Remember when Los Angeles really came out to vote?

Tom Bradley, former mayor of Los Angeles.
Tom Bradley, former mayor of Los Angeles.
(Bill Varie / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, June 10. I’m Jim Rainey.

There has been much conversation about the pronounced lack of interest among most Californians in this week’s election. Mark Z. Barabak had a quick look at some of the reasons for the “Big Sleep,” including the lack of truly competitive races for governor and U.S. Senate.

But still. Los Angeles delivered one of its more provocative mayoral contests in recent memory and the majority of eligible voters stayed on the sidelines — though the exact turnout remains unclear as the L.A. County Registrar’s office estimates it has about 400,000 more ballots to count.

When I interviewed Angelenos about the mayoral contest on election day, they seemed to welcome the question as much as a query about their favorite brand of gasoline. When I found two people who actually had voted, outside a supermarket in the northeast L.A. community of Hermon, both couldn’t quite recall whom they picked to succeed Mayor Eric Garcetti at City Hall. One guy asked me to remind him who his choices had been.


Nothing tells the story of the Great Civic Disengagement of 2022 better than a review of voting trends in the city of Los Angeles over the last century. The Times published a chart on this a while back. And what it shows you is that only the racially charged elections of the late 1960s and early 1970s truly galvanized voters.

In 1969, nearly 76% of Angelenos voted as two-term mayor Sam Yorty fended off a challenge from City Councilman and former LAPD Lt. Tom Bradley. Four years later, Bradley, the son of Texas sharecroppers, overcame Yorty to become the city’s first Black mayor. More than 64% of the city’s voters showed up to make that historic change. Bradley would go on to serve five terms.

Bradley received 433,473 votes in his initial victory. Neither he nor any of his successors over nearly half a century have come anywhere near that total. The 50% turnout threshold is usually not even approached, though 45% of voters came out to put businessman Richard J. Riordan in office in 1993. Only a little more than 23% of voters turned out in the 2013 contest that elected Garcetti mayor. His 222,300-vote total was only a bit over half of what Bradley received 40 years earlier.

By combining the mayoral runoff in November with the statewide vote, election officials hope to rally voter interest. But given Tuesday’s dismal showing, it may take more than a calendar makeover to inspire California voters.

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

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Swanky Beverly Hills is about to get even swankier. Developers of an expansive, $2-billion complex near the corner of Santa Monica and Wilshire boulevards announced that the operator of the complex’s hotel will be the “celebrity-beloved, ultra-luxe” brand Aman.

Roger Vincent describes the latest coup for the complex called One Beverly Hills. The Aman resorts around the world are known for their over-the-top luxury: Guest villas at the Aman resort in the Turks and Caicos Islands come with infinity pools and butlers who serve you a private romantic dinner on the beach. A “camp” for Aman guests in a remote Utah desert features tented pavilions with plunge pools and king-size beds.

So expect something snazzy and very, very expensive for the property formerly occupied by a famed Robinsons-May department store. Developers announced Thursday that the company will operate a boutique hotel, private club and Aman-branded residences in a lushly landscaped oasis next to the storied Beverly Hilton, where stars gather for the annual Golden Globe Awards. Nothing less would do for Aman guests like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and George and Amal Clooney, all fans of what Forbes called “the world’s most preeminent resort brand.” Los Angeles Times

Rendering of One Beverly Hills, a planned $2-billion complex in Beverly Hills.
Rendering of One Beverly Hills, a planned $2-billion garden-like residential and hotel complex in Beverly Hills. The Aman hotel is on the right.
(Foster + Partners)

Times Sports columnist Bill Plaschke signed up more than 40 years ago for the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program. A one-year commitment turned into a lifetime friendship between Plaschke and Andrew Ladores, a young man who seemed to never let his cystic fibrosis get him down.

After losing his friend days ago, Plaschke recounts a relationship, grounded in sports, that grew into much more. He is “reminded of the importance of a pastime that so often seems so trivial.”


