Newsletter: Essential California: Farmers in California need immigrant workers. Will Trump help or hurt?

President Trump gained something he’s been craving: Validation from America’s closest ally for his war on leaks. Remember this $3.2-billion idea for closing the 710 Freeway gap? More than 11,000 foreign guest workers were approved last year to harve

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, May 26, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Farmers counting on visas

Consumer tastes for fresh strawberries and leaf lettuce — two of California’s most stubbornly labor-intensive crops — have helped drive a boom in agricultural guest workers along a coastal corridor from the Salinas Valley in Monterey County through the Oxnard Plain in Ventura County. In the Santa Maria Valley alone, the number of such workers catapulted from six sheepherders in 2012 to more than 2,000 laborers last year. If growers have their way, they will get even more under the visa program known as H-2A and face fewer barriers, delays and regulations. But how does this gel with President Trump’s views on immigration? Los Angeles Times


710 ends here

Ending one of the most divisive transportation controversies in the region, L.A. transit officials withdrew their support for the proposed 710 Freeway tunnel and voted to redirect hundreds of millions of dollars to local street improvements and other transportation options for the San Gabriel Valley and East Los Angeles. It means the 710 Freeway — famous for “the gap” that has stymied Southern California motorists for decades — will likely never be completed. Los Angeles Times

Light sentence

In what a Northern California district attorney is calling a case “more egregious than Brock Turner” and deserving of a harsher punishment, a 20-year-old man will serve only four months in jail for drugging and raping a family member. Del Norte Superior Court Judge William H. Follett sentenced Nolan Bruder on May 17 to three years’ probation and 240 days in county jail, despite new legislation mandating prison sentences and prohibiting probation for certain sexual offenses. Los Angeles Times


Boxing day

The pink doughnut box is a distinctly California tradition, one so ingrained it often requires an outsider to notice. But the story behind the pink look is also a distinctly California story as well. Los Angeles Times


You’ve been warned: Trump’s budget would eliminate federal funding for an earthquake early warning system being developed for California and the rest of the West Coast. If that comes to pass, it probably would kill the long-planned effort. Los Angeles Times

Elephant ruling: A court order requiring the Los Angeles Zoo to exercise its elephants on soft ground and barring the use of electric shock was overturned Thursday by the California Supreme Court. Los Angeles Times

Big legacy: Assessing the mark media mogul and philanthropist Jerry Perenchio made on Los Angeles cultural institutions. Los Angeles Times

Flying over Muscle Beach: Watch this drone fly through some small spaces at Venice Beach. Curbed Los Angeles



ICE raid: Federal immigration agents arrested nearly 200 people in the Los Angeles area during a five-day dragnet targeting criminal offenders living in the country illegally. Los Angeles Times

Detention questions: The American Civil Liberties Union is suing after a 60 year-old San Bernardino woman who is a U.S. citizen was threatened with deportation. Los Angeles Times

Deported: Records show that an immigrant here illegally — charged with DUI and hit and run in a crash that seriously injured a 6-year-old San Ysidro boy — was deported or allowed to voluntarily return to Mexico 17 times over the last 14 years without facing criminal charges. San Diego Union-Tribune


UC balance: A troubling statistic about the decline of economic diversity on University of California campuses. New York Times

Is he running? California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Léon (D-Los Angeles) stirred up speculation about a possible run for governor or U.S. Senate when he released a slickly produced video just before the California Democratic Party’s convention last weekend, but he has remained coy about his future political plans. Los Angeles Times

Suspense file: From a sales tax exemption on tampons to healthcare rules and marijuana regulation, a massive stack of proposed laws faces a major deadline Friday morning at the state Capitol. To survive, they must clear what’s known as the “suspense file” — the place where bills that would cost taxpayers money are held in legislative limbo. Los Angeles Times

Attack on reporter: California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) had an interesting take on the alleged assault of a Guardian reporter by the Republican front-runner in Montana’s special election, Greg Gianforte. Hunter told reporters Thursday, “It’s not appropriate behavior. Unless the reporter deserved it,” according to a tweet posted by the Associated Press’ Mary Clare Jalonick. Los Angeles Times


Seat of government: Is Sacramento California’s latest real estate hot spot? Wall Street Journal


Search continued: Investigators looking for 5-year-old Aramazd Andressian Jr., who has been missing for more than a month, searched the Montebello home of his grandmother on Thursday. Los Angeles Times

WeHo drama: The lurid sex scandal that’s moved from West Hollywood City Hall to the courtroom. LA Weekly


Coastal pains: It has been a painful 10 months for California’s Central Coast. It started with a scorching summer that dried out hillsides and invited a devastating wildfire. That was followed by deadly winter rains that knocked out critical roads and bridges and then worsened this weekend when a massive landslide collapsed the side of a mountain on top of Highway 1, burying it for months. Los Angeles Times

Drink it in: Exploring a little-known corner of California wine country, and some undiscovered gems. Wall Street Journal

Fruit case: A story of strawberry patents and a painful lesson for the University of California. Los Angeles Times

Who killed Randy? A zebra killing stuns the North Coast. Mercury News


Big transformation: Inside the beautiful but crumbling 1924 Spanish Revival building at the corner of West 7th and Carondelet streets in L.A. that will soon be getting its close-up in grand style. Los Angeles Times

Little guys: Why two discount grocery chains are succeeding while bigger rivals are struggling. Daily News

Dreaming big: Meet Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde, the brains behind the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride at California Adventure and Pandora at Walt Disney World. Los Angeles Times

Park hopper: Why Disneyland has so much riding on Guardians of the Galaxy. “I believe Disney is staking their bet on Marvel to finally draw people to that corner of the park and re-balance the flow of people,” one expert said. Orange County Register

Predictions: In 1999, the San Francisco Chronicle tried to imagine what the city would look like in 20 years. It got some things right but many wrong. SF Gate

Facebook words: Mark Zuckerberg’s commencement address at Harvard: “Purpose is that feeling that you are a part of something bigger than yourself, that you are needed and that you have something better ahead to work for. Purpose is what creates true happiness.” Mercury News

Have it your way: How the humble hamburger has changed over the years. Spoon University


Looks like a partly cloudy kind of day in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Sacramento. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Norma Johnson:

“Many years ago, I moved from a small town in Idaho to L.A., where my husband began graduate work at USC. We moved into a one-bedroom apartment in a ‘court’ near the campus, and I went to work at a savings and loan on Wilshire Boulevard. You can imagine the eye-opening culture shock I experienced moving from a quiet town of 10,000 to teeming L.A., then with a population of almost 2 million. I loved the bustling streets of downtown L.A., the easy access to the beauty of the Pacific Ocean, the football games at Memorial Coliseum. And of course, the occasional, unexpected sightings of famous movie stars. Driving on the freeway was, for me, as thrilling as it was for a kid taking Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland! The city still fascinates me, although the freeways are now a bit overwhelming! And, truth be told, I am no longer a Trojans fan…. I switched my loyalty to the UCLA Bruins when my daughter became a freshman there!”

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 Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.