Essential California: New laws for the new year

Happy New Year! It is Friday, Jan. 1. Thank you so much for spending your mornings with Essential California. We're looking forward to a wonderful and exciting 2016. Here's what is happening in the Golden State:



New laws

The new year means there are new laws in California — 807 to be exact. Beginning today, the state minimum wage will increase to $10 an hour. Parents will no longer be able to opt out of vaccinations for their children based on personal beliefs. And hoverboards may be ridden in any area that allows bicycles. Los Angeles Times

Building a case

Of the dozens of women who have accused comedian Bill Cosby of sexual abuse, many claim the crimes happened in Los Angeles. Even though Cosby now faces charges in Pennsylvania, police and prosecutors in Los Angeles County have struggled to build a case. One reason is that decades have passed since the alleged crimes. "They're probably relieved that some other jurisdiction is taking this on, because it's not going to be an easy case. I think California's saying, well, good luck to them," said Laurie Levenson, a Loyola Law School professor and a former federal prosecutor. Los Angeles Times

Ticket sales

For 2015, global box office receipts are expected to reach $40 billion — a 10% increase over the previous year. The domestic box office has benefited from higher ticket prices, and overseas moviegoers are willing to spend disposable income that didn't exist just a few years ago. "There's no overstating the enormity and essential nature of the international box office, led by China," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with entertainment data firm Rentrak. Los Angeles Times


Winter conditions: The weather in Southern California is expected to be dry and windy today, increasing the chance of fires in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. On Sunday, there could be rain and snow at elevations of 5,000 feet. Los Angeles Times

Trees in the forest: Should the drought continue, millions of California trees could be in danger of dying off. Nearly every forest in the state has been affected by the lack of water. Researchers have found that "58 million trees, covering over 2.4 million acres, had lost more than 30% of their canopy water content since 2011 — a threshold the researchers consider severely stressed." Los Angeles Times

Fighting for control: In California, water is controlled by a handful of powerful people. "No one in agriculture has shaped the debate over water more — or swung their elbows wider — than the few hundred owners of an arid, Rhode Island-size finger of farmland west of Fresno." New York Times


Security precautions: If you're headed to the Rose Bowl today, be prepared to keep your possessions in clear plastic bags. Purses, backpacks and fanny packs have all been banned from the stadium. Federal officials have declared the Rose Bowl a "rating 1" event that requires additional security. Los Angeles Times

Freeway redo: Could getting rid of part of the 2 Freeway also transform Los Angeles? "Is this a freeway? A glorified offramp? In fact, it's something of a hybrid, wide enough to match the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass but in practice a transitional and vastly overscaled road, slowing drivers as they leave the freeway and rejoin street traffic on Glendale Boulevard," writes architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne. Los Angeles Times

Closing time: The owner of the most famous store in Long Beach, World Famous V.I.P. Records, says it's time to close up shop. Kelvin Anderson has been saying that since 2007, but this time he said he really means it. "I'm just working too hard to pay bills and stuff. We're just going to go online and do some other things around town," he said. Long Beach Press-Telegram


Sign lives on: The famous blue and white sign for Frank's camera store will remain in Highland Park, even though its original home is undergoing an extensive renovation. Eastsider LA


Warning signs: Documents show officials with Southern California Gas Co. knew of corroding pipes more than a year before the massive gas leak in Porter Ranch. In a 2014 regulatory filing, utility officials said they needed the funds to inspect and repair old wells and warned of risks under the current inspection schedule. "Without a new inspection plan, SoCalGas and customers could experience major failures and service interruptions from potential hazards that currently remain undetected," wrote SoCalGas Director of Storage Operations Phillip Baker. Daily News


Fatal crash: Five people, including a 6-year-old boy, were killed Thursday evening in a two-car crash in Ontario. The crash is under investigation by the California Highway Patrol. Los Angeles Times

Too late: A woman who says she was groped by former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner cannot sue the politician because she missed a key deadline, according to a ruling from a state appellate court. Jeri Dines said Filner rubbed and grabbed her buttocks at an event in May 2013. Filner later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery in that case. However, Dines' claim against the mayor cannot move forward because her attorneys did not file paperwork during the necessary period of time. Los Angeles Times

On fire: Video shows a hoverboard catching fire on a sidewalk in Koreatown. The devices are already banned from airplanes and will now be prohibited from all Metrolink trains. "It was the first known hoverboard fire in the city and fortunately no one was injured," said Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott. Los Angeles Times


Not on the range: After more than 50 years of service, the Orange County Sheriff's Department has closed its shooting range to the public. The restriction comes as law enforcement agencies are requiring more training for officers. "Unfortunately, the training needs time and space limitations, and safety concerns ultimately led to the decision for the closure," said Lt. Jeff Hallock with the Sheriff's Department. Orange County Register


Art show: The California desert could soon have its own biennial-like exhibition. New York Times

Room and board: Hopefully you were tucked into your bed last night and not downtown paying $676 for a hotel room. Curbed LA

Thank the academy: In Hollywood, there are companies that promise to get films in Oscar contention. So what happens when filmmakers spend tens of thousands of dollars and don't get a nomination? Los Angeles Times


San Francisco will be mostly sunny and 49 degrees. In San Diego, it will be sunny and breezy with a high of 64. Sunny and breezy in Los Angeles with a high of 65 degrees. Riverside will have sunshine and a cool breeze. Temperatures are expected to reach 64 degrees.


Today's California Memory comes from Sara Ambler:

"I was in high school and the boy I dated asked me to go to a party on New Year's Eve. He told me to dress up and bring jeans and a jacket with me. At the stroke of midnight everyone dashed into a bedroom to change ... we took vacuums of coffee as well. We climbed in the cars and drove to Pasadena where we took out the backseat of the car, hauled it to a curb and sat down to await the parade. After hours of waiting, we were completely surrounded and couldn't have gone anywhere if we had wanted. The parade was wonderful and a day I will never forget (and today I am 76). One of the best memories I have."

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Alice Walton or Shelby Grad.