Essential California: L.A. River comes back to life

Good morning. It is Thursday, Jan. 7. Here's what is happening in the Golden State:



Gas leak fallout

Gov. Jerry Brown has ordered new regulations in response to the natural gas leak that has displaced thousands of people in the Porter Ranch area.The measures include increased inspections and safety measures for all natural gas storage facilities in California. The governor's action came after weeks of demands by residents, activists and local officials for him to intervene. Los Angeles Times

River flows

El Niño's storms are showing the latent power of the Los Angeles River. "The river at its peak can move 146,000 cubic feet of water every second. The Colorado River, sculptor of the Grand Canyon, can't do a quarter of that." Los Angeles Times

Protecting crops

A widely used insecticide is believed to be threatening the honeybee population, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The chemical imidacloprid is found in 188 farm and household products in California. "In California, the almond industry is completely dependent on nearly 1 million commercial hives brought in to pollinate about 870,000 acres of trees." Los Angeles Times


Inadequate planning: A report from the Los Angeles County Civil Grand Jury concludes the region's plans to help homeless individuals through El Niño are "unconscionable and grossly inadequate." Instead, the group recommends using more buildings as temporary shelters and providing tents, tarps and ponchos to people who don't want to move inside. "Every step should be taken to assure that unsheltered people remain dry and avoid hypothermia," according to the report. Los Angeles Times

Park closes: Knott's Berry Farm closed down for the second day in a row because of heavy rains. It's an unusual move, as the park is typically closed just one or two days the entire year. Orange County Register

Coming back: Folsom Lake is slowly refilling with water. "While this current storm isn't dropping a lot of rain on Folsom, we're getting runoff from the Sierra from past storms and some snow melt," said Karl Swanberg, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. SFGate


Another plan: It's been more than a decade since the mayor of Los Angeles — back then it was Jim Hahn — pledged to end homelessness. His plan, however, never got off the ground because of a lack of funding. As Los Angeles city and county governments release new plans to end the epidemic, experts are questioning whether there will be money to back up the rhetoric. "It's never been a shortage of ideas," said retired UCLA law professor Gary Blasi. Los Angeles Times

Homeless student: For a PhD candidate at UCLA, living out of his car is a logical result of the financial crush of tuition. Los Angeles Times

Campaign leadership: The editor of the L.A. Weekly is leaving her job to head up a campaign against mega-developments in Los Angeles. Jill Stewart will be the campaign director for the Coalition to Preserve L.A., which is backing a ballot proposal that would limit when the city can change planning and zoning laws for large-scale developments. Stewart said she decided to make the career change after contemplating "the nature of a meaningful life." Los Angeles Times



Voter outreach: The Hillary Clinton campaign will be in the San Gabriel Valley today to announce how it plans to reach out to Asian American voters. But with California a lock for the Democratic Party, most of those efforts will be focused in other parts of the country, writes columnist Cathleen Decker. "This speaks to how the campaign is pitching a very broad tent, and thinking ahead to the general election," said Karthick Ramakrishnan, a UC Riverside professor who has studied Asian voters. Los Angeles Times

Gun control reactions: Families who lost loved ones in the Dec. 2 shooting at the Inland Regional Center are reacting positively to President Obama's calls for expanded background checks on potential gun owners. "Congress has offered their thoughts and prayers, but thoughts and prayers are cheap when you have the power they have," said Robel Tekleab, a brother-in-law of one of the victims. San Bernardino Sun


Threatening calls: An Illinois man was arrested and charged with threatening to kill David Miscavige, the leader of the Church of Scientology. Andre Barkanov is accused of calling the church and threatening to assassinate Miscavige, along with other church leaders and followers. He is being held in lieu of $600,000 bail. Los Angeles Times

Tragedy: Family members and the former foster mother of a 9-year-old boy who was mauled to death by dogs are trying to make sense of the tragedy. "To die like that, it was just horrific. When Child Protective Services called me, I just screamed," said Gloria Hudson, who cared for the child before he left to live with his 24-year-old sister. Sacramento Bee

No charges: Los Angeles prosecutors declined to file charges against comedian Bill Cosby in two sexual assault cases. In one case, involving a woman who said she was raped in 1965, the statute of limitations had expired. In the second, the district attorney's office said it could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Cosby had attacked a woman at the Playboy Mansion, as the victim alleged. Los Angeles Times


Color of authority: It took years for a Los Angeles court to convict an on-duty sheriff's deputy of raping a woman, identified as Lindsay F. But even after the deputy was sentenced to prison, attorneys for Los Angeles County tried to argue the encounter was consensual. They pored over every intimate detail of Lindsay F.'s life in an attempt to avoid paying out a civil settlement. BuzzFeed

Lunch is served: Chipotle Mexican Grill said Wednesday it was served a subpoena in connection with the investigation into a norovirus outbreak at a Simi Valley restaurant. Los Angeles Times


Don't move: In Laguna Beach, they're holding auditions for this summer's Pageant of the Masters. The main qualification: being able to stand really still. Orange County Register

Dark history: New documents show that of the 20,000 Californians who underwent forced sterilization in the first part of the 20th century, many were the children of immigrants or people who "transgressed sexual norms." "Taken together, these experiences illuminate, often in poignant detail, an era when health officials controlled with impunity the reproductive bodies of people committed to institutions." Zócalo Public Square


San Francisco will be cloudy and rainy with a high of 53. San Diego will have thunderstorms as highs reach 60. Los Angeles will likely see a thunderstorm. Highs are expected to reach 58. Riverside will have storms and a high of 53.


Today's California Memory comes from Kent Benn:

"After the Dodgers beat the Giants, 8-6, at the Stick on July 3, 1970, I headed home, on the 101. North of the Golden Gate I noticed a VW Bug disabled on the right side of the road with a flat tire. As I was driving a Bug also, I volunteered to help. With job complete, the owner asked what could he pay me. Being a fellow Bug owner, I declined. He insisted, giving me a baggie of California's finest. How could I refuse? Only in California and in the early '70s."

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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