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LAX kicks off $508-million renovation of Southwest Airlines terminal

The modernization of outdated terminals at Los Angeles International Airport forged ahead Tuesday as work began on a $508-million renovation of one of the busiest passenger facilities.

City leaders and airport officials broke ground at Terminal 1, home to Southwest Airlines and its subsidiary AirTran Airways. Known for traffic congestion and long lines, the 30-year old facility handled about 9.65 million travelers in 2013, the most of any LAX terminal that year.

“We want this airport to make the best first impression and the best last impression for people when they are here,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “This project will improve the passenger experience from the curb to the gates.”

Plans calls for a brighter, more open ticketing lobby, a fully automated system to handle checked bags and numerous structural improvements, including a new facade and seismic retrofitting.

The passenger screening area, operated by the Transportation Security Administration, will be expanded to...

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Ezell Ford's family plans to sue LAPD over his fatal shooting

A lawyer representing the family of a mentally ill man who was shot and killed by two Los Angeles police officers in South L.A. last month said he plans to file a wrongful-death lawsuit against the LAPD.

Attorney Steven Lerman said he plans to release details about the lawsuit during a news conference Wednesday afternoon in downtown Los Angeles.

The announcement comes more than a month after the police shooting of Ezell Ford, 25, who was killed Aug. 11.

Police said gang officers with the Newton Division approached Ford as he was walking home along West 65th Street near Broadway. The department said Ford tackled one of the officers and reached for the officer's gun, prompting both officers to open fire. 

A witness who saw part of the incident told The Times that she saw no struggle.

The shooting is being investigated by the LAPD, the Police Commission's inspector general and the district attorney's office.

Ford’s death occurred two days after the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael...

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Parts of Southland slammed by rain, thunder; flooding reported

Amid another day of triple-digit heat, some parts of Southern California were being hit by heavy rain and thunderstorms Tuesday afternoon.

The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood warning for Lake Elisnore, Hemet and surrounding areas as heavy bands of rain moved in. A second warning was issued for the Coto de Caza and other hillside communities in Orange County.

The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Riverside, Corona, Mission Viejo and surrounding areas through 5 p.m.

Lake Elisnore was particularly hard hit by the rains. CalFire sent out photos on Twitter showing flooding damage at Elisnore High School, including downed power lines and trees. Parts of the campus were flooded.

KTLA showed images of major street flooding in Ontario, Lake Elisnore and elsewhere.

Temperatures across Southern California have remained in the triple digits as a weak off-shore flow holds cooler sea breezes at bay.

Several more temperature records could fall Tuesday,...

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Judge temporarily halts release of Pasadena police shooting report

A judge issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday that prohibits Pasadena officials from releasing the results of an independent consultant’s investigation into the 2012 fatal police shooting of an unarmed teenager.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant granted a request by the Pasadena Police Officers Assn. to issue the order pending a future decision on how much of the report should be disclosed under the law.

“I am not going to disclose it until I decide the merits,” the judge told lawyers for the city, the police union, a group of Pasadena organizations and the Los Angeles Times. “There is one chance to prevent the bell being rung.”

The report, written by the Office of Independent Review, examined the killing of 19-year-old Kendrec McDade, who was shot by Pasadena police officers as he ran on Sunset Avenue on March 24, 2012.

The shooting sparked protests and calls for increased civilian oversight of the city's Police Department.

The district attorney's office...

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Supervisor's race: Kuehl, Shriver meet at 7 p.m. in UCLA debate

Supervisorial candidates Sheila Kuehl and Bobby Shriver face off at 7 tonight in a debate at UCLA that will focus on transportation and economic development.

Kuehl, 73, a former state legislator, will exchange views with former Santa Monica mayor and City Council member Shriver, 60, in the Little Theater at Macgowan Hall.

The two are competing on the Nov. 4 ballot for the seat of retiring Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. 

From a field of eight candidates, Kuehl placed first in the primary with 36% of the vote, followed by Shriver with 29%. She dominated in precinct wins, doing particularly well in the vote-rich Westside, Los Angeles Basin and San Fernando Valley communities of Calabasas, Encino, Sherman Oaks and Studio City.

Shriver made his strongest showing in Santa Monica, where both candidates live, and in the northeast San Fernando Valley. Kuehl won nine of the 10 cities in a district of 1 million voters who make up some of Los Angeles County’s wealthiest neighborhoods and tend to...

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Walking the dog without a leash? You could soon be fined $100 or more

If you walk your dog without a leash in Los Angeles, you could soon be slapped with a $100 fine -- or more if it happens again.

That's because the Los Angeles City Council adopted a new system Tuesday that allows police officers to issue citations for minor "quality of life" crimes that would typically be resolved with a warning.

A pilot program, called Administrative Citation Enforcement, gives the Los Angeles Police Department and the Department of Animal Services a new enforcement tool that bypasses the court system. It allows city officials to impose fines for offenses such as urinating in public, having dogs off leashes or dumping garbage in public streets. 

Currently, officers either can give a warning, or launch a criminal misdemeanor case against people who commit these crimes. Because officers are reluctant to initiate court cases for minor offenses, it's currently difficult to enforce these quality-of-life issues, said Councilman Paul Koretz.

"There is no good appropriate...

