Here’s a hypothetical: what if Democrats believed the polls and assumed Sen. Dianne Feinstein would easily win re-election and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom would easily win his gubernatorial contest against a Republican no one’s ever heard of—what would motivate California Democrats to turn out to vote statewide in the November 2018 midterm elections?
What about rent control and affordable housing—voting on an initiative to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act that many point to as one of the root causes of the homelessness crisis in California? It’s a bread-and-butter issue that crosses partisan lines as unscrupulous developers and landlords threaten livelihoods and force individuals and families to spend half their paycheck on rent.
The demand for rent control was one of the reasons gays, seniors and renters formed a coalition to create the City of West Hollywood in 1984, to ensure that the city had a say in regulating such price gauging. The city has been lobbying against Costa-Hawkins since 1995. On July 31, the Los Angeles County Boards of Supervisors will consider a proposal for an interim ordinance to temporarily limit rent hikes to three percent annually in unincorporated LA County. The freeze would be in effect until the Board votes on a permanent rent regulation solution at the end of the year.
California voters, meanwhile, will decide on Nov. 6 whether to approve Proposition 10, the Affordable Housing Act, which supporters say will help to address the state’s growing housing crisis by allowing local communities to regulate rent control. The measure would effectively repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act —the 23-year-old law that prohibits cities and counties from setting limits on rent increases for buildings constructed after 1995 and, in Los Angeles, after 1978.
On July 15, 95 percent of the California Democratic Party’s Executive Board members voted to endorse Prop 10, which is backed by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (AACE Action), the Eviction Defense Network (EDN), Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and the Healthy Housing Foundation, a project of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). Damien Goodmon, Director of the Yes on 10 campaign, and Director of AHF’s Housing is a Human Right project, a subdivision of the Healthy Housing Foundation, told the Los Angeles Blade: “The time for rent gouging is over.”
Critics contend that housing problems in California will only be exacerbated by the repeal of Costa Hawkins—which, they fear, would scare away developers at a time in which new construction is sorely needed. California ranks dead last in housing affordability and its citizens spend more of their income on rents and mortgages than people anywhere else in America. At the same time, the lack of new residential projects in the state has driven up prices and worsened overcrowding in major cities like Los Angeles.
“I am committed to building and preserving affordable housing,” Garcetti told the LA Blade, “to meet growing demand in every way possible—including strengthening our rent stabilization ordinance and repealing Costa Hawkins—to protect people from being priced out of communities where they have invested so much of their lives. That is true especially of our most vulnerable Angelenos, including the LGBTQ community, who have been disproportionately affected by the housing crisis.”
California’s housing crisis has hit the LGBT community especially hard. LGBT youth, for instance, are 120 percent likelier to become homeless than their straight peers, according to a national survey of 26,000 young people released in November 2017 by Chapin Hall, a University of Chicago research and policy center. Additionally, according to True Colors Fund, of the nation’s 1.6 million youth 18 and younger who were homeless at some point in 2017, 40 percent were LGBT, even though they represent only 7 percent of that youth population overall.
In California, the number of homeless children in K-12 schools overall has jumped 20 percent from 2014-15 to 2016-17, according to data collected by the California Department of Education. “Based on questionnaires filed by their families, more than 200,000 young people were living on the streets, in motels, in cars, in shelters or crowded into apartments with other families due to financial hardship,” EdSource reported last January.
“There’s a myth of San Francisco as the ‘gay mecca,’” Jodi Schwartz, executive director of Lyric, a nonprofit community center in San Francisco that serves LGBT youth, told EdSource “It can be. But just for some,” who can afford it. “Of the 600 mostly LGBT young people enrolled in Lyric’s programs in San Francisco, 56 percent are homeless or have unstable housing situations and all are low-income,” EdSource reported.
Additionally, research by the AIDS Medical Monitoring Project found that, in 2014, 12 percent of people in California who are living with HIV/AIDS were either homeless or unstably housed—which creates barriers to positive health outcomes, from HIV prevention to effective treatment.
Among the recommendations presented in a March 2017 paper by the Southern California HIV/AIDS Policy Research Center is the adoption of State Assembly and Senate bills that “remove certain development and zoning restrictions, boost funding for construction of affordable housing units, increase tax breaks for renters, increase rent control, and establish a richer supportive services portfolio.”
Prop 10 appears to address at least some of those goals, but economists have pointed out that while rent control favors existing tenants, it raises rents on future occupants. A case study: San Francisco passed a local ballot initiative in 1994 that expanded the city’s rent control policies, which in the short term saved tenants thousands of dollars per year.
“However,” Stanford researchers wrote in 2017, “landlords of properties impacted by the law change respond over the long term by substituting to other types of real estate, in particular by converting to condos and redeveloping buildings so as to exempt them from rent control. This substitution toward owner occupied and high-end new construction rental housing likely fueled the gentrification of San Francisco, as these types of properties cater to higher income individuals.”
