Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, Jan. 7, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.
Los Angeles County prosecutors filed criminal charges against Harvey Weinstein on Monday, as the disgraced film mogul appeared in a federal courtroom across the country on similar charges brought in New York.
[Read the story: “On eve of Manhattan sex assault trial, Harvey Weinstein charged with 2013 attacks on women in Los Angeles” in the Los Angeles Times]
What are the new charges?
L.A. prosecutors charged Weinstein with four counts of sexual assault. The charges stem from accusations brought by two women who say Weinstein attacked them in hotels in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills in 2013. Weinstein faces charges of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint in the two cases.
Both women, who remain anonymous and are identified as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, allege that Weinstein attacked them in his hotel suite after meeting at work-related events.
Jane Doe 1 is an Italian model-actress who alleged Weinstein raped her at the Mr. C Beverly Hills hotel in February 2013. Her case came to light after other accusations against Weinstein were made public by the New Yorker and the New York Times in 2017, and the woman spoke to the Los Angeles Times in an October 2017 interview.
The court documents filed Monday mark the first detailing of accusations made by Jane Doe 2. Weinstein allegedly trapped her in a bathroom while he masturbated.
[Read the story: “Trapped in bathroom, held down by Weinstein: Woman’s horrifying allegations laid out by prosecutors” in the Los Angeles Times]
These criminal charges come more than two years after the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills police departments opened investigations into Weinstein. County prosecutors said that three other cases remain under investigation, and they declined to file in an additional three other cases because of the statute of limitations. (A California law passed in 2016 ended the statute of limitations for rape cases and some other sex crimes, but it does not apply retroactively to crimes in which the statute of limitations had already expired by Jan. 1, 2017, when the law took effect.)
[See also: “Building a criminal case against Harvey Weinstein in L.A. was two years in the making” in the Los Angeles Times]
The New York case
The New York case is based on allegations that Weinstein raped a woman in 2013, and performed a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006. Jury selection is set to begin on Tuesday and will probably last two weeks.
My colleagues Richard Winton and James Queally report that it remains unclear how, or if, the announcement of charges in L.A. County will affect the New York case. Los Angeles Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey suggested the Manhattan trial would proceed first, and a spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment for their story.
Weinstein has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
Last year’s most contentious housing bill is back on the table in Sacramento: California lawmakers will once again debate SB 50, a measure written by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), after he revamped his proposal to allow construction of mid-rise apartment complexes near transit and fourplexes in single-family neighborhoods. Los Angeles Times
[Previously: “Inside the demise of SB 50, the state’s most talked-about bill,” a newsletter interview with housing reporter Liam Dillon from May 2019]
California officials have sued a Silicon Valley billionaire who has fought for more than a decade to keep a popular beach to himself — a move to end one of the most intense and high-profile public access battles in the state. Vinod Khosla’s attempts to control access at Martins Beach, a picturesque stretch of sand in San Mateo County, has become a cause célèbre for beachgoers across California and prompted a spate of lawsuits over the years by nonprofits and local groups that grabbed national headlines. The state’s lawsuit comes at a time when top California officials are drilling down on some of the hardest — and longest-fought — battles for coastal access. Los Angeles Times
More than a dozen Los Angeles police officers with the elite Metro Division are being investigated on suspicion of possibly falsifying information they gathered during stops and wrongly portraying people as gang members or associates, sources say. Los Angeles Times
Financial troubles and a shocking suicide have upended the Lennox School District. In the shadow of LAX flight paths, this tiny L.A. school district includes five elementary, one middle and three charter schools. Los Angeles Times
Here’s how HiFi, or Historic Filipinotown, got its name. The area was officially designated as such in 2002, though conversations about it began decades earlier. Los Angeles Times
“This year, it’s like you’ve been hit by a Mack truck.” With the Oscars scheduled for their earliest ever date on Feb. 9, red carpet denizens are bemoaning the frantic, jam-packed pace of “the most condensed campaign season on record.” The Hollywood Reporter
