A.M. Brief: 15,000 to Attend Dodgers Home Opener

April 9, 2021 by Brian Champlin
Dodger Stadium Field
Dodger Stadium on a non-game day. Photo by Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

The Dodgers open their home schedule with fans in the stands. Long Beach loosens vaccine eligibility in advance of the state’s deadline. The Hollywood Bowl says its summer season will kick off in May. LAUSD is set to reopen next week. It’s Friday. It’s your news brief. Now, have at it.

Morning News Rundown

Some 15,000 fans will be in attendance at today’s Dodgers home opener when they take on the Washington Nations. It will be the first time in nearly 600 days that there will be fans in the stands to watch a Dodgers home game. [ABC 7]

All Long Beach residents over 16 years of age are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the city’s Convention Center mass distribution site, per an announcement from Mayor Robert Garcia on Thursday. Meanwhile, L.A. Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in an interview on Thursday that there’s still not enough vaccine supply to offer doses to everyone in L.A. County before April 15. [LB Post]

L.A. County has confirmed that The Pomona Fairplex will serve as an emergency shelter for migrant children who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border unaccompanied. The Fairplex joins the Long Beach and San Diego convention centers as the third major civic site to announce it will shelter migrant children. [ABC 7]

The Hollywood Bowl and The Ford are planning to fully reopen in July. The Bowl’s summer season will see between 45 and 60 performances, and there are also plans for four free concerts for frontline workers in May. The news comes in the wake of Gov. Newsom’s announcement that the state will mark a broad reopening of the economy starting on June 15. [Variety]

Next week, the Los Angeles Unified School District begins its return to in-person learning by welcoming students back to 61 elementary schools and 11 early-education centers. Middle and high school campuses are slated to reopen on April 26. [L.A. Times]


A.M. Brief: Millions Fewer J&J Doses Arriving in California Next Week

April 8, 2021 by Brian Champlin
Photo via Los Angeles County

A big drop in shipments from J&J. A new database that helps understand the scope of homeless services. A survey of vaccination data shows hesitancy persists among seniors in certain areas. This is Thursday. This is your news brief. Take it!

Morning News Rundown

Even as eligibility is about to expand and efforts to ramp up vaccinations continue, California is about to receive significantly fewer quantities of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Next week, the feds will ship 785,500 doses of J&J to California, a 90% drop from the previous allocation. The rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been hampered at times by production delays, including a mistake at a Baltimore manufacturing center that resulted in 15 million ruined doses. [ABC 7]

A new website created by the state of California has centralized homeless services data from 44 separate databases to help officials and lawmakers gain a much clearer picture of homelessness within the state. One immediate insight: 280,130 people were provided services in 2020, which is nearly double the estimated average nightly homeless population of 161,500. [L.A. Times]

56% of California seniors are now fully vaccinated, but that figure underplays a stark contrast in vaccine distribution and acceptance among different counties. Seniors in rural and Republican-leaning districts are getting vaccinated a significantly lower rate than in other parts of the state. [L.A. Times]

Vehicular manslaughter charges have been filed against a 17-year-old who was driving a black Lamborghini SUV when it collided with a Lexus sedan in West Los Angeles on Feb. 17. The 32-year-old woman driving the Lexus was pronounced dead at the scene. [ABC 7]

Zachary Thomas Horwitz, an actor who goes by the stage name Zach Avery, has been indicted on federal wire fraud charges alleging he perpetuated a $227 million Ponzi scheme that falsely promised licensing rights to would-be investors. Horwitz most recently appeared in the horror films The Devil Below and You’re Not Alone. [LA Mag]


A.M. Brief: California Aims to “Fully Reopen” by June 15

April 7, 2021 by Brian Champlin
Photo by Håkan Dahlström via flickr cc

Two months until California fully reopens. A plan is approved to house migrant children at the LB Convention Center. The drama at Tin Horn Flats continues. And a reality TV star considers entering the recall race. Just another Wednesday in L.A. Here’s your news brief. Have at it.