The study and its findings have been criticized by AHF. “It’s an article from Wall Street for Wall Street,” Goodmon told the LA Blade, pointing out that two of the Stanford University professors are UBS and Goldman Sachs alumni, respectively.
“The speculators, Wall Street, the landlords,” he said, “the people who are coming in, buying rent-controlled buildings, evicting [tenants], pushing them out, raising the rent, doubling it, tripling it in some cases…they don’t want to see their profits cut into.”
Prop 10 is a referendum, Goodmon said, on whether these folks should have authority over decisions concerning housing policy, or whether this should instead be the domain of local communities and the representatives they elect. The Healthy Housing Foundation aims to wrest control from commercial developers and allow the democratic process to work out whether and how cities and small towns alike will enact rent control policies to address the housing crisis, he said.
While it may seem like a departure for AHF to focus on affordable housing, Goodmon explained, it’s actually a return to the organization’s roots. AHF was originally founded as the AIDS Hospice Foundation and central to its mission was securing dignified housing for people who were dying of AIDS and affordable housing for those living with HIV—people who were routinely discriminated against, harassed, evicted or turned away by landlords and property owners.
AHF aims to create 10,000 affordable housing units in the next five years through projects including the renovation of the Madison Hotel in Skid Row. “We’re able to pull that off the speculative market,” Goodmon said, “and make it permanently accessible to those who are homeless. We’re also doing something similar on Sunset, where we bought a hotel and converted it into a facility for families who are homeless.”
“We’ve added another lane,” AHF President Michael Weinstein said when asked about critics who say AHF should stay in its own lane. “Why is it that when a non-profit wants to help more people is that considered suspicious? AHF went from being a hospice organization to being a healthcare organization locally to being a national organization to being a global organization, from HIV and STDs, expanded into infectious disease, advocacy around Zika, Ebola and meningitis. This is a long and proud history of AHF meeting needs that no one else is addressing.”
Weinstein says AHF is focused on the three “P”s—prevent, preserve and produce. “Prevention” starts with the Prop 10 initiative. “We can’t have skyrocketing rents and hope to solve the housing issue in California or any other major city,” he says. “Preserve” is fighting developers building luxury towers in working class communities and displacing people. And “Produce” is bringing more housing online.
“We’ve taken on the issue of affordable housing with gusto,” says Weinstein. “I think it’s one of the most critical issues we face as a society and we have very enthusiastic support from all levels in the organization from the board to the management to the staff to the clientele,” noting that AHF be serving one million people sometime this year.
AHF has purchased three Single Room Occupancy hotels or motels in LA, with over 400 units in operation. “We estimate there are 5,000 empty SRO units in LA in the midst of this terrible crisis,” Weinstein says. “What’s been happening is that these owners feel that it’s more valuable to kick the people out because they’re under rent control and sell the building mostly empty. That would make it more attractive to buyers.” That means there are “very valuable resources in these hotels that we have not been utilizing.”
AHF is also trying to save Parker Center, the old LAPD headquarters downtown, and turn that into housing. The response, Weinstein says, “has been great, even among people at City Hall. They have to admit that spending $900 million on a city office building does not look good in the midst of this crisis.”
Neither Equality California nor the Los Angeles LGBT Center has yet taken an official position on Prop 10.
L.A. County passes gun control measures after Monterey Park
“We must do absolutely everything in our power to prevent and put an end to gun violence in our community,” said Supervisor Horvath
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a series of gun control measures in response to the mass shooting in the City of Monterey Park that took the lives of 11 people during the celebration of the Lunar New Year last month.
On Tuesday supervisors unanimously approved a series of motions authored by Board Chair Janice Hahn, Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, and Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath to strengthen gun regulations in Los Angeles County and support gun safety legislation. This follows the Board of Supervisors’ recent action to declare gun violence a public health crisis in Los Angeles County.
“We know that blame for the gun violence epidemic lies with the failure of Congressional leaders to pass even the most basic federal gun laws. Because they have not acted — we have found actions we can take at the county level to protect lives,” said Chair Hahn.
“I intend to do whatever is possible to protect Los Angeles County residents, particularly following the tragedy in the First District community of Monterey Park. Gun-related violence will continue to cause mass damage, trauma, and harm if we do not take the necessary steps at all levels of government. This includes supporting key gun safety legislation like Senator Feinstein’s recent action to reinstate the assault weapons and high -capacity magazine ban. Today, living in the United States of America means being at risk of becoming a victim of a mass shooting. To that end, time is of the essence,” said Supervisor Solis.
“We must do absolutely everything in our power to prevent and put an end to gun violence in our community. Today’s motions do exactly that,” said Supervisor Horvath. “I’m proud to advance common sense gun safety guidelines and to join my Board colleagues in our continued demand to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”
Item 2, authored by Chair Hahn, establishes ordinances to prohibit the sale of .50 caliber firearms and ammunition in the unincorporated areas of the County and prohibit the possession of firearms on County property, with certain exceptions. The motion also requests the Department of Regional Planning to prepare an ordinance to implement zoning regulations with a 1,000 feet buffer between firearm sellers and child-sensitive areas, as well as the Treasurer and Tax Collector to prepare the final amendments to the County code regarding business licenses to enhance the regulation of firearm and ammunition dealers in unincorporated areas of the County.
