Southern California -- this just in

Category: Beach/Coast/Ocean

Pacific Coast Highway reopened after landslide in Pacific Palisades

Work crews clear debris after a landslide closed Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Pacific Coast Highway north of Santa Monica is open again after a landslide forced crews to close the northbound lanes while they cleared away the debris.

The closure Thursday blocked northbound PCH traffic in Pacific Palisades between Temescal Canyon Road and Sunset Boulevard in Pacific Palisades. The distance was short, but “the effect was much larger,” said Caltrans engineer Patrick Chandler.

By 3 p.m. Thursday, crews had cleared the roadway and opened up traffic again.

A geologist with the agency and a private expert hired by the property owner above the highway agreed to cut down a tree along the hillside but keep its stump and roots remaining.

Caltrans has lined the road’s shoulder with six K-rails, or concrete barriers.


Bell trial: After mistrial, next steps for attorneys unclear

Chef who killed wife, then cooked body to be sentenced

$2.5 million in cocaine found stashed in floor of big-rig trailer

-- Joseph Serna

Photo: Work crews clear debris after a landslide closed Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Mayor moves to protect seals in La Jolla; issue returns to court

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has ordered the Children's Pool beach in La Jolla closed at night after viewing a surveillance video of people "harassing, taunting and causing stress" to mother seals and their pups on the beach under the cover of darkness.

"The behavior was shocking, reprehensible and certainly not a reflection of how most citizens in this fine city believe animals should be treated," Filner said in issuing the emergency order this week.

Under the order, the beach will be closed from sunset through sunrise until May 15, considered the end of the pupping season.

A group called Friends of the Children's Pool, which believes the city has tilted too far in supporting the seals over people, is seeking a court order overturning Filner's order. A hearing is set for April 12 in Department 66 of the San Diego County Superior Court.

Soon after taking office, Filner ordered a surveillance camera installed to monitor the beach, day and night. The video shows what appears to be two women sitting on the seals and kicking them.

City Atty. Jan Goldsmith, while noting that Filner did not contact him before issuing the order, said he stands ready to defend the order in court.

"I have seen the videos of the seal abuse and I am appalled," Goldsmith said. "Once we receive information as to the identity of these perpetrators, they will be brought to justice."

For two decades, opposing sides have battled in court and the political realm over the presence of the seals on the horseshoe-shaped beach. One group says the seals should be allowed to remain and be protected; the other says the beach is meant for children and the seals and their droppings imperil public health and restrict access to the tranquil water.

Also at issue in the court hearing will be the rope installed by the city to keep the public away from the seals during pupping season. Friends of the Children's Pool assert the rope exceeds the length permitted by a Coastal Development Permit.


Hey, Jimmy Fallon -- Burbank isn't good enough for you?

Suspected cocaine trafficking fugitive arrested in Northridge

Bell trial: Jury due back in court to discuss undecided charges

--Tony Perry in San Diego

Power plant explosion rocks Long Beach neighborhood

An explosion rocked a Long Beach neighborhood Wednesday morning when a steam pipe ruptured at a nearby power plant.

At about 7:44 a.m., a 5-inch pipe carrying high pressure steam to a boiler at the AES Alamitos plant in south Long Beach near Pacific Coast Highway failed, blasting a plume of steam into the morning air. The blast could be heard up to a mile away, according to local media reports.

“We always strive to be a good neighbor and are sensitive to the impact the noise may have had on the community,” said AES Southland President Eric Pendergraft in a statement. “We responded as quickly as possible to shut down the facility and minimize the impact.”

It took workers about 45 minutes to take the pipe out of service.

The AES Alamitos plan provides enough natural gas power to light about 2 million homes, according to company officials.


Lindsay Lohan must prove she's entered rehab

Bell trial: Jury's late notes throw verdicts into question, chaos

Victim in fake Rockefeller murder trial died from blows to head

-- Joseph Serna

Young penguins play with iPad at Long Beach aquarium

Looks like kids aren’t the only ones eager to play with iPads.

While most of the maturing penguins at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach are busy trying to impress the opposite sex, the youngsters are turning to other forms of entertainment. 

