Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Aug. 31.
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Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week:
Tyler Skaggs. Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs had the opioids fentanyl and oxycodone along with alcohol in his system when he was found dead in his Texas hotel room July 1, according to a toxicology report released Friday by the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.
Cheap solar. Los Angeles has been sitting on a contract for record-cheap solar power for more than a month — and city officials declined to approve it Tuesday because of concerns raised by the city-run utility’s labor union. They’re still fuming over Mayor Eric Garcetti’s decision to shut down three gas-fired power plants.
College quake safety. Dozens of buildings at UCLA and UC Berkeley pose a serious risk to life in a strong earthquake, with at least 68 seismically deficient structures at UC Berkeley and 18 at UCLA, according to new university studies.
[Here’s a list of UCLA and UC Berkeley buildings unsafe to be in during a big earthquake.]
One-hour photo. On a quest to develop some film, Grammy-winning country artist Kacey Musgraves and her sister found a Los Angeles “gem”: a cash-only, mom-and-pop shop with no internet presence but plenty of handmade backdrops, retro photo sessions and an endearingly old-school photo lab struggling to survive.
Personal income. Los Angeles Police Commissioner Sandra Figueroa-Villa failed to disclose income from a nonprofit she runs that received millions of dollars from the city to work with police on gang initiatives, records show.
Rideshare politics. Uber and Lyft are throwing new weight behind their fight to keep treating drivers as independent contractors in California, saying they will commit $60 million to fund a statewide initiative aimed at the 2020 ballot.
Respecting history. In recent months, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, the Museum of Tolerance and local Jewish educators and rabbis have reached out to high schools in Orange County scandalized by Nazi-related social media posts, offering to teach students about the Holocaust.
Deal reached. An agreement announced Friday would cap rent increases statewide at 5% plus inflation per year for the next decade, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office. Assembly Bill 1482 needs the approval of the Legislature in the next two weeks.
Senior housing crisis. Seniors are perhaps the most vulnerable to California’s rising rents and evictions of any age group. The consequences — like rising homelessness among seniors — can be devastating. In 2016, 41.6% of renters 80 or older paid more than half their income on housing.
[Where can you afford to rent in California? Use our rent calculator.]
Admissions scandal. Coffee at a country club. Luxury suites at the Coliseum. A meeting between Rick Singer, the college admissions scheme mastermind, and legendary USC athletic director Pat Haden wasn’t just casual.
City council drama. Westminster City Council meetings have become must-watch TV for residents of the Orange County city, who are following the explosive drama on local cable. The infighting has gotten so bad that it practically has paralyzed the City Council and spurred recall efforts against all five of its members.
This week’s most popular stories in Essential California
1. I invited Mary Ann to a Gilligan-themed tiki party — and she showed up. Los Angeles Times
2. How David Geffen’s Yacht Photos Became a “Status Thing” in Hollywood. The Hollywood Reporter
3. Here’s an illustrated guide to SoCal breeze blocks. Curbed L.A.
4. Snapchat’s Disappearing Act Leaves Venice Beach Searching for Its Future. New York Times
5. He listed his luxury Marina del Rey home for sale. Then, police say, he was murdered. Los Angeles Times
ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads
After Katrina, a priceless musical archive was thought lost. Then it showed up at a swap meet in Torrance. Los Angeles Times
In conversation with Joel Schumacher: After five decades in Hollywood, the director has plenty of stories, but don’t expect him to kiss and tell. Vulture
Co-living rental platform HubHaus wanted its users to form a community. And they did — after being evicted from their shared San Francisco home. Mission Local
Piper Perabo: A look at the making of a “resistance celebrity.” Slate
Saturday Recommendation: The ice cream at Antico in Los Angeles
This week, my colleague food columnist Lucas Peterson reviewed Antico, a new restaurant near Hancock Park. The restaurant, which is Chad Colby’s first big solo project since he left Chi Spacca in 2015, is Italian-inspired, pastas and a focus on seasonal produce.
But, in Lucas’s discerning opinion, it’s the ice creams that are the true standout, which he classifies as “probably the best ice cream I’ve had anywhere in Los Angeles and possibly west of the Rockies.” Here’s what he had to say about it:
“Antico’s ice cream is impossibly smooth, with a texture somewhere between Häagen-Dazs and a McDonald’s soft serve cone. A strawberry version made with Harry’s Berries is light and bright like a gelato but with a long, fruity hangtime you would associate with higher fat content. The chocolate ice cream is somehow even more ethereal; it’s practically a sorbet, made with just milk solids and no cream whatsoever, but with a deep, dense chocolatey-ness that growls and purrs like a Ferrari F8.
It doesn’t hurt, of course, to have a Carpigiani, the Ferrari of ice cream machines, sitting in the back. But what’s the point in having a Ferrari if you can’t open ’er up? Driven by pastry chef-executive sous chef Brad Ray under the supervision of chef-owner Chad Colby, the Carpigiani is allowed to show what it can do on the dining autobahn — not just sit in traffic on the 405. Is a machine that retails for tens of thousands of dollars worth the price? I defy you to try the honeycomb ice cream, perfectly finished with a little sea salt and Sicilian extra virgin olive oil, and tell me it’s not.”
Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes. (And a giant thanks to the legendary Diya Chacko for all her help on the Saturday edition.)