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Essential California: California is open for business

Good morning. It is Monday, Jan. 4. These newborns will have a pretty cool story to tell for the rest of their lives. A San Diego girl was born at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2015, and her twin brother was born two minutes later on Jan. 1, 2016. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:

TOP STORIES

Open for business

Maybe California’s much-maligned business climate isn’t so bad. A new study that looked at more than 30 years' worth of data found California created new businesses at one of the fastest rates in the nation. Those new companies also made it a leader in job creation. “It means that being 'business friendly' is not the be-all and end-all of economic development,” said Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics, who helped prepare the study. Los Angeles Times

Leading LAUSD

As school board members prepare to select the next leader of the L.A. Unified School District, signs show they’re more likely to pick someone like Ramon C. Cortines than his predecessor, John Deasy. While Deasy was seen as aggressive, Cortines has been calm and productive, district officials say. “Cortines appears to have been a steadying force; that is probably the biggest contribution,” said attorney George Kieffer, a University of California regent and chair of Los Angeles Civic Alliance. Los Angeles Times

Gas leak

It will take months to repair the gas leak near Porter Ranch. The reason can be found deep in the Santa Susana Mountains. “Few man-made structures could hold as much gas as this natural repository, which is one of the largest in the country, measuring nearly one cubic mile at a depth of a mile and a half.” Los Angeles Times

DROUGHT AND CLIMATE

Rain on the way: The Los Angeles area could be in for a wet week. The strongest storm is expected to hit Tuesday, bringing with it 1 to 2 inches of rain in the foothills. Mountain areas could see as much as 2 feet of snow. “The storms are among some of the first effects of El Niño, a series of weather conditions caused by warming of the equatorial waters of the Pacific, weakening rains in South Asia and bringing heavier rains to California. The storms peak in January, February and March.” Los Angeles Times

Roadside hazards: Those abandoned mattresses, couches and other pieces of furniture that litter Los Angeles roadways may soon be real safety hazards. The items can block catch basins, which means rains from El Niño will have nowhere to go but city streets, cars and nearby homes. In preparation, sanitation crews have cleared out 40,000 basins. “El Niño is going to expose the deteriorated state of the infrastructure,” said Mike Eveloff, a board member with Fix the City. Los Angeles Times

L.A. AT LARGE

No help: In one Venice apartment building, tenants are regretting asking the city for help with short-term rentals on the property. Instead of simply putting an end to the practice of renting nightly to tourists, housing inspectors decided that some of the apartment units were illegal, prompting the eviction of longtime tenants. “Now when people call me and ask, 'Should I report this to the city?' I hesitate. I have to wonder how much help they're going to get,” said one attorney representing the residents. Los Angeles Times

Clean up on 101: Here’s a list of all the things that spilled onto Southern California’s freeways in 2015. Curbed LA

SMC leader: A former president of Santa Monica College has died at age 82. Richard Moore oversaw the campus from 1974 to 1994. During that time, he grew enrollment and made Santa Monica College the No. 1 transfer school to the University of California. Los Angeles Times

End of the line: A photograph from 1956 shows the end of the Red Car line: trolleys stacked on top of one another at a junkyard on Terminal Island. Not all of the cars met that fate. Some were shipped to Buenos Aires for the budding rail lines there. Los Angeles Times

Planning ahead: The city of Los Angeles has community plans that act as road maps for development in specific neighborhoods. But most are decades out of date. “Since the focus on updating the community plans right away hasn’t produced new community plans, why not try another approach — and update the other citywide plans first?” Zocalo Public Square

POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

Back to work: California lawmakers will have plenty of meaty issues on their plates as they return to work. They include a $59-billion backlog in road repairs and a $1-billion funding gap in healthcare. “I’ve got a feeling that this being an election year, lawmakers won’t want to ruffle any feathers because this electorate is so volatile, even in California,” said Patrick Dorinson, a political blogger and former deputy secretary for Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Los Angeles Times

Lump sums: In the Sacramento area, 13 government employees closed out 2014 with a lump sum payment of more than $100,000, according to a news analysis. In most cases, that money represented sick time and vacation. “The payments provide a big boost to an employee’s final-year salary and also increase their retirement benefits.” Sacramento Bee

GOP in OC: The number of registered Republicans in Orange County is on the decline, but there remains an ultra-conservative core whose activism dates back decades. “Being under attack, being a smaller piece of the pie breeds frustration, and they could feel even more strongly. As Republican registration chips away, it’s hard to say what will happen,” said Peter Ditto, a UC Irvine social psychologist who studies political behavior. Orange County Register

CRIME AND COURTS

Memorial site: One month after the shooting rampage at the Inland Regional Center, mourners continue to pay their respects at Waterman Avenue and Orange Show Road. “I see new things — flowers, candles and stuffed animals — every time I come that encourages my faith in this country,” said a 90-year-old man who has visited the site four times. San Bernardino Sun

Murder-suicide: A 71-year-old man has been identified as the gunman in a murder-suicide at an Ontario cemetery. Karapet Karajan is accused of killing Misak Minasyan, 60, and Hripsime Minasyan, 59, before taking his own life. Karajan was at the cemetery the day before the fifth anniversary of his wife’s death, according to police. Orange County Register

Crime run: Police are looking for a man believed to be responsible for a string of violent crimes across the Southland. Artyom Gasparyan, 32, is accused of robbery, carjacking and attempted murder in Los Angeles, Burbank, West Hollywood and Carson. Los Angeles Times 

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

Unwanted guests: An Oakland couple is not starting off the year on the right note. They thought they were renting out their apartment via Airbnb to an older man for New Year’s Eve, but it turned out it was an 18-year-old who invited hundreds of other teenagers over for a party. “The couple is taking bids from contractors to fix damage to their floors, fence, walls and upholstery.” SF Gate

Culture clash: Will Little Tokyo be able to keep its identity as downtown Los Angeles is built up around it? DTLA Rising

Not Free Willy: What does the future hold for SeaWorld’s whales? Animal rights groups don’t want them to perform for crowds in captivity, but the whales can’t just be released into the wild. "They are not good candidates for release to the wild, either because they were born in captivity or because they have been in captivity for a very long time," said Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist for the Animal Welfare Institute. Los Angeles Times 

CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Riverside will be cloudy and rainy at 63 degrees. San Diego will start the day with rain and reach a high of 63 degrees. Los Angeles will be rainy and 61. In San Francisco, there will be clouds and rain with a high of 56 degrees.

AND FINALLY

This week’s birthdays for notable Californians:

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (Jan. 7, 1960), actor Nicolas Cage (Jan. 7, 1964) and Rep. Lois Capps (Jan. 10, 1938).

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.

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