Sheriff properly obtained search warrants for supervisor’s home, judge says

Seized materials can’t be searched until a third-party overseer is appointed

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge did not find “any irregularity” with the way the Sheriff’s Department obtained search warrants for the homes and offices of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and other county officials, according to a hearing Thursday, Sept. 22.

Still, Judge William Ryan ruled he would not allow either the sheriff’s detectives, or the Attorney General’s Office, which took over the case this week, to search the seized computers and cellphones until he could appoint a third party, called a special master, to weed out any information protected by attorney-client privilege.

“I am going to appoint a special master because of the claims of privilege,” he said. “I think that needs to be overseen.”

Ryan originally had questioned why the sheriff’s detectives went to a different judge, instead of Judge Eleanor Hunter, who was already presiding over legal challenges to nearly identical search warrants executed by the Sheriff’s Department last year.

Previous court order

In court filings ahead of the hearing, attorneys for Kuehl and L.A. County Metro’s Office of the Inspector General accused the sheriff’s investigators of attempting to circumvent an existing order from Hunter that would have required a special master to participate in the raids and expressed concerns about the involvement of Judge Craig Richman, a longtime associate of Detective Mark Lillienfeld, a member of the sheriff’s Public Corruption Unit.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Max Fernandez originally tried to present the new warrants to Hunter, but she was not available, according to Ryan. The courts sent Fernandez to Richman instead and Richman chose not to appoint a special master, though Fernandez requested one.

“As far as I’m concerned, that puts to bed the issue of whether there was any irregularity in the obtaining of the search warrant,” Ryan said.

The targets of the searches have argued the warrants are overly broad and intrusive, but Ryan declined to rule on the merits of the probe, instead saying such a decision would likely be decided in the future by potentially another judge.

The Thursday hearing involved more than half a dozen attorneys, including separate representation for Kuehl, county oversight Commissioner Patricia Giggans, L.A. County Metro, Metro’s Office of the Inspector General, the sheriff and the attorney general.

Was Kuehl tipped off?

According to Ryan, investigators already have conducted about 50 searches — primarily from devices taken from Kuehl — and even worked overtime trying to determine if Kuehl was tipped off about the search warrants in advance. Kuehl, in an interview, said she received a text message the night before from the County Counsel’s Office about rumors that warrants would be executed the next morning. The Sheriff’s Department also has alleged that Giggans and her attorney greeted deputies at the door.

Kuehl’s attorney, Cheryl O’Connor, pointed to the rush to search Kuehl’s phones for the “tip off” as evidence the department was searching beyond the scope of the warrants. Ryan, in response, likened it to stumbling “across a dead body” while conducting a different investigation.

“It is a very serious allegation that the supervisor had been tipped off that this search was coming ahead of time,” Ryan said. “It’s potentially a felony.”

Lucrative contract

The Sheriff’s Department has indicated its probe is focused on contracts awarded by L.A. County Metro to Peace Over Violence, a nonprofit run by Giggans. Kuehl, a lifelong friend of Giggans, serves on Metro’s board of directors and also is listed as a member of Peace Over Violence’s advisory board. The contracts, which totaled $890,000 over a six-year period, never came before the board for a vote and were approved by CEO Phil Washington.

A whistleblower, whose complaints are the backbone of the sheriff’s case, alleges Kuehl pushed for the contracts behind the scenes. Kuehl has denied the allegations and accused Sheriff Alex Villanueva of targeting her and Giggans for their vocal criticism of him. Both clash frequently with him and have called for his resignation.

The Attorney General’s Office announced Tuesday, Sept. 20, it would take control of the investigation following a letter from Villanueva urging Attorney General Rob Bonta to investigate whether Kuehl had been tipped off. Bonta, in response, said he would take the entire case over because the two investigations are “intimately related.”

“In recent days, the public unfolding of an unprecedented investigation has raised serious questions for residents of Southern California and beyond,” Bonta said in a statement. “I recognize the deep uncertainty this has engendered and, given the unique circumstances, my team has committed to taking over this investigative process. Make no mistake: We are committed to a thorough, fair, and independent investigation that will help restore confidence for the people of our state. If there is wrongdoing by any party, we will bring it to light.”

Return of property

Much of the discussions at Thursday’s hearing revolved around how soon seized property could be returned.

The representatives for Kuehl and Giggans urged a speedy return of the computers and cellphones as their clients have suffered from the loss of the equipment. O’Connor, the attorney for Kuehl, said the supervisor was working from home and now only has access to a single cellphone to conduct county business.

