Newsletter: Essential California: How the state could remake L.A.'s neighborhoods

A bill in Sacramento could “upzone” much of L.A., allowing a greater number of four- to eight-story apartment and condominium buildings near rail and bus routes. Above, a multistory residential project is under construction at Cesar Chavez Avenue and Broadway near Chinatown.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

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


A state proposal to loosen or eliminate restrictions on height, density, parking and design for residential properties near major rail and bus stops would have a dramatic effect on Los Angeles. A Times analysis found that about 190,000 parcels in neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes are located in the “transit-rich” areas identified in the proposal. Residences in those neighborhoods could eventually be replaced with buildings ranging from 45 to 85 feet. Los Angeles Times

The struggle is real


A longtime Grand Central Market chile vendor is struggling amid the new, gentrified foodie scene. The stand is next to a gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwich stall where last week’s special PB&J was the $8 Moroccan, with ras el hanout spiced pistachio butter, fig and rosewater jam, and fresh mint. Los Angeles Times

They will be heard

Joining demonstrators around the country, tens of thousands of Southern California residents enraged by the gun violence that has ravaged American schools and other public places flocked to downtown Los Angeles on Saturday to call for stricter gun control laws. Here are some scenes from the March for Our Lives demonstrations in California. Los Angeles Times

Plus: L.A. student Edna Chavez’s tragedy becomes a motivating force. Los Angeles Times

And: “Welcome to the revolution”: reports from Washington and around the nation. Los Angeles Times


Voice of the Dodgers en español: “Everywhere he goes, he is serenaded, by restaurant busboys and city officials, from the bleacher seats to the dugout club, his life reflected in the singing of a call that has become a connection. Se va, se va, se va …” — Sports columnist Bill Plaschke on Jaime Jarrin, an L.A. legend. Los Angeles Times

Going there: More cities are touching the third rail: rent control. Orange County Register

Another allegation: A second woman has come forward to accuse Lynwood Councilman Edwin Hernandez of behaving inappropriately toward her while she was employed with the city. Los Angeles Times


Stephon Clark shooting: Sacramento’s African American police chief is walking a fine line as he deals with the police killing of a black man who was in his own backyard. Sacramento Bee

Plus: How the shooting is becoming a national story. Los Angeles Times

In the courthouse: California’s court system paid more than $500,000 over seven years to resolve sexual harassment complaints against judges and staff. Los Angeles Times

Changes afoot: Ideas for campus security after the Florida school shooting. Los Angeles Daily News


Two tunnels, one or none? The question continues to swirl around plans to perform major surgery on the sickly heart of California’s water system. Los Angeles Times

Lots of money, but … : In summer 2016 the state approved its largest homeless program, a $2-billion loan to help finance new housing, but the money is tied up in court. That same year, lawmakers allocated $35 million for rental assistance and emergency shelters, but staff shortages at the housing department delayed spending the money for 18 months. Last year’s package of housing legislation included more than $100 million for programs to help the homeless, but the state won’t begin spending those dollars until fall at the earliest. The spending difficulties come as the state’s homeless population has risen 16% over the last two years. Los Angeles Times

Tariff talk: California’s vintners and growers fumed at the growing prospect that wine, nuts, fruit and other Golden State exports would become collateral damage in a trade battle between President Trump and China. The $47-billion industry, which largely backed Trump, has been buffeted repeatedly. Los Angeles Times

Opinion piece: Has the rise of Trump made Californians — and others who disagree with him — feel what it’s like to live in the ghetto? New York Times

People problem: The Bay Area may be swimming in money, but it’s losing something very valuable: people. Wall Street Journal

Tough to rebound: Fire victims in wine country are discovering they don’t have enough insurance. Press Democrat


If the quakes don’t get you … : Ah, California — where danger lurks behind every beautiful corner. Los Angeles Times

Runners’ paradise/hell: Why runners love Death Valley. San Francisco Chronicle

On the river: The March miracle has created a dramatic scene at the Auburn Dam. Sacramento Bee


“Mad Max: Furry Road”: “Aren’t those dogs amazing? They are indeed. But tellingly, it’s in the director’s handling of the story’s human factor that his sensitivity falters, and the weakness for racial stereotyping that has sometimes marred his work comes to the fore.” — Times film critic Justin Chang on “Isle of Dogs” and the debate about Japanese culture and cultural appropriation. Los Angeles Times

Plus: How reaction to the movie shows how much the debate about Asian cultural “inspiration” — and Asian stereotypes — has changed since “Lost in Translation.” Washington Post

Liftoff: “Mad” Mike Hughes and his rocket went for a ride this weekend. Associated Press

Making its way through L.A.: Building the world’s most powerful telescope. The Atlantic

Phoenix rising: Ben Affleck and the tabloid mystery of his “midlife tattoo.” The New Yorker

Meet Janet: The heartbreaking collapse of one homeless woman’s life in Fresno, from home and family, to drugs, to nothing. Fresno Bee


Los Angeles area: sunny and 70. San Diego: partly cloudy and 64. San Francisco area: sunny and 62. Sacramento: sunny and 66. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California: L.A. City Councilman Gil Cedillo (March 25, 1954), producer Amy Pascal (March 25, 1958), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (March 26, 1940), Google co-founder Larry Page (March 26, 1973), Rep. Ted Lieu (March 29, 1969), L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn (March 30, 1952), Rep. Tony Cardenas (March 31, 1963) and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (March 31, 1952).

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.