Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: Goodbye Staples, hello Crypto

A rendering of the roof of Staples Center with the name Arena on it.
A rendering of Staples Center after the completion of its rebranding as Arena.

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Nov. 20.

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

Get ready for the holiday travel rush. Thanksgiving is shaping up to be the busiest travel moment since the beginning of the pandemic, with an estimated 2 million people expected to travel through Los Angeles International Airport. But the growing crowds also bring new coronavirus dangers.

Goodbye Staples, hello The downtown Los Angeles venue formerly known as Staples Center will wear a new name for 20 years under a $700-million deal between the Singapore cryptocurrency exchange and AEG, both parties announced Tuesday.

Gas prices soar to record highs. Gas prices in California reached an all-time high Monday as the average price of a regular gallon soared to $4.682. President Biden urged the Federal Trade Commission to probe possible illegal conduct in U.S. gasoline markets.

A surplus will test a legal spending limit. Higher-than-expected tax revenues have given lawmakers extra money. But when state officials craft a new budget next spring, they could find that the spending limit controls the use of all but a few billion dollars of the surplus.

As drought persists, Californians are ‘backsliding.’ State water regulators urged Californians to do more to save water after the latest monthly data showed conservation lagging in September.

UC and its lecturers resolve their dispute. A massive two-day strike that threatened widespread class cancellations was averted early Wednesday after the union and university reached a tentative agreement on a contract.

As Garcetti waits, senators review allegations. More than four months after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was announced as Biden’s pick to become U.S. ambassador to India, the mayor is still waiting for a hearing and vote before a key Senate committee.

The search for lithium at the Salton Sea. An Australian company is preparing to tap a buried reservoir of salty, superheated water to produce renewable energy — and lithium, a crucial ingredient in electric car batteries — after years of hype and headlines.

An O.C. woman fought to sleep in the park and won. It’s a stark illustration of a system that leaves unhoused people in Catch-22 situations, with no clear route to getting a roof over their heads while officials in many cities are intent on shooing them away.

How much infrastructure money will California get? President Biden on Monday signed a historic $1-trillion bipartisan bill that he said will overhaul the nation’s infrastructure. The state is expected to get funds for wildfires, transit, drinking water and more.

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

A Black man opened an art gallery in South L.A. — then got branded as a gentrifier. Terrell Tilford opened Band of Vices in the neighborhood he grew up in and features local artists. But art galleries have become polarizing institutions, and he faces the threat of backlash from residents who perceive any renewal as a step toward removal.


Trampoline parks are up and down and up and down. Fill a 20,000 square-foot warehouse with trampolines and hope you attract enough paying customers to outpace rent, maintenance, payroll and insurance claims. The premise, it turns out, proved popular and surprisingly profitable — at least until the pandemic.

Perks like never before: Employers are pulling out the stops to keep their employees from joining the exodus known as the Great Resignation, spurred by a pandemic that has changed the way people approach work. Signing bonuses are growing, workweeks are shrinking and the perks keep rolling in.

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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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