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Essential California: Large swaths of Southern California face significant fire risk

The Del Rosa neighborhood lost 121 homes when the Old fire swept down from the mountains. (Video by Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Nov. 13, and here’s what’s happening across California:



Large swaths of Southern California face significant fire risk

The wine country wildfires — the most destructive in California history — have focused new attention on the kinds of neighborhoods most at risk. A Times analysis of the state’s maps for the highest-risk fire areas in Southern California shows about 550,000 properties covered by the zones. If areas with a lower but still significant fire risk were added, the number would roughly double, The Times’ analysis found. Los Angeles Times

Hollywood’s China problem

For a while, some saw China as Hollywood’s savior. Not anymore. Tinseltown is seeing a broad pullback of foreign money. The world’s second-largest film market has been a key source of box-office revenues, and it’s played an important role in helping studios to offset the rising costs of making movies. In recent years, foreign investors from China and other countries have financed as much as 35% of film budgets. Now comes a Chinese government’s clampdown on foreign investment in entertainment and other industries. Los Angeles Times

Sheriffs in the middle of the sanctuary fight

Many California sheriffs oppose the “sanctuary state” law, but soon they will have enforce it. As keepers of jails across the state, sheriffs will retain control over who has access to the citizenship status of hundreds of thousands of people booked into their facilities every day. As elected officials, many represent conservative or rural areas, where voters might be more likely to oppose the new state law. Los Angeles Times

Sacramento scandal

In the wake of new allegations against a Los Angeles state senator and criticism of a "pervasive" culture of sexual harassment, California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León said Sunday that all abuse complaints will now be handled by independent investigators and that more information will be released to the public. Los Angeles Times


Me Too: Some wore T-shirts with the words “Me Too” emblazoned across the front, while others held up signs that said “No more sexual abuse” and “Rape is not a joke.” On Sunday, several hundred survivors of sexual harassment and assault and their supporters gathered in front of the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood to draw attention to their cause. Recently, there has been an uprising of women who have gone public with their stories of abuse and systemic sexism. Los Angeles Times

History lesson: How Hollywood treated women when moving pictures first began. Los Angeles Times

And: Woody Allen, Louis C.K. and Hollywood’s “canon of creeps.” New York Times

Another allegation: Actor and gay right icon George Takei is accused of — but denies — a claim of sexual assault. Los Angeles Times

Anaheim illness: Disneyland has shut down two bacteria-contaminated cooling towers after Orange County health officials discovered several cases of Legionnaires’ disease in people who had visited the Anaheim theme park. Los Angeles Times


Retail fight: If Sears manages to survive, it might be because of radical changes being made to its store in North Hollywood. Can the experiments work elsewhere? L.A. Daily News


Impeachment motives: Tom Steyer, the hedge fund billionaire who may be running for a U.S. Senate seat in California, is trying to impeach President Trump in an untested way. Columnist Doyle McManus sees other motives. Los Angeles Times

After Jerry: After running for elected office 12 times since 1970, Gov. Jerry Brown is about to exit the center stage of California politics, no longer the brash upstart but now a senior statesman who could be a model for the next person who will lead the state. Los Angeles Times

President of California: During his big trip to Europe, we might have gotten a glimpse of the “President Jerry Brown that could have been.” Politico

Name change: Anaheim has removed “Johnny Rebel” as a school mascot, even though some who picked it in the 1960s say it had nothing to do with the Confederacy. Orange County Register


Harassment culture: Workers say sexual misconduct is a huge problem in the restaurant industry. San Francisco Chronicle


Child killed: Police arrested a motorist who they say slammed his Mustang into two parked cars in Boyle Heights, knocking one of the vehicles onto the sidewalk and killing an 11-year-old girl who was standing in front of a taco stand. Los Angeles Times

Durst twist: Facing trial in L.A. on murder charges, Robert Durst has an unexpected ally: a retired New York cop. New York Times

Sex trade: Inside the thriving human trafficking industry in the Central Valley and the “sex recruiters” preying on teenagers. Fresno Bee


Street art dead? “People get numb to anything that is predictable. Street art has some cliché aesthetics, like stencils or drips or tags or any number of things you associate with the medium. But street art is evolving all the time. So I think the power for street art to impact people is always gonna be there.” — L.A. street artist Shepard Fairey. Los Angeles Times

Serving others: He served as a Marine in Vietnam and later dedicated his life to helping struggling vets and others. Now he's fighting for his life. Los Angeles Times

It’s supposed to be a showcase: “It was like a demented concentration camp. It just seemed like a program they didn’t want to fund, but wanted to have it be ethnically savvy for some industry reason.” — One comic on the CBS Diversity Showcase, which has come under criticism for being more hostile than inviting. Vulture

Music chart: Is this L.A.’s best album ever? LA Weekly

End of an era: William Frye, one of the last of the raconteurs of Hollywood’s Golden Age, has died. He famously palled around town with Cary Grant, Greta Garbo, Bette Davis, among many others. The Hollywood Reporter


Los Angeles area: Partly cloudy and 74. San Diego: Partly cloudy and 69. San Francisco area: Rainy and 62. Sacramento: Rainy and 64. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California:

Comedian Jimmy Kimmel (Nov. 13, 1967), Rep. Eric Swalwell (Nov. 16, 1980), talk show host Larry King (Nov. 19, 1933), UCLA football coach Jim L. Mora (Nov. 19, 1961), filmmaker and actress Jodie Foster (Nov. 19, 1962) and Nobel laureate in chemistry Arieh Warshel (Nov. 20, 1940).