Southern California -- this just in

Category: July 2010

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Boy, 2, is fatally mauled by family dog in San Diego

A 2-year-old boy was fatally mauled Saturday morning by a German shepherd in the family home in off-base military housing in San Diego, police said.

The child was rushed to Rady Children's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The family lives in military housing in the Tierrasanta neighborhood; the father is forward deployed. The dog was the family pet.

The boy's mother was sleeping at the time of the incident, police said. The death is under investigation.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Tree trimmer dies after equipment strikes power line

A tree trimmer died in West Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon after equipment he was using struck a power line, authorities said.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department said the 24-year-old suffered a heart attack after his mechanical axe hit an electrified line about 1:30 p.m. He was working on the 500 block of South Moreno Avenue.

Co-workers lowered the man to the street and paramedics were summoned, said fire department spokesman Cecil Manresa. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

-- Kurt Streeter

Sand Dune Park in Manhattan Beach to reopen

Sand Dune Park in Manhattan Beach, a towering pile of sand that has attracted fitness buffs and power walkers for years, will reopen Monday.

But anyone wanting to march up the 100-yard dune for the ultimate cardiovascular workout will now have to make a reservation to do so.

City officials closed the park in August for restoration after the dune was eroded because of excessive use. Residents near the towering wave of sand also complained about noise, trash and a lack of parking spaces in the area because of the park's popularity.

Since it closed, the City Council has looked for ways to respond to those complaints. Among the ideas were adding parking meters or imposing permit parking in the nearby residential areas. The parking revenue would help pay for maintaining the dune, at a cost about $120,000 a year, according to a Times article.

The Daily Breeze reports more on the dune's reopening.

-- Ruben Vives

New Santa Monica mall going for the upscale

Santa Monica Place

Since designing Santa Monica Place mall more than three decades ago, Frank Gehry has become a world-renowned architect and Santa Monica has become one of the most lively and thriving beach cities.

The suburban-style mall, however, languished in time, walled off from the increasingly vibrant street life.

Now a developer is betting the shopping center can become hip again. Macerich Co. spent $265 million to rip the mall at Third Street and Broadway down to its steel foundations and rebuild it as a three-story outdoor shopping venue.

Next Friday, after more than two years behind construction barriers, the new Santa Monica Place will open to the public.

Because of the still-challenging economic environment, it will be one of only a few major shopping centers in the U.S. to open in 2010. What's more, the 550,000-square-foot Santa Monica Place will be decidedly upscale.

Continue reading »

Los Angeles city worker union rejects proposed contract [Updated]

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's first major effort to rein in rising employee healthcare costs ended in tatters Saturday, with most sections of a major union rejecting a proposed contract that would have required them to begin paying for a portion of their insurance.

Three out of four bargaining units within the 4,800-member Engineers and Architects Assn. refused to ratify the agreement, which would have required its members pay 5% of the cost of their monthly premiums, according to preliminary results posted on the union's website.

The defeat followed a campaign by a coalition of six city unions, including the powerful Service Employees International Union Local 721, to torpedo the deal. Those groups called the concessions dangerous and said the proposed contract would have set a precedent for other city workers.

Los Angeles' elected officials have already laid off scores of workers in libraries, parks and other public facilities and are expecting another $320-million budget shortfall next year. City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, the city's top financial analyst, said more services -- and employees -- will be on the chopping block unless the mayor and council find a way to pare back the cost of benefits.

Continue reading »

Brush fire breaks out in San Gabriel Valley

Firefighters are battling a 12-acre brush fire that has broken out in the Dalton Canyon area near Glendora, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.

[update at 3:26 p.m. : The fire has burned 15 acres and is 80% contained, fire officials said.]

The fire was reported around 11:40 a.m. near Glendora Mountain Road, and 115 firefighters have been assigned to the fire, Fire Inspector Don Kunitomi said. At least two helicopters are providing air support, he added. No structures are threatened by the blaze.

-- Ruben Vives

Small quake strikes near Tarzana

A 2.1 magnitude earthquake struck the San Fernando Valley area late Saturday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake's epicenter was 6 miles deep and was 1 mile west of Tarzana. There were no reports of injuries or damage shortly after the quake struck around 11:40 a.m., according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

-- Ruben Vives

Newport Beach to see revitalization at retail center

Goodbye, Carl's Jr.

Hello, Crowburgerkitchen.

A retail developer plans to spruce up a long-shabby Newport Beach shopping center when it brings a gourmet burger cafe and Pavilions supermarket to the Balboa Peninsula.

In August, the Albertsons at 32nd Street and Newport Boulevard, along with the other stores and eateries, will close as the center undergoes a major face-lift.

The remodel comes as nearby property owners study how to best use the adjacent land between City Hall and Lido Marina Village. Like some other sections of the city, the area appears to be slowly transforming into a modern, more upscale swath of Newport Beach.

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Malibu girl's death prompts safety push on Pacific Coast Highway


Pacific Coast Highway is many things to the tens of thousands of people who traverse it daily.

For the day-trippers who park on the shoulder and haul their coolers across the roadway, it's the route to some of the best beaches around. For the "Z drivers" -- commuters who take the canyon roads west over the mountains to PCH en route to Los Angeles -- it's the quickest way to work. For the cyclists who ride along the shoulder, it's a workout and a rush.

For the 13,000 people who call Malibu home, PCH is their main street and the only route through town. And since the death of 13-year-old Emily Rose Shane, a local eighth-grader who was hit by a car that ran off the road as she walked on the shoulder April 3, the locals are sick of sharing it with a world that looks on it as a highway.

Residents gathered this week for a public ceremony for the latest victim, Navy Petty Officer Oscar Avila Mendoza, 23, who died after his car was hit by a speeding wrong-way driver on July 16. The wrong-way driver, James Sorg, also died, and Mendoza's passenger was hospitalized.

Continue reading »

Firefighters battling Crown fire hope for light winds and cooler temperatures

Firefighters appeared to be gaining the upper hand Saturday in a battle against a wildfire that has burned almost 14,000 acres in northern L.A. County.
Cooler overnight temperatures and milder winds helped firefighters get 62% containment around the Crown fire in the western Palmdale and Leona Valley areas.

Some 1,320 firefighters are battling the blaze along with 10 helicopters and a DC-10 air tanker.

There have been four dwellings destroyed, along with five outbuildings. Also, there have been three minor injuries to firefighters, including a bee sting.

While there were no mandatory evacuation orders in effect, some 2,300 residences were still considered to be threatened, said Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Frederic Stowers. Sixty commercial buildings and more than 100 outbuildings are also threatened.

Scores of residents who live in areas where there have been road closures would not be able to return for now, Stowers said. 

Firefighters were able to get a handle on the blaze due to diminished winds, which made it possible for the establishment of containment lines. Stowers said that the challenge for Saturday remains the possibility of high winds and scorching temperatures. Temperatures are predicted to rise between 87 and 93 degrees, with possible wind gusts later in the afternoon between 25 and 30 mph.

“When you get a fire this size that produces an enormous amount of heat, you can’t anticipate what might happen,” Stowers said.

Stowers said that the strategy for Saturday would be to protect structures, conduct perimeter control and mop up areas where the fire had been beaten back. Stowers said firefighters would try to “close all remaining, uncontrolled fire lines.”

“The terrain is steep and the weather is going to be dry,” Stowers said.

Stowers said that firefighters would also continue to work to protect vital infrastructure such as power and communication lines.

Areas of concentration would include Portal Ridge; areas above Rancho Vista, such as Ritter Ranch; and the communities above Ana Verde.

-- Ann Simmons


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