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The frozen East can't compete with a front-row seat at the show in L.A.

Justin BieberFamilyLee Baca

As fond as I am of taking the occasional vacation, I've decided they just aren't worth it.

Take my latest jaunt to the East Coast to spend time with family. As a news junkie, I can't help but check on things here at home while I'm away. So there I was, waking up in the family igloo on Jan. 7 to minus-4-degree temperatures, and reading that it was warmer — by 70 degrees — in sunny Southern California.

Then, just as I learned my flight home had been canceled because of weather, L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca resigned.

Two days later, while I was still buried under ice, Department of Water and Power chief Ron Nichols resigned amid the debacle of a new $162-million billing system that appears to have been designed by gerbils, not to mention a scandal involving $40 million in ratepayer money handed over to a pair of mysterious nonprofits.

Nothing against time with family, but no vacation is as enjoyable as having tickets to the theater that is Los Angeles, where the show takes no holiday.

At about the time I made it back to L.A. on Thursday, sheriff's deputies were on their way to the Calabasas home of pop singer Justin Bieber to investigate an egg-throwing melee. A sheriff's spokesman said the eggs caused as much as $20,000 in damage, which constitutes a felony.

Who keeps enough eggs in the refrigerator to do $20,000 worth of damage? Is Bieber raising chickens?

This is what happens when 14-year-olds are allowed to own mansions in the hills. OK, so he's apparently 19. But this isn't the first time the Canadian citizen has riled neighbors. Deputies have responded in the past to complaints about loud parties and other nuisances.

Where are the Minutemen when you need them? And why are they so focused on the Mexican border, when Canada is sending us its derelicts?

Tuesday morning, the Bieber story took a dramatic turn when an armada of sheriff's deputies — about a dozen of them — rolled into Calabasas to serve a search warrant at the singer's six-bedroom, 1.3-acre playpen.

I don't know a great deal about Bieber, but it's clear that the young sprite weighs about 55 pounds, and that's including the eight pounds of tattoo ink.

Twelve deputies? What was the thinking, one officer per egg?

TMZ, which is beaten by no one on the news that matters most, filed a Tuesday morning report on the scrambled egg caper that included this astute legal analysis:

"By the way ... looking for other eggs may sound silly, but it isn't. There could be some sort of identifier that links what's in Justin's fridge to the broken eggs outside."

TMZ also offered this little scoop:

"We're told there's a battering ram at the scene."

I realize that, with tight budgets, the sheriff has to make do with available resources. But are we still in the Middle Ages? Did they take a cannon and a quarterstaff up there, too?

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore referred to the device the deputies had as an "entry tool," rather than a battering ram, and he said it wasn't used.

I couldn't help myself, though. I got into my car and headed to Calabasas to see what I could see.

But I was out of luck. Bieber lives on a street called Prado del Grandioso, which seems perfect, of course. But it's in a gated community, so there's no intrusion of riffraff. I found myself wishing I had a battering ram.

But ask yourself this: Is the wall of the gated community intended to protect them from us, or us from them?

I was stuck outside with the paparazzi, and didn't have much to do, so I reviewed the video of the altercation on the TMZ website ("Justin Bieber — Commits Vicious Egg Attack on Neighbor's House…Cops Called"). The expletive-filled video sounds like an outtake from "Breaking Bad," and begins with someone yelling, "I've got another one for you, actually," before another egg flies.

"Call the cops," says a man, presumably Bieber's neighbor, to an unidentified female. The woman gasps, "Oh my God," while the man taunts the egg bomber to come on over, "You little …"

Is it possible, I wondered, to build a gated community within a gated community? Bieber's neighbors may be checking with code enforcement as we speak.

A woman named Alex, walking her dog, said she lives behind the gates but doesn't know Bieber.

"Maybe it's his age," she speculated.

At the bottom of the hill, Calabasas resident Marie Sigari had a different assessment of Bieber.

"He's an idiot," said the retiree, who was reading a book on a patio at The Commons, a shopping center. "He's got all the money in the world. Why doesn't he do something to help someone? He's sitting around in a beautiful community, throwing eggs?"

Allegedly. Deputies did not arrest Bieber, but they did lead away a friend of his in handcuffs after finding what they believed to be a controlled substance. TMZ identified the arrestee as the rapper Lil Za, and the sheriff confirmed that late Tuesday. Wait til Big Za hears about this.

Just past noon on Tuesday, while I was in Calabasas, Mayor Eric Garcetti was a passenger in a police car that struck a female pedestrian right outside my office. His spokesmen said the mayor was on the phone at the time and did not witness the accident, which landed the woman in the hospital. The mayor wished her a speedy recovery.

Even when I'm home, I can't keep up with all the news in this town.

steve.lopez@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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