Fire and rain

Jan 8, 2018

The fires were bad enough, but now potential flooding has people spooked.


"Ahead of a strong winter storm that could trigger flash flooding and mudslides, authorities have ordered evacuations of Santa Barbara County neighborhoods that sit below areas recently burned by wildfires."


"Residents who live in the following areas were told to evacuate by noon Monday: north of Highway 192, east of Cold Springs Road, and west of Highway 150/the county line, as well as along Tecolote Canyon, Eagle Canyon, Dos Pueblos Canyon, Gato Canyon and in the Whittier fire burn areas near Goleta."


"A voluntary evacuation warning was issued for all areas south of Highway 192 to the ocean and east of Hot Springs Road/Olive Mill Road to Highway 150/county line, Santa Barbara County officials said."


READ MORE related to The West is BurningAlerts reached few in Sonoma County in early hours of Wine Country fires -- The Chronicle's JOAQUIN PALOMINOMonths after Wine Country fires, damaged vineyards face uncertainty -- The Chronicle's ESTHER MOBLEY


Storm expected to bring heavy rain and snow to Northern California


Sacramento Bee's MOLLY SULLIVAN: "Commuters and mountain travelers should prepare for hazardous road conditions Monday as a storm moves in, according to the National Weather Service."


"A trough of low pressure from the Northwest will settle over the valley Monday, bringing a storm system that will drop inches of rain and snow, said Cory Mueller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service."


"Rain will start in the Sacramento area around 5 a.m. and continue throughout the day, with temperatures staying in the mid 50’s. Wind gusts will pick up Monday evening and are expected to get as high as 35 miles per hour."


READ MORE related to EnvironmentWettest storm of the winter season to soak Bay Area -- The Chronicle's SARAH RAVANIOrphaned mountain lion cubs at Oakland Zoo part of trend in California -- The Chronicle's KIMBERLY VEKLEROVWhale of a time for whale watching -- The Chronicle's TOM STIENSTRAWhy is there so much methane in the air? We may finally know -- Daily News' STEVE SCAUZILLOWhy so cold? Climate change may be part of the answer -- NYT's HENRY FOUNTAIN


Is Dianne Feinstein too old to run for re-election?


McClatchy DC's EMILY CADEI: "California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s age has become an increasingly unavoidable part of her biography."


"At age 84, Dianne Feinstein is the oldest of the 100 United States senators,” Los Angeles Times columnist Harold Meyerson began a July op-ed that argued she shouldn’t run for re-election. A December Washington Post article also highlighted that Feinstein is the oldest member of “the oldest Senate ever.” Saturday Night Live even featured the veteran Democratic lawmaker – or rather, an impersonation of her – in a November skit mocking Democrats’ bid to repackage their aging leaders as fresh new faces."


"Now, as she gears up for a race that would keep her in office until the age of 91, Feinstein’s biggest challenge may be to prove to voters that she hasn’t lost a step – or lost touch with Californians’ values."


Five things you need to know about Gavin Newsom


Sacramento Bee's CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO: "California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is running as the heir apparent to Gov. Jerry Brown."


"The former mayor of San Francisco, Newsom was the first candidate to announce a 2018 gubernatorial campaign, way back in February 2015, offering that he’d rather be candid than coy about his plans. Newsom, a Democrat, originally sought the office in 2009, but stepped aside after Brown made it clear he was running."


"Here are five things you should know about Newsom:"


The silver lining of Trump's "war" on California


The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "For left-leaning Californians, there’s a silver lining to the Trump administration’s proposal to reopen the long-protected California coast to offshore oil drilling: They think it could help them win back Congress from the Republicans."


"They hope the ensuing political blowback will make it easier to rally Democratic voters against seven GOP congressmen who represent districts that supported Hillary Clinton last year, especially in two districts along the Southern California coast. Democrats need to win 24 GOP-held seats nationwide to regain control of the House."


"It just made part of my job a whole lot easier and part of it a lot harder,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest environmental group, said Friday."


Pot industry frets, then shrugs off Sessions' new policy


AP's PAUL ELIAS: "This week's announcement that the U.S. Justice Department was ditching its hands-off approach to states that have legalized marijuana initially sent some in the industry into a tailspin, just days after California's $7 billion recreational weed market opened for business."


"But for long-term pot purveyors accustomed to changing regulatory winds, the decision was just another bump in a long and winding road to proving their business legitimacy."


