Essential California: Transgender reporter returns to air, Berkeley student found dead near USC, Gov. Brown's sister dies

Good morning. It is Tuesday, March 31. If you’re heading out to the Coachella music festival next month, leave your selfie stick at home. It’s on the list of banned items, along with hula hoops and drones. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:


Pilot returns transformed: Zoey Tur is back in the sky, flying news helicopters high above Los Angeles. Tur covered some of the city’s biggest stories, from the beating of Reginald Denny during the 1992 riots to O.J. Simpson’s chase in the white Bronco. She’s back at her old job but now she’s doing it as the first openly transgender reporter on a nationally syndicated news show. L.A. Times

College student found dead: A soccer player from UC Berkeley who went missing after attending a fraternity party near USC early Saturday morning has been found dead. Eloi Vasquez, 19, was apparently hit by car in the eastbound lanes of the Santa Monica (10) Freeway about 2:30 a.m. Saturday. L.A. Times



Dangers of street parking: The city of Los Angeles towed more than 4,500 vehicles last year for violating a rule that says cars cannot stay parked in the same spot for more than 72 hours. Now, one couple is fighting that rule, arguing that the city should provide some sort of advanced warning as there are no street signs telling car owners to move their vehicles. L.A. Times

Game changer for tailgaters: Next Monday is Dodgers’ opening day and LAPD officers plan to crack down on tailgaters in Elysian Park. A representative for Councilman Gil Cedillo described the scene during last season’s games: “We had a lot of folks partying on the street, disturbing the neighbors, parking in the neighborhood, drinking in front of people’s homes, urinating in front of their homes.” Eastsider LA



Public officials’ private emails: A review finds some of California’s top lawmakers are using their private email accounts to conduct government business. It’s unclear whether those emails are retained as public records. “There is always a cloud hanging over a public official who is not using an official email to conduct the public's business,” said Kathay Feng with Common Cause. Associated Press

Bay Area politics: In San Francisco, former county Supervisor Aaron Peskin will run for his old seat against incumbent Julie Christensen. The two were once political allies. Should Peskin win, the board’s balance of power would tip toward a more progressive bloc. SF Gate

Death in the Brown family: Cynthia Brown Kelly died Sunday at the age of 81. She was both the daughter and sister of California governors. “My sister Cynthia had an infectious smile that would light up any room,” Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement. L.A. Times



Who owns a massive emerald? The trial over ownership of the Bahia Emerald will remain in Los Angeles. The 180,000-carat stone, valued at $372 million, was uncovered in Brazil in 2001. The Brazilian government argues that the gem was illegally mined and therefore belongs to the South American country. L.A. TImes

Arsonist caught on camera: There’s surveillance video of the arsonist believed to be responsible for the December 2014 fire of a half-built apartment complex along the Harbor (110) Freeway. An official with the Los Angeles Fire Department said the suspect “torched that building up from the freeway side and then escaped.” L.A. Times

Actor’s family dispute: A judge wants the late Robin Williams’ widow and children to settle a dispute over the actors’ possessions out of court. At issue is what counts as memorabilia from his career and what may be considered personal keepsakes. Williams committed suicide last year. L.A. Times

Was a Vallejo woman kidnapped? The bizarre case of a Vallejo woman continues to drag on. Was Denise Huskins kidnapped, or was her disappearance a hoax? Police are declining to comment after accusing Huskins of faking the crime. However, the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times have both received letters from the alleged kidnappers who want to clear the victim’s name. L.A. Times



Tech firm gets new digs: The tech start-up Snapchat is expanding its footprint in Venice Beach. It’s the latest sign that the laid-back beach community is getting more expensive and slightly more corporate. L.A. Times

Mayor’s housing problem: Is the mayor of Hawthorne a squatter? His landlord says Chris Brown has not paid rent since last December. He was evicted from his previous home for failing to pay rent there. Brown declined to comment. Daily Breeze

Reining in housing costs: How can San Francisco’s housing become more affordable for the average tenant? Preserve rent-controlled units, pour more money into subsidized housing and invest property tax dollars back into neighborhoods. City Lab



Scientology’s street: Almost 20 years ago, the L.A. City Council agreed to name a street after Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, who was as controversial then as he is now. Then-Councilwoman Ruth Galanter was one of the politicians who voted against the proposal. “He's a cult leader. We don't name streets after cult leaders,” she said. L.A. Times

Modern speak-easies: A short video tour of Los Angeles’ hidden bars. L.A. Times

Map of California: As envisioned by residents of San Diego. Thrillist

Al fresco dining: The five best spots for a picnic in Southern California. KCET



A Los Angeles Times editorial supports a move by state correctional officers to relax housing restrictions on sex offenders. The editorial notes that rules currently placed on offenders almost force them to become homeless and ultimately, they become impossible for parole officers to track.

What do you think about reforming Jessica’s Law?

Share your thoughts with us on Twitter with the tag #EssentialCalifornia or send us an email: Alice Walton and Shelby Grad.



The number of people deported from the Los Angeles area has dropped dramatically in recent years, reports the L.A. Times. The decline comes as fewer local agencies are willing to work with immigration officers. President Obama is also seeking greater legal protections for immigrants who are in this country illegally:

-- 2012: 8,727

-- 2015: 2,527



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.