Containment on a wildfire in the San Bernardino Mountains jumped to 65% Friday morning as several days of relatively benign weather with high temperatures and light wind allowed crews to surrounded the blaze on three sides.

The Holcomb fire has burned across 1,562 acres of steep mountain slopes and rugged terrain meant for wild animals like big horn sheep rather than humans. This made the initial attack on the wildfire slow-going, the U.S. Forest Service said.

The blaze started Monday afternoon and quickly spread across more than 800 acres as unpredictable winds pushed it north and west toward Highway 18 north of Baldwin Lake.

But as a heat wave settled across Southern California over the course of the week, the winds died down and crews wielding hand tools and operating heavy machinery trekked into the forest and methodically built up defenses.

The fire is continuing to burn on its northern face but a perimeter has been set up on its east, south and west sides, said Olivia Walker, a spokeswoman at the fire’s incident command center.

The wind should remain light with temperatures gradually cooling in the next few days, which should work in firefighters’ favor, she said.

Some of the more than 1,200 firefighters who responded to the blaze have begun to return to their stations, she said.

Highway 18 was opened Friday morning and commuters should reduce their speeds driving in the area because they’ll still be sharing the roads with heavy firefighting equipment. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

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After five years that brought major changes to San Bernardino, the struggling city is officially out of bankruptcy.

The city’s plan for emerging from bankruptcy — which was approved earlier this year by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Jury — became effective June 15, officials said this week. The city, facing a $45-million budget shortfall, had declared bankruptcy in August 2012.

In the years-long process since, San Bernardino has seen its fire department and other services outsourced, its staff cut by hundreds and its public services neglected. Meanwhile, it has struggled to cope with increased violence that officials have attributed in part to an under-resourced police department.

Here are some things to know about the end of the bankruptcy process, what it means for the city and what might be next.

1. Now that it is out of bankruptcy, San Bernardino must begin paying its creditors

The city’s plan of adjustment became effective June 15. That means the city can begin paying its creditors under the terms outlined in that plan, which was negotiated over several years.

Its details have been known for some time.

Most significantly, the plan preserves pension benefits for employees and retirees, though employees will have to contribute more to their pension plans, benefits were modified for new employees and retirees will lose some health benefits they were promised.

Some bondholders and unsecured creditors will be paid only 1% of what they were owed.

Dusk settles on Baseline Street in San Bernardino in February 2015. On June 15, 2017, the city officially emerged from bankruptcy, but it will probably continue to struggle to bring in revenue. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

2. The city’s budget woes are far from over

In a memorandum on the city’s most recent proposed budget, City Manager Mark Scott put it this way: “While the city’s momentum has improved significantly, it would be overly optimistic to suggest that decades of decline can be reversed overnight.”

The bankruptcy plan, Scott noted, “is very realistic in showing only modest budgetary growth” over a 20-year period.

The city’s poverty rate is high — about 33% of its residents live in poverty — and its average household income is low, making it difficult for San Bernardino to generate the revenue it needs to pay for years of backlogged services.

But city officials say they are slowly making progress toward some of their goals.

The City Council is expected to approve a $160-million operating budget for the coming fiscal year at its meeting Wednesday evening, along with a $22.6-million capital improvement budget, which will help with street repairs, city park improvements and other much-needed projects.

The operating budget also allows for some additional staff in various departments.

Sandra Hall of San Bernardino marches with about 200 community members in a Peace Walk to honor the victims of homicides and call for an end to gun violence on May 19, 2016, in San Bernardino.
Sandra Hall of San Bernardino marches with about 200 community members in a Peace Walk to honor the victims of homicides and call for an end to gun violence on May 19, 2016, in San Bernardino. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

3. With the end of bankruptcy, San Bernardino is hoping to rebuild its police department and address its struggles with violence

San Bernardino has long been affected by high levels of violence, and last year it recorded its worst homicide rate in decades. So officials have focused on boosting the police department, which saw significant staffing cuts in recent years.

