Newsletter: The new battle over the Aliso Canyon gas facility

Gas leak near Porter Ranch
Heavy equipment is used in November 2015 as Southern California Gas Co. crews and technical experts tried to stop the flow of natural gas leaking from a storage well near Porter Ranch.
(Javier Mendoza / Gas Company)

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Jan. 18, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Gas facility battle

The troubled Aliso Canyon underground natural gas storage field is safe to reopen at a third of its original size, state regulators announced Tuesday, even though the cause of a massive leak that forced thousands to flee their homes has not been determined. The finding sets up an all-out battle over the future of the site near Porter Ranch, the scene of the largest methane gas leak in United States history. Los Angeles Times


Neighborhood watch

Snapchat’s growth in the Venice area has crowded out other businesses. Now, there is word the tech giant is moving some operations to Santa Monica Business Park. The strategy could reflect Snap’s acknowledgement that additional Venice development would blunt the creative diversity and bohemian vibrancy that drew it to the locale five years ago. But some residents feel the damage is already done. Los Angeles Times

Rail fight

A confidential estimate by federal regulators that the cost of California’s bullet train project could jump significantly has prompted critics of the $64-billion Los Angeles-to-San Francisco rail effort to call for new investigations and proponents to disclaim reports that project costs are growing. Los Angeles Times


Plus: Can Donald Trump pull the plug on high-speed rail? Wall Street Journal


On the coast: On the Palos Verdes Peninsula, there was an unlikely declaration of independence for “outsider” surfers — including nonwhites — that it was safe to hit the waves after years of intimidation. Los Angeles Times

Beer here: More evidence West Adams is rapidly becoming one of L.A.’s gentrification powerhouses. Eater Los Angeles

Thinking green: Santa Monica is getting a new park. Santa Monica Mirror

Transparent justice: The new glass-house federal courthouse in downtown L.A. makes such good use of natural light that it needs very little artificial light during the day. The Architect’s Newspaper


Politician’s rise: How Jason Frierson went from growing up on the streets of Compton to the incoming speaker of the Nevada assembly, one of that state’s most powerful political leaders. The Nevada Independent


Reform idea: A Los Angeles lawmaker has called for the city to move to a public financing system for local elections, saying it would help address fears that wealthy donors buy influence at City Hall. Los Angeles Times

Ailing leader: UC President Janet Napolitano was hospitalized in what officials described as complications from cancer treatment. East Bay Times

Moving on: After months of speculation, San Diego County Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis has now confirmed she will not seek reelection in 2018. And it’s possible she’ll step down early. San Diego Union-Tribune


Ruling: A San Bernardino County judge on Tuesday ruled that prosecutors could call numerous journalists to testify in the ongoing public corruption trial of a former county supervisor and others. Los Angeles Times

Eyes in the sky: The L.A. Sheriff’s Department plans to use drones, and that is generating protests. Los Angeles Times


The big picture: The snowpack is back, but the groundwater crisis in California continues. Bloomberg


Deadly storms: The death toll continued to rise from last week’s epic storms. Los Angeles Times


They wear it well: In San Francisco, keeping the art of the old-fashioned costume gown alive. San Francisco Chronicle

Milk money: If you bought California milk in the last decade, you could be due a refund. SFGate

Gruesome find: A zebra that once belonged to a collection of wild animals at Hearst Ranch was found dead and skinned on a San Simeon beach Saturday after heavy rains carried it down a creek and into the sea. Los Angeles Times

How much? The average 20% down payment for a house in Silicon Valley? $192,320 — the price of a whole house in many parts of the country. Mercury News

Sage advice: Betty White at 95. Yahoo News


Los Angeles area and San Diego: Cloudy with rain in the evening; highs in the low 60s. San Francisco area: Rainy with highs in the mid-50s. Sacramento: Rainy with highs in the low 50s. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from John Whitaker:

”My family moved to La Crescenta when I was in second grade and my sister was in first grade. Our house was located one half block from our grammar school. With Inauguration Day happening this Friday, I am reminded of that special day in January 1953 when my mother invited my fourth-grade class and my sister’s third-grade class to walk to our house from school to sit on the floor and watch the inauguration ceremony for President Eisenhower on our small television set. Both teachers were excited that their students could watch history being made.”

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Shelby Grad.