Matt Shoemaker’s recovery from a forearm strain has stalled. Hopeful as of Wednesday that the right-hander could start Sunday at Boston, the Angels on Thursday sent Shoemaker back to Orange County for further evaluation and additional testing by team doctors.

“I think it’s moving in the right direction,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “But, we want to make sure that they’re not missing anything.”

Scioscia said that rookie right-hander Parker Bridwell would draw Sunday’s start, the 25-year-old’s third spot start of the season.

The Angels also revealed, for the first time, that Shoemaker underwent an MRI examination Saturday night, the results of which demonstrated no structural damage in the area. As of Saturday afternoon, Scioscia and Shoemaker had said there were no plans to have an MRI exam.

Shoemaker played catch on Tuesday and Wednesday in New York, first from 90 feet and then 120, testing the strained extensor muscles to ascertain if the pain would go away and allow him to throw a bullpen session Friday.

“I can make myself feel it,” he said Tuesday. “But, obviously, the medical, training staff, they’re saying, ‘Hey, stop picking at it. Stop trying to feel it to see if it’s gone.’ That’s why we’re going into this with the light 90-foot catch. ‘You don’t feel it? OK, let’s go more and longer.’”

Shoemaker, 30, has a 4.52 earned-run average in 14 starts. He suffered a forearm strain two years ago, but he said that injury was in a different part of the muscle. Club physicians have repeatedly assured him that the current strain is not related to his elbow, as forearm injuries often are.

Street back

The Angels activated Huston Street from the disabled list. The longtime closer had been sidelined for more than three months, first because of a lat strain suffered during spring training and then because of corresponding complications.

He also spent August and September on the disabled list after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. So, it has been nearly 11 months since he last pitched in a major league game or traveled with his teammates.

“You do appreciate it, a lot,” Street said of being back with his teammates. “When you rehab for as long as I did, last year and this year, you get a real sense for the minor leagues.”

Street, 33, will be a free agent at year’s end unless the Angels exercise their $10 million team option for 2018. He has spent almost all of his career as his club’s closer, but he will not handle that role right away for the Angels.

Short hops

The Angels demoted right-hander Mike Morin to triple-A Salt Lake to create space for Street. Morin has shuffled back and forth several times this season. … Scioscia said that right-hander Bud Norris, on the disabled list because of an inflamed right knee, is slated to begin throwing this weekend. He’s eligible to be activated at month’s end.

pedro.moura@latimes.com

Twitter: @pedromoura



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A Costa Mesa man pleaded guilty Thursday to helping three men escape from an Orange County jail last year, an incident that sparked a weeklong manhunt that extended from Southern California to the Bay Area, prosecutors said.

Loc Ba Nguyen, 51, will serve one year in jail for his role in the January 2016 escape at the Men’s Central Men’s Jail in Santa Ana, according to a statement issued by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Nguyen admitted to smuggling wire cutters, cellphones, a knife and other items into the jail that proved essential in the escape plot carried out by Hossein Nayeri, Bac Duong and Jonathan Tieu, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Nguyen was given a shopping list of items necessary for the jailbreak plot when he visited Duong at the facility on Jan. 9. He also admitted to serving as the getaway driver who spirited the trio away from the jail when they broke out early on the morning of Jan. 23, prosecutors said.

A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office declined to say exactly what the wire cutters and knife were used for. Previously, authorities have said Nayeri, Duong and Tieu used a “cutting tool” to saw through several layers of metal and rebar, giving them access to plumbing tunnels that led to the roof of the jail.

They then rappelled down the side of the building, where Nguyen was waiting with a car.

Jail staff did not learn of the escape for nearly 15 hours, giving the trio a lengthy head start on their pursuers. Law enforcement officials have said Nayeri, Duong and Tieu took a cab driver hostage and drove to San Jose in the days after the escape.

Their plan fell apart when Duong and Nayeri became embroiled in an argument over whether or not to kill the hostage. Duong eventually drove back to Orange County, released the cab driver and surrendered. Nayeri and Tieu were arrested in San Francisco the next day.

