In California: Disneyland won't be reopening soon, ballot box set on fire in L.A. suburb

Erin Rode, USA TODAY
·7 min read

Plus: The state attorney general sues the GOP over its ballot drop boxes. Counties push back against state reopening guidelines. Greenhouse gas emissions increase. And a drive-in World Series viewing party.

I'm Erin Rode, housing reporter for the Ventura County Star, with Tuesday's California headlines.

In California brings you top Golden State stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Get it free, straight to your inbox.

Don’t count on a Disneyland trip anytime soon

California issued guidelines for the reopening of theme parks Tuesday. While smaller parks could open soon, it will be a while before Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and other top theme parks reopen.

Large theme parks can't reopen until the county they're located in reaches the yellow tier, the highest tier of the state's color-coded, four-tier reopening process. Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm are in Orange County, which is currently in the state's red tier, the second-most restrictive tier. And Universal Studios Hollywood is in Los Angeles County, which is in the most restrictive purple tier. When the parks do reopen, they'll be limited to 25% capacity.

Smaller attractions can reopen once their county moves into the "moderate" orange tier, but only with outdoor attractions and also at 25% capacity. Disneyland President Ken Potrock issued a statement criticizing the rules.

"These state guidelines will keep us shuttered for the foreseeable future, forcing thousands more people out of work, leading to the inevitable closure of small family-owned businesses, and irreparably devastating the Anaheim/Southern California community,”​ Potrock said​​​​​​.

Last month, Disney laid off 28,000 employees in California and Florida, and the city of Anaheim, where Disneyland is located, expects a fiscal-year deficit of at least $75 million.

Counties push back against state’s tiered reopening

In July, Jose Macias, a licensed vocational nurse at Centro Medico Cathedral City prepares to begin his workday administering COVID-19 tests.
In July, Jose Macias, a licensed vocational nurse at Centro Medico Cathedral City prepares to begin his workday administering COVID-19 tests.

In Riverside County, some businesses must close again as the county moves back from the red tier into the purple tier, the most restrictive level in the state's color-coded, four-tier reopening framework. The area east of Los Angeles is in its third week of "widespread" coronavirus transmission.

Under the purple tier, movie theaters, places of worship, gyms, museums and restaurants must shut down indoor operations. Local school districts working to return to in-person classes will also need to pause those plans for now, although schools that opened while the county was in the red tier can stay open. The county must remain in the purple tier for at least three weeks before advancing to the red tier.

Riverside County Supervisor Karen Spiegel pushed back against the state's decision to move the county back into the purple.

“We are going to be putting the nail in the coffin now for more businesses,” Spiegel told The Desert Sun. “When we close, we can’t open back up … because it is all done by the governor. … I don’t know what we can do, but we need to start protesting the governor.”

In Northern California, Shasta County also moved into the purple tier on Tuesday. But officials there had a slightly different response and will hold a special meeting this week to discuss potentially withdrawing from the state's tiered reopening system altogether.

Meanwhile, San Francisco County moved into the least restrictive yellow tier on Tuesday, becoming the first Bay Area county to do so.

California attorney general sues GOP over ballot boxes

On Monday, a sign at Selma's Central Valley Guns in Fresno County claims to be an "Authorized Secure Ballot Drop." The Secretary of State's office issued a memo to county registrars this weekend clarifying that unofficial drop boxes are illegal and ballots must be returned by mail or to official polling places, vote centers, or ballot drop-off locations.
On Monday, a sign at Selma's Central Valley Guns in Fresno County claims to be an "Authorized Secure Ballot Drop." The Secretary of State's office issued a memo to county registrars this weekend clarifying that unofficial drop boxes are illegal and ballots must be returned by mail or to official polling places, vote centers, or ballot drop-off locations.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sued the state Republican Party over the GOP's unofficial ballot drop boxes on Tuesday, asking a judge to make the party provide names and contact information for every voter who used the boxes.

Last week, Becerra issued subpoenas to Republican arty officials for the locations of unofficial boxes and information on the voters who used them. Party leaders refused, prompting Becerra to file the lawsuit on Tuesday.

“Because the election date is quickly approaching, it is critical that the State ensure that any ballot that was deposited into a drop box is able to be confirmed as having reached a county elections official for counting," Becerra and other attorneys wrote in a petition filed Tuesday in Sacramento Superior Court.

