Categoria: Top Stories LADN

How To Choose Foods That Are Actually Healthy And Good For You

When it comes to food and nutrition, figuring out which foods are healthy can be confusing. The government’s definition of healthy food is outdated and health experts don’t seem to agree on what makes a food healthy.

How do we cut through the jargon and hype to choose foods that are actually healthy?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s existing definition of “healthy” is from 1994. It provides limits for total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. To qualify, foods must also provide a certain amount of vitamin A, calcium, iron or fiber, meeting at least 10 percent of the Daily Value for these nutrients. But these parameters are 30 years old and both the science and consumers have evolved and changed considerably since then.

It’s important to realize the distinction between a healthy food and a healthy diet. A healthy diet includes a variety of nutritious foods that provide all the nutrients needed to maintain health and energy levels while preventing or managing certain diseases. Foods that are not deemed healthy can still fit into a healthy diet. Of course, there are different opinions on what makes a food or beverage “healthy.”

Last year, the FDA proposed an updated definition of “healthy” claims on food packages with a focus on reducing chronic disease. Changes to the definition of “healthy” would be based on the latest nutrition science, federal dietary guidelines and the current Nutrition Facts label.

Under the proposed definition of “healthy,” a food product would have to contain a specified amount of food from at least one of the food groups such as fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein. It would also include specific limits for added sugars, saturated fat and sodium. All raw whole fruit and vegetables would qualify for the “healthy” claim. Foods and beverages that don’t qualify for the “healthy” claim under the current definition, but would qualify under the proposed updated definition include water, avocados, nuts, seeds, fatty fish like salmon and some oils. Foods that currently qualify as “healthy” under the current definition, but would no longer be considered healthy under the proposed definition include white bread, highly sugar-sweetened yogurts and highly sugar-sweetened cereal.

While experts work to align the “healthy” claim for food and beverage products with current scientific evidence, there are steps we can make to ensure we are eating a diet based on nutritious, health-promoting products.

Check the Nutrition Facts label for sodium content. Products with more than 400 mg of sodium per serving are considered high in sodium and products with 140 mg of sodium or less are low in sodium. Read for Nutrition Facts food label for sugar content. Ideally, for those two years and older added sugars should be limited to less than 10 percent of total daily calories. This is about 24 grams of sugar or less for women and 36 grams of sugar or less for men daily. When purchasing grain products like bread, cereal, crackers, tortillas and pasta, choose products made with whole grains that contain at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. When possible, opt for fresh, frozen and canned meat, poultry and seafood products with minimal added ingredients. Additional ingredients often contribute to excess sugar, salt and fat. Use the ingredient list on the food package to know what is in the product. Pay attention to the first three ingredients as they make up the largest part of the product. Look for whole food ingredients from the food groups such as vegetables, fruit, dairy, grain and protein. LeeAnn Weintraub, MPH, RD is a registered dietitian, providing nutrition counseling and consulting to individuals, families and organizations. She can be reached by email at

LeeAnn Weintraub | Nutrition columnist LeeAnn Weintraub, a registered dietitian, provides nutrition counseling and consulting to individuals, families and businesses. Email

Successful Aging: How You Feel About Your Age Can Affect Your Health

Q. I am a 75-year-old woman and do not feel my age. I have read there are some benefits to feeling younger. Could you comment on this? Many thanks. N.S

We continue to look for the fountain of youth with lotions, potions, procedures, surgeries and more. Yet the clock moves ahead each year as our chronological age proceeds in a predictable manner. There is another way to think about aging that is less predictable. It’s called subjective aging; that is how old you feel. 

Our subjective age may mean more than our chronological age, according to BBC digital column “The 100 Year Life.” How we feel about our own aging can affect one’s physical and mental health and even longevity. 

Here is some of what we know:

Subjective age: According to a survey by OnePoll, the average person feels seven years younger than the chronological age. Another survey from Denmark found adults over the age of 40 judged themselves to be 20 percent younger than their chronological age. That means an 80-year-old would think of him or herself as age 64. Then there is the philosopher and financier Bernard Baruch who is quoted as saying on his 86th birthday, “To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am.” 

Shared characteristics: People who feel younger than their chronological age share some common characteristics according to a German study of over 5,000 participants. They had a higher sense of well-being, better cognitive and brain functioning and favorable physical health. They also had a better standard of living, a more positive attitude towards aging and were less depressed. In the same study, those with a younger subjective age had a buffer to stress with health benefits that increased with their age. 

Geography matters: In a review of almost 300 studies from across the globe, the discrepancy between chronological and subjective age depended on where you lived. That difference or discrepancy was greatest in the U.S., Western Europe and Australia/Oceania. Asia has a smaller gap. Africa has the smallest gap which might be cultural since elders in collective societies typically are more respected. 

Subjective aging, personality and mortality: In some cases as people get older, they have a tendency to become mellower and introverted and often less open to new experiences. That’s not the case with those considered “young at heart,” according to the BBC 100-Year Life report. Such changes in personality were less pronounced for those with younger subjective ages. Furthermore, those young at heart folks experienced better physical health, less risk of dementia and being hospitalized for illness. Finally, subjective age was more related to mortality than chronological age. 

Tips to embrace your age

“Strive to do what you love for as long as you can do it,” writes Jane Brody, health writer at the New York Times on turning 80.  “Don’t discard an idea because you think you’re too old to consider it. Challenge your limited thinking,” writes psychologist Francine Toder, emeritus faculty member, at California State University, Sacramento.  “Take care of yourself, get some reasonable sleep, don’t get overcome by stress and have a good diet,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci in an interview with Jane Brody.  Be aware of how age biases are influencing your decisions and activities. With good judgment, ignore those who consider you “too old”, that “it cannot be done” or “we’ve always done it this way.” (Skiing at age 92 may not be a good idea.) Perhaps American attitudes play a role in needing to perceive ourselves as younger. Age often gets a bum rap and too often is equated with forgetfulness, weakness and decline, according to Becca Levy, professor of epidemiology and psychology at the Yale School of Public Health. Levy shared her experience visiting Tokyo as a graduate student. As referenced in her book, “Breaking the Age Code,” (2022, William Morrow,) people lived longer and had a more positive attitude towards aging. She observed stories in newsstands about older people falling in love, saw crowds in their 70s and 80s lifting weights in the park and noticed music classes with 75-year old’s learning to play the electric slide guitar for the first time. Perhaps in Japan, it’s not necessary to feel younger. 

Here are some takeaways: Know that subjective age effects one’s physical and mental health. Embrace the years you have lived. And you are as old as you feel, except when getting senior discounts!

Thank you, N.S. for your good question. Stay well and know kindness is everything. 

