Newsletter: Essential California: State moves ahead with one delta tunnel, scaling back ambitious water delivery project


Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, Feb. 8, and here’s what’s happening across California:


A scaled-down tunnel

State officials said they will press ahead with a smaller version of a long-planned water delivery project, initially building one, instead of two, massive tunnels in the heart of California’s vast waterworks. The decision to downsize California WaterFix boils down to money. The urban and agricultural water districts that are supposed to pay for the multibillion-dollar project have only committed to enough funding for one water tunnel that would extend 35 miles under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Los Angeles Times


It’s a deal

The Los Angeles Times is being sold to biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, who has agreed to purchase The Times from parent company Tronc. This restores local ownership and perhaps ends a turbulent period for the storied 136-year-old institution. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Who is Soon-Shiong? An L.A. billionaire with big ideas — and mixed achievements. Los Angeles Times

And: What do you want the new owner of the L.A. Times to know? Los Angeles Times

Recall dispute

After Toyota issued a 2016 recall to fix a key electronic component on some of its Priuses, one of California’s largest dealers said the cars were still coming in after overheating and leaving drivers stranded in traffic. Toyota said the problem on model years 2010-14 had been taken care of with a software change. But having seen more than 100 post-recall failures, Roger Hogan — whose family owns Claremont Toyota and Capistrano Toyota — warned customers about the issue and refused to resell used Priuses he’d gotten as trade-ins. Today, he has 70 of the cars, worth $1 million, parked at his dealerships. Los Angeles Times



Who’s in charge? Columnist Steve Lopez dissects “L.A.’s Keystone Kops rollout of a new trash recycling program, which has featured a dramatic service reduction at a huge price increase for thousands of customers. It’s so bad, even the people who supported the plan are ducking for cover, pointing fingers or throwing everyone else under the bus.” Los Angeles Times

Pulling out: San Gabriel city leaders on Tuesday rescinded a Police Department agreement with immigration officials, citing doubts about the arrangement’s necessity and heightened fears about deportations. Los Angeles Times

Hollywood contracts: “Broad language allowing stars and distributors to be dropped if accused of misconduct is beginning to be included in negotiations in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey situations.The Hollywood Reporter


Eight hours! Rep. Nancy Pelosi spoke for eight hours (standing in high heels) on the House floor reading the stories of people brought to the country illegally as children, the people known as “Dreamers.” Los Angeles Times


Big decision: A federal judge on Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order barring Orange County Sheriff’s deputies from arresting homeless people who refuse to leave encampments along the Santa Ana River. Los Angeles Times

Mistakes were made: San Diego officials have completed an investigation into the near-death of a homeless person who was scooped into a city garbage truck by mistake in December and issued new rules to make sure it doesn’t happen again. San Diego Union-Tribune

#TBT: “Ruby Rippey Gibney, the former aide to Gavin Newsom whose more than decade-old affair is resurfacing as part of the gubernatorial race, wrote Wednesday that her former boss should be absolved from recurring accusations of workplace harassment.” Sacramento Bee

Crypto!The City of Berkeley, one of the epicenters of liberal California, is considering a turn to cryptocurrency to reduce its reliance on federal funding in the Trump administration.” Business Insider


Big jail riot: A riot at a Bakersfield jail involved 120 inmates and left four of them hospitalized after authorities regained control, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday. Los Angeles Times


Ref is still voting: A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Wednesday set a May preliminary hearing date for L.A. school board member Ref Rodriguez, making it more likely that Rodriguez, who faces criminal charges, will be on hand to cast important votes on the school board in the coming months. Los Angeles Times

New podcast alert: “Most officers will go their entire career without shooting anyone. [KPCC investigated] one officer who shot at four people in 7 months.” KPCC


Learning from the past: Here’s how a group of scientists is using the deadly Montecito mudflow to predict future disasters. Los Angeles Times

On the coast: Emergency responders are learning how to rescue sea lions and other sea dwellers caught in oil spills. Orange County Register

Very, very interesting: Water in the desert — the trouble with Cadiz. KCET



New agent needed: Yasiel Puig appears to be in the market for new representation. The Wasserman agency announced Wednesday they have terminated their professional relationship with the Dodgers outfielder, who will earn $7.5 million in 2018. Los Angeles Times

Wow: “As threats to California’s giant redwoods grow, the key to their salvation might be in their complex genetic code.” The Washington Post

Traditions: Hmong families in Fresno are worried about the spirits of their dead relatives after a local cemetery moved some headstones without performing the proper rituals. Fresno Bee

Cooking with gas: “A California startup is applying the Big Solar playbook to fossil fuels.” Bloomberg



Los Angeles area: sunny, 82, Thursday; sunny, 78, Friday. San Diego: sunny, 75, Thursday; sunny, 69, Friday. San Francisco area: sunny, 71, Thursday; partly cloudy, 66, Friday. Sacramento: sunny, 73, Thursday; sunny, 75, Friday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Tamara Smith:

“My fondest memories are of visiting Disneyland in the late ’50s. I remember being there in a stroller, having to go take a nap in our car with my father in what is now the entrance to Disney’s California Adventure, but best of all, being just old enough to walk in on my own. My Dad stopped parking up front and instead went to the rear of the parking area, where there was still a large stand of orange trees. This allowed us the thrill of picking a fresh orange and eating it while waiting for a comfy tram ride to the entrance. I’ll never forget how good those oranges tasted! And no one ever told us to stop eating them on the tram. I still get a thrill when I see the Disney gardeners have planted seasonal orange trees inside the park and wish I could pick one again.”

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.