Updating Friday . .   


Environmental rules stoke anger as California lets precious stormwater wash out to sea -- Environmental rules designed to protect imperiled fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta have ignited anger among a group of bipartisan lawmakers, who say too much of California’s stormwater is being washed out to sea instead of being pumped to reservoirs and aqueducts. Hayley Smith in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

Policy and Politics  

Barabak: The fight to replace Feinstein is going to be nasty, personal and very expensive -- A field of Senate candidates from the same party with similar views means the competition will likely turn personal and focus on things like character, temperament and demeanor. Mark Z. Barabak in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

Redondo Beach councilman accused of misappropriating $515,000 in law practice faces new State Bar charges -- The State Bar of California charged Councilmember Zein E. Obagi Jr. with seeking to mislead a judge and making misrepresentations to the Superior Court over the money meant for a former client. Rebecca Ellis in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

Karen Bass and Kevin McCarthy are old political pals. Does that mean anything anymore? -- It’s hard to imagine in these times of bitter partisan antagonism, but the top House Republican and the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles are friends. Not in the Washington sense, where “my friend” borders on insult, but a genuine affinity that has spanned two decades and both coasts. Melanie Mason, Benjamin Oreskes in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

Abortion Pills Will Be the Next Battle in the 2024 Election -- The next front is rapidly emerging in the struggle between supporters and opponents of legal abortion, and that escalating conflict is increasing the chances that the issue will shape the 2024 election as it did last November’s midterm contest. Ronald Brownstein The Atlantic -- 1/20/23


Google cuts 12,000 jobs as global tech layoffs continue -- Search giant Google dwarfed Microsoft’s recent announcement of mass layoffs, with CEO Sundar Pichai telling employees Friday that 12,000 roles would be cut globally — about 6% of its workforce. Chase DiFeliciantonio in the San Francisco Chronicle$ Sam Schechner in the Wall Street Journal$ Julian Mark, Ellen Francis, Gerrit De Vynck and Naomi Nix in the Washington Post$ Adam Satariano in the New York Times$ Kelvin Chan Associated Press -- 1/20/23

Tech Layoffs Shock Young Workers. The Older People? Not So Much -- When Lyft laid off 13 percent of its workers in November, Kelly Chang was shocked to find herself among the 700 people who lost their jobs at the San Francisco company. “It seemed like tech companies had so much opportunity,” said Ms. Chang, 26. “If you got a job, you made it. It was a sustainable path.” Tripp Mickle in the New York Times$ -- 1/20/23

Despite tech layoffs, S.F. and Santa Clara County unemployment rates both fall to 2% -- San Francisco and Santa Clara County’s unemployment rates both fell to 2% in December as the local economy showed strength despite a wave of tech layoffs that continues to swell, according to state data released Friday. Roland Li in the San Francisco Chronicle$ George Avalos in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 1/20/23

Regal closing 7 more theaters, including Sherman Oaks Galleria -- Regal is preparing to close 39 more U.S. theaters, including four in Southern California and seven in the Bay Area, after parent company Cineworld announced it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September. The latest list comes on the heels of dozens of other theaters that have already been shuttered, including Anaheim Hills 14, Calabasas Stadium 6 and the Westpark 8 theater in Irvine. Kevin Smith in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 1/20/23


After Madera’s hospital closure, could others follow? -- In Madera County, one-fifth of residents live in poverty and many don’t have health insurance. The last thing this largely rural, Latino-majority part of the San Joaquin Valley needed was for its only general hospital to close its doors. Ana B. Ibarra and Nicole Foy CalMatters -- 1/20/23


Gwen Mayse had savings and a job. The Sacramento woman died without a home -- In the spring of 2019, Gwen Mayse slept in a car with her daughter outside of a closed homeless shelter. She had her three dogs, Phat Phat, Queenie and Princess. She was desperate to find housing. Theresa Clift in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/20/23


University of California’s $4-billion real estate investment will worsen housing crisis, unions say -- With property values sinking, investors rushed to withdraw money from a real estate fund managed by private equity giant Blackstone last month. But the fund soon found a savior in the Golden State: The University of California poured in $4 billion even as other investors fled. Melody Petersen in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