As “enrichment” for the curious and not-quite-of-age penguins in the June Keyes Penguin exhibit, aviculturalists loaded the "Game for Cats" app on an old iPad and essentially set up a mini arcade for the penguins, according to the Aquarium’s blog.

“Just like cats, penguins are very curious and the idea of these birds following a virtual mouse on a screen was just too appealing,” the blog states.

When young Jeremy and Newsom noticed their new toy last week, they waddled over to get a closer look. Jeremy tapped the screen a few times, but Newsom had a blast and quickly became the resident high-scorer. In the video, Newsom focuses on the moving mouse, reacts to the squeaks and tries repeatedly to pick it up with his beak.

The $1.5-million, 3,000-square-foot penguin exhibit debuted last year and features a colony of Magellanic penguins. Four of the penguins were found starving and stranded on warm Brazilian beaches, victims of global warming, overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction. The remainder came from existing exhibits across the nation.


Police: Crew stole $3 million in gear from Apple, other stores

AIDS foundation accuses adult filmmaker of violating condom law

Mike Feuer gains endorsement of L.A. County Federation of Labor

-- Rosanna Xia

Twitter: @RosannaXia

Man killed in trench collapse identified; Cal-OSHA investigating

Workers try to rescue two people from a trench in Pacific Palisades. Credit: Martha Groves / Los Angeles Times

California safety officials Friday were investigating the cause of a trench collapse in Pacific Palisades a day earlier that killed one man and injured another, a spokesman said.

Also Friday, the Los Angeles County coroner's office identified the dead man as Gilbert Vargas, 50. Emergency workers recovered his body Thursday night after about nine hours of digging in the 200 block of North Temescal Canyon Road, just north of Pacific Coast Highway.

Vargas and the unidentified injured man, who was airlifted Thursday to a hospital in stable condition, had been excavating with back hoes on a city storm water project, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Peter Melton, a spokesman for Cal-OSHA, said the agency has ordered work stopped at the site until any hazards have been resolved.

The state Division of Occupational Safety and Health has six months to complete its investigation, but Melton said Los Angeles Engineering Inc., the men's employer, "is going to want to get this taken care of as soon as possible to get back to work, if they can get back to work."


Mars rock yields building blocks of life

Ancient feathered birds may have sported four wings, study says

Environmental group to appeal planned rail yard near Port of L.A.

-- Martha Groves

Photo: Workers try to rescue two people Thursday from a trench in Pacific Palisades. Credit: Martha Groves / Los Angeles Times



Video: Hitchhiking sea lion hops aboard South Bay kayak

A man ending a night dive off the coast of the South Bay said he got quite a surprise recently when an insistent sea lion pup hopped aboard his kayak and refused to leave.

Rick Coleman said he surfaced from his dive and was surprised by the sea lion.

At one point, he said he nudged the stubborn sea lion off with an oar. Seconds later, it hopped back on.

Coleman thought the pup might have been cold - or escaping a shark in the area. He paddled back to shore with the sea lion on board. When Coleman got back to the beach, the sea lion hopped off and went to rest on some rocks nearby.


Craigslist buyer leaves with car before paying for it

Suspects sought in Rancho Palos Verdes home invasion robbery

LAUSD to pay Miramonte victims $30 million; teacher due in court

-- KTLA News

11 alleged illegal immigrants rescued from boat off Point Loma

Eight women and three men, all suspected illegal immigrants, were rescued in a boat adrift off San Diego's Point Loma after one of the women made a 911 emergency call.

One of the women is pregnant, authorities said.

The Coast Guard and Border Patrol responded to the call, which occurred at 2 a.m. Tuesday. The boat, whose motor had failed, was found three hours later about three miles from shore.

The 11 were taken into custody


Couple allegedly killed by teen driver identified

Suspects sought in Rancho Palos Verdes home invasion robbery

LAUSD to pay Miramonte victims $30 million; teacher due in court

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Supervisors pull back storm water pollution fee proposal

Faced by widespread public opposition, Los Angeles County supervisors sent a proposed parcel fee to combat storm water pollution back to the drawing board.

The proposed fee would be levied on all property owners within the county's flood control district, raising an estimated $290 million a year to help cities and the county deal with widespread water quality issues stemming from polluted storm water and urban runoff and the need to comply with new state regulations.

