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How to LA: California Wildfires, LA’s Mobility Plan, Homemade Mosquito Spray

Firefighters in a field of tall grass look down on a fire and smoke.
Marin County Fire Department firefighters participate in a controlled burn training on June 19, 2019 in San Rafael, California.
(Justin Sullivan
Getty Images)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Friday, August 26.

Today in How to LA: Navigating Southern California’s wildfires, the future of LA’s mobility plan,  plus a homemade bug repellent.

When I was a kid living here in California, I remember watching public service announcements in the middle of my favorite television shows. I would sit there on the couch with my enormous plastic bowl of Froot Loops without a care in the world (the good ol’ days, am I right?) and Smokey, that big, protective, anthropomorphic bear would appear on the screen, encouraging everyone who would listen, “only YOU can prevent forest fires.”

For more than 70 years, Smokey has told us to handle nature with care. Not only do we need the precious natural resources that forests provide, animals need it, too. But unfortunately, as time has passed, fires have become more frequent, and it's become a lot harder to put them out.

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There’s a host of issues that make it more challenging to control wildfires: long-term fire suppression, climate change, and invasive species are just a few. And now it seems we have to worry about these issues all year round. But there ARE things we can do, not only for Smokey, but for ourselves and our loved ones when the threat of wildfire increases, like now, when the earth - and the weather - is dry.

My colleague Jacob Margolis has a comprehensive wildfire guide to getting your home and family ready for a fire emergency, In his how-to, I’ve learned how to read a fire like a pro, how to tell whether my home is at risk, and how to protect my property from a fire. He says everyone should also double check emergency supplies, whether they have fire insurance, and figure out evacuation plans should they be needed.

Now we are hoping to hear from YOU. As we enter into the riskiest part of the year for wildfires, we have some big reporting projects in the works to help Southern Californians navigate this scary time, and we would love your help.

Whether you live in a high-risk fire area of California or have woken up to an orange sky in another part of the country, you know that megafires are now a major part of our lives. We want to hear your stories about living in the age of increased wildfires. Have you or your family been forced to evacuate in response to a megafire? If you’ve sheltered in place or evacuated during a wildfire, what was helpful for you? What kind of help do you wish you had? How are you preparing for the next one? Please share your stories here or call 313-444-BURN and leave us a voicemail.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below - just keep reading.

The News You Need After You Stop Hitting Snooze

*We hope to bring you all the news freely but occasionally you might hit a paywall. Thank you for understanding!

  • Firefighters were on the scene of a brush fire that started Thursday in the Angeles National Forest. As of 8 p.m. last night it was 0% contained. Check here for updates.
  • After more than five years of talk and little action, will Los Angeles follow through on its mobility plan? The city council just agreed to let voters decide in 2024. 
  • L.A. is one step closer to getting a new agency dedicated to affordable housing after the proposal cleared a major hurdle in Sacramento. Here’s the story behind the Los Angeles County Affordable Housing Solutions Agency. 
  • Hey WeHo, you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here! Earlier this week, state lawmakers rejected a bill that would extend hours at bars and nightclubs to 4 a.m. in three cities, including West Hollywood and Palm Springs. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Get ready L.A. County, expanded education programs are coming to several libraries across the area. Children, for example, will be able to partake in reading, robotics, 3D printing, and more!
  • It’s official: California has banned new gas-powered cars starting in 2035 - the first regulation of its kind in the world. Here’s what you need to know
  • Is this power line the future that could save California, and the West? It’s driven by renewable energy, but its origin point may surprise you. (Los Angeles Times)

Wait! One More Thing...A Reader's Homemade Tip To Keeping Mosquitoes At Bay

Image courtesy of Dmitrijs Bindemanis via Shutterstock.
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Whether it’s hiking with my friend crew or skating at Venice Beach, I LOVE being outdoors. We know YOU do too. That’s why every Friday moving forward, we’re going to help you connect with L.A.  – outside of your home or office.  We will share places, tips and stories that will leave you inspired - and prepared - to get some fresh air and discover the city. 

Now, we know that for some of you, this time of year can be a real pain because of the pests, so today we have some tips. Remember Caitlin Hernandez’s amazing guide to getting rid of pesky mosquitoes in your home? Turns out that a LOT of people found this helpful. One of our readers, Melinda Peters, even shared one of her own tips – a recipe for a non-toxic, pungent anti-mosquito spray from her late friend Cathy. 

Cathy Jahelka’s Bug Juice: 1/2 teaspoon eucalyptus oil, 1/2 teaspoon of lemon grass oil, 1/2 cup of water.

“You can make large or small batches, it keeps forever, smells herbaceous initially, then the scent seems to disappear, while the protection remains. I like really knowing what's in products I use and to date no one has indicated that they didn't like it, nor that it did not work. I spray and wipe it liberally, particularly where the insects seem to find me most tasty. I keep it in brown spray bottles by the door to our garden.” — Melinda Peters

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