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L.A. County Waiving Pet License Late Fees, Offering Free Microchips For Animals

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Cat and Dog LA Animal Services

The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) is waiving license late fees and offering free microchips for pets as some owners delay renewal due to the pandemic. 

To provide opportunities for pet owners to economically renew their pet licenses, DACC is waiving late fees for renewed or new licenses purchased between April 15th and June 30th, 2021, according to the department. 

These fee waivers are open for residents of all unincorporated Los Angeles County areas and the participating cities of Agoura Hills, Azusa, Carson, Inglewood, Irwindale, La Habra Heights, Maywood, Palmdale, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates and Walnut.

“Because of the economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, some pet owners may have delayed purchasing their annual pet licenses and are now subject to late penalty fees,” said DACC officials. 

In addition to the late fee waiver, the department is offering a free microchip for all non-microchipped pets licensed during this time. 

Microchipping is highly encouraged because it greatly increases the likelihood that lost pets will be returned to their families, according to the DACC. Microchipping is mandatory in all unincorporated County jurisdictions and many cities in Los Angeles County.

 The free microchip offer is redeemable by appointment at any of DACC’s seven animal care centers.

“We hope this license penalty amnesty program and the offer of free microchips encourages pet owners to license and protect their pets,” said DACC Director Marcia Mayeda said in a statement. “Ensuring pets are properly identified is the best way to reunite them with their families if they become lost or stolen.”

Pet owners can access their pets’ licensing records on the DACC website or call (562) 345-0400, or email here.

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Wildlife Crossing Over 101 Freeway Receives Record $25 Million Annenberg Challenge Grant

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101 Freeway Wildlife Crossing
Photo Courtesy of the National Wildlife Federation

A record $25 million conservation challenge grant from Wallis Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation to the National Wildlife Federation’s #SaveLACougars campaign to build a wildlife crossing in the Los Angeles area will help the landmark project break ground later this year.

The wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon over the 101 Freeway — which will be the largest wildlife crossing in the world — will reconnect a long-fragmented ecosystem, a biodiversity hotspot, and help protect the endangered mountain lion population and other wildlife that make their home in the Santa Monica Mountains.

The bridge is the first urban crossing of its scale – spanning 210 feet over ten lanes of highway and pavement, along with an access road – and is the first significantly funded through private donations along with public support. The #SaveLACougars campaign to build the crossing will serve as a model for urban wildlife conservation efforts across the globe. 

With this donation, the campaign has raised over $44 million to date, and needs to secure an estimated $35 million to unlock the Annenberg Challenge Grant and to break ground in November.

“This incredible conservation challenge grant from Wallis Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation — the largest ever received by the National Wildlife Federation — puts us closer to breaking ground this year. Wallis Annenberg’s grant will protect this global biodiversity hotspot  – recognized as one of only 36 biodiversity hotspots worldwide – and ensure that California’s iconic mountain lions and other wildlife can find the food and mates they need to survive by reconnecting the Santa Monica Mountains and the Simi Hills and beyond,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation in a statement. “Thank you also to the visionary leadership of the intrepid Beth Pratt as well as every donor who is making this transformative project a reality.” 

The wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon will take place at the US-101 freeway where it runs through the city of Agoura Hills. The 101 freeway is a heavily travelled commuter route that serves the Greater Los Angeles area; connects Los Angeles and Ventura Counties; and acts as the primary access route to and from downtown Los Angeles, various residential communities, and tourist destinations in Los Angeles, as well as the central California coast. 

This location is a formidable and virtually impenetrable barrier for many wildlife species including mountain lions, bobcats, gray foxes, coyotes, and mule deer that inhabit and travel between the Santa Monica Mountains, the Simi Hills, and the Santa Susana Mountains – over 300,000 cars pass through this freeway site daily.

The wildlife crossing will feature robust engineering and an innovative landscape design that will blend the structure into the surrounding mountain habitat and will include vegetated barriers to reduce the impact of vehicle traffic noise and roadway light on wildlife movement.

As evidenced from decades of wildlife crossing projects across the world, such as the successful structures in Banff National Park, and the array of animals seen using an overpass in Utah in a recent viral video, wildlife crossings work. The wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon responds to two decades of National Park Service research, and the need to create a vital connection for the endangered mountain lion population and other wildlife that make their home in the Santa Monica Mountains. As a major green infrastructure project for the state of California, construction for the crossing will generate jobs in the region and economic benefits into the future. 

