Newsletter: Essential California: More crime in 2015

Good morning. It is Thursday, Dec. 31. For one high school band, the honor of playing in the Rose Parade comes with a hefty price tag: $1.2 million. Here’s what else is happening in the Golden State:


Crime stats


Los Angeles saw an uptick in crime this year. Violent crime increased 19.9% and property crimes were up 10.3%, according to the LAPD. This comes after more than a decade of decline in crime statistics. “The city is not on fire, the city is not falling into the ocean,” said Assistant Chief Michel Moore. Over the summer, city officials directed officers with the elite Metro division to patrol crime hot spots. Following the move, violent crime dropped 1 percentage point and property crimes remained flat. Los Angeles Times

Cosby arrest

Comedian Bill Cosby was released upon posting 10% of his $1-million bail Wednesday after he was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault against a Temple University employee in 2004. The accuser, Andrea Constand, said Cosby drugged and then sexually assaulted her at his home in January or February 2004. The case was filed just short of the 12-year statute of limitations. The district attorney in Montgomery County, Pa., said charges were filed because of “new evidence” uncovered this year. Cosby’s lawyer denied the charges. Los Angeles Times

New charges

A friend of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook is facing new charges. Enrique Marquez Jr. now has a second gun charge for allegedly making false statements when he purchased the weapon. He is also accused of providing false information on immigration papers related to his wife. Los Angeles Times


Promising figures: Good news from the Sierra Nevada: New measurements show about 54 inches of snow. Though that’s a significant increase over the last two years, it’s really just an average amount and not enough to make up for years of the drought. “Clearly, this is much better than it was last year at this time, but we haven’t had the full effect of the El Niño yet,” said Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program. Los Angeles Times

Wasting water: As 2015 comes to an end, a look back at the worst water offenders. Curbed LA


Temporary housing: In the Highland Park neighborhood, some homeless individuals have taken to sleeping in church pews. The move to open up the church comes as L.A. city leaders are looking for more temporary shelters for a growing homeless population that could be in danger once the El Niño storms arrive in January. 89.3 KPCC

New hotel: Downtown Los Angeles is going to get another hip, stylish hotel. Hotel operator Hoxton paid $30 million for a historic but decaying structure. It’s the latest bet that DTLA can attract travelers beyond the traditional business class. Los Angeles Times

Get a lift: The Abbey in West Hollywood was the most requested bar drop-off of Lyft customers nationwide in 2015. LAist


Severance package: The head of the Los Angeles County Probation Department resigned earlier this month after an investigation into allegations that Jerry Powers misused his authority when he hired his alleged mistress and gave her a $160,000 annual salary. Now, county supervisors will pay him a severance of $294,251. The Board of Supervisors declined to say whether taxpayer funds would be used to make that payment. Los Angeles Times


Snitch tank: This is the multi-chapter account of how Orange County’s problem with jailhouse informants got exposed. “In Orange County, snitches have become part of the fabric of the justice system, not merely haphazard and opportunistic rogue elements, but as an orderly, tracked, secret workforce prowling the jail with very specific targets in mind.” Orange County Register

Women’s rights: The ACLU is suing a Catholic hospital on behalf of a Redding woman and Physicians for Reproductive Health, saying it denied contraception to women. According to the lawsuit, a doctor at Mercy Medical Center denied the requests of three women who wanted tubal ligation. In response, Dignity Health, which operates the hospital, said, “In general, it is our practice not to provide sterilization services at Dignity Health’s Catholic facilities.” Sacramento Bee

Spirited defense: A San Diego firefighter who was suspended for 60 hours after he got drunk at a training event argued he should not have been disciplined because he didn’t break any rules. Firefighter Kyle Kutzke appealed his punishment and sought $34,000 in compensation after an investigation found he and other firefighters drank alcohol on a lunch break and brought a 30-pack of Coors Light to the training event. Kutzke argued he was technically off-duty during the training. San Diego Union-Tribune

Cosby recap: This 50-year timeline pairs the highlights of Bill Cosby’s career with the allegations of more than 40 women who say the comedian sexually assaulted them. The case filed Wednesday in Pennsylvania was the first time Cosby faced criminal charges in connection with those allegations. Los Angeles Times

Suspect arrested: A 29-year-old Santa Ana man was arrested in connection with the killing of a 23-year-old woman whom police described as an escort. Newport Beach police found the body of Sarai Alcaraz just after midnight Tuesday in an industrial park not far from the freeway. Los Angeles Times


Off they go: These were the craziest L.A. car chases of 2015. BuzzFeed

Memory lane: A look back at the Pacific Coast Club in Long Beach. “Long Beach debutantes danced on the ocean view patio, members of the ‘naval’ colony hosted bridges, teas and smokers during Fleet Week, and art shows were held featuring ‘marine landscapes.’” KCET

Get fit: In the parking lot of Google, employees can measure their body fat. Because that’s exactly what they want to do after all those holiday treats! Wall Street Journal


San Diego will be sunny and breezy at 65 degrees. Los Angeles can expect plenty of sunshine and a high of 65. It will be windy and sunny in Riverside, with highs expected to reach 64. San Francisco will be sunny and 50 degrees.


Today’s California Memory comes from Theo Moreno:

“The father of one of the neighbor girls, John, worked in construction. In 1960, he drove a bunch of neighborhood kids to the site where he was working, not far from where we lived in the San Gabriel Valley. I was 6 years old and I distinctly remember big dump trucks moving around and all of us walking to the edge of a large bowl carved into the earth. We trekked down into it and John walked us over to a very specific spot. We all stood around John, and with dramatic flair he proclaimed, ‘This is where home plate will be!’ The site would soon grow into Dodger Stadium.”

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

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.