Good morning. It’s Tuesday, Jan. 7.
|•||Regulators appear poised to ban gas-powered blowers.|
|•||Tensions mount between bears and humans in Tahoe.|
|•||And exotic parrot colonies flourish across California.|
Next up in California’s battle against pollution: gas-powered leaf blowers. At least eight Bay Area cities have already banned gas-powered blowers, and state regulators appear poised to follow. One landscaper said electric alternatives are simply too expensive to justify the switch. If compelled? “We would just start canceling more contracts and moving up north,” he said. S.F. Chronicle | SFist
Last year’s most contentious housing fight — a bill to increase housing density around transit stops — has been resurrected. Senate Bill 50 has been beaten back twice over objections from cities reluctant to surrender local control. One tweak to the latest version: Local leaders would get two years to figure out an alternative housing plan on their own first. CALmatters | S.F. Chronicle
The No. 1 crime trend across a large section of Los Angeles in 2019: Car burglaries by Bay Area gangs. That according to law enforcement officials who say the suspects travel south in rental cars and scout out sightseers at tourist destinations. “It is a huge problem,” an officer said. “We have been plagued by this on the Westside.” L.A. Times | A.P.
Red-crowned parrots, seen in Santa Ana, have thrived thanks in part to ready food at California farms.
The ancestors of brightly colored parrots living across California have been traced to escapees from the illegal bird trade half a century ago. Yet many conservationists don’t regard them as invasive pests. That’s because so many species have become threatened by habitat loss at home. The population of red-crowned parrots in Southern California, for example, is now said to rival that of Mexico. “If time runs out for the dwindling Mexican populations,” Audobon wrote, “the thriving urban groups in Southern California may be the last hope for the parrots.” Audubon | LAist
California is stepping up its fight to preserve public access to Martins Beach. The billionaire Vinod Khosla has fought for more than a decade to keep the crescent-shaped cove in San Mateo County to himself. Now the state is suing. To bolster their case, officials collected evidence from 230 families proving public use of the beach going back to the 1920s, establishing implied access under the state constitution. Khosla’s lawyer likened the state’s challenge to a communist takeover. Mercury News | Bloomberg
A bear wandered through a meadow in South Lake Tahoe in 2007.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
In the Lake Tahoe region, bear activists argue that close encounters with their bruin neighbors is just the price of living there. So they didn’t take kindly to a Placer County man obtaining a permit to have an aggressive bear killed. He received dozens of threatening calls and emails. “Don’t be surprised if a sudden fire takes hold of your place. Idiot,” read one. Sacramento Bee
Tensions are mounting over a homeless encampment that has taken over a popular public trail between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. On Dec. 30, a propane tank exploded on the trail, and last week infrared video revealed a burgeoning rat infestation. As officials work on a plan to establish shelter options, a recall effort has been launched against the area’s supervisor. Press Democrat
Ever wonder what those grids of purple glass are on the sidewalks of the Bay Area? The Bay Curious podcast investigated and learned that they are essentially skylights for underground spaces, such as extended basements. The guy who invented them made a fortune that he used to fight for the abolition of slavery. KQED
Harvey Weinstein left court in Manhattan on Monday.
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
Harvey Weinstein was charged with four more counts of rape and sexual battery in Los Angeles on Monday, hours after he hobbled with a walker into a Manhattan courtroom for the start of his criminal trial there. One accuser, an Italian model, said she met Weinstein at a Hollywood film festival in 2013. He later showed up at her hotel room, raped her, and threatened to kill her, prosecutors said. N.Y. Times | L.A. Times
Weinstein’s team is sending reporters a PowerPoint intended to exonerate him and smear his accusers. On page 27, it suggests that one woman opening her door to the producer “in her nightgown suggests that this was consensual.” On page 40, it says Weinstein has a “huge heart.” The Cut
Jozef Dudek died in May 2017.
Ikea will pay $46 million to the Buena Park parents of a toddler who was crushed to death when a dresser toppled onto him in 2017. It’s said to be the largest settlement resulting from the wrongful death of a child in U.S. history. Jozef Dudek, 2, was the eighth child known to have died by an unsecured Ikea dresser falling over. Washington Post | Philadelphia Inquirer
The opening of a Krispy Kreme franchise meant plummeting sales at the Golden Donut, a mom-and-pop shop in Orcutt. So the owners, immigrants from Cambodia, were stunned to find a crowd of customers waiting when they arrived to open their doors at 5 a.m. last Friday. Turns out their daughter had tweeted about the threat to their business, prompting an outpouring of local support. By 11:30 a.m., they had moved 4,000 doughnuts. Santa Maria Times
Nicholas Cage in 2016.
Sascha Steinbach/Getty Image
Nicolas Cage was born in Long Beach on this day in 1964. Cage has been an atypical movie star, delivering performances that are brilliant and just bad from movie to movie.
“With some actors who risk absurdity the highs can be as exhilarating as the lows,” the critic Manohla Dargis explained. “You chance the sludge for genius.”
One role he passed on: playing opposite Jim Carrey in the extravagantly silly comedy “Dumb & Dumber.” Cage told an interviewer that he chose instead to do a low-budget indie film about a doomed romance based on a book no one ever read. His portrayal of a spiraling alcoholic in “Leaving Las Vegas” in 1995 was hailed as a revelation and earned him his only Academy Award.
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