The L.A. County Museum of Art has unveiled a new design for its proposed $650 million makeover that would have the museum’s main building span Wilshire Boulevard – with traffic passing underneath the structure. The new design by architect Peter Zumthor was created to address concerns that the original plan to extend the museum over the La Brea Tar Pits would cast a shadows and potentially damage the pits. City and county officials are supporting the redesign. They say the new museum would fit in well with other dramatic changes coming to the Wilshire corridor, including a subway stop at Wilshire and Fairfax Avenue and a motion picture museum at the old May Co. building. The scale of the building and its relationship with surrounding streets still needs to be fine-tuned. The part of the building spanning Wilshire would connect the main museum campus to property it owns on the south side of the street.
California’s historic drought hasn’t had a big effect on food prices, yet. But experts say that might be about to change. With half-a-million acres of California farm land idled due to the drought and farmers switching their remaining fields away from thirstier crops, the L.A. Times” reports fruit and veggie prices are expected to jump by about six percent in coming months. Some of the steeper price hikes are expected to involve avocados, berries, grapes, melons, broccoli, lettuce, peppers and tomatoes. California grows about half the fresh fruits and vegetables in the U.S. including 80 percent of the carrots, 90 percent of the leaf lettuce and nearly all broccoli, artichokes, avocados and almonds.
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a law making it easier to fire abusive teachers after a court struck down California’s teacher tenure laws earlier this month. The bill takes effect January 1st. It creates a separate, expedited firing process for teachers accused of sexually abusing students and certain drug crimes. It also speeds up the appeals process for all dismissals. But some school administrators say it doesn’t do enough to protect students. The bill was inspired in part by the case of former L.A. elementary school teacher Mark Berndt, who was sentenced to a lengthy prison term last year for molesting students.
If you’re stretched to the limit by rent or mortgage payments, you’re not alone. A new study finds that Angelenos pay a higher percentage of their income for housing than people anywhere else in the country. The report from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies says half the households in the L.A. metro area spend 30 percent of their income or more to keep a roof over their heads. Among renters, the percentage is closer to 60 percent. The 30 percent threshold is important. Many economists say that’s the point at which spending on housing starts to crowd out other necessities, such as health insurance and even food. The study says the affordability gap is due to the fact that housing prices have risen much faster than incomes in L.A.
How’s California’s beach water quality measure up compared to other states? Not too badly, according to a new survey by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The environmental group ranks California 11th out of 30 coastal states in terms of clean water. Overall, California beaches run the gamut between clean and dirty: In the greater L.A. area, the survey identified Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro and Newport Bay at the Newport Boulevard Bridge as having the highest rates of exceeding acceptable pollution levels last year. But just down the road in Newport Beach, the coast at 38th Street was labeled a beach “superstar.” The report says up to 3.5 million people become ill from contact with raw sewage in coastal waters every year.