Newsletter: Essential California: The crimes that struck fear in L.A.-area homeless

LAPD Capt. Billy Hayes discusses the details in the arrest of Ramon Escobar, suspected of killing three people and seriously injuring four others during a news conference at LAPD headquarters.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Sept. 26, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Ramon Escobar got into his Honda CRV and drove west on Interstate 10 from Houston to the Pacific Ocean. Three days later, Santa Monica police found a homeless man battered and bruised on the beach. Someone had pummeled the man across the head as he slept. In the next 16 days, police allege, Escobar approached six other men the same way — sneaking up as they dozed in secluded areas as he clutched a wooden baseball bat or a pair of bolt cutters. Police believe Escobar cut a bloody swath across Los Angeles and Santa Monica this month, beating three men to death and seriously injuring four others in a series of vicious attacks that deeply disturbed the city’s already at-risk homeless population. Los Angeles Times

— Sherman Oaks fights a homeless housing plan. LAist


— Why it’s proven so difficult to open homeless housing in Orange County, even when the community supports it. Los Angeles Times

Cosby in cuffs

Bill Cosby’s fall from one of America’s most beloved entertainers to disgraced sex offender came full circle when he was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. The 81-year-old entertainer will serve no less than three years and must register as a sex offender. “The day has come. The time has come,” the judge said. Los Angeles Times

Nick Jones, a former writer for Netflix’s “GLOW,” says he is “ashamed” of domestic-violence allegations that resulted in his leaving the Emmy-nominated series. Los Angeles Times


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Most Santa Ana events are caused by high pressure in the Great Basin and lower pressure off the coast.
(Los Angeles Times)


Dry heat: Southern California is entering its most destructive fire season, as hot winds from the east move in. Santa Ana winds pose a fire danger every year. But 2018 has been particularly brutal, because record high temperatures and a lack of rain have left brush ready to burn. Downtown Los Angeles received about 4.7 inches of rain from October 2017 through Sept. 24, 2018, the third-driest such span in 141 years. And in the seven Southern California counties, this year was the hottest summer in 124 years of records. Los Angeles Times


LeBron update: Why the King doesn’t seem that excited about his new L.A. throne. Los Angeles Times

Fair enough: The Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona ended a 19-day run that drew 1.13 million visitors, a 5% increase from the previous year. Why? It may be about money. Los Angeles Times

An offer you can’t refuse? The house made famous by “The Godfather” and a certain horse head is on the market. Not cheap. Wall Street Journal



Suspended: A fight at a football game in the Bay Area is sparking outrage and causing repercussions for a coach. East Bay Times

On the mend: A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who was shot during a scuffle with a suspect in East Los Angeles underwent surgery Tuesday and was expected to recover. Los Angeles Times

Bird watch: The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday moved to limit the keeping of roosters in unincorporated areas, citing public complaints about noise, sanitation and illegal cockfighting. Los Angeles Times



Look ahead: University of California regents plan to tackle faculty diversity, upcoming budget and enrollment targets and repatriation policies regarding Native American remains at their meetings beginning Wednesday at UCLA. Los Angeles Times

Pesticide battle: President Obama banned it, President Trump un-banned it, and a California court re-banned it. Still, the ping-pong match over chlorpyrifos continues. The Trump administration appealed a U.S. 9th Circuit Court decision in August to ban the nerve-agent pesticide that has been linked to prenatal brain harm. Los Angeles Times

Fair housing? A new retirement community in Davis is looking for residents who already live in the mostly white upscale community. Some say that is racial discrimination. Sacramento Bee

Moving on up: How the location of “downtown San Francisco” is changing amid a development boom. SFGate


Big if true: A guide to how to cut your wait time when you go to the DMV. Mercury News

Watch: This video shows how down and dirty the work of fixing the Oroville Dam can be. Sacramento Bee


This is CBS: Even in the age when viewers get instant information on a digital device, the storied CBS News still proudly associates itself with the tradition of journalistic TV giants Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. But the operation has been roiled by #MeToo, which has brought down some major stars. What is next? Los Angeles Times


Plus: Julie Chen-Moonves and the 2018 meaning of standing by your man. The New Yorker

Not good: San Francisco officials shut down the city’s celebrated new $2.2-billion Salesforce Transit Center after discovering a crack in a support beam under the center’s public roof garden. San Francisco Chronicle

Spooky: Behind the scenes of Knott’s Scary Farm, there is an army of wardrobe artists who produce the 1,000 costumes used for the Halloween extravaganza. Orange County Register

Standing room: Where have all the seats at Disneyland gone? Orange County Register


Ouch: San Francisco’s restaurant surcharge is still causing sticker shock. San Francisco Chronicle

RIP: This photographer had an eye for the California missed by social media. New York Times


Los Angeles area: partly cloudy, 82, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 88, Thursday. San Diego: partly cloudy, 76, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 81, Thursday. San Francisco area: partly cloudy, 71, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 67, Thursday. San Jose: mostly sunny, 87, Wednesday; mostly sunny, 85, Thursday. Sacramento: mostly sunny, 96, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 97, Thursday. More weather is here.



Today’s California memory comes from Thomas D. Penberthy:

“It was 1957. Elvis was the King king of rock ’n’ roll. I was 9 years old but very ‘hip’ and in the know about music, TV and motion picture stars. My parents and I were vacationing from New York. We reached Hollywood. I was in awe of the Capitol Records building. Later I ran to the intersection of Hollywood and Vine, knowing I would see a ‘star.’ My parents, lagging behind, thought I was foolish. I arrived at the corner, and there was Jack Benny, waiting to cross the street. We walked across the street together. I then saw Ida Lupino and Howard Duff!”

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.