“There is no reason taxpayers should have to purchase new devices in order for her to do her duties,” O’Connor said.

Attorney Austin Dove, who represents Giggans, said Peace Over Violence has been “crippled by this search warrant” after deputies seized both its server and the backup. The nonprofit is unable to serve its more than 600 clients as a result.

“Two weeks is death for my client,” Dove told the judge. “I don’t believe they can survive that long.”

Ryan ordered the Attorney General’s Office to determine if it could quickly digitally duplicate the devices and then return the physical hardware without hindering its investigation.

Susan Schwartz, a deputy attorney general, suggested Ryan order the Sheriff’s Department to turn over its investigatory records and the seized property within the next two weeks, but Ryan declined to do so, saying he wouldn’t force the matter unless the agency refused to cooperate. Fernandez, sitting in the audience, told the court his unit would meet the two-week deadline voluntarily.

Double representation

Though a sheriff’s spokesperson previously released a statement saying the County Counsel’s Office had fired the department’s attorney, two sets of attorneys turned up on its behalf, creating confusion in the court.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Daily News

LA County Offers $236 Million to Settle Homeless Lawsuit, Vows to Partner With City of Los Angeles

County settles major 2020 lawsuit with the LA Alliance for Human Rights, agrees to provide more help for homeless

Los Angeles County has settled a major lawsuit addressing homeless people living in poor conditions on Skid Row, and will now team up with the City of Los Angeles to create a one-two punch in which the city builds shelters and permanent housing and the county provides wraparound services, officials announced Monday.

On Monday Sept. 12, the county signed a settlement agreement with the plaintiff, LA Alliance for Human Rights, three months after the city settled.

The county’s agreement is expected to be accepted by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter within 30 days. Though still unofficial, the two sides are anticipating his approval of the agreement, and are planning how the new county dollars will help some of L.A. County’s 69,000 unhoused people to move into housing.

Matthew Umhofer, attorney for the LA Alliance, a coalition of the homeless, those living in poverty, those on the edge of homeless, property owners and small businesses, said at a press conference downtown, “We fought for our clients, and yes, at times we fought against the city and the county. But we’ve fought for our brothers and sisters on the streets and for the soul of this city and county.”

In March 2020 the Alliance filed an unprecedented lawsuit accusing the city and county of inaction that led to encampments, creating a dangerous environment for both businesses and residents in the 50-block Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles.

In an unusual action, U.S. District Court Judge Carter in April 2021 set a timeline for the city and county to shelter people living in Skid Row, and for the city to put aside $1 billion to address the crisis. His order, to begin sheltering people by Oct. 18, 2021, was never implemented, as the county and city fought the Alliance lawsuit.

In an appeal in late September 2021, a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Hawaii vacated Judge Carter’s order, finding that the order lacked legal standing and that Carter, who had visited the homeless in person and conducted interviews, had “impermissibly resorted to independent research and extra-record evidence.”

The lawsuit gained considerable public attention, including impromptu public hearings near homeless encampments attended by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and other elected officials. At first, the city and county attorneys fought the lawsuit, saying the Alliance’s use of the court’s power was “overbroad and unmanageable” and was an attempt to usurp the role of local government.

That changed in June when the city agreed in a court settlement to spend about $3 billion to develop up to 16,000 beds or housing units for non-mentally ill members of the homeless population.

The county added its own settlement offer Monday, for which the ink was not yet dry, said Fesia Davenport, L.A. County’s chief executive officer.

Under its settlement, L.A. County will spend $236 million through June 2027, said Los Angeles County Second District Supervisor Holly Mitchell. Of that, $74 million will go to homeless engagement services and $162 million will go to dedicated permanent housing, she said.

Garcetti said that while the lawsuit was contentious, the city and county have been working to battle homelessness for eight years by bringing shelter to 130,000 unhoused people. “The problem has been we need to ramp up the pace,” Garcetti said on Monday.

Officials from both branches of local government said the lawsuit and resulting settlements acted as a catalyst that brought the two government entities together with a common goal and complementary resources.

City officials who spoke at the press conference Monday welcomed the county’s partnership, saying the city does not have services to help newly housed people thrive, such as mental health programs, substance abuse disorder treatment, job placement counselors or child daycare services. The city will rely on the county to provide those services, helping people make it in new housing, or preventing those on the edge from becoming homeless.

“The city can construct housing. The county can provide services for people in that housing,” said Matt Szabo, L.A.’s city administrative officer.

