Essential California: Newsom proposes court-ordered care for some homeless people

Tents line the sidewalk on skid row in downtown Los Angeles
Homeless encampments are seen on skid row in downtown Los Angeles.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, March 4. I’m Taryn Luna.

I’ve covered Gov. Gavin Newsom since his 2019 inauguration launched a “new political era of progressive activism in a Golden State both brimming with wealth and hollowed by poverty,” as we described it at the time.

Three years of progressive policies later, poverty seems more apparent than ever, and more than two-thirds of voters give Newsom poor marks for his handling of homelessness. That’s not great for any politician in an election year, including for a governor who declared two years ago that homelessness could be solved.

Newsom on Thursday introduced the broad outlines of a new proposal that would force those suffering from untreated psychiatric disorders and drug addiction into “CARE Court,” a system that could help, but is not limited to, unhoused Californians in greatest need of services.


Newsom’s advisors said the proposal would create a civil court process for counties to develop a care plan to deliver housing and clinically prescribed treatment and medication to eligible candidates.

The governor’s office said the Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment Court is designed for those exiting a short-term involuntary hospital hold or those being released after an arrest. Family members could also file a petition in civil court that, if approved by a judge, would enter a candidate into the system.

The proposal is notable for a few reasons. As my colleague Hannah Wiley reports, Newsom is attempting to accelerate the state’s strategy to help people in need while at the same time acknowledging that the current system isn’t working.

[Read the story: California judges could order help for homeless Californians under Newsom’s new plan]

Newsom also unveiled his new plan just days before he delivers the final State of the State address of his first term.

The governor on Tuesday is expected to extol California’s values in his 30-minute remarks, juxtaposing the state’s liberal nature, his administration’s progressive policies and his health-first COVID-19 approach with that of conservative states such as Texas and Florida.

He would also be smart to acknowledge California’s shortcomings, considering a majority of voters said the state was headed in the wrong direction in a recent poll. The timely introduction of CARE Court gives Newsom an opportunity in his annual address to trumpet a new solution for homelessness, a problem that’s top of mind to voters, and to show he’s heeding their calls to do better.

“We’re coming up with a completely new paradigm,” Newsom said Thursday. “It’s a new approach, a different pathway, and it’s consistent with our values. But it also, I think, is consistent with the urgency of this moment, which is the accountability that will drive this plan and we believe produce real results.”

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

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Sherri Papini accused of fabricating 2016 kidnapping that drew national attention. Papini, 39, was arrested and faces charges of making false statements to a federal law enforcement officer and engaging in mail fraud. Federal prosecutors said the Redding mother’s lurid tales of a three-week captivity had all been a hoax, furthered by her self-inflicted injuries while she was staying with an ex-boyfriend in Orange County. Los Angeles Times

UC Berkeley will meet court-ordered enrollment cap with online, deferred admission offers. The California Supreme Court declined to lift an enrollment cap on UC Berkeley, forcing one of the nation’s most popular campuses to scramble for ways to avoid what it initially feared could be cuts as large as one-third of its incoming fall class, or 3,050 seats, while a Berkeley community group’s lawsuit proceeds. Los Angeles Times

Former L.A. County deputy charged with manslaughter in 2019 shooting of unarmed man trying to flee in a car. Andrew Lyons, who sheriff’s officials said was fired from the Sheriff’s Department after the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Ryan Twyman, also faces two counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm. The criminal charges, which are exceedingly rare in police shootings, were a result largely of videos from security cameras that clearly captured the brief, violent encounter. Los Angeles Times


L.A. County will lift its indoor mask rule today. A new health order will remove the mandate in places such as bars, stores, offices, restaurants, gyms and movie theaters after the county officially exited the high coronavirus community level, as calculated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Businesses can choose to adopt their own mask requirement for customers and employees, and residents can still opt to wear a mask in any public place. Los Angeles Times

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More California nurse practitioners could work independently of doctors, offer abortions under new bill. The proposed legislation, which would expand reproductive care as other states move to restrict access, is one of several introduced by California Democrats in a months-long effort that comes in response to the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn Roe vs. Wade. Los Angeles Times


Community college district won’t take disability case to Supreme Court after protests. Responding to intense backlash from the disability community, the Los Angeles Community College District’s Board of Trustees has backed down from appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court over a lawsuit filed by two blind students claiming they were denied equal access to education. The suit alleged violation of the students’ civil rights after the district failed to properly help them with accommodations to which they are legally entitled. Los Angeles Times

Two decades after a girl’s murder, three MS-13 members found guilty. The men were found guilty of murdering 13-year-old Jacqueline Piazza in 2001 on a hillside in Elysian Park. The jury’s verdict laid to rest questions of who was responsible for a gruesome crime that went unsolved for a decade and then dragged through the courts for another. Los Angeles Times

Man pleads guilty to murder in death of Jacqueline Avant. Police said Aariel Maynor, 30, broke into Avant’s Trousdale Estates home with an AR-15 rifle shortly before 2 a.m. on Dec. 1 and opened fire, fatally wounding the prominent philanthropist. Los Angeles Times

A California mail carrier allegedly beat a turkey to death. California wildlife authorities and the U.S. Postal Service are investigating reports that a mail carrier beat a wild turkey to death in Sacramento County. Witnesses wrote in posts on social media that a mail carrier, after being accosted by a particularly aggressive turkey, retrieved a pole or stick from his vehicle and used it to fatally beat the bird. Sacramento Bee

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He’s America’s oldest competitive snowboarder at 76. You can have your Shaun White, your Lindsey Jacobellis, your Chloe Kim. Sure, they’re Olympic gold medalists and, in White’s case, a snowboarding legend. But they’re kids — even the 35-year-old White — compared with Dick Schulze, who, at age 76, defies both age and gravity. Los Angeles Times

How a concert promoter turned her love for lowriders into L.A.’s most original new venue. Nearly every inch of Hello Stranger, Angela Romero’s soon-to-open bar, restaurant and music venue, pays respect to lowrider car culture and the oldies soundtrack that bumps alongside it. There’s a corner booth dubbed “Stay in My Corner” after the 1965 ballad by the Dells and a window installation inspired by the 1981 Teena Marie hit “Square Biz.” Los Angeles Times

L.A.’s most extravagant mansion sells for less than half its list price in closely watched auction. The mega-mansion known as “The One” sold for $126 million at a bankruptcy auction. That’s a huge discount from its $295-million listing price, even with a 12% auction premium bringing the total to about $141 million. The Bel-Air property set a new record for the costliest house sold at auction, but it fell well short of the California sales record. Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles: 62 San Diego: 61 San Francisco: 56 San Jose: 58 Fresno: 71 Sacramento: 64


Today’s California memory is from Donna Thayer:

The life of a native Californian is filled with stop-in-your-tracks beauty. My family moved to Shasta County from my native Sacramento in the mid-1960s, where I was surrounded with stunning vistas, picture-perfect views of Mt. Lassen from my bedroom window, and Sunday drives to such locales as Burney Falls and Whiskeytown Lake. My parents built a home close to the Sacramento River, where we raised pet goats, grew a garden and endured 120-degree summers. I live in the city now and love it; however, Shasta County looms large in my little-girl psyche.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

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