Morning News Rundown

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced yesterday that California intends to “fully reopen” by June 15, effectively ending the tiered reopening system currently used in counties across the state. The plan to lift restrictions is predicated on estimates of continued vaccinations and a decline in infection numbers statewide. Under this scenario, a mask mandate would still be in effect. [L.A. Times]

On Tuesday, Long Beach City Council approved a plan to use the city’s convention center as an emergency shelter for unaccompanied children arriving from the U.S.-Mexico border. Councilwoman Cindy Allen called it “the right thing to do.” [LB Post]

Lucas Lepejian, son of the owner of Tin Horn Flats in Burbank, was arrested for the third time on Tuesday after he was observed taking down sandbags the city placed in front of the restaurant to stop anyone from entering. Tin Horn Flats has been engaged in a months-long battle with authorities over COVID-19 protocol compliance, including a refusal to cease outdoor dining when the county’s strictest in-person rules were in place. A page on the Burbank city website now provides updates on the saga. [Daily News]

Olympic decathlete and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner is thinking about entering the race to become California’s next governor, if and when a recall election for Gov. Gavin Newsom is confirmed. If Jenner does run, the field of potential candidates may be swarmed with GOP hopefuls facing an incumbent in a state where 56% of likely voters oppose the recall. [Deadline]

During the early days of stay-at-home, Metro ridership declined by as much as 70%. But with restrictions lifting and infections declining, ridership is rising closer to prior norms. In March, the system averaged about 600,000 daily riders, about 50% of the pre-pandemic average. [Streetsblog]


A.M. Brief: At Least Three More Weeks Until L.A. Moves to Yellow Tier

April 6, 2021 by Brian Champlin
PCH in Santa Monica
Photo by Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

Could L.A. move to the least restrictive tier of reopening by the end of April? Maybe. Also today: A leveling off in the drop in COVID-19 cases, a proposal to house migrant children at the Long Beach Convention Center, and a supportive housing proposal for locations near L.A. beaches. It’s Tuesday. This is your news brief. Take it!

Morning News Rundown

Now that L.A. has moved to the orange tier, the next logical question is when can we move to the yellow (least restrictive) tier of reopening? Public Health says it won’t happen for at least three weeks. Once a statewide goal of administering 4 million doses of vaccine to low-income, hard-hit communities has been met, the county’s case rate must be less than 2 per 100,000 residents. As of last week, the case rate was 3.1 per 100,000. [ABC 7]

After a rapid decline in new daily cases for most of March, L.A. County has plateaued, holding steady at around 600 new cases per day on average. The leveling off comes even as the death rate has slowed and hospitalizations are near their lowest point since early in the pandemic. [Crosstown LA]

The Department of Health and Human Services wants to use the Long Beach Convention Center to house as many as 1,000 migrant children for as long as four months to cope with the increase of unaccompanied minors coming across the U.S.-Mexico border. Long Beach City Council is scheduled to debate the proposal at a closed session on Tuesday afternoon. [LB Post]

A “double mutant” variant of COVID-19 first identified in India has been diagnosed in a Bay-area patient by scientists at Stanford University. Because this strain of the virus has two separate worrisome mutations, scientists are concerned about its potential to escape immunity offered by vaccination or prior infection. [L.A. Times]

President Joe Biden previously said he expected all states to open vaccine eligibility to all adults by May 1. However, he’s expected to move the date to April 19 later today thanks to the progress made in vaccine distribution. California has already said all individuals 16 years and older are eligible on April 15. [ABC 7]

A new proposal by Councilman Mike Bonin seeks to convert a slew of westside county lots into permanent supportive housing. Proposed sites include locations in Pacific Palisades, Mar Vista, Marina Del Rey, Playa del Rey, Venice, Del Rey, Westchester, and West LA. [Patch]


A.M. Brief: Los Angeles Enters the Orange Tier

April 5, 2021 by Brian Champlin
Looking at L.A. from Griffith Park. Photo by Brian Champlin

L.A. enters the orange tier, big crowds close Griffith Park, and, no, you weren’t dreaming—that was a sizable earthquake you felt this morning. It’s a new week, so shake out the cobwebs and get reading. This is your news brief.

