The Mayor of Los Angeles Says His City Will Stay in the Paris Climate Agreement Even If the US Won’t | WIRED Adam Rogers

This seems weird, doesn’t it?

Not because of the sentiment. Climate change presents a real danger to humanity, and it’ll hit the humans who live near oceans first. Los Angeles, where Eric Garcetti is mayor, has a population of over 10 million people, a quarter of California’s humans, and the busiest port in the United States. Sea level rise and pollution matter there.

And it’s not weird because Garcetti was wrong about the politics. President Trump has, as you’ve no doubt read, expressed doubt in the reality of climate change (he’s wrong about that) and threatened to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement (he could, but it wouldn’t be simple) signed by 200 countries in 2015.

No, it was a strange thing to say because … cities don’t make international treaties. Countries do. But the slightly strange terms of the Paris Agreement—every signatory agreed to voluntary cuts in emissions called Nationally Determined Contributions, and the US Senate didn’t ratify it before it became international law—well, maybe a mayor could sign? Somehow? And that would be awesome?

“We do see ourselves as signatories,” says George Kivork, Mayor Garcetti’s press secretary. “It’s essentially saying, we’re going to continue the steps we said we were going to take when our country was committed to the Paris Agreement. We’re going to continue taking those actions.”

Like a lot of cities around the world, Los Angeles is trying to clean up its act, climate-wise. That means adding transit, tightening pollution controls, even changing zoning laws. In a March statement Garcetti said the city would “reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, move toward zero emissions transportation, and pursue our vision of a 100 percent clean energy future.” Los Angeles participates in a bunch of coalitions of mayors aiming to do similar work—Climate Mayors, the Coalition of Mayors, C40. Paris and London are pushing to reduce the number of cars in their city centers, and 30 US cities have asked automakers to figure out how to deliver over 100,000 electric cars for fleets and other uses—forcing down their costs by buying in bulk, basically.

Article continues:

Hollywood’s hidden Hispanics: why LA’s Latinos are invisible on screen — Duncan Campbell Saturday 17 December 2016 19.04 EST



Now here’s a pitch for a movie. An aspiring US politician announces that, if elected, he will build a mighty wall to prevent Latin Americans from entering his country. To everyone’s surprise, this guy gets elected and very soon finds out, as he tries recruiting in Los Angeles, that the only people he can get to do such poorly paid and onerous work are… Latin Americans. Sort of a dark comedy? Maybe a big Latino star as one of the building workers? Nice mariachi soundtrack?

Or maybe not. Because there already seems to be a large and forbidding wall, albeit an invisible one, that prevents Latinos, who now make up approximately half of the LA population, from featuring in films about the city.

There have been three high-profile productions this year in which Los Angeles has played a starring role: Hail, Caesar!, Café Society and La La Land, the last of which has high hopes as we enter the awards season. Yet none of the three casts much light on the millions of Latinos who live, work and play in the capital of film. How so?

There have been films in which Latinos have played a leading role but few have had the sort of box office returns that attract the big studios. Most recently, in 2014, Diego Luna, who came to international fame along with his co-star, Gael García Bernal, in Y Tu Mamá También in 2002, directed an eponymous biopic of the celebrated farm-workers’ union organiser, Cesar Chavez – in many ways the Latino equivalent of Gandhi or Mandela, who have both had reverential film treatments. It had a very cool reception.

Writing in Variety at the time of its release, Peter Debruge described it thus: “Recognising that Chavez’s victory in earning equal rights for migrant workers remains scandalously under-taught in classrooms, director Diego Luna responds with a biopic that feels more polite than political, counting on the worthiness of his subject and the participation of a well-meaning ensemble to galvanise mostly Latino audiences.”

Los Angeles Neighborhoods Tackle Homelessness on Their Own –

Private efforts aim to curb outdoor encampments that have spread from downtown’s Skid Row to residential areas

Local homeless man Bobby Foster is seen on Wednesday in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood in Los Angeles. In the affluent neighborhood, residents have launched a private, $500,000 fundraising campaign to try to bring mental-health and other services for roughly 180 homeless people.

Local homeless man Bobby Foster is seen on Wednesday in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood in Los Angeles. In the affluent neighborhood, residents have launched a private, $500,000 fundraising campaign to try to bring mental-health and other services for roughly 180 homeless people. PHOTO: DAVID MCNEW FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

LOS ANGELES—As dusk became night in this city’s posh Pacific Palisades neighborhood, Patrick Hart stepped out of his BMW and walked into a neighborhood park in search of Bobby Foster, a 58-year-old homeless man who sleeps in a grove.

