Newsletter: Essential California: Spreading like a wildfire

Good morning. It is Monday, Sept. 14. Here's what is happening in the Golden State:


Wildfires take a toll

Homes and other structures were destroyed this weekend as wildfires raged in Lake and Napa counties. The Valley Fire was so damaging that Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency almost immediately, allowing additional resources, like the California Guard, to help tackle the blaze. "This fire has burned much quicker than we're able to get resources into the area," said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Los Angeles Times

The race to succeed Boxer

A new poll finds Rep. Loretta Sanchez is a real contender in the Senate race to succeed Sen. Barbara Boxer, thanks in part to her strong support in the Latino community. But state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris continues to lead in that race. "For all the candidates, the biggest challenge ahead is to raise enough money to run ads introducing themselves to voters who, for now, are unfamiliar with them." Los Angeles Times 


Why fire moved so fast: The Valley Fire, which started Saturday, moved faster than any other wildfire in California’s recent history. It burned through 40,000 acres in 12 hours. "This fire sort of broke the rules even relative to this incredible season that's already occurred," said Daniel Swain, climate scientist at Stanford University. Los Angeles Times

Threat of extinction: The drought is putting many of California's freshwater fish in danger of extinction, according to a recent report. Several more years of drought could mean the end of 18 native species. "As a matter of urgency, these species should be brought into conservation hatcheries so that they can be reintroduced to the wild when conditions improve." Public Policy Institute of California


Crash victim remembered: A pioneer in the aerial cinematography industry was remembered this weekend after he was killed on the set of a Tom Cruise movie in Colombia. "Alan Purwin was a great man, a world-renowned aviator and a brilliant entrepreneur," said Steve Gatena, CEO of Helinet, a company owned by Purwin that provides chartered flights. Purwin lived in Hidden Hills and was a board member for Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Daily NewsLos Angeles Times

Permitting process: The already completed Sunset and Gordon apartment tower on Sunset Boulevard is about to become the latest example of City Hall's dysfunction. Neighbors sued the project's developer, CIM Group, arguing that the company's failure to follow conditions of the project invalidated all of its permits. The state’s 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed with that argument, and now the buildings tenants must move out. Los Angeles Times 

Dangerous conditions: It's been 45 years since 17-year-old David Dale fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his Chevy Corvair. His 16-year-old girlfriend was killed, and Dale has never been able to move on. His may be a cautionary tale, writes columnist Steve Lopez. Los Angeles Times

Such a deal: Palazzo di Amore in Beverly Hills topped the charts when it went on the market for $195 million. Since then, the owner has dropped the price. The property is now a steal at just $149 million. Los Angeles Times


Power struggles: Why did key provisions of a state bill on climate change fail? Power struggles within Sacramento politics. "The measure's supporters were also unable to counter industry assertions that the bill would hand too much authority to state regulators — a message that resonated with a new generation of lawmakers eager to shift more Capitol power in their direction." Los Angeles Times

Presidential picks: California's Republicans prefer Donald Trump and Ben Carson over the more mainstream GOP candidates. Those preferences mirror trends nationwide. "Among Republicans, 1 in 5 voters polled in the state was undecided about which candidate to back, and many candidates were unknown to a quarter or more of voters interviewed." Los Angeles Times

Reliable voters: Is the California Republican Party losing white voters, who have traditionally been the backbone of the GOP? "What voters hear is the national party. There really isn't anyone helping California voters … understand that Republicans in D.C. and Republicans in the South don't necessarily speak for Republicans in California," one party veteran told columnist Cathleen Decker. Los Angeles Times

Election mistakes: A consultant is being brought in after clerks in Sacramento County reportedly messed up a couple of recent elections. Mistakes included inaccurate information in sample ballots and incorrect directions on the ballot order of council races. Sacramento Bee

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Abuse investigation: Three brothers found stabbed to death in a South L.A. car had been the subjects of abuse investigations by the Department of Children and Family Services. Neighbors say the boys' father, Luis Fuentes, had struggled since losing his wife in 2008. Fuentes was booked on charges related to the children's killing and is being held in lieu of $3-million bail. Los Angeles Times

New rides: Los Angeles now has the largest city-owned fleet of electric vehicles. As part of the deal, the Los Angeles Police Department will get to borrow a Tesla Model S P85 D and a BMWi for "testing and research." The Tesla retails for $120,000, while the BMW comes in at $43,000. largest city-owned fleetLos Angeles Times

Child found: The body of a missing 4-year-old boy was found Sunday in San Diego. Authorities believe Wesley Hilaire drown. He had gone missing during a family outing to Fiesta Island. Los Angeles Times


Bus fares: Many Orange County school districts charge students to take the school bus. Low-income students are able to ride for free or at reduced rates, and that leaves a smaller and smaller base of riders to make up the difference. For example, parents in Newport-Mesa Unified will now have to pay $360 for the school year. Orange County Register


Broad museum: What do the critics have to say about the long-awaited Broad museum in downtown Los Angeles? "The show doesn't gel" and "ordinary, old-school, predictable." Los Angeles Times, New York Times

Grocery wars: Southern California has the most competitive environment when it comes to grocery stores. That's why so many new chains, like Fresh & Easy and Haggen, flock to the area, even though they don't often have successful results. "While the grocers are battling one another, they're all hustling to stay abreast of major cultural shifts affecting consumers' buying habits. Shoppers want more healthful foods, more ethnic groceries and added convenience." Los Angeles Times

Floating lab: A giant balloon operated by Google crashed into the frontyard of a Chino Hills home. The 50-foot balloon is part of Project Loon, which hopes to deliver 3-G Internet. No one was hurt. CBS Bay Area 


L.A. will be mostly cloudy and 81 degrees, with a chance of rain. Riverside will have low clouds and 83 degrees. San Diego will be mostly cloudy with a chance of sprinkles. Temperatures are expected to reach a high of 82.  San Francisco will be 67 degrees and cloudy.


This week’s birthdays for famous Californians:

Singer Sabrina Bryan (Sept. 16), actress Aisha Tyler (Sept. 18), and political commentator Van Jones (Sept. 20).

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