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Essential California: L.A.'s homeless population grows

Essential California: L.A.'s homeless population grows
A coverage map shows an area to be searched by dozens of volunteers in North Hollywood during the 2016 Los Angeles homeless count, conducted in January. (Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times)

Good morning. It is Thursday, May 5. Sales of ping-pong tables are down in the Bay Area. Is that a sign that the technology bubble is about to burst? Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:



Living on the streets

In Los Angeles County, an estimated 47,000 people live on the streets or in shelters, according to figures released Wednesday. The latest homeless count represents an 11% increase in the city of L.A.'s homeless population from a year earlier, despite recent efforts to fund multibillion-dollar plans to address the problem. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti suggested the increase was driven by a more accurate tallying of homeless people under the age of 25, a group that was not as intensely counted in previous years. The county saw a 5.7% increase. Los Angeles Times

Ready to roll

Get ready to duck and cover. An expert says the San Andreas fault is "locked, loaded and ready to roll." The southern San Andreas hasn't had a major earthquake since 1857, when it experienced a magnitude 7.9 quake. Thomas Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center, said people should focus on preparing for a quake that could be as powerful as an 8.0 magnitude. Los Angeles Times

Smoking laws

The smoking age in California will soon rise from 18 to 21, after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Tobacco 21 bill into law. The governor also signed legislation to restrict the use of electronic cigarettes in public places and to expand no-smoking areas at public schools, but he vetoed a bill allowing counties to ask voters to approve local tobacco taxes. Los Angeles Times


Trees disappearing: California's trees are dying at the fastest rate in 15 years. An estimated 27.6 million dead trees were found last year by the U.S. Forest Service. The dead trees can increase the chances of dangerous wildfires because they burn faster and hotter. Sacramento Bee

What's in the water? In the Central Valley, people are fighting Dow and Shell for allegedly selling products that contained 1,2,3-trichloropropane and contaminated the drinking water. "You talk to somebody from anywhere in the middle of the nation, you say, 'What do you picture when you think of California?' I bet you that's not what comes to mind," said Visalia resident Louie Campos. Representatives for Dow and Shell declined to comment. Pacific Standard

Water warning: Borrego Springs is facing a water crisis. For decades, water has been pumped out of the underground aquifer faster than nature can replenish it. Now, the water table is dropping and soon it may be too expensive to pump the water out. "The state is demanding that the community — in this case, the Borrego Water District in conjunction with the County of San Diego — come up with a plan by 2020 to bring the basin into sustainability. If they don't, the state will take over." San Diego Union-Tribune


Dirty scopes: A newly discovered regulatory report shows at least three patients died last year at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena in an outbreak suspected to have been caused by tainted medical scopes. Hospital officials had confirmed in August that three patients were sickened but said this week they believed patient privacy laws prevented them from telling the public about the deaths. Los Angeles Times

Under construction: The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to revise planning and zoning laws on a Sunset Boulevard site so that an under-construction Target store would comply with the city's rules. Work on the project stopped two years ago when a judge found the city had failed to show Target would suffer an "unnecessary hardship" by meeting the city's height restrictions. The project's opponents, however, say they will sue again. Los Angeles Times

Goodbye Bob Hope: The airport named in honor of the comedian will now brand itself as Hollywood Burbank Airport. Airport commissioners say the change is needed to attract travelers east of the Colorado Rockies who have no idea where Bob Hope Airport is located. Los Angeles Times


All of the lights: The Ferris wheel at the Santa Monica Pier is getting a $1-million lighting upgrade. Curbed LA


Legal defense: Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Los Angeles) has used more than $300,000 in campaign funds to pay for legal services, but his attorneys say that shouldn't be taken as a sign that he's the target of a rumored federal investigation. More than a dozen people who worked for or donated to politicians in the San Fernando Valley have been subpoenaed by federal investigators. Los Angeles Times

Young gun: Daniel Lopez is just 27 years old, and already he's the political director to state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris as she runs for the U.S. Senate. His political career began five years ago when he ran a slate to take control of the Los Angeles County Young Democrats. LA Weekly

Help on the way: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer blames budget cuts from 2008 through 2012 for the city's troubles in answering 911 calls within the standard 10 seconds. To address the problem, the mayor wants to beef up staffing in dispatch centers and release monthly reports with dispatch statistics. "Regardless of how we got here, the longer 911 wait times that have been reported are unacceptable," Faulconer said. San Diego Union-Tribune



Under conservatorship: Pop star Britney Spears has come a long way since her very public breakdown in 2008, which was later attributed to mental illness and substance abuse. Despite being one of the most successful musicians today, every detail of her life is controlled by her father and an attorney who are her court-appointed conservators. Is that about to change? New York Times

Police search: Traffic in Hollywood was a mess Wednesday as police spent the better part of a day searching for a man they believe was shot at by an off-duty police officer about 5:30 a.m. A bloodhound named Sam was brought in to help find the man, described as being between the ages of 18 and 25 and wearing a blue sweatshirt. Los Angeles Times

Shooting at cars: The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department continues to shoot at people in cars, a dangerous practice that was supposed to be phased out a decade ago. Between 2010 and 2014, there were nine instances of deputies firing at suspects in vehicles. "We are probably shooting at moving vehicles too much," said Assistant Sheriff Todd Rogers. 89.3 KPCC

Ticket quotas? Two police officers in North Hollywood are suing the Los Angeles Police Department over what they claim was a practice of citation and arrest quotas. Officers Michael Marciano and Andrew Cota say they were retaliated against for refusing to meet to the quotas. The city attorney's office declined to comment on the pending litigation. Daily News

Mug shot: Authorities say a man stole an iPhone from a Huntington Beach AT&T store — but he did so after taking a selfie with the phone, which was uploaded to the AT&T iCloud account. Los Angeles Times


Right on red: Woody Allen claims to have never said he hates Los Angeles. In fact, it sounds like he may even tolerate it. "I enjoy going out there for short periods of time. I don't like to drive. I can drive, but I don't like to," he says. The Hollywood Reporter

California's Gold: Huell Howser died three years ago, but his work lives on. KCET will air a new episode of his famous show next week thanks to lost footage that was recently discovered. The subject will be El Alisal, the former residence of author and historian Charles F. Lummis. LAist

Breakfast of champions: It's the 15 best breakfast sandwiches in San Francisco. SFist

Headed out west: Natalie Morales of "Today" is headed to Los Angeles. The NBC news anchor will be a West Coast presence and host of "Access Hollywood." Los Angeles Times


San Francisco will have thunderstorms and a high of 62 degrees. Sacramento will be stormy and 70. Los Angeles could see thunderstorms in the evenings as temperatures reach 66. Riverside will have lightning and thunder. San Diego will see thunderstorms as temperatures reach a high of 67.


Today's California Memory comes from Zane Vorhes:

"I grew up in Napa. About 65 years ago, Napa was prune country and had very few grapes. We would start high school in late September when the trees were ripe. Occasionally, the high school start date would be postponed until the crop was harvested. The farmer would shake the trees, and kids would pick up and place the prunes in lug boxes. This was a big social, happy time for teenagers, especially the prune fight wars that ensued."

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.