Helen Dennis is a nationally recognized leader on issues of aging and the new retirement with academic, corporate and nonprofit experience. Contact Helen with your questions and comments at Visit Helen at and follow her on

Helen Dennis | Successful Aging columnist Helen Dennis is a nationally recognized leader on issues of aging, employment and retirement with academic, corporate and nonprofit experience. She has received awards for her university teaching at USC’s Davis School, Andrus Gerontology Center and for her contributions to the field of aging, the community and literary arts. She has edited two books and written more than 100 articles and has frequent speaking engagements. She is the weekly columnist on Successful Aging for the Southern California Newspaper Group, and has assisted more than 15,000 employees in preparation for the non-financial aspects of retirement. In her volunteer life, she has served as president of five nonprofit organizations. Fully engaged in the field of aging, she was a delegate to a White House Conference on Aging and is co-author of the Los Angeles Times bestseller, “Project Renewment®: The First Retirement Model for Career Women.” Helen has extensive experience with the media including Prime Time, NPR, network news, the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee and Christian Science Monitor. She recently has been recognized by PBS Next Avenue as one of the 50 influencers in aging for 2016. For more information, visit Or, follow her on Facebook at

Indigenous Tribes Work With Swedish And CSUN Scholars To Thrive In California

By Marianne Love, Correspondent

In four years, researchers in the San Fernando Valley and Sweden will have documented how Indigenous societies survived ongoing challenges they face due to climate change and ‘colonialism,’ the historic attempt to wipe out tribal cultures in Southern California.

California State University, Northridge history professor Natale Zappia and a team of Swedish researchers are splitting a $1.43 million grant from the Swedish Government Research Council for Sustainability to compare the experiences of the Chumash, Tataviam, Kiz-Tongva-Gabrieleno and Kumeyaay tribes in Southern California to those of Nordic Sápmi, whose Sámi people still herd reindeer as did their ancestors.

“The Swedish grant is unique and exploratory in nature,” Zappia said. “With historians, the nature of our research is more focused on narratives and direct collaborations with Indigenous communities.”

Natale Zappia talks following a tour at Chatsworth Lake Manor on Friday, September 16, 2022. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) The project is being overseen by Zappia, with project partners from the Chumash, Kiz-Tongva-Gabrieleno, Tataviam, and Kumeyaay tribes, whose cultures have inhabited broad regions of Ventura, Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego counties for thousands of years.

These tribes not only survived climate change and colonialism — they are thriving.

“All of them are here,” Zappia said of native tribes in Southern California. “Their landscapes have been colonized, but they are still engaging in climate resiliency projects, and their ecological knowledge informs scientists.”

Jesus Alvarez, a member of the local Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, has a gardening background. He said that despite their devastating history, many Indigenous people are involved in staying connected to the land.

“We are a landless tribe, and that’s a sad thing to say,” he said.

But Alvarez is involved in efforts to understand the land and its history. He has been part of the LA Landscape History Project, which, among its many goals, is mapping the ancient Los Angeles River. And now he is involved in historical aspects of the Swedish grant.

“The (land) is part of who they were,” Alvarez said of the region’s tribes. “When you are eating a peach from your tree, there’s nothing better than that. … You recognize the engagement of land. You understand the seasons, it’s really profound. It should be going back to that. Bring the whole family together (to understand) the disconnection from the land. It’s special to do that.”

Jesus Alvarez, a tribal senator for the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, poses on Thursday, February 23, 2023 in his San Fernando garden where he planted fruit trees and native plants. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) The connection between historic Indigenous practices that are centuries old, and modern-day practices that address climate change, are very real, Zappia said.

“Native communities are actually collaborating with Cal Fire and state agencies to (share their knowledge of) how to burn landscapes traditionally, because that actually leads to less fires.”

The Swedish grant is an effort to understand how Indigenous societies in Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties survived when faced with devastating challenges caused by the twin forces of colonialism and environmental change. The four-year research project is aimed at producing a book, building an innovative website and holding international workshops at which Native partners in the U.S and Sweden can exchange ideas.

Alan Salazar talks with Sarah Rascon during Winter Solstice Sunrise Ceremony held by the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians and DWP at Chatsworth Nature Preserve in December. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer) Zappia, who is part of the international team of researchers who will share data, said lessons for surviving dramatic change can be found in the experiences of Indigenous people.

Among them are the Sámi people, whose ancient territories still stretch through northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula in Russia.

Climate change threatens the world’s biodiversity. Researchers hope that, in exploring the past, this project could help apply historic Native practices to modern-day climate change.

The grant is also about building relationships and supporting Native tribes through funding, workshops, and opportunities to discuss and spread the word about the tribes’ approaches to the climate and environment.

Underlying the grant is the idea that incorporating native solutions in a rigorous way could provide answers.

Zappia’s team also collaborated with a multi-institutional team of scholars on the LA Landscape History Project, in which Alvarez is also involved, that looks back at least 6,000 years. The project helps to see into the past, connecting it to the present, Zappia said.

“If you play around with the map, you can see the landscape change and what has remained,” Zappia said. “Much of it, of course, has changed. But there are certain pockets, both Indigenous as well as ecological pockets, that still continue or have adapted.”

From the Swedes’ perspective, the idea is to investigate how Indigenous nations maintained cohesion and passed on their knowledge despite the destruction, via colonial expansion, of the environment in which they lived — and which nurtured them.

Professor Gunlög Fur, deputy vice chancellor for sustainability at Linnaeus University in Sweden, called the project “urgent,” in that it “recovers traditional ecological knowledge, and puts it to use in a most densely populated area, heavily affected by climate warming.”

Fur said they hope that looking at efforts to recover ecological knowledge through Indigenous traditions will “deepen” understanding and how people respond to climate change and loss of biodiversity, “by sharing practices between and among Indigenous communities and with non-Indigenous neighbors.”

Fur added, “We hope that this will also contribute to strengthening Indigenous claims for protecting fragile environments.”

Native tribes around the world have survived using traditional prescribed burning and farming practices. Experts say these are akin to sustainable farming, sustainable forestry and sustainable herding.

In California, Zappia said, Indigenous communities continue traditional practices such as gathering acorns in the fall, and using managed farming and managed fishing techniques — practices that go back thousands of years.

Indigenous people “survived by doing what they had always done, and now they are getting more recognition — partly because of the awakening of mainstream cultures, but also because of climate change,” Zappia said.

“They need to know these stories. If you don’t have the stories and you don’t have the culture, sustainability is not going to work. Climate change isn’t going to work without people buying into it. And you need to have a framework — history.”

One important aspect of the separate LA Landscape History Project, as it relates to the Swedish grant, is that it builds and creates a partnership with Indigenous collaborators from Southern California and Los Angeles.

Alvarez, of Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, said his tribe is looking at the possibility of getting land to preserve and use for ceremonial events. He hopes they can work with children to educate them about the losses the tribe has seen over the centuries.

“It wasn’t long ago that cultures knew farming, knew the land,” Alvarez said. “Even the school system is set up for harvesting times — that was based on that lifestyle. So I like the idea of going back and doing that. I’m excited. It needs to be done, it’s going to be done and it’s going to click with everyone.”

Q&A: 5 Questions That Arise From LAUSD’s Historic Labor Settlement

Los Angeles Unified School District workers, parents and leaders alike rejoiced when a labor contract agreement was reached Friday, March 24, following a mammoth three-day strike that shut down America’s second-largest school system. But as the celebrations wind down and the school year rolls on, many uncertainties remain and challenges await.

