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A California mountain community loses its heart



Cressman’s on fire via webcam

The Creek Fire racing through the Sierra National Forest, fueled by dead trees and undergrowth has consumed 143,000 acres so far and destroyed an estimated 60 homes, but it also destroyed an institution, a legacy, and the heart of a mountain community. Former ABC News Radio editor and newswriter Mike Silverstein reports:

PINE RIDGE,  CA – The Creek Fire continues to make national headlines. Military chopper pilots and crews have rescued another 78 people today who had been trapped on the mountain amid the flames. The have battled thick smoke and hellish terrain, often trying again and again to land safely. Some of those rescued have sought safety wading into lakes and reservoirs. There are still more waiting and praying for rescue.

What’s happening is an enormous tragedy, worthy of headline coverage, but within it are thousands of personal and family tragedies.

Our family had to evacuate our home yesterday. More on that later. I’m still trying to process the loss of a little general store that’s been a part of the area for more than a century, and means a lot to me personally.

We lost Cressman’s General Store to the fire last night.

Cressman’s was located in Pine Ridge, at the 4,000 foot level, midway from the bottom of the four lane road to Shaver Lake. It had been there since 1904, back when logging was king. Before Shaver and China Peak/Sierra Summit were resorts, and before PG&E built generating stuff at Shaver and Huntington and Edison Lakes, Cressman’s was there.

Eight or ten years ago, Cressman’s was under new ownership.

You’ve got to meet Keith and Vince,” my cousin Bobbi excitedly told me. “They are the nicest couple.”

Keith Davis had been a buyer for the Gottschalk’s Department store chain, and, after Gottschalk’s went belly-up in 2009, he and his partner Vince Wiggins — who was a local high school teacher — decided to pursue their dream and they bought the little old general store halfway up the mountain.

They lowered the price of gasoline, charging less than the station at the bottom of the mountain and less than the stations up in Shaver. They dramatically upgraded food choices and quality, offering local favorites like beerocks and breakfast burritos, as well as really good pizza. You could buy pizza by the slice, by the whole pizza, or — most popular — as a take-and-bake. And they also offered entrees for take-and-bake. And sandwiches. And coffee. And wonderful baked goods.

Families on their way to the lake or the ski resorts would stop and fill up and buy a pizza or entrees to bake — or to heat up at their vacation place. The little general store became a must stop on the way to the mountaintop resorts.

When Tom and I first met Keith and Vince, we were intrigued that an openly gay couple would buy a business halfway up the mountain, where folks were politically quite conservative, to put it mildly.

Keith, the former department store executive, said he knew the market and knew what the people wanted. And Vince, who grew up in the area, said he knew his neighbors.

The combination of cheaper gasoline, really good food, fair prices, and friendly service caught on in a hurry. Cressman’s became the social hub of the neighborhood.

They fixed up the barn and opened it up to area artists. On Trade Days (ahem), my cousins would sell their pottery to tourists, while other artisans would sell paintings, woodworking, and other objets d’art.

The guys hired local folks to help cook, bake, and run the store.

Keith and Vince would take their RV and head off on vacations, and to visit friends. And their local partners would run the store when the guys were gone.

Everyone in the community knew that Keith and Vince were gay, and were a couple, but they were respected and embraced and very much at the center of this very conservative mountain community. I’ll never know how many hearts and minds they opened by being themselves and setting an example. And, most important, how important that example was to young people up there, especially those trying to figure out who they are and whether there’s a place for them in the world.

When Vince hit the magic age, he was able to retire from his career as a high school teacher. Two years ago, the guys found a buyer for the general store.

Ty and Tara were a local couple with two kids who loved Cressman’s and didn’t want to change a thing. Nor did any of the neighbors. The sale went seamlessly, and Keith and Vince stuck around long enough to make sure everything went right.

And it did, until the fire.

Ty stayed open this weekend as long as he could, staying to provide gasoline and provisions for firefighters.

The store, the barn, and the other structures were consumed by the fire Monday night. Ty and Tara lost their home as well.

We haven’t heard from Keith and Vince, but they often spent Labor Day weekend on the road in their RV, and we hope that’s the case.

The loss of Cressman’s was on the front page of the Fresno Bee website this afternoon. Yet another terrible loss in this worst of all years.

Cressman’s was the first thing my cousins told me about when I called them this morning. Even before their own situation.

They had to evacuate our home yesterday afternoon.

Even though there are 800 firefighters working out of a command center at Sierra High School — practically across the street from our place, it was smoke that forced them out, not the approaching fire. Al was starting to have trouble breathing and his complexion seemed to be turning ashen. It was time to get out of Dodge.