“This is what this agreement binds us to do,” Szabo said. “It sets a standard I hope we can build upon and use as a template moving forward.”

The five-year settlement will add more homeless outreach team members and mental health beds, said Umhofer. It will be overseen by Judge Carter. “This provides real accountability,” Umhofer said.

Some questioned if the county’s allocation was enough.

For example, the money from the county would increase mental health beds by 300, a number that L.A. City Councilman Kevin de Leon said was not enough — but a start. “Skid Row is an embarrassment for this city, the county and this country,” he said, adding that the deaths of many homeless from drug overdoses is a scar on Los Angeles.

Supervisor Mitchell said the new settlement is a small fraction of what the county has already spent, including $532 million from Measure H, a tax that raised money for housing the homeless. And the county has put $400 million from federal American Rescue Plan grants into helping homeless individuals.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Daily News

Teen killed in Shootout Near Hollywood Walk of Fame

A teenager is dead following a shootout along Hollywood’s Walk of Fame overnight.

The victim was shot just after 1 a.m. on Hollywood Boulevard. 

Preliminary information reveals it appears that a group of men – at least one armed with a gun – tried robbing another group of men, leading to a shootout with multiple people shooting at each other. 

Witnesses said they heard about 10 gunshots. 

The victim was taken to the hospital where he later died, officials said. He was shot multiple times. 

At least four suspects were seen running from the scene, including at least one that had been with the victim. 

It’s unclear if this was an attempted robbery, or if the men got into some type of argument that led to the shootout. 

Click here to read the full article at FoxNews

Teachers union considers boycotting LAUSD’s voluntary learning day for students

UTLA demands that district negotiates with it first, before adding four days to year for students behind after pandemic

The union representing Los Angeles Unified teachers is weighing whether to ask its members to boycott an extra day of work planned for October, in a dispute over whether district officials had the right to tack on four days of voluntary paid teaching aimed at helping children who fell behind during the coronavirus pandemic.

The so-called “Student Acceleration Days”, scheduled for four Wednesdays during the school year, are voluntary for both students and teachers, and are intended to help students who struggled academically during the pandemic to catch up.

Teachers aren’t required to work these days, and those who do will receive extra pay.

Despite the days being optional, United Teachers Los Angeles filed an unfair practice charge with the state’s Public Employment Relations Board this month, alleging the district was wrong to unilaterally alter the school calendar without first making a good-faith attempt to negotiate with the union.

The district said in a statement last week that the days are “purely optional” and would allow teachers “the opportunity to work with small groups of students who may need additional instruction” while receiving extra compensation. It further stated that it has and will continue to meet with the union.

Still, UTLA maintains that the extra days should have been negotiated since it impacts employees’ work volume and schedules. Adding the extra days means the school year will end four days later in June, the union has said.

On Friday, Aug. 12, the union sent a memo to its members, which the Los Angeles Daily News has reviewed, announcing it will poll its members next week about potentially boycotting the first of the four “acceleration” days, scheduled for Oct. 19.

Rather than encourage employees to work it, UTLA officials are considering calling a downtown rally for that day to promote the union’s “Beyond Recovery” platform, which lays out issues it wants to address in its current contract negotiations with the district.

The memo said UTLA’s bargaining team will continue to try and resolve the dispute with the district over the four extra days.

“However, if the district and (Superintendent Alberto) Carvalho proceed in unfairly implementing their new schedule, the UTLA Officers, Board of Directors, Bargaining Team, and Chapter Leaders who met at the Leadership Conference recommend that C-Basis employees unionwide boycott volunteering for October 19 and instead hold a rally downtown in support of the Beyond Recovery platform,” the union stated in the memo.

About 80% of UTLA members are classified as “C-Basis” employees, meaning they have the option of working on Oct. 19. If the union proceeds with the boycott, the other 20% of UTLA members who must work that day would be encouraged to pass out leaflets and engage in outreach with parents before and after school, according to the memo.

UTLA represents about 34,000 teachers, counselors, librarians, nurses and other certificated employees.

Meanwhile, until decisions are firmed up regarding the boycott, the union is asking its members not to sign up to work the optional day in October.

“It is critical that you protect your right to boycott by NOT signing up to volunteer for October 19,” the memo stated.

The district, which did not respond to a request for comment about the potential boycott, has described the “acceleration” days, which will be structured differently from a regular school day, as opportunities for students to receive support to catch up and meet grade-level standards, earn a C or better in their courses, or to get ahead.

