlling my schedule allows me to focus on auditions, acting workshops, new acting gigs and being a mom. Unfortunately, this financial cushion may soon deflate.

Unfortunately, this financial cushion may soon deflate.

The State Legislature is debating legislation (AB 5) that would codify a 2018 California Supreme Court ruling, called Dynamex. That decision reclassified many independent contractors as employees who work pre-scheduled shifts.

The new classification system, called an “ABC test,” uses three limiting factors to make this determination, rather than the 11 that were previously used to classify independent contractors.

The implications are clear regarding the expectations of employees versus independent contractors. Employees are subject to predetermined shifts with mandatory arrival, leave and break times. Independent contractors are free to choose when to begin and end work, and to choose when and how long to take breaks. As an actor, rigid employment scheduling won’t work for me.

When I get a last-minute audition, I can’t be bound to a shift that a supervisor won’t let me out of with short notice. I also can’t expect a supervisor to hold my position open when I book an audition and work for weeks on a movie or TV show. I don’t want to worry about finding someone to replace my shift or risk being fired for getting an acting gig and then facing the stressful process of searching for a new job when it ends. I need the flexibility to walk away from and come back to my Postmates gig in order to work on my passion, my acting career. As an employee, this wouldn’t be possible.

Sadly, several industries were provided exemptions to the new Dynamex reclassification by the State Legislature. But, rideshare and on-demand delivery drivers weren’t included. Without a legislative solution, we  forced to become employees.

Today’s modern economy has developed to use technology to empower individuals and fill gaps in our community. For lawmakers to force a traditional employee model on a 21st Century economy represents a gigantic step backward for California and for the state’s diverse and innovate workforce.

California legislators should step into the future by creating a third classification to meet the needs of the new, share economy; a classification with benefits, pay transparency and representation that do not replace our flexibility, but rather supplement it. As on-demand drivers, we choose our own work schedule – we should be able to choose portable benefits too.

I urge my representatives to consider Dynamex’s impact on thousands of on-demand drivers who, like me, float between caring for our families, going to school and pursuing an acting career. Creating third classification to maintain our independence and flexibility while having access to modern labor protections is not only common sense, it’s essential.

Man found dead in van in Inglewood was missing quadriplegic


INGLEWOOD (CNS) – The county coroner’s office has positively identified a body found in a van in Inglewood that of a missing quadriplegic.

An autopsy was pending on the body of Nicholas Anthony Picciolo, 26, whose body was found in his  specialized Honda Odyssey van Saturday morning, coroner’s officials said.

Picciolo was last seen at a Blink-182 concert at The Forum about 8 p.m. Thursday, where he got into an argument with one of his friends, the Inglewood Police Department said.

Courtney Picciolo, his sister, told Fox11 that her brother was in need of medical treatment due to his paralysis and he had to return home as quickly as possible.

Police do not believe foul play was involved in his death, Inglewood Police Lt. Dirk Dewachter said.

Parts of Crenshaw Boulevard to close for transit work


LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A segment of Crenshaw Boulevard in the Hyde Park area will be closed starting today for a transit restoration project, Metro officials said.

Crenshaw Boulevard will be closed in three consecutive phases, progressing from north to south from 60th Street to 67th Street. The work is expected to be completed in October 2019.

The work begins at 9 a.m. Monday and will involve the removal of concrete panels, underground utility improvements, and the back-fill and roadway pavement.

All businesses will remain open during construction, and access to the construction area will be maintained for residents.

The closures will proceed as follows:

  • Phase 1: Full closure of Crenshaw Boulevard between 60th Street and 63rd Street, including the 63rd Street intersection for approximately 17 days.
  • Phase 2: Full closure of Crenshaw Boulevard from 63rd Street to Hyde Park Boulevard, including the Hyde Park Boulevard intersection for approximately 17 days.
  • Phase 3: Full closure of Crenshaw Boulevard from Hyde Park Boulevard to 67th Street, including the 67th Street intersection for approximately 25 days.

Metro Bus lines 40, 210, 710 and 740 will be detoured on Crenshaw Boulevard between Slauson Avenue and Florence Avenue due to the project.

The 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Line is a $2.058 billion light rail line that will connect the Green Line and the Expo Line. It will have eight new stations to serve the Crenshaw, Inglewood and LAX communities. It is expected to open during spring/summer of 2020.

Motorist in stolen dump truck arrested following police chase


ALHAMBRA (CNS) – Los Angeles police officers today arrested a motorist who led them on a chase in a stolen dump truck from Sun Valley to Alhambra,
where the vehicle crashed.

The chase began about 4:30 a.m. at San Fernando Road and Penrose Street, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The approximately hourlong chase went onto the southbound Golden State (5) Freeway and the northbound Pasadena (110) Freeway, and then onto surface streets.

The crash occurred at Atlantic and Valley boulevards, where the driver was taken into custody. The motorist’s name was not immediately released.

InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown hotel earns 4-diamond rating


Downtown’s tallest tower, The InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown hotel, located in the Wilshire Grand Center on 7th Street and Figueroa Street, has been added to the Automobile Club of Southern California’s list of AAA Four Diamond hotels.

Of the tower’s 73 floors, 42 are dedicated to the InterContinental hotel. The hotel earned its rating, due to what the Auto Club called its “refined, stylish with upscale physical attributes.”

“To reach the exceptional standards required for the AAA Four Diamond rating is an outstanding achievement,” said Patricia Marenco, the Auto Club’s Approved Accommodations supervisor. “AAA Four Diamond establishments are attentive to guests’ needs and consistently deliver memorable travel experiences.”

The InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown is in good company. California is home to more AAA Four Diamond hotels, 176, than any other state, according to the Auto Club.