Newsletter: Essential California: Scientology’s neon logo

Good morning. It is Monday, July 6. Good news for local comic book fans -- Comic-Con will remain in San Diego through 2018. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:


Immigration holds

Like many major cities, San Francisco restricts when an arrestee may be placed on a federal immigration hold. That policy is getting a lot of attention following the shooting death of a 32-year-old woman at a popular tourist destination. Federal immigration officials say the gunman is an undocumented immigrant with a criminal record who had been deported to Mexico several times. Federal officials fault San Francisco for not cooperating, while city officials says the feds knew about the city’s rules and failed to take the necessary steps to comply with them.Los Angeles Times

Ugly insurance fight

Blue Shield of California has been in the crosshairs of state regulators for some time. Now, a new audit finds Blue Shield is stockpiling "extraordinarily high surpluses" — more than $4 billion — and failing to offer more affordable coverage or other public benefits. Officials revoked Blue Shield's state tax exemption last year. Los Angeles Times

Help for farmers

With less water available for the foreseeable future, California farmers are gingerly turning to the geeks in Silicon Valley for help. Technology has already produced some significant water-saving practices, but the two valleys are still learning to work together. "Sometimes, there's a little disconnect between what the tech people offer and what the farmers want," said Helle Petersen, director of the Water, Energy & Technology Incubator at Fresno State. Los Angeles Times



Saving pool water: Amid California’s drought, draining and refilling pools has become a no-no. This has created a business niche for pool repair professionals who can do the work with the pool full. So they get out the scuba equipment and go to work. Underwater repairman Kevin Wallace dives in some of the Southern California’s most elaborate pools in to fix rust spots, rebar, structural cracks and drains. Los Angeles Times  

Marketing of water conservation: California’s water conservation marketing campaign isn’t just about some fun jingles. There is solid polling behind it too. The Assn. of California Water Agencies surveyed 800 voters over three days last month to determine the best ways to conserve. The polling has brought message tweaks: the old "brown is the new green" message is out, asking residents to have their lawns  "fade to gold” is in. Los Angeles Times

Drought as game-changer The mighty U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which helped build much of the West’s massive water system, is fundamentally rethinking its role in the wake of the drought. “We have to think differently,” said Michael Connor, the deputy secretary of the Interior Department, which includes the Bureau of Reclamation. “We need to undertake what amounts to a giant replumbing project across the West.” New York Times



Scientology’s beacon: A big change could be coming to the historic studios in Silver Lake that for decades was KCET’s headquarters. The property is now owned by the Church of Scientology, which is asking the city to allow a lighted LED church logo atop the 15-story-tall antenna. Some residents oppose the idea. Los Feliz Ledger

Nuns in demand: The nuns who are trying to stop the L.A. Archdiocese from selling their old convent in Los Feliz to singer Katy Perry might not win the battle. But their case is now getting worldwide attention. Some of them hope it will also focus attention on the good works they spent their lives doing. Los Angeles Times

Popular valley: The editor of a publication that looks at the nexus of Southern California culture and Asian American culture says she’s surprised the area doesn’t have a higher profile. “Considering nearly 2 million people live in the San Gabriel Valley, and probably just as many go there to eat, I have often wondered why the area does not have a higher profile. It can be a confusing place to decipher, and on the surface it looks like sleepy, commuter suburbs. But that's part of what makes it fascinating,” said Daniela Gerson of the Alhambra Source. Los Angeles Times



Hike in homicides: Santa Clarita is often cited as one of America’s safest cities. But this year, it has experienced a surge in homicides -- seven this year so far. Sheriff’s officials are trying to address the jump and also focus on solutions, including better domestic violence and mental health resources. "This is such an anomaly for Santa Clarita," said Gail Morgan, the city's spokeswoman. "I have worked for the city for 25 years, and I have never seen anything like this." Los Angeles Times

Mental health: The number of people taken to local public hospitals through mental health holds is on the rise, and officials are trying to understand why. Some police and hospital officials say part of the answer might lie in recent state and local policy changes intended to shift nonviolent offenders — including many who are mentally ill — out of prisons and jails. So far, local mental health treatment services haven't been able to catch up with the increased need for community treatment programs and psychiatric beds. Los Angeles Times



Silicon Valley no longer the richest: Atherton, home to many of Silicon Valley’s richest names, has lost its title as the wealthiest area in the United States. New Census data show the richest ZIP Code is now found in Sagaponack, N.Y., on Long Island. Sagaponack is known as a summer refuge for the super-rich, from celebrities and financiers. Business Insider

A big birthday: Despite a three-day birthday extravaganza in Orange County with a focus on global human rights, the Dalai Lama appears to want a low-key 80th. "The Dalai Lama does not want any physical gifts -- for him, this birthday is just like any other day. However if we can help to create a more compassionate, kind planet -- that would be the most beautiful gift of all," said Lama Tenzin Dhonden, the Dalai Lama's personal emissary for peace. Los Angeles Times



Los Angeles will be cloudy and 78 degrees. San Diego could see some drizzle in the morning and a high of 72. In Riverside, there may be drizzle and patchy fog. Temperatures will reach 87 degrees. San Francisco has a chance of clouds and drizzle with a high of 75 degrees.



San Francisco has the world’s most expensive hotel rates, according to Bloomberg.The average price of a hotel room is now $397 a night. Los Angeles is comparatively a bargain at $237.


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