Readers ask us lots of questions about L.A. We have lots of answers

Aerial view of arches of the new 6th Street Bridge under construction in East Los Angeles
Why did Hollywood become the stuff of moviemaking legend, as opposed to other areas in L.A.? How did the wind farms outside Palm Springs come to be? Whatever you’re curious about, let us know.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

In summer 2021, we began asking readers to send in their most pressing questions. Since then, we’ve received questions about traffic, the environment, technology, housing and beyond — reflecting the complicated, multifaceted experience of life in Los Angeles and California.

Every few weeks, we put our favorite questions to a vote, allowing subscribers to decide which question we will answer.

Sometimes answers are tricky to unwind, taking us deep into the history and fabric of our home. In cases like the ones linked below, we tend to learn more than we ever set out to discover.

Other times, the answers are more straightforward, but still plenty interesting. We’ve compiled some here:

How much rain did Southern California get in December 2021? — Jerry Yang

The South Coast hydrologic region — which includes all of Orange County, most of San Diego and Los Angeles counties, in addition to parts of several other counties — received 7.65 inches of rain in December 2021, according to Desert Research Institute data. In comparison, the region saw just 1.45 inches of rain in December 2020 and 4.74 inches in December 2019.

I own a modest house on a canyon. I would like to box in the eaves so as to reduce the fire hazard from flying embers. Is there a state program that would offer financial support for such a project? — Stan Zubel

Thirteen insurance companies and groups — as well as the California FAIR plan — offer premium discounts for homes that have taken steps to mitigate their risk of wildfire damage, according to Michael Soller, deputy commissioner for communications at the California Department of Insurance.

The discounts vary by company, but “enclosed eaves are a common element, on their own or combined with other elements,” Soller wrote in an email.

“[Discounts] can go up to 20% for a wildfire-hardened home,” Soller wrote in an email. “Some companies also offer community-wide discounts, if homes are located in a fire-mitigated neighborhood, such as Firewise USA.”

I have noticed what looks like sirens sprinkled throughout the San Fernando Valley. I am guessing they are from the Cold War in the 1950s. Can you please share any bit of history about them? — Ryan Jonasson

L.A.’s civil defense sirens actually predate the Cold War! They were part of an air raid warning system set up during World War II, my colleague Carolina A. Miranda reported in 2018.

“Their presence was expanded throughout the 1950s and ’60s as the politics of the Cold War stoked paranoia over a possible Soviet missile attack,” Miranda wrote. “The last official test of sirens took place in the 1980s.”

Click the links below to read stories that emerged out of questions posed to us by readers. Do you have a pressing question about L.A. or California? Let us know using this form.