Newsletter: Essential California: Cleaning up L.A.'s homeless encampments

Good morning. It is Monday, Nov. 16. Here's what is happening in the Golden State:


Homeless cleanup

Volunteers undertook a major cleanup of the Big Tujunga Wash, forcing out about 100 squatters in the process. It exposed tensions between residents and city officials over the best way to deal with homeless encampments. “Among the volunteers, many of whom did not want to be named, a whistle-while-you-work spirit was offset by open animosity for public officials — particularly 7th District Councilman Felipe Fuentes — who, they contend, have dismissed their calls for help out of deference to the rights of homeless people.” Los Angeles Times

Victim in Paris attack

A 23-year-old student from Cal State Long Beach was among those killed in Friday’s terrorist attack in Paris. Nohemi Gonzalez, who was in France as part of a foreign exchange program, was dining with fellow classmates when she was shot and killed. A memorial service was held on campus Sunday. “She’ll always be with us. She’ll still be roaming these halls, like she always does,” her boyfriend said. Los Angeles Times

Special bedtime stories

In Tijuana, deported mothers and fathers craft bedtime stories for their children who are still living in the United States. For a year, educator and activist Sophia Sobko has brought the stories back across the border. “So many kids are growing up so confused and so affected by this," she said. Los Angeles Times 


Water goals: How were some Southern California communities able to exceed water conservation goals? “Capturing consumer interest through a combination of vigorous educational messages and public programs, media attention and direct community involvement appears to have made a big difference.” Los Angeles Times

Record low: Folsom Lake is now at its lowest level in recorded history because of the ongoing drought. The reservoir is at 14% capacity with 140,501 acre-feet of water. “Certainly a milestone we didn’t want to see happen,” said a forecaster with the National Weather Service. Sacramento Bee

Storms on the way: Wet conditions related to El Niño are expected to strike California in January and could stick around until May. In preparation, Caltrans is beefing up its maintenance staff and stocking up on sandbags. Flood control agencies are busy cleaning out storm drains. Los Angeles Times

California twister: A possible tornado touched down in the Central Valley on Sunday. The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department reported there were downed trees and damaged roofs. Los Angeles Times 


Political fight: Have labor unions met their match in big tech companies? The defeat of Proposition F in San Francisco, which was backed by the hotel workers union, may be a sign of things to come as L.A. tries to regulate short-term rentals like Airbnb. Los Angeles Times

Music history: At the Casa 0101 Theater in Boyle Heights is an exhibit honoring the Chicano rock bands of the 1960s. “Only a handful of the hundreds of bands created in East Los Angeles during this period ever received record deals, and for those who did, fame was short-lived, with some musicians facing some of the same discrimination that inspired the civil rights campaigns of the Chicano movement.” Los Angeles Times

Old downtown: In her new music video, rapper Missy Elliott shows off the “ungentrified” parts of downtown Los Angeles. Curbed LA


GOP weaknesses: In California, the Republican Party’s weaknesses can be seen in three areas: young and minority voters, the state’s coastal-inland split and religion, writes columnist Cathleen Decker. “The party's positions on immigration and other issues, like gay marriage, have cost Republicans a generation of good will and support,” she writes. Los Angeles Times

New insurance: It used to be that formerly incarcerated individuals were mostly uninsured, making it difficult to seek necessary medical care. But a state law passed in 2013 allowed former inmates to be enrolled in Medi-Cal. “We try to get the inmates as many benefits and services as we can before they leave, in the hopes that they won’t come back,” said Sgt. Allan Lamonte with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. “So getting them Medi-Cal as they’re getting out the door is really huge.” Los Angeles Times

Private equity investments: Officials with the California Public Employees' Retirement System are expected to reexamine their investments in private equity firms today. The retirement system has $28 billion with such firms. Critics say “that the investment class isn't worth the trouble and that CalPERS has put itself at risk of outsized future losses — which taxpayers would have to cover.” Los Angeles Times 


Cars, guns: An estimated 700 cars took part in "sideshow" activity -- screeching tires, doing doughnuts and so on -- in East Oakland early Sunday morning. Gunshots were reportedly heard in several locations. One patrol car was vandalized with rocks and bottles, according to police. San Jose Mercury-News

Suspect ends own life: A 64-year-old man believed to be responsible for a daylong shooting rampage took his own life as California Highway Patrol officers tried to arrest him, authorities said. John Revels is accused of killing two people, including his live-in girlfriend, and wounding two others. Los Angeles Times


Understanding microaggressions: Columnist Sandy Banks examines microaggressions and why they’ve become a rallying cry for college students. “It isn't the act itself, but the accumulation over time that creates frustration, anger and a sense of helplessness,” she writes. Los Angeles Times

Educational support: The widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs is expanding her education work in Los Angeles. Laurene Powell Jobs’ College Track will support dozens of students at Jordan High School in Watts as they prepare for higher education. “The program accepts students in the summer before ninth grade and works with them through college graduation, providing academic support, leadership training, college and financial aid advising and scholarships totaling up to $5,600 per student.” Los Angeles Times

Fixing schools: Columnist Steve Lopez tries to unpack all of the problems facing the L.A. Unified School District. “LAUSD is a district made up primarily of poor children, and to be fair to district administrators and teachers, this presents daily challenges that are unknown to more affluent districts. The second problem is that in L.A. Unified, it's rarely clear who's in charge, and that's certainly the case now,” he writes. Los Angeles Times


Life in Central California: A series of portraits captures life in Modesto. The New Yorker

Explaining L.A.: Here are 12 charts to help explain Los Angeles. Buzzfeed

Decorating death: Designers are highlighting Greystone Mansion’s murderous past. In the first floor salon, “designer Chloe Warner acknowledges the room's grim back story — it was the scene of the crime — with sinister wallpaper detailed with black crows, dark curtains and funeral-appropriate terrariums.” Los Angeles Times 


Los Angeles will be sunny and breezy at 64 degrees. San Francisco will be sunny with a high of 60 degrees. San Diego will be windy and sunny, with a high of 65. Riverside will be sunny and 63.


This week’s birthdays for notable Californians:

Rep. Eric Swalwell (Nov. 16, 1980), Larry King (Nov. 19, 1933), UCLA football coach Jim Mora (Nov. 19, 1961), actress Jodie Foster (Nov. 19, 1962), biochemist Arieh Warshel (Nov. 20, 1940) and tennis player Billie Jean King (Nov. 22, 1943).

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Alice Walton or Shelby Grad.

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