The supervisors had contemplated putting the fee on a mail-only ballot to the affected property owners. They rejected that notion in a vote Tuesday, while leaving the possibility open for a reworked measure to be placed on the ballot in a general election in June or in November 2014.

Unlike the mail-only vote, which would have required a simple majority, a vote in the general election would require a two-thirds majority to pass.

The board first considered the proposal in January but deferred a vote after a contentious hearing at which nearly 200 people spoke. Although Tuesday's hearing was somewhat more sparsely attended, it still lasted more than three hours.

Continue reading »

Cruise ship Queen Elizabeth to visit Queen Mary in Long Beach

Queen Mary

In keeping with tradition, the newest Cunard ocean liner -- Queen Elizabeth -- will sail by Long Beach Harbor on Tuesday night to pay homage to her predecessor the Queen Mary, once the undisputed grand dame of the North Atlantic.

This is the third “royal rendezvous” in four decades between one of Cunard’s modern vessels and the Queen Mary. Organizers have scheduled a whistle salute, fireworks display and free admission to Long Beach’s iconic flagship for the “once in a generation meeting.”

Over the past decades Cunard Line, which use to own the Long Beach ship, has sent vessels to pay tribute to the first queen. In the early 1980s, Cunard Princess made a stop to say “hello,” according to the Queen Mary website. In 2006, it was the Queen Mary 2 and in 2011 it was Queen Victoria. The latest will be the 2,068-passenger Queen Elizabeth, which went into service in October 2010.

Organizers and cruise ship officials say Tuesday's meeting between the two ships will be the most poignant of all because the original Queen Elizabeth -- whom the current ship is named for -- and the Queen Mary crossed the North Atlantic regularly from 1946 to 1967. Both ships were owned by Cunard Line at the time. 

“Every Wednesday one queen would leave New York and the other queen would leave England,” said Everett Hoard, commodore of the Queen Mary. “And in mid-transatlantic, they would cross each other.”

Adding additional historical significance to the meeting is the Goodyear Blimp, based in nearby Carson. Goodyear built hundreds of blimps for the U.S. Navy in World War II to serve as coastal patrols and to escort convoy and troop ships such as the Queen Mary and the original Queen Elizabeth.

“We’re very proud of these contributions, and that not a single ship was ever lost when one of our blimps stood guard overhead,”  said Elizabeth Flynn, spokeswoman for the Spirit of America. “We are honored to provide escort to Queen Elizabeth as she meets up with her sister the Queen Mary.”

Tuesday’s event is organized by the Queen Mary and Cunard Lines. The Queen Mary is managed by Evolution Hospitality. 

Free admission to the Queen Mary will be offered from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Organizers say the best public viewing location will be on the ship's Promenade Deck. The Queen Elizabeth will sail into the harbor about 6:30 p.m., followed by whistle salutes. The fireworks display will begin at 7:30 p.m.


Southern California earthquake: More than 100 aftershocks

Convicted rapist Andrew Luster's 124-year sentence vacated

Dorner case: Women shot by cops still don't have truck promised by LAPD

-- Ruben Vives


Photo: The Queen Mary at its permanent dock in Long Beach Harbor in a 2011 file photo. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times  

Body found in San Pedro is likely a suicide, coroner official says

053465.RE.1001.guide.6.KHA woman found dead in San Pedro’s Sunken City area likely jumped to her death, an L.A. County coroner official said Monday.

The woman, described as a 40-year-old Latina, appears to have jumped Sunday from a coastal cliff just east of Point Fermin on San Pedro’s southern edge, said Lt. Cheryl MacWillie.

Emergency responders received a call about 5:20 p.m. and found the body after a search by air, ground and water, a Los Angeles Fire Department official said. The body was removed by a helicopter.

The woman has not yet been identified.

The Sunken City is an old residential neighborhood that has been fenced off for decades after it began slipping into the ocean in 1929.


Two men lose legs in downtown strip club fight

Lion attack: Fresno County cat sanctuary reopens to public

Truck crashes into downtown building, killing 1, injuring others

-- Joseph Serna

Photo: Cliffs near Point Fermin in San Pedro. Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times


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