Item 8, authored by Supervisor Solis, directs the County’s Chief Executive Office’s Legislative Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations branch to send a five-signature letter to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, with a copy to the Los Angeles County Congressional delegation, in support of S.14 and S. 25 ─ legislation to raise the minimum age to purchase assault weapons from 18 to 21 and ban the sale, transfer, manufacture, and importation of military-style assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and other high-capacity ammunition feeding devices.
Item 15, authored by Supervisor Horvath, instructs County Counsel to draft an ordinance and report back to the Board of Supervisors on requiring all firearms in a residence be securely stored in a locked container or disabled trigger lock and draft ordinance language that would mandate liability insurance for gun owners. The motion also requests the feasibility of implementing a County gun database and asks that the Treasurer and Tax prepare an amendment to the County code requiring signs to be displayed with specific language warning customers about the risk associated with access to firearms wherever they are sold.
Item 56-A, authored by Chair Hahn, directs the County’s Chief Executive Office’s Legislative Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations branch to support SB 2 and SB 241 – state legislation that strengthens conceal-carry laws and requires federally licensed firearm dealers to complete annual training provided by the California Department of Justice.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 54 mass shootings in the United States since the start of the new year 38 days ago. This amounts to almost two mass shooting events a day.
Huntington Beach could ban Pride flags on city property
The new rule would only allow the American flag, California state flag and the city of Huntington Beach flag to be flown
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – A new ordinance that would only allow the American flag, California state flag and the city of Huntington Beach flag to be flown or displayed on city property has been proposed by Councilmember Pat Burns to be heard Tuesday at the regular city council meeting starting at 6 p.m..
The Republican councilman, a former Long Beach Police Department Lieutenant, told KABC 7 Eyewitness News: “Special flags or recognition flags of some sort that aren’t governmental or representative of the community, as one, I don’t believe has a space on our government flag poles,” he said.
Burns said the only exception would be the Prisoner of War and Missing in Action flag that honors those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country. “So many of the men gave all to give us the rights we enjoy today,” Burns said.
Although he did not specifically call out the Pride flag, Burns stated in a staff report explaining his reasoning for the request. “The City of Huntington Beach should avoid actions that could easily or mistakenly be perceived as divisive. [We] are one community with many different cultures and people. All are equally valued members of our community, and none are to be treated differently or discriminated against.”
“People have asked if we can fly other flags, whatever they may be, and I don’t believe that we should fly any other flags but equal flags that represent us all,” Burns added.
Many Republicans and conservatives view the display of the LGBTQ flag as divisive, some stating moral objections to affirming LGBTQ+ people as “represented” by display of the flag. According to Huntington Beach Public Affairs Manager Jennifer Carey, the Pride flag was previously approved is the only other banner approved by members of the council for civic display.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Carey told the Times that the city first hoisted the Pride flag on May 22, 2021— the birthday of former San Francisco supervisor and civil rights activist Harvey Milk, fatally shot in 1978 — after the City Council voted 6-0 in a May 3 meeting to keep the banner flying throughout the month of June to mark LGBTQ Pride Month.
Defending his proposed ordinance Bruns said: “We’re one community with different cultures, different people, and if anything, it’s a unifying measure.”
KABC also reported that in a letter, Peter Levi, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League of Orange County/Long Beach, asked the Huntington Beach City Council to reject the proposed ordinance to limit flag displays.
“Celebrating the rich diversity of the Huntington Beach community is not a political statement and prohibiting the display of pride flags because they are allegedly ‘divisive’ sends a dangerous message to the LGBTQ+ community and allies,” said Levi.
From KABC 7:
Newsom calls for Federal investigation of high Natural Gas prices
California accelerating bill credits of $90-$120 starting next month to support with high gas and electric bills
SACRAMENTO – As millions of California families experience soaring gas utility bills, Governor Gavin Newsom took action today urging the federal government to investigate the recent price spike affecting the Western U.S. and highlighted the state’s action to provide relief to Californians.
In a letter to the federal agency responsible for regulating wholesale natural gas, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Governor requested that the agency “immediately focus its investigatory resources on assessing whether market manipulation, anticompetitive behavior, or other anomalous activities are driving these ongoing elevated prices in the western gas markets.”
Additionally, millions of Californians will soon see relief from high utility bills – with credits of $90 to $120 showing up on gas and electric bills as soon as next month.
On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted to accelerate the California Climate Credit to help California families with high gas bills.
The $90-$120 credit will be applied to residential utility customer bills starting in March for customers of PG&E, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Gas Company. Customers of Bear Valley, Liberty, PacifiCorp, and Southwest Gas will also receive an accelerated credit of varying amounts.
Tomorrow, the CPUC and the California Energy Commission will host an en banc hearing to examine the causes and impacts of the recent spike in natural gas prices.