Republicans say their boxes are located on private property with the owners' permission, such as churches and gun stores. Party spokesman Hector Barajas called the lawsuit "an abuse of power."

“We will stand up to this type of authoritarian bullying tactics,” Barajas said. “The California Republican Party will not provide the Secretary of State or Attorney General a list of Californians who attend religious services, frequent firearms retailers, participate in political events, or engage in any other lawful activity.”

Ballot box set on fire in Southern California

An official mail-in ballot drop box is posted outside of a library ahead of Election Day on October 5, 2020, in Los Angeles, California. One of these boxes was set on fire in an incident officials are investigating as arson.
An official mail-in ballot drop box is posted outside of a library ahead of Election Day on October 5, 2020, in Los Angeles, California. One of these boxes was set on fire in an incident officials are investigating as arson.

A ballot drop box in Southern California was set on fire Sunday night, potentially destroying up to 100 ballots. The fire happened in Baldwin Park, a majority-Latino suburb 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles County Registrar's Office has asked the FBI and Attorney General to investigate the blaze, and says it will increase pickups at drop boxes in response to the incident.

“The arson of an official ballot drop box by the Baldwin Park Library in the First District has all the signs of an attempt to disenfranchise voters and call into question the security of our elections,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis in a statement.

NTSB says watchman could have saved lives in Conception boat fire

In this Sept. 2, 2019, file photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, the dive boat Conception is engulfed in flames after a deadly fire broke out aboard the commercial scuba diving vessel off the Southern California Coast. The crew aboard a Southern California scuba dive boat had not been trained on emergency procedures before the deadly fire broke out last year, killing 34 people in one of the state's deadliest maritime disasters, according to federal documents released Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020.
In this Sept. 2, 2019, file photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, the dive boat Conception is engulfed in flames after a deadly fire broke out aboard the commercial scuba diving vessel off the Southern California Coast. The crew aboard a Southern California scuba dive boat had not been trained on emergency procedures before the deadly fire broke out last year, killing 34 people in one of the state's deadliest maritime disasters, according to federal documents released Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020.

Federal investigators said Tuesday that the lack of a required night watchman on the Conception dive boat delayed the detection of the fire that trapped and killed 34 people below deck last year.

The boat was anchored off the Southern California coast when the predawn fire began. The Sept. 2, 2019, fire is one of the state's deadliest maritime disasters.

During a hearing on Tuesday, National Transportation Safety Board Jennifer Homendy said the fire shouldn't be called an accident. “I hate the term accident in this case because, in my opinion, it is not an accident if you fail to operate your company safely,” she said.

Good and bad news on greenhouse gas emissions

A Los Angeles-area freeway in a file photo. California has notoriously bad traffic and air quality.
A Los Angeles-area freeway in a file photo. California has notoriously bad traffic and air quality.

The state's greenhouse gas emissions rose slightly in 2018, according to a new report from the California Air Resources Board. The state's 2018 emissions were the equivalent of 425 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, about 1 million more than 2017. The increase is mostly due to a decrease in the use of hydroelectric power.

Transportation emissions represent one bright spot in the report. They dropped for the first time since 2013. Vehicles are the state's largest pollution source, representing about 40% of its emissions.

Universities cancel spring break, San Francisco votes on ‘CAREN’ act, Dodgers will host World Series viewing parties

NLCS Game 7: Julio Urias celebrates the final out.
NLCS Game 7: Julio Urias celebrates the final out.

The San Francisco County Board of of Supervisors are expected to approve legislation Tuesday that allows people to sue over racist 911 calls. The Caution Against Racial and Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act, also known as the CAREN act, is named after the use of the name "Karen" to describe middle-aged white women whose actions are rooted in privilege.

In the latest shake-up to higher education from COVID-19, some universities are cancelling spring break. The University of Southern California and California Lutheran University both recently cancelled their spring breaks for 2021, in an attempt to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission through travel.

The Dodgers will play in Game 1 of the World Series tonight, and the team will host drive-in viewing parties in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. Tickets cost $75 per car.

In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, USC Annenberg Media, Cal Lutheran University Echo.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Disneyland won't reopen soon, ballot box set on fire in L.A. suburb