It’s unclear what would happen if few teachers volunteer to work these days.

Students who don’t attend the extra days may be dropped off on campus by their parents for daycare during the regular school hours.

UTLA has questioned whether the four days will do much to help students. Instead, the union has said that money being set aside for these four days would be better spent on reducing class sizes; hiring more counselors, psychiatric social workers and psychologists; and investing in teacher development.

Click here to read the full article in the Los Angeles Daily News

Good Samaritan Tackles Suspect Who Allegedly Assaulted, Robbed Elderly Man in Hollywood

A homeless man who assaulted and allegedly attempted to rob an elderly man at a Hollywood restaurant was chased down and subdued by a good Samaritan until authorities could arrive.

Security camera footage captured the incident and was shared on YouTube by Amherst Technologies on Friday. Since being shared on Twitter on Saturday, the video has received over 500,000 views as of Sunday evening.

In the footage from the restaurant, a man, described as homeless, can be seen walking up to the elderly man, who is off-camera, and proceeds to assault him while allegedly stealing his wallet and phone.

Sitting nearby, the good Samaritan, who can be heard narrating the events of the footage, witnessed the assault and immediately chased the suspect down.

The footage then cuts to a street view where the narrator tackles the man while a wallet — presumably the elderly man’s — falls from the suspect’s hands and onto the street.

The homeless man can be seen punching the good Samaritan in the face before he is tackled to the ground.

“That is where he clocked me,” the narrator said. “He ruined my glasses. They’re destroyed.”

A woman is then seen picking up the wallet and assisting the good Samaritan in subduing the suspect by stepping on his feet.

The narrator notes he slowly turned the suspect over to have him facing up.

From then on, the good Samaritan pinned the alleged robber down for a few minutes while he attempted to wrestle himself away to no avail.

Authorities eventually arrived, and the suspect was seen being arrested by police.

It is unknown when and where precisely in Hollywood the incident occurred or the details regarding the suspect’s detainment.

Breitbart News reached out to Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) for more details but did not receive an immediate response.

Click here to read the full article in BreitbartCA

Los Angeles Schools Prepare Lesson on ‘Privilege’ and ‘Intersectionality’

The Los Angeles Unified School District has prepared a lesson to teach children about privilege and intersectionality. 

The lesson was prepared by the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) Office of Human Relations, Diversity, and Equity. Titled “Privilege 101,” the lesson is intended to advance the left’s view of identity in the classroom. 

The presentation claims that there are various different types of privilege, including “white privilege,” “heterosexual privilege,” “religious privilege,” “gender privilege,” “cisgender privilege,” and “able-bodied privilege.”

The presentation went on to discuss the concept of intersectionality, claiming that “people may experience privilege in some areas but lack privilege in others.” It noted that there are various identity categories, highlighting race, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, and gender identity.

The presentation ended by telling students to be a “good ally.” It also offered tips for being a good ally, including “understand your privilege” and “listen and do your homework.” It also reminds the students that “ally is a verb.”

This is just one of many “advisory lessons” prepared by the LAUSD Office of Human Relations, Equity, and Diversity. Other titles include “Critical Race Theory, Racism, and K-12 Education,” as well as “What is SCOTUS,” “Say Gay,” and “What Can We Do About Gun Violence?”

The office explains that the lessons are intended to create dialogue with students regarding “power, privilege, oppression, and resistance.”

The LAUSD has been at the forefront of the push to embed leftist beliefs on race and gender into the K-12 education system. Breitbart News previously revealed that LAUSD works with an organization to normalize child transgenderism. The nation’s second most populous school district has also teamed up with Planned Parenthood.

Click here to read the full article in Breitbart

UTLA Claims LAUSD Unfairly Added Four Teaching Days and Three Development Days to School Year

The teachers union has filed an unfair practice charge against the Los Angeles Unified School District, alleging its decision to add four instructional days and three professional development days to the 2022-23 school year, while optional for both students and teachers, should have been negotiated.

United Teachers Los Angeles wrote in its filing with the state’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) that because additional days affect educators’ work volume and schedules, LAUSD violated the Educational Employment Relations Act by unilaterally altering the school calendar.

The school board added the optional days to the 2022-23 school year in April to help students who are still catching up after the coronavirus pandemic. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the extra days would be optional this coming year, but he hoped to negotiate with employee groups to make the extra days part of the regular school calendar in the future.

