Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: Dancing resumes at Monterey Park studio

A woman hugs two others while visiting the site of the shooting
Marlene Xu of Arcadia, center, a dance student taught by mass shooting victim Ming Wei Ma, hugs other students Wednesday while visiting the Star Ballroom Dance Studio.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Jan. 28.

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

Dancing resumes at the studio targeted by the Monterey Park gunman. By Thursday, cha-cha, salsa and ballroom music replaced any sense of fear at Lai Lai Ballroom. Students and instructors shared smiles and laughs as they practiced routine after routine. Resilience in the face of tragedy has been the theme at Lai Lai since the Monterey Park massacre.

More about the recent shootings

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L.A. County relaxes universal mask recommendation as COVID eases. While wearing a face covering is still required in certain select settings and still encouraged aboard public transit, the decision for most should now be considered a matter of personal preference.

Rand survey finds homelessness up 18% in L.A. hot spots. The Rand Corp. study finds an 18% increase in homelessness over a year in skid row, Hollywood and Venice. The report calls into question decreases in the official count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

L.A. County extends eviction moratorium by 2 months. The moratorium will now expire at the end of March. This, county leaders say, will be the last time they push the end date.

California Rep. Adam Schiff enters Senate race. His campaign injects new fundraising and political heft into the race for the Senate seat currently occupied by Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Battles continue over who will lead California Assembly as Democrats jockey for power. Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula’s emergence as a speaker candidate is a sign that Democrats are still at odds, and the acrimony could hinder the debate over balancing the budget.

Californians to vote on overturning a new law that could raise fast-food worker wages. A referendum to repeal AB 257, aimed at raising wages and improving conditions for fast-food workers, has qualified for next year’s ballot.


L.A. now picks up your compostable food scraps. Here’s what you have to do. The Bureau of Sanitation announced Jan. 16 that residents citywide should dispose of their banana peels (even the moldy parts), eggshells and other compostable waste in their green bins.

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

Inside the Colorado River crisis transforming the Southwest. The Colorado River can no longer withstand the unbridled thirst of the arid West. In the last 23 years, as rising temperatures fueled by the burning of fossil fuels have intensified the worst drought in centuries, the flow of the Colorado has declined about 20%.

The hottest red carpet in Hollywood is the ... American Legion? The Hollywood Legion is now a hot spot for premieres. Where else can you find a theater, a poker room, the bar from “The Shining” and maybe even a ghost?

Six finalists were chosen for a memorial to L.A.’s 1871 Chinese Massacre. The proposals take various approaches to marking the horrific event, which spread across downtown after being sparked near the Plaza de Los Angeles, a significant Chinese enclave at the time.

Karen Bass and Kevin McCarthy are old political pals. Does that mean anything anymore? The Democratic mayor of Los Angeles and the GOP House speaker have been friends for nearly 20 years. Will that bipartisan bond help Los Angeles in a divided Congress?


January storms leave L.A. County flood-control dams at risk of overflowing. Five reservoirs along south-facing San Gabriel Mountain slopes are filled with so much debris and soupy mud that they pose a flood risk to the communities below.

Today’s week-in-review newsletter was curated by Elvia Limón. 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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For the record:

12:47 p.m. Feb. 17, 2023A previous version of this newsletter listed incorrect authors. Multiplatform editor Elvia Limón wrote this newsletter.