LA JOLLA NEWS NUGGETS

Ofo’s in the dumpster?

On Aug. 9, the Light e-mailed Ofo on behalf of a La Jolla resident who reported that the company’s dockless bikes were scattered across town, in apparently abandoned accumulations greater than Lime’s and the other bike-sharing companies’.

Immediately following the e-mail, all scattered Ofo bikes were collected and an Ofo spokesperson replied: “While we work hard to ensure our bikes are built sturdier to help minimize vandalism, we always appreciate being alerted when bikes are broken or unattended.”

However, another sign of trouble was discovered a week later: hundreds of yellow Ofo bikes piled up for scrap metal at a Logan Heights recycling yard. The company downplayed the discovery, saying that selling the bikes for scrap was a routine part of operations.

Rumors have swirled for weeks that Ofo, the world’s first and largest dockless bike company, was leaving San Diego and several other cities for good. Last month, the company ordered mass layoffs throughout the U.S. and corporate officials said it errantly sent out an email blast announcing its departure from San Diego.

“I'm happy to confirm we're still serving the San Diego area and excited to be part of the community,” the spokesperson told the Light.

Playhouse director exits stage left

Jaime Castaneda, who joined the La Jolla Playhouse in December 2014, is out as associate artistic director and producing director Eric Keen-Louie is in.

Keen-Louie worked for seven years at the Old Globe Theatre — first as associate producer and then as associate artistic director. Although he will take on many of Castenada’s duties, he will not be directing Playhouse shows, as Castenada did.

“Over the past four years, Jaime has been a wonderful artistic collaborator and a catalyst for new voices at the Playhouse,” said Playhouse artistic director Christopher Ashley in a prepared statement. “At the same time, we are delighted to bring Eric Keen-Louie on board.”

The Playhouse announced that Castaneda was stepping down next month “to pursue freelance directing projects for theater and television in Los Angeles.”

Scripps Foundation grants $25K to hospice

The Elizabeth Hospice has received a $25,000 grant from the Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation, enabling it to redesign its website to provide more comprehensive information on hospice care, palliative care and grief services to those facing the challenges of serious advanced illness.

This brings the sum total the foundation has granted to the Elizabeth Hosptice to $450,000 over the past 18 years.

“We are pleased to provide resources that enable the Elizabeth Hospice to provide much-needed care for our community,” said Doug Dawson, executive director of the Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation.

Scripps Research IDs clot-forming enzyme

Scientists at Scripps Research have uncovered a new approach for treating chronic platelet shortage (thrombocytopenia). As reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they found that an enzyme can boost platelet production and may work as a future therapeutic.

“This opens up new options for treating diseases of the blood,” said Paul Schimmel, professor at Scripps Research and co-senior author of the study.

The researchers found that YRS (ACT) increases the production of large bone marrow cells called megakaryocytes, which are the precursors to platelets.

Until this discovery, thrombopoietin (TPO) was previously the only other protein known to increase platelets. Schimmel says a version of TPO is currently used as a drug to treat some cases of thrombocytopenia. However, TPO has limitations, making it unsuitable and hazardous in some clinical settings.

DMV streamlines website

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has announced that frequently used services are now front and center via a series of buttons that make it easier for users to renew their driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations — and schedule appointments. In addition, the REAL ID page incorporates informational graphics to clarify requirements for the new ID cards.

“We are constantly modernizing our website with the customer in mind,” said DMV director Jean Shiomoto. “I want to make sure customers can easily find what they’re looking for and get their questions answered quickly and efficiently. Many transactions don’t require a visit to a field office, we hope the new website makes those options clear and easy to use.”

It’s all at dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv

BBB Pacific Southwest expands to include Arizona

Better Business Bureau has announced the formation of a region called Pacific Southwest that includes San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties and BBB Greater Arizona. The combined service has influence over nearly 12 million residents.

Former BBB president Matthew Fehling has been named president and chief executive officer of BBB Pacific Southwest.

“The merger is following a proven model of success that has generated positive results through over 30 BBB mergers in the past 20 years,” Fehling said. “The diligence and dedication of our 46 board members and 125 staff are the reason we reached this point of success.”

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