In the coming weeks, members of SEIU Local 99 — the service workers union representing 30,000 bus drivers, custodians, instructional aides, cafeteria workers and special education assistants — must ratify what is still a tentative agreement. And the district must implement its new contract with the union.

But the road doesn’t end there.

The district must also get students and teachers back into their routines, reach a separate agreement with the teachers union, respond to three days of lost learning and tie up other loose ends.

And, in just one year, the district must reach a fresh agreement with SEIU Local 99, whose leaders have made it clear that they will be ready to strike again if their problems are not addressed.

So, in the aftermath of the historic strike and settlement, here are some questions that arise:

What do the agreement numbers actually mean for service workers? So many numbers were thrown around during the strike — around $4.9 billion residing in district reserves, a $25,000 average service worker salary, a $440,000 superintendent salary, a 30% pay raise demand and a 23% offer on the table — that it was hard to keep them all straight.

When the agreement was finally hammered out, even more numbers were thrown into the equation.

Here’s what its numbers mean in practice:

By Jan. 1 of next year SEIU members will have effectively received the 30% pay raise that labor leaders have been demanding from the outset of negotiations.

This is divided into a 6% retroactive raise for the 2021 school year, a 7% retroactive raise for the 2022 school and a 7% increase in July 2023. In January, workers will receive an additional $2-an-hour pay bump, which SEIU Executive Director Max Arias says reflects an average 10% raise for workers.

In addition, all SEIU members who worked in-person during the 2020 to 2021 school year will receive $1,000 in recognition of their sacrifices during the pandemic.

Other key numbers to bear in mind are the district’s promise to bring its minimum wage to $22.52 an hour and to invest $3 million in an education and professional development fund for SEIU members.

These figures will make a huge difference in the lives of service workers, many of whom work multiple jobs to make ends meet and one-in-three of whom have said they are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, according to a survey completed by the union.

“This is an equity-driven contract that will elevate potential, address homelessness and address poverty in our community,” said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho at a press conference on Friday.

Labor leaders were also excited by the agreement reached after their members sacrificed three days of pay and picketed through wind, rain and hail.

“SEIU Local 99’s Bargaining Committee is proud of the tentative agreement we reached with the District, which answers our core demands,” said Arias. “We emerged stronger than ever from this week’s strike and showed the entire nation that unions are the most powerful force for economic opportunity and equity.”

At week’s end, Carvalho also appeared pleased — and relieved — with the deal.

“When we started negotiating with SEIU, we promised to honor the dignity of our workforce, correct inequities impacting the lowest-wage earners, continue supporting critical student services and protect the District’s financial viability,” he posted on Twitter. “Promises made, promises delivered.”

Some parents, on the other hand, were frustrated by the whole affair and wish that the union had reached an agreement with the district instead of disrupting learning for three days. Prior to the strike, the district had offered a 23% raise over time and a one-time 3% retention bonus.

Parents walk their children to school at 135th Street Elementary School in Los Angeles on Friday, March 24, 2023.(Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer) How will the district address three days of lost classroom time? Around 420,000 students missed three days of classroom instruction during the strike.

Had they not just emerged from a highly disruptive pandemic, these days would likely just be a blip, said Pedro Noguera, dean of the USC Rossier School of Education. But, piled atop more than two years fraught with an alarming rate of learning loss and missed socialization, they represent a more significant harm, he added.

María Sanchez, a South Los Angeles parent whose son is deaf, said she already had a hard time getting him to readjust to in-person schooling and is very worried about how the strike will set him back.

“As it is, it’s hard for me to get him on the school bus… I’m seeing changes in his behavior. He’s become more difficult, disruptive. He’s also communicating less with me and with his classmates,” she said. “I believe this is due to all the learning disruption.”

Fortunately, Carvalho already has a playbook for tackling this issue, spurred in part by standardized test results that showed LAUSD students lost approximately five years of academic ground during the pandemic.

A key part of his plan are two bonus “acceleration days” tacked on to each semester, that offer targeted learning support, the chance for students to raise their grades and engage in enrichment activities.

The first-ever set of days took place on Dec. 19 and 20 and had somewhat lackluster attendance of around 40,000 students. The second set of these days is just around the corner on April 3 and 4 and it will be interesting to see whether more families take advantage of them in the aftermath of the strike.

Other parts of Carvalho’s strategy to address learning loss include increased weekend, during school and after school tutoring as well as a new evening bus service to encourage more students to take advantage of after school programming.

UTLA and SEIU members picket at Avalon Gardens Steam Academy Elementary School in Los Angeles on Thursday, March 23, 2023.(Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer) What does this all mean for ongoing negotiations with the teachers union? In an email to its members on Friday, shortly after the district and SEIU announced they had reached a tentative agreement, UTLA touted its collective action with SEIU as a show of force and signaled that it’s prepared to ratchet up pressure on the district once more.

“Carvalho has been put on notice that he better move on our demands,” the memo stated. “If that movement is not enough to settle the contract that UTLA members deserve, we will move to the next round of this fight.”

UTLA is seeking a 20% salary increase over two years; lower class sizes; the hiring of additional nurses, librarians, counselors and other positions; and full funding of the Black Student Achievement Plan and the special education program, among other demands.

Chris Zepeda-Millán, chair of UCLA’s labor studies program, said “hands down” UTLA has the advantage at the moment.

Not only does UTLA have a larger war chest to sustain a longer strike than SEIU could, Zepeda-Millán said, there are more members of the school board endorsed by UTLA now than during the 2019 strike. And should UTLA reach the point of striking again, there’s a chance SEIU members will stage its own solidarity strike to return the favor to the teachers union for supporting it last week, he said.

“The district knows (the unions) can shut (schools) down pretty easily, and they just showed us,” Zepeda-Millán said. “That’s going to be on the back of both teams’ minds as they’re negotiating.”

What will this mean for the local and national labor movement? You can bet that workers in surrounding school districts, as well as other large urban districts throughout the country, will want more from their employers now, said Thomas Lentz, an adjunct professor at the USC Gould School of Law and a labor law attorney.

The union’s efforts last week were “transformational,” Lentz said, noting that even when it takes a while, walkouts — and the sacrifice of lost wages that go with them —  “can have a return on investment.”

“I will be expecting the local unions will be ramping up their demands, and the members who hear about this will be increasing their expectations because they know it can be done,” he said.

Experts also took particular note of teachers and others who joined with the service workers, who rarely strike.

The fact that teachers walked off the job in solidarity with striking service workers gave them a lot more power and leverage, said UCLA education professor John Rogers. In addition, politicians at city, state and federal levels spoke out in support of the strike.

Caring for students is one of the most meaningful careers.

I stand with the bus drivers, custodians, teachers aides and others of @SEIULocal99.

No one can live on $25,000. We must invest in schools and pay fair wages.

It’s time to support those who support our kids.

— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 21, 2023

“I think that each victory for organized labor sends a message to organized labor across the country in various different industry sectors,” Rogers said. “The most powerful messages will be sent to other similarly situated education workers, who will see the advantages of aligning with their teaching union and who will see that they can build power.”

