Newsletter: Essential California: Carmageddons to the east and west


Good morning. It is Friday, Jan. 29. Here’s what’s happening in the Golden State:


Housing for veterans

After years of debate, there is now a formal plan to add much-needed housing for homeless veterans at the VA campus on the Westside. The plan calls for construction of 1,200 permanent supportive housing units for disabled and traumatized veterans, and more than 700 short-term units for homeless veterans. The proposed community would mark one of the most significant efforts to create new housing for the region’s rising homeless population, which is estimated to exceed 44,000 in Los Angeles County. Los Angeles Times


Jailbreak plot thickens

There was a major break in the escape drama in Orange County: A woman who worked as an English teacher in Orange County’s largest jail was arrested Thursday on suspicion of helping three inmates mount a daring escape. Nooshafarin Ravaghi, a Lake Forest resident, was an English as a Second Language teacher at Rancho Santiago Community College and had been working as a contract employee at the jail for the last six months. Los Angeles Times

Solar costs rising

New state rules will increase costs for owners of rooftop solar systems. But it’s not as much of a hike as some had wanted. Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric and Pacific Gas & Electric had pressed the commission to charge solar owners hefty fees that the solar industry said would crush its business. Los Angeles Times


Sickening smell: Residents describe what it’s like to live in Porter Ranch near the massive gas leak. Writes one: “Wife — nausea, kids — headaches and throwing up and myself — my first nosebleed since I was a kid. All out of nowhere.” Los Angeles Times


Bridge gate: The 6th Street Bridge is now closed and will be demolished soon. It inspired a lot of love — as well as an opera. Los Angeles Times


Immigration repeat? California was the center of a wrenching political debate about immigration in the 1990s. It ended up helping Democrats and hurting Republicans. Will the same thing happen on the national level? Los Angeles Times

Pay boost: Can this stop “Black Thursday”? A proposal to require large retailers to pay their employees double when they work on Thanksgiving squeaked through the state Assembly this week. Los Angeles Times


Brown’s plan: Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to give more inmates a chance for early release would probably reduce prosecutors’ leverage in negotiating plea bargains. But there is some debate about many inmates will get freedom if voters approve his ballot measure. Los Angeles Times


Big-league support: Members of the Dodgers’ family — including Tommy Lasorda — met with victims of the San Bernardino terrorist attack and their families. San Bernardino Sun

Gambling bust: Twenty-two people have been charged with participating in an illegal sports gambling and international drug-smuggling ring operated by a former USC football and volleyball player. Los Angeles Times

Disney snooping: Anaheim police for years have used plane surveillance to monitor phones of people at Disneyland, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. BuzzFeed


Race outrage: Students have been suspended from an exclusive San Francisco prep school after a racist-theme party. SFGate



Slower train: California’s bullet train could take longer to build than previously estimated and its ultimate cost is difficult to predict, the head of the high-speed rail authority said this week. The project is more than two years behind the schedule that authority announced in 2012, when it expected to start building 29 miles of rail structures. Los Angeles Times

Carmageddon East: The Inland Empire is getting its own Carmageddon. Transportation officials will close a six-mile stretch of the notoriously gridlocked 91 Freeway in Corona for a full weekend next month as part of a $1.4-billion construction project to widen the freeway. Los Angeles Times

Carmageddon West: Another traffic nightmare is shaping up near downtown L.A. A 55-hour street closure in the heart of downtown Los Angeles this weekend is sure to bring some major headaches for drivers. Starting Friday night, 1st and Alameda streets will be closed as crews conduct preparatory work for the construction of the Regional Connector Tunnel and work on the relocation of Metro Gold Line tracks and utilities. Los Angeles Times


Snow man: Olympic gold medal snowboarder Shaun White has taken a minority stake in the company that runs Mammoth Mountain and recently spent $38 million to buy Snow Summit and Bear Mountain, the Southern California resorts where he perfected his ollies, rail slides and back flips. Los Angeles Times

Barbie’s changes: A timeline of Barbie’s changing look over the years. Is she still a California girl? Los Angeles Times


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