Reprieve from storms expected, but keep the hatches battened down

A Caltrans truck prepares to open southbound lanes on Coast Highway.
A Caltrans truck prepares to open the southbound lanes on Coast Highway after lanes were closed Tuesday morning in both directions due to flooding near Goldenwest Street and Coast Highway in Huntington Beach.
(Don Leach / Daily Pilot)

Good morning and happy New Year! It’s Wednesday, Jan. 11. We are Carol Cormaci and Vince Nguyen bringing you today’s TimesOC newsletter following a brief holiday break. Together we’ve aggregated the latest local news and events for you.

It has been a wet start to 2023, and although Orange County as a whole has not been as harshly affected by the bomb cyclone and atmospheric rivers that have devastated communities elsewhere in the state, it is one of the 31 counties statewide included in the disaster declaration that was issued Monday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

That action, among other ramifications, means California storm victims, including those in Orange County, will have until May 15 of this year to file various federal individual and business tax returns and make tax payments, the Internal Revenue Service announced Tuesday.

In coastal O.C., according to the latest reporting by our Daily Pilot colleague Eric Licas, the storms we’ve seen over the past few days should run their course by today, allowing for a window of clear skies and warmer temperatures in the second half of the workweek before the chance of showers return Saturday.

Powerful waves driven by the series of storms drew the interest of some intrepid surfers, but also ripped a support pylon off of Seal Beach Pier. Rising waters resulted in the closure of Pacific Coast Highway between Warner Avenue and Seapoint Street in Huntington Beach Tuesday morning, according to Caltrans. Northbound lanes were later reopened, but southbound traffic was still shut down as of 4 p.m.

Most of Orange County had received between 1 and 2 inches of rain as of 2 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. Monitoring equipment logged 0.86 inches of precipitation in Costa Mesa, 1.6 inches in Garden Grove and 2.28 inches at Carbon Canyon Dam. And more than 4 inches came down in portions of the Santa Ana Mountains, Licas reports.

But heavier showers were forecast Tuesday night, following the deadline of this newsletter, and winds were expected to gust at speeds of around 35 miles per hour near the coast. The overnight lows tonight are expected to be in the mid-40s.

Minor delays were reported along Silverado Canyon Road due to mud and rocks swept onto roadways by rain and large pools of water accumulating in low-lying areas, according to Orange County Public Works.

At the beginning of the week, Gov. Gavin Newsom made a federal emergency declaration and urged Californians to “be hyper-vigilant” as the storms continue to arrive. Although Orange County has thus far escaped catastrophic damages, as of Tuesday afternoon, 17 people statewide had died as a result of the storms.

If you know a motorist all too comfortable with our usual drought conditions who could use some safety tips on how to drive in the rain, our colleagues at the L.A. Times’ Utility Journalism Team offer up some wisdom here.


Rep. Katie Porter mixes with supporters at her election night party at the Hilton Orange County in Costa Mesa.
Rep. Katie Porter mixes with supporters at her election night party at the Hilton Orange County in Costa Mesa in November. This week, Porter announced she will make a run for the U.S. Senate.
(Terry Castleman / Los Angeles Times)

— Rep. Katie Porter, who was recently reelected to serve a third term in Congress, announced Tuesday that she is running for the U.S. Senate. The 49-year-old Porter, a resident of Irvine, is seeking the seat widely expected to be vacated by 89-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the L.A. Times reports. “The threat from so-called leaders like Mitch McConnell has too often made the United States Senate the place where rights get revoked, special interests get rewarded, and our democracy gets rigged,” Porter said in a video announcing her run.

— The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals late last week dismissed the appeal of a Huntington Beach woman who sued the city after she was removed from a volunteer board position. According to the story by our Daily Pilot colleague Matt Szabo, the appellate court’s decision ruled against Shayna Lathus, who had sued the city in April 2021. In her suit, she claimed her 1st Amendment free speech rights had been violated in 2019 when then-Councilwoman Kim Carr removed Lathus from the Citizens Participation Advisory Board following her attendance at a rally in support of immigrant rights. Photos taken during that rally showed Lathus standing next to people who were wearing black and were believed to be Antifa activists. Carr, who had originally appointed Lathus to the board and had the prerogative to remove her, said Lathus’ presence at the rally was not in keeping with Carr’s values.

— The Newport-Mesa Unified School District has hired Keith Carmona to be the new director of teaching and learning for secondary education. Carmona, who will join the district on Jan. 17, will have such responsibilities as building a framework for secondary education programs and coordinating curriculum, assessment and other programs on a districtwide level. He will replace Mike Sciacca, who was promoted to a new role last October.