Earlier this year, the Orange County grand jury released a scathing report blaming lax supervision within the Sheriff’s Department and improper inmate counting procedures as key factors that both allowed the trio to escape and helped prolong their time on the run.

The Sheriff’s Department has yet to issue an after-action report on the incident, which would follow normal protocols for major events, because of the ongoing criminal case, according to Lt. Lane Lagaret, a department spokesman.

The “cutting tool” that the men used to escape was never recovered. Duong, Nayeri and Tieu were scheduled to appear in court for preliminary hearings this month, though it was not immediately clear if those had taken place.

james.queally@latimes.com

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for crime and police news in California.



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A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy fatally shot a person in Palmdale early Thursday, the sheriff’s department said in a statement.

The deputy shot the person about 3:45 a.m. in the 38500 block of 10th Street East, officials said. After being taken to a local hospital, the person was pronounced dead, they said.

A spokesperson with the sheriff’s department could not immediately describe the nature of the call to which the deputy had been responding or what had led to the shooting. The identity of the slain person was not immediately available.

Multiple investigations will be launched as a result of the shooting, including probes by the sheriff’s department’s homicide and internal affairs bureaus, the coroner’s office and the district attorney’s office. The shooting will also be reported to the sheriff’s department’s office of the inspector general, which will provide oversight of the investigative process.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.



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Riders on Los Angeles County’s Metro rail system were experiencing delays Wednesday evening after the transit grid saw problems with its communications system, officials said.

Delays of up to 20 minutes were expected on the Expo, Gold, Red and Blue lines, said Kim Upton, a spokeswoman for the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The scope and precise cause of the problem was not immediately clear, and there was no timetable for when normal operations would resume.

Upton said a fiber optics expert was inspecting the equipment, and she described the problem as a malfunction involving the trains’ communication system.

As a precaution, Metro officials imposed the protocol for “safety mode,” which calls for trains to run at slower speeds.

“The trains are running, but the communication is limited,” Upton said.

On the Red Line, only trains between the Universal City and North Hollywood stations were affected. On the Blue Line, only trains north of the Florence stop were affected. All of the Expo and Gold lines’ trains were affected, Upton said.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

matt.hamilton@latimes.com

Twitter: @MattHjourno



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The San Diego County median home price hit $530,000 in May, breaking the nominal record set last month and increasing 8.2 percent in a year, real estate tracker CoreLogic reported Wednesday.

Lack of homes for sale and slowed home construction appear to be major forces in new peaks set over the past few months leading into the traditional busy summer buying season.

In real terms, May’s numbers still are far off the peaks of the housing boom. When adjusted for inflation, the county nominal November 2005 peak of $517,500 equates to roughly $644,500 in 2016 dollars.

Alan Gin, economist at University of San Diego, said it is likely that nominal records will continue to be broken as the summer continues, especially with a strong economy and low unemployment rate.

“Construction is still lagging badly. There’s just not enough housing,” Gin said. “High demand and low supply mean higher prices.”

In May, there were 5,060 homes listed for sale in San Diego County, up by 279 from April but substantially below historic levels for the month, said the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors. There were 5,913 listings in May last year, 6,658 in 2015 and 7,029 in 2014.

As for overall unit sales, this year’s number appears comparable to the levels reached during the last housing boom, at least at first glance: There were 4,138 home sales in May and 4,232 in November 2005.

The difference, Gin said, is that there were far more new homes being built in 2005. In May, 232 newly-built homes sold. In November 2005, 1,251 new homes sold.

There are plenty examples of buyers pushing prices up amid intense competition. A $329,000 condo with three bedrooms and two bathrooms in the Nestor neighborhood about 1 mile from the Mexican border had a sale pending in two days, said listing agent Jean Paul Schwarz.

The 1,224-square-foot unit in the Evergreen Condominiums drew 10 offers, with four higher than the asking price, in the two days it was on the market. The winning offer agreed to a 21-day escrow period for the nearly 40-year-old condo.