“Millions of California families are opening their utility bills to sticker shock – and we’re taking action now to provide relief to help with those high gas bills,” said Newsom. “We know this provides only temporary relief from soaring bills. That’s why I’m asking the federal government to use its full authority to investigate the spike in natural gas prices and take any necessary enforcement actions. We’re going to get to the bottom of this because Californians deserve to know what’s behind these exorbitant bills.”
California accelerating bill credits of $90-$120 starting next month to support with high gas and electric bills
Californians do not need to do anything to get the credit. Every spring and fall, millions of Californians receive credits on their electric and natural gas bills identified as the California Climate Credit. The California Climate Credit comes from the State’s cap-and-trade program managed by the California Air Resources Board. The credit on utility bills represents the consumer’s share of the payments from the State’s program.
The CPUC and California Energy Commission will hold an en banc hearing on February 7 to bring together market experts to examine the possible drivers behind the natural gas price spikes and explore potential state actions that can be taken. The hearing includes participation of the California Independent System Operator and market experts from across the country to discuss possible drivers and explore any state measure to protect California customers.
More information is available here.
WeHo hosts public hearing on PrEP & PEP February 23 at City Hall
Access to PrEP & PEP & adherence to recommended treatment are just 2 necessary steps in the efforts to reducing community transmission of HIV
WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood will host a public hearing to gather input from community members about whether individuals at high risk for HIV transmission are able to effectively access medications approved as part of FDA-approved protocols for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis(PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).
City staff and officials have become aware from anecdotal information in the community that there may be barriers to easily accessing PrEP and PEP at pharmacies in Los Angeles County and other regions of the state.
While statewide legislation, SB 159, authorizes pharmacists to furnish PrEP and PEP without a physician prescription and prohibits insurance companies from requiring prior authorizations to obtain PrEP coverage, there is concern that national pharmacy chains and local pharmacies may not be participating in ways the legislation intended.
City outreach to local pharmacists indicates that many local pharmacists have not taken the California State Board of Pharmacy (CSBP) training to dispense PrEP and PEP, and may not have been aware of the training at all.
The City’s aim in hosting a public hearing is to gather input from impacted residents and community stakeholders; findings will then be relayed to legislators and other key decision makers.
The public hearing is open to the public and will take place on Thursday, February 23, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. at the West Hollywood City Council Chambers/Public Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. Limited validated parking will be available in the adjacent West Hollywood Park five-Story structure.
Community members may view the public hearing live on WeHoTV on Spectrum Channel 10 within West Hollywood; by clicking on the ‘Watch Live’ link on the City’s WeHoTV website page www.weho.org/wehotv; or through City’s WeHo YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/wehotv.
It will also be live-streamed on streaming services such as AndroidTV, AppleTV, FireTV, and Roku. Digital streaming platform viewers can find programming by searching for “WeHoTV.”
Individuals who would like to provide comments but are unable to attend the hearing, or who would prefer to share their experience directly, can send their comments by email to Hernán Molina, the City of West Hollywood’s Governmental Affairs Liaison, at [email protected].
In January 2019, Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco introduced SB 159 HIV: preexposure and postexposure prophylaxis. The bill, which was signed by Governor Newsom into law on October 7, 2019, seeks to make PrEP and PEP more readily available to HIV negative individuals who are at high risk of HIV infection. SB 159 does so, among other things, by:
- Authorizing a pharmacist to furnish PrEP and PEP in specified amounts and requires a pharmacist to furnish those drugs if certain conditions are met, including that the pharmacist determines the patient meets the clinical criteria for PrEP and PEP consistent with federal guidelines; and
- Requiring a pharmacist, before furnishing PrEP and PEP, to complete a training program approved by the California State Board of Pharmacy.
Having easy access to PrEP and PEP and proper adherence to the recommended treatment are just two necessary steps in the efforts to reducing community transmission of HIV. PrEP is a key prevention strategy for ending the HIV epidemic in the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports fewer than 25% of the approximately 1-million Americans who could benefit from PrEP are using this preventative medication. One of the goals of the federal Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative is to have 50% of people who could benefit from PrEP using it by 2025.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic has had a significant impact on the City of West Hollywood. The disease’s elevated infection rate among gay men caused a devastatingly high number of deaths in the City in the era following the City’s founding in 1984.
The City of West Hollywood was one of the first government entities to provide social services grants to local AIDS and HIV organizations. The City sponsored one of the first AIDS awareness campaigns in the country in October 1985 and the City’s response to the AIDS crisis has been recognized as a model for other cities, nationally and globally.
In 2015, the City of West Hollywood City Council adopted the HIV Zero Strategic Plan. The City Council directed staff to work with social service providers, community clinics, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, and other governmental agencies to develop a strategic plan aimed at reducing the rates of transmission and slowing disease progression.