Morning News Rundown

Welcome to the orange tier, Los Angeles. Today’s move to the less restrictive tier of reopening allows bars to open outdoors and expanded capacity at gyms, churches, salons, retail stores, movie theaters, and other approved businesses. Later this month, the state is expected to approve indoor attendance at concerts, theater performances, and even NBA games. [CBS Los Angeles]

Holiday crowds flocking to Griffith Park caused officials to close off the park to vehicular traffic on Sunday. The closure was a precaution, even as the county remains optimistic about the downturn in infection. [NBC Los Angeles]

Yes, that was an earthquake that woke you up this morning—three of them, in fact. A pair of smaller foreshocks preceded a magnitude 4.0 quake that struck near Hollywood Park at approximately 4:44 a.m. No damages have been reported. [LAist]

Although some city officials, including Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, have heralded last week’s clearance of Echo Park Lake as a successful campaign, it’s a much more complicated story for the unhoused individuals who were moved. Among those offered alternative housing via Project Roomkey, few are happy and some have decided to camp on the street rather than accept the strict rules that come with the new lodging. [Los Angeles Times]

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is closing down six Catholic elementary schools within the county due to financial difficulties. Low enrollment and shifting demographics were cited as the main reasons for the closures. [NBC Los Angeles]


A.M. Brief: L.A. County Surpasses 4 Million Doses Administered

April 2, 2021 by Brian Champlin
Photo via County of Los Angeles

L.A.’s vaccine distribution continues to pile up big numbers. A new CDC announcement on traveling. A Burbank restaurant owner gets arrested over failure to comply with Public Health. And the Dodgers open the new season… with a loss. This is your Friday. This is your news brief. Have at it!

Morning News Rundown

Los Angeles hit another big vaccination milestone this week: 4 million doses have now been administered countywide, and more than 1.3 million individuals have received a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna. In recent weeks, infections and hospitalizations have plummeted, spurring Public Health to announce that the county will move to the orange tier on Monday. Relaxed restrictions will broaden the scope of permissible business activities and increase indoor capacity at businesses within the county. [CBS Los Angeles]

The CDC announced today that Americans who have been vaccinated can now travel, though they must continue to take precautions including wearing a mask. On Thursday, California lifted its 120-mile travel advisory, though state health officials still caution against out-of-state travel. [L.A. Times]

For the first three months of 2021, the City of Pasadena averaged almost 20 catalytic converter thefts per month, after averaging 12 per month in 2020, according to Pasadena PD. The rising rate follows a statewide trend of catalytic converter crime that’s been growing since the pandemic began. [Pasadena Star News]

Lucas Lepejian, co-owner of Tinhorn Flats in Burbank, was arrested on Thursday after his restaurant failed to comply with a court order temporarily shutting down the business. For the past few months, the restaurant has been at the center of controversy over repeatedly bucking COVID-19 safety protocols. Earlier this week, city officials padlocked the doors, citing numerous fire and life safety violations. [CBS Los Angeles]

New details have emerged in the mass shooting that took place in Orange this past Tuesday. Law enforcement says that the shooter and victims were connected through “business and personal ties.” The suspect, Aminadab Gonzalez, is in custody. The names of the victims will not be released until their next of kin is notified. [L.A. Times]

The Dodgers opened their 2021 season yesterday with an 8-5 loss to the Colorado Rockies, with 20,570 fans in attendance at Coors Field. The boys in blue will host their first home game at Dodger Stadium on April 10. Under orange tier guidelines, attendance will be permitted at 20% capacity. [KTLA]

Facing construction delays, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is pushing back its opening until 2023. Construction on the $1 billion museum broke ground in 2018. It was originally slated to open in 2022. [L.A. Times]


A.M. Brief: New Poll Shows Strong Opposition to Newsom’s Recall

April 1, 2021 by Brian Champlin
Downtown Los Angeles
Downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Christina Champlin.

