Southern California breaking news and trends

Los Angeles' redistricting plan almost a done deal

Los Angeles Redistricting Map 2012

City of Los Angeles

New district lines were approved today by the Los Angeles City Council. A final vote is expected next week, and the new districts will take effect once Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signs off on the plan.

New maps for the Los Angeles City Council’s 15 districts were approved today with a 12-2 vote, moving the city one step closer to new boundary lines and a potential lawsuit.

The proposal did not receive a unanimous vote and therefore will be back for a second vote in one week. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will then be asked to sign off on the redistricting plan. 

Council members Jan Perry and Bernard Parks continued their opposition to the new lines by voting against the maps. Much of Perry’s Ninth District was taken away under the new plan, pushing her from the coveted downtown area into South Los Angeles. In the Eighth District, Parks lost USC.

Before this morning’s vote, Perry asked for a delay, suggesting the City Attorney’s Office may have changed some of the map lines based on comments from a city engineer. The Bureau of Engineering and City Attorney’s Office will report back next week on any statistical changes to the map.


LAX’s plans for free WiFi grounded by LA City Council

LAX Encounter restaurant

Photo by monkeytime | brachiator via Flickr Creative Commons

A contract to provide free wireless Internet at LAX will be reviewed by the Los Angeles City Council, delaying installation of the technology.

A contract that will bring free wireless Internet to Los Angeles International Airport hit a speed bump today as the Los Angeles City Council voted to review the contract because of concerns it was selected in a vacuum.

The two-year contract with Advanced Wireless Group will be reviewed by members of the Trade, Commerce and Tourism Committee on Monday. Council members said they were concerned about the contract because it was not selected through a competitive bidding process. 

LAX currently offers WiFi for a fee through T-Mobile. The company is ending that service and it will take at least two years to select a new contractor and install a permanent distributed antenna system, according to Debbie Bowers, deputy executive director for commercial development at Los Angeles World Airports. 


Reefer madness: committee votes to ban medical marijuana clinics in Los Angeles (updated)

Bags of medical marijuana.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Medical marijuana clinics would be forced to shut down under a plan approved today by the Los Angeles City Council's Public Safety Committee.

Medical marijuana clinics would be banned in the city of Los Angeles under an ordinance approved today by the Public Safety Committee. 

The proposed ordinance, which still requires approval from the full Los Angeles City Council, would shut down existing dispensaries throughout the city. Angelenos with the proper prescription would be allowed to cultivate marijuana for their personal medicinal use, under the proposal. Residential care facilities and hospices could also continue to provide medical marijuana.

“It's about the many who have spoiled it for the few," said Councilman Mitch Englander, chair of the Public Safety Committee.

Clinics have bred crime, including assault, burglary, identity theft, drug possession and murder, Englander said. The Los Angeles Police Department estimates there are 700 to 800 clinics in the city.


Villaraigosa veto keeps money in account for anti-gang programs

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's veto is a technical change to the budget that will make $21.6 million available for anti-gang programs on July 1.

Concerned that there would be a minor delay in obtaining all of the funds promised to anti-gang programs, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today signed off on a veto that will keep the Gang Reduction and Youth Development budget whole.

It is the mayor’s only change to the $7.2 billion budget approved by the Los Angeles City Council.

The 2012-13 budget for anti-gang programs is $21.6 million. The council had considered withholding $5.3 million in General Fund money until the mayor’s office could provide documentation on GRYD’s revenues and expenditures over the last four years. 

A plan approved by the Los Angeles City Council yesterday would release those funds at the first meeting of the new fiscal year – on July 3. Rather than wait, Villaraigosa’s veto means the full amount of funding will be available on July 1.


LA's ban on plastic bags moves closer to reality (updated)

Glendale Considers Ban On Plastic Bags

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

A ban on plastic bags at Los Angeles grocery stores received preliminary approval today from the L.A. City Council.

Plastic bags at Los Angeles grocery stores would be a thing of the past under a proposal preliminarily approved today by the Los Angeles City Council – making it the closest the city has even been to a full ban on single-use bags. 

The council voted 13-1 to start the legal footwork needed to ban single-use plastic bags. If the ban is eventually approved, it would give a six-month grace period to grocery stores that are 10,000-square-feet in size or have at least $2 million in sales. Smaller stores would have one year to put the ban in place. 

Under the proposal, paper bags would cost 10 cents a piece one year after the ban is implemented. After two years, city staff would return with a report on the effectiveness of reducing waste from single-use bags. 

The ban would only apply to grocery stores and would not include the smaller plastic bags patrons use for fruits, vegetables and meats.