LA Observed Notes: Media notes, homeless ruling, scooters and lion cubs

p-70-through-73-nps.jpgPuma cubs P-70, P-71, P-72 and P-73 were found recently by the Santa Monica Mountains lion study. See below for more. National Park Service photo.

Our occasional roundup of media news, notes and chatter. Between posts you can keep up with LA Observed on Twitter. We're also on Instagram.

Cities again barred from citing sleeping homeless. LA too?

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday, in a case out of Boise, Idaho, that prosecuting homeless people for sleeping on public property when they have no access to shelter violates the Constitution’s 8th Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. It's unclear on a quick read how this could play out in Los Angeles, but the ruling cites the Jones decision a dozen years ago that blocked Los Angeles from arresting or citing homeless people who sleep outside in public.

The city agreed in a settlement not to enforce the municipal ordinance that bans sleeping on sidewalks at night, since there were not enough shelter beds available anyway, so the Jones ruling was vacated. But lately, Mayor Eric Garcetti has suggested the city may resume prosecuting sleepers if enough homeless shelter beds are added under ballot measure HHH, which provides a lot of money to create shelters. However, many parts of the city have resisted the opening of local homeless shelters, so few are actually getting built.

The new court decision says that it's a Constitutional right: before a homeless person can be prosecuted for sleeping, he or she must have access to shelter — and it can't be shelter that requires any kind of religious condition to use.

We consider whether the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment bars a city from prosecuting people criminally for sleeping outside on public property when those people have no home or other shelter to go to. We conclude that it does...

We agree with Jones’s reasoning and central conclusion, however, and so hold that an ordinance violates the Eighth Amendment insofar as it imposes criminal sanctions against homeless individuals for sleeping outdoors, on public property, when no alternative shelter is available to them.

Reaching across the aisle at USC

Mike Murphy, the Los Angeles-based campaign strategist for John McCain and other Republicans and a relentless conservative voice calling BS on Donald Trump, is teaming with longtime Democratic strategist Robert Shrum as co-heads of the new Center for the Political Future at USC's Dornsife College, where Shrum teaches. "We’re going to try to become the leading place on the West Coast on the theory that everything happens first in California,” Murphy told the New York Times.

The center will name fellows from politics and sponsor conferences devoted to examining American political life. “Mike and I are doing this together because we are both concerned about the state of our politics,” Mr. Shrum said. “We have been rivals and opponents, but we’ve also been friends. That’s not required of everybody in order to have a healthy democracy, but there at least has to be mutual respect and a commitment to deal with actual realities.”

Electric scooters are here to stay, City Hall decides

The city of Los Angeles has opted in on dockless scooters. If you like them, the news is great. If you don't like dodging inattentive riders and discarded scooters on streets and sidewalks, Tuesday's news won't be welcome. There are plenty of Angelenos of all stripes in in both camps, but the popularity of the scooters is spreading so fast the politicians didn't really have much choice.

On Tuesday, the City Council voted to explicitly allow Bird, Lime and other companies to plant fleets of rentable scooters around the city — with some new rules inn force as a trial run over the next year. Up to now, the scooters have mostly been seen on the Westside, where they first appeared last year.

The city's new rules include a 15 mile-an-hour speed limit and explicit warnings to stay off sidewalks while riding (per state law), as well as initial caps on how many scooters can be placed by each company. The new city policy specifically encourages companies to service lower-income areas and parts of the Valley, and requires the companies to come up with a way to allow for riders who don't have a smartphone or credit card. Companies and riders are also supposed to take more steps to keep unused scooters from piling up on sidewalks and parkways. In theory, the companies will have to pay the cost of city workers who move scooters out of the way, as well as $20,000 a year for a city license plus a fee per scooter.

The new rules in Los Angeles of course have no impact in nearby cities. Beverly Hills has banned the scooters while the city studies what to do. Santa Monica and Culver City are allowing scooters to remain under some hastily drawn restrictions. West Hollywood for now lets you ride through the city but, I believe, not to drop off your scooter or grab a new one.

The LA City Council on Tuesday also increased its support for dockless rental bike programs. They are looking like a better bet now than bikes that can be rented from, and returned to, docks found at transit stops and around downtown and some other parts of the city. Those were never as popular with actual riders as boosters vowed they would be, and Metro's program of encouraging docked bikeshares at stations took a hit when Pasadena decided recently to drop out due to low ridership.