Newsom’s recall lacks massive support. Councilmembers want answers regarding the LAPD’s involvement in the Echo Park Lake showdown. A mass shooting rocks the City of Orange. Six Flags is once again open for business. It’s Thursday. Another day, another news brief. Take it!

Morning News Rundown

Despite the growing likelihood that Gov. Gavin Newsom will face a recall vote later this year, a new poll suggests the governor has strong support to keep his job. 56% of all likely voters oppose Newsom’s recall, according to a new survey by the Public Policy Institute of California. [LA Mag]

Los Angeles City Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Nithya Raman are demanding the LAPD offer a full report on the total cost of deploying officers to clear Echo Park Lake last week. Bonin and Raman also want to know if it was necessary to have the LAPD there, the number of arrests, and details on the use of force against protestors. [L.A. Times]

Four people were killed Wednesday evening when a gunman opened fire inside a small business complex on Lincoln Ave. in Orange. The suspect exchanged gunfire with officers who arrived on the scene. He was later taken to a hospital after sustaining gunshot wounds. At this time, no motive has been released. [L.A. Times]

L.A.’s Al Fresco dining program is here to stay, at least for the time being. The pandemic measure, which allows outdoor dining to to take up space on sidewalks and streets, is now being extended through the summer. [KTLA]

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said Wednesday that 85% of seniors over 65 have received the COVID-19 vaccine, a rate that surpasses the numbers for L.A. County overall. According to Garcia, it’s now possible that the city may widen eligibility to all residents 16 and over before April 15, which is when the state will expand eligibility. [LB Post]

California theme parks officially have the green light to reopen starting today, and Six Flags Magic Mountain will be the first in the county to open its doors. Six Flags members and pass holders can visit beginning today, with the public opening scheduled for April 3. Disneyland and Universal Studios are both slated to open later this month. [NBC Los Angeles]


A.M. Brief: L.A. County to Move to Orange Tier on April 5

March 31, 2021 by Brian Champlin
Mask wearing restaurant workers in Pasadena
Outdoor dining in Pasadena. Photo by: Christina Champlin

L.A. bars will soon open for outdoor service. Republicans remain skeptical of COVID-19 vaccination. UCLA students go wild after an upset victory put the Bruins in the Final Four. It’s Wednesday. This is your news brief. Take it!

Morning News Rundown

State officials say that both Orange and Los Angeles counties are approved to move to the orange tier of reopening, further relaxing capacity restrictions on restaurants, theaters, museums, gyms, churches, and retail locations, while also allowing bars to open for outdoor service. Orange County is immediately moving into the less restrictive tier, while L.A. plans to follow suit on April 5, assuming there is no spike in COVID-19 numbers. [CBS Los Angeles]

California Republicans remain the most hesitant group to seek out COVID-19 vaccination. A poll released Tuesday by the Public Policy Institute of California showed that 39% of Republicans in the state say they will either definitely not or probably not get vaccinated. This compares to only 10% of Democrats who say they are unlikely to get vaccinated. A poll conducted in January showed 43% hesitancy among Republicans, showing there has been only a slight rise in acceptance over the past two months. [L.A. Times]

With an upset defeat over Michigan last night, the UCLA men’s basketball team has advanced to the Final Four for the first time since 2008. They next face off against undefeated Gonzaga this Saturday. A crowd of students massed in the streets of Westwood following Tuesday night’s victory. Amid the celebration, fireworks were exploded and several couches were set ablaze. [ABC 7]

Universal Studios Hollywood has announced it will reopen to the public on April 16. Some of the park’s attractions will remain closed to adhere to public health guidelines, and initially tickets will only be made available to California residents. [We Like L.A]

For the first time in over a year, traffic in Los Angeles has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Traffic activity decreased around 50% during the early weeks of the pandemic. [KTLA]


A.M. Brief: L.A.’s $259 Million Rental Relief Program Now Accepting Applications

March 30, 2021 by Brian Champlin
Cancel Rent sign posted the LA Tenants Union. Photo by Brian Champlin

Today: A program offering assistance to struggling renters, a strategy to battle catalytic converter theft, a return to the classroom for 14,000 kids, and an uncertain future for the gubernatorial recall. It’s Tuesday in Los Angeles. This is your news brief. Take it!

