Essential California: Cheap fares, brown lawns and Disneyland cats

Good morning. It is Monday, May 11. Here's what is happening in the Golden State:


Bullet train fare question: One of the biggest selling points of the proposed California high-speed rail system is the relatively modest estimated ticket prices. But a Times analysis raises questions about whether the fare (now projected at $86) is realistic. Such a price would make it one of the world's cheapest high-speed rail trips on a per-mile basis, if it reflects a typical fare between downtown stations in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Los Angeles Times

Asian influence rising? Only one Asian American has served on the Los Angeles City Council, and he left office in 1993. There has not been an Asian American on the council in more than two decades. That's one reason why the campaign of David Ryu has energized many activists who argue that redistricting muted their political voice. If elected, Ryu would be the council's first Korean American member. Los Angeles Times

Venice’s changing homeless scene: Friends say a homeless man killed by police in Venice was a "traveler" -- one of many homeless young adults and teenagers roaming the country and forming shifting "families" of others like themselves to survive on the street. His death marked the second fatal shooting by the Los Angeles Police Department of a homeless black man in just over two months. Both shootings occurred in areas with established homeless populations and growing tension over gentrification. Los Angeles Times

Also: Steve Lopez says the Venice shooting was a leadership opportunity missed.


Landmark maker: When artist Chris Burden installed rows of old street lamps in front of LACMA, he created an instant -- and somewhat unlikely -- landmark for Los Angeles. He took a historic piece of L.A. car culture and built one of L.A.'s signature pedestrian spaces. Burden died Sunday. Los Angeles Times

Coming down: Palos Verdes Estate has demolished seven homes perched in a landslide zone. It’s part of a settlement that will dedicate the land to conservation. Daily Breeze

Cats' Cradle: Disneyland may be a theme park inspired by the world's most famous mouse, but it's the cats who have the run of the place.  "If I were a cat, there would be no better place to live than Disneyland," one visitor says. Los Angeles Times

Small station, big plans: L.A.’s smallest radio station, broadcast from a Malibu bedroom, may soon be NPR's smallest affiliate stationL.A. Weekly

Keeping up: Kris Jenner is the force behind a new kind of business empire built around her family. The hub is her Hidden Hills estate. By the way, she's a huge fan of CostcoNew York Times


Latter-Day lawn: In an effort to save water, the Mormon Temple in Westwood has stopped watering its vast lawn. What was once bright green is now brown. But few are complaining. Los Angeles Times. More photos at L.A. Observed.

Water woes: Crystal Geyser was welcomed as a savior by some when the company agreed to bottle water in the Mt. Shasta area, which has been hit hard by the decline in logging. But the drought, coupled with environmental concerns, has put the deal under increased scrutiny. Los Angeles Times

Splash and burn: Many public “splash pads” at local parks will be closed this summer because of the drought. The problem? They don’t use recirculating water. Orange County Register

Drought and hubris: Jerry Brown’s recent comments about his water tunnel project show a not-so-flattering side of the governor, columnist George Skelton says. “It depicted a guy who believes: I'm smarter and know better than anyone. Maybe he often does. But no one's thinking is constantly superior.”


Fast food fight: Remember the ban on new fast food restaurants in South L.A.? Despite passionate arguments that the law would encourage healthier, sit-down-style restaurants to come to the area, a Los Angeles Times analysis shows the food landscape here remains unchanged. Fast-food outlets have continued to spring up while dreamed-of new restaurants have been slow to arrive. Los Angeles Times 

Turnaround at Hoag: How one Orange County hospital cut the number of C-sections it performed -- and fast. Kaiser Health


In the wake of the San Francisco police scandal involving racist text messages, some black leaders are again lamenting the shrinking size of the city's black community. Los Angeles Times

Black populations, by city: 

New York City: 24.9%
Los Angeles: 9.4%
Chicago: 32.3%
Houston: 23.5%
San Diego 6.7%
San Francisco: 5.9%

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Alice Walton or Shelby Grad.