A developer plans to tear down a shopping center in Simi Valley to build hundreds of new homes, including 83 affordable units. But elected officials have postponed all land-use hearings, blaming the pandemic.
A developer plans to tear down a shopping center in Simi Valley to build hundreds of new homes, including 83 affordable units. But elected officials have postponed all land-use hearings, blaming the pandemic.

A city hiding behind the pandemic to avoid approving new housing gets another stern warning from the state. And criminal justice advocates are calling on corrections staff to not repeat its prison mistakes at youth facilities. Plus: What are the odds of getting bitten by a shark, anyway? 

It’s Arlene Martínez with Tuesday’s news you didn’t have time to look for.

But first, Americans used to think $934,000 was what it took to be financially comfortable. Then the pandemic hit and we all got a little more grounded, a little more aware that the things that really mattered weren’t money at all, and we realized financial comfort only required $655,000. 

In California brings you the state’s best stories and commentary, across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Sign up now for straight-to-your-inbox delivery! 

State warns city: Quit using pandemic as an excuse to block housing

When the pandemic hit, elected officials in a Ventura County city put a quick stop to a project to build 278 residential units by barring all public hearings on land-use items. 

That isn’t sitting well with the state, which sent a letter to Simi Valley warning that the city must resume public hearings on such items, approve the so-called Tapo-Alamo project and make a final decision at the project’s next public hearing. 

The July 22 letter is the third time the state has reached out about the project, which includes 83 affordable units. In two previous letters sent in December 2019 and February, the state warned that denying the project would violate the state’s Housing Accountability Act. 

Under the act, because the project includes affordable housing, the city cannot deny it unless it finds a “specific, adverse impact on public health and safety” and it has no way to reduce the adverse impact without making the development unaffordable to low- and moderate-income families. 

Cities across the state have continued holding hearings on land-use items, utilizing technological marvels like Zoom. Simi says it can’t do it.

Another day, another Golden State suit against Trump

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra says he is prepared to go to court over the Trump administration’s announcement it will stop taking new DACA applications. 

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows young, undocumented immigrants to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation, comes a month after a divided Supreme Court blocked the White House from ending a program President Trump has long sought to eliminate. 

Emmy winners and losers, and 12 Golden State skate parks

The case for Moira Rosa of “Schitt’s Creek,” played engagingly by Catherine O’Hara, to win the Emmy for Lead Actress. 

12 California skateparks at the intersection of art and urban recreation, in photos.

Alarming caseloads in Central Valley and among farmworkers

Tulare County on Tuesday reported an average of 553 new cases per 100,000 residents each day over the past two weeks, more than five times the state’s target, meaning it’s inching toward a return of stay-at-home orders. Tulare is part of an eight-county region receiving $52 million in federal money, a move Gov. Gavin Newsom made in recognition of the heavily agricultural region’s fast-growing case rate.

Monterey County isn’t part of the Central Valley, but its agricultural sector has been hard hit: Farmworkers there are three times more likely to catch COVID-19 than workers in any other industry, a report out of the California Institute for Rural Studies found.

Making them more vulnerable to the virus is a lack of documentation, inadequate protection by employers (many didn’t get masks and couldn’t social distance) and technological illiteracy, which limits getting critical information.

Water park closes after all, a nuclear solution and the future of schools

A Redding water park that had threatened to stay open in defiance of state orders closed down after all.
A Redding water park that had threatened to stay open in defiance of state orders closed down after all.

A Redding water park that initially defied orders to close for the reason has reconsidered. It is now closed and gets to keep its business permit. 

A San Diego-based company is building the heart of what will be the largest nuclear fusion device, offering the seductive promise of clean energy without the waste that hangs around forever.

California State University — the state’s largest public system — announced in May it would go virtual in the fall. Here’s what Pepperdine, USC, Loyola Marymount, the UCs and other Golden State higher education institutions are planning. 

At state’s youth prisons, how bad is the COVID-19 situation?

The Ventura Youth Correctional Facility is located at 3100 Wright Road in Camarillo.
The Ventura Youth Correctional Facility is located at 3100 Wright Road in Camarillo.

Advocates are calling on state officials who oversee the juvenile justice system to avoid making the same mistakes that have led to massive outbreaks at adult prisons.

As of Monday, there were 26 confirmed cases of the coronavirus at the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility, including 21 youths. The growing number of cases has prompted calls for change at the facilities run by Division of Juvenile Justice, part of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

“We’re very afraid that we’re going to see replication of many of the same mistakes (at adult prisons) happening at DJJ,” said Maureen Washburn, policy analyst with the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.

The San Francisco-based organization has asked state officials to consider halting intakes at California’s juvenile facilities as well as allowing for early releases. It’s not clear where the cases are in the state’s youth populations because state corrections officials refuse to release that data. 

What else we’re talking about 

A year after a 19-year-old man in body armor and military-style fatigues opened gunfire on the crowd at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, the central question remains unanswered: Why did he do it? Citing the ongoing investigation, the city has not released any public print or electronic documents. 

Nearly half of college women in intimate relationships report experiencing violent and abusive behaviors from their partners but even when they report it, California schools in many cases don’t provide students the support and resources they need to continue their educations. That’s starting to change, albeit slowly.

Several fires are active in the North State, so far consuming tens of thousands of acres. Follow the Record Searchlight for the most updated, real-time information. 

The pandemic has slowed but it hasn’t stopped cannabis businesses from moving on Coachella Valley and beyond opportunities. (Note: Story is for subscribers only).

The city of Goleta and San Bernardino County are among two dozen jurisdictions that have declared racism a public health crisis. The goal is to ensure Black people get the same health outcomes as white people, but critics say without specific actions detailed and money attached, they’re not particularly helpful.

I’ll leave you today with this question about sharks, which comes from “Kate”: 

Q: My family would like to rent a house at Stinson Beach in August. I feel silly asking this, but are sharks a legitimate concern for beach visitors in California? Are attacks more common when there are more people in the water, or have I been watching too many horror movies?

Here’s how the state Department of Fish and Wildlife responded. 

See you tomorrow.

In California brings you top news and analysis from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: The Daily Beast, Arch Daily, California Health Report, Pew Research Center, San Diego Union-Tribune, Los Angeles Times.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: California, COVID, great white sharks, DACA, housing, Emmys: Tues news

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