Essential California: Housing costs spin out of control

Good morning. It is Wednesday, Oct. 28. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen had a good thing going when he set up a hot tub in his dorm room. Sadly, the university made him take it down after pictures surfaced on social media. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:


Defense contract

Northrop Grumman’s new $60-billion contract for stealth bombers could create thousands of jobs in Southern California. The firm was seen as the underdog to win the federal contract, which is one of the largest in Air Force history. Much of the bomber is expected to be built in Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale plant, with materials sourced from supplies in the region. Los Angeles Times

Funding for housing

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to set up a fund that would ultimately provide $100 million a year for affordable housing. The move comes as county and city officials attempt to address the 44,000 people living on the streets and in cars. “We are not moving fast enough keeping up with the crisis that has enveloped us,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Los Angeles Times

New finance plan

The California State University system could be in for a financial overhaul. A report obtained by the Los Angeles Times recommends annual tuition increases, performance-based funding and increased tuition for out-of-state students. “Denying admission to eligible students or accepting them without the additional or sufficient funds to offer an efficient pathway toward graduation are not acceptable alternatives,” according to the report. Los Angeles Times


Waterfall closed: A portion of the Upper Big Falls waterfall in the San Bernardino National Forest will be shut down for a year. Firefighters have had to rescue 57 people there so far this year. Hikers are getting injured when they attempt to climb the falls, which have seen water decrease significantly because of the drought. Los Angeles Times


Money for cleanup: L.A. County officials say state regulators are dragging their feet when it comes to cleaning up lead contamination from homes near an old battery plant in Vernon. To that end, they’re spending $2 million to speed up soil testing on 1,000 homes. “We need someone to please take responsibility and come and clean our communities,” said one mother who believes her 5-year-old son’s health problems are a result of pollution from the Exide plant. Los Angeles Times

Growing problem: Officials at a charter school in Koreatown are struggling to square their values of kindness and safety with the growing homeless community just outside the school walls. Students at Central City Value High School are getting used to seeing feces, hypodermic needles and even a tent that’s been used for prostitution. The school’s principal wants Mayor Eric Garcetti to visit the school to see the problem firsthand. Los Angeles Times

Real estate king: The onetime king of high-end Los Angeles real estate has died at 77. After Fred Sands sold his brokerage to Coldwell Banker in 2000, he turned his attention to reviving old shopping centers. “We put in music, put in benches and automatically people stayed,” he once said. Los Angeles Times


Mental health care: Laura’s Law, which allows courts to compel mentally ill people to receive treatment, will take effect next week in San Francisco. It will be just the fifth county to adopt the state measure since it was approved in 2002. “It’s important for families, and it’s important for law enforcement officers who are witnesses to the mental health deterioration on our streets and in the homes,” said county Supervisor Mark Farrell. San Francisco Chronicle

Early warning: Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas was told 16 years ago that his department may have a problem with jailhouse informants, according to new documents filed this month. At the time, the state's chief assistant attorney general warned Rackauckas that the D.A.’s office needed to provide information about the informants to defense attorneys. Orange County Register

Lock 'em up: If you are a gun owner, the city of Los Angeles will soon require that your handgun be locked or disabled when you’re at home. “It’s unacceptable to live in a country where it’s more dangerous to be a preschooler than to be a police officer — and we can do something about that today,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian. Gun rights activists warned they may sue over the new regulation. Los Angeles Times


LAPD lawsuit: An African American police officer is suing the city of Los Angeles, alleging he was retaliated against after he complained that a fellow white officer had wrongfully pulled him over. Lamark Ferguson alleges he was driving in South L.A. last year when a fellow LAPD officer pulled him over and spent 20 minutes attempting to verify Ferguson was a cop. After letting him go, the white officer pulled Ferguson over for a second time. The LAPD declined to comment on the lawsuit. Los Angeles Times

Mysterious disappearance: In 1998, Jonathan Aujay of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department set out on a run in the Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area. He never returned. What happened to the man known for his survival skills? Los Angeles Magazine


Million Dollar shack: The story of outrageous housing prices in the Bay Area is one that has been told and retold hundreds of times, but a new video ties together the threads -- technology, foreign investment, greed -- that can make it impossible for a middle-class family to invest in a home. SFGate, YouTube

No help: In Echo Park, the best hope for 71-year-old Rafael Lopez, who lives in a van and repairs shoes in another, is to get on a waiting list for affordable housing. At the Menorah Housing Foundation, the wait can last from three to 10 years, writes columnist Steve Lopez. Los Angeles Times


Affordable housing’s big moment: This may feel like Groundhog Day, but officials in Los Angeles County want to do something about homelessness and the lack of affordable housing. After the county Board of Supervisors' decision to set aside funds for low-cost apartments, The Times' editorial board has a message: Don’t let this moment pass. Los Angeles Times

Foreseeing earthquakes: Although we know that earthquakes are more probable in certain areas than others, we don’t have the huge amount of data required to forecast them with any exactitude. But even if we can’t come anywhere close to 99.9% certainty, writes Chris Goldfinger, preparing for the Big One is 100% a good idea. Los Angeles Times


Rain room: Do you remember what rain was like? A new art installation at the L.A. County Museum of Art allows visitors to walk through a simulated downpour. Los Angeles Times (video)

Memorable meals: The search is on for the best food city in America. “What makes the second-largest city in the nation a top-tier place to eat: sun-kissed ingredients, chefs’ willingness to buck convention and an audience open to eating just about anything, just about anywhere.” (Last spring, San Francisco got its own treatment.) Washington Post

Seeing the future: A 97-year-old great-grandmother had a dream come true: a VIP tour of Google. She got to check out virtual reality and take a ride in a self-driving car. CNET

Smart design: Who knew? California’s highway markers were designed to look like the shovels carried by Forty-Niners during the gold rush. KCET


San Francisco will have morning showers and a high of 66 degrees. Los Angeles will be cloudy and 82. Riverside will have clouds and 84 degrees. In San Diego, there will be low clouds and 77 degrees.


Today's California Memory comes from Hal Landy:

“After six days on Route 66 from Ohio, I crossed the border into California! The journey had ended. But sirens sounded and a state trooper ushered me off the highway. 'Get out of the car! Drivers license and papers! Why do you have rusty license plates on a new car?' I explained that in Ohio the license plate stays with the owner and is installed on the new car. Cleveland road salt eats the plates. He did some checking, smiled, handed my papers back and said, 'Welcome to California.' Now, 60 years later I still remember that trooper's smiling welcome.”

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.