Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Feb. 15.
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Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week:
Kobe Bryant memorial event. Bryant’s public memorial in Los Angeles is set for Monday, Feb. 24, at Staples Center. Fans wishing to remember him, his daughter Gianna and the seven others killed in a helicopter crash last month can register online for tickets, the Lakers announced Friday.
Coronavirus culture clash. Few places illustrate the breadth of reactions to the coronavirus’ spread the way the diverse San Gabriel Valley does. It is among the Asian population that concern manifests most visibly, with the wearing of surgical face masks that have drawn mixed responses from Valley residents who aren’t Asian.
Where Australia and California meet. The fires in Northern California’s wine country — followed by an even more deadly inferno in Paradise the next year — led many Californians to recognize that climate change was not some distant threat. Australia is now going through a similar shift in perspective amid fires that have burned more than 30 million acres.
California labor law changes. Assembly Bill 5 is upending workplaces and prompting lawsuits, furious social media campaigns and a multimillion-dollar ballot initiative sponsored by Uber, Lyft, Postmates and DoorDash. But many businesses, large and small, are quietly adopting strategies to comply with the law — and it hasn’t been easy.
Flood risk in Foster City. The fate of Foster City and the rest of the Bay Area was front and center last week as a special committee of state lawmakers grappled with the many threats California must confront as sea level rise pushes the ocean farther inland.
Falling short of science standards. Two-thirds of California students didn’t meet new state science standards that they were tested on for the first time last spring. The reasons why aren’t as simple as you might think.
Bezos shatters home sale record. Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos just obliterated California’s home sale price record, paying $165 million for David Geffen’s famed Warner estate in Beverly Hills.
Disneyland raises ticket prices. Months after Disneyland opened the biggest expansion in its history, the Anaheim theme park raised ticket prices Tuesday, pushing the cost of some one-day passes above $200 for the first time.
License plate readers pose privacy risk. The Los Angeles Police Department and three other California law enforcement agencies have failed to provide sufficient privacy protections surrounding the hundreds of millions of images collected by automated license plate readers and shared with other jurisdictions, an audit has found.
Best breakfast breads. Cinnamon sugar brioche. Chocolate marble pistachio loaf. Thai coffee jam concha. These are the best breakfast breads to be found in Los Angeles, according to cooking columnist Ben Mims.
This week’s most popular stories in Essential California
1. Got Presidents Day plans? Four last-minute road trips within four hours of L.A. Los Angeles Times
2. Families mourn indirect, “forgotten” deaths from the Camp fire. Chico Enterprise-Record
3. For sale: An $11.3-million Sonoma compound that used to be a nudist colony. SF Gate
4. Backstage at the Oscars: What you didn’t see on TV. Los Angeles Times
5. This 26-year-old became a small-town California mayor. Then a jet dumped fuel on her snakebit city. Los Angeles Times
ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads
“Why did it take a white chef to pique my interest in my own Mexican culture?” L.A. Taco editor Javier Cabral has a moving essay on internalized racism, his mother’s cooking and finding a career as a taco expert. Bon Appétit
Korean liquor store. Black neighborhood. A quarter-century after the riots, misgivings still run deep. Los Angeles Times
Deceit, disrepair and death inside a Southern California rental empire. Read Aaron Mendelson’s stunning and deeply upsetting investigation into Mike Nijjar’s PAMA Management, where tens of thousands of California’s poorest tenants — many just a step away from homelessness — have endured housing conditions that can be dirty, dilapidated and even deadly. LAist
The chaos at Condé Nast: The memoirs of the former Details editor and other ex-employees of the magazine company reveal the mess behind the gloss of the aughts. New York Times
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.)