The district said on Tuesday, Aug. 9, that it has met with the union and continues to do so. “UTLA has recently filed an Unfair Practice Charge regarding purely optional days which afford teachers the opportunity to work with small groups of students who may need additional instruction,” the district said in a statement.

“Additional pay will be offered to teachers choosing to participate,” it stated. “The District looks forward to further discussions with UTLA on this and other topics as we work together for the school communities we serve.”

The filing by UTLA claims that “while a school district may unilaterally adopt a tentative calendar if it has bargained in good faith over the calendar before and after unilaterally adopting it and shows a willingness to agree to alterations in the tentative calendar after adopting it, LAUSD has not exhibited good faith at any stage of the process.”

UTLA questioned whether the “accelerated” instructional days – scheduled for four Wednesdays throughout the school year – is the most effective way to address pandemic recovery. Families who don’t want their children to attend optional instructional days can drop them off at day care that the district will provide during regular school hours.

LAUSD plans to use $122 million in COVID-19 governmental relief aidfor the extra instructional and professional development days. But the union argues that money could be better spent to reduce class sizes, hire additional counselors, psychiatric social workers and school psychologists, and invest in teacher development.

“Educators are the ones in the classroom day to day, not Superintendent Carvalho, yet they are being left out of conversations on how to most effectively invest in student learning,” UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said in a statement. “Instead, the district has chosen to make hasty decisions that will have more negative consequences for both educators and students.”

UTLA says it asked for information about the changes to the calendar and requested that the district bargain with them over the issue. It alleges that LAUSD delayed the negotiations and did not schedule bargaining sessions over the summer break.

The two sides aren’t scheduled to meet until Aug. 25. Meanwhile, the three optional professional development days are scheduled for this week.

“The District has not articulated any exigent circumstances that might justify its delay in negotiations or sudden imposition of days at the front end of the school year that shortened the window for negotiations,” UTLA wrote in its filing with PERB.

The union has requested that PERB order the district to remove the extra days from the school calendar, and to acknowledge in writing, to be circulated throughout the district, that L.A. Unified has a responsibility to bargain in good faith.

UTLA represents about 34,000 teachers, counselors, librarians, nurses and other certificated employees. The additional work days potentially impacts about 30,000 of its members, according to the union.

Beyond the issue with the school year calendar, UTLA is in the midst of negotiations over a new contract.

On Monday, the superintendent said during his Opening of Schools address and at a news conference later that the district must fairly compensate its employees and help them keep up with the area’s cost of living.

“We are determined, now that the summer’s coming to an end, to go to the bargaining table in a fair, just and expedited way,” Carvalho said during the press conference.

In 2019, protracted contract negotiations between the district and teachers union resulted in a strike that lasted six school days.

Though he did not mention the strike, Carvalhowho joined the district six months ago, acknowledged that past negotiations have lasted up to two years and said it’s the district’s intent to settle contracts much more quickly moving forward.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Daily News

L.A. Voters to Decide Whether Hotels Must Rent Vacant Rooms to Homeless People

A controversial measure that would require hotels in Los Angeles to rent vacant rooms to homeless people will go before voters in 2024, the City Council decided Friday.

The council rejected an option that would have skipped the public vote and enacted the ordinance directly, instead voting 12 to 0 to send the measure to the ballot. The initiative is backed by the hospitality worker union Unite Here Local 11, which had gathered enough signatures to place it before voters.

Friday’s council vote sets the stage for a protracted public battle over the measure, with L.A. voters having the ultimate say in 19 months. The hotel industry will probably mount vigorous opposition to the ballot measure. A number of progressive community and housing groups have backed it alongside Unite Here.

The proposal comes as city officials are gradually closing one of the signature programs set up to address homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic: Project Roomkey, which turned multistory hotels into makeshift shelters. A number of the Project Roomkey sites have already closed.

Hotel owners and operators made up a large contingent of the packed council chamber, with many arguing that the proposal would unfairly burden hotels and hurt their ability to do business.

A handful of hotel workers spoke in support of the measure, while some others opposed it.

Under the proposal, hotels would be required to regularly report the number of vacant rooms they have to the city’s housing department. A program run through the department would then make referrals and pay “fair market rate” for the lodging using prepaid vouchers. Hotels would be prohibited from discriminating against homeless Angelenos “for their participation in this program, or the fact or perception, that they are unhoused.”

That proposed voucher program has no designated source of funding and would be contingent on funding being secured by July 1, 2023, according to a report from the city attorney’s office.

