Newsletter: Essential California: An earthquake coming to a neighborhood near you

Damage to the municipal palace of Juchitan after a 8.2 magnitude earthquake in Tapachula, Mexico.
(Pedro Rasgado / EPA)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Sept. 9. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:


A grave warning

The magnitude 8-plus earthquake that ravaged southern Mexico Thursday was the largest to shake the country in nearly a century. Like California, Mexico is a seismically active region that has seen smaller quakes that have caused death and destruction. But Thursday’s temblor is a reminder that even larger quakes — while rare — do occur. Scientists say it’s possible for Southern California to be hit by a magnitude 8.2 earthquake. Such a quake would be far more destructive to the Los Angeles area, because the San Andreas fault runs very close to and underneath densely populated areas. Los Angeles Times


Plus: This earthquake offered another example of how an early-warning system can provide crucial time for preparation. Mexico, Japan and other countries have early-warning systems. California is developing one, but the effort has been threatened by budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration. Los Angeles Times

A curious arrangement

The Lennox Virtual Academy is run by one of Los Angeles County’s smallest school districts. Every time a school — some of which are in other parts of the state — signs up for the program, students receive a free Chromebook. The Lennox School District, meanwhile, earns millions in additional state funding. That Lennox had created a virtual school isn’t remarkable, but the program operated in what legal experts have called a murky regulatory environment. It stood out both for enrolling students already attending school elsewhere and for its willingness, in partnering with Catholic schools, to test the limits of California’s particularly strict interpretation of the separation of church and state. Los Angeles Times

Live from Los Angeles


Top politicians in Los Angeles — a center of the Trump resistance — have made a point of not embracing the “sanctuary city” label. At first, City Hall leaders said it didn’t accurately describe the city’s policies. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who avoids using the term “sanctuary city” because he says it has no fixed definition, instead focused on creating a legal defense fund for immigrants and restricted city employees from assisting with federal immigration enforcement. But 10 months later, the Los Angeles City Council appears likely to adopt the sanctuary moniker. Council President Herb Wesson and Councilman Gil Cedillo introduced a resolution Friday to declare L.A. a “city of sanctuary,” calling it a direct response to President Trump’s announcement this week to unwind a program that protects immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Los Angeles Times

Plus: The Times’ California politics team is closely tracking the ramifications of the Trump administration’s immigration policies. Sign up for the free Essential Politics newsletter to be first to see an upcoming project on the vulnerable members of the state’s congressional delegation. Check it out here.

UC fights back

The University of California sued the Trump administration Friday for rescinding protections for immigrant students without legal status, saying it unconstitutionally violates their rights on “nothing more than unreasoned executive whim.” “It is imperative, however, that we stand up for these vital members of the UC community,” UC President Janet Napolitano said in statement. Los Angeles Times



Oops: A federal agency left taxpayers on the hook for $50 million in water project costs that should have been paid by Central Valley irrigation districts, according to an inspector general’s report released Friday. Los Angeles Times

New gig: Coming off a failed campaign for Senate, former Rep. Loretta Sanchez will be an executive producer of the political drama “Accidental Candidate” for NBC. Los Angeles Times

The equal-pay fight: California is poised to open a controversial front in the battle for equal pay. The state Legislature could ban employers from asking anyone about their prior salaries. Orange County Register


He did what? “The Broward County Republicans are in turmoil today after revelations that a freshly elected member of their executive board is a man who once was charged with attempted murder in the savage claw-hammer beating of a then-classmate at a Los Angeles prep school for multi-millionaires’ children.” Miami Herald

D.C. watch: Congressional Democrats are worried about Rep. Devin Nunes’ reported role in trying to undermine and deflect attention from the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation. Mother Jones

Where to munch this weekend: Here is the definitive guide to Los Angeles’ doughnut shops. Los Angeles Times



1. Where the border fence meets the sea, a strange beach scene contrasts the U.S. and Mexico. Los Angeles Times

2. Bruins fans witnessed their worst nightmare. And then, the greatest comeback in UCLA history. Los Angeles Times

3. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers’ new ride allows him to avoid relocating. San Diego Union-Tribune

4. A woman’s son and husband didn’t approve of her lover, so all three killed him, deputies say. Los Angeles Times


5. Cost of a sleeper bus ticket to San Francisco: $115. Not having to fly to LAX and deal with the airport: Priceless. Los Angeles Times


A deep look at Boyle Heights: The culture of musicians in Boyle Heights, long a big part of Los Angeles, is in danger of fading because of soaring rents. Since at least the 1930s, Boyle Heights has been a mecca for musicians who ply their trades at restaurants and party celebrations, making them a vital part of the Eastside neighborhood’s working-class ethos. It was not an easy job to begin with, with lots of worn shoe leather and the everlasting hope that love or nostalgia will turn into a customer paying for a song. But rents are rising throughout Los Angeles, even in neighborhoods that have historically been relatively inexpensive landing spots for blue-collar residents and immigrants — the musicians’ main customers. Los Angeles Times

Great story: Meet the incarcerated women who fight California’s wildfires. “By choice, for less than $2 an hour, the female inmate firefighters of California work their bodies to the breaking point. Sometimes they even risk their lives.” New York Times Magazine


Check out this amazing serialized true crime tale: “Hanging” from the Mercury News. There are six parts, and it’s worth reading until the end. The Mercury News

Deep look at the housing crisis: “California housing costs are spiraling so high that they are pushing the state’s homelessness crisis into places it’s never been before — sparsely populated rural counties. A Chronicle analysis of biennial homeless counts taken early this year across California shows that the sharpest increases occurred not in San Francisco and other urban centers but in out-of-the-way places such as the thickly forested Sierra Nevada and the dusty flatlands and low hills of the northern Sacramento Valley.” The San Francisco Chronicle

But wait a minute: The rate of first-time home buyers remains low historically, but eight years into the economic recovery, it is finally picking up, as young Americans grow more comfortable in their careers and reach an age when people tend to put down roots. Nationally, first-time home buyers purchased 35% of previously owned houses and condos sold in the 12 months that ended in June 2016 — the latest data available — up from a near-record low of 32% in the previous 12-month period. Los Angeles Times

The opioid crisis: Trinity County is the state’s fourth-smallest, and ended last year with an estimated population of 13,628 people. Its residents also filled prescriptions for oxycodone, hydrocodone and other opioids 18,439 times, the highest per capita rate in California.” Sacramento Bee


Looking Ahead

Sunday: East Los Angeles Mexican Independence Day Parade & Festival.

Monday: A memorial ceremony in Yorba Linda will be held for the victims of 9/11.

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.