Living in fire country, you always keep the valuable papers and family memorabilia together and organized, just in case. They were able to gather what they needed and take it with them.

Soon after they left, a mandatory evacuation order went into effect.

The three daughters are in three different locations, the two youngest grandsons are staying with their father 200 miles away. And the three college age grandkids are staying with friends in Fresno.

Al and Bobbi are at a hotel in Fresno.

When they checked in late yesterday afternoon, they were told the hotel’s coffee shop and dining area was closed due to COVID. And all the restaurants in the area were offering only outdoor dining and take-out due to COVID. But with all the smoke in the air, nobody was eating outside.

So they ordered take-out, went back to the hotel to eat, and turned on the portable air purifiers they brought from home. The hotel management was kind enough to bring them a small refrigerator, so they could store snacks and beverages.

The Creek fire still has zero containment. And the winds are expected to change direction tomorrow and pick up speed heading towards Fresno and Clovis.

Al and Bobbi don’t know if they’ll have a home to go back to. If the winds pick up as much as expected, chances are they won’t.

But everyone is safe for now. Everyone has shelter for now. We have our valuables. And we have insurance.

That makes us better off than many of our friends and neighbors.

Mike Silverstein is a former news editor and newswriter for ABC News Radio Washington Bureau. He’s retired, and serves as an elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Washington, DC


Los Angeles

LA officials: Suspect in homeless murders is in custody

LAPD Chief Moore identified the suspect as Jerrid Joseph Powell, 33, of Los Angeles. Powell is alleged to be the gunman



LA County Sheriff Robert Luna, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, and LA Mayor Karen Bass announce arrest of suspect in homeless killings. (Screenshot/KABC 7 Live)

LOS ANGELES – At a press conference on Saturday afternoon, Mayor Karen Bass and LAPD Chief Michel Moore along with Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón and LA County Sheriff Robert Luna announced the arrest of the suspect in the murders of three homeless individuals across the city.

LAPD Chief Moore identified the suspect as Jerrid Joseph Powell, 33, of Los Angeles. Powell is alleged to be the gunman behind the murders of homeless men across Los Angeles from Nov. 26 to Nov. 29.

After a multiple agency cooperative investigation triggered by the follow-home murder of Nicholas Simbolon of San Dimas on Tuesday night by LASD homicide investigators, a car and weapon in that case was identified by the Beverly Hills Police Department.

Simbolon was a tenured L.A. County employee, who worked for the chief executive officer as a project manager in the IT department.  

“He was key in developing applications, software that helped to propel the office forward, and also helped us to meet our mission to deliver services to citizens and residents of L.A. County,” Sheriff Robert Luna said at Thursday’s press conference.  


On Thursday morning, the suspect, Powell, was spotted in Beverly Hills driving the same vehicle and taken into custody.  

“When you get to a scene, you just start playing it backwards,” Sheriff Luna said while announcing the arrest [Thursday]. “They start looking at every avenue.”  

During the arrest, deputies recovered a gun that appeared to match the description of the weapon used to commit the crime, authorities added.

“Over the course of the investigation of our murders, we were able to identify the vehicle we believe is connected to our three homicides as being the same vehicle that Mr. Powell used in the murder of Mr. Simbolon,” Moore said at Saturday’s press conference. “[We learned] that it was being held in custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department as evidence of their murder.”  

According to Chief Moore, that vehicle was the same being sought in the killings of the three homeless persons and the gun seized was the weapon used in the killings.

Press Conference Live:

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West Hollywood

The Abbey raises $10,000 for Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation

Schukraft took the opportunity to reassure the crowd that he intends to uphold The Abbey’s central place in the West Hollywood community



Trans Choir of LA (Photo by Rob Salerno)

By Rob Salerno | WEST HOLLYWOOD – The Abbey raised more than $10,000 for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation at its annual World AIDS Day tree-lighting ceremony Friday evening, an event that featured Sutton Stracke of The Real Housewives of Beverley Hills and the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles.

The ceremony was the last to be hosted by David Cooley, the founder of The Abbey who recently sold his business to Mistr CEO Tristan Schukraft. Cooley was visibly emotional when he told the crowd how his friendship with Elizabeth Taylor – struck up over drinks at the Abbey – inspired him to start the annual tradition.

“What this woman has done for our community and continues to do for our community – she wouldn’t even mention how many people she has taken care of and continues to take care of,” Cooley said. “It means a lot that we do this in her honor, for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.”