Morning News Rundown

Applications for a $259 Million rental relief program open today. Eligible Angelenos can apply for aid for unpaid rent due to hardships from the pandemic. The City of Los Angeles Emergency Renters Assistance Program, which aims to help some 64,000 families, will accept applications through April 30. [CBS Los Angeles]

In 2020, catalytic converter thefts increased 400%. In response, local law enforcement agencies are deploying a new strategy to combat the spike in crime. Recently, agencies like the LASD have hosted “etching events” where car owners can get their license plate numbers etched on their vehicle’s catalytic converter. [KTLA]

14,000 kindergarten and elementary-age students returned to Long Beach campuses yesterday. Long Beach Unified is now the largest school system in the state to allow students back for in-person learning. [LB Post]

The wonky rules for California’s recall elections offer an unclear path as to if and when Gov. Gavin Newsom will face a recall vote. Proponents say they have more than enough signatures to trigger the recall, but the flexibility in the rules could introduce chaos into the process. Two potential issues: petition signers are allowed to strike their names, and potential candidates may only have 24 hours to enter the race. [L.A. Times]

As Los Angeles prepares to broaden vaccine eligibility in April, the rest of the country is following suit. President Joe Biden announced on Monday that by April 19, he expects 90% of adults will be eligible to get a coronavirus vaccine and that 90% of U.S. residents will be able to access a vaccination site within five miles of their home. [ABC 7]

L.A.’s busiest outdoor destinations are slowly welcoming back pre-pandemic crowds. Photos show the stark difference between today’s foot traffic and what things looked like one year ago. [L.A. Times]


A.M. Brief: Multiple School Districts Resume In-Person Learning This Week

March 29, 2021 by Brian Champlin
Photo by Steven Brewer via flickr cc

Some county students will be back in class this week. ‘Stop Asian Hate’ marches took place throughout Los Angeles on Saturday. A big shipment of the JnJ vaccine is headed to L.A. this week. And finally, USC and UCLA make some history. It’s Monday. A new week, a new news brief. Have at it.

Morning News Rundown

Four of the county’s larger school districts are bringing back students today. Long Beach Unified, Glendale Unified, Downey Unified, and Manhattan Beach Unified school districts have restarted in-person learning for varying levels of education with public health protocols in place. Los Angeles Unified is targeting a partial return to on-campus learning for elementary students by mid-April, followed by a broader reopening by late April. [ABC 7]

Hundreds gathered in Koreatown on Saturday to protest violence and bigotry against Asian Americans. The rally featured numerous elected representatives and was one of several similarly themed events that took place in Los Angeles County on the same day. [LAist]

Johnson & Johnson is expected to deliver roughly 11 million doses to California this week, with hopes that more regular shipments will become a reality as production accelerates over the coming weeks. The uptick in vaccine availability and the confidence in the supply chain are key reasons why California will open up vaccine eligibility to the broader population next month. [L.A. Times]

For the first time in their shared history, USC and UCLA are both advancing to the Elite Eight round of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament. Neither school has advanced this far since the Bruins made a Final Four run in 2008. [USA Today]

Echo Park Lake has now been cleared and fenced off to the public for a planned $500,000 renovation project. Activists remain outraged over the treatment of those unhoused individuals who were camped out at the park, as well as the tactics the LAPD used on protestors. [LAist]


A.M. Brief: Vaccination Expansion, Echo Park Lake Protests, and Bioluminescent Algae

March 26, 2021 by Brian Champlin
View of Downtown Los Angeles from Kenneth Hahn Recreation Area
View of Downtown Los Angeles from Kenneth Hahn Recreation Area. Photo by Christina Champlin / We Like L.A.