The City’s HIV Zero Initiative embraces a vision to “Get to Zero” on many fronts: Zero new infections. Zero progression of HIV to AIDS. Zero discrimination. Zero stigma. The City currently contracts with APLA Health, Healthcare in Action, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Men’s Health Foundation, and Planned Parenthood to provide biomedical interventions, such as PrEP and PEP to community members at risk of acquiring HIV.
For more information, please contact Hernán Molina, the City of West Hollywood’s Governmental Affairs Liaison, at (323) 848-6364 or at [email protected].
For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.
WeHo to consider making restaurant OutZones permanent
The Chamber of Commerce says businesses expressed concern over the limited applicability of using on-street parking spaces for outdoor dining
By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – The West Hollywood City Council will discuss and debate the process, guidelines, and policies regarding making the restaurant OutZones permanent in the city.
Its Agenda Item 5.A. will be under review and is slated to be taken up at the regular city council meeting scheduled for Monday, February 6, starting at 6pm.
City Staff is recommending the City Council adopt an ordinance amending Chapter 11.28 regarding outdoor dining in the public right of way, authorizing the Director of Finance & Technology Services to allocate $25,000 from unallocated reserves in General Fund for the development of the Outdoor Dining Eligibility and Site Design Guide and related costs.
City Staff will provide any feedback, if necessary, on the proposed updates, including the eligibility criteria and design standard.
According to the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, City Commissions, Boards, and Staff met with the Chamber numerous times and then attended a number of the chamber’s standing meetings with business leaders. Overall, there was support for developing new standards to convert the temporary OUTZones into permanent outdoor dining.
An email from the The Chamber states that businesses expressed concern over the limited applicability of using on-street parking spaces for outdoor dining. As outlined in the report, the use of on-street parking for outdoor dining would only apply to businesses fronting a narrow sidewalk condition.
There were also concerns around the inability for a business with a limited frontage to expand dining areas in front of neighboring businesses. Because this item is addressing outdoor dining on the public-right-of-way and not outdoor dining on private property, the current proposal does not allow the business to establish separate arrangements with neighboring businesses for use of their adjacent public right-of-way.
“We are grateful to the Staff and Council for moving this issue forward, allowing us to keep this critical element for our restaurants and bars to continue to recover and help us to thrive,” reads a statement by WeHo Chamber CEO Genevieve Morrill.
In July 2020, the City began its Temporary Outdoor Expansion Permit (TOEP) program by offering streamlined approval for businesses to use sidewalks, on-street parking spaces, and private parking lots as areas to expand operations.
In August 25, 2020, the city had a soft opening for the first phase of the new OUT Zones program.
On August 31, 2020, the installation of protective k-rail barriers were completed in time for National Eat Outside Day, which is a day when people are encouraged to enjoy a meal, picnic, or snack in the outdoors.
Community members and business owners are encouraged to make comments, express concerns, and provide suggestions.
Editor’s Note: To participate by public comment via phone:
1. You are strongly encouraged to e-mail the City Clerk at [email protected] no later than 2:00 p.m. on the City Council meeting day, to be added to the Zoom Public Speaker List for the meeting. Please include your name, the phone number from which you will be calling, and which item you would like to speak on.
2. Dial-in 10 minutes prior to the start of the meeting (the meeting begins at 6:00 p.m.)
• Dial-in #: 669-900-6833
• Meeting I.D.: 847 9061 1250, then the pound # key
Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist.
The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.
Newsom honors CHP officers w/Medal of Valor, names CHP head
Governor Newsom recognized CHP officers Ryan Ayers & Kenneth Weckman for their bravery & names Sean Duryee to head the agency
SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom recognized California Highway Patrol officers Ryan Ayers and Kenneth Weckman for their actions that went above and beyond the call of duty by awarding them with the Governor’s Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor – the highest state award for valor presented to a public safety officer.
“The heroes we are honoring today are men who showed extraordinary compassion, bravery, and sacrifice,” said Newsom. “Officers Ayers and Weckam are examples of the California spirit, our dedication to each other, and to doing the right thing. I am proud to recognize their heroic efforts and work.”
On August 6, 2021, Officer Ryan Ayers was off duty driving on US 101 in San Luis Obispo, California, when he observed a crash involving a semi-truck which ran off the road. Ayers climbed down the hillside to access the cab of the truck and found the driver unconscious. As the vehicle began to fill with smoke, without regard for his own safety, he cleared debris to access the driver. He was able to safely remove the driver seconds prior to the vehicle becoming fully engulfed in flames.
On December 6, 2021, Officer Kenneth Weckman was dispatched to a vehicle blocking the roadway in Marysville, California. As Weckman investigated the abandoned vehicle, he found a woman in crisis in a canal, attempting to smother a small child in the dirt and water. Weckman immediately attempted to rescue the child from the woman, as she violently resisted. After a struggle, He was able to save the child from the muddy waters. With the assistance of other officers who arrived on scene, the woman was safely taken into custody.
“Officer Ayers’ and Officer Weckman’s heroic actions undoubtedly saved the lives of these individuals” said CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee. “Their bravery, character, professionalism, and willingness to serve with such extraordinary valor exemplify their commitment to the communities they serve.”