The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation works to fight the ongoing HIV epidemic through direct care, prevention, advocacy, and education.

The moment clearly felt bittersweet for Cooley as he went off-script to talk about how he’d founded The Abbey 33 years ago.

“I had a dream coming from college that I wanted to open a gay bar in southern California and be open and proud and not behind closed doors. I started across the street there as a coffee house and expanded into this,” he said. “When we give donations, it’s not the Abbey, it’s not David Cooley – it’s all of us here. You have supported The Abbey and David Cooley for thirty years. Thank you very much.”

David Cooley, the founder of The Abbey (L) with Mistr CEO Tristan Schukraft
(Photo by Rob Salerno)

Cooley then became wry and wistful as he described his decision to walk away from the bar he built.

“It was a decision that was hard to make. I decided that maybe I should take a little time for myself. I’ve been very selfish with the business. I took time for the business always, and maybe not my friends, my family, building a relationship – that never worked out,” he said to laughs from the crowd. 

“I went back and forth seeing the offers and opportunities I had. I made a clear decision and the right decision on who I decided to pass the torch on to. He’s part of our community,” Cooley said of Schukraft. “It was a very tough decision but a very easy decision at the very end.”

Schukraft took the opportunity to reassure the crowd that he intends to uphold The Abbey’s central place in the West Hollywood community.

“I’m very excited. I know I have some big shoes to fill to continue your legacy, making sure that the Abbey and Chapel continue to be the cornerstone of the gay community here and beyond. These events make it even more special,” Schukraft said.

“David’s not going anywhere. He’s going to be here. The only thing is he’s not going to be asking for free drinks,” Schukraft said to laughs from the crowd, and joking protests from Cooley that there’s language about that in their contract.

When Sutton Stracke took the stage, she spoke about the toll that AIDS has continued to take on the community.

“AIDS does still exist. I know I have lost many friends to AIDS, as I know many of you have to, so this is very special to me,” she said.

David Cooley, Sutton Stracke & Tristan Schukraft. (Photo by Rob Salerno)

The crowd was then treated to a performance by the Trans Choir of Los Angeles, who sang “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” as a reminder to the crowd that many in our community – especially the trans community – do not have families that welcome them home for the holidays.

A $10,000 check was then presented to the Elizabeth Taylor Foundation by Tito’s Vodka, which was sponsoring the event, on behalf of the Abbey.

Stracke then announced she would write a check to the foundation herself after the ceremony, then began the countdown to the lighting of the enormous tree on the Abbey’s front patio.

Lyle Anthony (Photo by Rob Salerno)

The event closed out with a performance by South African pop singer Lyle Anthony.

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Los Angeles

LAPD asking for public’s help with murders of homeless persons

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division, Homicide Special Section



Los Angeles Chief of Police Michel Moore, held a news conference Friday where he announced that three homeless people had been fatally shot while they slept within the past week. (Screenshot/YouTube KTLA)

LOS ANGELES – Flanked by Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, LA Mayor Mayor Karen Bass and Martin Estrada, the United States Attorney for the Central District of California, Los Angeles Chief of Police Michel Moore, held a news conference Friday where he announced that three homeless people had been fatally shot while they slept within the past week.

Moore added that authorities believe one suspect is responsible for all three murders.

Detectives from the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division are investigating three separate murders that occurred between November 26, 2023, and November 29, 2023. In each case, the victims were experiencing homelessness.

While some similarities have been identified, detectives are working to determine if these murders are related.  A community alert bulletin has been issued to make the region’s unhoused population and the community stakeholders aware of these recent murders.

Possible Suspect Vehicle

The suspect in these homicides is described only as male. The suspect was seen in a dark-colored sedan. It is unknown if he was alone or there were any additional suspects.

Police have spotted who they believe the shooter is on surveillance footage — Moore said they believe it’s a man in a hoodie — and they also have images of the suspect’s vehicle, though Moore would not describe it in an effort to avoid misinformation.

“People will see different types of cars, different types of models,” he said. “I don’t want someone to say ‘You called this a Kia and it turns out to be a BMW or Mercedes,” he said.

“A single individual approached each one and shot and killed each one as they slept,” Moore said, though he avoided use of the term “serial killer.”

“The Los Angeles Police Department is employing all available resources  to bring justice to these murder victims.  I am thankful for our City partners who are working with us closely to ensure the safety of this vulnerable population as we pursue the criminal investigation,” said Moore.

“I want to be very clear about what we’re facing today: This is a killer who is preying on the unhoused,” Mayor Bass said, adding that homeless people should not sleep alone.

