Newsletter: Evacuations lifted for communities below Oroville Dam

David McGlamery returns to his Oroville home with his belongings after the evacuation order was lifted. The family had to retreat to Chico, where they initially stayed at a Walmart parking lot with other evacuees.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Feb. 15, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Moment of truth

With new rainstorms approaching, the Oroville Dam’s two crippled spillways will be put to their biggest test ever. Officials have been frantically trying to repair the emergency spillway, which they feared on Sunday would collapse. So far, the damaged regular spillway has saved the day, churning out massive amounts of water that have slowly reduced the reservoir’s water levels, hopefully out of the danger zone. Los Angeles Times


Wing and a prayer: Inside the frantic repair effort on the dam: A lot of rocks, helicopters and sandbags (and some prayers). Los Angeles Times

Visualizing the crisis: This series of graphics and photos helps you understand the engineering challenges and high stakes at work at the Oroville Dam. Los Angeles Times

Snow to the rescue? A cold storm could save the day, producing more snow that will stay in the Sierra Nevada and that will gradually become water in the reservoir. Los Angeles Times

Home for now: Evacuations have been lifted, but those homecomings could be short-lived. OrovilleMR

Climate change and Oroville: The Oroville Dam crisis offers a stark lesson in what climate change is doing to California’s snow-dependent water system. New York Times

San Bernardino plea

Enrique Marquez Jr., a friend of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, will plead guilty this week in connection with the purchase of two rifles used in the December 2015 attack as well as an earlier aborted plot to open fire on the 91 Freeway and the campus of a Riverside college, according to court documents. The attack, which Marquez was not accused of taking part in, killed 14 people. Los Angeles Times



Bullying blues: Bullying is a big problem in Los Angeles schools. One in 5 high school students and 1 in 4 elementary students said they had been bullied during the last school year, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District. Los Angeles Times

An L.A. landmark: Looking back at the Beverly Hills Hotel in its heyday, when the ultimate status symbol was getting a phone brought to you poolside. Vanity Fair

Westside norovirus worries: A choir girl and former member of the swim team at Santa Monica High School has died, igniting fears of a norovirus outbreak. She is the second student from the school to die this school year. Los Angeles Times

Santa Monica makeover: Lincoln Boulevard on the Westside is far from L.A.’s most beautiful street. But now there is an effort to remake it as being more friendly, and a bit nicer to look at. Curbed Los Angeles



Spurning federal $$: A Claremont Islamic graduate school has turned down an $800,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security to work on countering violent extremism. The Bayan Claremont Islamic Graduate School cited the “anti-Muslim actions of the current executive branch” as the reason it spurned the largesse. San Bernardino Sun

The housing crunch: Even with some of the toughest laws requiring the building of affordable housing, the state’s “housing crisis has reached an epidemic level, with rents at an all-time high and home ownership rates at their lowest since the 1940s.” NBC Bay Area

The oddest of enemies: Political consultant Mitchell Schwartz and Mayor Eric Garcetti agree on a lot. They’re both progressive Democrats and would probably be political allies if Schwartz weren’t challenging the mayor in his re-election run. Los Angeles Times


Pay gap progress: The California Senate late last year gave 10% raises to 71 employees to shrink a lingering gap between what male and female employees earn. Sacramento Bee


Secret Durst witness: A secret witness is slated to testify at a hearing in the murder trial of real estate scion Robert Durst. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for October, meaning the trial is unlikely to start until at least 2018. Los Angeles Times

Ford almost-fail: Harrison had a close call with his plane flying over a passenger jet Monday in Orange County, and the FAA is investigating the incident. Los Angeles Times


Officials say a sheriff’s deputy shot a man Tuesday at a Van Nuys restaurant. He’s expected to survive. Los Angeles Daily News

Baca blocked: Federal prosecutors have successfully blocked former L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca’s defense team from calling character witnesses to testify on his previous “good acts.” KPCC


El Niño erosion: A new study finds that the most recent El Niño winter season in 2015-2016 caused an unprecedented amount of coastal erosion on California’s beaches. Los Angeles Times



Disney dispute: Disneyland’s decision to end a puppet show at California Adventure comes after a contentious two-year period during which the puppeteers joined a union. Some puppeteers allege that Disney is closing their show in retaliation for their decision to do so. Disney says it’s just a routine change of the entertainment lineup. Los Angeles Times

Bold-faced bulldog: Kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst is back in the news, thanks to her award-winning French bulldogs. The New York Times

Meatballs for all: Is Ikea suddenly L.A.’s hottest brunch spot? LA Weekly


Wine winners: U.S. exports of wine set a record in 2016. About 90% of the 49.5 million cases of U.S. wine sold came from California, according to a study from the Wine Institute. Los Angeles Times

Save the date: The L.A. chapter of the American Institute of Architects will host a walking tour on Feb. 26 highlighting the work of black architects in Compton in honor of Black History Month. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles: partly cloudy Wednesday and Thursday. San Diego: sunny Wednesday and Thursday. Sacramento and San Francisco: partly cloudy Wednesday and rainy Thursday. More weather is here.



Today’s California memory comes from Robin Sales:

“I moved out to California 40 years ago and remember stopping at the viewpoint north of Oceanside on my way to live in San Diego. A most beautiful sight — spring flowers and the Pacific Ocean in February! I never looked back.”

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 Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow us on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.