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Rescue crews on Thursday continued digging through the muddy aftermath of devastating mudslides in Montecito, Calif., where dislodged boulders, fallen trees and thrashed vehicles were still strewn across the landscape.
The scale of the wreckage was staggering: about 100 homes were completely destroyed and another 300 were badly damaged. Seventeen people have been declared dead. And crews continued searching for more than 40 people who had been unaccounted for or declared missing by their families.
Josie Gower was one of the victims.
Just before 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning, she and her boyfriend heard a loud noise downstairs in their home. They went to investigate. When she opened the back door, Ms. Gower was sucked out of her house by the mud, which overpowered her grip on the doorframe.
[Read The Times’ full story about the victims here.]
“It doesn’t make sense. I kept thinking the worst case would be a few inches of flooding,” her son, Hayden Gower, said. “I keep thinking over and over about what we could have done different. Why did she go down there then? What could have stopped her from dying this way? It’s too hard to imagine.”
• Rescue crews were working against time Thursday, as the window to save lives closed.
• Scent dogs were deployed to help search the wreckage.
(Please note: We regularly highlight articles on news sites that have limited access for nonsubscribers.)
• Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is running for governor, called on President Trump to resign after his comments denigrating Haiti and Africa. [SF Gate]
• State regulators decided Thursday to shut down the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, the last in California. It will cease operations in six years. [San Diego Union Tribune]
• Five women have come forward to accuse the actor James Franco of sexually exploitative behavior. [Los Angeles Times]
• State lawmakers examined the legal threshold for sexual harassment cases, wondering if it’s too high. [Los Angeles Times]
• There are rumors that the Repuplican Representative Darrell Issa, who announced this week he would not seek re-election, may be eyeing a run in a neighboring district. [Los Angeles Times]
• Profile: Kamala Harris has emerged as an immigrant advocate in the Senate. [The Sacramento Bee]
• The San Francisco International Airport had another close call earlier this week when an Aeromexico airplane descended toward a runway where another plane was parked. [The Associated Press]
• Sex workers who come forward to report violent crimes in San Francisco will not be arrested, according to new guidelines announced Thursday. The policy appears to be among the first of its kind in the nation. [San Francisco Chronicle]
• Mayor Kevin Faulconer of San Diego said tackling homelessness is among his top priorities for the coming year [San Diego Union Tribune]
• Op-Ed: “It is never too soon after one of these disasters to speak truth about climate change’s role.” [New York Times]
And Finally …
Few things are more reviled by California tenants groups than Costa-Hawkins, the state law that limits the scope of city rent control laws. The law prevents rent control on units built after 1995, and prohibits cities from limiting rent increases on units after they are vacated.
Depending on where you sit on the spectrum, the law either hurts tenants by allowing landlords to impose huge rent increases or is a much-needed restraint that prevents California cities from shutting down growth by passing draconian price controls. Either way, as the state’s housing crisis deepens, the law has increasingly become a target.
On Thursday the State Assembly’s Committee on Housing and Community Development had a raucous hearing to discuss whether or not to move the bill to a vote by the broader Legislature. The chambers packed with tenants groups chanting in support of a repeal and landlords in yellow shirts who showed up to support keeping the measure in place.
Few people expected the measure to pass, and indeed, the bill died in committee. Nevertheless, the bill’s sponsor, Richard Bloom, Democrat of Santa Monica, promised to keep up the fight. At the same time, there is a looming 2018 ballot initiative to repeal the act in its entirety.
Efforts to repeal Costa Hawkins are the latest wrinkle in a burgeoning tenants movement across California. After being dormant since the 1970s, efforts to revive rent control and just cause eviction laws have popped up across the state.
“We not only have a housing crisis in California, we have a tenant crisis,” said David Chiu, a San Francisco assemblyman who co-authored the bill to repeal Costa Hawkins, in a Facebook post after the vote. “While tenant bills have always been difficult to pass in the Legislature, I am disappointed that AB 1506 did not receive enough votes in committee today to advance. That outcome is disheartening, but we started a conversation in the Legislature that was long overdue.”
California Today goes live at 6 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.