Under the city’s proposed budget, about $76 million has been dedicated to funding the department — up from about $70 million last year.

“We’re gearing up to have a police department that’s better resourced,” Scott said in an interview Wednesday.

The city is in the process of replacing about one-quarter of an aging fleet of police vehicles, Scott said. And it is hoping to fill a large number of vacant officer positions — but that is no easy goal, given the time and resources it takes to recruit and train new police officers.

The department’s resources have been boosted by a number of grants, including a federal grant announced late last year to offset the cost of hiring 11 officers.

The city is also in the process of implementing a new violence reduction program, and officials are in the late stages of recruiting someone to administer it, Scott said.

4. City officials are hoping the end of bankruptcy prompts people to take a second look at San Bernardino

City officials would like people outside the city to see its potential rather than its troubles. They tout the the fact that it is home to Cal State San Bernardino and San Bernardino Valley Community College, its relatively low-cost housing and lower costs of doing business.

As the city’s proposed budget this year stated:

“Opportunities for first-time home buyers, entrepreneurs, investors and employers are vast; one only needs to see the potential.”

But bankruptcy has cast a cloud over many of the city’s aspirations. Now that it’s lifted, officials are hoping outsiders will take a new look at the city.

“The thing I’ve run into is that people have not understood how they are going to do business with a city in bankruptcy,” Scott said. They ask, “ ‘Will you keep your staff? Will you be able to follow through on your obligations?’ ”

“Now,” he said, “we’re able to say to people, ‘We’re like any other city.’ ”

He added: “It’s time for us to show off that we can be a reliable place to do business…. It’s up to us now to perform.”

paloma.esquivel@latimes.com

Twitter: @palomaesquivel



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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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Fifty years on, San Francisco’s Summer of Love has become a glossy flashback to the time young people came to the city’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood to start a cultural revolution.

A new kind of flower power tribute begins Wednesday in Golden Gate Park when the plain white Conservatory of Flowers will be bathed in lights featuring boldly colored spinning flower mandalas, animated butterflies and other designs and shapes.

The nonprofit group Illuminate, which supports projects such as the Bay Bridge illumination that began in 2014, partnered with light-based art pros at Obscura Digital to transform the 1879 building.

The show is free and open to the public from sundown to midnight starting Wednesday and continuing until Aug. 21.



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Firefighters battling a growing blaze in the San Bernardino Mountains can expect a third day of sweltering heat and low wind Wednesday as crews struggled to contain the blaze.

The wildfire in the Holcomb Valley north of Big Bear Lake has scorched 1,200 acres and was 10% contained as of Tuesday night. More than 1,000 firefighters are battling the blaze, according to the U.S. Forest Service. .



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A federal investigation in San Diego has led to drug-related charges against three people in what authorities said was one of the largest seizures of fentanyl in the U.S.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents seized nearly 100 pounds of the potent synthetic drug, most of it from a house in Lemon Grove, according to an indictment unsealed Monday.

The load represents millions of lethal doses, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Fentanyl is a painkiller that can be up to 50 times stronger than heroin. Authorities say even trace amounts can be fatal.

Three people — Jonathan Ibarra, 45, of Lemon Grove; Hector Fernando Garcia, 46, of San Diego; and Anna Baker, 30, of Lemon Grove — were indicted on charges of possession of fentanyl with the intent to distribute.

Last November, the defendants allegedly discussed having Baker smuggle the drugs during three consecutive days, according to court documents. Based on that information, authorities pulled over a rental vehicle Baker was driving. Agents seized about 33 pounds of fentanyl.

Roughly 66 more pounds of the drug were found in her home when agents later served a search warrant, the U.S Attorney’s Office said.

According to the DEA, the quantity of fentanyl seized represents the largest amount ever sent to its labs nationwide.