Unite Here Local 11 spokesperson Maria Hernandez said the voucher program would set up a system for utilizing various funding streams.

“Just like with Project Roomkey, there are federal, state and local sources of funding for emergency housing, and this initiative creates a new option for using those funds to get people into housing immediately,” Hernandez said. “There are also nonprofits, churches and other private sources that are interested in buying vouchers to house those in need.”

The measure would also have significant land-use implications for new hotel development.

During his public comment, Northeast Los Angeles Hotel Owners Assn. President Ray Patel asked all the hotel owners in the room to stand up, saying their operations would be dramatically affected if the proposal was directly approved. Patel, who owns Welcome Inn in Eagle Rock, urged the city to instead use Project Roomkey’s voluntary participation as a model.

“Hotels would gladly volunteer their hotels to participate in programs as long as there’s a wraparound service, which includes mental health service, social service, 24-hour security and somebody’s there to hold their hand and help them get into permanent housing,” Patel said.

Several speakers also raised concerns about the lack of details regarding how the sweeping proposal would work.

“We have no economic data about what it will cost the city,” Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn., said, noting the lack of funding source and the fact that rates had not yet been set for hotel rooms.

“Hotels did not cause the homeless problem. Hotels are not the solution for the homeless problem,” Waldman said to loud applause in the council chamber.

Richard Earle, a representative of independent hospitality insurance brokerage Petra Risk Solutions, was one of several speakers who said the program would reduce hotels’ ability to procure and maintain insurance.

“Insurance carriers will legitimately pull coverage,” Earle said. “The business is underwritten with risks that involve guests and business travelers, not residents who bring a whole set of separate implications.”

But Carly Kirchen, an organizer with Unite Here Local 11, argued that hotel operators and associations were being unfairly prejudiced against homeless Angelenos.

“The hotel operators would have you believe that every person experiencing homelessness is so sick that they are a danger to the people around them. But this myth argument misrepresents who is actually experiencing homelessness,” Kirchen said, noting that hotel workers are among those most affected by the housing crisis, with thousands of their members facing eviction.

“Even as a union member with a good-paying job, I was recently homeless due to the housing crisis in our city,” said Bambian Taft, who identified herself as a hotel minibar attendant and former housekeeper. Taft said she had recently paid out of pocket to stay at hotels with her daughters when there was “no work for me at the hotel.”

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

California Exodus Continues, With L.A., San Francisco Leading the Way: ‘Why are We Here?’

After living in the Bay Area for nearly seven years, Hari Raghavan and his wife decided to leave for the East Coast late last year.

They were both working remotely and wanted to leave California because of the high cost of living and urban crime.So they made a list of potential relocation cities before choosing Miami for its sunny weather and what they perceived was a better sense of safety.

Raghavan said that their Oakland house had been broken into four times and that prior to the pandemic, his wife called him every day during her seven-minute walk home from the BART station because she felt safer with someone on the phone. After moving to Miami, Raghavan said they accidentally left their garage door open one day and were floored when they returned home and found nothing had been stolen.

“We moved to the Bay Area because we had to be there if you want to work in tech and start-ups, and now that that’s no longer a tether, we took a long hard look and said, ‘Wait, why are we here again?’ ” Raghavan said.

He said there wasn’t much draw in California’s quality of life, local or social policies, or cost of living. “That forced us to question where we actually wanted to live,” he said.

An acceleration of people leaving coastal California began during the first year of the pandemic. But new data show it continued even after lockdowns and other COVID restrictions eased.

California ranks second in the country for outbound moves — a phenomenon that has snowballed during the pandemic, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, which tracked data from moving company United Van Lines. Between 2018 and 2019, California had an outbound move rate of 56%. That rate rose to nearly 60% in 2020-21.

Citing changes in work-life balance, opportunities for remote work and more people deciding to quit their jobs, the report found that droves of Californians are leaving for states like Texas, Virginia, Washington and Florida. California lost more than 352,000 residents between April 2020 and January 2022, according to California Department of Finance statistics.

San Francisco and Los Angeles rank first and second in the country, respectively, for outbound moves as the cost of living and housing prices continue to balloon and homeowners flee to less expensive cities, according to a report from Redfin released this month.

Angelenos, in particular, are flocking to places like Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Diego, San Antonio and Dallas. The number of Los Angeles residents leaving the city jumped from around 33,000 in the second quarter of 2021 to nearly 41,000 in the same span of 2022, according to the report.

