In California: A deadly avalanche in Lake Tahoe; we sue Trump (again)




  • In Business
  • 2020-01-18 00:16:51Z
  • By USA TODAY
In California: A deadly avalanche in Lake Tahoe; we sue Trump (again)
In California: A deadly avalanche in Lake Tahoe; we sue Trump (again)  

One person died and another was badly injured following a morning avalanche in Lake Tahoe. The state sues over President Trump's plan to open up coastal and farming land to gas and oil extraction. And lots of chickens didn't make it 'cross the road.

It's news for Friday.

But first, four L.A.-area teachers are suing Delta after one of its planes preparing for an emergency landing dropped fuel on them. At the time, all declined transport to hospital to be examined.

And later, get to know the Los Angeles-based founder and CEO of a ride-sharing app for kids. Don't call it Uber for small people.

I'm Arlene Martínez and I write In California, a daily roundup of news from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms and beyond. Signing up is fast, fun and free.

Lake Tahoe area avalanche kills 34-year-old man

An avalanche at Alpine Meadows ski resort killed Cole Comstock, a 34-year-old man from Blairsden, authorities said. A second man was also badly injured in the avalanche, which was reported at 10:16 a.m. near two black diamond runs.

The search was called off about 90 minutes later, after authorities accounted for everyone. The injured man was in surgery as of early Friday afternoon.

A storm hit the region on Thursday, dropping more than two feet of snow. Hours before the deadly snowfall, the Sierra Avalanche Center rated the risk for an avalanche as a three out of five - "considerable" on its danger scale. Follow this developing story here.

Millennial living, chickens and wood-fired pizza

A luxury space just for Millenials and at an "affordable price." Units at its nearby sister property start at $2,300. And here I thought they lived with their parents.

Why were 5,800 chickens on the road? The truck they were in overturned. Half didn't survive the San Bernardino accident.

"Aqui se puede," thought the street proprietor of the parking lot in L.A.'s Silver Lake neighborhood that's home base for wood-fired pizzas sold out of a pickup truck.

Another day, another state suit against Trump

California's top legal officer is again taking the Trump Administration to court, this time to try to stop him from opening up over one million acres of public lands to oil and gas extraction.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Gov. Gavin Newsom, along with the California Air Resources Board, California Fish and Wildlife and the California Department of Water Resources, joined in the lawsuit filed against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The federal agency failed to fully consider the environmental and public health impacts of opening up such vast swaths of land in the Central Coast and Central Valley, the suit alleges.

"BLM's decision to advance this half-baked proposal isn't just misguided, it's downright dangerous. The risks to both people and the environment associated with fracking are simply too high to ignore," Becerra said in a statement.

Hasn't there already been a lawsuit about this? Yes, that one was filed by conservation groups this week for many of the same reasons.

Becerra has sued Trump more than 50 times. In the cases where there's been action, the state has mostly won.

What else we're talking about

Mexico's Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez is set to become the highest-paid MLS player after agreeing to a 3-year contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy.

A one-armed golfer sinks a hole-in-one at this week's American Express golf tournament in SoCal. See video of it here.

Remember those huge lemons that might not actually be lemons? A Master Gardener explains further.

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is in Monterey County, where he's scheduled to talk on Friday about climate change.

Don't call it Uber for kids

Joanna McFarland is co-founder and CEO of HopSkipDrive, a ride-sharing app that, like Uber and Lyft, allows you to get where you need if you've got a smartphone and a credit card. But that's where the similarities end, McFarland says.

HopSkipDrive's drivers undergo far more background checks than traditional ride-hailing companies, she says, and it has partnered with school districts and local governments in a quest to give stability to foster children and other students who move around a lot, which hurts them academically and socially.

McFarland and I chatted via email. The answers have been edited for length.

What was life like for you when you conceived of this idea?

I started the business five years ago with two other working moms. We were desperate for a solution that could safely get our children where they needed to go without compromising our careers or sacrificing our kids' needs due to busy schedules.

HopSkipDrive had to be safe enough for our own kids, so we designed it with that in mind from the very beginning. For me, the question was always, "What would I need to see to feel comfortable putting Jackson or Sam in a HopSkipDrive ride?"

So... is this a ride-sharing app for kids?

HopSkipDrive is so much more. We brought in the best features of rideshare solutions, like the ability to easily book and monitor a trip on a smartphone, but we've gone far beyond that.

We're rigorous about safety and we've designed it into every aspect of the service. To drive on the HopSkipDrive platform, each CareDriver must have a minimum of 5 years of caregiving experience and pass a 15-point certification process, which includes fingerprinting, incredibly strict background checks and continuous DMV and background record monitoring.

Where does HopSkipDrive operate out of?

We are based in Los Angeles, but we currently operate in 13 markets across eight states, with further expansions in the works (it launched Las Vegas area service this month).

When I first read about this, I thought of soccer practice, music lessons. But it's way more. Can you talk about the other things the company does?

If you can think of a reason that a kid needs to get from point A to point B, chances are that we have helped a parent do that at some point.

HopSkipDrive also works with school districts and counties to optimize transportation solutions and reduce costs. School districts are constantly being asked to do more with less, to provide more individualized services that meet unique needs-such as students with special needs, homeless and foster youth-but with the same or smaller budgets. Rerouting or dedicating school buses in these cases can be inefficient and expensive.

Our mission is to remove transportation barriers so all kids can reach their full potential.

I can imagine rides being pretty costly if you use this service regularly. Do you offer any type of reduced pricing based on ability to pay?

The average cost of a ride is $20, roughly the hourly rate of a babysitter who would drive children to school or activities. Unlike babysitters, HopSkipDrive comes with built-in safety measures like our 15-point CareDriver certification process and real-time monitoring of each ride.

The best way for parents to manage the cost of transportation with HopSkipDrive is to set up carpools, which they can easily do within the app. The more families in a carpool, the bigger the discount for each family, up to 60%.

To dig into your partnership with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, Los Angeles Unified School District and other agencies a little more, how did that come about?

In 2017, we signed on with Los Angeles County to provide school-of-origin transportation solutions for the Foster Youth School Stability Pilot program.

Remaining in their school of origin dramatically increases academic success for foster youth. Research shows that more than one-third of foster youth will change schools five or more times by the time they turn 18. Each move can set them back four to six months of academic progress, and foster youth graduate high school at a far lower rate than their peers. Reliable transportation means foster youth can avoid academic setbacks, setting them up for greater success.

Though cost was cited as a challenge in their report, the results seemed to be positive. What were some of your biggest takeaways?

When you look at cost per student per year, HopSkipDrive was almost 50% more cost-effective than other solutions. Other key takeaways were that HopSkipDrive provides a scalable solution that can respond in real-time. It can be very hard to reroute buses, sometimes taking a few weeks to get a route changed. In contrast, HopSkipDrive can provide a student a ride to school the next day.

We also learned how meaningful school-of-origin transportation and school stability can be for vulnerable kids. Having done this work for a few years now, we've seen foster youth graduate from high school because HopSkipDrive enabled them to get to school consistently. That diploma is key to future opportunities.

On days when doors closed, or you heard just another "not interested," what kept you going?

The same thing that kept us going early in the journey is what keeps us moving forward now: Every day we hear amazing stories about kids who have access to new opportunities because mobility is no longer a barrier.

I'll be back on Tuesday. Enjoy the long weekend, if you've got it!

In California is a roundup of news from across the USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: PolitiFact, Los Angeles Times, L.A. Taco, Daily Bulletin, New York Times

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: In California: A deadly avalanche in Lake Tahoe; we sue Trump (again)

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