Schwarz said he’s seeing buyers being more aggressive to get away from rising rents, and some want to take advantage of low mortgage interest rates, which averaged 3.9 percent Wednesday morning for a 30-year fixed-rate loan, said Mortgage News Daily. Rent had increased 8 percent in a year as of March, said MarketPointe Realty Advisors.

“People are desperate to get into a house,” Schwarz said.

While industry experts are optimistic home construction will pick up later in the year, San Diego County had the biggest drop in residential building in Southern California over the first three months of 2017. Residential building permits were down by 37 percent in the first quarter compared to the same time last year.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer unveiled a plan Wednesday to spur home construction. It would streamline project approvals, reduce some regulations, and start calculating developer fees not on the total number of units but on either square footage or the number of bedroom and other measures. The plan must be approved by the City Council and could take years to significantly add to housing supply.

The region’s median resale house price in May set a record of $590,000 with 2,636 single-family houses sales. The previous peak of $575,000 was set last month. The resale condo price was $390,000 with 1,270 sales, $10,000 short of the nominal peak set in April 2005.

Resale homes had the largest year-over-year price increase with a 8.7 percent appreciation. Resale condos were up 4 percent and newly built homes down by 2.2 percent.

The newly built home median price in May was $571,000 with 232 sales.

The number of absentee buyers, usually investors who don’t intend to live in the homes they purchase, made up 19.2 percent of sales in April, down from 19.7 percent at the same time last year. In early 2013, more than 30 percent of sales went to absentee buyers.

For all of Southern California, the median home price was up 7.1 percent year-over-year, bringing the median to $492,000. The largest increase was in San Bernardino County, at 8.8 percent, to a median price of $310,000.

It was followed by San Diego County with the 8.2 percent increase; Riverside County with a 7.9 percent increase for a median of $356,000; Ventura County with a 7.1 percent increase for a median of $553,750; Los Angeles County with a 6.8 percent increase for a median of $560,500; and Orange County with a 6.7 percent increase for a median of $695,000.

The inventory of homes for sale is low nationwide because, in part, construction slowed during the housing market crash. San Diego County had the 13th-lowest inventory of any region in the second quarter of 2017, said Nationwide Economics, with enough listings available to support the present rate of sales for 1.64 months. Economists typically say five to six months supply makes for a healthy market for both buyers and sellers.

Nationwide said the Seattle region had the least homes for sale, 0.98 months of available inventory.

* * *

Regions with the lowest housing inventory

1. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett — 0.98 months

2. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood — 0.98 months

3.Tacoma-Lakewood — 1.22 months

4. Boulder — 1.24 months

5. Fort Collins — 1.24 months

6. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro — 1.28 months

7. Mankato-North Mankato — 1.36 months

8. Olympia-Tumwater — 1.40 months

9. San Francisco-Redwood City — 1.40 months

10. Sacramento-Roseville — 1.42 months

11. Fort Worth-Arlington — 1.61 months

12. Dallas-Plano-Irving — 1.63 months

13. San Diego-Carlsbad — 1.64 months

14. Columbus — 1.68 months

15. Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley — 1.71 months

Source: Nationwide Economics

phillip.molnar@sduniontribune.com (619) 293-1891 Twitter: @phillipmolnar



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In summer 2007, the Los Angeles County median home price hit an all-time high of $550,000. It soon plunged as the housing bubble burst and the national economy crashed.

Now the median, the point where half the homes sold for more and half for less, has finally passed the heights of 10 years ago — the result of an improving economy, historically low mortgage rates and a shortage of listings.

According to a report released Wednesday from real estate firm CoreLogic, the county’s median price in May rose 6.8% from a year earlier to reach $560,500 as sales jumped 4.8%.

The milestone comes fives years after prices bottomed out and amid fresh concerns over the high cost of housing in California and urban centers across the nation.

Real estate agents said many buyers are convinced values will only continue to climb for the foreseeable future — a dynamic causing them to be more aggressive.

“They want to get in now before they lose out,” said Hooman Zahedi, a real estate agent with Redfin, who specializes in the San Fernando Valley.

