Newsletter: Essential California: The ‘gravely disabled’ debate

Geoffrey Goosby of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority offers help to a man lying on a mattress on a sidewalk in South Los Angeles.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times )

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, April 18, and here’s what’s happening across California:


With homelessness surging throughout California, some argue that authorities need wider latitude in deciding when someone should be removed from the streets for their own protection. Legislators in Sacramento will consider this question in the coming months as they debate Assembly Bill 1971. Right now there are scenarios in which people with a life-threatening medical condition could not be helped under the law because they are not considered “gravely disabled.” Los Angeles Times

A super scary fault you might be aware of


The San Andreas has long been the quake fault California fears the most. But new research shows that the much less well-known Hayward fault running under the heart of the East Bay actually is more dangerous, in terms of the deaths and damage a big quake could produce. Los Angeles Times

And: “San Francisco lives with the certainty that the Big One will come. But the city is also putting up taller and taller buildings clustered closer and closer together because of the state’s severe housing shortage.” New York Times

History lesson: Photos from the great San Francisco earthquake, which occurred on April 18, 1906. Los Angeles Times

Perspective: Seismologist Lucy Jones says the real definition of the Big One is in what happens after a quake. Los Angeles Times

Big court decision

With Justice Neil M. Gorsuch casting the deciding vote, the Supreme Court on Tuesday spared a California immigrant from deportation because his conviction for home burglary was not clearly the kind of “crime of violence” that would allow such a step. The decision narrows one provision of a broad federal immigration law that calls for mandatory deportation for noncitizens — including long-time lawful residents — who are convicted of an “aggravated felony.” Los Angeles Times


Get the Essential California newsletter »


Mean streets: A bicyclist in his 60s was killed after being hit by two cars just after midnight Monday morning while traveling in a marked crosswalk at Century and Avalon boulevards — the third fatal hit-and-run and the fourth fatal traffic collision in South Los Angeles in the last week. Los Angeles Times

Murder investigation: At least three bodies were discovered in a parked vehicle in the city of Burbank on Tuesday, police said. Los Angeles Times

A news crisis: The Southern California News Group, which includes the Orange County Register and Los Angeles Daily News, is pushing back against its owner, Digital First Media, calling for public support in the face of steep cuts that have hollowed out its newsrooms. Los Angeles Times

Plus: The drama in Los Angeles media has continued at the city’s storied alternative weekly L.A. Weekly. Here’s what’s been going on. Columbia Journalism Review


Another city: After more than five hours of public comments, Los Alamitos City Council members gave final approval to an ordinance to exempt the city from the state’s “sanctuary” laws designed to protect immigrants in the country illegally. Los Angeles Times

A major change: “To cut back on immigration, Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions wants to remove domestic abuse as a legal justification for seeking asylum.” Politico Magazine

Prison problems: Notorious Mexican drug lord and escape artist Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is having psychological problems that could hinder his ability to fight U.S. drug trafficking charges, his lawyer and wife said Tuesday. Associated Press

Keeping tabs: Los Angeles lawmakers passed an ordinance Tuesday requiring companies that are seeking to do business with the city or have city contracts to reveal whether they are helping to build a wall along the Mexican border. Los Angeles Times


Housing near transit stops: A robust effort to attack California’s housing shortage was rejected Tuesday by a state legislative panel at the Capitol, felled in part by opponents who argued that it treated small cities and large ones such as San Francisco the same way. The defeat for Senate Bill 827 came in its first legislative hearing, a surprisingly early end for a bill that had attracted national attention. Los Angeles Times

Wowzer: Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed state budget is built on what taxpayers might find an audacious assumption: almost $14 billion in tax payments in the month of April, an average of $83 million collected per hour on every business day of the month. Los Angeles Times

Train problems: California risks losing $1.4 billion in federal train funds. Safety is the issue. Sacramento Bee

Big picture: Unlike New York’s unions, California’s are backing an insurgent candidate. New York Magazine


Speaking up: Survivors of violent crime raise their voices in California to call for a new approach to criminal justice. Los Angeles Times

In Barstow: “California police fired what sounded like more than 30 bullets at a packed car in a shopping store parking lot, killing a black father of three and injuring a young woman in the latest U.S. law enforcement shooting to spark backlash.” The Guardian

More on the Harts: A body found earlier this month off the Mendocino County coast has been identified as that of Ciera Hart, one of three missing children whose mother steered their GMC Yukon into the ocean several weeks ago. Los Angeles Times


Don’t @ David: “I’m declaring a moratorium on ‘Cali,’ and I’d like to retire every other nickname too,” writes David Ulin. “Let’s call ourselves California and be done with it.” Los Angeles Times

Smoke’s up! “The plan to save California’s legendary weed from ‘Big Cannabis.’ Wired

Big gift: Frank Gehry donates $1 million to Los Angeles River-area schools for arts education. The Architect’s Newspaper

Iced out: The Las Vegas Golden Knights, a team in its first year in the National Hockey League, swept the Los Angeles Kings in their first-round playoff series. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles area: sunny, 73, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 66, Thursday. San Diego: sunny, 67, Wednesday; showers, 63, Thursday. San Francisco area: partly cloudy, 58, Wednesday; cloudy, 61, Thursday. Sacramento: partly cloudy, 65, Wednesday; sunny, 72, Thursday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Nick Barkley:

“One of my favorite California memories is of the original Nut Tree complex in Northern California. A city into itself, it had a train, an airport, a candy factory, a bakery, a toy store, and it was the birthplace of California cuisine decades before anyone ever thought to call it that. With over 1.5 million visitors a year, the U.S. Postal Service gave it its own postmark, Nut Tree, California 95696. Most everyone stopped there, from everyday people to U.S. presidents, Hollywood celebrities and even Queen Elizabeth herself enjoyed its world-famous food. It has been replaced by an oh-so-ordinary shopping center now, but the original was quite a place.”

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.