(Here’s the sign-up, if you don’t already get California Today by email.)
Wildfire season is here again.
Discussions are continuing about how the state should deal with the growing threat while also holding utilities accountable when their equipment starts devastating blazes. And energy providers are warning customers about pre-emptive power shutdowns when the risk of fire is high.
After Pacific Gas & Electric, the state’s largest utility, cut off power to more than 20,000 customers in Northern California during the utility’s first rounds of planned blackouts this month, my colleague Sona Patel started looking into ways to prepare.
Here’s the guide she put together:
Customers in high-risk areas are more likely to be affected, however PG&E said emergency shutdowns can affect any of its more than 5 million customers.
[Here’s the California Public Utilities Commission’s fire-threat map.]
The frequency of the shutdowns is still unclear, but spokespeople for Southern California Edison and PG&E said they’re aiming to notify customers at least 48 hours in advance of a shut-off.
We talked to representatives from those companies and collected information from state and public utility websites that may be helpful for creating an emergency plan, should you lose power.
We also included links to products recommended by Wirecutter, a product review website owned by The New York Times, in case you’re looking to build your kit.
• Sign up for emergency alerts. Customers should make sure that the contact information associated with their utility account is up-to-date. Alerts can be received via text message, phone or email. Renters, or anyone who may not be listed on an account, should follow the company’s Twitter and Facebook pages, said Jeff Smith, a PG&E spokesman.
• Plan for any medical needs, like medications that need to be refrigerated or require power. Build or restock an emergency supply kit, including food, water, flashlights, a radio, fresh batteries, first aid supplies and cash. Read our story about how to build an emergency kit for any disaster.
• Identify backup charging methods for phones. (Wirecutter recommends these USB power banks for phones and chargers.)
• Learn how to manually open your garage door.
• If you own a backup generator, ensure that it is safe to operate. (Wirecutter recommends these portable generators.)
For additional resources about public safety power shut-offs, check out this fact sheet on prepareforpower.com.
[Read more about how researchers are teaming up with firefighters to find wildfires faster.]
Here’s what else we’re following
(We often link to sites that limit access for nonsubscribers. We appreciate your reading Times coverage, but we also encourage you to support local news if you can.)
• Representative Katie Porter, the Democrat who narrowly flipped a Republican stronghold in Orange County last year, said she supported opening an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. That complicates things for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who’s in a delicate position as she urges her colleagues to challenge the president not by impeaching him but by doing things that will check his power while securing elections. [The New York Times]
• Also, here’s where California’s Democrats stood on the issue as of last week. [The Los Angeles Times]
• We’re getting closer to the Democratic primaries and there are still a lot of presidential candidates. If you’re a political junkie, save the link to this tracker, which has details about each candidate’s money, media and overall prospects. [The New York Times]
• Gov. Gavin Newsom is still working on making a national name for himself in part by going on the offensive against President Trump, Fox News and the Republican Party itself, which he said is headed for the “waste bin of history.” [Politico]
• A woman and her boyfriend were shot multiple times at close range in the parking lot of a Costco in Chula Vista on Monday as her baby lay in a stroller nearby, the authorities said. The suspected gunman, who was identified as the woman’s ex-boyfriend, then shot and killed himself, according to the police. [NBC 7]
• That shooting came days after an off-duty Los Angeles police officer shot and killed Kenneth French and critically wounded Mr. French’s parents at a Costco in Corona. The officer said Mr. French attacked him without provocation. Mr. French’s cousin described the 32-year-old as a “gentle giant,” who was intellectually disabled and nonverbal. [The Riverside Press-Enterprise]
• All union-represented journalists at The Bakersfield Californian were told in a vague email that they’d be getting their last paychecks from the paper as a new owner takes over on June 30. The paper was sold to a Canadian businessman who bought The Antelope Valley Press in 2017. [KGET]
Health, health care and almost-sobriety
• The state is partnering with Silicon Valley to make mental health services more widely available, including with an app that will flag a user when a crisis seems imminent. The experiments are promising — but they’re also raising concerns. [The New York Times]
• Kaiser Permanente, the health care giant, said it planned to build a $ 900 million, 1.6 million square-foot headquarters in Oakland. It’d be one of the largest new buildings in the Bay Area — bigger than Salesforce Tower. [The San Francisco Chronicle]
• For years, researchers and doctors in the Central Valley have warned about valley fever, a deadly illness that many don’t know exists. Here’s why it’s hitting farmworkers especially hard. [Civil Eats]
• Is sobriety (or almost-sobriety) the hot new drinking trend? Here’s a long read exploring that question. [The New York Times]
And Finally …
This week, we’re adding a couple of songs from the genre-fusing Los Angeles band Ozomatli to the California Soundtrack.
The band has been making music for more than two decades and, as two founding members told NPR in 2007, they’ve always seen themselves as community-minded “cultural ambassadors” unafraid to wade into political waters.
Camille Pannu, a 35-year-old in Sacramento, recommended “Cuando Canto.”
She wrote that the song, performed by a band formed in the aftermath of the civil unrest that transformed L.A. in 1992, speaks to “healing and uniting a Los Angeles fractured by police violence, racism and structural poverty.”
Colleen Bates, who said she’s a sixth-generation Angeleno, recommended Ozomatli’s “Guerrillero.”
“One of the most L.A. of L.A. bands, Ozomatli weaves together an only-in-California mix of Mexican, hip-hop and rock that is rich and infectious. Their live shows are flat-out fantastic,” she wrote. “All their songs scream ‘California’ to me, but I’m picking ‘Guerrillero’ because it just makes me so happy and brings to mind driving to the beach on a sunny summer day.”
Click here to listen to the California Soundtrack Spotify playlist. And send your picks — along with your name, age and where you live — to CAToday@nytimes.com.
California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here.
Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to school at U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter, @jillcowan.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.