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho addresses the media and families on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, at LAUSD’s iAttend Outreach Event at Compton Avenue Elementary STEAM Academy in Compton. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer) What’s next for Superintendent Carvalho? When Carvalho first arrived from Florida, a state where labor unions are relatively weaker, many wondered how he would fare in terms of navigating local school politics and unions here in L.A.

One action that angered district employees last month was a tweet the superintendent posted on Feb. 10, which read: “1,2,3…Circus = a predictable performance with a known outcome, desiring of nothing more than an applause, a coin, and a promise of a next show. Let’s do right, for once, without circus, for kids, for community, for decency. @LASchools”

SEIU members, who took a strike authorization vote that week, were offended, believing the superintendent was effectively calling them clowns.

“For members it demonstrated blatant and continued disrespect for their work and their right to take action to improve their livelihoods,” SEIU Local 99 spokesperson Blanca Gallegos said in an email.

On Friday, a district spokesperson said in a statement that people misunderstood the tweet.

“The tweet was deleted because it was misinterpreted as related to the SEIU Local 99 strike authorization,” the statement read. “Consequently, because the tweet was wrongly inferred as a maligning of our own employees, we determined it necessary to remove.”

In a follow-up interview, LAUSD spokesperson Shannon Haber said Carvalho was referencing “one of the many national issues happening in our country” at the time, though she would not specify the issue.

Although Carvalho’s image may have taken a hit in recent weeks due to ongoing labor strife, Zepeda-Millán said, the superintendent can turn things around.

If Carvalho could settle negotiations with UTLA and get the unions to join him in advocating with the governor and state Legislature for greater longterm investments in public education, he could help lead a statewide campaign that could win him points, Zepeda-Millán said.

“Carvalho has a chance to say, ‘I’m going to do things differently this time and let’s show the state and the country that if we have well-paid teachers, smaller class sizes – what all the research says works – we could have great public schools again,’” he said.

To be sure, Carvalho still has the support of many parents.

United Parents Los Angeles, a group which oftentimes is at odds with the teachers union, said in a statement that it’s “rooting” for Carvalho.

“Carvalho has been a much-needed student and academic oriented leader that has done a lot of community outreach. Many families feel that their kids are represented for the first time in years,” the statement said.

The group went on to say that for the district to combat enrollment drops and retain students, it must prioritize smaller class sizes and support schools by “trim(ming) the fat and redirect(ing) that spending” responsibly.

The school district is scheduled to return to the bargaining table with UTLA on Tuesday, according to the teachers union. And in less than a year, it will meet again with SEIU representatives to negotiate its next contract.

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NCAA Tournament: UCLA Women Overwhelmed By No. 1 South Carolina

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Kamilla Cardoso had 10 points while reigning national champion South Carolina turned in its latest overwhelming defense-and-rebounding-first performance to beat UCLA 59-43 on Saturday in the Sweet 16 of the women’s NCAA Tournament.

Aaliyah Boston had eight points, 14 rebounds and two blocks for the Gamecocks (35-0), the top overall tournament seed and the headliner in the Greenville 1 Region. It marked South Carolina’s 41st consecutive victory, securing the program’s sixth trip to the Elite Eight under Dawn Staley.

The Gamecocks will play for their fifth trip to the Final Four in Monday’s regional final against 2-seed Maryland.

It wasn’t an easy offensive operation for South Carolina, with UCLA sagging defensively to pack the paint in hopes of negating the Gamecocks’ size advantage behind Boston. But South Carolina dominated the glass from start to finish and used its length to turn every look into a difficult one for the fourth-seeded Bruins (27-10).

The Gamecocks entered the game ranked first in Division I in scoring defense, field-goal percentage defense and rebounding margin. They did nothing to change that, holding UCLA to 15-for-51 shooting (29.4%) – including 3 for 18 from 3-point range – while finishing with a 42-34 rebounding advantage that narrowed late after they led big.

Charisma Osborne scored 14 points to lead UCLA, which was in the Sweet 16 for the eighth time and first since 2019. The Bruins were trying to reach the regional finals for the first time since 2018 and only the third time in program history while pursuing their first Final Four appearance.

Once the game started, the Bruins tried desperately to close off the paint and dare the Gamecocks to shoot from outside.

But in a sign of what was to come, the Bruins kept missing shots that they needed to position themselves for a stunning upset. Worse, they failed to grab even a few of those misses to keep possessions alive early, with South Carolina going on to finish with a 15-8 edge on the offensive glass.

Meanwhile, the Gamecocks were able to just keep grinding and relying on their length. They led 25-15 at halftime before finally breaking this open by matching their game-long point total in the third quarter.

That included a couple of way-too-familiar sequences for UCLA coach Cori Close. Twice the Gamecocks managed to lob a pass inside to the 6-foot-7 Cardoso, who used her long arms to reach over 6-2 fronting defender Christeen Iwuala and snag the ball for easy under-the-rim finishes in traffic.

Or there was Brea Beal (10 points) using her right hand to tap out a loose rebound over Gabriela Jaquez before securing it, then dumping it immediately inside to Victaria Saxton inside for a soft hook as the lead steadily grew.

It was all the same often-demoralizing sequences that has overwhelmed teams all season, this time coming with the home-state Gamecocks as the main draw here in the new double-regional format.

They drew loud cheers from the crowd just for making their way into the locker-room tunnel during the Notre Dame-Maryland game with their game to follow. The roars returned as each player who lingered to wrap up pregame shootaround came off the court — several waving two arms high in acknowledgement — in a mostly full arena.

The cheers were louder, of course, as the Gamecocks spent the final minutes closing out a win to advance again.

Angel City FC’s Alyssa Thompson Ready For NWSL Debut

Alyssa Thompson is in an interesting position.

The 18-year-old is in her senior year at Harvard-Westlake, but was also the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft for her hometown team Angel City FC.

She still has classes to take while also embarking on her professional soccer career.

“I’m taking three online classes and then I’m going to school for one class,” she said. “With school, it’s definitely an adjustment. I’m still adjusting.”

Her work on the field and training ground has opened the eyes of her new coach.

“I’ve been very impressed with her,” Angel City FC coach Freya Coombe said. “I’ve been impressed with her ability to adjust to playing professionally. She’s obviously got a lot on her plate with finishing up school, but she’s doing a great job of coming in and training consistently at a high level.”

The preseason camp was long enough for Thompson to go away with the U.S. U-23 national team for games in France, where she scored two goals. In her home debut in an exhibition earlier this month, Thompson scored in a friendly against Club America.

She admitted to having nerves on the way to the game, but certainly didn’t look it.

“It looked like she had played in 100 games in this stadium,” Coombe said of Thompson. “The occasion didn’t put her off … she looked threatening all night.”

Now comes the real season. Thompson and Angel City FC kick off the 2023 campaign Sunday against NJ/NY Gotham FC at BMO Stadium (6 p.m., Paramount +).

“Preseason, overall has been a really good one,” she said. “It’s helped me a lot to get into pro mode and being able to be with the girls and them being able to teach me everything, like recovery and just getting acclimated to the environment.

