Newsletter: A tale of money and power along La Cienega Boulevard

Luxury apartments on La Cienega
Developer Rick Caruso is seeking approval of a 20-story luxury apartment building in L.A.'s Beverly Grove neighborhood.

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Dec. 28, and here’s what’s going on across California:


Money and power

Los Angeles mega-developer Rick Caruso wants Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council to approve a 20-story residential tower on La Cienega Boulevard, on a site where new buildings are currently limited to a height of just 45 feet. A look at the how the forces of money and power come to bear at City Hall during this high-stakes game. Los Angeles Times


Hollywood mourning

From the moment Carrie Fisher stepped onto the screen in 1977’s “Star Wars,” the character of Leia Organa — whip-smart, wryly funny and fearless enough to stand up to Darth Vader without batting an eye, with an iconic set of hair-buns on her head — inspired generations of young girls to be bold and inspired crushes in generations of young boys. But her story in Hollywood was far from a fairy tale, and she became one of the industry’s most important and brutally honest memorialists. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Author John Scalzi remembers Fisher the writer. “Fisher’s legacy includes her written words — cutting, clever, observant, self-aware and unbowed.” Los Angeles Times

Ghost Ship questions


A review of government records shows a troubling pattern in the way Oakland inspectors dealt with illegally converted warehouses before the catastrophic Ghost Ship fire. Officials often failed to conduct safety inspections, even on the warehouses that were well known. Los Angeles Times


Old school: Call them the Mexican American version of the wet T-shirt contest. “Leg” contests remain a mainstay at clubs across Southern California, even in an era when this kind of objectification is considered crude and offensive. Los Angeles Times

Gas woes: Southern California Gas Co. has detected methane seepage near the massive Aliso Canyon underground gas field, but a spokesman said the “very, very small amount” is odorless and poses no health hazard to residents. Los Angeles Times

Eatery retreat: A bunch of El Torito and Acapulco restaurants will be closing across Southern California. The move comes as the owner of the Mexican food chain is looking for ways to modernize and expand. Orange County Register

Midcentury mystery: How some old architectural plans have solved a riddle in Palm Springs. Desert Sun


Enrollment drop: Where have all the black students gone? California universities have seen a big decline in African American enrollment in recent years. Sacramento Bee


Meditation crackdown: San Francisco is cracking down on meditation sessions at an upscale condo complex near Dolores Park. Is it fallout from the Ghost Ship fire? Mission Local

Don’t hold the phone: This might be the time to get one of those phone holders for your car. In the effort to cut down on distracted driving, beginning Jan. 1, it will be illegal to hold your phone while driving. Sacramento Bee

Books gone: The disappearance of books at UC Santa Cruz’s research libraries points to a larger issue in academia. Mercury News


Misconduct claims: Allegations of perjury and making false statements by San Diego police officers have emerged in separate lawsuits filed by a lieutenant and a detective who claim they’ve been retaliated against for speaking out about misconduct. San Diego Union-Tribune

San Bernardino shootings: The surge in violence that had plagued San Bernardino didn’t take a break on Christmas Day, when five people were shot and wounded. San Bernardino Sun

Threat assessment: A closer look at the Orange County community college instructor’s comment on Trump and its unexpected aftermath. Washington Post



Melting: California’s Sierra snow pack is getting stronger, but it’s also melting fairly quickly. KPBS

Parade forecast: Southern California will get another round of rain, but it looks as if the Rose Parade will remain dry. At least for now. Los Angeles Times


Local sounds: It’s been said Los Angeles musicians had a tough time this year scoring in the big leagues. But that might not be 100% true. Los Angeles Times

Motel life: Residential motels like the Hotel California in a gritty section of Fresno struggle with a variety of problems. But officials see them as necessary in a state with a dire lack of affordable housing. Fresno Bee

Revival push: Slowly but surely, an ambitious effort to remake downtown Santa Rosa is moving forward. Press Democrat

Hidden cost of streaming: The push to make the cloud more friendly to the environment. Wired


Los Angeles area: Sunny with highs in the low to mid-70s. San Diego: Partly cloudy; highs in the low 70s. San Francisco area and Sacramento: Sunny with highs in the upper 50s.


Today’s California memory comes from Jane Applegate:

“I feel sorry for kids today who, as babies, are given a phone or digital device to keep them quiet. When my younger sisters and I made too much noise, my mother shooed us outside to explore the deep, wooded gully across the street from our house at the end of a cul-de-sac in Woodland Hills. Our tract homes were built in a former walnut grove and those tough, green walnuts became ammunition for slingshots and street fights. Always the boys against the girls. After our first spat, my sixth-grade boyfriend, Karl, rolled a dozen walnuts in mud and hurled them against my garage. I was in big trouble when the cheap beige paint washed off the garage along with the mud. I hid from my father’s rage in the hut we built deep in the gully, breathing in the dense, woodsy fragrance. I was safe in the woods. And, from then on, being outdoors, far away from civilization was where I longed to be.”

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Shelby Grad.