Authorities have said Mexican drug cartels produce the drug in labs using precursor chemicals from China. On the streets, fentanyl is sold alone as powder, added to heroin or made into counterfeit painkiller pills.

Email: david.hernandez@sduniontribune.com

Phone: (619) 293-1876

Twitter: @D4VIDHernandez



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Miles Teller isn’t doing much to alleviate his cocky bro rep. The “Fantastic Four” alum spent some time in a San Diego jail on Sunday after being arrested on suspicion of public intoxication.

The “Whiplash” and “War Dogs” star was partying with friends in Pacific Beach when an officer noticed that he was showing signs of being under the influence of alcohol, Officer Billy Hernandez of the San Diego Police Department told The Times.

Teller, 30, was swinging from side to side, slurring words and had bloodshot eyes, prompting the officer to detain him for evaluation, Hernandez said. During questioning, Teller lost his balance and almost fell in the street and was arrested “based on him not being able to care for his own safety,” Hernandez said.

The actor was transported to a detox center, where he would have been provided a cot and the ability to sober up, but was uncooperative with the volunteer staff and was rejected, Hernandez said.

It was then that he was arrested on suspicion of being drunk in public — a misdemeanor offense. Teller was booked at 2:09 a.m. and spent just under four hours in jail, Hernandez said.

He was released without bail, according to reports.

The young star took to Twitter to deny the story Monday afternoon, saying he wasn’t arrested but detained.

Responding to the tweets, the Police Department asserted that Teller had indeed been arrested.

“He was arrested and he was booked. He was in jail,” Hernandez told The Times in a second interview after Teller’s tweets.

Reps for Teller did not respond to The Times’ request for comment.

Update, 4 p.m.: This story has been updated to include Teller’s tweets and the Police Department’s response to them. A previous version also reported that Teller had been charged. He has not been formally charged.



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Students and Jewish community members filed a lawsuit Monday against San Francisco State University and Cal State’s board of trustees, alleging that the San Francisco campus of the country’s largest public university system has long cultivated a hostile environment in which Jewish students are “often afraid to wear Stars of David or yarmulkes on campus, and regularly text their friends to describe potential safety issues.”

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California by attorneys from The Lawfare Project and the firm Winston & Strawn LLP, was prompted by a confrontation in April 2016, when the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, was invited by SF Hillel to speak on campus.

According to the lawsuit, protesters used bullhorns to drown out the mayor’s speech and yelled and chanted “Intifada,” “Get the [expletive] off our campus,” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” while university administrators allowed the disruption to continue and instructed campus police to “stand down.”

“SFSU has not merely fostered and embraced anti-Jewish hostility — it has systematically supported these departments and student groups as they have doggedly organized their efforts to target, threaten, and intimidate Jewish students on campus and deprive them of their civil rights and their ability to feel safe and secure as they pursue their education,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit contends that the way administrators handled the April confrontation is consistent with other incidents on campus over the years. It lists other alleged incidents including a 10-foot mural put up on the student union building in 1994 that featured yellow Stars of David intertwined with dollar signs, skulls and crossbones, and the words “African Blood.”

After a 2002 peace rally, the lawsuit states, a group of students shouted “Hitler didn’t finish the job,” “Get out or we’ll kill you,” and “Go back to Russia” to the Jewish students who stayed behind to clean up and hold a prayer service.

Daniel Ojeda, the university’s counsel, said in a statement that San Francisco State “was not aware of the complaint and has not had an opportunity to review or respond to it.”

“We have been working closely with the Jewish community, among other interest groups, to address concerns and improve the campus environment for all students,” he said. “Those efforts have been very productive and will continue notwithstanding this lawsuit.”

The lawsuit comes at a time when free speech has become a highly charged issue on college campuses across the nation, with many debating the line between hate speech and academic freedom.