“Being able to play with older players since I was younger has helped me be to where I am today. Now, it helps me mature both on and off the field. I feel like soccer is one part of my day and then I get to go with my friends and be with them, so I don’t feel like I’m always with older people. That’s why I think it’s so important that I get to go to school still and be with people my age. I still want to be an 18-year-old and I still want to be with my friends. I appreciate both experiences and it has helped become the person that I am.

Thompson is on everybody’s list of players to watch this season. She enters into a situation where Angel City will certainly take whatever production she provides. Savannah McCaskill led Angel City with seven goals last season after never scoring more than in a season since debuting in the league in 2018. The team is still waiting for Sydney Leroux (ankle) and Christen Press (ACL) to return from injuries.

The last two attacking players in the NWSL to win Rookie of the Year scored six goals in their season.

“I don’t want to place expectations on players,” Coombe said. “I think it’s about her coming into our team and contributing to our success. I think that can be done in a number of ways, but in the terms of goals that I’m expecting from her or anything like that, I’m not going to set particular numbers or goal benchmarks on that … but it’s coming in and making a positive contribution to the team.”

If there is a team that Thompson could have landed on, being home is the best option. She is surrounded by her family and her sister Gisele, a junior at Harvard-Westlake, was also a trialist during training camp with Angel City.

Aside from scoring goals, Thompson’s personal goals are simple.

“I just want to keep developing and playing at the highest level that I can,” she said. “Working to maybe be on the World Cup roster, that’s a goal for me, and to just continuing to grow as a player.”

ACFC defender and captain Ali Riley also attended Harvard-Westlake and then went to Stanford. Heading to Stanford was Thompson’s initial plan until she decided to turn professional.

“We know so many of the same people from the soccer world in Los Angeles, it is so exciting having her,” Riley said. “To be here, we’re going to support her. And looking at the diversity of the team and how much representation we have, the visibility for young girls to come from L.A, such a diverse city, who come to our game, will really think, ‘This is who I want to be, I see myself in her.’ And be able to dream. And that is so important.

“I think she’s really going to embrace this experience and really inspire a lot of young people.”

And when not serving as a role model for hopeful youth players, Thompson could pose a problem for opposing teams.

“I don’t think players we play against will necessarily know how to defend her,” Riley said. “I think there will be a lot of eyes watching her. She is so composed, she’s so mature, such an exciting player, and it is cool to have this impressive, young talent playing at home in L.A. on this team.”

NJ/NY Gotham FC at Angel City FC When: 6 p.m. Sunday

Where: BMO Stadium

TV: Paramount+

Vietnam Vets Reflect On War As 50th Anniversary Is Marked

Every morning at 8 a.m., retired Navy Capt. Eric Jensen raises a large American flag on a tall pole secured with an anchor in front of his Laguna Beach home. When Old Glory unfurls, so does the Navy flag.

“I raise the flags in memory of my best friend, Robin Pearce, and all the other veterans that didn’t come home,” Jensen said. “Some gave some, some gave it all, but everybody did their part.”

The daily ritual is cathartic for Jensen, who said he spent 23 years internalizing his emotions after coming home from Vietnam, where he was a combat pilot with Attack Squadron 82 aboard the USS Coral Sea aircraft carrier.

It took him decades, he said, to learn “there is a life.” He now proudly puts his Navy service out there, and with therapy, he’s realized his time in the Vietnam War is “nothing to be ashamed of.”

The 80-year-old flew 113 combat missions over Laos and Vietnam in 1969 and 1970 after joining the Navy Reserves and then going into active duty for 11 years, he said. “When I came back to San Francisco, they said don’t wear your uniform if you go ashore. I came home to my country, and they didn’t give a (expletive) for me defending their freedom.”

“I self-isolated,” he added. “No one understood what happened with me. I carried the war’s expenses with me and had no place to dump it.”

Now, nearing the 50th anniversary on Wednesday, March 29, of the last American troops withdrawing from the Vietnam War, Jensen and other veterans look back across the decades and reflect on what the divisive war meant to them personally and to their country.

More than 3 million Americans served in Vietnam – 58,000 died and 150,000 were wounded – and today, more than 1,500 are still listed as missing.

Eric Jensen, 80, who served in the Vietnam War, raises a U.S.and Navy flag in front of his home everyday at 8 a.m. to honor his best friend, Robin Andrew Pearce, and others who died during the Vietnam War. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Ret. Navy Capt. Eric Jensen of Laguna Beach kept a log of his combat missions during the Vietnam War. He flew a solo, single-engine A7 Corsair II, completing 113 missions. “I wonder if I’m going to die tonight?” He would ask himself before taking off into darkness. “There’s only one way to find out,” he’d answer.( Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG

Ret. Navy Capt. Eric Jensen of Laguna Beach is reflected in a document that announces his appointment as a captain in the Navy reserves. Jensen piloted 113 solo combat missions in Vietnam. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Eric Jensen, left, of Laguna Beach, met his best friend, Robin Andrew Pearce, when they were in junior high school. Jensen, now 80, raises a U.S. and Navy flag everyday at 8 a.m. in front of his house to honor Pearce and others, who died in the Vietnam War. Jensen flew 113 combat missions. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Ret. Navy Capt. Eric Jensen of Laguna Beach keeps mementos in his “man cave.” of his time serving in the Vietnam War. He flew a one-man, single-engine A7 Corsair II during113 combat missions. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Ret. Navy Capt. Eric Jensen of Laguna Beach points to himself on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in a photo taken with his squadron during the Vietnam War (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Eric Jensen, center, and his best friend, Robin Andrew Pearce, fourth from left, were selected for a pilot training program. Both served during the Vietnam War. Pearce later died in a plane crash. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Ret. Navy Capt. Eric Jensen’s photo of an A7 Corsair II launching off an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War. Jensen, 80, a Laguna Beach resident, flew 113 combat missions in the same kind of plane. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Ret. Navy Capt. Eric Jensen of Laguna Beach flew a one-man, single-engine A7 Corsair II during his 13 combat missions in the Vietnam War. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Ret. Navy Capt. Eric Jensen of Laguna Beach flew a one-man, single-engine A7 Corsair II during his 13 combat missions in the Vietnam War. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Ret. Navy Capt. Eric Jensen, 80, of Laguna Beach, served during the Vietnam War, flying 113 combat missions in an A7 Corsair II — a one-man, single engine plane. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Ret. Navy Capt. Eric Jensen of Laguna Beach keeps mementos of the time he served in the Vietnam War. This includes a model A7 Corsair II — a one-man, single engine plane like the one he flew during his 113 combat missions. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Sgt. Wayne Yost at home in Dana Point, CA, on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. Yost served with the U.S. Army’s 199th Light Infantry Brigade and was in Vietnam from 1967-1969. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Copy shot of Sgt. Wayne Yost in Vietnam in 1968. Yost served with the U.S. Army’s 199th Light Infantry Brigade and was in Vietnam from 1967-1969. (Photo Courtesy Wayne Yost)

Sgt. Wayne Yost at home in Dana Point, CA, on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. Yost served with the U.S. Army’s 199th Light Infantry Brigade and was in Vietnam from 1967-1969. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Vietnam War veteran Frank Marcello at his home in Walnut, CA, on Thursday, March 23, 2023. Marcello was in the 1st Air Calvary Division and injured during a long-range reconnaissance patrol. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Vietnam War veteran Frank Marcello at his home in Walnut, CA, on Thursday, March 23, 2023. Marcello was in the 1st Air Calvary Division and injured during a long-range reconnaissance patrol. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

A lack of respect at home for many of those returning caused them to hide their pain by, as Jensen called it, “bunkering up.” Few discussed their service with family and friends. Instead, they tried to get on with life, many going quickly back to jobs they had before the war or to college without the benefits of the GI Bill that helped their predecessors. It would take decades for many to ask for help.

