Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: Residents of California mountains trapped in their homes

Aerial view of snow-covered homes
Big Bear Valley is covered with snow Thursday after a series of storms blanketed the San Bernardino Mountains.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, March 4.

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

Gov. Gavin Newsom declares state of emergency in 13 counties as winter storms hammer California. Newsom declared a state of emergency for 13 counties in California that have been hammered by historic winter storms.

More on the California storm:

California lawmakers revive an effort to ban involuntary servitude as punishment for crimes. State lawmakers could let voters decide whether to “prohibit slavery in any form,” which could change work requirements in prisons.

L.A. County’s COVID-19 emergency will end March 31. Los Angeles County will end its COVID-19 emergency declaration at the end of March, becoming the latest region to take that step amid improving pandemic conditions.


A $150,000 ‘executive protection dog’? Rich L.A. homeowners are snapping them up. Cheaper than a bodyguard, more portable than an alarm system, guard dogs costing six figures are in high demand in L.A.’s wealthier precincts.

See the photos behind this week’s biggest stories: California ends pandemic emergency but enters a winter wonderland.

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Newsom and IRS give Californians until October to file tax returns. Following the Internal Revenue Service’s lead, Newsom said most Californians won’t have to pay their state taxes until Oct. 16. The delay is available to residents in Los Angeles and 50 other counties covered by a federal emergency declaration.

Los Angeles County agrees to $28.85-million settlement with Bryant family over crash photos. L.A. County has agreed to pay the Bryant family $28.5 million in a settlement over photos of the helicopter crash in which Kobe Bryant, the Lakers star’s daughter and seven others were killed.

Pandemic food benefits are ending for millions of Californians. California families will no longer receive extra CalFresh benefits given during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now what?

Hidden, illegal casinos are booming in L.A., with organized crime reaping big profits. Offering mostly electronic forms of gambling, casitas — Spanish for “little houses” — can bring in tens of thousands of dollars a week. The ultimate beneficiaries, authorities say, are members of the Mexican Mafia, the prison-based syndicate that oversees Latino street gangs in Southern California.


Pasadena police are banking on a phone-hacking tool to solve a cold case murder. A years-old Pasadena homicide case could hinge on what has long been considered the holy grail of modern police investigations: a tool for breaking into locked phones.

California regulators reject San Joaquin Valley groundwater management plans. State regulators say the plans are inadequate in six areas of the San Joaquin Valley. The move triggers state intervention to bolster regulation.

Tijuana sewage isn’t only in Imperial Beach waves. It’s in the air. And San Diegans are breathing it. UC San Diego researchers found that bacteria from raw sewage in the waters off Imperial Beach are becoming airborne, posing a potential health risk.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis makes a California pilgrimage to woo influential Republicans. DeSantis, who has tangled with Newsom, is expected to court California delegates and donors during his visit.

The Bay Bridge lights are going dark Sunday. The light display illuminating the Bay Bridge for 10 years is set to come down, but it’s not certain whether a new one will replace it.

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

Five friends ski the tallest mountain in Los Angeles. Andy Lewicky devotes himself to a peculiar hobby — discovering hidden spots for backcountry skiing in the mountains of drought-plagued Southern California. Could an epic cold front offer something truly extraordinary, an opportunity to charge down the slopes with a view of downtown in the distance?


Jaguars, narcos, illegal loggers: One man’s battle to save a jungle and Maya ruins. Archaeologist Richard Hansen has devoted his life to preserving Maya sites and artifacts. But some question whether his efforts will do more harm than good.

Sikh motorcyclist joins a cross-country ride against hate. Here’s what happened when a Sikh motorcycle club planned a “ride against hate” across the country, hoping to educate the public about their culture.

Today’s week-in-review newsletter was curated by Kenya Romero. 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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