Today’s News: Developer shrinks Vine Street towers; LAUSD buys 30,000 iPads; Journalist killed in crash

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Hollywood towers. The developer behind a pair of planned residential and hotel towers near Hollywood and Vine has agreed to reduce of the height of the buildings by about 25 percent.

Millennium Partners told the L.A. City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee that it plans to build shorter, bulkier structures to address neighborhood concerns that the towers were too imposing. Under the new blueprint, the taller of the two buildings would drop from 55 to 39 stories, and its companion structure from 45 to 35 stories.

The committee signed off on the changes. But opponents of the Millennium project say the towers are still too big for Hollywood, where the tallest building right now is 22 stories high. They say the project will contribute to traffic nightmares in the already congested neighborhood. Caltrans supports that view. The state transportation agency recently warned city officials that the $660 million project would make the 101 Freeway and surrounding streets less safe.

The City Council was originally expected to vote on the project today. With the changes, the vote is now scheduled for next month. L.A. Times

Student iPads. L.A. school officials have struck a $30 million deal to buy iPads for 30,000 students. The contract with Apple is the first phase of an ambitious plan to outfit every LAUSD student with a computer tablet. The district plans to roll out the tablets at 47 schools by the end of the year. The contract calls for all of the devices to be delivered within 14 months. The deal is a big win for Apple, because the district is expected to continue with the some vender as it acquires more tablets. The iPads will cost $678 each. L.A. Daily News

Plastic purge. L.A. has officially joined the plastic bag ban bandwagon. To the cheers of environmentalists, the City Council gave tentative approval to an ordinance that will phase out plastic bags starting next January. The law would also require stores to charge 10 cents for every paper bag requested. Large retailers will be required to stop giving away plastic bags January 1st. Smaller stores will have until July 2014 to stop handing them out. L.A. Times

Journalist dies. L.A. Police still haven’t identified the person killed in a fiery solo crash yesterday morning on Highland Avenue – but the web site BuzzFeed says it was award-winning reporter Michael Hastings. The car slammed into a tree near Melrose Avenue shortly before 4:30 yesterday morning. The body was badly burned and police say they are trying to match dental records to make a positive identification. The 33-year-old Hastings had worked in Iraq and Afghanistan. His 2010 profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Rolling Stone magazine contained revelations that led to the general’s resignation. Hastings opened an L.A. Bureau for the news site BuzzFeed last fall.

Game blame. Some Time Warner Cable subscribers don’t think they should have to pay for televised sports events they don’t want to see. They’ve filed a proposed class-action lawsuit, accusing the cable company of hiking rates to bankroll the billions of dollars it’s paying for the rights to Lakers and Dodgers games. The cable giant signed a $3 billion deal last year to televise the Lakers and followed that up with a $6 billion deal for the rights to the Dodgers. The plaintiffs say Time Warner should offer those games on a stand-alone, premium channel. Time Warner has not commented. Variety

Fugitive nabbed. A former USC professor indicted on child sex abuse charges has been arrested in Mexico, one day after being added to the FBI’s most wanted list. Sixty-four-year-old Walter Williams was taken into custody yesterday in the resort city of Playa del Carmen. The FBI received a tip that he was south of the border and asked for help from Mexican authorities in arresting him. Williams was a professor of gender and sexuality studies at USC until 2011. KNBC