For about a year, Mr. Hart, a resident of the coastal enclave, has been voluntarily checking in on Mr. Foster and other homeless, as the number of people living without shelter here has grown. Next year, he will be joined by two full-time social workers—funded entirely by community donations of $125,000 a year.

Mr. Hart is part of a private effort by affluent homeowners to curb homelessness in Pacific Palisades, where residents have paid for signs restricting public access to the scenic bluffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean, after fires blamed on the homeless threatened multimillion-dollar homes.

Jesse Mark Littlefield, left, with help from a homeless friend, Jessica, shifts his temporary encampment after a city worker ordered him to move on Wednesday in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles.ENLARGE

Jesse Mark Littlefield, left, with help from a homeless friend, Jessica, shifts his temporary encampment after a city worker ordered him to move on Wednesday in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles. Photo: David McNew for The Wall Street Journal

Formed last year, the Pacific Palisades task force underscores the growing focus on homelessness in Los Angeles, as outdoor encampments spread from downtown’s Skid Row area into residential neighborhoods, creating a political crisis in the U.S.’s second-most-populous city after New York.

“We are not just talking about increases in places that previously had large encampments,” said Pete White, founder of the Community Action Network, which advocates for more affordable housing in Los Angeles. “We are starting to see encampments all over the city.”

The national homeless population declined 2% in 2015 over the prior year, according to federal data released this month, with the number living outdoors down 1%. But in Los Angeles County, which includes the city and other growing cities such as Long Beach, Burbank and Pasadena, the homeless population has increased 20% over the past year to about 41,000, with a 28% increase in the number of people living outdoors.

Patrick Butler, an assistant chief with the Los Angeles Fire Department who patrols the Pacific Palisades area, estimates the homeless there at about 180.

Article continues:

Crime spikes in several US cities confound criminologists – by Haya El Nasser  August 24, 2015 5:00AM ET

Jumps in crime the first half of this year are not yet seen as a reversal of recent decades’ downward trend


LOS ANGELES — At a heated town forum at the Central Public Library here, City Attorney Mike Feuer and Los Angeles Police Department captains struggled to explain the spike in crime throughout the city and downtown in particular.

After more than a decade of steady drops in crime, the overall crime rate jumped more than 12 percent in Los Angeles the first six months of this year compared with the first half of last year, and violent offenses rose more than 20 percent. Some of the biggest increases were in downtown, which saw a 34 percent hike in overall crime and a 56 percent surge in violent crime.

More drugs, more gang activity, more homelessness, more rapes, more robberies, more prostitution, all in an area that has more residents — many of them relatively affluent — because of a boom in residential construction. One crime category that didn’t rise was homicides.

“There is no one particular reason,” said the LAPD’s central division area Captain Mike Oreb.

Some of the spikes are due to a change in the crime reporting system, which has classified more offenses as crimes, he said. Prosecutors and law enforcement also blame California’s Proposition 47, a ballot measure that this year downgraded minor offenses — drug possession and thefts — from felonies to misdemeanors and set thousands of inmates free in an effort to reduce prison overcrowding.

Property crimes — including burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft — have risen in much of Los Angeles County since Proposition 47 passed, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of crime data, though no causal link has been proved.

Los Angeles is not alone. Across the U.S., major cities are reporting headline-grabbing crime increases that are baffling some criminologists and are promptly being dismissed by others.

Baltimore, New York, Chicago, Houston, Milwaukee, Dallas, St. Louis, San Antonio, New Orleans and Washington, D.C., are all reporting double-digit surges in murders the first half of this year.

Is this the beginning of a reversal in crime trends that had been on a downward trajectory for decades?

“The short answer is, I don’t think we really know,” said Jim Bueermann, the president of the Police Foundation, the oldest nonpartisan police organization, which researches crime trends and law enforcement policies. “We struggle understanding what causes crime to go up and down … There are a lot of beliefs, a lot of theories but very few scientific evidence behind them.”

Article continues:

Gov. Brown signs law barring grand juries in police deadly force cases – August 11 2015


Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) discuss her measure that would end the use of grand jury proceedings to investigate police shootings after it failed to get enough votes for passage on the first vote in the Assembly, on July 16 in Sacramento The bill was finally approved on a second vote, 41-33 and was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday. (Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Tuesday a measure that prohibits secret grand juries to weigh in on cases involving excessive or deadly force by law enforcement, and another affirming the public’s right to take audio or video recordings of police officers.

Both measures were part of a spate of proposals introduced by lawmakers earlier this year on police accountability; some of the more controversial bills dealing with body-worn cameras or reporting on use-of-force incidents have stalled in the Legislature.

Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) offered the grand juries measure in response to high-profile incidents in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City, where grand juries declined to indict police officers for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, respectively.

Mitchell said her bill, SB 227, would help make judicial proceedings more transparent and accountable. Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties already have opted not to use grand juries when an officer’s actions may have caused someone’s death.

Article continues:

In 1900, Los Angeles had a bike highway — and the US was a world leader in bike lanes

Copenhagen is one of the world’s best cities for biking, with more than 200 miles of bike lanes and two of just a handful of bike superhighways built worldwide. Meanwhile, of the top 20 most bike-friendly cities in the world, only one is in the US — while 17 are in Europe.

But what most people don’t realize is that way back in 1900, Los Angeles began construction on the world’s first bike highway. During this bike-crazed era, cities across the US built the earliest precursors to today’s protected bike lanes — and the country as a whole was briefly at the forefront of global bicycle infrastructure.

At the time, the bicycle was largely a leisure toy for the rich, and as part of the Good Roads Movement, these riders campaigned heavily to pave existing roads. In some places, they also pushed for bike-specific paths and routes.

Soon afterward, though, the automobile replaced the bike as their recreational vehicle of choice — and it eventually became the country’s main mode of transportation. Almost as quickly as they were built, most of these bike routes and paths were converted into roads, dismantled, or allowed to fall into decay.

New Jersey’s Bicycle Railroad

 (Burlington County Historical Society)
The Hotchkiss Bicycle Railroad was a two-mile rail designed for specialized bikes.

Before the modern bicycle (technically called the safety bicycle) came along, New Jersey inventor Arthur Hotchkiss came up with a very different kind of idea for making bike commuting practical: the bike railroad. His 1892 invention was essentially a fixed metal track that riders could pedal specialized bikes along.

He soon convinced inventor and manufacturer Hezekiah Smith to finance and built a prototype — a two-mile rail stretching from the latter’s HB Smith Machine Company in Smithville, New Jersey to Mt. Holly, the home of many of the company’s employees. Smith and Hotchkiss spent $10,000 on the track and charged workers two dollars for monthly passes, which allowed them to get to work in roughly six minutes.

One of the bikes used on the Hotchkiss Railroad.

The specialized bikes themselves were fascinating. Riders sat on a low seat just above the rail and pumped a lever, rather than pedaled, to push the bike along. The rail was a single track, so travelers coming from opposite directions had to avoid a collision by sorting out who’d get off.

The track was an interesting novelty, but it never really took off. Most cyclists opted for the increasingly comfortable safety bicycles that were soon hitting the market, and though a few similar tracks were built in the UK, the idea died off within a few years. The New Jersey Bicycle Railroad fell into disrepair and was eventually dismantled.

The Coney Island Cycle Path

 (Carlton Reid)

In the mid-1890s, America’s bike craze took off in earnest. And in 1894, the Coney Island Cycle Path became one of the world’s first bike-specific routes. The 5.5-mile, crushed limestone route was laid in the median of the existing Ocean Parkway, connecting Brooklyn’s Prospect Park to Coney Island.

“Opened in mid-summer, the Coney Island Cycle Path was an instant success. So successful, in fact, that the path’s crushed limestone surface had to be repaired within a month of opening, and the pressure of numbers caused the path to be widened,” writes Carlton Reid, author of the fascinating book Roads Were Not Built for Cars.

Article continues:

Fact-Checking ‘San Andreas’: Are Earthquake Swarms For Real? – NPR Staff MAY 30, 2015 5:05 PM ET

The new movie San Andreas, starring Dwayne Johnson (better known as The Rock), is about a California earthquake so powerful that it destroys Los Angeles and San Francisco, and people can feel it all the way over on the East Coast.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Carla Gugino star in the action thriller San Andreas.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Carla Gugino star in the action thriller San Andreas. Jasin Boland /Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Could this really happen? And can earthquakes ever be predicted, as one scientist (played by Paul Giamatti) succeeds in doing in this movie? We did some fact-checking with seismologist Lucile Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Interview Highlights

On the accuracy of the film’s premise of an earthquake “swarm”

Actually, we don’t use the term “swarm.” Swarm is for when they’re all in the same location. But this idea of a triggered earthquake — that an earthquake in Nevada could set off an earthquake in Los Angeles — we’ve seen that. In 1992, a 7.3 in Southern California set off a 5.7 in Nevada. The 1906 earthquake in San Francisco set off a magnitude 6 near the Mexican border. So that distant triggering is actually a core part of the earthquake process.