“As we always do in the face of a challenge or crisis, our region is mobilizing to respond to this issue. We will work tirelessly to find the individual responsible, arrest them, and hold them accountable. I have met with our partners at the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Housing Department and we are moving immediately to get the word out to our unhoused neighbors in housing networks. Our message to our unhoused community is clear – try not to be alone tonight. We will do all we can to make shelter and services available. To the many Angelenos who have friends or family who are unhoused, please let them know the danger that exists. We must stay safe. We will work diligently to bring those responsible to justice,” the Mayor said.

“To the person responsible: We will find you, we will catch you and you will be held accountable,” Bass said.

“I commend the LAPD for creating a dedicated task force to uncover the identity of a potential serial killer preying on the most vulnerable in our community. I’ve assigned our Major Crimes Division, Bureau of Victim Services and our Bureau of Investigation to assist with these efforts. Today, we demonstrate our collective resolve and stand united in our pursuit of justice, unwavering against the darkness that preys on the most defenseless among us,” said LA District Attorney George Gascón.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division, Homicide Special Section, at (213) 486-6890. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (1-877-527-3247). 

Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go directly to 

Lastly, tipsters may also download the “P3 Tips” mobile application and select the LA Regional Crime Stoppers as their local program.

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San Diego

‘Christmas Bags of Hope’ event to support homeless kids

“Christmas Bags of Hope” – These bags will be filled with essential items including toys, hygiene kits, books, and food items



Sports for Kid founder & CEO Arden Pala with S4K volunteer Daniela Lara (Photo Credit: Sports4Kids/Zeynep Ilgaz)

SAN DIEGO – The 14-year-old founder and CEO of San Diego-based non-profit Sports4kids, Arden Pala and his volunteers are kicking off this holiday season to support and make a difference in the lives of homeless kids with the annual 1000 “Christmas Bags of Hope” campaign.

The volunteers will be assembled for area local homeless kids. These bags will be filled with essential items including toys, hygiene kits, books, and food items. More than 10,000 people in San Diego are facing homelessness- 20 percent being kids. According to a study published by Point-in-Time Count homelessness in our region increased by at least 14% this year and kids are especially vulnerable. 

Event Details:

·       Date: Saturday, December 9th

·       Time: 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

·       Location: Perkins Elementary School, 1770 Main St, San Diego, CA 92113

Hundreds of volunteers (both youth and adults) will be assembling “Christmas Bags of Hope” for low income and homeless families in San Diego. Volunteers will decorate and then fill bags with essentials to include nutrition items, toys, books, and goodies. 

Sports4Kids was founded by Arden Pala 3 years ago and is a San Diego-based nonprofit that supports individuals and youth who are facing homelessness. The organization does this by providing volunteer opportunities for kids of all ages.

Over the past three years, the organization has raised over $140,000 to help over 7500 needy people. Its youth volunteers have spent a combined amount of 6500 volunteer hours serving our homeless population. 

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Southern California

Triple A:  Most SoCal average gas prices drop below $5 a gallon

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $4.85, which is seven cents lower than a week ago



Triple A Auto Club/Los Angeles Blade graphic

LOS ANGELES – For the first time since July, most Southern California gas price averages are now below $5 a gallon after continued price drops during the week after Thanksgiving, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. 

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $4.85, which is seven cents lower than a week ago. The average national price is $3.25, which is two cents lower than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $4.95 per gallon, which is eight cents lower than last week, 45 cents lower than last month, and seven cents lower than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $4.98, which is seven cents lower than last week, 48 cents lower than last month, and the same price as this time last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $4.98, which is eight cents lower than last week, 46 cents lower than last month, and the same as last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $4.77, which is eight cents lower than last week, 48 cents lower than last month and 12 cents lower than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $5.04 average price is seven cents lower than last week, 38 cents lower than last month, and 26 cents lower than a year ago today.

“Gas price reductions are slowing down, but it appears there is some room for prices to drop further as long as wholesale prices do not significantly rise,” said Auto Club Spokesperson Doug Shupe. “The main reasons for the downward pressure on retail prices include an ample supply in the market and a continual recovery from the September price spike. Also, as we get closer to winter, gas demand historically drops and retail prices follow.”

