Newsletter: Essential California: Wildfire breaks out in Ventura County

A family packs up and evacuates as a brushfire gets closer to their home in Ventura.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, Dec. 5, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Wildfire in Ventura County

A fast-moving, wind-driven brush fire broke out Monday night in the foothills near Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula and swept into the city of Ventura early Tuesday, burning homes and forcing thousands to evacuate. The extent of the losses was unclear, but fire officials said there was little they could do stop the flames being pushed by gusts of 50 mph. One person was reported killed in a traffic accident on a road closed because of the fire. Los Angeles Times


The risk: Before the blaze broke out, authorities were already anticipating high fire risk with a red flag warning in effect through Thursday for Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Where do the Santa Ana winds come from? Los Angeles Times

Climate change’s effects

California could be hit with significantly more dangerous and more frequent droughts in the near future as changes in weather patterns triggered by global warming block rainfall from reaching the state, according to new research led by scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Using complex new modeling, the scientists have found that rapidly melting Arctic sea ice now threatens to diminish precipitation over California by as much as 15% within 20 to 30 years. Los Angeles Times

An accusation in Sacramento

Sacramento lobbyist Pamela Lopez has claimed that, in 2016, Democratic Assemblyman Matt Dababneh followed her into a bathroom, masturbated in front of her and urged her to touch him. Dababneh has strongly denied the allegation. “It was Matt Dababneh,” Lopez told The Times in a November interview. Lopez jolted the California political world seven weeks ago when she first shared her account of an encounter in Las Vegas, joining more than 140 women as they denounced in an open letter a “pervasive” culture of sexual harassment and misconduct in the state Capitol. Lopez had not publicly accused Dababneh until Monday, when she formally filed a complaint with the Assembly and named him at a news conference. Dababneh told The Times that he “one hundred percent” denies Lopez’s allegation. “I am utterly shocked and blown away,” Dababneh said. “This is a career-ending charge based on no facts.” Los Angeles Times



Another election! Residents of Echo Park, Silver Lake, Chinatown, Lincoln Heights and City Terrace will have a new Assemblymember after Tuesday’s special election: Wendy Carrillo or Luis López. Los Angeles Times

Checking in on Porter Ranch: Two years after the largest natural gas leak in U.S. history, people living near the Aliso Canyon facility say they’re suffering from a variety of illnesses. Buzzfeed

Changes at the LA Weekly: Since the paper laid off most of its journalists last week and its new owners revealed their identities Friday, backlash has been swift and fierce. Los Angeles Times

Back in town: Ballerina Misty Copeland, a native of San Pedro, talks about what it was like dancing her first “Nutcracker.” Los Angeles Times


What’s in the water? An increasing number of U.S. Border Patrol agents at the Imperial Beach station have reported a host of health problems since February, when an estimated 143 million gallons of Mexican sewage spilled into the Tijuana River Valley they patrol. Los Angeles Times


Get the pitchforks: The major parties just aren’t cutting it for California voters. Los Angeles Times

Feinstein in the LAT: “Tax reform shouldn’t add one penny to our deficit or to the tax bills of middle-class Americans. I thought that belief was shared by everyone in the Senate. It appears I was wrong,” writes Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Los Angeles Times

Plus: With another round of votes looming on the Republicans’ tax overhaul bill, Democratic activists are planning a series of protests and rallies across the state to pressure GOP members to oppose it. Los Angeles Times

He said what? Gov. Jerry Brown said Monday morning that GOP leaders in Congress who were advancing a major federal tax overhaul were “wielding their power like a bunch of Mafia thugs.” Los Angeles Times

Must be nice: There’s a $43-million public high school on the campus of software company Oracle. New York Times


See you in court: For more than a year, Uber Technologies Inc. concealed a massive hack that exposed the personal data of millions of drivers and riders, violating a California law that requires companies to promptly report such breaches, according to a lawsuit filed Monday by Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer. Los Angeles Times

She turned in her son: Before dawn, a woman with her 18-year-old son in her car flagged down a sergeant at Riverside’s Magnolia Avenue police station with a startling request. She said she wanted to turn in her son, who had earlier called her to say he had molested two boys, 8 and 4, in a motel room. Los Angeles Times

An appeal and outrage: “Brock Turner, the former Stanford student whose three-month jail stint for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman drew national condemnation, has filed an appeal that has reinflamed anger among activists and advocates of women who have endured sexual violence.” San Francisco Chronicle


Sans Spacey: “House of Cards” will resume production in 2018 without Kevin Spacey, said Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer of Netflix. The sixth and final season of the popular series will feature a lead role for Robin Wright, who plays the wife of Spacey’s character. Production on the sixth season of “House of Cards” came to a halt Oct. 31 after sexual misconduct allegations against Spacey, who starred in the series for five seasons as politician Frank Underwood and also served as an executive producer. Spacey was officially suspended from the show early last month. Los Angeles Times

Drama: The father of UCLA freshman shooting guard LiAngelo Ball said Monday that he intended to withdraw his son from school over concerns related to the indefinite suspension he was issued last month for his acknowledged role in a shoplifting incident. Los Angeles Times

Plus: “In what many employees at Staples Center view as the ‘LaVar Ball rule,’ this season the Los Angeles Lakers are enforcing “an existing policy” that no longer allows members of the media to congregate in a section of the arena among family and associates of players after games.” ESPN

History lesson here: The Hollywood screen legend Hedy Lamarr also had a career as a wartime inventor. The New Yorker


Los Angeles area: Sunny, 74, Tuesday. Sunny, 77, Wednesday. San Diego: Partly cloudy, 72, Tuesday. Sunny, 75, Wednesday. San Francisco area: Sunny, 62, Tuesday. Sunny, 61, Wednesday. Sacramento: Sunny, 61, Tuesday. Sunny, 59, Wednesday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Nina Mintzer:

“We moved to California two days after our wedding in 1966. While playing miniature golf in Hollywood, we were approached by a scout who asked us if we wanted to be on ‘The Newlywed Game.’ We won first prize and had a console TV delivered weeks later. We explained to the deliverymen that we had won it as they looked around our empty apartment. My grandmother’s comment was that she knew when I moved to Hollywood that I would be on TV and become famous. I am not; but we have lived our life here, and we know that Brooklyn is a good place to be from, but California is home.”

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.