Federal officials have announced the first series of public input meetings for what will be a four-year study that could mean the protection of more than 500,000 acres.
The land under evaluation for preservation include areas above San Fernando, La Crescenta, Santa Clarita, Simi and Conejo valleys, known collectively as the Rim of the Valley.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) has pushed for the federal land-use study for years. Legislation signed by President George W. Bush in 2008 secured the $500,000 to begin the public-input portion of the study.
Officials with the U.S. Department of the Interior will examine the feasibility of some or all of the land into the federally protected Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
The initial public comment period ends Oct. 29.
Grants offer utility bill help
Residents experiencing financial troubles can qualify for grants of up to $1,500 from Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas Co. through a new state program, "Temporary Energy Assistance for Families."
The program, administered by the Salvation Army and paid for in part with federal stimulus dollars, allows qualified families to receive a one-time emergency energy credit of up to $1,500 to pay past-due bills and avoid shut-offs.
Southern California Edison and the Gas Company each will have $10 million for the program. Applications will be accepted through Sept. 21.
To apply, call the Salvation Army at (800) 933-9677, or download an application at http://www.tsagoldenstate.org.
Cooler weather returns to area
A significant cooldown begins today after a four-day heat wave that brought everything from lightning storms and flash floods to excessive heat warnings and record highs throughout the region.
Highs through the weekend are expected to hover between the mid-70s and low 80s, according to the National Weather Service. It will be a far cry from the triple-digit temperatures that seared the Southland for much of the week, prompting local officials to open and double up on public cooling stations.
Temperatures could start to creep back into the low 90s on Tuesday, according to the weather agency.
School employees union reaches deal
The school district union of custodians, educational aides, executive assistants and school employees signed a tentative contract with Glendale Unified on Thursday, officials said.
The three-year deal is expected to save almost $3 million in the life of the contract. Voting begins Sept. 9 and the Board of Education is scheduled to ratify the contract Sept. 10.
The package mirrors the agreement with the district's teachers union, officials said.
In June, a tentative one-year contract was rejected by the union membership, 242 to 196.