Newsletter: Essential California: Can smaller quakes warn us of the Big One?

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


Earthquake forecasting: Can smaller ones warn us of the Big One?

Will there one day be an app on our smartphones that alerts you when the chance of a major earthquake in California rises? Some scientists think so. Forecasting exactly when and where a catastrophic earthquake will strike next is impossible, but what scientists can do is pay close attention when moderate quakes strike in perilously sensitive spots — places right next to major sleeping faults like the San Andreas. Such small earthquakes raise the risk the San Andreas could suddenly awaken after more than 150 years of slumber, and unleash a magnitude 7 or greater earthquake. Los Angeles Times


The resistance

During World War II, the federal government ordered all people of Japanese ancestry to leave the West Coast and imprisoned 120,000 of them in desolate inland camps. When that order was lifted, not everyone in California wanted them to return. But in Monterey, more than 440 people — including novelist John Steinbeck, photographer Edward Weston and poet Robinson Jeffers — signed a petition to welcome Japanese Americans home. It remains a source of great pride for local residents that the area’s ethnic diversity, closely knit fabric and progressive nucleus of artists, writers and educators made it stand firm in an ugly time. Los Angeles Times

This is why California’s housing crisis is so bad

Out of curiosity, columnist Steve Lopez looked up the value of a two-story tract house he bought in a middle-class San Jose neighborhood back in 1983 for about $130,000. The home would now haul in an estimated $1 million or more, based on recent sales in the same neighborhood. This one statistic helps explain why the housing crunch is causing so much pain. What can we do to make things better? Or is it too late? Los Angeles Times


One wild trip

Saturn is famous for its rings, but more than 60 moons orbit the planet as well. The lunar lineup includes some of the most intriguing worlds in the solar system, including two that are promising candidates in the search for life beyond Earth. Thanks to NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, we know more about Saturn’s moons than ever before. This week, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge is preparing to say goodbye to Cassini. Los Angeles Times


Moving on out … and out … and out: The rate of first-time home buyers remains historically low, 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. But those roots are often far away from the central city and the coast, where the jobs are. Los Angeles Times

Fighting words: This Los Angeles assemblywoman is trying to reduce the cost of tampons, and her supporters say she is onto something much bigger that’s missing from California politics. LA Weekly

Vision for design: “There’s the swooping roofline of the Union 76 gas station in Beverly Hills, among postwar L.A.’s singular landmarks. The peaked silhouette of the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco. The glowing cube at the heart of CBS Television City. Those forms were memorable in part because they matched the spirit of the age in California. They were a visual shorthand for the future.” Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne pays tribute to the design genius of Los Angeles architect Gin Wong. Los Angeles Times

Remembering 9/11: A number of events in the L.A. area will mark the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. L.A. Daily News



Warring sides: Political parties and open primaries are the electoral equivalent of oil and water. They may coexist, but they don’t mix. So it’s hardly surprising that neither California’s dominant Democrats nor its fading Republicans have ever really embraced Proposition 14, the sweeping ballot measure that abolished partisan primaries six years ago. Los Angeles Times

Battle over building: For decades, California has been the terrain of NIMBYs. Can pro-development forces make a difference in a state that tends not to like growth? Orange County Register

Where’s the spotlight? Transparency is in short supply in state government these days, as the Public Records Act is under siege, writes Dan Walters. Sacramento Bee


Policy echos: The familiar echo in California’s debate about becoming a “sanctuary state.” Los Angeles Times

Speaking out: Hundreds of activists rallied in MacArthur Park on Sunday to protest efforts by the Trump administration to phase out protections from deportation for roughly 800,000 young immigrants brought into the country illegally by their parents. Los Angeles Times


Officer-involved shooting: The Orange County Sheriff’s Department says “friendly fire” wounded two Huntington Beach police officers Thursday. Los Angeles Times


Famous felons: California’s prison system holds some of America’s most notorious murderers. Meet Charles Manson and many others who committed unspeakable crimes. Fresno Bee

Cracking down: The Anaheim City Council plans to meet Tuesday to consider declaring a local emergency about a growing homeless problem along the Santa Ana River, not far from Angel Stadium. Los Angeles Times

Kidnapping incident: Members of the Polish death metal band Decapitated were arrested by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies on suspicion of kidnapping a woman. Los Angeles Times


In the country: California’s homeless crisis is moving from cities into the country. Here’s the story from some of the state’s most sparsely populated counties. San Francisco Chronicle

It’s a thing: After a disastrous summer box office, Stephen King’s “It” definitely gave Hollywood a bit of good news Sunday. Los Angeles Times

Rise of the machines: As we move to a future where robots do much more work, these California researchers are teaching them how to learn. New York Times

Long, painful legacy: The San Diego Catholic Church priest abuse settlement was the nation’s second largest, trailing only the Los Angeles diocese’s $660 million. Absorbing these damages led the San Diego diocese to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The financial hit had been huge, but nothing compared to the blow to the church’s moral credibility. The scandal, Bishop Robert McElroy said, “was a grave wrong and sin on the part of the church.” San Diego Union-Tribune

Map of the past: Mapping some of Southern California’s most notable communes — from the hippies to the religious to the utopian. Curbed Los Angeles

Learning about themselves: In far Northern California, a camp at an Indian reservation is designed to help young people understand the spirituality of where they came from. New York Times

Flying fish: How all that high-priced sushi the tech titans eat in San Francisco gets there from Japan. San Francisco Chronicle


Los Angeles area: sunny and 87. San Diego: sunny and 80. San Francisco area: partly cloudy and 73. Sacramento: partly cloudy and 95. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California:

L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar (Sept. 10, 1968), ballet dancer Misty Copeland (Sept. 10, 1982), former Rep. Henry Waxman (Sept. 12, 1939) and L.A. City Councilman Bob Blumenfield (Sept. 13, 1967).

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.