Newsletter: Essential California: Fact versus hype in California’s wildfire season

Russia -- it’s the question that won’t go away for the Trump White House and family. But Trump’s proposed budget threatens to cut its funding for a tsunami warning system. How bad will this year’s wildfire season be? Iraqi forces and rescue crews in

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, July 11, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Separating fact from hype in a new fire season

During the state’s long drought, firefighters repeatedly said withered landscapes portended plenty of big burns. Now, after a drought-busting winter, they are predicting a bad fire season because all that wet weather produced a bumper crop of grass and new growth that blanketed the mountains and foothills with more fuel. Both are legitimate arguments. But experts say neither situation guarantees a bad year on the fire lines. Los Angeles Times


More about the fires: On the Central Coast, two blazes in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties have forced nearly 8,000 people to flee as flames gutted more than two dozen structures. Los Angeles Times

Plus: In Oroville, residents like Leanne Beck are struggling with yet another disaster. Los Angeles Times

And: Incredible video of the Santa Barbara TV news crew that survived driving through the center of the fire. San Diego Union-Tribune

Cut from the Trump budget


A tsunami detection system completed in 2008 has been instrumental in giving U.S. officials an accurate forecast of how big a tsunami would be as it hit America’s shores and when it would arrive. But now, the $12-million system is under threat. President Trump’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year would cut funding to operate the network, which would eventually shut down. Los Angeles Times

Climate change breakthrough?

After weeks of back-and-forth between environmentalists and business interests, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders on Monday introduced a proposal to reauthorize California’s cap and trade program, the centerpiece of the state’s efforts to battle climate change. Los Angeles Times

An interesting quirk in California’s laws

How do you prosecute a murder without a body? California has been doing it for more than a century. Before authorities found the body of his 5-year-old son, the latest example of this would have been Aramazd Andressian Sr. Authorities had already filed murder charges against him without having found the body. Los Angeles Times


Downtown moves west: A recently built Wilshire Boulevard apartment complex has sold for more than $80 million as residential development spreads west from downtown Los Angeles into the city’s historic Westlake district. Los Angeles Times

Have a raise! Members of an obscure city commission voted to give L.A. Board of Education members a 174% raise that will take effect in 60 days. Los Angeles Times


#DTLA: “The ‘Ed Ruscha Monument’ does speak to and about the evolution of Downtown Los Angeles, and its presence connects the community’s past with the present. It also represents a victory for its creator, artist Kent Twitchell, and for greater Downtown.” Los Angeles Downtown News

Things are looking up: “With a daily average of more than 64,000 boardings, the Expo line is attracting as many riders in 2017 as it was projected to have in 2030.” Urbanize LA

Hello, Lincoln Heights: The neighborhood of Lincoln Heights is changing, with property values and rents soaring and the Trump administration’s promised crackdown on illegal immigration sparking fear and anger. If you live there, please help our reporters get a better picture of Lincoln Heights so we can tell its story with your perspective. Los Angeles Times


Big changes afoot: The agency that delivers retirement benefits to thousands of Los Angeles city employees is looking to scale back its investment projections — a move that could blow a hole in an already precarious city budget. Los Angeles Times

New OC D.A. candidate: Todd Spitzer — a longtime rival of Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas — on Monday announced his campaign for district attorney in the 2018 race. Los Angeles Times

It’s a fight! Long-standing tensions between the Democratic Party’s moderate and liberal wings have ignited in California, where progressive activists are redirecting their anger over Donald Trump and congressional Republicans toward Democratic leaders at home.” Politico

A Sacramento impasse: The California Assembly deadlocked Monday over a bill that would allow judges to not impose sentence enhancements of 10 or more years in cases where firearms were used in committing a felony. Los Angeles Times



Suspicious fires: A series of arson fires on real estate projects in the Bay Area have some questioning whether there is a political motive. Los Angeles Times

Police scandal: Oakland’s new police chief apologized in federal court for a sexual misconduct scandal involving a teenage prostitute. In addition, Anne Kirkpatrick vowed to clean up the city’s troubled police department. Associated Press

Restraining order granted: Blac Chyna said that she was “devastated” after reality star Rob Kardashian posted sexually explicit images of the model on Instagram and Twitter. On Monday she was granted a temporary restraining order against Kardashian. Los Angeles Times


An urgent problem: As the beaches recede and sea levels rise, there’s a question of whether or not California is doing enough to combat a rising ocean. CalMatters


A new “Spiderman”: Casting director Sarah Finn credits Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” for paving the way and allowing for a more diverse cast in the latest version of “Spiderman.” The film opened to rave reviews. Los Angeles Times

Plus: For ousted Sony movies chief Amy Pascal, “Spiderman” marks a glorious coming-out party for her new life as a producer. Pascal says she’s survived the embarrassment of the Sony hacking scandal and is happier than ever. New York Times

What to do with all that money? Priscilla Chan and her husband — Mark Zuckerberg are using Facebook’s billions to try to end disease and change education. ReCode

#TBT: Check out the motels, gas stations and drive-ins of 1970s Los Angeles, as photographed by the king of roadside Americana. LAist

This is pretty cool: Try sleeping in a comfy bed from L.A. to San Francisco on this new cabin bus. Los Angeles Times

New detective: Fictional L.A. detective Harry Bosch might have finally met his match. New York Times

Wine and weed: With the legalization of marijuana just around the corner, residents of Northern California wine country are preparing for a wine and weed combination to drive more tourism and the economy writ larger. NPR


Sacramento and Los Angeles area: sunny Tuesday and Wednesday. San Diego: partly cloudy Tuesday and Wednesday. San Francisco area: sunny Tuesday, partly cloudy Wednesday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Enid Sperber:

“I was brought up in Whitley Heights opposite the Hollywood Bowl and have lived in Hollywood all my life. My mother was an actress on the radio. As a girl in the early fifties, I was taken to broadcasts of one of her shows, ‘Meet Corliss Archer.’ It was aired from CBS on the corner of Gower and Sunset in Hollywood. The stage door on Gower was a madhouse packed with fans waiting for autographs. I was put in a booth above the stage so I could see everything in the studio. I could watch the soundman when he used his door or when he walked in the box of gravel. The ingénue playing Corliss was a gorgeous young starlet. Boy, did those sailors cheer, hoot and holler when she came out. They got more raucous when she turned her back to them and shook her crinolines before sitting in her seat.”

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 them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.