We talked about scooters and bikes on Tuesday's LA Observed segment on KCRW (airing at 4:44 every Tuesday afternoon and downloadable at

Media notes

alex-cohen-weight-twitter.jpgAlex Cohen, the morning anchor at KPCC (pictured from her Twitter post), has left the station "to help give birth to a new journalistic project I'm SO excited about." Stay tuned... KPCC's LAist has launched LADYist as "sex ed for grown women."... Ben Bradford of Capital Public Radio is moving to "Marketplace" in Los Angeles... Yuri Victor joins the LA Times as Senior Director, Innovation, from the New York Times. Juliet Lapidos, recently departed as LA Times op-ed editor, joins the Atlantic as a senior editor and deputy of a newly expanded Ideas section... Doyle McManus, the former LA Times Washington bureau chief, was named director of the undergraduate journalism program at Georgetown University. He'll continue writing columns for the Times... LAT political writer Seema Mehta is at the University of Michigan for a year of sabbatical study as a Knight-Wallace Fellow... Ken Docter explains why it looks like Tronc, the LAT's former owner, "is about to be chopped up and sold for parts."

louise-steinman.jpgThe founder and curator behind the Central Library's popular Aloud series, founder and curator Louise Steinman, is no longer with the program. "My position as curator and that of my Associate Director, Maureen Moore, were eliminated,” Steinman wrote in an Aug. 30 email to colleagues. Their departures were abrupt at the start of the new season and met with consternation in the LA author community. The Library Foundation has declined comment, except to say through spokeswoman Leah Price that it's a "private employment matter" and "we’re in the process of re-envisioning the ALOUD series and the rest of the public programming we produce." Gotta wonder if it's somehow tied to this.

LA-based arts reporter Jori Finkel was on LARB Radio Hour to discuss her documentary film, "Artist and Mother," which investigates "why the contemporary art world seems more-than-reluctant to embrace work about motherhood, even when done by theretofore established artists who are new mothers."... "Walt Disney’s Disneyland," a new visual history by Chris Nichols of Los Angeles Magazine, will be released Sept. 12 by Taschen... Jason Ball, the VP of news and news director at KTLA Channel 5, hosts a new interview podcast called The News Director’s Office.... Andrew Bernstein, the official team photographer for the Lakers, Clippers, Sparks and other teams, and whose basketball photographs you have surely seen for years, will be honored Thursday by the Basketball Hall of Fame... Terri Accomazzo joined Angel City Press in Santa Monica as managing editor. She had been acquisitions editor at SAGE Publishing.

Media obits: Ed Marston, former publisher of High Country News, died at 78 of West Nile Virus.... Ann Sonne, a reporter and society editor at the LA Times from 1953-67, then the owner of her own PR firm, died at age 86.

Four mountain lion cubs found in the Santa Monicas

p-19-april2018-nps.jpgNational Park Service researchers recently discovered a litter of four mountain lion kittens in a remote part of the range. They are two females and two males, four weeks old and still with their spots and blue eyes. The kittens were tagged as P-70, P-71, P-72, and P-73. They appear to be healthy, the park service says. This is the sixteenth litter of kittens that biologists have tagged at a lions' den since the NPS study began in 2002.

OK, that's the good news. The cubs were born to six-year-old P-19 (pictured) — this is her fourth known litter. Researchers believe she mated this time with P-56, and that's where the inbreeding present in the landlocked Santa Monica Mountains pumas may be an issue. P-19 and P-56 are very related. She is the mother of his mother, P-23. P-56 himself is also the result of inbreeding: the study's scientists believe P-23 mated with her own father and grandfather, P-12.

What it all means is that the researchers monitoring the local mountain lions are more concerned about extinction of the Santa Monicas colony unless a wildlife passage is opened across the U.S. 101 freeway. Until males from outside can reach the Santa Monica Mountains and mate with females here, inbreeding could wipe out the population. From the park service:

“We have documented multiple cases of inbreeding during the course of our study,” said Jeff Sikich, biologist for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “The 101 Freeway is a major barrier to movement, which restricts the ability of mountain lions to come into and go out of the area, and unfortunately leads to a lack of breeding options.”


NPS researchers have studied P-19, who is now eight years old, since she was approximately four weeks of age, providing valuable long-term data on the challenges to survival for mountain lions in the area. Of the seven known kittens from her previous three litters, four have died (P-23, P-32, P-33, and P-34), two were never outfitted with GPS collars (P-24 and P-46), and only one is confirmed to be alive (P-47).

Today's newsrooms booths?

The open design of the Los Angeles Times newsroom in El Segundo neglected to factor in that reporters are always on the phone with nervous sources, or haggling with an editor, or occasionally arguing with a spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend. Hence the need for sound-proof phone pods. A place to go make a call.


Selected tweets

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