Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Jan. 3. Julia Wick is on a New Year’s break, so today’s edition is once again brought to you by L.A. Times Deputy Managing Editor Shelby Grad.
Ready or not, 2020 is here.
“The sea will rise, the ground will shake, the fires will rage, the state will sue the Trump administration every Tuesday and sometimes on Thursday, some people will flee, others will arrive, the cost of housing will rise, the number of homeless people will grow, and the bullet train will not leave the station. Wait a minute, that was last year’s prediction.”
That’s Times columnist Steve Lopez, reminding us that a new decade doesn’t necessarily mean much change. California is still facing a lot of problems, but also working hard to solve at least some of them. And yes, there are still the sparkling beaches, snow-capped mountains and cool winter sun.
Lopez began 2020 on a guardedly optimistic note, despite the flood of stories labeling the state as unlivable and failing.
“The NYT explained to us rubes that ‘at the heart of our state’s rot’ is ‘a failure to live sustainably.’ We are not without sin, but as I pass another electric car, look beyond a cluster of windmills and into the glare of solar farm reflections, huh?”
[Read “California in 2020: Tackling our problems, ignoring the pundits, celebrating our strengths” by Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times]
Here are more predictions on various issues affecting Californians.
Gas: Prices in California might be a 2020 bright spot. Maybe. San Diego Union-Tribune
Presidential race: California is a political gold mine. But we’ll probably feel left out again in 2020. CNN
Silicon Valley: The collapse of unicorns. The rise of hearables. Wall Street Journal
Real estate: Finally a cooling in our broiling housing market? Mercury News
Lifestyle: “Drinking wine is an incredible way to make yoga fun. It’s about cultivating joy and community and letting your hair down.” Los Angeles Times
Economy: A paradox in the Inland Empire. Closing malls, growing logistics facilities. Press-Enterprise
Outlook: Can California be booming and busting at the same time? Mercury News
Cars: California starts the decade as the undisputed master of auto innovation. Jalopnik
Marijuana: The long-promised, much-stalled pot boom might begin in 2020. Or maybe not. SF Weekly
Innovation: Will some of the big ideas that stalled in the teens soar in the ‘20s? Los Angeles Times
Disaster: California’s rough stretch of fires, blackouts and other calamities might produce one winner in 2020: generator manufacturers. Wall Street Journal
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
Black drivers in some of California’s largest cities are stopped and searched by police at higher rates than white and Latino motorists, according to a new state analysis. Black people accounted for 15% of all stops examined in California, though they make up only about 6% of the state population. Los Angeles Times
Remember the California drought? Well, only a tiny bit of the state is under those conditions now. And there is more good water news. A series of storms that hammered the state at the tail end of 2019 dumped enough snow on the Sierra Nevada to kick off the new year with a solid snowpack. Los Angeles Times
Understanding the landmark California Consumer Privacy Act, which went into effect Wednesday. It’s just one part of the most powerful consumer privacy protection law of its kind in the United States. How do you use it? Is it worth it? Los Angeles Times
It’s the logo Southern Californians can’t escape: cartoon caricatures of three guys named Mark, Dan and Wayne. The story behind an L.A. classic. Los Angeles Times
“Kevin and Bean” are no more. But here’s what comes next for iconic L.A. radio. Los Angeles Daily News
L.A.’s new street vending rules: Are you ready? LAist
Dr. Phil’s home is for sale. It’s a strange listing. Los Angeles Times
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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
Orange County was once solid red. Now it’s increasingly blue. But there is still debate about how far to the left this suburb that launched the Republican Revolution will go. Los Angeles Times
How can a squatter in California actually end up living in that space legally? Orange County Register
Stockton has a radical idea to fight inequality. Is it working? San Francisco Chronicle
Market Street, San Francisco’s main drag, will ban most passenger cars from a big chunk of the road as part of a larger effort to reduce gridlock and accidents. Curbed San Francisco
Your guide to the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday. Los Angeles Times
Hunter green, ocher, terra cotta, dirty pink. The colors of California? Wall Street Journal
The latest problem in the quest for a Real ID license? Passports that won’t scan. Los Angeles Times
Coachella: The full lineup is here. Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles: mostly sunny, 74. San Diego: mostly sunny, 70. San Francisco: partly cloudy, 59. San Jose: partly cloudy, 66. Sacramento: partly cloudy, 60. More weather is here.
Today’s California memory comes from Alma Milby:
We danced all night on New Year’s Eve 1962. Then, our L.A. High student group separated when I had to go home to change into something warmer. We were going to the 1963 Rose Parade. So my boyfriend and I drove to Pasadena, parked and walked a short distance and miraculously ran into all of our friends, again! It was a magical night, and then we were able to sit so close you could smell the flowers as each float drove by. I later married him, and we had three children.
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)