On Friday Newsom announced his appointment of Sean Duryee as Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol, where he has been serving as Acting Commissioner and has held several roles since 1998.
“A veteran of the CHP, Commissioner Duryee has dedicated his career to serving the people of California, starting as a Cadet decades ago,” said Newsom. “His leadership, extensive experience and dedication will continue to serve California well and I thank him for taking on this new role.”
Duryee, 48, of Galt, has served as Acting Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol since January 2023. He served in several positions at CHP from 1998 to 2022, including Deputy Commissioner, Executive Assistant to the Commissioner, Special Representative to the Legislature, Commander of the Department’s Commercial Vehicle Section, Academy Instructor and Cadet.
He is a coach for the Liberty Ranch High School Girls Varsity Basketball Team. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $315,348. Duryee is registered without party preference.
Triple A: Gas prices move up slightly, but more increases expected
The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $4.57, which is five cents higher than last week
LOS ANGELES – Southern California gas prices moved very little in the past week, but increases are expected in coming weeks related to the process to switch to selling summer-blend gasoline, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch.
The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $4.57, which is five cents higher than last week. The average national price is $3.50, which is the same as a week ago.
The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $4.57 per gallon, which is two cents higher than last week, seven cents higher than last month, and 13 cents lower than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $4.59, which is one cent higher than last week, six cents higher than last month, and six cents lower than last year.
On the Central Coast, the average price is $4.51, which is the same as last week, one cent lower than last month, and 12 cents lower than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $4.44, which is two cents higher than last week, seven cents higher than last month and 18 cents lower than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $4.57 average price is four cents higher than last week, two cents higher than last month, and one cent lower than a year ago today.
“Los Angeles wholesale gas prices are almost ninety cents higher than at their lowest point of last year in December, but retail average prices have risen by less than 20 cents,” said Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe. “We expect prices will continue rising during the spring months. For drivers who are interested in avoiding these high prices by going electric, AAA has a new resource available – the AAA Used EV Buyer’s Guide.”
The Auto Club reminds drivers of the following tips to save money on gas:
- If you use premium unleaded fuel, make sure it is required for your vehicle, not just recommended. The Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center found that vehicles with recommended premium fuel performed safely with regular unleaded gasoline.
- Make sure your tires are properly maintained and inflated to the correct level.
- Maintain your car according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Regular service will ensure optimum fuel economy.
- Avoid “jackrabbit” starts and hard accelerations. These actions greatly increase fuel consumption.
- Slow down and drive the speed limit. Fuel economy peaks around 50 mph on most cars, then drops off as speed increases. Reducing freeway speeds by 5 to 10 mph can increase fuel economy by as much as 14%.
- Use cruise control on the highway to help maintain a constant speed and save fuel. However, never use cruise control on slippery roads because you could lose control of the vehicle.
- Minimize your use of air conditioning.
- Avoid extended idling to warm up the engine, even in colder temperatures. It’s unnecessary and wastes fuel.
- Remove unnecessary and heavy items from your car.
- Minimize your use of roof racks and remove special carriers when not in use.
- Download the AAA App to find the cheapest gas prices near you.
The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on Feb. 2, averages are:
Governor Newsom announces new gun safety legislation
In 2021, Calif. was ranked as the #1 state for gun safety by the Giffords Law Center, seeing a 37% lower gun death rate than national average
SACRAMENTO – In the wake of multiple mass shootings that took the lives of 19 Californians in just 72 hours last week, Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta, and Senator Anthony Portantino (D-Burbank) announced new gun safety legislation to modernize and strengthen California’s public carry laws.
“Only in America do we see the kind of carnage and chaos of gun violence that destroys our communities and our sense of safety and belonging,” said Newsom. “America is number 1 in gun ownership and we far surpass every developed nation on Earth in gun deaths – it’s not complicated. In California, we’ve passed common sense gun safety laws and they work: we have a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average. We’re doubling down on gun safety and strengthening our public carry law to protect it from radical Republican attacks.”
According to the Center for American Progress, efforts to weaken concealed carry laws across the country have increased violent crimes – with studies showing gun homicides increased by 22% in states that passed permitless carry laws and violent crimes with a firearm went up 29%.
Newsom signed a package of gun safety laws last year, making it easier for Californians to sue manufacturers of illegal assault weapons and those spreading them, allowing lawsuits against irresponsible gun industry members, strengthening prohibitions on ghost guns, as well as restricting marketing to minors.
“The mass shooting incidents we have seen over recent weeks bring to light the need for stronger protections for our communities. The fact is, individuals who are not law-abiding, responsible citizens simply shouldn’t possess firearms — and they especially shouldn’t be allowed to carry a concealed weapon in public. When a gun is placed in the wrong hands, it is deadly,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “The Second Amendment is not a regulatory straightjacket — we must protect our communities. The time for thoughts and prayers has long passed, we need brave and immediate action by our leaders – here in California and beyond. We owe our community stronger protections. I urge our state leaders to quickly adopt SB 2. We can’t afford to wait even one minute more.”
Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a New York law, aspects of which mirrored California’s public carry laws, and the legislation announced today – Senate Bill 2 by Senator Portantino – would make fixes necessary to update the standards and processes for obtaining a public carry permit in California.
Senate Bill 2 strengthens California’s restrictions regarding public carry laws by:
- Enhancing the existing licensing system – ensuring those permitted to carry firearms in public are responsible and law-abiding individuals;
- Protecting children – setting a minimum age requirement of 21 years of age to obtain a CCW license;
- Advancing stronger training requirements – ensuring proper handling, loading, unloading, and storage of firearms; and
- Identifying certain sensitive public places – establishing safe community places where people should expect freedom from gun violence.
“In the wake of the recent tragedies in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay and the continued threat of mass shootings, it’s critical that California leads on the issue of gun safety and reform. I am proud to be working with Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta and activists on SB 2 to strengthen our existing public carry laws and ensure every Californian is safe from gun violence. We must be diligent in addressing the gun violence epidemic in our country and public carry laws are a key component of this,” said Senator Anthony Portantino.
California launched an 18-month campaign to promote gun violence restraining orders – “red flag laws” – that allow law enforcement, family, coworkers or friends to petition a court to temporarily remove weapons from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others. A study from the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis found that California’s red flag law was used to stop 58 threatened mass shootings since 2016.
California’s gun safety laws work. In 2021, California was ranked as the #1 state for gun safety by the Giffords Law Center, and the state saw a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average.
According to the CDC, California’s gun death rate was the 44th lowest in the nation, with 8.5 gun deaths per 100,000 people – compared to 13.7 deaths per 100,000 nationally, 28.6 in Mississippi, 20.7 in Oklahoma, and 14.2 in Texas.
Moms Demand Action Founder Shannon Watts noted: “The Supreme Court’s reckless Bruen decision opened up the floodgates for more guns in more places — but with this bill California once again renewed its commitment to being a national leader in the fight against gun violence. While the gun industry celebrated the ruling that put their profits over our safety, our grassroots army is proud to stand with our Gun Sense Champions in California to pass this critical bill and make our communities safer.”
“Following the Supreme Court’s egregious decision in the Bruen case, it is vital that the Golden State takes meaningful action to protect all Californians from the threat of gun violence. SB2 would do just this by updating and improving the state’s already strong concealed carry license system, and ensure that loaded and concealed weapons are not allowed in certain sensitive places. With SB2, leaders in California are continuing their leadership in prioritizing the public health and safety of all its citizens,” said Brady Campaign President Kris Brown, adding “Brady applauds Senator Portantino for introducing this important bill, and thanks Governor Newsom and Attorney General Bonta for their continued leadership on this issue, and urges the California legislature to pass it without delay.”
Giffords State Policy Director Ari Freilich stated: “In the face of tragedy, California’s leaders act. They’ve led the nation on gun safety reform and made California a much safer state than most. But today, grieving communities know all too well how much more work there is to do. California achieved an all-time record low gun fatality rate in 2019. But like the rest of the country, we have faced record spikes in gun sales and violence since the start of the pandemic and a flood of new weapons in public spaces as a result of the US Supreme Court’s dangerous Second Amendment ruling last year. Passing SB (2) will strengthen communities’ ability to respond to these threats by requiring stronger vetting and safety training to carry weapons in public and by designating vital community spaces like parks and playgrounds as off-limits to weapons throughout the state. We thank leaders like Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta, and Senator Portantino for their work and commitment to make all Californians safer and freer from violence.”
Costa Mesa police arrest suspect in Latina mural vandalism
The mural is well known in the community and spans over 70 feet of a block wall and honors immigrant Latina women
COSTA MESA, Calif. – On Oct. 31, 2022 Costa Mesa Police Department (CMPD) officers were dispatched to the 3000 block of Killybrooke and upon arrival officers found that the Poderosas mural, a local landmark that commemorates Latina heritage, was vandalized with white supremacy language.
The mural is well known in the community and spans over 70 feet of a block wall and honors immigrant Latina women. The mural was created in October 2020 by an all women crew and was led by artist Alicia Rojas.
Individuals in the area observed the suspect vandalizing the mural by spray painting a hate crime message on it. Witnesses reported the crime and also provided video of the incident to CMPD investgators.
During the investigation, Daniel Alec Hotte, 27, of Dana Point was identified as the vandalism suspect. Shortly thereafter, CMPD Gang Investigators checked numerous locations in Orange County and Riverside County but Hotte could not be located. Investigators then learned Hotte had a pending court date on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023.
On Monday morning, Hotte was located at the Harbor Justice Center and arrested. Hotte was then booked at CMPD Jail on an outstanding warrant, vandalism, and hate crime. CMPD will file the case with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for charges.