Millions of Californians become eligible for vaccination next week. Also this morning: Reporters are detained during the Echo Park Lake protests, an anonymous racist note is being sent to Asian-run businesses throughout the state, and bioluminescent algae are again visible at several SoCal beaches. It’s Friday. It’s almost the weekend. First though, some news.

Morning News Rundown

Approximately a dozen people were arrested last night while protesting the removal of unhoused individuals residing at Echo Park Lake. An L.A. Times reporter was detained along with two reporters from Knock.LA. All three were subsequently released, though the LAPD offered no reason for the detainment. [CBS Los Angeles]

California is massively expanding vaccine eligibility starting next month. On April 1, all residents 50 years and older will be eligible. On April 15, the state will open vaccination to all residents 16 years and older. The City of Long Beach has announced that they’re opening up vaccination to 50+ individuals effective immediately, a full week before the rest of the state. [We Like L.A.]

An anonymous letter filled with expletives and racist slurs has prompted outrage after Asian business owners in San Bernardino, Riverside, and Sonoma counties all received copies. [LAist]

USC has agreed to pay $1.1 billion to settle claims lodged against campus gynecologist George Tyndall for alleged sexual abuse that took place over decades. More than 710 women had previously filed claims against Tyndall seeking damages in excess of $800 million. [Los Angeles Times]

Bioluminescent algae are making appearances at multiple SoCal beaches. The subtle pinkish glow produced by the algae has appeared recently off the coast of Laguna Beach and Newport Beach. The effect is believed to be caused by a chemical defense mechanism triggered within the algae as they are swept through crashing waves. [LAist]

The OC Fair is returning in 2021 with a plan that includes capacity limits and restrictions on daily attendance. The fair, which was canceled last year for the first time since World War II, will run from July 16 through August 15. [KTLA]


A.M. Brief: Protests Continue Over Echo Park Lake Closure

March 25, 2021 by Brian Champlin
Echo Park Lake
Overcast morning at Echo Park Lake. Photo by Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

Tensions boil over the situation at Echo Park Lake, a massive list of pandemic-related closures in DTLA, special aid from FEMA for funeral costs, and some hope that we can move into the orange tier soon. It’s Thursday. This is your news brief.

Morning News Rundown

Several hundred demonstrators and unhoused individuals faced off with the LAPD at Echo Park Lake yesterday evening. Police arrived in riot gear to close off the park in advance of a renovation plan that includes clearing the area of tents and those living within them. Ultimately, the crowd dispersed after an unlawful assembly order was given. Those living at the park were allowed to stay overnight, though they would ultimately be subject to removal. Earlier this morning, Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell confirmed through a statement that the park is now closed. [LAist]

Perhaps nowhere in Los Angeles has the business community felt the brunt of the pandemic more than DTLA, where at least 116 businesses have closed—many permanently—since the pandemic began more than a year ago. The list of closures includes restaurants, bars, gyms, salons, retail shops, museums, coffee shops, and hotels. [LA Mag]

Starting next month, FEMA will provide financial aid to help families pay for the funeral costs of COVID-19 victims. Assistance will be as much as $9,000 per funeral or $35,000 for a single application covering multiple funerals. [CBS Los Angeles]

This week, San Diego became the fourth county in the state to report the Brazilian variant of the coronavirus, now joining San Bernardino, Orange, and El Dorado counties, which have all detected at least one case. Researchers are still attempting to discern whether this specific variant, called P.1, is more transmissible than others. [L.A. Times]

The most recent average daily rate of new COVID-19 cases in L.A. County is 3.7 per 100,000 residents. If that holds for the next two weeks, Los Angeles could move into the less restrictive orange tier by the first weekend in April. If L.A. moves to the orange tier, it would allow capacity increases at restaurants, museums, gyms, personal care businesses, and churches. [LB Post]

Parking ticket alert! Beginning April 1, enforcement restarts for all parking violations in all unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. This includes citations for expired registration, street sweeping, expired meters, and other violations. The city (not county) of Los Angeles has already resume enforcement, though street sweeping is now only every other week. [LAist]