Today’s News: Foreclosure crisis easing in California: Southland air quality is improving but traffic is not

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Safe(r) at home. Foreclosures in California are way down. The improving economy and rising home prices are factors in the downturn. The real estate firm DataQuick says lenders are also struggling to adjust to a new state law known as the “Homeowner Bill of Rights.” During the first three months of the year, the number of defaults in the Golden State dropped by more than two-thirds compared to the same period last year. There were still more than 18,000 foreclosures in the first quarter – but that was 50 percent less than during the previous three months. AP

Blue(r) skies. Southern California is making strides reducing pollution, but we’ve still got the dirtiest air in the country. That’s the gist of a new report from the American Lung Association. It says the Southern California region has reduced unhealthy ozone days by more than a third in the past 12 years. Particle pollution is down even more sharply. But the region – which includes L.A., Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties – continues to lead the nation in smog and sooty skies. The Lung Association report follows a new study by the state’s Environmental Protection Agency that says half of the state’s most polluted ZIP codes are in Southern California. L.A. Daily News

Coal phaseout. The city of L.A. is kicking the coal habit…The City Council has voted to phase-out coal-fired energy despite a warning from the Department of Water and Power’s ratepayer watchdog that the move will cost more than $650 million. A big chunk of that expense will come from selling the city’s interest in an Arizona coal plant before the current contract expires. The city will also convert a coal plant in Utah to run on natural gas by 2025. L.A. Times

Noguez woes. Prosecutors are doubling down on the corruption case involving L.A. County Tax Assessor John Noguez. He was charged with 11 new counts of misappropriating public funds during a court hearing yesterday. Noguez now faces 30 felony counts, including bribery and perjury. Prosecutors also filed new charges against the assessor’s two co-defendants. Noguez is accused of lowering property tax bills in exchange for campaign contributions. He’s been on leave from his $197,000-a-year job since last June. Noguez spent five months in jail before being released on bail. KABC

Going nowhere. Angelenos continue to contend with the worst traffic in the nation. The data company Inrix says a typical L.A. driver spends about 59 hours – or two-and-a-half days – a year sitting in gridlock. L.A. beat out at Honolulu for the ignominious title. The most congested freeways are the 405, the 10 and the 5, and the longest delays occur on Friday afternoons. San Francisco and San Jose also made the list of the 10 worst traffic cities in the country. L.A. Times