Newsletter: Essential California: Extreme weather prompts warnings

Sandbags line part of the Montecito Inn, which was damaged by the Jan. 9 mudslide. A storm expected to hit Southern California this week is forecast to drop as much as a half an inch of rain per hour.
(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, March 2, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Santa Barbara County authorities ordered mandatory evacuations for residents in Montecito and other fire-scarred areas, saying an approaching storm could again trigger dangerous flash floods and mud and debris flows. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office issued the mandatory evacuation order, effective at noon Thursday, for individuals near the Thomas, Sherpa and Whittier fire burn areas. The order affects the coastal communities of Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria. The storm was expected to hit 2 a.m. Friday and last several hours. Los Angeles Times

Up north: A frigid storm moving in from the Gulf of Alaska will dump several feet of snow on Northern California mountains over the next few days, bringing whiteout conditions and dangerous wind chills. Los Angeles Times


South of the border

A civil fraud case against former executives of Homex, a Mexican construction company that was once the country’s largest builder of affordable housing, appears to have run aground because the Securities and Exchange Commission hasn’t been able to deliver a summons to the executives, according to court documents filed in San Diego federal court. The procedural roadblock is the latest twist in a scandal that has roiled Mexico for years — part of the fallout from a massive, government-backed housing program whose collapse was detailed in a Times series in November. Los Angeles Times

Oscars this weekend!

As a supply stop for Gold Rush miners headed into the Sierra Nevada and now the center of the state’s political universe, Sacramento is an essential character in California’s history. But with an Oscar-nominated “Lady Bird” championing the city, the community and its people aren’t accustomed to fanfare. Nor do they often seek it. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Why the Oscars have lost their mojo — and their relevance. Los Angeles Times

And: “Academy President John Bailey talks museum progress and why he won’t speak at the Oscars.” Hollywood Reporter


It’s a deal: Maria Contreras-Sweet’s investor group has reached a deal to purchase assets of Weinstein Co., the former Obama administration official said Thursday. Los Angeles Times

Looking back: It was just past noon on a sunny Tuesday, March 5, 1968, at Garfield High School — the day a Mexican American revolution began. Soon came walkouts at two more Eastside high schools, Roosevelt and Lincoln, in protest of run-down campuses, lack of college prep courses, and teachers who were poorly trained, indifferent or racist. Los Angeles Times

Plus: The East L.A. blowouts of 1968, mapped. Curbed LA

Moving out: In a move that was long anticipated, Snap said it put more than half of its Venice office space up for lease last week so that it can consolidate hundreds of employees inside a corporate office park next to Santa Monica Airport. Los Angeles Times

A solution? “Although today’s approach toward homelessness has made significant strides, we are still in need of new technology to disrupt the world of homelessness, similar to how the worlds of shopping, music, taxis and hotels were disrupted by Amazon, Apple, Uber and Airbnb,” writes Joel John Roberts. ReCode


Under review: The White House on Thursday said the Department of Justice was reviewing the actions of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who last weekend alerted residents ahead of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid in Northern California. Los Angeles Times

Another departure: Roberta Jacobson, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico and one of the State Department’s most experienced Latin America hands, said Thursday that she is quitting even as U.S. relations with Mexico appear to have nose-dived. Los Angeles Times

More targets: “Refugees from Vietnam who have been in the U.S. for decades are being detained and targeted for deportation, an immigrants rights group says.” Orange County Register


Allegations substantiated: Three months after Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment, an Assembly investigation has found the Pacoima Democrat likely engaged in “unwanted conduct” toward three subordinate employees while he worked as a legislative staffer. Los Angeles Times

Stepping back: The dramatic rise of the independent voter is one of the popular narratives of our tumultuous political times, not just in California but nationally. It’s also highly misleading. Los Angeles Times

The politics of affordable housing: “In California, the need for more affordable housing is provoking an intense ideological struggle, and in this left-leaning state, one that pits liberals against liberals.” NBC News


Scary story: A Joshua Tree couple were arrested Wednesday after their three children were found living in a makeshift plywood shelter for four years, authorities said. Los Angeles Times

Durst drama: The murder case of eccentric New York real estate scion Robert Durst set a new benchmark for bizarre long ago, but the legal saga has grown even more dramatic since arriving in Los Angeles, as courtroom clashes between the high-powered legal teams have taken on a rare level of acrimony. The two sides have traded accusations of misconduct, incompetence, bullying and, after one ugly hallway confrontation between two of the attorneys, even slander. Los Angeles Times

Big problems: One of Los Angeles’ smallest city departments is being roiled by allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation. Staffers at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument Authority have filed six sexual harassment complaints since December, records show. Los Angeles Times


Lessons learned? “As climate change creates warmer, drier conditions, which increase the risk of fire, California has a chance to rethink how it deals with the problem. Instead, after the state’s worst fire season on record, policymakers appear set to make the same decisions that put homeowners at risk in the first place.Bloomberg Businessweek


Warriors in Washington: The Golden State Warriors skipped the White House. Here’s who they did meet when visiting D.C. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Meet the 70-year-old Warrior assistant coach who is a renaissance man in professional basketball, and plays a subtle role in the activism of this unusually outspoken and unified team. New York Times

Sad: “The California State Library is working to salvage some of its rarest books damaged during Monday’s rain and hailstorm.San Francisco Chronicle

A new way to close: A bitcoin real estate transaction is the confluence of two extremely bubble-prone fields. Although the technology is still in the early stages and few people are actually buying goods with the currency, real estate presents a compelling use for bitcoin in the real world — even though spending it to buy a home can lead to a legion of unforeseen frustrations. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles area: Showers, 56, Friday and Saturday. San Diego: Partly cloudy, 63, Friday. Cloudy, 60, Saturday. San Francisco area: Showers, 52, Friday. Partly cloudy, 51, Saturday. Sacramento: Showers, 50, Friday and Saturday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Vernon Valantne:

“Growing up in Highland Park in the ’30s, we had many adventures not available to us today. In 1937-38, we were hit with high water flows over the whole L.A. basin. The Arroyo Seco flows along the eastern edge of Highland Park, and all the bridges across the stream were washed out from Pasadena to the L.A. River, except the Avenue 60 bridge. My Dad took us down to watch the raging water flow under the bridge. In going to Garvanza Elementary School, water was flowing about 6 inches deep over North Figueroa Street, and we had to wade across the flow where it ran into a lower area. There were only a few kids that made it into school that day. The U.S. built massive flood control works over the entire area, including huge drains (we could walk in them) discharging into the Arroyo Seco, which was then concrete-lined, as it is today.”

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.