Reports of anti-Semitic incidents on campuses across the country have increased in recent years. Assaults, vandalism, and harassment grew by 34% in 2016 and jumped 86 percent in the first quarter of 2017, according to a recent report by the Anti-Defamation League.

rosanna.xia@latimes.com

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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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Philip Rivers walked out onto the second-story deck that extends from management’s offices at Chargers Park in San Diego and looked out at the field where he’d spend the next 13-plus years.

He’d just been drafted by the New York Giants and traded to the Chargers, and was awestruck at what was in front of him. A pair of green football fields sat at the base of a hill, the San Diego sky overhead. It reminded him of being a young child, going to Atlanta Braves games early enough to see the diamond get lined.

“I remember standing up there after first getting drafted and thinking, ‘Gosh, this is awesome,’ ” the quarterback said. “There’s something about a freshly painted practice field that’s empty that you know is kind of your new home.”

Thursday, he and the rest of the Chargers walked off that same practice field for the last time, as the team’s formal offseason program wrapped up. Rivers, it seemed, didn’t want to leave.

When the day ended with a whistle, coach Anthony Lynn addressed the team with owner Dean Spanos standing silently on the perimeter. Lynn reminded his players to stay in shape and out of trouble until training camp in July.

Position by position, the team walked off the field in groups.

The offensive linemen caught up with Nick Hardwick, the Chargers’ longtime center who’s an analyst for the team’s radio broadcasts and also co-hosts a talk show in town. The linebackers posed for a group photo after recording something for a Mexican television station.

Lynn spoke at the podium, praising his team’s focus during the offseason program that began back on April 3 with rigorous conditioning drills.

“I thought that was a productive offseason,” Lynn said after. “I thought the guys did a very good job, doing some team-building, learning the system, competing well on the field against each other, taking care of one another. It was a highly productive offseason.”

While he spoke and players started boxing up their lockers, Rivers kept tossing passes.

He and the rest of the quarterbacks had floated to the far corner of the field for a final throwing competition. Backup quarterback Kellen Clemens joked that the group would have to let Rivers win because it was his final day at Chargers Park.

Of course, they didn’t — and, of course, Rivers won. Then, under a cloudless sky, he started to walk. His steps slowed, making certain that on his last day at Chargers Park he’d literally be the last player on the field.

“Sad, to me, is probably too strong a word,” he told the local media, who pressed him for emotion and even requested tears.

Rivers reiterated the complex emotions he’s felt since January — the grieving that comes with leaving a place he loved to the anxiety and excitement about something new, and to the gratitude toward San Diego for welcoming him. Most of this, he said, he began processing when the team announced its move to Los Angeles in January.

Since then, he tried to not dwell on the finality of it all, he said, with the work on the football field overtaking his emotions. But after pulling into the parking lot just after 6 a.m. Thursday, Rivers started thinking again.

It was the last time he’d be up that early at that gate. It’d be the last time he’d get dressed at that locker in that room. It’d be the last time he’d grab that helmet and walk through those doors.

“I had sweaty hands,” he said. “I was nervous before practice. I was like, ‘What is wrong with me?’ I’m going into the last minicamp practice in year 14 and here I am nervous going out there. It’s a little bit ridiculous. But, it was because of that.”

But endings never have been Rivers’ focus.

He’s often worn a shirt with the Latin phrase “nunc coepi,” which translates to, “Now I begin.” It’s become a motto within the organization and a creed in Rivers’ life.

“You just begin again,” he said. “… It’s only right for me to be fired up.”

Eighty or so miles north, recently imported palm trees lined the perimeter of the Los Angeles Chargers’ future home on Susan Street in Costa Mesa.

It’s still under construction, the fence mostly finished and the landscaping still being planted. But in between the workers and the tree trunks and fence posts, green grass sparkled as it was being watered.

Eventually, the lines and hash marks will be freshly painted, the lightning bolts will be added, and Rivers will take his first look at his new home.

And, if he likes what he sees, his hands might just start sweating again.

daniel.woike@latimes.com

Twitter: @DanWoikeSports



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