Newsletter: Essential California: 17 years. 179 victims. The deadly toll of street racing in Los Angeles

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, March 17. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:


For the record:

12:00 a.m. March 19, 2018A Union-Tribune story and headline have been corrected from the original posting, which reported a lower amount for the county assessment. The mistake was the result of county officials providing the Union-Tribune a value for only one of the two parcels that make up the property.

The dangers of street racing

Southern California has long been an epicenter of high-speed car culture. Wild police pursuits dominate television newscasts. The “Fast & Furious” film franchise, which many cops blame for hyping street racing, was set in Los Angeles. Since 2000, 179 people have died in Los Angeles County in accidents where street racing was suspected, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of coroner’s records, police reports and media accounts from 2000 to 2017. Los Angeles Times


Marathon this weekend

The Los Angeles Marathon is this weekend. Aside from street closures, the event brings some of the best long-distance runners in the world to the Southland. The “Stadium to Sea” course is expected to attract more than 24,000 entrants with an elite field that includes three previous men’s winners and the women’s defending champion. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Inspired by the L.A. Marathon? Here are 10 secrets veteran runners know all about. Los Angeles Times

A surprising problem

Even as opioids flood American communities and fuel widespread addiction, hospitals are facing a dangerous shortage of the powerful painkillers needed by patients in acute pain, according to doctors, pharmacists and a coalition of health groups. Los Angeles Times


The end: Cal State Fullerton’s unlikely season is over. In the school’s first NCAA tournament appearance in a decade, the Titans fell to Purdue 74-48 in a first-round game at Little Caesars Arena on Friday. Los Angeles Times

Eesh: A San Francisco police officer once dubbed the “Hot Cop of Castro” faces jail time after he was convicted of two felony counts of hit and run stemming from an off-duty car crash. Los Angeles Times

What happened here? Two attorneys who formerly represented Marion “Suge” Knight after he was charged with murder pleaded not guilty to witness tampering charges in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Friday. Los Angeles Times

More allegations: John Bailey, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is under investigation for allegations of sexual harassment.” Variety

Deal making: One month after San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer agreed to buy a defunct indoor-skydiving property downtown for $7 million without the benefit of a current appraisal, county assessors have completed a new valuation of the two parcels, placing the value at $7 million. San Diego Union-Tribune

Poor kids: A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to raise $40,000 for the six children of a couple who were killed when their car crashed in Delano while trying to flee from immigration agents. Los Angeles Times

Gonna be cool: Taking a look at the under-construction 6th Street Bridge. Curbed LA

What to do this weekend? “Surprise! The Broad has added a brand-new Kusama infinity room to Its collection.” Los Angeles Magazine

Ahoy! “L.A. traffic is so bad, this man wants to solve it with a boat.” KPCC

On behalf of Omar Navarro: “Michael Flynn will speak publicly Friday for the first time since pleading guilty to lying to the FBI to endorse a far-right Republican candidate challenging Rep. Maxine Waters.” Daily Beast


1. El Pollo Loco unveils a new logo. Orange County Register

2. Clark Sharon, who once wrote for the L.A. Times and Orange County Register, is now homeless and spends his days reading those newspapers. OC Weekly

3. “‘Such a shame’: Julia Child’s family home, now owned by Caltrans, is vacant and deteriorating in Pasadena.” Pasadena Star-News

4. This is what it’s like to serve tacos at Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s party. L.A. Taco

5. A battered doctor, a slain patient and a family’s quest for answers. California Healthline


A 51st state? The so-called Northstate is looking less and less like the rest of the Golden State. The vast, sparsely populated region is whiter, more rural and poorer than the rest of the state — and residents are more conservative. While California has become the center of the resistance to President Trump, a number of Northern Californians are waging a resistance of their own: against California itself. That’s why, for die-hard State of Jefferson activists, the dream of a 51st state lives on, with much hope in the Trump administration. Los Angeles Times

Heartbreaking: Times columnist Chris Erskine lost his son in a car accident recently. In a heartbreakingly honest story, he describes his crushing grief but also the beautiful memories they shared together. Los Angeles Times

A changing county: “Humboldt County, traditionally shorthand for outlaw culture and the great dope it produces, is facing a harsh reckoning. Every trait that made this strip along California’s wild northwest coast the best place in the world to grow pot is now working against its future as a producer in the state’s $7-billion-a-year marijuana market.” Washington Post

Thought-provoking: “Cinco de Mayo. St. Patrick’s Day. Lunar New Year. Dia De Los Muertos. When one culture’s holiday becomes everyone’s excuse to party, what’s gained and what’s lost?NPR

Major debate: “Legislation would allow more home building along transit routes to reduce gas-guzzling commutes. Some who support the goal have denounced the method.” New York Times

Watch: “Jeff Goldblum heats up the kitchen with Times food critic Jonathan Gold to prepare a delicious French soup.” Funny or Die

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.