In recent months, Zahedi said he started penning cover letters on behalf of clients and attaching their family pictures, hoping to pull at the heartstrings of sellers who are weighing multiple offers.

High rents and a fear of rising mortgage rates are other factors leading to packed open houses, said South Bay real estate agent Barry Sulpor.

His $975,000 listing for a three-bedroom in north Redondo Beach was “standing room only” last weekend, he said.

“I am finding no letup.”

Still, many experts say today’s price increases appear more sustainable than those a decade ago.

A steadily improving economy — not risky loans — is driving demand now, they say. And with few homes on the market, especially in California with its persistent housing shortage, prices are rising as expected.

“We just don’t build enough housing,” said Leslie Appleton-Young, chief economist with the California Assn. of Realtors.

Even so, for potential buyers who can scrap together a down payment and get a loan, rock-bottom interest rates mean monthly payments are actually cheaper than during the height of the bubble, according to the Realtors group.

And adjusted for inflation, May’s median remains 11% below the 2007 high, CoreLogic said.

That of course is little comfort to many families wanting to purchase a home.

Only 29% of L.A. County households could reasonably afford the median-priced house in the first quarter, up from 28% in the fourth quarter, though down from 31% a year earlier, a report from the Realtors group shows.

That forces many Southern California buyers to stretch their budgets.

A report released last week from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies found nearly 36% of Los Angeles and Orange county homeowners in 2015 spent more than 30% of their income on housing, the threshold at which costs are usually deemed to become a burden.

Nearly 17% spent more than half their income. Nationwide, only 10.2% of owners spent that.

Zahedi, the San Fernando Valley agent, said some of his clients are spending more than what they initially felt comfortable with, while others are purchasing homes in cheaper neighborhoods they initially looked over.

Either way, he estimates around three-quarters of his buyers spend 40% of their income on housing costs.

Other people are likely just giving up, Zahedi said, noting he’s seeing homes typically get three to five offers, rather than five to 15 a few months ago.

Marc Tahler, another agent in the San Fernando Valley, said demand is white-hot in the middle of the market, but once you get above $1.3 million, some buyers are “pushing back.”

“On certain properties, they can’t believe it’s back up to where you were,” he said. “It’s like ‘I am not spending $1.3 million on this.’”

In the wealthy beach cities of Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo, buyers are forging ahead, convinced if they back out now, “it will only be tougher,” according to Sulpor, the South Bay agent.

“They can just look at the numbers, and lo and behold, home values just keep appreciating.”

Even if the economy keep’s chugging along as it is, something will eventually give, economist Appleton-Young said.

“The share of income people can spend on mortgage payments is not indefinite,” she said. “This can’t last forever.”

andrew.khouri@latimes.com

Twitter: @khouriandrew



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Disappointing some immigrant advocates, Los Angeles County officials voted Tuesday to authorize $3 million for legal assistance for immigrants facing deportation but to bar those who have violent criminal pasts.

The Board of Supervisors’ vote came a day after the city’s Budget and Finance Committee approved up to $2 million for the same purpose.

The votes ended a debate about which immigrants should qualify for help through the newly created L.A. Justice Fund, although the proposal that the city is considering would include an exemption for individuals with a “meritorious claim.”

“The county’s $3-million contribution to the L.A.J.F. can only go so far,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis, a champion of the fund, in a statement.

Emi MacLean, an attorney with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, argued for broader inclusion. “This county’s proposal would define people by their worst act,” she said at the meeting Tuesday.

The L.A. Justice Fund, which will include an additional $5 million from private philanthropic groups, was unveiled last December by Mayor Eric Garcetti and Solis in anticipation of a crackdown on immigrants by incoming President Trump. Implementation of the fund was held up in April over protests regarding the exclusion of immigrants with a history of violent criminal offense.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said she wished there were a way to include some of those immigrants.

“Many people have paid their dues to society — have paid their price and served their time,” she said in remarks before the vote. “I simply want to speak up for those people.”

Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who opposed the creation of the fund in December, cast the lone dissenting vote. “County taxpayers should not be forced to bear the cost to provide free legal representation for those facing deportation,” she said in a statement.