California has grappled with extremely high housing prices compared with other states, according to USC economics professor Matthew Kahn. Combined with the pandemic and the rise in remote work, privileged households relocated when they had the opportunity.

“People want to live here, but an unintended consequence of the state’s environmentalism is we’re not building enough housing in desirable downtown areas,” Kahn said. “That prices out middle-class people to the suburbs [and creates] long commutes. We don’t have road pricing to help the traffic congestion, and these headaches add up. So when you create the possibility of work from home, many of these people … they say ‘enough’ and they move to a cheaper metropolitan area.”

Kahn also pointed out that urban crime, a growing unhoused population, public school quality and overall quality of life are driving out residents.

“In New York City, but also in San Francisco, there are all these fights about which kids get into which elite public schools,” he said. “The rich are always able to hide in their bubble, but if the middle class looks at this quality of life declining, that’s a push factor to leave.”

Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather cited a June report that tracked the change in spending power of a homebuyer on a $2,500 monthly budget. While 11.2% of homes in Los Angeles were affordable on that budget, using a 3% interest rate, that amount swelled to about 72% in Houston and about 50% in Phoenix.

“It’s really an affordability problem,” Fairweather said. “California for the longest time has prioritized single-family zoning, which makes it so people stay in their homes longer because their property taxes don’t reflect the true value. California is the epicenter of where the housing shortage is so people have no choice but to move elsewhere.”

While California experienced a major population boom in the late 20th century — reaching 37 million people by 2000 — it’s been losing residents since, with new growth lagging behind the rest of the country, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. The state’s population increased by 5.8% from 2010 to 2020, below the national growth rate of 6.8%, and resulting in the loss of a congressional seat in 2021 for the first time in the state’s history.

Although California has relied on immigration to offset its population decline for the past two decades, that flow has also shrunk, according to UCLA economics professor Lee Ohanian.

Delays in processing migration requests to the U.S. were compounded during the pandemic, resulting in the lowest levels of immigration in decades, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Estimates showed a net increase of 244,000 new immigrants between 2020 and 2021 — roughly half the 477,000 new immigrant residents recorded between 2019 and 2020 and a drastic reduction from more than 1 million reported from 2015 to 2016.

The state is also seeing a dwindling middle class, said Ohanian, who cited a report from the National Assn. of Realtors, outlining that the national median home sales price has reached $416,000, a record high. Meanwhile, California’s median home price has topped $800,000.

“[California is] at a risk for becoming a state for very, very wealthy people and very, very low earners who receive state and local and federal aid that allows them to be able to live here,” Ohanian said. “We should worry about those in the middle who are earning that $78,000 household median income and is, at the end of the day, really struggling, especially if they have interest in buying a home.”

Los Angeles County, in particular, has suffered from slowed population growth, as have rural parts of the state, while Orange County, Sacramento and some parts of the Bay Area have managed to see some gains, the Public Policy Institute of California found.

Fairweather said that since she last lived in Los Angeles in 2016, she’s noticed fewer affordable places to rent.

“It used to be that Santa Monica and Beverly Hills were expensive, but you could find affordable housing on the Eastside,” she said. “But that got expensive and you had to find housing near South Central. Now, there’s nowhere within a two-hour commute of downtown Los Angeles that’s still affordable.”

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

Latinos Liked Caruso in the Primary. Can Bass Catch Up?

As Los Angeles residents decide who will be their mayor, Rep. Karen Bass is trying to build on her seven-point advantage in the primary over billionaire developer Rick Caruso.

But in precincts with large Latino populations, the primary results were different — Caruso generally came out ahead of Bass, according to a Times analysis.

While Latino voters in L.A. have historically leaned progressive, they can have a conservative streak on some issues, including policing. Party affiliation is relatively weak among Latinos, with some identifying as Democrats but willing to cross over for candidates who speak to them on issues, experts said.

With homelessness, crime and affordable housing on voters’ minds this year, Caruso’s pitch that he is an outsider who can fix these problems appealed to Latino voters in the primary and could do so head-to-head with the more liberal Bass.

But turnout is expected to be much higher in the November general election. City Councilman Kevin de León, the only major Latino candidate, had strong support among Latinos in the primary, and it is unclear where those voters will end up.

Latinos, who make up more than a third of the city’s electorate, could still swing for Bass, experts said.

As he did during the primary, Caruso — a former Republican who is now a Democrat — will probably use his fortune to saturate the airwaves, including Spanish-language media.