Netflix got massacred at the Golden Globes, but apparently its party was still fun. The streaming giant went into the night leading the pack with 34 nominations and ended it with just two wins. Which, for context, is the same number of statuettes that “1917" director Sam Mendes personally took home. But its hot-ticket party had a “shoe valet,” dim sum station, Leonardo DiCaprio with a woman born in the late 1990s on his arm, Glossier makeup giveaways and Tiffany Haddish on the mic, hyping up the crowd. Meanwhile, Universal execs toasted their big “1917" win at a party with no dance floor, and few recognizable stars. Los Angeles Times
Party house crackdown in the hills: Airbnb has removed 28 properties in the Hollywood Hills from its listings based on information provided by the LAPD about “chronic party houses.” Los Feliz Ledger
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IMMIGRATION AND THE BORDER
A judge ordered the Department of Homeland Security to bring a San Francisco man deported to Chad back to the U.S. His lawyers said it was a rare move that shows the agency violated his due process rights when it deported him. San Francisco Chronicle
POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
A California vaping bill introduced Monday would ban all flavored tobacco sales in stores. The proposal would go far beyond the plan the federal government announced last week, and would prohibit products not included in the federal ban, including flavored cigarettes. Los Angeles Times
California Rep. Duncan Hunter remains silent on when he will resign. The six-term congressman, who pleaded guilty to using campaign money for personal expenses, said last month that he would step down “shortly after the holidays.” Associated Press
[See also: Our newsletter coverage of Hunter’s long fall]
Plus, Hunter will probably receive his taxpayer-funded congressional pension despite the guilty plea. No member of Congress has been known to have their pension benefits taken away, and legal and policy experts doubt Hunter’s felony offense will warrant him being the first. San Diego Union-Tribune
CRIME AND COURTS
A federal judge signaled his approval of a landmark USC settlement to former gynecologist George Tyndall’s patients. The judge said he “was inclined to accept” the $215-million class-action settlement, a decision that, barring any appeals, would clear the way for USC to start writing checks to approximately 18,000 women who saw Tyndall during their time at USC, regardless of whether they formally accused him of harassment or assault. Los Angeles Times
HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
No, you’re not imagining it — the Southern California sunsets have been especially breathtaking lately. And there is a scientific explanation for this wonder. Pasadena Star-News
A retired widower has canceled plans for a trip around the world to save California’s oldest weekly paper. Carl Butz will take over the Downieville-based Mountain Messenger, which covers rural Sierra and Plumas counties northeast of Sacramento. SFGate
Hell, to paraphrase Sartre, is a freeway full of other people in their individual cars. So, will the 2020s deliver Bay Area from traffic hell? Transportation experts weigh in. Mercury News
One out of four Fresno County households lacks any internet access whatsoever — not even a smartphone. The “digital divide” puts low-income and rural households at an economic and educational disadvantage. Fresno Bee
The 20 most powerless people in the art world: Hyperallergic’s annual list highlights “those who are rendered powerless in a system greatly influenced by the super wealthy and the commercial galleries and vanity museums that serve them,” presumably as a means of calling out said systems.
The 2019 edition includes numerous California entrants, including the families of the Ghost Ship fire victims (many of whom were infuriated by the September jury verdict in the case), the former Marciano Foundation employees (who lost their jobs when the museum abruptly shut down after the employees unionized) and the sixth-graders at Del Paso Manor Elementary School in Sacramento (whose teacher allegedly punished them for making Black Lives Matter posters). Hyperallergic
Can the perfect hamburger be found just south of Yosemite National Park? Helen Rosner thinks so. The New Yorker
Burglars keep hitting a Lululemon store in Santa Rosa. Tens of thousands of dollars in athleisure clothing were stolen Monday morning, marking the third theft reported at the store in the past four months and the fifth burglary since the store opened there in 2017. “It’s a popular brand,” a police sergeant told the local paper. “I suspect there’s a demand on the black market for it.” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat
Los Angeles: partly sunny, 77. San Diego: sunny, 70. San Francisco: partly sunny, 56. San Jose: sunny, 59. Sacramento: partly sunny, 56. More weather is here.
Today’s California memory comes from Sean Gallagher:
I grew up in sleepy Cambria when PCH went right through town. My grandmother, Josephine Fox, was a local businesswoman. One year she was both honorary mayor and grand marshal of the local parade called Pinedorado. For many of us kids, it was the highlight of the year and had almost a hundred horse-riders, maybe 10 flatbed floats with young local girls on them and pulled by tractors, dangerous rides, lots of food and gaming booths. For a 9-year-old boy it was like heaven. Now, it has become a big deal drawing people from L.A. and beyond, but still retains its charm.
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)