Newsletter: Essential California: The many different facets of California’s housing crisis

LOS ANGELES, CA-NOVEMBER 1, 2017: Lois DeArmond is photographed in front of her first story home th
Lois DeArmond is photographed in front of her first-story home in L.A. DeArmond, who recently retired as a costume illustrator, is struggling to pay her rent. A growing number of households are paying more than 50% of their income on housing costs.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times )

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Dec. 4, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Taking stock of the affordable housing crisis

California’s high housing costs have pushed many tenants to the edge of affordability. Even if they have steady work, the cost of putting a roof over their heads demands a staggering share of income. The problem has been building for decades, a result of rising rents and stagnant income for many lower- and middle-class workers as the economy shifted away from manufacturing to create a legion of low-wage service jobs. In 2016, 29% of California tenants put more than half their income — before any deductions — toward rent and utilities, according to an analysis by the California Budget & Policy Center. Los Angeles Times


We crunched the numbers: When looking for an affordable apartment, economists generally recommend you spend no more than 30% of your gross income on rent and utilities. Beyond that threshold is when rent becomes a burden and starts crowding out other spending. If you spend more than 50% of your income on housing costs, you are considered to be severely burdened. Find out where you can afford to rent in California. Los Angeles Times

Leaving California: Times columnist Steve Lopez went to Las Vegas to examine the trade-offs young transplants are making to afford housing and finally plant roots, away from family and the communities where they grew up. Los Angeles Times

Plus: “Building more housing, more densely, could help address a widespread economic challenge. A fight over one lot in Berkeley shows how tough that could be.” New York Times

And: In Stockton, home prices have jumped 92% in the last five years. The Mercury News


A grim anniversary

One year after the Ghost Ship warehouse fire, artists are still struggling to find housing in Oakland. The tragedy didn’t reveal the Bay Area’s housing problems, but it did underscore just how dire they had become. Decades of slow home building left the region unprepared as a tech-fueled economic boom has added more than half a million jobs in the last six years. Prices soared. Los Angeles Times

Quite the scandal

If the group of young Los Angeles police cadets accused of stealing department vehicles had any fear of getting caught, they certainly didn’t show it. For weeks, according to documents, the teens used police cars to drive to and from LAPD-related events and on joyrides that took the vehicles as far away as Corona and Santa Clarita. Some of the cadets used the vehicles to perform “doughnuts” behind an Inglewood store, and one drove a stolen LAPD vehicle to his job at a Ross Dress for Less store in Hawthorne. Los Angeles Times


Coming this week? Los Angeles could soon help people who were jailed for marijuana crimes get into the newly legalized pot industry, in a push to address the uneven toll of the drug war on disadvantaged communities. Los Angeles Times

Snub? USC won the Pac-12 Conference. Ohio State won the Big Ten Conference. It was not enough for the College Football Playoff selection committee, which left both teams out of the playoff Sunday. So they’ll be playing in the Cotton Bowl. Los Angeles Times

By the beach: There’s a neighborhood tug-of-war over the opening of a new Santa Monica preschool. KPCC



Thanks, but no thanks: State Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), who is facing a recall election, is among a small group of legislators who are turning down pay raises that take effect Monday. Los Angeles Times

Governor’s race update: From charter schools to property taxes, six California gubernatorial candidates faced off on a range of topics Saturday before hundreds of school board members from throughout the state. Los Angeles Times

You vape, bro? “A legal advocacy group has asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to look into Rep. Duncan Hunter’s ‘endorsement of private vaping products in blatant disregard of the House Ethics Rules’ — but Hunter’s office says the group is just blowing smoke.” San Diego Union-Tribune

Checking in on Fresno: “Fresno Unified, California’s fourth-largest school district, takes pride in the diversity of its student body. Less than 10 percent of the district’s 73,000 students are white, and students speak more than 100 languages. But like many districts across the country, diversity among teachers is lacking.” Fresno Bee


Peak demand: A San Diego gun buyback program was so popular that police ran out of money. Los Angeles Times

New way to 911: People across Los Angeles County now have the ability to send a text message to 911 in an emergency, authorities announced Friday. Los Angeles Times


Transgender rights: Some Los Angeles families are complaining of insensitive treatment during court hearings. Los Angeles Times

More on Steinle: “The reason jurors voted for acquittal on even the least serious homicide charge — involuntary manslaughter — in the Kate Steinle case may have stemmed from San Francisco prosecutors’ decision to raise the stakes in hopes of winning a felony conviction.” San Francisco Chronicle


Asking for help: Members of California’s congressional delegation are asking their colleagues for $4.4 billion more for fire-related disaster relief. Los Angeles Times


Hot wheels: Our top picks for the best of the best of the LA Auto Show. Los Angeles Times

At the box office: As moviegoers gear up for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” on Dec. 15, Pixar’s “Coco” maintained its box office hold for the second consecutive week. Los Angeles Times

T-Swift update: Taylor Swift was the draw — but not the real star — at KIIS-FM’s Jingle Ball, according to Times pop music critic Mikael Wood. The concert was held at the Forum last week. Los Angeles Times

Where’s O.J.? After serving nine years for armed robbery, O.J. Simpson is out on parole, living in borrowed luxury, and swamped with selfie-seeking fans and business proposals.” Vanity Fair

Interesting: “Come for a new hip, stay for SeaWorld? San Diego bets on medical tourism.” STAT

What to read: “Silicon Valley’s Bonfire of the Vainglorious.” The LA Review of Books


Los Angeles area: Partly cloudy, 72, Monday. Cloudy, 73, Tuesday. San Diego: Partly cloudy, 69, Monday. Partly cloudy, 71, Tuesday. San Francisco area: Sunny, 61, Monday and Tuesday. Sacramento: Sunny, 59, Monday and Tuesday. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California: Rep.

Grace Napolitano (Dec. 4, 1936), author

Joan Didion (Dec. 5, 1934), comedian Margaret Cho (Dec. 5, 1968), Rep. Duncan Hunter (Dec. 7, 1976) and Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig (Dec. 7, 1990).

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.