"Many in the industry said they're keeping a wait-and-see attitude because the effect of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement depends on whether federal prosecutors crack down on marijuana businesses operating legally under state laws. Sessions provided no details other than saying individual U.S. attorneys are authorized to prosecute marijuana operators as they choose."


READ MORE related to Cannabis: California had a TV ad that promoted drug use? It's Reefer Madness -- Sacramento Bee's ERIKA D. SMITH


Despite legalization, California colleges stick to their marijuana bans


EdSource's NICO SAVIDGE: "Students at UC San Diego don’t need to go far if they want to take part in California’s new recreational marijuana market: Torrey Holistics, a dispensary that sells cannabis to anyone over 21, is the next exit up Interstate 5 from the university."


"But those students shouldn’t plan to bring their purchases back to their dorm rooms, or anywhere else on campus."


"UC San Diego — along with every other University of California System institution, all of the California State University System, community colleges and private colleges — does not allow marijuana on university grounds or in campus buildings."


READ MORE related to Education: LA unified schools chief to remain on medical leave and retire by June -- EdSource's LOUIS FREEDBERG


Bay Area tech exec raises $160,000 in fundraiser for Roy Moore accuser


The Chronicle's BENNY EVANGELISTA: "More than $160,000 has been pledged to an online fundraising campaign started by a Bay Area tech company executive to help a Roy Moore accuser whose Alabama home burned down in a case of suspected arson."


"The GoFundMe campaign to help Tina Johnson, one of the women who accused the failed U.S. Senate candidate of sexual harassment, had exceeded its initial $100,000 fundraising goal by mid-afternoon Sunday."


"I don’t know this woman, but I do know she has risked a lot and has lot a lot,” said organizer Katie Jacobs Stanton, chief marketing officer for Color Genomics, a Burlingame genomic testing company. “And it’s important for people to support their neighbors, whether they are in California or Alabama."


Pollster Moore aimed to give voice to what the public was thinking


Sacramento Bee's CATHY LOCKE: "For pollster Jim Moore, politics was all about numbers, and his firm J. Moore Methods supplied the statistics that guided local and statewide campaigns in California for three decades."


"His skills are unmatched in California policy and politics,” said Carl Guardino, president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which frequently retained Moore’s services. “I would take his numbers to the bank – and I did, 13 times."


"Moore died Jan. 1 at his home in the El Dorado County community of Camino. He was 66."


Homes in SF, some historic, illegally demolished by developers


The Chronicle's JK DINEEN: "In early December, the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection received a permit application to demolish a home at 49 Hopkins St., a 1935 modernist residence just east of Twin Peaks that was designed by famed architect Richard Neutra."


"But there was a problem with the application: The house had been torn down two months earlier. All that remained of the white, two-story redwood-and-concrete-block home was a garage door and frame. The rest of the house, one of five structures the pioneering modernist designed in San Francisco, had been carried off in dump trucks."


"The illegal demolition of this significant home wasn’t an isolated incident in the city’s turbocharged housing market, where more and more developers and property flippers live by the cliche that it’s easier — or at least more lucrative — to ask for forgiveness than permission."


READ MORE related to Housing & Homelessness: Want to help count LA's homeless population? Here's how -- Daily News' DONNA LITTLEJOHN


Farms face shrinking immigrant labor pool 


LA Times' CINDY CARCAMO: "Nicholas Andrew Flores swatted at the flies orbiting his sweat-drenched face as he picked alongside a crew of immigrants through a cantaloupe field in California's Central Valley."


"He didn't speak Spanish, but he understood the essential words the foreman barked out: "Puro amarillo." And "rapido, rapido!" Quickly, Flores picked only yellow melons and flung them onto a moving platform."


"It was hard and repetitive work, and there were days under the searing sun that Flores regretted not going to a four-year college. But he liked that to get the job he just had to "show up." And at $12 an hour, it paid better than slinging fast food."


READ MORE related to Immigration: OP-ED: Trump administration's citizenship questions could wreck the census -- The Chronicle's EDITORIAL BOARD; In next round of budget talks, 'dreamers' are set to dominate -- WaPo's ED O'KEEFE/MIKE DEBONIS/ERICA WERNER

200,000 Salvadorans will be forced to leave U.S.


From the WASHINGTON POST: "The Department of Homeland Security will not renew the Temporary Protected Status designation that has allowed the Salvadorans to remain in the United States since at least 2001, when their country was struck by a pair of devastating earthquakes, according to multiple people with knowledge of the plan."


