Southern California breaking news and trends

Santa Monica battles FAA for right to control airport land

Santa Monica Airport 7

Ken Scarboro/KPCC

The Federal Aviation Administration has been sued by the city of Santa Monica, which wants to close its airport in 2015.

Santa Monica's legal case to control future use of its airport land is heavy with language about quitclaim deeds and statutes of limitations. But the heart of its case against the Federal Aviation Administration is this: the city shouldn't have to run an airport forever.

The jet that crashed into a Santa Monica Airport hanger and killed four last year added urgency to the city's ongoing campaign to reduce or end flights there. City leaders have been engaging the public in talks about alternate uses for the airport for the past several years. But it was an open question whether they would be able to halt flights.

City officials had been trying to get the FAA to embrace a non-airport potential future, but in October, the city sued the agency.

The city argues that it owns the property, and should be able to halt flights and change the land's use when the current operating agreement expires in July 2015.

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$575K settlement for woman who says she was sexually assaulted by LAPD officers

Los Angeles Police Department

Eric E Johnson/Flickr/Creative Commons

The L.A. City Council has approved a settlement for a former drug informant who says she was sexually assaulted by two LAPD officers from the Hollywood Division.

The Los Angeles City Council signed off on a $575,000 settlement Wednesday for a woman who says she was sexually assaulted by two LAPD officers.

Tammy Kim says she was a confidential drug informant for the Los Angeles Police Department as far back as 2009. Last year, she sued the department, alleging two officers from the Hollywood division forced her to have sex — and at times threatened to send her to jail.

A spokesman for the LAPD said the two officers involved in the case have been removed from duty and are awaiting disciplinary action.

The settlement comes one week after a woman in another case said she was sexually assaulted by an LAPD officer while she was handcuffed in the back of a patrol car. The 28-year-old woman in that case was injured when she fell out of the back of that moving car.

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Behind the battle to preserve LA's historic Lummis Home

Lummis Home - tower and mission-inspired wall

Sharon McNary/KPCC

The curved wall was inspired by the missions Charles Lummis saw in California.

Lummis Home -- exterior cracks

Sharon McNary/KPCC

Curator Ariel van Zandweghe shows cracks in a window and wall of the Lummis Home

Lummis Home - interior crack

Sharon McNary/KPCC

Ariel van Zandweghe, curator of the Lummis Home, points out large cracks in an interior wall.

Lummis Home - front exterior

Sharon McNary/KPCC

The front exterior of the Lummis Home was left unfinished after the death of Charles Lummis' son at age 6 of pneumonia. Lummis said that if his son could not enter the house through that door, nobody else would. A balcony connecting two upstairs doors and shading the large front door was never built.

Lummus Home -- bell

Sharon McNary/KPCC

A bell in the wall of the Lummis Home. Historians say it may be from the refectory of the San Gabriel Mission.

Lummis Home -- dining room

Sharon McNary/KPCC

The dining room of the Lummis Home, appearing much as it did in the 1920s.

Lummis Home -- plaque

Sharon McNary/KPCC

The ashes of Charles Lummis are interred behind a plaque at the home he built above the Arroyo Seco.

Lummis Home -- Breezeway

Sharon McNary/KPCC

A breezeway provides shade on the courtyard of the Lummis Home

Lummis Home -- fountain and guest house

Sharon McNary/KPCC

The two guest homes built next to the Lummis House lost their second stories to damage in the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake.

Lummis House -- tower

Sharon McNary/KPCC

Stone tower at the Lummis House.

Lummis Home -- kitchen roof vent

Sharon McNary/KPCC

Charles Lummis intended the kitchen to have a large open pit fire at its center, hence the large roof vent.

Lummis Home - hours

Sharon McNary/KPCC

The Historical Society of Southern California opens the Lummis House to the public 12 hours a week. The rest of the time, it serves as the society's headquarters.


The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks is looking for a new caretaker to help make the historic Lummis Home more self-sufficient. That might mean ousting the Historical Society of Southern California, which has been headquartered in the building since 1965.

In the past year or so, cracks appeared on both inside and exterior walls and are growing beyond the society's ability to pay for repairs.

"On the corner of this wall, this chimney is part of the fireplace, and there are some cracks over here," Lummis Home curator Ariel van Zandweghe told KPCC during a recent tour. "Eventually, if it’s not fixed, if not reinforced, the chimney can fall."

The Historical Society of Southern California wants to fix the problem and restore the home, but without a long-term lease, the group says it cannot get grants to diagnose the damage or to reconstruct the building to the high standards needed for a state landmark that's also on the National Register of Historic places.

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#KPCCforum: 5 events you don't want to miss in January 2014

Curiosity Rover

NASA/JPL-Caltech

This artist's concept depicts the rover Curiosity, of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, as it uses its Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument to investigate the composition of a rock surface.

Now that the new year is here we're getting geared up for a whole new set of programs at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum. We've stepped up our game and we're bringing you live, in-person discussions on the coming-of-age industry in Texas, a horror film director's take on our current education system, and a panel on the amazing feats and discoveries made by the Mars rovers over the last ten years.

Suffice to say, here's a short list of first five events you don't want to miss this January 2014:

1. What M. Night Shyamalan found out about the education system

What:  'He Got Schooled: M. Night Shyamalan on closing the education gap | Q&A with author, book discussion

When: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13

Why you should go: "The Sixth Sense" director M. Night Shyamalan has taken an outsider's view on education, and his findings are surprising. He'll be sharing his research and theories on how to close the education gap with KPCC's Tess Vigeland.

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Your picks for the 7 biggest stories on KPCC in 2013

Rim Fire Burns Near Yosemite National Park

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Firefighters from Cosumnes Fire Department monitor a back fire while battling the Rim Fire on August 22, 2013 in Groveland, California.

It was a year scarred by tragedy and marred by scandal, but not without its lighter moments. With 2013 nearly behind us, we thought we'd take a look back at some of the stories that you told us were the most interesting, as determined by your visits. These are the stories that were among the most-viewed on KPCC.org.

1. The hunt for Christopher Dorner (February)


By far the largest story of 2013 was the bizarre shooting rampage and hunt for scorned former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner. The manhunt began shortly after the mysterious murder of  the daughter of a former police captain and her fiancee. It drew national attention after the assassination of Riverside officer Michael Crain and intensified after detectives discovered a rambling manifesto that called for vengeance against a department Dorner believed had slandered him. The coverage took several odd detours after officers accidentally fired on civilians who had been driving trucks similar to Dorner's in two separate incidents. By the time several websites and Facebook pages popped up rooting for the cop-killer, the fugitive Dorner was thought to have escaped to Mexico. He was eventually discovered and cornered in a cabin in Big Bear, where investigators say he took his own life. 

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