On whether earthquakes can be predicted

When I started my career 30 years ago, I would have [said], “Yeah, that’s what we’re trying for!” But everything we looked at, none of it worked. So now we can recognize that an earthquake’s begun so quickly that we get the information to you before the shaking gets to you. That doesn’t give you a lot of warning. Unfortunately, what they’re doing in the movie has really been shown to not work.

On the movie’s portrayal of earthquake safety 

That in-the-doorway mythology has been floating around for a really long time. [Standing in] doorways began, actually, from a Red Cross volunteer inthe 1952 earthquake that saw a collapsed adobe house with the lintel still standing. And said, “Wow, the door must be a good place to be,” and they started teaching that. And it’s true — if you’re in a 200-year-old adobe house. In any modern construction, the doorway’s no stronger than anywhere else and it usually has a door and that door is gonna be flopping back and forth during the earthquake. And we’ve seen a bunch of injuries, people being hit by the door.

So what you’re trying to do in an earthquake is you’re trying to protect yourself from flying objects. That’s why going under a table is a good idea. We used to just say, “Duck and cover.” Now we say, “Drop, cover, hold on,” because in strong shaking, the table may be trying to go somewhere else.

Article continues:

When the Snows Fail – By Michelle Nijhuis | Photographs by Peter Essick

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at Apr 20, 2015 4.32

For three generations the Diener family has farmed the same ten square miles of Central Valley dirt. In the 1920s they grew barley and alfalfa to feed the mules that powered the construction of Los Angeles. In the 1930s, as internal combustion replaced animal muscle, they grew cotton to bind rubber car tires.

Today, as California limps through its third year of drought, John Diener, his sons, and their land are getting into the cactus business.

Diener grows produce on as grand a scale as any in the Central Valley, cultivating hundreds of acres of tomatoes, almonds, organic broccoli, and other crops. But he thinks differently from most farmers here. Maybe it’s that he’s the youngest son of a youngest son, used to making the most of bad situations. Or maybe his years living outside the valley have given him a maverick’s confidence.

Whatever the reason, he doesn’t put much stock in more dams, fewer environmental restrictions, or any of the other measures his neighbors say will relieve the economic pain. Short-term fixes, he shrugs. “The real problem,” he says as he navigates his pickup through the valley’s grid of dusty roads, “is that there’s just not enough water in the system.”

On the western edge of his property, below the snowless hills of California’s coastal mountains, Diener stands on the dry dirt between rows of young cacti, inspecting the bright green new growth. In cooperation with researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Diener has planted about 20 acres of a patented variety of prickly pear cactus, a crop he hopes to sell both as food and as a mineral-rich nutritional supplement. Years of drought have concentrated naturally occurring salts in this field’s soil, but the cacti appear to be doing just fine.

“If we need to, we’ll plant more,” he says. He laughs. “We’re opportunists, after all.”

Article continues:

In Los Angeles, Stadiums Battle Heats Up – By KEN BELSON MARCH 1, 2015

An artist’s rendering of a proposed football stadium in Carson, Calif., that the Raiders and the Chargers say they plan to share. Credit MANICA Architecture, via Reuters 

For years, the N.F.L. played cat and mouse with the city of Los Angeles. Every so often a team in, say, Minnesota, would threaten to move to L.A. in an effort to crowbar concessions out of its government leaders back home. Once the team got public financing, it stayed put.

To move the ball, AEG, the sports and entertainment group, and Majestic Realty Group, a big real estate developer, promised to build stadiums in Los Angeles County if a team would commit to moving. For years, none did.

But the roulette wheel has spun a lot faster this year. In January, the owner of the St. Louis Rams, Stan Kroenke, said he planned to build an 80,000-seat stadium in Inglewood, 10 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. Last week, the Inglewood City Council voted unanimously to give the project the green light. The Rams switched to a year-to-year lease at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, giving them the flexibility to move.

Alarmed by the possibility that the Rams could move back to Los Angeles, the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders last month said they would build their own stadium in Carson, about 15 miles farther south. The move was viewed as a way for the teams to maintain leverage in stadium negotiations with their home cities and potentially forestall the Rams.

In the blink of an eye, the N.F.L. went from shadow boxing to boxing in Los Angeles. Faced with the possibility of three teams rushing to the city at once, the N.F.L. established an owners committee to oversee the process.

But the process appears to be a work in a progress. AEG, which secured environmental approvals and sold naming rights for its proposed stadium next to Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, and which perhaps fears being shut out of the N.F.L. stadium sweepstakes, re-entered the fray.

The company commissioned a report by Tom Ridge, a former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, who outlined several safety and operational risks of locating a stadium in Inglewood just a few miles from the runways at Los Angeles International Airport.

Article continues: