L.A. Weekly’s Slush column is an aggregated, link-filled look at L.A. news and culture — what people are talking about, balking about, posting on social media and IRL (in real L.A. life).
RENTERS TO TAKE A HIKE
In a blow to Los Angeles renters, landlords will be able to raise rents by 4 percent for the first time in a decade. With an increase in the consumer price index, over 600,000 rent controlled units will face even more of a rent hike this year, further stressing a rental environment where many people are paying more than half their income for housing while being pushed to the brink of homelessness.
In a related issue, one has to laud California state Assemblyman David Chiu’s moxie. While his bill, AB 1482, which capped rent increases statewide at 7 percent plus inflation passed in May, an attempt at preventing baseless evictions, AB 1481, authored by Assemblymembers Rob Bonta and Alan Grayson, went down in flames. So Chiu did what any enterprising politician would do, he slapped an amendment upon 1482. An amendment which suspiciously read like the text within Bonta’s and Grayson’s AB 1481. Should the newly amended bill pass the Senate, it should reach Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk by fall. Chiu is hoping for a bill in which greater protection for renters becomes the norm. The lobbying group for landlords, the California Apartment Association, opposes Chiu’s amended bill because of course they do.
TRUMP’S CHEAP SHOT AT L.A. HOMELESSNESS
Speaking to Fox News on the ever worsening homeless problem in Los Angeles and San Francisco, President Trump blamed “liberal” governments, bizarrely claiming that local and state officials were deliberately stoking the problem for political gain, and even stranger, that the problem began a mere two years ago. In truth, the current epidemic of homelessness can be traced to Ronald Reagan defunding the state’s mental health program in the ’70s along with his trickle down “Reaganomics” that never trickled down in the ’80s. Not that anyone would expect this president to be well versed in the facts of any kind, but it would help if he understood the problem before he threatened to “intercede.” Both Gov. Newsom and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti expressed confusion at what Trump was actually saying. Both accused the president of taking a “political cheap shot,” but also stated that they would welcome the federal government’s input.
BURBANK BANS BIRD AND LIME
The Burbank City Council came to a unanimous decision last week, banning electric scooters such as those offered by Bird and Lime. Details of the ban are still being worked out, as a proposed ordinance regarding regulations and just how it will be enforced is being drafted. Given that all surrounding cities allow the devices, it remains to be seen how Burbank will be able to control what enter its borders. The proposal wishes to set a cap of 1,000 scooters within city limits, with a limit of 200 per service. Weekly inspections of the scooters, along with proper identification and customer service information is also being discussed as well as how to get people to stop dumping them in the middle of the sidewalk. As more and more people complain, and as more and more people are severely injured (and some killed), it will be interesting to see if other cities follow Burbank’s lead. Los Angeles Department of Transportation reports that there are currently 20,000 such vehicles operating within the city, and they’ve granted permission for another 16,000 to be deployed.
SHERIFF GANGS STILL GOING
When Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva took assumed the office in December 2018, he inherited a sheriff’s department that was rife with misconduct, disciplinary issues and criminal conduct. Central to some of these issues were the “cliques” within the department, long time organizations where certain deputies created a perilous “us vs. them” environment. Among the worst offenders were the “Banditos” of the East L.A. Station, where accusations of harassment, coercion and a hostile work environment were commonplace. Last week, Villanueva drafted a policy in which department personnel would be forbidden from joining “any group which promotes conduct that violates the rights of employees or members of the public or otherwise encourages conduct that is contrary to department policy.” While this is a move in the right direction, it is fair to speculate if this is just one more unfulfilled campaign promise. Villanueva vowed big changes were in order when he took over, but if and when those changes come about remain to be seen. He’s had seven months to implement much needed reforms, and his honeymoon period is about over.
EAGLES AND LIONS IN SANTA MONICA, OH MY!
Amid the urban jungle of Los Angeles, we tend to forget that we have a bounty of natural spaces within our midst. Those natural spaces have been a source of good news lately. For the first time in 30 years, golden eagle chicks have been seen in the Santa Monica Mountains. National Park service personnel confirmed the sighting of two healthy chicks back in May, and took blood samples and banded the parents. Golden eagles are a close relative to the bald eagles, and are very rarely seen.
It looks as though we have a new feline friend as well. P-75, as she has come to be known, was spotted up a tree in Pacific Palisades. State wildlife officials tranquilized, diagnosed, tagged, and collared the 50-pound female with a GPS device before releasing her deep into the Santa Monica mountains. She is the tenth local mountain lion currently being tracked and studied. Here she is not looking particularly pleased with the situation.
BIG MOVES FOR SILVER LAKE’S MOST FAMOUS FOOT CLINIC AND LA BREA’S FAMED PROP YARD
The rotating Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign Silver Lake has attained legendary status over the 40 years it has spun over Sunset Blvd. It has influenced literary works by Jonathan Lethem and David Foster Wallace as well as the music of Beck and Mark Oliver Everett (aka E, Eels). More importantly however, is its role in guiding the daily lives of locals who reside within in its shadow.
For those who don’t know, the two-sided sign above the Sunset Foot Clinic on West Sunset depicts a sad injured foot on one side, and a happy foot healthy foot on the other. Depending upon which side they see, people decide whether to have fun or go to work, whether to stay in or go out, whether to do homework or to blow it off… you get the idea.
Come September the iconic sign will be leaving its present home and heading toward Rampart Village, where it will undoubtedly lord over its townsfolk like a vengeful tyrant. The abandoned citizens of Silver Lake will have no choice but to find another talisman by which to make major life decisions.
Another longtime L.A. landmark, Nick’s Metropolis, which was sprawled along the corner of La Brea and First Street, has finally shuttered after 27 years on the spot. The eclectic store was a magnet for celebs, prop masters, collectors and just about anyone who enjoying rooting through a pie of cool junk. Thankfully, Nick’s vision has been reborn at his new location, 1846 West Adams Blvd, where all your favorite tchotchkes will be available for perusal and purchase.
L.A. WEEKLY WINS AT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA JOURNALISM AWARDS
And finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t toot our own horn once in a while. Two of our very own, Shana Nys Dambrot and Lina Lecaro, were up for the 2019 Southern California Journalism Awards at the 61st annual Los Angeles Press Club gala held at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel downtown on June 30. Dambrot took first prize for her feature on actor Viggo Mortensen while Lecaro won third prize for her work in overall print journalism. Congratulations to both of these hard-working, talented women.