After notifying employees they had 45 days to get fully vaccinated on or before October 7 as a condition of employment, approximately 99% of the nation’s largest trial court’s employees have provided proof of full vaccination or requested a medical or religious exemption as required under the Court’s mandatory vaccination policy –

and the number continues to rise hour-by-hour, Executive Officer/Clerk of Court Sherri R. Carter announced.

“I am extremely proud that our employees have prioritized their own health as well as the well-being of co-workers and the public who rely on them to access justice,” Carter said. “Court employees have done their part to help Los Angeles County public health officials get as many people vaccinated as possible as we work together to one day end this pandemic.”

The vaccine mandate, which took effect August 23, did not include judicial officers, as they are state Constitutional Officers and not employees of the Court. However, Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor indicated that judicial officers are equally supportive of the vaccination effort, and that most judges are participating by voluntarily reporting their vaccination status.

The Court was one of the first public sector employers in the state of California to announce a mandatory vaccination policy for its workforce.

“Since the start of the pandemic, the Court has strictly followed public health and CDC guidelines to protect those who enter its courthouses and provided all of this information on our website since the pandemic’s onset at this link:

http://www.lacourt.org/newsmedia/ui/AccessLACourtYourWay.aspx,” Presiding Judge Taylor said. “The Court continued to require face coverings in all public and private spaces even when other agencies and businesses stopped doing so. The summer Delta surge demonstrated the prudence of the Court’s protective approach.”

Led by Presiding Judge Taylor, the Court advocated for court staff, as well as the Court’s justice partners, to be prioritized early this year for the COVID-19 vaccination.

Submitted by Media Relations

Los Angeles

New Study Details L.A. County Neighborhoods At Highest Risk of Extreme Climate Impacts

More than half of L.A. County residents live in a community deemed highly exposed to impending and severe climate impacts, according to a study released today by the County’s Chief Sustainability Office (CSO).

An estimated 56% of County residents – nearly 5.7 million residents — face high risk to such climate hazards as extreme heat, wildfire, inland flooding, extreme precipitation, coastal flooding, and drought. The Climate Vulnerability Assessment evaluate both present-day risks and projected changes in exposure by 2050.

The report highlights 47 communities of concern that face dual dangers — an increased exposure to climate hazards and high susceptibility to negative impacts. Low-income and communities of color face a disproportionate amount of climate vulnerability as well as limited capacity to withstand and weather future threats, the study finds. Nearly 17% of the population live in high-vulnerability tracts.

Among the communities facing multiple high-risk climate threats: East Los Angeles, South Gate and Bellflower; Long Beach and San Pedro; Santa Clarita; Reseda and Winnetka in the San Fernando Valley; Montebello; Westlake and Crenshaw districts; and North Lancaster, Hi Vista and Roosevelt in the Antelope Valley.

The report takes an innovative approach by tackling difficult-to-analyze factors that increase vulnerability, like homelessness or employment conditions, in addition to other more geographically-specific data. The more holistic approach considers factors like employment in warehousing jobs, where workers are typically indoors but are still exposed to climate-related hazardous conditions like heat.

Among the most severe climate impacts predicted to disrupt the daily lives of County residents by 2050:

A tenfold increase in extreme heat waves

A doubling of the population highly vulnerable to extreme heat

Megadroughts lasting multiple decades

Nearly 20% of properties at risk of flooding during a large storm event

More extreme swings between droughts and rain, likely leading to flash floods and landslides

Seas rising by 2.5 feet at local shorelines

A 40% increase of wildfire burn areas in the San Gabriel Mountains

The vulnerability assessment acts as a companion piece to the Our County Sustainability Plan, the nation’s most ambitious regional blueprint for community sustainability. Its findings will guide future priorities for implementation of the Plan, such as increasing the tree canopy in low-income urban areas. The County will also seek out new opportunities to increase climate resilience, such as infrastructure spending.

The state government has provided nearly $15 billion over the next three years to help California communities prepare for extreme weather and climate-related disasters. The funding includes investments to build wildfire resiliency, address drought impacts and bolster water resilience, and protect vulnerable communities from climate risks.

“This study demonstrates the County’s leadership on climate change and environmental justice,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District. “By identifying the people and places who stand to suffer the worst impacts of climate change, and highlighting the urgency of making our communities more resilient to climate change, it will spur real action among County departments, our many community partners, and jurisdictions across the region.”

“This assessment highlights the urgent need to do all we can to lessen the impending harms caused by climate change that will disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color” shared Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell. “We have an opportunity to apply the findings shared towards our strategies for proactively strengthening our infrastructure and protecting our most vulnerable neighborhoods and residents.”

“The devastating consequences of climate change are already here and we know they could continue to worsen over the years to come,” said Third District Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “This report, while deeply disturbing, gives us an invaluable planning document with the analyses we need to act now to mitigate and avoid the possible negative impacts on our local county communities.”

“While we know places like Long Beach and San Pedro will face rising tides and Bellflower and its surrounding communities will experience extreme heat, we also know that by taking action today to reduce emissions and prepare our communities, we can avoid the worst impacts” said Fourth District Supervisor Janice Hahn. “This report reminds us we must renew our efforts.”