Caltech’s Space Solar Power Demonstrator will test the feasibility of transmitting solar to Earth as electricity and was made possible by $100M in funding from Irvine Co. Chairman Donald Bren, writes our colleague Sara Cardine. Caltech researchers say the goal of the experiment is not to directly transmit electricity from space but to determine the best methods, instruments and materials for creating cost efficient technologies for future use. Circling the Earth from a Vigoride spacecraft created by California-based Momentus to carry payloads in orbit, the instrument is expected to begin returning data to the researchers in the next couple of weeks.

— One of the recent storms stopped work on the San Clemente slope stabilization project, and it is unclear whether the delay will extend the suspension of passenger rail service on the only rail connection between Orange and San Diego counties. The Metrolink and Amtrak services have been suspended since Sept. 30 because of recurring landslides near the Cyprus Shore community. Before September 2022, the slope has pushed the tracks more than 28 inches toward the ocean in a little more than one year.


A map showing the location of five former sober living homes whose operators sued the city for discrimination in 2018.
A map showing the location of five former sober living homes whose operators sued the city for discrimination in 2018.
(Daily Pilot Staff)

— After years of legal wins in an ongoing battle with sober-living facility operators, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has dealt a blow to Costa Mesa, reversing and remanding a 2020 ruling in the city’s favor. SoCal Recovery and RAW Recover had been offering drug and alcohol addiction services prior to a city ordinance passed in 2014 and 2015 requiring the companies to meet a distance mandate. The two businesses, as well as other facilities, filed lawsuits in 2018 claiming the city discriminated against recovering addicts they served who, by definition of the law, were disabled persons. The high court decided the judge who ruled in favor of the city erred that the companies required proof of the clients’ disabilities.

— Laguna Beach’s police officers will see a 19% increase in pay and benefits per the terms of an agreement reached between the city and the union representing the department’s employees. The deal is expected to increase the city’s budget by $400,000 in the fiscal year that runs from last July through June 2023, $1.1 million the fiscal year ending in 2024 and $1.7 million in 2025.

— A 23-year-old Santa Ana man, Joseph Andrew Ruelas, pleaded guilty Monday to voluntary manslaughter and was immediately sentenced to seven years in prison for fatally shooting Michael Tovar, 39, in the city of Orange in late November 2021, according to a City News Service report. Ruelas, who would have faced 50 years to life in prison if convicted at trial, was given credit for 469 days in jail.

— Also in a courtroom Monday, Nicole Elizabeth Johnson, 28, pleaded guilty to stealing a car with two children in it on Nov. 2 in Santa Ana. A mother had left her 2018 Lexus RX 350 idling in a driveway with a 2-year-old and 1-year-old in the backseat as she dashed in to a friend’s home to drop something off, police said. When she came out, the car was leaving, police said. Johnson, who was quickly arrested three blocks away from the scene, was sentenced this week to three years in prison.

— Marco Antonio Decastilla, 26, of Westminster, was charged Tuesday with a misdemeanor for allegedly fatally striking a 3-year-old pedestrian while driving without a license, according to a CNS report. Decastilla is accused of failing to yield to a pedestrian after he struck Briauna Arias of Westminster at about 6:30 p.m. Friday, authorities said. Police attempted to revive the toddler before she was rushed to Children’s Hospital of Orange County, where she died.


Laguna Beach residents Steve and Embry Munsey stand in the space that will be Jedidiah Coffee in North Laguna.
Laguna Beach residents Steve and Embry Munsey stand in the space that will be Jedidiah Coffee, a craft coffee and cafe in North Laguna.
(Don Leach / Daily Pilot)

Laguna Beach coffee roasters Steve and Embry Munsey have taken a step closer to opening up a sidewalk café. For the last three years, the couple has been preparing and selling beans for high-end craft java lovers from a studio called Jedidah Coffee. The Laguna Beach Planning Commission recently approved plans to allow the Munseys to open up a pedestrian-friendly coffee shop on Coast Highway, and now the final decision goes to the City Council. The couple hopes the shop can be up and running by the summer, offering a range of drinks and pastries to all.

— Orange County companies showed up and showed off their latest products at CES 2023 in Las Vegas over the weekend. Fountain Valley-based gaming and esports product company HyperX, Anaheim’s Targus and EZQuest of Yorba Linda were among 100,000 vendors at the event, which they say is integral to their business.

