Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: A campus housing crisis

a male student holds a laptop in a hotel room as another plays guitar on a bed behind him
UC Santa Barbara student Zac McGlynn lives in a Best Western in Goleta with his roommate. The senior film major shares the small room with two queen beds and only one desk area.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Nov. 13.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week

Boosters for all adults. Faced with growing worries over a potential winter coronavirus surge, health officials in California and other areas are turbocharging the push for COVID-19 booster shots in hopes of getting more adults the extra dose as soon as possible.

Hotels and vans instead of dorms. UC Santa Barbara’s plans to build a 4,500-bed mega-dorm sparked outrage, but the more urgent problem is a campus affordable housing crisis hitting students across California’s three public university systems.

Newsom is back. For the past two weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom did something that’s very out of character: He stayed out of the public eye, giving rise to speculation and conspiracy theories. He reappeared Tuesday, saying he’d spent time with his family.

New COVID-19 restrictions in L.A. The city of Los Angeles on Monday enacted some of the nation’s strictest COVID-19 vaccine verification rules, covering a wide variety of indoor retail businesses and venues.


Cargo jams begin to ease. A new fee on companies that allow cargo to sit is about to kick in, and it seems to be making a difference. The number of containers subject to the fine is down 26% at the port of Long Beach, and the number of containers with a dwell time of more than nine days is down 14% at L.A. — a difference of more than 10,000 boxes on the docks.

An LAPD-caused explosion cost them their home. After months of limbo, a family moved to the desert. The explosion’s aftermath underscored a painful truth about life in sprawling, expensive Los Angeles.

Congressional maps could challenge incumbents. Several California members of Congress could face uphill battles to remain in office under draft political maps released Wednesday. Veteran Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard would lose her district — which includes South and East Los Angeles under the draft maps — in a blow to Latino representation in California.

MWD declares drought emergency. Southern California’s largest urban water district declared a drought emergency on Tuesday and called for local water suppliers to immediately cut the use of water from the State Water Project.

Hate crimes increase in L.A. Hate crimes increased by 20% in Los Angeles County last year, driven largely by a surge in racially motivated attacks. Data show Black people were disproportionately targeted.

‘Nightmare’ IVF mix-up: A couple learned their embryo had been switched with that of another couple during in vitro fertilization through a Los Angeles-based fertility clinic. The couples had given birth to — and were unknowingly raising — each other’s babies.

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

Freeways force out residents in communities of color — again. The U.S. interstate highway system — built from the 1950s to the early 1990s — is one of the country’s greatest public works achievements, but it came at an enormous social cost. A Times investigation has found that extensions and other freeway construction continue to take a significant toll on communities even now.

Inside California ethnic studies classes. At a time when schools throughout the country are under siege for how race and history are taught, California is barreling in the opposite direction, the first state to mandate a high school ethnic studies course. Here’s how the curriculum could look.

An Oath Keeper’s wife says she has regrets. Tasha Adams left Stewart Rhodes, founder and leader of the anti-government group the Oath Keepers, in 2018. Looking back at the Capitol riot, she ponders her time married to him, and asks: “What if I had not supported him?”

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Today’s week-in-review newsletter was curated by Laura Blasey. Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to

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