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 Nov. 30, averages are:


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Los Angeles County

Beach Cities Toy Drive begins 31st year

The annual wrapping party will take place on Saturday, December 16, 2023 from 10:00 AM until the toys are wrapped at Joslyn Community Center



Firefighters Tom Desmond, Joseph Camarillo, and Patrick Jacobson, toy drive co-founder Sam Edgerton, unidentified Firefighter, and Firefighter Kevin Tiscarino, volunteer Pete Tucker, Firefighter Robert Estrada, toy drive co-founder Vicki Garcia, volunteers Jill Lamkin, and Sandy Rohrbach, and Firefighters James Stratton, James Craig, & an unidentified firefighter. (Photo by Kevin Cody/Easy Reader)

By Kevin Cody | HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. – Beach Cities Toy Drive organizers and Manhattan Beach firefighters gathered Saturday at the Manhattan Beach fire station to launch the local toy drive’s 31st year.

The Beach Cities Toy Drive is held to provide toys to underprivileged children in the County of Los Angeles who would otherwise do without during the holiday season. All toys collected go directly to charities who in turn give those gifts to families in need.

Unwrapped toys may be dropped off at the Hermosa and Manhattan Beach fire departments. Toys will also be collected Saturday evening, November 18 on Pier Plaza prior to the Jeremy Buck Band’s Rock for Tots Concert, which starts at 6 p.m.. Toys may also be brought to Pier Plaza on Sunday, November 19 prior to the holiday tree lighting at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, December 2, and 9, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. toys may be brought to  the Hermosa Beach City Hall Parking lot. The Toy Wrapping party will be held Saturday, December 16 at the Manhattan Beach Joslyn Community Center from 10 a.m. until the toys are all wrapped. Firefighters and toy drive.

Help spread the joy by donating unwrapped new toys at any of the locations below:

  • Hermosa Beach Police Department: 540 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach (open 24 hours)
  • Los Angeles County Fire Station No. 100: 540 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach
  • Manhattan Beach City Hall: 1400 Highland Avenue, Manhattan Beach
  • Manhattan Beach Fire Department: 400 15th Street, Manhattan Beach

Drive-thru toy drop-off opportunities:

  • Dates: Saturday, December 2 and Saturday, December 9, 2023
  • Times: 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
  • Location: Hermosa Beach City Hall Parking Lot, 1315 Valley Drive

The annual wrapping party will take place on Saturday, December 16, 2023 from 10:00 AM until the toys are wrapped at Joslyn Community Center, 1601 N. Valley Drive, Manhattan Beach.


The preceding article was previously published by Easy Reader & Peninsula and is republished with permission.

Kevin Cody is the publisher & owner of Easy Reader, Beach & Peninsula Magazine

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Los Angeles County

New on the LA County Channel

You can watch on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here



Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

New on the County Channel

Thanks to a gift to the L.A. County Parks Foundation by the L.A. Clippers, LA County Parks will have 117 renovated basketball courts at 60 locations by the spring of 2025. L.A. County parks courts host 57 Jr. Clippers youth basketball league locations, as well as everything from volleyball and dance to community events and other programming. LA Clippers Guard and hometown hero Russell Westbrook was in attendance at the opening of one of many new basketball courts at Jesse Owens Park where he learned to play as a youth.

You can watch more stories like this on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here.

In Case You Missed It

Adopt A Family in Need for the Holidays

Join the heartwarming campaign by sponsoring a family in need this holiday season. Today, Los Angeles County residents who want to join the charitable movement, are encouraged to sponsor a family receiving benefits from the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) as part of the department’s holiday Adopt-A-Family Program.

For over 30 years, the department has partnered with the community to match sponsors with low-income families for the annual campaign. In 2022, Adopt-A-Family sponsored approximately 1,300 families.

Sponsors are matched with a family and given a wish list. The wish list may include clothing, gift certificates, or toys. Adopt-A-Family is a great project for families, co-workers, organizations, clubs, and schools. It is a rewarding way to lift communities and a reminder of the true meaning of the holiday season.

Those interested in sponsoring a family may apply online today at Sponsors may adopt one or multiple families. Information on the size of the family and location will be provided. For additional information, email: [email protected].

Thanks for the continued support of this worthwhile program!

At Your Service

Preparing for CARE Court

On December 1, 2023, Los Angeles County will implement the Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Act. Beginning December 1, 2023, qualifying individuals or entities can petition the Superior Court of Los Angeles County to help connect eligible individuals to a broad array of services, including mental health and housing services, via a voluntary CARE Agreement or CARE Plan established and overseen by a judicial officer. For additional information on Care Court visit

Residents and family members can access other LACDMH programs, services, and resources today through their website, calling the 24/7 Help Line at (800) 854-7771, or calling/texting the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

Out and About

Holiday Boat Parade

Visit Burton Chace Park in Marina Del Rey on December 9th for the annual Holiday Boat Parade! From 4pm-8pm you can take part in various activities including a fireworks show, strolling carolers, photo opportunities, food trucks and kids crafts. 