“For the vast majority of Vietnam veterans, I believe they made the transition back to civilian life in productive, fulfilling ways,” said Gregory Daddis,  a retired Army colonel who is now director of the Center for War and Society and the USS Midway Chair in Modern U.S. Military History at San Diego State University. “Still, I think many continue to wrestle with reconciling the past, asking whether their sacrifices in Southeast Asia were worth the costs in blood and treasure.”

Wayne Yost, an Army sergeant in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade, still can’t reconcile the sacrifices with the war he called a “waste, a war we should have never gotten involved with.

“It was such a waste of human, military and civilians there,” he said. “I carry that animosity even today, for wars such as Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, where lives and American treasure are sacrificed with no chance of a positive outcome.”

Daddis, who has studied the history of the Vietnam War, agreed and said there is much to learn from Vietnam.

“There are a number of perspectives we can gain,” he said. “That armed forces cannot solve all political problems abroad. That outsiders cannot always settle local issues over national identity and political communities. And that there are limits to what US military power can achieve overseas.

“Even after our incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan, I’m not sure we’ve thought deeply enough about these issues and what they mean for the future of how we employ military force abroad,” he added.

Remembering those lost in Vietnam is the memorial in Washington, D.C., now the most visited among the war monuments on the National Mall. Its shiny black granite lists the names of service members who died or are still missing.

It took Jensen three tries to get the strength to visit and look for his best friend’s name.

“The first two trips, I just couldn’t do it,” he said, adding that he was a commercial pilot for Western Airlines and had been on a layover in D.C. “It was so much emotion. Then, I thought, this is the last time this month I’ll be here. I found his name and had a long conversation with him. I went back to my room, wrote a really long letter, and told him how much I missed him and all that had happened since I last saw him.”

Yost, too, found a lot of meaning at the wall because the names of five of his friends are inscribed there, he said.

Yost spent most of his time in the jungles of Vietnam helping small units of South Vietnamese Army Special Forces seek out North Vietnamese fighters.

“We’d be flown into an area, call in support troops, the artillery, or a gunship, and then we were supposed to get out of there,” said Yost, a Dana Point resident who served from 1967 to 1969 and lived in villages with the South Vietnamese while on missions. “Whenever they were in trouble and needed special help,” about five to eight American soldiers would help out.

Yost, 76, who was in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive, the largest battle of the war, recalled a specific mission where he and his unit helped find North Vietnamese that still makes him laugh today about how it managed to work out.

They were in a rice field, hiding among the paddies and waiting for air support. Yost said he removed his helmet and put it on the tip of his rifle to draw enemy fire so the pilot could pin the enemy down quicker.

Instead, the North Vietnamese “launched a rocket-propelled grenade, and another soldier and I flew into the air,” he said of the impact of the blast. “Just as that happened, the pilot was able to attack the enemy position and illuminate them, and we were just laughing hysterically.”

But that laughter didn’t continue when Yost came back to the states, he said.

“I was a jokester and I came back sedate,” he said. “The experience of war, seeing people wounded and killed … I carry those memories.”

The negative response at home only made it worse.

“For 50 years, I suppressed all the different feelings raging in my brain and soul,” Yost said. “I never discussed anything with my family or my wife and kids. Six years ago, those feelings came out, and I was having nightmares and flashbacks, and I knew something was wrong.”

Yost joined a Vietnam veterans group at the South Orange County Veterans Center in Mission Viejo.

“We’re still in counseling six years later,” he said.

Yost said he also gets some solace from helping younger veterans who may have served in Iraq and Afghanistan navigate the services available through the Veterans Administration. As former commander of the Dana Point Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9934, and now senior vice commander of 15 VFW posts in the region, he’s organized bi-monthly clinics, which have helped 6,300 veterans get benefits and have “never had a claim denied.”

“It’s been wonderful therapy,” he said. “Every time someone comes in and says ‘Thanks, guys, I just got my disability.’ It’s great knowing we were able to help, so they don’t feel alone and have someone to hold on to.”

Kolin Williams, who chairs the VETS program at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, said many of the programs that benefit more recent veterans come on the backs of the Vietnam veterans.

“The Veterans Administration was not able to handle what they brought back,” Williams said. “And, they were also the last folks to walk into a VA and ask for mental health adjustments. They hid it and went back to their families and went to work. Veteran centers now are a response to that.”

The thinking was, Williams said, “Let’s put these centers into communities and see if veterans respond.”

The evolution in public sentiment also made a huge difference in veterans seeking help, Williams said. After the Gulf War, 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan, “there was a ton of support for returning veterans,” he said, adding that at first, many of the Vietnam veterans resented that, wondering why they didn’t get a similar response.

“That resentment was misplaced,” Williams said. “Because by shining the light on these service members, it de-stigmatized the whole conversation about mental health. It was being encouraged, ‘Go get support.’ The Vietnam veterans noticed that and appreciated the services.”

In addition to getting help with post-traumatic stress, Vietnam veterans are registering for service disabilities because of exposure to Agent Orange, a chemical herbicide used between 1961 and 1971 to kill vegetation in Vietnam for tactical warfare. The exposure has led to cancers and heart conditions for tens of thousands of veterans.

Frank Marcello, a 1st Air Calvary Division sergeant, knows a thing or two about Agent Orange. During his service between 1966 and 1967, the Purple Heart decorated soldier, who was part of a reconnaissance unit, spent most of his time in the central highlands of Vietnam. He was always the point man, he said, leading his squad, and during his time served there, “never had a soldier die.”

“We’d hump for 10 to 15 miles and do ambushes,” he said of his squad of eight. “The chopper would pick us up, drop us off again, and pick us up. I did over 125 air assaults. We were always on the go. Landing zones were all over the place and were cleared with Agent Orange.”

Marcello, 79, of Walnut, is receiving 100% disability benefits because of his exposure and, like Jensen and Yost, has been diagnosed with PTSD. For 25 years, he said, he woke up with nightmares and cold and hot sweats.

“I’d be hollering and wake up my wife,” he said, adding that he went to the VA for help but “they didn’t have anything that worked.” So, like a good cavalry soldier, he gutted it out and dealt with it, he said.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in U.S. political history and later a master’s degree and an MBA. He credits God, along with his “cool and calm” demeanor, with helping him have the grit to make it through the last half-century.

Like the others, he didn’t speak of his service publicly and never mentioned it to college classmates or friends.

“In all the other wars, people were treated with respect, but we couldn’t speak about it because we were in Vietnam,” he said.

More recently though, Marcello said he has had a different experience. He was among a group of veterans invited to the Hoag Classic at the Newport Beach Country Club. Marcello attended wearing fatigues and his stack of medals, including the Purple Heart.

“I had 200 people coming up to me,” he said, choking up with emotion. “I had men shaking my hand, and women would hug me. At a Fourth of July parade in Catalina, I wore my medals and everyone, grandmothers, little kids and men and women, they all cheered for me. Now, no matter what, I go to parades and universities and people are wanting to talk to me.”

“I’m reliving what should have happened,” he said of this newer support he wished he and other veterans deserved.  “I wear the medals with pride for the guys who died.”

What You Need To Know About Growing Berries In Southern California

Roger Campbell, who gardens in Alhambra, sent an email requesting varieties of berries that grow well in our area. Berries are quite the rage. The reason for this is simple enough to divine: You get lots of fruit from plants whose growth is easily controlled. Unlike fruit trees that take up space and require regular pruning as well as ladders to harvest the crop, a berry plant is easy to manage and harvest. Many berry plants are also container friendly. There is even a special container called a strawberry pot with any number of side windows or pockets that allow you to nurture many different plants simultaneously. Finally, the nutritional value of berries is much documented and highly promoted.

But here’s the problem, based on what I have seen, gardeners often struggle to grow strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, so if you want berries with a minimum amount of work, I suggest blackberries, especially the Boysen and Ollalie varieties, due to their strong tolerance to heat. Thornless versions of these varieties are also available. They prefer half-day sun exposure and are most successfully grown up a 4-6 foot fence since, allowed to sprawl along the ground, they are more of a challenge to tend and harvest, especially varieties with thorns.

Blueberries are probably more regaled than any other berry, but growing them is not a simple matter. A number of years ago, reader Roger Lipps extolled the virtues of two highbush blueberry varieties, Misty and O’Neal. Lipps’ plants had grown to a height of 6-8 feet and his harvest was prodigious. 

Lipps attributed his success to two annual applications of soil acidifying sulphur, in April and October, and heavy mulching. He applied Tiger 90CR Organic Sulphur which he procured from Whittier Fertilizer in Pico Rivera. The application rate was 1-3 cups per bush, depending on size. 

“I just manually spread the granules around the drip lines,” he wrote. “Blueberry roots are shallow and without a 4-inch layer of mulch, growing them would require nearly constant irrigation.” 

Lipps wisely installed a drip system for his blueberries, reducing his water budget by 30-50% in the process. His water agency had restricted irrigation to two days a week, but he could abide by that schedule and still keep his blueberry bushes in good health. 

“Armstrong is where I purchased many of our blueberry plants,” he confided. “I love their lifetime guarantee.” (Note: Armstrong Garden Centers provide a lifetime warranty on all shrubs and trees.) 

Lipps added that “an important factor with regard to growing blueberries is controlling critters. Opossums, skunks and raccoons love moist soft mulch for digging” and so “you must fence your bushes off” and since “birds love blueberries, you must bird net the entire crop if you expect to harvest any.” A redeeming feature of blueberry growing is that the bushes have a lifespan of 50 years.

The challenge of growing raspberries is their sensitivity to our summer sun. They do best in the morning sun, growing on the east side of a large tree, and require regular watering. Bababerry and Oregon 1030 are the two most heat-tolerant varieties. It is generally recommended that raspberries be staked but some gardeners have enjoyed considerable success coaxing their plants into clumps of canes, free of stake constriction.

The most successful grower of strawberries I ever met was Richard Mueller of Granada Hills. Mueller grew the Sequoia strawberry variety exclusively and harvested berries throughout the year. He started with 20 plants and, two decades later, had 200 growing at any one time, giving away another 100 plants each year. When preparing a new area for planting, he would dig down eight inches, fill the excavated area with compost and horse manure, and install new plants after soaking them in a solution of Miracle-Gro fertilizer and water. Two months later, the plants would start to produce berries. Outside of watering as needed, his maintenance regime involved spraying Miracle-Gro on all of his plants twice a month. 

Sunday is the name of a company offering a whole line of organic fertilizers and pesticides, many of them newly formulated, as well as specialty plant species and gardening accessories. You can access these products by visiting Their Veggie + Plant Food Mix contains “soy protein, sustainably composted turkey litter, potash, and feather meal.” They also carry Monterey Garden Tomato Blossom Spray, a fertilizer that boosts flowering on tomato plants even as it depresses growth of tomato disease pathogens.

California poppy Eschscholzia californica (Photo by Joshua Siskin) California native of the week: The California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), our state flower, is blooming now and its appearance in the garden is always a pleasant event. I cannot imagine why anyone would not scatter California poppy seeds which will sprout as long as they are planted before the weather turns warm. Just broadcast them over the soil surface and they will germinate with rain or irrigation. After you have a crop, the seeds will find their way throughout your garden, in the course of time, without any effort on your part. To extend their flowering period, deadhead the flowers as you would deadhead pansies or roses for continuous bloom. Although their orange flowers, which appear to have no equal in the botanical world, are certainly enough to promote their planting, California poppy foliage is special too. It is delicately laced and blue-green in color most of the time, yet it may take on intriguing purplish-red undertones when flowers are spent and seeds are about to form. The only way you can discourage California poppies from performing gloriously is to enrich their soil. These plants need a well-drained soil but will flounder where organic amendments have been dug into the earth or where fertilizers are applied.

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LA Metro Makes Gold Line Foothill Extension Its No. 1 Priority For State Funds

With two out of three unfunded LA Metro rail projects given no money by the state transportation agency earlier this year, supporters of those projects have asked, what is Plan B?

LA Metro’s board on Thursday, March 23, declared the 3.2-mile Gold Line Foothill Extension to Claremont and Montclair its number one priority for the next round of state funding grants, including its consideration for inclusion in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2023-2034 state budget. The foothill line was Metro’s second place priority in a recent round of state grants.

Crews install light-rail tracks on completed light-rail bridge over Bonita Avenue and Cataract Avenue intersection in San Dimas on March 10, 2023. (photo courtesy of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority).

Crews install relocated freight track at Fulton Road grade crossing in Pomona for the Gold Line (now L Line) extension from Azusa to Pomona on Feb. 10, 2022. The extension of the LA Metro light rail line is funded to Pomona. But not to Claremont and Montclair, as planned for decades. Metro on Thursday, Dec. 1, applied to the state for $798 million to complete the line. It was one of three rail projects in an application being sent to Sacramento for funding out of a state budget surplus. But on Jan. 31, 2023, they were denied the grant. On March 23, 2023, LA Metro made the project the No. 1 priority for receiving future state funding.(image courtesy of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority)

Map shows route of extension of the L Line currently under construction to Pomona, to be completed in 2025. The portion to Claremont and Montclair is unfunded. (courtesy of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority).

