Essential California: Jerry Brown's presidential thoughts, at-risk foster children, L.A.'s outrageous real estate

Good morning. It is Monday, March 23. UCLA has made it to the NCAA’s Sweet Sixteen. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:


Should locking up foster youth be allowed?

L.A. County officials are facing a difficult question -- should some foster youths be locked up to protect them from aggressive pimps who want to get them into sex trafficking? “As county supervisors debate establishing a treatment center for these youth, the issue of locking up foster children has become a quagmire.” L.A. Times

Legal eagles circle

If Robert Durst eventually makes his way back to Los Angeles to stand trial for the murder of writer Susan Berman, a trio of legal eagles will likely be involved. They include a veteran prosecutor who has won convictions in similar cold-case murders and a Texas defense attorney who defended Durst against a murder charge in Texas. L.A. Times

Westside’s outrageous real estate

Los Angeles has a dearth of affordable housing. Its middle class is disappearing. Yet the city is also home to the $35-million teardown. It is “the kind of thing that makes you think the world is about to end,” writes Steve Lopez. L.A. Times



Benefits of gentrification: Writer Hector Tobar suggests that gentrification in L.A. neighborhoods is leading to less racial and ethnic segregation. “The demographics of greater Los Angeles have shifted so much — Latinos are a plurality in both the city and the county — that it’s impossible for gentrification to erase Latino culture in Highland Park,” he writes. New York Times

Illegal dumping: When one man investigated the pile of construction debris and garbage dumped in back of his apartment, he discovered the mailing address for a Hollywood Hills home miles away. It’s the story of what Los Angeles is doing to address its massive dumping problem. L.A. Times



Little excitement for Senate race: So far, the race to replace longtime Sen. Barbara Boxer hasn’t brought about the excitement one might expect with an open seat in the U.S. Senate. “Democrat Kamala Harris continues her cake-walking campaign to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, facing the slightest opposition in what promised, at first, to be an epic fight.” L.A. Times

“Unfit” for presidential run: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is expected to announce his presidential run today, but Gov. Jerry Brown is already saying the Republican is “unfit” to run. The governor made that comment on NBC’s “Meet the Press” regarding Cruz’s views on climate change. Associated Press

Political radio: Former Assemblyman and gubernatorial hopeful Tim Donnelly is taking his message to the airwaves. He’ll be hosting a new radio program out of Victorville. According to a promo, the Republican will be “broadcasting from deep behind enemy lines in the occupied territory of the socialist republic of California.” Sacramento Bee



Handshake deal gone wrong: Snapchat is one of California’s hottest start-ups, but just who may be responsible for creating the company is now at the center of a legal battle. It’s a problem faced by countless young companies. “The co-founders are friends or family, and they expect the close relationship to substitute for a binding business contract.” L.A. Times

Ultimate car auction: When a Buena Park plumber died, he left behind 69 vintage cars -- and no will. Now, Orange County officials are tasked with auctioning them off, though they can’t tell the value of the vehicles, many of which were covered in leaves by the time they were found. Orange County Register

San Diego’s police cameras: The use of police body cameras in San Diego have led to a 40% drop in complaints. Officers’ use of force and pepper spray have also declined. L.A. Times



Former UC president dies: A former president of the University of California system has died. Jack W. Peltason led the UC schools through a period of staff and budget cuts, and a bitter conflict over affirmative action. Peltason was 91. L.A. Times



Solar in the desert: A look at the Coachella Valley’s 10 most prolific solar companies. Desert Sun

End of rainy season: Southern California’s rainy season is expected to end with a whimper. Not only has it been a dry season, but the record-breaking heat has decimated the snowpack. L.A. Times



The number of houses and condominiums sold in the Bay Area hit a seven-year low in January and February. Those figures reflect a drop in supply, not demand. S.F. Chronicle



Love is in the air and water: It’s that time of year when grunions arrive on Southern California beaches to mate. You can expect to see them from Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to Point Abreojos in Baja California. L.A. Times

Nobody Walks in L.A.”: It isn’t just a song any more -- it’s a hotel package. Farmer’s Daughter is offering guests a prepaid Metro card, sneakers and vintage bicycles when they select that package for their stay. Racked L.A.

Taste of home: 81 things that happen when a homesick Filipino eats at Jollibee. Buzzfeed

Gas station coffee: An 80-year-old Gilmore gas station is now home to a Starbucks. The gas station was made a city landmark in 1992, and even had a cameo in “L.A. Story.” Curbed L.A.

Wood on the soles of her shoes: In Los Angeles, getting an audience with clogmaster Cecilia Tidlund is like getting on the exclusive list for a nightclub. L.A. Times



In Friday’s Essential California, we asked what you thought about a law requiring cyclists to wear helmets. Here’s what you had to say:

“I have been riding a bicycle off and on for almost 60 years. I have been wearing a helmet for at least the last 40.” -- John G. Daly

“Yes, I wear a helmet when I ride. It doesn't make the streets safer, but it protects me, and that's the purpose. I try to be a defensive driver, cyclist and pedestrian.” -- Dennis van Bremen

For today’s Talk Back, a Los Angeles Times editorial questions the fiscal impact of giving a raise to Los Angeles police officers. What do you think the city should consider when giving raises? Many employees made sacrifices during the recession, so is now the time for a pay bump? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter with the tag #EssentialCalifornia or send us an email: Alice Walton and Shelby Grad.



The University of California system was created on this day in 1868 when Gov. Henry H. Haight signed the Organic Act into law.


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.