This event is free to the public. For more information, visit

Photo Finish

Annual tree lighting ceremony at LA County Music Center.
(Los Angeles County / Mayra Vasquez)

Click here to access more photos of LA County in action.

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West Hollywood

City of West Hollywood turns 39 years old

At 7:00 p.m., the City’s annual State of the Community Program will celebrate WeHo’s accomplishments & preview next year’s major projects



City of West Hollywood, California in1985 (Photo Credit: City of West Hollywood)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood turns 39 years old today. The City was officially incorporated as an independent City on November 29, 1984. A coalition of LGBT activists, seniors, and renters proposed a Cityhood with progressive policies and strong tenant’s rights protections.

The City is hosting the annual State of the Community Reception & Mixer starting at 6 PM at the West Hollywood Aquatic and Recreation Center (8750 El Tovar Place, West Hollywood, CA 90069). The mixer will allow West Hollywood community members to mingle with residents, elected and appointed officials, and City staff. Appetizers and beverages will be served and there will be live music by the Harrison Jazz Ensemble.

At 7:00 p.m., the City’s annual State of the Community Program will celebrate West Hollywood’s accomplishments this past year and preview next year’s major projects and new initiatives.

The State of the Community presentation will be followed by the NextGen Mixer at 8:00 p.m. The evening will end at the Respite Deck where community members can connect with fellow attendees and enjoy some beats by DJ Asha and a special performance by the City’s Inaugural Drag Laureate, Pickle.

To RSVP click on the link here and here

And here are some highlights of the past 30+ years in West Hollywood:

  • The first West Hollywood City Council established West Hollywood as the first City in the nation to have a majority openly gay governing body.  This was a landmark development in LGBT rights in the United States as well as globally.
  • The ordinances adopted by the West Hollywood City Council within the first year of Cityhood included landmark legislation such as the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (which, upon its adoption was one of the strictest rent control laws in the country); Ordinance prohibiting discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS; Domestic Partnership Ordinance; and Ordinance prohibiting discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation. Today, many of the City’s landmark ordinances have been duplicated and have become mainstream policies nationally and globally.
  • In 1985, the City Council established its Social Services program to provide much-needed services to residents. Over its history, the City has provided millions of dollars in grants to fund programs for people in need.  These services have included services for seniors; people with HIV and AIDS; members of the LGBT community; people with disabilities; alcohol and drug use recovery programs; support programs for Russian-speaking immigrants; services for people who are homeless; food programs; and health care services for people who are uninsured. Today, the City’s Social Services Division budgets approximately
    $5 million per year in funding critical support to programs that impact thousands of people in West Hollywood; City residents live longer and have lower rates of chronic diseases than residents of L.A. County as a whole.
  • The onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic had a significant impact on the City of West Hollywood due to the disease’s elevated infection rate among gay men which caused a devastatingly high number of deaths in the City. 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. Today, 12 percent of households in the City have a person living with HIV/AIDS.
  • The City has been one of the most outspoken advocates for the legal rights of LGBT people. In 1985, the City of West Hollywood was one of the first cities in the country to adopt a Domestic Partnership Ordinance. In October 2014, the City marked an exciting milestone as the City Clerk’s office at West Hollywood City Hall filed its 10,000th couple as registered Domestic Partners. The City also created the nation’s first municipal Transgender Task Force in 2001; in 2009 this became the City’s Transgender Advisory Board.
  • West Hollywood was one of the first cities in the country to pass a resolution in support of marriage equality, paving the way for same-sex marriage initiatives all over the county. In a monumental moment in U.S. history, the City, in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Register-Recorder Clerk, began to issue marriage licenses and perform civil ceremonies for same-sex couples in June 2008, following the Supreme Court of California ruling on Proposition 8. After a legal stay, in June 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an appeal in Hollingsworth v. Perry and the City of West Hollywood launched a marriage celebration. West Hollywood City Councilmembers and City Officials performed hundreds of civil ceremonies. On June 25, 2015, West Hollywood hosted a community rally at West Hollywood Park attended by thousands of jubilant revelers celebrating the Supreme Court declaring marriage between same sex couples legal.
  • Following the election of President Trump in 2016, the West Hollywood City Council affirmed the City of West Hollywood’s commitment as a Sanctuary City and reaffirmed the City’s commitment to its core values, which includes Respect and Support for People.
  • In 2017, the West Hollywood City Council approved a Resolution that calls on the U.S. House of Representatives to initiate proceedings for the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump. This came as a response to numerous violations of the Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution, multiple violations of federal law as it relates to the employment of relatives, serious national security concerns resulting from potential interference with federal elections in 2016, and amid investigations of obstruction of justice.
  • The City of West Hollywood is one of the first municipalities to form a Transgender Advisory Board, which addresses matters of advocacy on behalf of transgender people in the areas of education, community awareness, and empowerment, and makes recommendations to the West Hollywood City Council. Through its Transgender Advisory Board, the City of West Hollywood regularly co-sponsors programming and recognizes Transgender Awareness Month and Transgender Day of Remembrance each November. For more information about the City of West Hollywood’s Transgender Awareness Month events.
  • The city was a soap box for the Black Lives Matter movement with several marches and demonstrations calling for racial justice taking place on Santa Monica Boulevard in 2020.
  • In 2021, The city begins recovery from a long COVID-19 Shutdown.
  • in 2022, the City hosted its inaugural WeHo Pride event, completed the Aquatic and Recreation Center at West Hollywood Park, installed inclusive Pride Crosswalks, responded to the monkeypox outbreak with vaccine clinics and a town hall, urged COVID-19 vaccination boosters leading to more than 87% vaccinations rate amongst residents, provide more than 1.7 million dollars in COVID-19 rental assistance, expanded the City’s Block by Block program with 30 new security ambassadors and more than 100 businesses opened since 2021.


