Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: Fires, heat and a quake

A group of people stand under a device spraying mist on a sidewalk.
Customers cool off under a mister at a downtown restaurant in 110-degree heat Thursday in Palm Springs. Another heat wave is expected this weekend in Southern California.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, July 10.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week:

Heat wave. Potentially record-breaking temperatures and “dangerously hot conditions” are on their way to wide swaths of Southern California. The California Independent System Operator issued a flex alert to conserve power for Friday.

Dry conditions. Gov. Gavin Newsom asked Californians to voluntarily cut back on water consumption by 15% compared with last year as drought conditions worsen. He also expanded his regional drought state of emergency to apply to 50 California counties.

Fire season is in full swing. Meanwhile, firefighters are already battling blazes across the state. At Oak Flat Fire Station in the Angeles National Forest, veteran firefighters say they have a bad feeling about this year as heat has dried out the landscape.

Frat Firehouse. Despite repeated pledges by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti over the years to address gender equity in the Los Angeles Fire Department, women say they still endure a “frat house” culture.

Did you feel it? A magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck California’s eastern Sierra Nevada on Thursday afternoon, sending shaking through much of Northern California. There were no injuries and little damage, but it was a reminder that the area at the epicenter is active.

Delta fuels a rise in cases. After months of steady declines, coronavirus infections are once again on the rise as the state struggles with slowing daily vaccination rates and the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant.

Gun sales up. California saw a record increase in the sale of handguns last year, and the number of long-gun purchases was higher than it has been in four years. Gun violence is also rising, with a bloody Fourth of July weekend in L.A. Law enforcement blame the spread of guns.

Garcetti finally gets the call. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will be President Biden’s nominee to become ambassador to India. If confirmed by the Senate, Garcetti would become the first L.A. mayor to voluntarily leave office before the end of his term in more than a century.

Money and ethics. Heather Holt had been in charge of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission for nearly a decade but struggled to get a raise approved. That’s because the agency operates at the mercy of officials it is charged with policing.


Venice boardwalk clearing on hold. Los Angeles city officials backed away from a deadline to clear all tents and other dwellings from the north end of the Venice boardwalk, giving those living there illegally another week to comply.

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1. Former USC and Loyola High lineman Chris Brown dies at age 24. Los Angeles Times

2. California’s “Castle Doctrine” explained following deadly home invasion incidents. KCRA

3. A dry California creek bed looked like a wildfire risk. Then the beavers went to work. Sacramento Bee

4. Rachel Nichols off the sidelines for NBA Finals after remarks about Maria Taylor. Los Angeles Times


5. Cal Poly HotHouse company started as a senior project. It just sold for $240 million. San Luis Obispo Tribune

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

Chris Brown, a standout lineman from USC and Loyola High, died last month at the age of 24. But friends and family say his life was much more than sports. Since leaving football, he seemed to settle on his path, landing a commercial real estate job and pouring his extra time into music. He dreamed that one day he would grace the stage at Stagecoach country music festival.

FlyPlant people. Meet Sheryl Calipusan Ung, Janessa Molina Maquindang and Melissa Limbago, the Filipina American cousins behind L.A.’s effortlessly cool FlyPlant Shop. FlyPlant was founded in June 2020 with a passion for helping plant parents — or, as the FlyPlant ladies call them, “fly plant mamas and papas” — care for their urban jungle.

“I am a COVID-19 long hauler.” Times data reporter Sandhya Kambhampati overcome a case of COVID-19 in spring 2020. The months since have been filled with more than 130 appointments with dozens of doctors for symptoms that persist. It’s taught her to be fearless, push back and take lots of notes.

Today’s week-in-review newsletter was curated by Laura Blasey and Daric L. Cottingham. Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to