A touching tribute from a man who does so much more than keep us up to speed on the Lakers, Dodgers and Rams. Los Angeles Times

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An unknown number of fast-food workers walked off their jobs Thursday and rallied in Sacramento, San Diego, Oakland and outside Los Angeles City Hall to promote higher wages and more employee protections.

The Service Employees International Union organized the action in support of Assembly Bill 257, which would create a council of fast-food industry representatives within the state’s Department of Industrial Relations, reports The Times’ Hyeyoon Alyssa Choi. The proposed Fast Food Sector Council would meet every three years to negotiate industry standards on wages, work hours and other conditions for fast-food workers.

The bill also attempts to hold fast-food corporations, rather than individual franchise owners, responsible for compliance with a variety of employment and public health and safety orders, including those related to unfair business practices, employment discrimination and the California Retail Food Code. Los Angeles Times

Fast-food workers lead a march after rally at Los Angeles City Hall.
Fast-food workers lead a march to the state building on Spring Street after rally at Los Angeles City Hall on Thursday.
(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

Nothing screams “Surf’s Up!” like 115-degree temperatures, cactus and dust devils, right?


Developers of the proposed $200-million Coral Mountain Resort hope the city of La Quinta will think so. The City Council in the Coachella Valley held a five-hour public hearing this week on the plan to turn 386 acres of vacant land into a resort that would include up to 600 residential units, as many as 150 hotel rooms and a centerpiece “wave basin.”

The wave maker would use the same technology that all-time surfing great Kelly Slater designed to bring perfect surf to farm country in the Central Valley community of Lemoore, according to the Palm Springs Desert Sun. But some residents say that the continuation of a punishing drought and reduced supplies of water from the Colorado River were not fully considered by the developers.

After a hearing that went into the wee hours of Wednesday morning, La Quinta’s city mothers and fathers decided to continue the matter to July 5. Desert Sun


His gang name was “Greedy” and he helped run the heroin and crack cocaine trade west of downtown Los Angeles for the notoriously violent 18th Street gang. What a jury had to decide last week was whether the one-time gang member, who now goes by his given name — Ramiro Alberto Valerio — also set off one of the deadliest fires in Los Angeles history.

Matthew Ormseth has the story of the nearly 30-year-old fire that killed 10 people in an apartment house in the Westlake neighborhood, a home for working-class immigrants, but also for gang members who sold drugs and extorted businesspeople. Ormseth describes the graying, slightly paunchy defendant: “Dressed in collared shirt and wearing a pair of thick glasses, he could have been mistaken for a librarian.”

It was a marked transformation for the once-menacing street tough and law enforcement informant. Said a street artist who memorialized some of the troubled and troublesome characters of that era: “When you’re in a gang, you’re dancing with the devil.” Los Angeles Times

Ramiro Valerio, 43, appears in Los Angeles Superior Court Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017
Ramiro Valerio, 43, appears in Los Angeles Superior Court to face charges of murder in a 1993 arson fire that killed 10 people.
(Chris Pizzello/Invision, via AP)

The mentally unstable prisoner had harmed himself before, but nobody seemed to have a good idea how to handle him. So California authorities just kept shuffling Adam Collier along — transferring him 39 times over the course of four years from mental health crisis beds to increasingly high security prisons.

None of them helped. In the fall of 2020, Collier killed himself at age 43, an indictment of a system that fails to protect inmates with the greatest mental health challenges, according to an investigation by CalMatters.

Advocates said they were stunned by the number of times Collier was shuffled between facilities. But a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation insisted that the department, along with California Correctional Health Care Services — which are jointly responsible for medical services to the state’s prison inmates — provide “quality medical and mental health care.”

CalMatters has pressed for more transfer data, but the state agency, after agreeing to release the data in early May, has failed to provide it, according to the nonprofit news outlet.

Collier’s mother, who is suing the prison system, said: “He was crying out in pain. The louder he got, the less they heard.” CalMatters


Crime of the times? Three people were arrested in the Central Valley community of Livingston this week for allegedly stealing 450 gallons of diesel fuel. The suspected thieves drove a U-Haul box van to a gas station, where they allegedly used a pump inside the van to suck the fuel out of an underground storage tank.

