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L.A. roadway reckoning: safety advocates vs. firefighters

Essential California A coalition of community activists, labor groups and environmental organizations say the surging death toll on L.A. streets requires dramatic action. Firefighters say safety upgrades will slow response times.  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  February 28, 2024   View in browser Firefighters against Measure HLA stand in front of supporters of the ballot measure just before a press conference by firefighters union leaders in downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 14, 2024. (Courtesy Healthy Streets LA - Yes in HLA campaign) By Ryan Fonseca Good morning. It's Wednesday, Feb. 28 . Here's what you need to know to start your day. L.A.'s ro

The current COVID wave could top winter's

Experts are strongly recommending masking in indoor public settings "in the face of immense numbers of cases."
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Los Angeles Times
Today's Headlines
Click to view images L.A. County's coronavirus case rate continues to rise. L.A. County is now averaging about 6,900 coronavirus cases a day — nearly double the peak case rate from last summer's Delta surge. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

By Elvia Limรณn, Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it's Tuesday, July 19, and here are the stories you shouldn't miss today:

TOP STORIES

California's soaring summer COVID wave

New coronavirus infections in parts of California may be surging even higher than winter's Omicron wave.

The concentration of coronavirus levels in San Francisco's wastewater is at even higher levels than during the winter, according to recent data. Wastewater data for much of L.A. County have been unavailable due to a supply chain shortage of testing supplies.

However, in the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District that serves areas in and around Calabasas, "you can see a steady increase in wastewater viral concentrations since the second week of June," experts said.

More top coronavirus headlines

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, says he plans to retire by the end of President Biden's term in January 2025.

Stay up to date on variant developments, case counts and vaccine news with Coronavirus Today.

More women are seeking sterilization

After the decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which overturned the once constitutionally protected right to an abortion, young women and other people across the country have increasingly requested sterilization, according to obstetrician-gynecologists who have seen an uptick in Arizona, North Carolina, Texas and Florida.

In interviews, women who were planning to remain child-free said they pushed up their timeline to get sterilized. Others said the Supreme Court decision made them consider sterilization more seriously, out of concern that reproductive rights would be continually stripped.

West Hollywood's sheriff deputy culture wars

If you were to listen to Fox News, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and felon O.J. Simpson, you would think West Hollywood is under assault. If you listen to activists on the left, the City Council has too many armed deputies. The reality is more nuanced.

The City Council voted in late June to gradually reduce the number of sheriff's deputies and increase the number of unarmed security guards. Their action has placed the city on the front lines of the culture wars.

So what is really happening? At most, there will be a net loss of four deputies over the next nine months. At the same time, the city will add 30 new unarmed security "ambassadors" from the company Block by Block, which has worked in the city since 2013.

Weeds, trash and shanties

The city of Los Angeles bought a 10-acre vacant lot in Watts meant to revitalize a community bled of its economic base and traumatized by the 1992 riots. Instead, nearly three decades of ineffectual city initiatives have left nothing.

There have been at least five proposals to build facilities for furniture construction, food processing and light steel manufacturing among other industries. Something killed them all. Only weeds, trash and despair persist.

Now, as the city struggles with a severe housing shortage and a growing homelessness crisis, the lot is getting attention as a potential site for homeless housing.

Testimony at next Jan. 6 hearing

Two former White House aides are expected to testify at the House Jan. 6 committee's prime-time hearing Thursday as the panel examines what Donald Trump was doing as his supporters broke into the Capitol, according to a person familiar with the plans.

Matthew Pottinger, former deputy national security advisor, and Sarah Matthews, a former press aide, are expected to testify. Both resigned immediately after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection that interrupted the congressional certification of President Biden's victory.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

Closeup of the top of a multistory retail building with "Sears" in neon green on either side that overlooks a city.
The iconic Sears building looks over Boyle Heights. A proposal to house thousands of homeless people in the building has drawn opposition from residents. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

The commander of the scandal-plagued California National Guard steps down. Maj. Gen. David Baldwin's departure comes on the heels of a Times investigation that last month detailed the most recent run of embarrassing episodes for the Guard, including allegations in the officer ranks of abuse of authority, homophobia, antisemitism and racism.

The San Gabriel Valley is bracing for a 210 Freeway "Carmageddon." The California Department of Transportation is warning valley residents to prepare for extensive closures on the westbound 210 Freeway in Irwindale starting Wednesday.

The trial in the slaying of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart has begun. The man last seen with Smart at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo in 1996 is on trial more than a year after he was arrested on a murder charge. His father is charged as an accessory, accused of helping hide her body, which has never been found. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Skittles are "unfit for human consumption," a California lawsuit claims. The suit filed last week against the Mars candy company in the Northern District of California argues that U.S. consumers are unaware of the health risks associated with an artificial food coloring used in the candy.

Murder and robbery charges were brought in a string of 7-Eleven heists. Orange County's district attorney charged 20-year-old Malik Patt with three murders during the robberies at 7-Elevens across Southern California that left a clerk, a customer and a homeless man dead. Alleged accomplice Jason Payne will face charges of robbery and attempted robbery.

