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Essential California: After the Erskine fire, a year living in a campground

President Trump again addressed Charlottesville yesterday -- this time, he called out white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK. California's experiencing an avocado shortage. Netflix has poached prolific TV producer Shonda Rhimes from ABC Studios. Drones are no longer confined to shadowy U.S. counter-terrorism missions.

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It's Tuesday, Aug. 15, and here's what's happening across California:



After the fire

Nearly 300 families lost homes in the Erskine fire, the most destructive wildfire in Kern County history. The blaze, which erupted June 23, 2016, consumed more than 48,000 acres in steep terrain near Lake Isabella and killed two people before it was subdued. The fire gutted the hillside hamlet of South Lake, a community of low-income residents and retirees, leaving people like Raymond Taylor and his family homeless for months and transforming the once-lively neighborhood into a charred ghost town. Los Angeles Times

Suing over 'sanctuary city' sanctions

California and San Francisco officials said Monday that they are suing the Trump administration, alleging federal threats to withhold funding from "sanctuary cities" are unconstitutional and violate the rights of residents. Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said the state and local jurisdictions in California this year received $28 million in law enforcement grants from the federal government that could be withheld. He said President Trump's push to end the funding is "bullying." Los Angeles Times

HBO hack brings anxiety across Hollywood

For two weeks a hacker has leaked stolen information from pay-TV network HBO in dribs and drabs, including "Game of Thrones" plot lines, unaired episodes of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and, reportedly, actors' personal information. The incremental data dumps have caused prolonged and widespread anxiety in Hollywood about the entertainment industry's vulnerability to cybercrime, following recent attacks — and, occasionally, bogus threats — against the likes of Netflix and Walt Disney Co. Los Angeles Times

And: Los Angeles will launch a cybersecurity threat-sharing group with AEG, Riot Games and other businesses in the city. Los Angeles Times

Major Netflix news

Netflix has already punched back against Disney's plans to pull its content from the streaming platform by 2019 — by luring away one of Disney-owned ABC's most prolific content creators, Shonda Rhimes. The Los Gatos, Calif., company announced that it inked a multi-year deal with Rhimes, the writer and producer of award-winning series such as "Scandal," "Grey's Anatomy" and "How to Get Away With Murder." As part of the deal, Rhimes will bring her Los Angeles production company, Shondaland, to Netflix to produce original series and projects. It has potentially huge implications for the industry as a whole. Los Angeles Times

Plus: People love to live-tweet Rhimes shows, and what will happen to that is one of the many questions surrounding what's next. Variety


Key vote: Inglewood's City Council will vote Tuesday on a revised deal with a Clippers-controlled company to shrink the four-block area where the team could build an arena so residences and a church aren't displaced. Los Angeles Times

Electric truck biz boosted: Ryder is moving into the electric-truck business, an early sign that a market for commercial electric vehicles is beginning to take shape. Miami-based Ryder System Inc. announced a deal Monday with new Los Angeles company Chanje as the electric-truck maker's exclusive sales and service partner. Los Angeles Times

It's back: One of downtown L.A.'s most celebrated and stalled projects, the Grand Avenue complex, appears to be moving ahead again. Curbed Los Angeles


Summer's over: L.A. students go back to school Tuesday, and they return to a lot of changes. Here's a guide to the first day. Los Angeles Times

Plus: How L.A. Unified deep-cleaned campuses this summer, on the cheap. Los Angeles Times

That jail on the river: "Residents weighed in last week in response to three competing proposals to redevelop the five-story former Lincoln Heights Jail next to the L.A. River." The Eastsider


Consequences: A man is out of a job at a popular Berkeley hot dog eatery after he was photographed this weekend at a white supremacist rally that turned deadly in Charlottesville, Va. His image was widely circulated on social media. Los Angeles Times

Universal healthcare: Forget about single-payer healthcare, Times columnist George Skelton writes. California Rep. John Garamendi has the real solution: Medicare for all. "Medicare is far, far more efficient than private insurance companies," he said. "Using the tax system to collect money for healthcare delivery is extremely efficient. No profits. No commissions. No advertising." Los Angeles Times

Moving the bungalows: "Unable to find someone to take the buildings, Caltech plans to pick up and move seven historic bungalows to a parking lot two blocks away to free up space for a $200-million neuroscience research center." San Gabriel Valley-Tribune



Abuse in the jails: Ten weeks after Placer County Sheriff Devon Bell announced that three of his officials had been arrested on allegations of excessive force against inmates at the Auburn Main Jail, his department is facing a series of lawsuits claiming that abuse at the jail has routinely gone unchecked and that video and audio recordings have been altered to cover up the wrongdoing. Sacramento Bee

A shorter sentence? A federal judge recommended Monday that former state Sen. Ron Calderon, who is in federal prison on corruption charges, be considered for early release. Los Angeles Times

Shooting on the 880: Southbound lanes were shut down early Monday morning on Interstate Highway 880 in San Leandro after a shooting left one man in critical condition after he was shot in the head, according to the California Highway Patrol. KTVU


Kings River tragedy: A complicated effort to recover the bodies of two missing Thai exchange students who are thought to be trapped in a car that plummeted hundreds of feet into the raging Kings River has just become even more fraught. Searchers have found evidence of another couple who disappeared recently from Sequoia National Park and may have also driven off the same section of Highway 180. Los Angeles Times

Poisoned sea lions? Marine experts in the San Francisco Bay Area say an alarming number of sea lions are being treated for poisoning linked to toxic algae blooms. Associated Press


Come on, guys! California shoppers are some of the worst tippers nationally, according to new data from the payment processing company Square. Time

Sad story: Abi's family is homeless because it's unable to afford even the cheapest rents in San Diego. Still she's dreaming big, and those aspirations keep her from getting down on her current station in life. San Diego Union-Tribune

Hello out there? Several Chargers raved about the atmosphere in StubHub Center for Sunday night's preseason opener, but attendance for the Chargers' Los Angeles debut did not reflect great enthusiasm for the team. Los Angeles Times

Which food trucks to try: Here are L.A.'s best food trucks, according to NoMad truck chef Ashley Abodeely. LA Weekly

Out in S.B.: Learn how San Bernardino turned blighted property into a "gem." San Bernardino Sun

Sing it: The unexpected way "Hamilton" in Los Angeles has caused a musical, social media storm. Los Angeles Times

Making the case: One Southern California woman shows a path to success from a liberal arts education. The Atlantic


San Diego and Los Angeles area: partly cloudy Tuesday, sunny Wednesday. San Francisco area: partly cloudy Tuesday and Wednesday. Sacramento: sunny Tuesday and Wednesday. More weather is here.


Today's California memory comes from Héctor Agredano:

"I was born in California in 1986 in Torrance Memorial Hospital. However, soon after I was born, my parents — both of them Mexican — decided to return to my father' village in the highlands of Jalisco to raise their children and to live at a slower pace. When I returned to California to attend middle school in San José during the late 90s, during the dot-com boom, I could better appreciate the fortune of being born in the United States and in California. After high school I attended UC Santa Cruz, but because of the recession I couldn't attend UC Berkeley for graduate school, since funding had been significantly cut. And so I had to move across the country to attend graduate school in New York City. In late 2016, during the holidays I returned to California to visit my family and I we took a trip to Big Sur. It was during that trip that I discovered that this is where I am happiest and after working for years on my PhD in the Big Apple I was ready to return to California. Thus, in April I interviewed for a teaching position at Pasadena City College and, luckily for me, I was offered the job. I've looked forward to this second homecoming for years. This time I'm ready to make a contribution to preserving my home state and to educate a new generation of college students to help preserve it as well."

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 Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.