Two men and their lookout were arrested and booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of grand theft, conspiracy and possession of stolen property, according to the Fresno Bee. Fresno Bee

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The Oakland City Council this week declared racism a public health crisis. With the vote, the city will spend $350,000 to hire a consultant and a data analyst into its Department of Race and Equity who will help “develop the means, steps and procedures to advance equity.”

The San Francisco Chronicle cited studies showing that racism-related stress “can trigger biological responses, potentially leading to hypertension, heart disease, cancer, inflammation, abnormal gene activity and a weakened immune system.”

City staff members presented a report concluding that residents in a historically white neighborhood in the North Oakland hills can live, on average, an additional 15 years compared to residents in historically Black and Latinx neighborhoods in West Oakland and the East Oakland flatlands. San Francisco Chronicle


There’s a possibility surfing could be coming to the California desert, as noted above. So why not bring those endemic desert creatures — wind turbines — to the ocean?

The California Coastal Commission this week took a significant step toward allowing floating windmills in Morro Bay. Though years of study and more approvals are still needed, the panel’s unanimous vote Wednesday permits the placement of ocean buoys to collect more data, along with hundreds of boat trips to advance research on the project.

The wind farm could one day occupy waters more than three miles offshore, where the Coastal Commission is one of the few state agencies to have jurisdiction, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune. The commission granted clearance last month for a similar study of an offshore wind area near Eureka.

Still to come: A lease sale this fall for the proposed developments and then years of additional study and approvals to assure the floating turbines could be operated without harming sensitive habitat and creatures like elephant seals, whales, dolphins and leatherback sea turtles. San Luis Obispo Tribune

Wind turbines off Block Island, R.I.
In this Aug. 15, 2016 file photo, three of Deepwater Wind’s five turbines stand in the water off Block Island, R.I, the nation’s first offshore wind farm. California and the federal government have agreed to open up areas off the central and northern coasts to massive wind farms.
(Associated Press)


The remote-work revolution the pandemic spawned has hit San Francisco harder than any other major U.S. city, according to new census data. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the city by the Bay lost 6.3% of its population from July 2020 to July 2021.

The decline of 54,813 people meant the city gave back the population growth it experienced as a result of the tech boom. That amounted to a bigger percentage decline than any other big American city. San Francisco’s population of 815,201 residents as of July 2021 was the lowest since 2010, the Chronicle reported, based on census figures.


New York had the second-highest percentage drop, losing 3.5% of residents or over 305,000 people. San Francisco Chronicle

The tale of the dog and owner who saved each other from a mountain lion attack last month drew worldwide headlines. But now Eva, the 2 1/2-year-old Belgian Malinois who survived the attack near the Trinity River, has died unexpectedly.

The dog seemed to be recovering nicely — until last weekend, when she began having seizures and had to be rushed to a Redding veterinarian, then to the animal hospital at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, owner Erin Wilson told the Sacramento Bee. Vets attempted to put the dog on a ventilator Wednesday.

“She just never woke up,” Wilson told the newspaper, as she started to sob. “She never woke up.”

Wilson was hiking with Eva on May 16 when the mountain lion pounced at the woman. Her dog then jumped at the big cat to defend her owner, but the mountain lion soon had the dog’s head locked in its mouth. Wilson and a bystander then pummeled the cat with PVC pipe and a tire iron until it let go. Sacramento Bee

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Los Angeles: Partly cloudy, 84. San Diego: Mostly sunny, 71. San Francisco: Mostly sunny, 80. San Jose: Sunny, 90. Fresno: Sunny, 105. Sacramento: Sunny, 106.


Today’s California memory is from Patricia Papanek:

I moved from Long Island, N.Y., to Los Angeles in September 1976, after my older brother moved here in 1975. The first thing that hit me were all the billboards driving from LAX to Hollywood. The second were the palm trees. After a few months I couldn’t believe the sunny, warm weather stayed the same every day throughout the winter months. I literally believed I’d moved to Shangri-La. It’s been 46 years and I love it as much today as I did on that September day when I landed at LAX. Yes, more people and traffic, but it’s still the best decision I ever made.

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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