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.

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West Hollywood

WeHo Arts unveils new holiday banners by artist Joey Deruy

Deruy was selected through an open call. He created a series of 8 paintings highlighting iconic West Hollywood buildings & landmarks



West Hollywood Banners by Artist Joey Deruy – Photo by Paulo Murillo for WEHO TIMES

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division unveiled new holiday banners by artist Joey Deruy. Each year, the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division commissions an artist to create an image to celebrate the holidays, West Hollywood style. These images are printed onto street banners which decorate major streets in the city.

West Hollywood Banners by Artist Joey Deruy – Photo by Paulo Murillo for WEHO TIMES

Artist Joey Deruy was selected through an open call. He created a series of 8 paintings highlighting iconic West Hollywood buildings and landmarks.

West Hollywood Banners by Artist Joey Deruy – Photo by Paulo Murillo for WEHO TIMES

His artwork features the following familiar WeHo spaces:

Lloyd Wright House and Studio
Pacific Design Center
Plummer Park Community Center
Sal Guarriello Veterans Memorial
Schindler House/MAK Center
Sunset Tower
West Hollywood City Hall and Automated Garage
West Hollywood Gateway
West Hollywood Library
West Hollywood Park Aquatic and Recreation Center (ARC)

West Hollywood Banners by Artist Joey Deruy – Photo by Paulo Murillo for WEHO TIMES
West Hollywood Banners by Artist Joey Deruy – Photo by Paulo Murillo for WEHO TIMES


The new banners can be found on street pole banners along Santa Monica Boulevard, Melrose Avenue, La Brea Avenue, Fairfax Avenue, and San Vicente Boulevard. The city is also displaying banners from previous years. Previous artists include Shag (Josh Agle), Steven Rahbany, Mona Tanksley, and Sophie Morro.

About artist Joey Deruy:

Artist Joey Deruy was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico; was raised in Kenya and Montana; and is currently based in Palm Springs, California. A self-taught painter, Deruy has forged a specific, line-driven, figurative style all his own. Deruy’s artwork combines the playfulness of late 20th-century Street Art with the geometric, African-inspired abstraction of Cubism, often with witty references to pop culture and geographic places. More information on the artist can be found at:

The City of West Hollywood is also celebrating the holidays through poetry. Newly appointed West Hollywood City Poet Laureate Jen Cheng has written a holiday poem called ‘Joyous’ and is organizing a Holiday Poetry Hotline and holding a series of poetry workshops:


by West Hollywood City Poet Laureate Jen Cheng

Joyous tunes sing brightly

Orbits of lights string the streets

Yellow candles stir meditations with tea

Olive branches ask for peace

Upward arches forge iconic memories

Sweet glances swing love into the new year


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.

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Los Angeles

Project Angel Food Thanksgiving, a remarkable group of volunteers

Project Angel Food provides daily meals to 2,500 critically ill individuals & 1.5 mil medically tailored meals annually across Los Angeles



A general view of the atmosphere during Thanksgiving at Project Angel Food on November 23, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Project Angel Food)

LOS ANGELES — Project Angel Food saw a remarkable gathering of celebrities and 200 dedicated volunteers coming together to prepare and deliver 2,000 traditional turkey meals to critically ill clients on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. The initiative culminated in a total of more than 5,000 meals prepared and delivered throughout Thanksgiving week.