A powerful nonprofit owns apartments for poor tenants. Why are some tenants trapped in their rooms? -- The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has spent tens of millions on pro-tenant causes. Yet elderly and disabled tenants at one of its buildings complain they have spent months at a time without a functioning elevator. Benjamin Oreskes in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

With deadline looming, L.A. City Council is set to vote on new tenant protections -- The L.A. City Council is under enormous pressure to finalize a new policy on evictions before the existing emergency order expires at the end of the month. Julia Wick in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

Rain Train  

In soaked California, few homeowners have flood insurance -- On Sunday morning, Kyle Starks woke up to floodwaters that reached the door of his Jeep after yet another heavy rain storm drenched California. Emergency crews showed up with boats to float Starks and other residents of his rural mobile home park in Acampo to safety. Beyond the physical destruction, the storm could pack a financial hit: Starks does not have flood insurance. Michael Phillis, Adam Beam Associated Press -- 1/20/23

Flood Cars  

Buyer beware: All those cars damaged in California’s floods could be coming to a dealer near you -- In the days and weeks ahead, a complex ecosystem of insurance companies, auction houses, car dealers and others will process these soggy automotive casualties. Many will eventually wind up for sale again. And at least some of those rides will be risky buys. Daniel Miller in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

Also . . .   

Search crews try using cellphone data to locate missing actor Julian Sands on Mt. Baldy -- As the search continues for British actor Julian Sands, officials have looked at cellphone data to try to piece together Sands’ movements since he went missing in Southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains. Alexandra E. Petri, Christie D'zurilla, Jonah Valdez in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

In California, Marking Time With Natural Disasters -- The power of nature is never far from mind in California. In fact, to live here for any length of time is to have it embedded in your memories. Shawn Hubler in the New York Times$ -- 1/20/23

Rare snowy owl that drew flocks of birdwatchers disappears from Cypress neighborhood -- A snowy owl that found its way to a rooftop in west Orange County has flown the coop, according to local birders who rapturously monitored the unique visitor over the last month. Nathan Solis in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23


California Policy and Politics Friday  

Former L.A. Councilmember Jose Huizar agrees to plead guilty in corruption case -- Former Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar has agreed to plead guilty to racketeering and tax evasion, admitting that he extorted at least $1.5 million in bribes from real estate developers. Michael Finnegan, David Zahniser in the Los Angeles Times$ Olga Grigoryants in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 1/20/23

The stunning fall of Jose Huizar and how it exposed ‘rampant corruption’ at L.A. City Hall -- Former Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar’s agreement to plead guilty announced Thursday marks a stunning fall for a politician who once had aspirations of higher office but ultimately became a symbol of City Hall corruption. The item is in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

Arellano: In Mexico stands a lonely monument for a fallen L.A. politician: ‘el licenciado Jose Huizar’ -- High up in the mountains of the Mexican state of Zacatecas, in the desolate village of Los Morales, a monument stands to former Los Angeles Councilman José Huizar. Yes, that guy. Gustavo Arellano in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

Ex-state Democratic Party leader who helped FBI in Anaheim probe agrees to plead guilty to wire fraud -- According to a plea agreement, Melahat Rafiei told a commercial cannabis company owner that she would work to pass a marijuana related ordinance in Anaheim in exchange for at least $300,000. Hannah Fry, Gabriel San Román in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

California lawmaker joins other blue states in latest attempt to tax rich people -- A bill San Jose Assemblymember Alex Lee plans to introduce would impose new taxes on California’s “extremely wealthy,” at a rate of 1.5% on those worth more than $1 billion starting next year, and at 1% for those worth more than $50 million starting in 2026. Mackenzie Mays in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

Why California is urging people who got middle class tax refunds to withdraw the money ASAP -- Since at least December, some card recipients who tried to withdraw funds or check their balance after activation discovered that they had been depleted by thieves, some of whom spent the money at out-of-state retailers. Kathleen Pender in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/20/23

Bay Area lawmakers urge state for more transit funding to avoid ‘irreversible’ service harm -- A group of Bay Area and Los Angeles lawmakers warned state legislative leaders Thursday of a “long-term, possibly irreversible” downfall for BART, Caltrain and the region’s transit agencies if California doesn’t step in to fund their operations. Ricardo Cano in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/20/23

