Essential California: Is L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on the way out?

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in front of the Griffith Observatory
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti after holding his annual State of the City address from the Griffith Observatory on April 19, 2021.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, May 10. I’m Kimi Yoshino, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti is on the short list for a post in the Biden administration as the U.S. ambassador to India, and questions are swirling about what might happen next.

As Times reporters David Zahniser and Dakota Smith noted, “At Los Angeles City Hall, everything is suddenly up in the air.”


A mayoral election is already on tap for next year, but if Garcetti were selected for a new job, it would be up to the City Council to choose an interim mayor.

Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson told The Times: “It’s going to have a ripple effect, not just in terms of who Garcetti’s successor would be but how that would affect the race for mayor, who on Garcetti’s staff stays and goes and, perhaps most importantly, what happens to the mayor’s initiatives and goals.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti during one of his coronavirus briefings.
(City of Los Angeles)

It’s a pivotal time for Los Angeles. After a recent order by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter to offer shelter to everyone on skid row, homelessness continues to be a pressing issue. And as the county enters the yellow tier, the city is hoping for a post-pandemic economic recovery.

Still, an appointment for Garcetti is no slam-dunk. He’s faced scrutiny over an ongoing federal corruption case at City Hall and ties to a former advisor accused of sexual harassment. Black Lives Matter, which has clashed with Garcetti over policing issues, protested for days outside his house in opposition to a potential Cabinet post under Biden.

[Read “Is Garcetti going? Los Angeles waits with uncertainty as city faces major crossroads” in the Los Angeles Times]

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

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Appointments are no longer necessary for COVID vaccinations at city-run sites in L.A. The change, announced Sunday by Garcetti, should make it even easier to get a shot, particularly for those who don’t have the time or technological resources to plan ahead. (Los Angeles Times)

It’s hard to imagine how the coronavirus pandemic will shape generations to come. Senior editor Mitchell Landsberg offers this personal story about how another pandemic — the 1918 flu — affected his family for decades. He writes: “It’s a story with unfathomable twists and turns, great pathos and heroism (not mine). It ends, like so many pandemic stories, with both heartache and humanity. And I have no doubt that versions of this mystery story exist in other families, though it’s entirely possible that they don’t know it and never will. There is no neat and simple end to a pandemic.” (Los Angeles Times)

The vast majority of high schools have given students the option to return to class, but many are still choosing to stay at home even as coronavirus cases drop. A Times review of many of California’s largest school districts showed a patchwork of offerings and responses. (Los Angeles Times)


One of the oldest restaurants in the city — the famous Cielito Lindo taqueria on Olvera Street — is struggling to survive the pandemic. In a nod to its 89-year history, the restaurant is dishing up its avocado sauce-drenched taquitos at a second family-owned location in Lincoln Heights that hasn’t been open in decades. (Los Angeles Times)

Cielito Lindo on Olvera Street in Los Angeles.
(Stephanie Breijo)

Pressure continues to pile on to the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. amid calls for reform of the Golden Globes group after a Times investigation in February. The latest developments: Netflix and Amazon Studios have threatened to cut ties if reforms aren’t made and more than 100 publicity agencies said they will continue to withhold access to celebrities. Meanwhile, Scarlett Johansson called for the industry to “step back” and criticized past “sexist questions and remarks” from HFPA member journalists. (Los Angeles Times)

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So far this year, 110 people have died during attempts to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Some experts fear coronavirus border crackdowns are pushing already-desperate migrants to the extreme. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

America doesn’t always live up to its image as a welcoming and merciful nation. Times reporter Tyrone Beason continues his series, “My Country,” looking at race and injustice in a divided country. (Los Angeles Times)


A driverless Tesla? The California Highway Patrol is investigating an “unusual incident,” in which a man appeared to be riding in the back seat of a Tesla, possibly utilizing the “Full Self-Driving Capability” mode with no one behind the wheel. (San Francisco Chronicle)

An Irvine man bought a Bentley, Ferrari and Lamborghini using COVID relief funds, according to federal authorities. (Los Angeles Times)


California’s drought is getting worse and the melting snowpack isn’t helping conditions. (Sacramento Bee)

Southern California’s booming warehouse industry must now comply with first-of-their-kind regulations to reduce air pollution in “diesel death zones.” (Los Angeles Times)

How do you rescue a bald eagle? Not surprisingly, there isn’t exactly a protocol for that, especially when it ends up in water in the Don Pedro Reservoir. (Modesto Bee)


ICYMI, Elon Musk hosted “SNL.” Times TV critic Robert Lloyd said it was a decent showing. (Los Angeles Times)

Bay Area residents are flocking to Tahoe in droves. Check out these hot real estate listings. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Here are 10 California cities where population grew in 2020, even though population declined statewide. (Sacramento Bee)

Paul Van Doren, cofounder of Vans, has died. Is there a more quintessential California brand than the skateboarding shoe company? (Los Angeles Times)

A new poetry site to kick off your week: This comes from The Times’ data and graphics editor Ben Welsh, who launched a free e.e. cummings poetry archive, and aims to republish the work as it enters the public domain.

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Los Angeles: foggy then sunny, 71. San Diego: partly cloudy, 68. San Francisco: sunny, 77. San Jose: sunny, 86. Fresno: sunny, 92. Sacramento: sunny and breezy, 92.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California: Director George Lucas (May 14, 1944), Rep. Jackie Speier (May 14, 1950), L.A. City Atty. Mike Feuer (May 14, 1958), Rep. Mimi Walters (May 14, 1962) and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (May 14, 1984).

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

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