"Individuals will have until September 2019 to leave or seek other means to obtain lawful residency. DHS will make its formal announcement later this morning, these people said."


"The decision is likely to please immigration hard-liners who argue the TPS program was never intended to provide long-term residency."


Don't have a Clipper card? You're giving BART a big cash windfall


The Chronicle's MATIER & ROSS: "BART’s stated goal in adding a 50-cent surcharge on paper tickets is to encourage riders to switch to Clipper cards, which are easier and cheaper for the transit system to handle."


"But the change, which took effect Jan. 1, will also be a gold mine for BART — bringing in millions of extra dollars a year from riders who don’t make the switch."


"For years, BART and other Bay Area transit agencies have been trying to wean riders off traditional paper or magnetic-strip tickets, which are easy to scam and require machinery that is costly to maintain."


READ MORE related to Transportation: Lyft trips in San Francisco more efficient than personal cars, study finds -- The Chronicle's CAROLYN SAID; Here's the surprising reason why some countries drive on the left side of the road -- Business Insider's NOAH FRIEDMAN


The downside of California's $15 minimum wage may be more automated jobs


DAN WALTERS in the Sacramento Bee: "Outwardly, the McDonalds restaurant just off Highway 101 in Pismo Beach doesn’t look any different from the 1,500 or so others in California."


"But when you walk into this one, you immediately encounter a robotic kiosk that allows you to order your hamburger or other fast food on a touch screen, rather than verbally with a human worker at the counter."


"It’s an experiment in automation, or at least mechanization, to reduce operational costs, and not the only one."


READ MORE related to Economy: Farmers gave Trump their votes and are looking for a return -- Bloomberg's ALAN BJERGA; Tesla, slow to rev up production, faces fierce electric rivals -- The Chronicle's DAVID R. BAKER; Why 2018 will be a banner year for worker wages -- NRO's ROBERT CHERRY; Mixed signals on infrastructure plan emerge from Trump retreat -- WaPo's JOSH DAWSEY; As Trump appeals to farmers, some of his policies don't -- NYT's ANA SWANSON/JIM TANKERSLEY; We have a new prime number, and it's 23 million digits long -- FiveThirtyEight's OLIVER ROEDER


Republicans still have an opportunity for free-market health reform in 2018


Weekly Standard's RICHARD MENGER: "The Republican tax overhaul significantly undoes the Affordable Care Act by removing the individual mandate to purchase health insurance. Next, the GOP House has their sights on Medicaid reform."


"Medicaid expansion is a cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act. The left treats it as sacrosanct, and the right simply abhors it. I have had the privilege to begin my career as a resident physician in Louisiana before and after the state expanded Medicaid. Simply, expansion of Medicaid, the state-federal program for low-income and disabled Americans, will not be society’s cure for indigent health care. It’s equivalent to putting a Band-Aid on a brain aneurysm."


"Many of the characterizations of the GOP Senate’s previous healthcare plan as inadequate are reasonable and debatable in a real-world context. However, previous debate missed the point of true reform. The real issue at hand is that the Republicans have an opportunity for pure free-market reform that would actually create the equity the left craves. Continued Medicaid expansion will not be a sustainable long-term solution."


READ MORE related to Health & Health Care: Care suffers as more nursing homes feed money into corporate webs -- California Healthline's JORDAN RAU; Trump administration rule paves way for association health plans -- California Healthline's JULIE APPLEBY/PAULINE BARTOLONE; Justice Department announces it's no longer taking hands-off approach to legalized marijuana -- California Healthline


Concerns over Oakland official's plan to divert funds to center in her district


The Chronicle's KIMBERLY VEKLEROV: "An Oakland city councilwoman wants to divert millions in public funds from voter-approved projects like street repairs and park improvements and give them to a community organization in her district."


"The proposal, which a legal expert cautioned could constitute an improper giveaway of taxpayer dollars, already has the backing of two other City Council members, one of whom said he hasn’t read it yet."


"The legislation by Councilwoman Desley Brooks was scheduled to be heard by a council committee Tuesday, even though it lacked a required report from the bill’s author that must accompany new measures. But last week, after The Chronicle began asking questions about the draft ordinance, top city officials abruptly pulled it from the agenda. It’s unclear when the legislation will be heard next."