To learn more about the #SaveLACougars campaign and its efforts to build the wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon visit here.

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Median Santa Clarita Valley Home Price Reaches Record High

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Santa_Clarita_Homes
Photo By Chevy via Creative Commons License

The median Santa Clarita Valley home price has risen to a record $795,000 as the number of homes listed remains below average.

A total of 277 single-family homes changed owners during April in the Santa Clarita Valley. Inventory rose to its highest level in five months, however, remained lower than previous years, according to the Southland Regional Association of Realtors (SRAR).

Sales were 66.9% higher than a year ago as the local, state, and national residential real estate markets struggled with the full impact of pandemic-related stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns.

Realtors also assisted the close of escrow of 96 condominiums, an increase of 54.8% from a year ago, though down 13.5% from this March, according to SRAR.

“Demand for housing remains high throughout Santa Clarita with many homeowners realizing that selling now would attract highly favorable offers and a quick sale,” said Nicole Stinson, chair of the Santa Clarita Valley Division Council of SRAR in a statement. “Today’s low interest rates on home loans can offset some of the impact of rising prices fueled by a tight inventory.”

The total of 242 active listings reported at the end of April was the highest in five months but was 41.0% below a year ago and well short of what is needed to satisfy demand.

“Even with the slight rise in supply, the inventory for the tenth consecutive month was less than a one-month supply, with April unprecedented low,” said Tim Johnson, the Association’s chief executive officer in a statement. “Given the heavy, pent-up demand for housing, it’s unsurprising that prices keep rising.”

Record-low 0.6% supply at the current pace of sales compares to the 3.7% average monthly inventory reported over the last 13 years. Fueled by heavy demand, low interest rates, and limited properties listed for sale, the median price of the 277 homes that changed owners during April rose to a record $795,000, an increase of 26.2% from a year ago.

The condominium median price of $435,000 was up 13.0%, but was 6.5% below the March median of $465,000, the record high. Even with the tight inventory, sales are expected to remain strong over the coming months. 

There were 390 open escrows at the end of April, an increase of 105.3% from the pandemic-depressed tallies of April 2020.

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Castaic Dam Modernization Efforts Move Forward

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Castaic Dam (1)
Photo By: Chris Silva, DWR Division of Engineering

Two key projects are set to begin as part of ongoing modernization work at Castaic Dam in the Santa Clarita Valley to reduce risks from a major earthquake. 

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) will oversee the installation of new equipment to monitor the dam’s stability and work to strengthen the dam’s intake tower access bridge.

“These projects are important to helping us ensure Castaic Dam continues to operate safely and provides reliable and affordable water supply,” said DWR Deputy Director Ted Craddock, who oversees the State Water Project. “In addition to providing water supply for Southern California, Castaic Lake offers many recreational opportunities for surrounding communities.”

Monitoring equipment known as piezometers will be installed in wells adjacent to the dam’s east side. The piezometers will measure groundwater trends over time to monitor the dam’s stability. DWR will install a total of nine new piezometers and decommission three aging piezometers to improve data collection capabilities for reliable and accurate data.

During the piezometer installation, construction equipment, such as drill rigs and heavy machinery, will be used to perform the work. Increased noise and activity at the site are expected during the project, which should be completed by the end of June 2021.

 As the piezometer work wraps up, Castaic Dam’s intake tower access bridge work will begin. It is expected to continue until spring 2022. Bridge work includes strengthening the tower bridge piers, which requires the temporary drawdown of Castaic Lake to access the piers.

 During the drawdown that will begin in May, all visitors are advised to stay safe during fluctuating water levels by being aware and staying away from hazards in the water. The reservoir will reach a low elevation of 1,380 feet above mean sea level by fall 2021. 

The water level will be lowered by over 100 feet during this period. By spring 2022, Castaic Lake will return to normal operations with water levels based on available conditions at that time.

 DWR kicked off the Castaic Modernization Program in 2018. The program includes reducing seismic risk to the intake tower and access bridge, evaluation of the spillway to identify and implement necessary modifications, and earthquake monitoring capabilities on various dam components.

 For more information about the Castaic Dam Modernization Program, visit the DWR website.

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