“Costa Mesa is a great city known for its inclusivity. We celebrate our diversity and are proud of our various backgrounds,” said Mayor John Stephens. “This type of crime flies in the face of what we have achieved as a multi-cultural community. I’m grateful for the witnesses who came forward to help identify him and thankful the police stayed on the case and captured the suspect.”
“I represent a community rich in culture,” said Councilmember Loren Gameros. “This suspect came from another city into Costa Mesa to commit this crime and hurt the identity of some of our neighbors. That is unacceptable and now he will have to face justice.”
“Vandalism crimes like this can often go unsolved,” said Police Chief Ron Lawrence. “I commend the quick action of the witnesses to capture evidence of the incident and the great police work of the Costa Mesa Police Department that solved this case.”
Anyone who may have been a witness in this incident and has not spoken to CMPD is asked to contact Investigator Eric Molina at 714-754-5694, or Sergeant Matt Selinske at 714-754-5093.
Brandon Tsay; hero who disarmed Monterey Park shooter honored
The White House announced that President Joe Biden has invited Tsay to be his guest at the State of the Union Address on February 7
ALHAMBRA, Calif. – The City of Alhambra honored Brandon Tsay, the hero who disarmed the Monterey Park shooting suspect, at a ceremony this past Sunday. Tsay, 26, was awarded a medal of courage from the Alhambra Police Department.
The White House also announced that President Joe Biden has invited Tsay to be his guest at the State of the Union Address on February 7.
In a surveillance video, Tsay is seen struggling to take a weapon away from the deceased suspect, Huu Can Tran, in the lobby of his family’s dance studio, the Lai Lai Ballroom, in Alhambra eventually gaining control of the gun causing Tran to flee.
In an interview with ABC News anchor Robin Roberts in an interview last Monday on “Good Morning America,” Tsay told Roberts that the gunman was “looking around the room” as if he was “looking for targets — people to harm.”
“That’s when I turned around and saw that there was an Asian man holding a gun. My first thought was I was going to die here, this is it.”
“He started prepping the weapon and something came over me,” Tsay said. “I realized I needed to get the weapon away from him. I needed to take this weapon, disarm him or else everybody would have died.”
“When I got the courage, I lunged at him with both my hands, grabbed the weapon and we had a struggle,” he added. “We struggled into the lobby, trying to get this gun away from each other. He was hitting me across the face, bashing the back of my head.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Robbery-Homicide division is piecing together the facts as to why Tran killed 11 people and wounded nearly a dozen others others in the mass shooting at the Star Ballroom in Monterey Park before traveling to the Lai Lai Ballroom.
“The carnage would have been so much worse had it not been for Brandon Tsay,” California U.S. House Representative Judy Chu whose District includes Monterey Park said Sunday during the ceremony.
Rep. Chu also presented Tsay with a certificate of congressional recognition, calling his story “was so amazing” that she noted she had asked him to be her guest at the State of the Union address on Feb. 7. According to the congresswoman though, barely an hour after her request to him, the President called Tsay to personally invite him to be his guest.
According to the White House, the president in the call told Tsay: “I wanted to call to see how you’re doing and thank you for taking such incredible action in the face of danger. I don’t think you understand just how much you’ve done for so many people who are never going to even know you. But I want them to know more about you.
“You have my respect,” Biden added. “You are America, pal. You are who we are — no, no, you are who we are. America’s never backed down, we’ve always stepped up, because of people like you.”
There was also a highly visible law enforcement presence at Sunday’s event, held during the city’s own Lunar New Year Festival.
Sign Up for Blade eBlasts
Gay man beaten, hospitalized after leaving bar in San Francisco
‘Fagots Stay Out:’ Protest at Barney’s Beanery 53 years ago today
L.A. County passes gun control measures after Monterey Park
Conspiracy theorists & right-wing created Gays against Groomers
Speaker McCarthy confirms Santos faces House Ethics probe
Jacob Caswell is 1st-Ever Nonbinary Runner of the year
Rabbi & 11-year-old son testify against anti-trans legislation
Rachel Levine tackles bad info on Covid & gender-affirming care
Frequent social media use may change young teens’ brains
White House ‘walking the walk’ on LGBTQ public health
Sports4 days ago
Jacob Caswell is 1st-Ever Nonbinary Runner of the year
Missouri4 days ago
Rabbi & 11-year-old son testify against anti-trans legislation
Health22 hours ago
Rachel Levine tackles bad info on Covid & gender-affirming care
Features4 days ago
Frequent social media use may change young teens’ brains
Health4 days ago
White House ‘walking the walk’ on LGBTQ public health
Florida3 days ago
DeSantis targets Orlando non-profit over holiday drag show
Iowa3 days ago
Iowa Governor notes ‘parental rights’ at anti-LGBTQ+ town hall
Crime & Justice2 days ago
Patrons of Gay bar in New York City robbed of thousands
Business2 days ago
Black Joy, a fat body candle celebration for Black History Month
Missouri4 days ago
FBI joins investigation of threats against LGBTQ+ bars in St. Louis