Now called the “L Line,” the extension from Azusa to Pomona is being built entirely with local taxpayer dollars. When completed in 2025, the light-rail line will include 23 out of 24 stations in Los Angeles County, missing only Claremont. A one-mile section to Montclair in San Bernardino County is fully funded.

Nine state lawmakers, acting as part of the San Gabriel Valley Legislative Caucus, wrote a Jan. 31 letter to Metro bluntly stating their unhappiness after the state’s light rail funding awards were announced. They wrote: “We were disappointed to see The California State Transportation Agency fund the Inglewood Transit Connector before the number two and three priorities LA Metro submitted for the transit dollars made available for Southern California in the 2022-23 budget.”

CalSTA went against those legislators, giving $407 million to an Inglewood people mover project that will carry football and basketball fans to SoFi stadium and to the Los Angeles Clippers stadium being built in Inglewood. CalSTA did, however, grant LA Metro its top priority — $600 million for the East San Fernando Valley light-rail project.

The misnamed West Santa Ana Branch line, Metro’s third priority this year, was also skipped over. It would be a 19.3-mile light-rail line from downtown L.A. into southeast L.A. County cities. It was moved up to number two on Metro’s priority list in Thursday’s board action.

Local congressional members also wrote to Metro, asking that it move the Gold Line extension to Montclair to its highest priority for state funds.

“The unfunded project is environmentally cleared, has undergone advanced engineering and pre-construction utility work and is shovel ready,” wrote Reps. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena and Grace Napolitano, D-El Monte. “The small portion of the system planned in San Bernardino County is equally ready and has already secured full funding.”

The Metro board heard from several mayors, as well as the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership and Citrus College, all urging a stronger push for state dollars to complete the Gold Line’s foothill line. With about $40 million saved from the Azusa-to-Pomona extension, the amount needed is about $758 million.

Claremont Mayor Ed Reece said the project can be completed in five years. But if funding is delayed again, costs may rise and completion may be delayed. The project has been plagued by rising costs since 2018.

“This project will create 5,500 jobs and a billion dollars in economic output. It will take tens of thousands of cars off the roads each day,” said Reece.

A report by Metro says the Gold Line foothill extension has been a part of its regional plan since the early 1990s. It was included in Metro’s 2009 and 2020 Long Range Transportation Plan. Completion to Montclair would reduce car trips by an estimated 15,000 daily, and 26.7 million vehicle miles annually, studies show.

La Verne Mayor Tim Hepburn says the Gold Line extension would be the only light-rail project connecting Los Angeles, Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley with the Inland Empire. The line to the IE is seen as cutting the car traffic commuting to and from jobs in L.A. County, jamming the 210 Freeway and creating toxic air emissions in the San Gabriel and eastern San Fernando valleys.

Montclair City Council member Bill Ruh told the Metro board his city has already built about 2,000 housing units around the future station. Mayor John Dutrey said the city is meeting its state-mandated housing goals but not being rewarded.

“Yesterday’s action was important, as Sacramento continues to support funding for transit in the upcoming budget cycles,” wrote Foothill Gold Line CEO Habib Balian in an emailed response on Friday, March 24.

Newsom has indicated that he plans to reduce the $4 billion that was set aside for transit projects in the state budget. But Metro is lobbying him to keep the transportation funding pot whole.

“We are all prepared to do whatever it takes to make the state see these projects are worthy,” said L.A.  County Supervisor and Metro board member Kathryn Barger, whose district includes large parts of the San Gabriel Valley.

California Ends Some Water Limits After Storms Ease Drought


DUNNIGAN, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom ended some of the state’s water restrictions on Friday because a winter of relentless rain and snow has replenished the state’s reservoirs and eased fears of a shortage after three years of severe drought.

He also announced local agencies that supply water to 27 million people and many farmers would get much more from state supplies than originally planned. But Newsom did not declare an end to the drought, warning much of the state is still suffering from its lingering effects.

“Are we out of a drought? Mostly — but not completely,” Newsom said Friday from a farm northwest of Sacramento that has flooded its fields to help replenish groundwater.

Newsom said he would stop asking people to voluntarily cut their water use by 15%, a request he first made nearly two years ago while standing at the edge of a nearly dry Lopez Lake in the state’s Central Coast region — a lake that today is so full from recent storms it is almost spilling over. Californians never met Newsom’s call for that level of conservation — as of January the cumulative savings were just 6.2%.

The governor also said he would ease rules requiring local water agencies to impose restrictions on customers. That order will impact people in different ways depending on where they live. For most people, it means they won’t be limited to watering their lawns on only certain days of the week or at certain times of the day. Other restrictions remain in place, including a ban on watering decorative grass for businesses.

Newsom could ease restrictions in part because state officials said California’s reservoirs are so full they will more than double the amount of drinking water cities will get this year compared to a previous allocation announced last month. Water districts that serve 27 million people will get at least 75% of the water they requested from state supplies. Last year, they only got 5% as California endured three of the driest years ever since modern recordkeeping began in 1896.

Three years of little rain or snow have depleted reservoirs to the point the state couldn’t generate electricity from hydroelectric power plants. It dried up wells in rural areas and state officials had to truck in water supplies for some communities. And it reduced the flow of the state’s major rivers and streams, killing off endangered species of fish and other species.

But since December, no less than 12 powerful storms have hit California, packing so much rain and snow that meteorologists call them “atmospheric rivers.” These storms have flooded homes, closed ski resorts and trapped people in mountain communities for days with no electricity, prompting emergency declarations from President Joe Biden.

Amid all that carnage, water has steadily poured into the state’s reservoirs. Of California’s 17 major reservoirs, 12 of them are either at or above their historical averages for this time of year.

And more water is coming. Statewide, the amount of snow piled up in the mountains is already 223% above the April 1 average — the date when the snowpack is typically at its peak. Most of that snow will melt in the coming months, flowing into reservoirs and posing more flooding threats downstream.

“This is a good news moment. Those storms have brought record amounts of water into our state in the form of rain and snow, and that means we are in much better condition with our water supply than we were in the fall,” said Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency.

Newsom did not declare an end to the drought on Friday, even though the U.S. Drought Monitor reported this week that much of the state — including the major population centers along the coast and farmland in the Central Valley — are not in drought.

Water shortage concerns remain for some areas of the state, including a sizeable chunk of Southern California that relies on water from the Colorado River — a basin that remains in drought. In the north part of the state, portions of the Klamath River basin on the California-Oregon line are still listed as in “severe drought.”

“I know that’s disappointing for some because it would be nice to have a governor say the drought is over,” Newsom said.

California doesn’t have enough room in its reservoirs to store all of the water from these storms. In fact, some reservoirs are having to release water to make room for new storms coming next week and snowmelt in the spring. That’s why the Newsom administration has given farmers permission to take water out of the rivers and flood some of their fields, with the water seeping back under ground to refill groundwater basins.

Newsom made his drought announcement at one of those projects, a farm in the community of Dunnigan, off of Interstate 5 about 37 miles (60 kilometers) northwest of Sacramento. State officials hope projects like these will replenish some of the groundwater that was pumped out during the drought.