Essential California: Revitalizing Broadway, requiring vaccinations and the cost of Sony's hack

Welcome to Essential California, your daily newsletter covering stories across the Golden State. I'm California editor Shelby Grad. Alice Walton, who started at The Times this week, will be joining me soon on this digest.

Broadway Bound

It seems that Broadway in downtown L.A. is quickly becoming the city's street of the moment, with the Ace Hotel, revitalized movie palaces and a host of new restaurants and shops opening in the last two years. But the biggest development is yet to come: a massive transformation of the landmark May Co. building into a shopping complex that the developers say will be on par with Chelsea Market in New York or Harrods in London. Of course, Broadway for generations was the domain of Latino immigrant shoppers, and there has been some criticism of the rapid gentrification. Some might sense a bit of hyperbole in the grand plans for May Co. On the other hand, look what’s happened to Grand Central Market. All that’s missing on Broadway is that promised trolley line

Limiting Parental Choice

There is growing momentum in Sacramento for limiting the “personal belief exemption” rule that has allowed parents to avoid having their children vaccinated. California’s U.S. senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, called on state officials to consider changes to the rules, and Gov. Jerry Brown appears open to legislation that would eliminate all but medical waivers. The Disneyland measles outbreak has sparked criticism that California’s laws are too permissive. For many years, fewer than 1% of California parents cited the personal belief exemption to avoid immunizing their children. But that rose to a high of 3.15% in the fall of 2013 before dipping to 2.54% last fall.

California Chronicles

Home school, Silicon Valley-style: “Do it yourself” has long been a mantra in Silicon Valley’s tech industry. And these days, it’s carrying over into a decidedly techy boomlet in home schooling. Wired reports that it’s part of a larger debate about whether schools kill creativity.

Predictable misery: Not all nightmare commutes are created equal. Los Angeles gridlock is less predictable than the traffic snarls in San Francisco, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Ignoring bad prosecutors: Alarms about widespread misconduct by prosecutors are coming from an unlikely source: U.S. appeal court judges. They are pointing the finger at lower courts. State judges are supposed to refer errant lawyers, including prosecutors, to the state bar for discipline, but the experts say they rarely do.

Sacramento ministering: State Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber)  calls it the "splendid loneliness of leadership." "Some people deal with it by drinking. Some deal with it by carousing.” But he and other lawmakers in Sacramento deal with it in meetings with the Capitol’s pastor.

L.A. Stories

Not very neighborly: Curbside libraries -- where people leave out books for others to borrow -- have become a popular way to foster neighborhood togetherness. But in one West L.A. neighborhood, it’s become the subject of code violations and hate mail.

Hacking costs: Sony says it has spent $15 million (and counting) on the massive hacking scandal that crippled the studio. Experts say the eventual price tag will be in the tens of millions. The studio insists insurance will cover some of the losses.

Radio dial duel: Big Boy, the popular morning disc jockey on Power 106, is at the center of a legal battle that kept him off the air Wednesday. He could be moving across the dial for a big raise.

Rock Hudson, Nancy Reagan and AIDS: A flashback, from BuzzFeed, to the early days of the AIDS crisis in 1985: Rock Hudson was dying, desperate for a miracle treatment, and he turned to Nancy Reagan for help.

And finally ...

In Orange County, strawberries are faring better than the namesake Valencia orange. In a fun piece on the vanishing citrus fruit, Emily Foxhall found that strawberries are showing more staying power on what is left of Orange County’s farmlands:

Acres in:    




Valencia oranges








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