The county will enter into an agreement with the California Community Foundation to manage and disburse the funds.

The full Los Angeles City Council is expected to approve a similar agreement on Friday.

The foundation will award nonprofit agencies money to provide legal advice to immigrants and to represent them in court.

The proposed county agreement lists family members of citizens and other lawful residents as priorities to receive services, as well as children, veterans and victims of domestic violence or human trafficking.

The decisions this week come about five months after Trump signed executive orders to begin planning for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico and to step up immigration enforcement.

In May, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that arrests of people living in the country illegally during Trump’s first 100 days in office were up nearly 38% over the same period in 2016. Arrests in Southern California, however, have remained relatively flat.

The decisions also follow the state Legislature’s passage last week of a budget that would funnel $45 million to community organizations to provide immigrants with legal assistance and other services. Gov. Jerry Brown has until the end of the month to sign budget-related legislation, but he has indicated he supports the idea.

Nearly 10% of the nation’s 11.1 million undocumented immigrants live in Los Angeles and Orange counties, according to the Pew Research Center.

A 2016 report found that immigrants in California who have legal representation are four to five times more likely to succeed in immigration court than their counterparts who lack such representation.

Angelica Salas, executive director of the immigrant rights advocacy group CHIRLA, said in an interview that her organization has seen a jump in clients since Trump took office, sometimes meeting with more than 100 new clients in one day, compared with a previous daily average of 20 new clients.

“The demand is high, and I think the fund will really help us see more people,” Salas said.

nina.agrawal@latimes.com

Twitter: @AgrawalNina



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When the bag of feces arrived at the LGBT Center Orange County, Laura Kanter knew immediately what to do.

She picked up the phone and called the Orange County Human Relations Council to talk with Don Han, who deals with hate crimes.

Kanter, as director of policy advocacy and youth services for the LGBT Center in Santa Ana, recently recalled the disturbing incident that occurred in May. She said that the council provides an important service in the community.

“We can call the police and I did, and they’ll just take a report,” she said. “But I knew we had someone to turn to and that’s what these folks do best. They look at the bigger picture to create understanding between communities.”

Han’s non-profit organization was founded in 1991 in part to raise money and develop programs overseen by the Orange County Human Relations Commission. The council works with law enforcement agencies, compiles an annual hate crime report and provides mediation and violence prevention programs in partnerships with schools, corporations, cities, foundations and individuals.

“We try to be a voice of reason and listen,” Han said, “and we’re committed to getting people from all sides to come together.”

The council has raised about $30 million in the last 25 years to support the county commission’s work, according to its website. But until recently the council was in danger of losing the funding that pays for its three-member staff, including Han.

For months, county supervisors debated back and forth, threatening to cut the $252,000 needed to pay for the council’s personnel, while the group received an eviction notice to vacate the county building where it has operated, rent-free, by July 1.

Meanwhile, the number of reported hate crimes increased — 50 in 2016, compared with 44 the year before — with African Americans and the LGBT population as the two most frequently targeted communities across the county, according to the council’s newest report. This trend, coupled with the fear that Orange County could lose its human relations advocates, prompted more than 300 supporters to swarm supervisors’ meetings this month, pushing to allow the two groups to continue their partnership.

Among the proponents praising the groups’ anti-bullying, interfaith and mediation campaigns was Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, who said “there is a lot of fear in our immigrant and LGBTQ communities. This is an important public safety and quality of life issue for us.”

The board voted 4 to 1 this week, with Supervisor Michelle Steel as the lone dissenter, to continue funding the council for at least another year. But the panel also urged the council and commission to stop “co-mingling,” with one supervisor noting that some commission staff members report to the council’s director.

Supervisor Andrew Do, the most vocal opponent before the vote, criticized the confusion between the operations of the council and commission, saying “it raises questions about accountability and leaves the board vulnerable to violations of state public meeting laws.

“The public has to be clear on the two entities,” he said. “Right now, they’re so intertwined, people don’t know who’s responsible for what and as supervisors, we don’t know what’s going on at the council while we’re the ones overseeing the commission that works with them.”