Disneyland’s Half Marathon weekend returns January 2024 as part of its runDisney race schedule. It will be the first runDisney race at the Magic Kingdom since 2017, and will be made up of a 5k, 10k and half marathon. Details on the race course have yet to be announced. Registration opens Feb. 14.


Sisters Lauren, Jordan and Brooke Schneider are players for the Laguna Beach High girls' water polo team.
From left, sisters Jordan, Lauren and Brooke Schneider are players for the Laguna Beach High girls’ water polo team.
(Don Leach / Daily Pilot)

— The Schneider sisters are taking over the pool. Twin sisters Lauren and Jordan Schneider are each key players for the Laguna Beach High girls’ water polo team. Lauren, bound for USC, is a four-year varsity starter at goalie. Jordan, bound for Michigan, is an emerging senior attacker, while youngest sister and freshman Brooke is also on the team.

— The national ultimate frisbee tournament will make its West Coast debut in Huntington Beach this spring. The USA Ultimate Beach Championships will be held on May 13 and 14 after being hosted in Virginia Beach since its inception in 2015. Surf City will also host the 2023 World Flying Disc Federation World Beach Ultimate Championships beginning late October. Teams interested in the ultimate frisbee competition must submit an online application by Feb. 10.

— The Angels last week announced there would be a new face in their broadcast booth this year. Wayne Randazzo, who hails from Chicago, has been added to the Anaheim team’s list of play-by-play announcers for the season.

— The Anaheim Ducks looks to rebound against the Edmonton Oilers at Honda Center tonight at 7 p.m. The Ducks are coming off of a 7-1 drubbing against the league-best Boston Bruins. David Pastranak had three goals and an assist for the Bruins (32-4-4, first in the Atlantic Division), while Trevor Zegras scored his 12th goal of the season for the Ducks (12-25-4 overall, last in the Pacific Division) to prevent the shutout. The Oilers (21-18-3, fifth in the Pacific Division) come to Anaheim after a 6-3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.


OCMA's undulating forms are seen illuminated from within at dusk on a cloudy day
OCMA on Thursday at 6 p.m. will screen the film “Tell Them We Were Here.” Following the screening, filmmakers Griff and Keelan Williams will participate in a Q&A session.
(Mike Kelley)

— The Orange County Museum of Art on Thursday at 6 p.m. will screen the film “Tell Them We Were Here,” a documentary that follows the work of Bay Area artists Sadie Barnette, Amy Franceschini (Futurefarmers), Jim Goldberg, Tucker Nichols, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Alicia McCarthy, Nigel Poor (Ear Hustle) and Michael Swaine. Following the screening, filmmakers Griff and Keelan Williams will participate in a Q&A session. Free tickets are required; you can reserve them here. OCMA is located at 3333 Avenue of the Arts, Costa Mesa. In other OCMA news, according to this column written by The Times’ Carolina A. Miranda, there are still a lot of “finishing touches” (spokesperson’s words) needed on the new structure, so much so that it will be closed from Jan. 23 to Feb. 13.

The chamber orchestra Kontrapunktus is a group of musicians keeping baroque music alive and thriving. Formed in 2015, the nine-piece classical ensemble return to Orange County to perform “Bach & Handel: Soli Deo gloria.” Their next performance will be this Saturday at Laguna Presbyterian Church in Laguna Beach. Details about the orchestra and its shows can be found at

— Also this Saturday, Linda Sadeghi, one of the developers behind the LAB Anti-Mall and the Packing House, will share her experiences repurposing historic structures in Orange County during a talk hosted by the Costa Mesa Historical Society. The event begins at 2 p.m. at the Donald Dungan Library, 1855 Park Ave., Costa Mesa.

— Later this month, No Square Theatre in Laguna Beach is staging “Waiting in the Wings: the Musical,” by Jeffrey A. Johns, who also stars in the show, at Legion Hall, 384 Legion St., Laguna Beach. The run dates are Jan. 20, 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased here.

City of Westminster hosts its Tet Parade on Sunday, Jan. 22. The opening ceremony takes place at 9:30 a.m., with the parade getting underway at 10 a.m. along Bolsa Avenue, beginning at Magnolia Street and traveling eastbound to Bushard Street. Entries will include floats, marching bands, lion dances, martial arts, color guards, veterans and more. According to officials, the free event celebrates not only the Lunar New Year, but the county’s Vietnamese American community that’s centered in Little Saigon.


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