Biden arrives in Bay Area, surveys damage at Capitola Village, Seacliff State Beach -- President Biden promised extensive federal help for storm-battered California on Thursday after surveying widespread wreckage in a visit to Capitola Village and Seacliff State Beach, two of the areas most heavily damaged by the recent string of atmospheric rivers that left much of the Golden State reeling. “The country is here for you and with you,” Biden said at Seacliff, located near Aptos. Paul Rogers, Ethan Baron, John Woolfolk, Aldo Toledo in the San Jose Mercury$ Dustin Gardiner in the San Francisco Chronicle$ Taryn Luna, Susanne Rust in the Los Angeles Times$ Matt Viser and Scott Wilson in the Washington Post$ -- 1/20/23

Capitol Riot  

Camp Pendleton Marine charged with breaching Capitol on Jan. 6 -- Camp Pendleton-based Micah Coomer and two other active-duty Marines were arrested this week after being charged with four counts related to storming the Capitol. Alex Riggins in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 1/20/23


Intel cuts more Bay Area jobs as tech layoffs worsen in 2023 -- Intel has revealed plans for deeper employment reductions with a fresh round of job cuts that will affect hundreds of Bay Area workers, a disquieting sign that the tech sector’s layoffs have yet to run their course. The tech titan is eyeing the elimination of about 200 jobs in Santa Clara, according to an official filing posted by the state Employment Development Department on its public site. George Avalos in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 1/20/23

Lots of Californians are leaving the workforce. The reason: Lack of child-care options -- The pandemic highlighted how crucial child care is for working parents. But the lack of options is still harming the ability of many parents to work. Samantha Masunaga in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

Meet three California startups taking on America’s child-care crisis -- While child-care startups have seen an influx of money and interest from investors in the last year, the industry’s challenges run deep. Samantha Masunaga in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

Why people are paying $1,000 to work at a Michelin-starred restaurant in S.F. --A restaurant offers an expensive day-in-the-life of a chef experience. But what happens if a restaurant critic signs up? Cesar Hernandez in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/20/23


S.F. approves a 55-story residential tower, but don’t expect it to open soon -- The city’s second tallest residential tower — a 55-story flatiron style tower sprouting from the old Honda dealership site at Market Street and South Van Ness Avenue — is moving forward. J.K. Dineen in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/20/23


Affordable-housing quotas imperil new S.F. building projects, study says -- San Francisco’s quotas for affordable-housing units in new construction projects are a major factor making the vast majority of them economically unfeasible, according to a study that strikes at the heart of city housing policy. Noah Arroyo in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/20/23


California went from drought to ‘epic’ snow. What it could mean for spring flooding -- With the snowpack at “epic levels,” snow melt issues will be worth watching beginning in April — or when sunny, warm days arrive in the mountains, said state Department of Water Resources climatologist Mike Anderson. The robust snowpack, Anderson said, “does set the stage for potentially dealing with flood issues as we do move through the snow melt season.” Ryan Lillis in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/20/23


Southern California to get slice of $930 million in federal funds for wildfire reduction efforts -- 'It is no longer a matter of if a wildfire will threaten many Western communities in these landscapes, it is a matter of when,' says the U.S. agriculture secretary. Joe Nelson in the Orange County Register -- 1/20/23


A ‘very different January’: L.A. County drops to low COVID community level -- In a continuing sign of improvements in coronavirus case counts and hospitalizations, Los Angeles County on Thursday officially entered the low COVID-19 community level, indicating that the pandemic is not exerting undue stress on the local healthcare system. Luke Money, Rong-Gong Lin II in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

State COVID testing sites begin to close -- As the state prepares to end the state of emergency, those sites with less demand will close first. Kristen Hwang CalMatters -- 1/20/23

Rain Train  

He left his car to fetch a bag. Then a boulder crushed his vehicle -- Maurice Henao was in his car outside of his California home last week when his girlfriend, Brannde Shanahan, called. “Can you please go get my bag inside?” Shanahan asked. “Okay, no problem,” Henao told her. Kyle Melnick in the Washington Post$ -- 1/20/23


Accident or crime? Shocking new details emerge in death of O.C. public defender in Mexico -- The death of a deputy public defender from Orange County who was vacationing in Mexico with his wife last week has produced conflicting reports, with Mexican officials calling the death of the 33-year-old lawyer, Elliot Blair, an “unfortunate accident” while an attorney for the family said his wife was told he suffered a gunshot wound to the head. Alexandra E. Petri in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

