Newsletter: Essential California: Warning in Aliso Canyon

Good morning. It is Monday, Jan. 18. A parade and more will mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the L.A. area. Here’s what else is happening in the Golden State:


Explosive warning

A plan to capture and burn off natural gas leaking from a well in Aliso Canyon was put on ice Saturday after regulators said they were concerned that doing so could lead to a catastrophic explosion. Officials with the South Coast Air Quality Management District want local fire officials as well as state and federal regulators to sign off on the plan before Southern California Gas Co. moves forward. “The air district doesn’t need to stall any longer because it has all the information it needs to make the right decision right now: Shut down the Aliso facility once and for all,” said one Porter Ranch resident. Los Angeles Times


How football came to L.A.

How did the deal come together to move the St. Louis Rams back to the Los Angeles area after the region went 21 years without a team? The ball got rolling when the team’s owner, Stan Kroenke, bought 60 acres of land in Inglewood. “What set Kroenke’s plan apart from past proposals was a crucial fact: He already owned a team that could be moved. At the time he didn’t commit to returning the Rams to L.A. from St. Louis, but the implications were clear.” Los Angeles Times

Helping the homeless

Teams of nurses, mental health specialists and addiction counselors have been hitting skid row in the hopes of helping the thousands of people who call the streets home. It’s the smartest approach the city and county have taken in a long time, writes columnist Steve Lopez. The teams include engagement workers who know firsthand what these men and women are going through. “They were both once homeless and resisted help, so they know how to relate, and they’re not discouraged when someone brushes them off at first, as people with mental illness often do,” he writes. Los Angeles Times


New rules: The state may be relaxing water conservation rules for some cities that failed to meet their goals. The revised regulations will take into account a region’s climate and investments in local supplies. “The attempt is to just try and be reasonable,” said State Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus. Los Angeles Times

Snow and rain: It came to Northern California on Sunday, previewing what could be a wet week for the region. Driving conditions in the Sierra Nevada could be dangerous, with snow at the 6,500-foot elevation. Los Angeles Times



Hot spots: Santa Monica, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach.… They are often cited as “hot ZIP Codes” in real estate. But now, some previously unlikely neighborhoods have joined the list: East L.A. and Lincoln Heights. Los Angeles Times

Keep pets indoors: In the Porter Ranch area, pet owners say their animals are developing nosebleeds, coughs and excessive mucus as a result of the ongoing gas leak. There isn’t much research to show the effects mercaptans, or odorants, may have on animals, but the L.A. County Department of Public Health is now warning residents to keep their pets indoors and immediately seek medical treatment if the animals are lethargic or nauseous. Los Angeles Times

New mall: The Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza is getting a makeover just in time for the new Crenshaw Metro line. Plans include a hotel, condos and offices. The project is expected to be completed in 2020. Curbed LA

Flying food: The Proud Bird near LAX is being transformed into a food hall with vendors and bars overlooking the runways. The restaurant will close for renovations on Feb. 10, and construction is expected to take 10 months. LAist



Under the radar: Ethics officials say that the state’s weak laws allow major corporations such as oil companies, organized labor and other interest groups to conceal how they spend money to lobby state government. The Fair Political Practices Commission is now looking at new requirements that would expose how lobbying firms spend money in Sacramento. Los Angeles Times

Agree but disagree: California is a blue state, but that doesn’t mean Democrats agree on the issues. Divisions are now forming within the party that prides itself on offering a big tent, writes columnist Cathleen Decker. “Given Democratic power here, the splits on ideology, age and ethnicity are not likely to prove broadly shattering in a perilous, Humpty-Dumpty way. But they will have to be massaged at some point,” she writes. Los Angeles Times

Lock ‘em up: A state senator is pursuing a bill that would require all law enforcement agents to lock up handguns they leave behind in their cars. The legislation was inspired by the killing of Kathryn Steinle, who was shot with a gun taken from the car of an agent with the Bureau of Land Management. “The very people we empower to keep our cities safe have their weapons stolen out of their car and potentially used in crimes,” said state Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo). SF Gate


Right on red: One state lawmaker wants to revise a law that allows drivers to be fined $500 for making rolling right-hand turns on red. “Gov. Jerry Brown has expressed concerns about high-priced citations, making him more likely to be supportive than [Arnold] Schwarzenegger was back when state and local governments were in financial crises and scrounging for money.” Sacramento Bee


Deeper plot: Shooters Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik planned to detonate a bomb in the room where they killed 14 people and injured 22 more, but just when that explosion was supposed to take place remains a mystery, according to FBI officials. Either way, the implication is that Farook and Malik intended to injure or kill paramedics and police officers as they tended to victims. Why didn’t the bomb explode? Investigators say it’s possible that their remote detonator didn’t work or that sprinklers set off during the shooting interfered with the explosives. Los Angeles Times

Cyclist killed: A driver who was high on heroin when he struck and killed a cyclist was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. Neil Storm Stephany, 24, hit Shaun Eagleson, 30, as he drove on Pacific Coast Highway through Newport Beach in 2014. He then fled the scene before police could arrive. Orange County Register



Long con?: Will Los Angeles be happy with the NFL back in town? “Inglewood may believe that it has secured a place as a major league city for all time, but memories are short, and the National Football League is expert at putting a gun to muncipalities’ heads,” writes columnist Michael Hiltzik. Los Angeles Times

History repeating: Once again, Orange County is a mortgage powerhouse. That was true before the last housing bubble too, as the region pioneered the concept of giving loans to buyers with poor credit and selling off bundles of loans to investors. “Even with Orange County’s recent mortgage hiring spree, these two home-loan industries now employ roughly half the number of workers who made mortgages at the peak of housing stupidity.” Orange County Register

Up in the air: SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket but failed to land it on a ship off the coast of Southern California. “The whole endeavor has been compared to vaulting a pencil over the Empire State building, then getting it to come back and land on its eraser atop a moving target smaller than a shoe box.” Los Angeles Times



Bubble bursting: The good times may be over in Silicon Valley. Tech companies are seeing their valuations drop and pushing back plans for IPOs. “Right now, there is a lot of insecurity with people who have a massive amount of valuable currency, but it’s illiquid at the moment,” according to a partner at Founders Circle. SF Weekly

Death of a trendsetter: Wilkes Bashford, the man who brought high fashion to San Francisco, died Saturday of prostate cancer at age 82. Bashford was known for promoting a style referred to as “bold conservative” while carrying designers Brioni, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren and Versace. “He was part of the heart of the city,” said former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. SF Gate



San Diego will have a mix of sunshine and clouds with a high of 66 degrees. Los Angeles will be cloudy and 62 degrees. Riverside will have clouds and a high of 64. San Francisco will have rain in the morning and a high of 58 degrees.


This week’s birthdays for notable Californians:

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin (Jan. 20, 1930), former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (Jan. 23, 1953), USC athletic director Pat Haden (Jan. 23, 1953), Rep. John Garamendi (Jan. 24, 1945) and Rep. Mike Thompson (Jan. 24, 1951).


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.