Oprah, politics and 'Three Billboards' dominate the Golden Globes telecast


The Chronicle's MICK LASALLE: "“Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri” was the surprise of the night, at this year’s telecast of the annual Golden Globes Awards. The Hollywood Foreign Press awarded it best screenplay (Martin McDonagh), best actress in a drama (Frances McDormand), best supporting actor (Sam Rockwell) and best dramatic feature."


"Going into Sunday evening, there was some expectation that perhaps “The Shape of Water” would take top honors, but “Shape” won only one big award, best director (Guillermo del Toro) and an award for its musical score."


"But if “Three Billboards” was the surprise of the night, it was hardly the story of the night, because for a second year in a row, politics dominated the actual awards. From a distance of a year, for example, it’s difficult to remember anything about the 2017 ceremony except for Meryl Streep’s searing condemnation of then President-Elect Donald Trump. This year, the #MeToo movement was front and center, with Cecil B. DeMille Award-winner Oprah Winfrey giving the most notable speech, a campaign style oration designed to inspire the crowd."

READ MORE related to Golden Globes: Oprah Winfrey declares a 'new day on the horizon' in a speech that stirs hope (in some) of a presidential run -- LA Times' MEREDITH BLAKERed carpet fashion blackout at Golden Globes seeks to bring awareness -- The Chronicle's TONY BRAVO; 'Three Billboards' and 'Big Little Lies' are the top winners of a very different kind of Golden Globes awards -- LA Times' JOSH ROTTENBERG; 'Three Billboards' and 'Big Little Lies' top the 75th annual Golden Globe awards -- LA Times; The 7 things everyone will be talking about Monday -- Daily News' SANDRA BARRERA; These are the celebrity GIFS you have to see -- Daily News' MARIA CAVASSUTO; Oprah Winfrey's speech at the Golden Globes was super inspiring and now people want her to run for president -- Daily News' MARIA CAVASSUTO; Natalie Portman threw some not-so-subtle shade at the lack of female director nominees -- Daily News' MARIA CAVASSUTO; A Golden Globes draped in black addresses #MeToo -- NYT's BROOKS BARNES/CARA BUCKLEY; The Golden Globes get (halfway) woke -- NYT's JAMES PONIEWOZIK; Oprah won the entire Golden Globes with an impassioned speech that brought the house down -- Business Insider's KIRSTEN ACUNA


Even if Congress says yes, Trump's border wall faces these four big hurdles


McClatchy DC's STUART LEAVENWORTH: "This may be the year that President Donald Trump prods Congress to finance some of the U.S.-Mexico border wall he has long championed. Yet even if Trump secures billions for border security, construction of his “big, fat, beautiful wall” faces multiple obstacles."


"From environmental lawsuits and design disputes to the very real resistance simmering among landowner who could lose their property, Trump faces one hurdle after another in fulfilling his signature campaign promise."


"Getting this thing funded” is just one problem, said Terence Garrett, a specialist in border security at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. “There are just so many open questions about this project."


OP-ED: Tiny Calimesa's firefighter changes should be a model for the state


OC Register's STEVEN GREENHUT: "California’s cities are running out of cash, as pension expenses gobble up growing portions of their budgets. They’ve cut services, raised taxes and come to Sacramento to implore the pension funds and the Legislature to help out, but city governments don’t have the muscle of the state’s public-sector unions, which fight reform."


"Here’s more of a reality check: These fiscal problems are becoming dire even though the stock market is at record levels, and the state’s two massive pension funds enjoyed stellar gains last year. Healthy investment returns keep the pension systems funded, but what happens if there’s another downturn?"


"What to do? The union-controlled California Public Employees’ Retirement System assures us that everything will be fine. The stock market, apparently, will take care of things. But the fund is mulling yet another fee hike for hard-pressed cities, so this do-nothing approach isn’t a good option."


Stephen Miller had to be escorted off CNN's set after his interview with Jake Tapper went off the rails


Business Insider's LINETTE LOPEZ: "White House adviser Stephen Miller was escorted off the set of CNN’s "State of the Union" on Sunday after a contentious interview with host Jake Tapper."


"Two sources close to the situation told Business Insider that after the taping was done Miller was asked to leave several times."


"He ignored those requests and ultimately security was called and he was escorted out, the sources said."