Oakland mayor puts Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong on leave after report details mishandling of officer misconduct cases -- Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and City Administrator Ed Reiskin said in a statement that Armstrong was placed on leave after the release of the report by an independent law firm that raised concern that the beleaguered department may not be able to exit federal court oversight after nearly 20 years. Sarah Ravani in the San Francisco Chronicle$ Rebecca Ellis in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

50-mile funeral procession set for slain Riverside County deputy -- A 50-mile funeral procession from Murrieta to Rancho Cucamonga is scheduled for slain Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Darnell Calhoun on Saturday, Jan. 21. Monserrat Solis in the Orange County Register -- 1/20/23

Riverside County deputies died in two of the most unpredictable encounters with public -- When Riverside County sheriff’s Deputy Isaiah Cordero pulled over a black pickup in Jurupa Valley on Dec. 29, he may have considered the stop so routine that he didn’t notify dispatchers, which is standard practice. But minutes later Cordero was mortally wounded, shot, the Sheriff’s Department said, by a career violent criminal with a warrant out for his arrest. Brian Rokos in the Orange County Register -- 1/20/23


UC Davis fires professor accused of sexually assaulting high school student in 2010 -- The University of California Board of Regents on Thursday “dismissed” Ting Guo from the UC Davis faculty, according to a news release. Guo had been on administrative leave for about two years before a news article published last week revealed the allegations against the professor. Rosalio Ahumada in the Sacramento Bee$ Kathleen Quinn and Jeremiah O. Rhodes in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/20/23

University of California planning to expand outreach at 65 California community colleges -- The 65 community colleges identified by UC serve a high proportion of low-income students and already have partnerships with UC, and UC plans to deepen those partnerships, according to a report provided Thursday to the academic affairs committee of UC’s board of regents. Michael Burke EdSource -- 1/20/23


Earth’s temperature could near danger point with return of El Niño -- Climate scientists are making an ominous prediction: the return of the weather pattern El Niño for the first time since 2019, which would bring a surge of warmth to an already overheated planet. Scott Dance in the Washington Post$ -- 1/20/23

Also . . .   

Lopez: At a checkup with my cardiologist, I got a crash course on how to stay alive -- It was the middle of the night when my racing heart woke me up. I took deep breaths and tried to relax. Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/20/23

San Francisco State student swept out to sea while swimming in Pacifica -- The incident was reported around 10:30 a.m. at Esplanade Beach. The college student was swimming with two other people when he was struck by a “large wave and pulled farther away from the shore,” the Pacifica Police Department said in a news release. Jason Green in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 1/20/23

David Crosby, who embodied the Woodstock generation, dies at 81 -- David Crosby, a singer-songwriter who helped define the sound of the Woodstock generation as a key member of the 1960s and ’70s bands the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, but whose wanton drug abuse made him a cautionary symbol of the era’s culture of excess, has died at 81. Matt Schudel in the Washington Post$ -- 1/20/23


Thursday Updates  

Kiley, Duarte among California Republican congressmen happy to land roles on key committees -- Kiley will be squarely in the center of congressional action when he joins the House Judiciary Committee. Kiley, a Yale Law School graduate, has worked as a private attorney. Gillian Brassil, David Lightman in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/19/23

Skelton: Have no Prop. 1 water projects been built in California? No, but they are moving slowly -- California voters approved a ballyhooed $7.5-billion bond issue eight-plus years ago thinking the state would build dams and other vital water facilities. But it hasn’t built zilch. True or false? That’s the rap: The voters were taken. The state can’t get its act together. George Skelton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/19/23


Alec Baldwin and weapons handler to be charged with manslaughter in deadly ‘Rust’ shooting -- New Mexico prosecutors said they are filing felony criminal charges against actor Alec Baldwin and the armorer of the low-budget western “Rust,” following the fatal shooting of the film’s cinematographer. Meg James in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/19/23

Rain Train  

How much did deadly storms cost California? $1 billion and counting -- After California’s powerful winter storms finally subsided, emergency officials and accountants have stepped in to start tallying the damage. One expert said he expects the total cost to California will be over $1 billion. Damage in Sacramento County alone likely topped $123 million, according to a preliminary estimate from the county. Ariane Lange, Mathew Miranda in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/19/23