On June 6, supervisors deadlocked 2 to 2, with one member absent, on the personnel funding for the council. Supervisor Todd Spitzer proposed another vote a week later with the full board present. Do ended up voting to allocate the money because “the work is still viable,” he said. “People around the county still need a voice.”

Spitzer blamed the county for initially pressuring the non-profit to raise funds for commission programs during a time when Orange County faced a bankruptcy scandal. He said the board must choose if it wants to give money to programs and control its delivery — or allow the non-profit to continue finding revenue.

Commission and council members promised to meet with county officials to find a “way to separate our administration and still be effective,” said Rusty Kennedy, the council’s chief executive. “We’re ecstatic to be able to continue.”

anh.do@latimes.com

Twitter: @newsterrier



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A brush fire burning in the Wrightwood area of San Bernardino County on Saturday prompted evacuations and at least one road closure.

Officials received a report of a fire at Zermatt and Pacific Crest Drives around 11:50 a.m., said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Nathan Judy. The fire’s progress has stopped and it is currently holding at seven acres, Judy said.

“It’s looking pretty good right now,” Judy said.

The initial danger prompted the evacuation of residents in the area of Pacific Crest Drive between Zermatt and Lone Pine Canyon Road, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

There have been no further evacuations, Judy said.

The California Highway Patrol also shut down Highway 2 at Wright Mountain Road.

Temperatures ranged in the mid-80s throughout the county’s mountain areas Saturday afternoon, with humidity at about 18%, according to the National Weather Service. The region remains under a heat advisory that is expected to last through next week.

brittny.mejia@latimes.com

Twitter: @Brittny_Mejia



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A mumps outbreak in Los Angeles County this year has infected 42 people, most of whom live on the Westside, health officials said this week.

There have been several mumps outbreaks nationwide in recent years, including some that are ongoing in parts of Texas, Arkansas and Washington state. Last year there were 5,833 cases of mumps nationwide, the highest number in a decade, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of May, there had been 3,176 cases nationwide this year, according to the CDC.

Most people who contract mumps have no symptoms, or have flu-like symptoms along with swelling of their salivary glands, which is characteristic of the disease. But in rare cases, mumps can cause deafness or brain swelling that can be life-threatening.

Dr. Franklin Pratt, medical director of the immunization program at the county’s Department of Public Health, said that some of those infected in the outbreak had been vaccinated. Many outbreaks in other parts of the country, which often hit college campuses especially hard, also have included people who’d been inoculated against the virus.

Children get the first dose of the MMR vaccine — which protects against mumps, measles and rubella — between 12 and 15 months of age and the second dose between ages 4 and 6. The introduction of the vaccine in 1967 has reduced mumps cases by more than 99%, according to federal health officials.

Public health officials are unsure what has caused the recent outbreaks. Theories include that the vaccination’s immunity wanes over time or that the current circulating strains of mumps are particularly strong, Pratt said.

“Across the country, we’re seeing mumps kind of get strength again,” Pratt said, adding that L.A. County typically sees about 13 cases per year.

“This is clearly a blip,” he said.

Most of the local cases have been among gay or bisexual men, although some women have been infected as well, Pratt said. Public health workers have determined that most transmissions occurred at bars, theaters and nightclubs. Those infected often seem to share a social network, he said.

The L.A. County outbreak, Pratt said, isn’t related to one at Chapman University in Orange during the spring in which more than a dozen people were infected.

Mumps can be transmitted through kissing, sharing drinks and utensils, or touching surfaces that have also been touched by someone who’s infected with the virus.

Pratt advised that people remember to wash their hands and avoid sharing drinks. If someone is sick, he or she should avoid contact with other people as much as possible. And if the symptoms line up with mumps, they should see a doctor immediately.

“We appreciate that you have to live your life, but do your best to limit contact with other folks until you’re past your infectious period,” Pratt said. “Getting the diagnosis is important for both advising that patient what they need to do, and also doing our very best to limit the spread.”

soumya.karlamangla@latimes.com

Twitter: @skarlamangla

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