“The assessment of the vulnerability and criticality of our electricity infrastructure was an interesting finding in this comprehensive study, further emphasizing the need for partnership and collaboration in our efforts to strengthen grid reliability,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger, 5th District.

“This is report is a sobering assessment of the profound challenges that climate change poses for our communities,” said Fesia Davenport, Chief Executive Officer for Los Angeles County. “These findings will be a critical tool as we work to mitigate these impacts and make sure our most vulnerable and historically disadvantaged populations can withstand the climate impacts that we know will come.”

“With this study, Los Angeles County has conducted a comprehensive and equity-focused assessment” said Nuin-Tara Key, Deputy Director for Climate Resilience at the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, “and this work is vital to informing future policies and programs to protect people and infrastructure from the devasting impacts of climate change.”

“This report really brings to light the dangers that immigrant, low-wage workers and other vulnerable populations face not just once in a while, but on an increasingly regular basis,” said Nancy Zuniga, Workers Health Program Manager with the Instituto de Educación Popular del Sur de California, who served on the study’s Advisory Committee. “This information will help us organize around the issues in a new way and prepare our community members so they can stay safe and healthy now and into the future.”

Submitted by County Communications

Malibu

Community Members are Invited to Observe the City of Malibu’s Multi-Agency Virtual Wildfire Evacuation Exercise on October 20

Community members are invited to observe the multi-agency virtual wildfire evacuation exercise organized by the City of Malibu in partnership with the Los Angeles County Fire, Sheriff’s and Animal Care and Control Departments, and California Highway Patrol on Wednesday, October 20 at 6 p.m.

“Wildfires and evacuations are a very real possibility in Malibu, and we all have to be ready,” said Mayor Paul Grisanti. “I hope everyone in the community will join us and observe this exercise so that they have a realistic idea of what to expect during a major wildfire and evacuation, and ultimately, be better prepared.”

The exercise is part of Malibu’s efforts toward community-wide wildfire preparedness. Residents, businesses, employees, students, schools and organizations are encouraged to observe the exercise, which is based on a scenario of a major wildfire burning through eastern Malibu.

The exercise is an excellent opportunity to learn about the decision processes, timeline and roles of the responding agencies during a large-scale evacuation. The exercise will be followed by a Q&A session.

The Zoom link will be posted in the Fire Safety webpage. www.malibucity.org/firesafety.

To learn more about evacuations in Malibu and to review the City’s Evacuation Plan, evacuation zones, maps and terminology, visit the webpage at www.MalibuCity.org/Evac.

Matt Myerhoff, Media Information Officer

Los Angeles

LA City Attorney files 35 criminal counts alleging failure to stop work in Santa Monica Mountains

City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that his office has filed 35 criminal charges against developers for alleged numerous building and safety violations stemming from continuing construction on five partially built, three-story, 5,000 square-foot single family homes on Woodstock Road in Laurel Canyon. The five hilltop homes, adjacent to the Mulholland Drive overlook, were originally built in the late 1990’s as part of a planned 21-home development and subsequently ordered torn down in 2003 following a court decision upholding the requirement for an environmental impact report that was never conducted. The structures were never removed, however, and in the past year, neighbors reported a resurgence of alleged construction at the homes. City officials have ordered the developers to comply with the order already in effect – to demolish the five structures and clean up the properties – which they allegedly have failed to do.

“Developers must follow the City’s rules, just like everybody else,” said Feuer. “These unpermitted structures in the Santa Monica Mountains were supposed to be demolished nearly 20 years ago, and yet we allege the current developers have been ignoring the City’s order and continuing to work on structures that should no longer be there. The rules have to mean something, and we’re taking action.”

Between 1998 and 1999, permits were issued for the five Laurel Canyon homes on Woodstock Road – located at 2505, 2509, 2513, 2521 and 2529 – which were to be the first stage of a large scale development of 21 similar-sized houses. In 2002, the Court of Appeal upheld the L.A. Planning Commission’s decision to place a 6-month moratorium on the project and require the original owners to conduct an appropriate environmental impact assessment.

That environmental review did not occur, and one year later, all five homes were ordered to be removed and the sites ordered to be cleaned up under the City’s vacant structures abatement ordinance. The City recorded the order with the County of L.A., notifying all future buyers of these responsibilities.

Under the standing order, the five homes were to remain secured until removal and no further construction was allowed. In years since, subsequent owners have tried to restart the project, but none were able or willing to remove the properties and start over again in accordance with the law.

Late last year, concerned neighbors reported an alleged resurgence of building activity at the homes and alerted the L.A. Department of Building and Safety (DBS). Inspections immediately followed, resulting in the City learning that the developers, Shahram and Ester Ghalili, had acquired the properties and were planning construction at all five sites. The City issued new orders for the owners to stop all work and to comply with the abatement order still in effect.

The City Attorney’s Office is pursuing misdemeanor criminal charges against the developers for alleged failure to obtain permits before resuming construction, failure to obey the City’s subsequent orders to comply, and failure to remove the vacant unfinished structures. The Office will seek to have the developers stop all construction and to comply with all laws and standing orders related to the safe removal of the homes without causing harm to the surrounding hillside and neighborhood.

Richard Kim and Dennis Kong, both Deputy City Attorneys with the Code Enforcement and the Animal Protection Unit, are the assigned prosecutors.

Submitted by Ivor Pine, City of Los Angeles