Bass (D-Los Angeles), a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus with a strong base in South L.A., will rely on endorsements from Latino leaders, as well as one-on-one meetings and intimate gatherings at homes, to make up for what she lacks in money.

“Those TV ads are effective, but they’re superficial,” said Matt A. Barreto, a researcher with the UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Institute. “Community, door-to-door contact is way more effective.”

In L.A. precincts with populations that are at least 80% Latino, Caruso got 34% of the vote in the primary, and Bass got 27%, according to the Times analysis.

De León captured 8% of the overall vote but 24% in those precincts, the analysis showed. He was the top finisher in Boyle Heights, which he represents on the City Council, and received strong support in South-Central, where votes were split almost evenly among the top three candidates.

De León, who has not endorsed Bass or Caruso, has said he will support whichever candidate “has the strongest plan to build pathways into the middle class for the workers who make this city go.”

Boyle Heights and South-Central are areas where a majority of residents earn less than the city’s median income and are renters.

In the San Fernando Valley, voters overall supported Caruso; the same was true in areas with large Latino populations such as Sylmar and Pacoima.

A UCLA statistical analysis also showed Caruso as the top finisher among Latinos, with 34% of the vote. De León finished second, with 29%, and Bass had 20%.

At 17%, voter turnout in the Latino-heavy precincts analyzed by The Times was much lower than the overall turnout of 30%. Some see that as an indication that candidates aren’t doing enough to connect with Latino voters.

Lack of outreach leads Latinos to feel disillusioned or disconnected with political leaders and their campaigns, according to Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Assn. of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund.

Political analysts and voting advocates have urged the candidates to engage with Latinos by meeting them face to face in their communities. Bass will need to increase her name recognition outside of South L.A., while Caruso will need to make his message to voters more substantive, experts said.

Bass said her campaign has created a “Latino affinity group” to organize in-person events. She leans on her decades of experience working with Latino activists in South L.A. as a founder of Community Coalition, which attempts to address the root causes of poverty, crime and violence. She has secured endorsements from key Latino politicians, as well as the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, or CHIRLA.

Besides advertising on Spanish-language television, Caruso’s campaign has conducted outreach in Latino neighborhoods such as Pacoima and Boyle Heights, according to Juan Rodriguez, a political consultant for the candidate.

“That the vote broke down the way it did makes us feel really good about the potential of November,” Rodriguez said.

Sean Rivas, chair of the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley, which previously endorsed De León, believes Caruso’s advertisements have made an impact.

“Rick came out swinging. He spent so much money on TV advertising during the peak times, the [telenovela] times and during the day as well,” Rivas said, adding that it “made an impact because he got ahead of the talking points,” including homelessness.

Angelica Salas, executive director of CHIRLA, said she doesn’t think “slick ads” in Spanish are enough to win over Latino voters.

“I want all candidates to understand we are sophisticated voters,” she said. “We’re people who are paying attention.”

While Caruso’s wealth turns off some voters, it can be a plus for Latinos who see their own journeys reflected in his. Maria S. Salinas, president and chief executive of the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce, which has endorsed Caruso, said his immigrant and business background, as well as his philanthropy, appeals to Latinos.

“Many Latinos start their own businesses, because that’s the way for economic opportunity,” she said. “Mr. Caruso is an entrepreneur himself. I know he’s a person that is definitely very connected to philanthropic work throughout the city, and he is a man of faith. Those are all qualities that I think appeal to everyday Latinos.”

Maggie Darett-Quiroz sees her immigrant family’s story in Caruso, who is of Italian descent, and doesn’t mind that he has spent millions of his own money on his campaign.

“He’s willing to make a change, and right now, we need the change,” said Darett-Quiroz, who voted for Caruso and is commissioner of Empower L.A., the city department that oversees neighborhood councils. “We can’t stick to the plan anymore.”

Roselia Melgoza, a 73-year-old Boyle Heights resident, said she didn’t vote in the primary and doesn’t know much about the candidates. But she is leaning toward voting for Caruso in November. From friends, family and TV ads, she has gleaned that he comes from an immigrant family that initially settled in Boyle Heights and that he has given to charities. She also thinks he might use his wealth to help the city.

She hasn’t heard anything about Bass.

“One listens to the people who surround you,” she said.

Mireira Moran, a 32-year-old Pacoima resident and member of the neighborhood council, said she supports Bass because of the congresswoman’s experience and political values. But Moran is in the minority, in her neighborhood and on the council. She said people are looking for something different — someone who is not a politician.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times