Essential California Week in Review: How to stay cool and safe during the first heat wave of the summer

The blazing sun silhouettes visitors to Signal Hill
A brutal heatwave is expected to last through Labor Day weekend.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
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Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, July 1.

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

How to stay cool and safe during California’s first heat wave of the summer. The next few days in Southern California will be very, very hot. And it’s just the start of what is anticipated to be a sweltering summer.

Newsom’s pestering of ‘sixth grade bully’ DeSantis seeps into presidential race. Aides to Newsom and DeSantis agree that there’s no greater political dichotomy at the moment than California and Florida, and their governors. But at least for now, the rivalry benefits one man more than the other.

Can’t find Sriracha? Here’s why the shortage is a sign of our harsh climate reality. Blame the drought in Mexico. The shortages that have persisted for the last year is part of a phenomenon that experts warn will become much more common on a warming planet.


Democrats walk off California Senate floor after Republicans honor Richard Grenell for Pride Month. Grenell, who is gay, has repeatedly espoused right-wing disinformation and has called Trump “the most pro-gay president ever.”

The unorthodox quest to find Kristin Smart’s body, the last piece of an enduring mystery. Paul Flores, who was the last person seen with Smart as the two walked toward her dormitory after a Memorial Day weekend party, was convicted in October of murdering her in 1996. But her body has never been found. Three men are on a quest to find where her body is buried using an experimental technology known as soil vapor sampling.

The week in photos

A man poses in front of a mural
Robbie Lee, shown in Leimert Park, is interim chief executive of Black Owned and Operated Community Land Trust. As gentrification continues to encroach the neighborhood, the land trust is beginning its work to harness the coming influx of dollars for the good of Leimert Park’s residents. Read more here.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

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‘Deceiving and disgusting’: Readers react to the rise of restaurant service fees. After The Times published an article detailing a lawsuit by former servers at Jon & Vinny’s, more than 100 readers responded to a call-out weighing in on tipping and service fees that are becoming commonplace at L.A. restaurants. Here’s what they had to say.

Julian Sands, 65, the actor who went missing in the San Gabriel Mountains, was found dead. Remains found Saturday on Mt. Baldy are those of Sands, the San Bernardino County coroner’s office confirmed Tuesday. The cause of death is pending further test results.


Solar sprawl is tearing up the Mojave Desert. Is there a better way? There’s enormous opportunity to lower household utility bills and cut climate pollution — without damaging wildlife habitat or disrupting treasured landscapes. But that hasn’t stopped corporations from making plans to carpet the desert surrounding Las Vegas with dozens of giant solar fields — some of them designed to supply power to California.

‘This water needs to be protected’: California tribe calls for preservation of Tulare Lake. The lake is back and Indigenous leaders say they believe it should be allowed to remain rather than being drained once again to reestablish agriculture, as was done so many times before, including after floods in 1969, 1983 and 1997.

Ken has taken over Barbie’s Malibu Dreamhouse. And it’s listed on Airbnb. Starting July 17 at 10 a.m. Pacific time, anyone can request to book Barbie’s Malibu Dreamhouse on Airbnb. The company will select four lucky guests (two per night) to spend a night at the oceanfront villa for free on July 21 and 22.

California’s reparations proposal moves to Newsom and state lawmakers. The success or failure of the reparations proposal in one of the most liberal statehouses in the country will serve as a bellwether beyond California and could carry political ramifications for the Democratic party in the 2024 election.

Here’s what parts of L.A. County saw the biggest rise in homelessness. The homeless count for Los Angeles County is in, and officials say the numbers are discouraging.

Attractions at Disneyland, California Adventure to temporarily close for refurbishment. Two popular rides as well as the Disneyland monorail will temporarily close in July for refurbishment.


Holiday beachgoers face an unexpected peril: aggressive, biting sea lions. Here’s what you can do. Try to stay at least 50 feet — the length of about four to six cars — from sea lions and other marine mammals.

See which California counties are the most expensive for renters in the U.S. In the four most expensive counties — Santa Cruz, Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo — a renter needs to make more than $60 an hour to afford a two-bedroom unit.

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

These retired teachers started with a little bird guide, and ended with a magnum opus. Tom and Joanne Heindel’s enduring love affair with birds and each other began one spring day in 1953, while out on their first date: bird-watching in the Santa Monica Mountains. After decades of surveying every bird species in Inyo County, the Heindels have finally reached the end of a long journey with a 500-page book.

This couple is making ‘Pride wine’ in the Santa Ynez Valley to uplift the LGBTQ+ community. Mireia Taribó and Tara Gomez faced a struggle all too familiar to the couple — the unsettling wave of intolerant, hateful attacks on queer people happening throughout the country. Their response? Make a Pride wine and donate 60% of proceeds to local LGBTQ+ organizations.

These high school grads are the COVID Class of 2023 and have the stories to prove it. They were first-year high school students when the pandemic forced campus closures in March 2020. Now, when so many have moved on to normalcy, these students explain how the pandemic left a transformative mark on their high school years.


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