Even a Gerrymandering ban can't keep politicians from trying to shape their districts


FiveThirtyEight's GALEN DRUKE: "In America, critics say, voters don’t pick their politicians: Politicians pick their voters. It’s a cynical way of describing the American process of drawing political boundaries. In most states, politicians carve up districts and can sort voters in ways that benefit themselves electorally. As awareness about gerrymandering has grown, reformers have increasingly called for that power to be turned over to independent commissions."


"In 2008 and 2010, California did just that. Voters passed a series of ballot initiatives that set up an independent citizen commission. As former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told FiveThirtyEight, “What we did in California, what we were obsessed about, was to get (redistricting) completely away from the politicians. Take that power away from them and give it back to the people."


"But politicians and political parties have a lot at stake in the redistricting process, and they were not about to relinquish control without putting up a fight — particularly the Democratic lawmakers who held a majority in the state. After losing the battle over whether to set up a commission in the first place, they set out to influence the commission’s work. Did they succeed?"


Young man, barefoot, allegedly steals patrol car and uses it to go buy beer


Sacramento Bee's ELLEN GARRISON: "Maybe he just really needed a beer."


"Zachary Samaha, 22, allegedly stole a Sacramento Police Department squad car Saturday evening. Chris Marzan, a bystander who apprehended him, said the barefoot Samaha drove the car to A-1 Market Liquor off of Florin Road and was heading out of the store with a 40-ounce bottle of beer he had already opened."


"Marzan ordered Samaha to the ground and summoned officers, who soon arrived to take the young man to jail. Marzan said in an interview with The Bee on Sunday morning that he’s “kind of a magnet” for mayhem and has performed four or five other citizen’s arrests for domestic violence, driving under the influence and credit card theft."\


The US has fewer crimes. Does that mean it needs fewer police?


NYT's JOSE A DEL REAL: "With the close of the year, the tally was in: Crime was down in the 30 largest cities in the United States, and even a worrisome uptick in urban murders had subsided."


"More than two decades of safer cities has cleared the way for major changes in the nation’s criminal justice system: fewer prisoners, shorter sentences and more pardons."


"But fewer crimes have not resulted in fewer police officers on the streets."


Giants legend Willi McCovey at 80: 'Every day is a blessing' 


The Chronicle's JOHN SHEA: "Willie McCovey seems eternally and eminently upbeat despite grueling physical issues that have taken a toll on his body but not his spirit."


"Baseball has been a saving grace. A Giants senior adviser, McCovey has been a regular at AT&T Park, where he’ll sit with his girlfriend, Estela Bejar, in a press-box booth overlooking the diamond, McCovey Cove and a statue depicting his majestic swing."


"McCovey turns 80 on Wednesday, and he’ll celebrate a distinguished life featuring a Hall of Fame career and love affair with a city and fan base that started with his 1959 rookie season and continued through four decades in retirement."


Photos of the week: December 18th, 2017 - December 24th, 2017


The Chronicle's RJ MICKELSON: "The Chronicle staff bounced around Northern California covering stories before the long Christmas weekend. Our photographers covered a candlelight vigil in San Francisco’s Chinatown for the late Mayor Ed Lee, assignments on Wine Country fire-related stories, the future of the tiny-homes industry in the East Bay, a Christmas Eve morning service with the acting mayor London Breed and quiet, family life in the affordable housing of Mercy Housing."


"Homes leveled by the Tubbs fire line Bella Vista Way in Santa Rosa on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. The neighborhood lies across Fountaingrove Parkway from the proposed Round Barn Village development project that faces opposition amid concerns about future wildfires."


The Rose Parade is over, here's what happens to the floats and their millions of followers


Daily News' JASON HENRY: "Throughout the San Gabriel Valley and out into the Inland Empire, a post-Rose Parade tradition is taking place with little fanfare."


"Volunteers and float builders are plucking flowers from the parade’s most popular floats, slicing up metal frames and setting aside thousands upon thousands of recyclable floral vials for next year’s bloom."


"In most cases, the metal, bent and weakened to form unique shapes, will be melted down by various recycling companies.  Millions of flowers and thousands of other plants will become mulch or compost. Some will end up in landfills, others will help new life grow."




More than 3 months have passed since hurricanes ravaged territories and states in the Atlantic, yet the people living there are in more need than ever as Irma and Maria's death toll from preventable causes threatens to eclipse Katrina's bodycount.


Here's how you can help.




The Roundup is compiled by Associate Editor Geoff Howard. Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email him at

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