For all their ferocity, California storms were not likely caused by global warming, experts say -- As California emerges from a two-week bout of deadly atmospheric rivers, a number of climate researchers say the recent storms appear to be typical of the intense, periodic rains the state has experienced throughout its history and not the result of global warming. Louis Sahagún in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/19/23

Warming to make California downpours even wetter, study says -- As damaging as it was for more than 32 trillion gallons of rain and snow to fall on California since Christmas, a worst-case global warming scenario could juice up similar future downpours by one-third by the middle of this century, a new study says. Seth Borenstein Associated Press -- 1/19/23

S.F. storm damages could top $46 million. How will city prepare for more climate-driven devastation? -- While the near-record rainfall that hit San Francisco was certainly a factor in the flooding, the city’s antiquated sewer system compounded the problem. Trisha Thadani, J.D. Morris, St. John Barned-Smith in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/19/23

How long will Bay Area storm repairs take? -- The worst of this season’s storms is behind us, but the repair work across the Bay Area — estimated to take weeks, months or even longer — is just beginning. A destructive vortex of flooding, mudslides and high winds cracked asphalt, shook bridge foundations and damaged other critical infrastructure. Gabriel Greschler, Katie Lauer, Rachel Heimann Mercader in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 1/19/23

How Do California’s Storms Weigh In Compared With History’s Big Ones? -- The storms that have walloped California in fierce waves since last month have left many communities cleaning up and digging out from flooding and landslides. By one metric, though, the state has seen much worse. Raymond Zhong and Mira Rojanasakul in the New York Times$ -- 1/19/23


One California county is almost fully out of drought -- Del Norte County, home to Crescent City and Klamath in the far northwest corner of the state, is 90% drought-free, according to the new map. The rest is considered “abnormally dry” — the lowest stage on the drought scale. Kate Galbraith in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/19/23


PG&E sued by El Dorado and Placer counties over destructive 2022 Mosquito Fire -- It destroyed 78 structures, including dozens of homes in the Placer County community of Michigan Bluff and the El Dorado County town of Volcanoville, before being contained Oct. 27, according to Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service. Michael McGough in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/19/23

These overgrown California forests will be thinned with new wildfire funds from feds -- Six of the 11 areas receiving assistance this year are in California, including the Klamath River Basin, where the McKinney Fire ignited this summer. The McKinney Fire was California’s deadliest of 2022. Gillian Brassil in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/19/23

Capitol Riot  

Citing ‘Twitter Files,’ George Floyd protests, Jan. 6 defendant from California decries his prosecution -- Federal prosecutors say Northern California resident Sean Michael McHugh used bear spray to attack police officers outside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection, that he shoved a metal sign against officers and directed rioters forward with a megaphone while declaring, “Right now we’re storming the Capitol.” Sam Stanton in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/19/23


Huge new BART housing development on the Peninsula will test if transit is still a draw -- For a quiet bedroom community known for its Chinese banquet halls, sleepy downtown and proximity to the airport, Millbrae plays an out-sized role in the Bay Area’s transportation network. J.K. Dineen in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/19/23

LA City Council committee sends package of renter protections to full council -- Hundreds of thousands of renters could benefit if permanent tenant protections are adopted on Friday. Linh Tat in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 1/19/23

Mayors: Affordable housing demand is crushing us -- “At the end of the day, as mayors, people aren’t looking to their senators to solve homelessness. ... They’re looking to their mayor,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said at the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Marissa Martinez Politico -- 1/19/23

Also . . .   

Arellano: LA Weekly’s controversial publisher wants to revive OC Weekly. Should he? -- The fluorescent lights were bright and stark in the barren office near John Wayne Airport in Irvine where I met LA Weekly publisher Brian Calle. It felt like a morgue because it was: Before us was the corpse of my journalism past. Gustavo Arellano in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/19/23

The rare snowy owl won’t stay forever, but this California town is captivated -- Nobody is quite sure why a snowy owl, usually found in Arctic regions, decided to relocate to sunny Cypress, Calif. Everyone you talk to has a theory. Some speculate that recent storms blew the bird off course; others think perhaps it is an escaped pet. Jennifer Hassan in the Washington Post$ -- 1/19/23