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L.A. Unified students claim walkout over heat; district repairing A/C

As intense heat continued its stranglehold on the Los Angelse area, students from at least one high school said they walked out of class.  

Teenagers at Franklin High School in Highland Park took to social media to document temperatures in their classrooms -- 103 degrees, they said -- when air-conditioning units stopped functioning.

A school official said administrators were scrambling to accommodate students and teachers.

Monica Whalen tweeted “a classroom @ Franklin High” with a photograph of the classroom and a headline reading "103."

The student said some classmates had walked out of their fifth-period class and headed to a school auditorium that they presumed was air conditioned. She later tweeted that she was moved to a classroom with working air conditioning.

The school principal had apparently addressed students inside the auditorium.

Shannon Haber, a Los Angeles Unified School District spokeswoman, denied that students were walking out of class but did say eight...

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Jail deputy convicted in conspiracy to hide federal informant

A federal court jury convicted a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy Tuesday of conspiracy and obstruction of justice in a scheme aimed at hiding an inmate who had been working as a federal informant.

Jurors convicted James Sexton after deliberating for roughly two hours about his involvement in handling the inmate at the Men’s Central Jail. A previous trial of Sexton earlier this year had ended with jurors deadlocked 6 to 6.

The verdict means that Sexton becomes the seventh sheriff’s official found guilty of trying to thwart an FBI investigation into jailhouse abuse and misconduct.

Prosecutors argued that Sexton was an integral part of a plot to hide inmate Anthony Brown, an FBI informant, in an effort to stymie the federal probe and prevent abuses by deputies from coming to light. Sexton named the mission Operation Pandora's Box, prosecutors said, using his skills as the senior deputy at the jail's intake department to assign aliases to the informant and keep the informant's...

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San Francisco to require private schools to be seismically evaluated

San Francisco will become the first city in California to close a major loophole in laws that are supposed to keep schoolchildren safe during earthquakes with a vote Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.

The board unanimously approved a law that would require private schools to find out if classroom buildings would collapse in an earthquake. The law would not require a seismic retrofit, but some schools say that they would voluntarily retrofit if they find out their buildings need strengthening to avoid deaths in the next big earthquake. 

Mayor Ed Lee said he will sign the law.

Government officials have long known that California’s private schools generally are not regulated for seismic safety. A law was passed 28 years ago proclaiming that children attending private schools should be protected under state law as public school students are. But the California Seismic Safety Commission in 2004 concluded that many city building departments aren’t even aware of the law and don’t enforce it...

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L.A. Chamber formally denounces Garcetti plan for $13.25 minimum wage

The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce formally came out against Mayor Eric Garcetti's $13.25 an hour minimum wage proposal on Tuesday, saying that boosting the rate would "reduce, not increase the number of jobs" in the city.

Chamber President and Chief Executive Gary Toebben said his organization's board concluded that any discussion of a wage hike should be part of a larger economic development strategy for the city. That strategy, said Toebben, does not currently exist.

"We oppose this proposal because it is not part of a comprehensive economic plan," he said. "And we believe that this proposal would actually cost jobs, would cause people to lose jobs and would cause people to have cutbacks in hours."

Toebben predicted employers would "move across the street into another city" to avoid the Garcetti plan, which would take the minimum wage from $9 per hour to $13.25 by 2017.

To counter that possibility, Garcetti has been trying in recent days to persuade officials in neighboring...

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Pedicab driver was driving drunk while wearing a python, police say

A pedicab driver with a python wrapped around his neck was arrested early Tuesday in downtown San Diego, accused of drunk driving, police said.

Late-night revelers in the city's Gaslamp Quarter had spotted the driver and the snake around 1:30 a.m., police said.

The pedicab driver -- Travis Young, 27 --  was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. The snake, a 4-foot-long ball python, was seized by the San Diego County Department of Animal Services and taken to a shelter.

The snake is not a restricted species and can be purchased at pet shops, animal services officials said.

At mid-afternoon, the python was listed as "not doing well" and was under the care of a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles. Its prognosis was unclear.

Ball pythons are not venomous and are known for having a docile nature that makes them a good pet for snake enthusiasts. A ball python can grow to 5 feet in length and live 20 to 30 years.

Follow the reporter on Twitter: @LATsandiego

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Reward offered for suspect in 15 San Diego County bank robberies

A $20,000 reward is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the serial bank robber known as the El Chapparito Bandit, the FBI in San Diego announced Tuesday.

El Chapparito, described as an Asian or Latino male in his mid-20s, 5-foot-3 to 5-foot-7, is responsible for 15 bank robberies in San Diego County starting on Nov. 19, 2013, the FBI said.

The nickname, roughly translated, means Shorty.

The bandit has an unusually aggressive "modified takeover style," entering the bank yelling "hands up everyone" and robbing more than one teller, the FBI said. He wears a mask, sunglasses, gloves and a baseball cap, possibly with a Cleveland Indians logo.

A dozen of the robberies have been in San Diego, with one each in National City, Bonita and Chula Vista. The most recent robbery was Sept. 13, when El Chapparito robbed a Wells Fargo branch in San Diego, the FBI said.

The bandit pretends to have a gun but one has not been spotted by witnesses.

Twitter: @LATsandiego

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