Essential California: California gets soaked

Good morning. It is Wednesday, Jan. 6. Prepare to pay more at San Francisco's parking meters. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:



Fire and rain

Debris from the Christmas Day fire in Solimar Beach was washed away by Tuesday's rainstorms into two storm drains, which quickly clogged and flooded the roadway. Is this what Southern California can expect for the next few months of El Niño storms? "Areas recently burned by brush fires tend to be at greatest risk of mudflows. But officials have said four years of drought conditions have made hillsides that have not burned also at risk." Los Angeles Times

Missing timeline

What did shooters Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik do between 12:59 p.m. and 1:17 p.m. Dec. 2? Investigators have pieced together most of the couple's day, but they don't know what happened during those 18 minutes after the two killed 14 people and wounded 22 at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. "A lot of zig-zagging around, going back and forth on the highway. There is no rhyme or reason to it that we can find yet," said David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI's L.A. office. Los Angeles Times

Water savings

Californians cut their water usage 20.3% in November, according to state water officials. The state's cumulative savings are at 26.3%, just slightly above the 25% goal set by Gov. Jerry Brown. "We're still winning the race. I don't want [Californians] to be discouraged," said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board. Los Angeles Times


Garbage woes: Los Angeles' trash problem is now a big deal. Debris clogged storm drains Tuesday, leading to flooding across the Southland. And it's not just illegally dumped items, either. "A relatively small amount of fast-moving water can also knock a trash bin over and carry the bin — or its contents — to another location, where it can clog the system and hasten flooding." Los Angeles Times

Storm donations: The Orange County Music League is distributing clothing, blankets and tents to homeless families as they cope with the effects of El Niño. "I think music is there to help people through hard times and to give back, and some of the best things that have been done for other people have been done through music," said producer John Safari. Orange County Register

Worth a thousand words: These 13 images tell you most of what you need to know about Tuesday's downpour. Curbed LA

Chaos ensues: Will the chaos of El Niño continue for the next three months? "You'd think the Golden State would be extra prepared and stoked about El Niño-fueled storms finally showing up. But no." BuzzFeed


Washed away: Though he lives under a Gold Line bridge, Felipe Flores Lopez takes pride in his home. He arranged a bedroom and kitchen, complete with a small Christmas tree atop a dresser. When columnist Steve Lopez visited him to see how he was making it through the rains, he whipped up a lunch of burritos. But then the rain picked up, and water breached the curb and filled the sidewalk that the man calls home. Los Angeles Times

Where to go: Driving in the rain may be an inconvenience, but what about living in it? There are dangers facing L.A.'s homeless population, particularly the 600 to 700 people who camp out along the Los Angeles River. Los Angeles Times


PR roadmap: Actor Charlie Sheen said he went public with his HIV-positive status because he was tired of paying out millions of dollars to keep his secret under wraps. However, by the time he appeared on NBC's "Today," the secret had already been out there on entertainment blogs and in tabloids. This story looks at the tangled world of Internet gossip and multimillion-dollar payments. New York Times

Airport pickups: Lyft can now pick up passengers at LAX, but it's a bumpy process. Airport officials decided that ride-sharing companies should pick up arrivals on the departure level. Also, airport traffic throws off estimated arrival times provided by the app. The Business Journals

Caught on camera: A man's own dash cam captured the moment his car went off the side of the Angeles Crest Highway. YouTube


Gas leak: Gov. Jerry Brown met with a handful of Porter Ranch residents Monday to hear their concerns about a gas leak in nearby Aliso Canyon. The visit came as the L.A. County Board of Supervisors called for a new regulatory framework to oversee natural gas storage. Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who represents the area, went so far as to describe the leak as "a mini Chernobyl," even though officials have repeatedly said the leak will not lead to longterm health effects. Los Angeles Times

Subsidized housing: Thanks to a housing program in the City of Industry, some elected officials and employees there pay just $700 a month to live in three-bedroom homes with garages and yards. Yet it appears the city never paid taxes on those benefits. If the Internal Revenue Service were to determine the housing benefit qualifies as compensation, the city and employees could owe decades of back taxes. San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Alcohol agents: The number of state agents tasked with enforcing California's liquor laws is lower than it was a decade ago. That means only the worst cases of underage drinking and public drunkenness are dealt with. Representatives with the alcohol industry are equally upset because there are fewer agents to deal with unlicensed clubs. Low pay and bad hours are mostly to blame for the dwindling ranks. Sacramento Bee



Visiting San Quentin: With words, pictures and sound, this is an intimate look inside California's death row. The condemned "live, eat and sleep in two rows of open-front cells, stacked five stories high like containers in the hold of a cargo ship." Los Angeles Times

Racketeering charges: Jury deliberations began Tuesday in the racketeering case against Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, whom prosecutors described as a Chinatown crime boss. The case revolved around the testimony of an undercover FBI agent who spent four years inside Chow's organization. Defense attorneys argued the government tried to "ensnare" their client. Chow faces life in prison if convicted. San Jose Mercury-News

What's organic: A new court ruling could allow Californians to bring lawsuits against companies that mislead consumers about the organic elements of their products. "I don't predict a surge of lawsuits. There are very few areas where the organic rules aren't being followed," said Alexis Baden-Mayer, the political director for the Organic Consumers Association. KCET


Undercover boss: Lyft co-founder John Zimmer drove around San Francisco on New Year's Eve so he could see what his drivers experience on one of their busiest nights of the year. "It's also when Lyft's central sales pitch — that its service is fundamentally faster, cheaper, and more efficient than the yellow cabs that have performed the same service for decades — is put to the test." BuzzFeed

What are friends for: Why did actor Samuel L. Jackson receive a bill for membership dues at the Trump National Golf Course in Rancho Palos Verdes? Because Donald Trump signed him up without his knowledge. BuzzFeed


San Diego will have afternoon rain and a high of 63 degrees. Los Angeles will be cold and rainy at 58 degrees. In Riverside, there will be clouds and rain with a high of 55. There will be thunderstorms in San Francisco, where temperatures are expected to reach 54.


Today's California Memory comes from Joey Berlin:

"I was 18 years old and my college girlfriend was from Encino. We decided to spend a semester in Los Angeles, and we drove my red Pinto across the country from Ohio. I vividly recall arriving at night, taking the 405 over the Sepulveda Pass and being dazzled by the lights spread out as a welcome mat across the San Fernando Valley. It was as if the world had turned upside down and all the stars in the heavens were now at our feet. More than four decades later, I'm still here."

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.)

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