Thanksgiving Day at Project Angel Food was not just about distributing meals but also about the spirit of giving back while cherishing moments with family and friends.

Melissa Rivers attends Thanksgiving at Project Angel Food on November 23, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Project Angel Food)

Melissa Rivers, who recently got engaged to lawyer Steve Mitchel on Oct. 13, made a notable appearance — showcasing her stunning 5.6 carat, emerald-cut engagement ring as she volunteered alongside adult son Cooper Endicott. She shared, “Sometime maybe in 2025. It would be my second marriage and his second marriage so if anything, we’ll have a party, and a ceremony might break out. But nobody’s in any rush.”

Amanda Kloots, host of “The Talk”, expressed her deep affection for Project Angel Food, stating that she fell in love with the cause while filming a segment for the hit CBS talk show. She returned with Zach Braff and her four-year-old son Elvis, emphasizing, “I think it is so important to show our kids how blessed we are and how we can help one another.”

Harry Hamlin attends Thanksgiving at Project Angel Food on November 23, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Project Angel Food)

Joining the ranks, Lisa Rinna and her husband Harry Hamlin continued their annual tradition of giving back at Project Angel Food on Thanksgiving. Harry offered, “It goes without saying the people of L.A. need to be fed, and we’re here to do it, especially on Thanksgiving.” Lisa added, “It makes you feel good to give back, always, and we need to do it more.”

Actor and model Sam Asghari, marking his first Thanksgiving after his divorce from Britney Spears, refrained from discussing the split but reflected “I think it is important when you have a platform and a voice, and you have the ability to help others it is important to do.”

Sam Asghari attends Thanksgiving at Project Angel Food on November 23, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Project Angel Food)

Unlikely friends Charo and Kat Von D were among the initial celebrity arrivals. Von D explained their unique bond, stating, “We’re Yin and Yang and complement each other. Since she had heard of Project Angel Food through Charo, she wanted to join.” Charo expressed her enthusiasm for volunteering, exclaiming, “I love people. This is my passion!”

The event saw the participation of other notable celebrity volunteers, including Amy Yasbeck, singer Em Beihold, Eve Mauro, Jai Rodriguez, Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Laura Pierson, Lauren Tom, Lawrence Zarian, Lisa Foxx, Loni Love, Mary-Margaret Humes, Michael Hitchcock, Peter Porte, Rachel Lindsay, Sandra Lee, Tamara Brown, and Tim Bagley.

Project Angel Food CEO Richard Ayoub expressed heartfelt gratitude stating, “Every day is like Thanksgiving at Project Angel Food. But on this day, we are especially grateful to our celebrity friends and hundreds of volunteers committed to bringing a little light to the thousands of critically ill men, women and children we serve.”

The meals were provided through “drive-by” pick-up for volunteers who then delivered them to Project Angel Food clients. The traditional Thanksgiving dinners included roasted turkey, root vegetables, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, and a slice of pumpkin cheesecake. Additionally, vegetarian meals were also provided. The Thanksgiving Day meals were sponsored by The Stanley & Joyce Black Family Foundation, with additional support from Joybird, which furnished the Joybird VIP Love Lounge, allowing volunteers to take a break during the morning of service.

Lisa Rinna, Harry Hamlin, Richard Ayoub, Lawrence Zarien and Melissa Rivers attend Thanksgiving at Project Angel Food on November 23, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
(Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Project Angel Food)

Beyond serving meals to 2,000 critically ill individuals, Project Angel Food extended its support by providing Thanksgiving Day meals for 500 people at PATH. PATH works tirelessly to end homelessness by building affordable housing and offering supportive services. Furthermore, actress and director Joely Fisher sponsored Project Angel Food meals, hosting a SAG/AFTRA “Friendsgiving” at Hollywood United Methodist Church for 200+ union members affected by the 118-day SAG/AFTRA strike on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023.

Project Angel Food remains dedicated to providing daily meals to 2,500 critically ill individuals and delivering more than 1.5 million medically tailored meals annually across Los Angeles. Their clients often grapple with serious illnesses compounded by challenges such as poverty, aging, and isolation. Established in 1989 by Marianne Williamson, the organization has prepared and delivered more than 17 million meals in its 34-year history.

Project Angel Food serves up Thanksgiving meals for Angelenos:

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