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NATION-WORLD

A monster heat wave triggered England's first-ever extreme heat warning. Millions of people in Britain stayed home or sought shade under the heat warning as temperatures forecast to reach as high as 104 degrees disrupted travel, healthcare and education.

Thai pro-democracy activists were targeted by Pegasus spyware, researchers say. Cybersecurity researchers reported details of cases where Thai activists involved in the country's pro-democracy protests had their cellphones or other devices infected with government-sponsored spyware.

Texas state police launch an internal review of the Uvalde response. The review comes as a damning new 80-page report released over the weekend by the Texas House revealed wide failures by all levels of law enforcement.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Claes Oldenburg, an influential Pop artist who made massive sculptures of everyday objects, has died. A major figure in 20th century art history, Oldenburg died Monday at age 93 at his home and studio in New York. He was a founding father of Pop art, reenvisioning ordinary objects.

Lizzo doesn't really need hits, but on "Special," she has them anyway. Lizzo's continued success has had less to do with big singles than with the funny, feel-good empowerment vibes she dispenses. So it's a pleasant surprise to discover that "Special," the long-awaited follow-up to her 2019 major-label debut, is full of tight pop bangers, writes pop critic Mikael Wood.

Meet Brent Faiyaz, R&B's antihero: 'It's not human to be constantly writing love songs.' The singer's independently released and distributed new album, 'Wasteland,' debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard album chart, trailing only Bad Bunny.

The Kid Mero and Desus Nice go separate ways, taking out Showtime's 'Desus & Mero.' Throughout their tenure on Showtime, the two hosts have welcomed a variety of guests hailing from Hollywood to the White House. The final episode, which aired June 23, featured former New York Yankee Derek Jeter as a guest.

BUSINESS

Disneyland and the Honda Center could face a new 2% gate tax. The Anaheim City Council will consider asking voters to impose the tax on visitors to the two attractions as a way of generating extra revenues for additional staff and new city amenities. What's that mean for a Disneyland visitor? A daily ticket ranges from $104 to $164, with a 2% gate tax adding $2.08 to $3.28 per ticket. But getting the council to agree to put the measure on the ballot could be a challenge.

OPINION

In defense of street food vendors and the right to honest hard work. When high-end chefs pop up as food vendors in Southern California, they get praise. When working-class Latinos do it? They get code enforcement called on them — and politicians figuring out how to crack down on street food even further, writes columnist Gustavo Arellano.

Ban new gas stations? There are better ways for L.A. to ditch fossil fuels. To avoid disastrous climate change, we need to stop building new fossil-fuel infrastructure. That means doing much more to support the widespread and equitable deployment of charging stations as the number of electric vehicles on the road climbs. But stopping the building of new gas, diesel or other fossil-fuel pumps in the city would have little real effect and should not be a top priority of city leaders.

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SPORTS

Inside the "crazy" plan to boost track and field's popularity before the L.A. Olympics. USA Track & Field wants to take advantage of what it has called a critical six-year window in hopes of making track and field the country's fifth-most-followed sport by the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Clayton Kershaw will start in the All-Star Game. He has won three Cy Young Awards and been named to nine All-Star teams. Now the Dodgers left-hander adds the accolade of being the starting pitcher for the National League in this year's All-Star Game, held at his home stadium.

L.A.'s 2028 Olympics will be held July 14 to 30. The Games will begin with a dual opening ceremony at the Coliseum and SoFi Stadium on July 14 and continue through July 30. The Paralympics will follow, starting on Aug. 15. Preparations will not include major construction, as organizers seek to trim costs by using existing venues. Organizers have vowed to use privately raised funds only, insisting they can buck a trend that has seen previous host cities amass substantial deficits.

ONLY IN L.A.

An aerial view of a condo complex on a city corner.
The condo in West Hollywood spans 6,301 square feet with a 2,782-square-foot wraparound terrace. (Pendry Residences West Hollywood)

A West Hollywood penthouse has sold for $21.5 million, the highest price for a condo this year. Vertical living has never been high on the shopping list for Southern California's wealthy set. But a new wave of luxury developments is drawing the rich out of single-family homes and into the sky.

The latest example just closed in West Hollywood, where a 6,301-square-foot penthouse condo has traded hands for $21.5 million. That's the priciest condo sale in L.A. County so far this year, and the fourth most expensive the county has ever seen. It was sold as a design-ready unit, meaning the buyer will choose the layout and design.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

A clipping from a newspaper shows a dotted line on top of a photo of a large building on the corner of a city street.

Fifty-nine years ago today, on July 19, 1963, a Navy practice bomb was dropped on Market Street in San Francisco at rush hour. It bounced over an eight-story building. No one was hurt, The Times reported the following day. The 25-pound missile was nonexplosive. The Navy fessed up a few hours later that a reserve pilot had been on a routine bombing exercise flight when he dropped the bomb.

"In its noontime flight," said the report in The Times, the object "punched a small hole at the intersection of Market and Front Sts., bounced over the eight-story IBM Building at that corner breaking a window on its way, and knocked pieces of concrete off the face of the Phoenix Building at 360 Pine St., three blocks away."

We appreciate that you took the time to read Today's Headlines! Comments or ideas? Feel free to drop us a note at headlines@latimes.com.

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