Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Aug. 25. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:
This summer’s relentless California wildfires have claimed at least a dozen lives and destroyed more than 1,200 homes. But along with the loss of life and property, the blazes have also taken a tremendous toll on taxpayers and the state’s huge tourism industry. In less than two months, California has nearly wiped out the emergency wildfire funds set aside for the entire fiscal year, spending about $405 million of the nearly $443 million allocated. Los Angeles Times
Plus: A bipartisan duo of California lawmakers wants to spend climate-change cash on thinning out fire-prone trees and brush. Los Angeles Times
What to do about our taxes?
The Trump administration has delivered another blow to California. The Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department on Thursday moved to block efforts by lawmakers in California and other Democratic-controlled states to help their residents avoid a new limit on state and local tax deductions. The proposed rule, which is likely to face legal challenges, targets legislation in those states that would allow taxpayers to claim a charitable deduction for state and local tax payments above the $10,000 limit set in the tax cuts passed by Congress last year. Los Angeles Times
A shuttered charter school with a whole lot of problems
Founded in 2001, Guidance Charter School in Palmdale seemed as if it was on stable footing when it issued more than $29.5 million in bonds to construct a brand-new campus last year. The Palmdale School District’s board of trustees, which first authorized Guidance 17 years ago, voted in January to close the school, citing concerns about poor academic performance and questionable financial operations. Even though it’s been forced to shut down, it’s still on the hook for the debt.
Impact! Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Friday announced proposed reforms to the city’s controversial retirement program that pays veteran police officers and firefighters their salaries and pensions simultaneously for the last five years of their careers.
Fiery crash: The 105 Freeway in Hawthorne was closed for hours after a tanker truck collided with another vehicle, triggering an explosion and fire that shut down the freeway in both directions and closed the Metro Green Line. Two people were killed, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Plus: Meet the man who started selling burritos from his taco truck on the clogged-up 105. L.A.
Classy: Indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter: My wife handled my finances.
Turning off the spigot: “The FBI has dramatically slowed the pace of security reviews for refugees in recent months, which former Trump administration officials and human rights advocates say is part of an intentional bid by White House hardliners to restrict the number of refugees allowed in the U.S.”
See you in court: A Bel-Air synagogue is suing the city and county of Los Angeles over last year’s Skirball fire, saying they failed to clear the homeless encampment where the blaze started, according to court records.
Sad and scary: Three people were killed and one was seriously injured Thursday in a fiery wrong-way crash that halted traffic on northbound Interstate 805 near Sorrento Valley in San Diego County, authorities said.
More water wars: “The Trump administration is trying a bold new tactic to bring more water to Central Valley farmers — one that could come at the expense of millions of urban Southern Californians.”
Weighing in: L.A. Unified faces a rocky financial future no matter what happens with its contract talks, writes the Times Editorial Board.
Great story: Located in the heart of San Ysidro, the white stucco church that once housed Nuestra Señora de Monte Carmelo — Our Lady of Mount Carmel — stands as a symbol of the border town’s rich history and culture.
The gentrification story: As South of Market burgeons, will the boom leave some behind?
Sweet deal if you can get it: “California might bail out controversial desert hydropower plant that can’t get a contract.”