Newsletter: Essential California: Missing without a trace in L.A.

A family photo of Nancy Paulikas, 55, who went missing after a trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Oct. 15, 2016. Police, family members and friends are asking the public to help find the 55-year-old Paulikas.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, April 9, and here’s what’s happening across California:


She vanished 18 months ago with no leads. Now, a volunteer cop has a troubling theory about what happened to her. Steve Lopez revisits the bizarre case of Nancy Paulikas, who disappeared without a trace in L.A. Los Angeles Times

Missed opportunity?


Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has repeatedly pointed to the state decision to eliminate redevelopment agencies as one of the reasons that homelessness has surged across the city. But others argue that L.A. missed a crucial opportunity to invest in affordable housing after redevelopment ended. Los Angeles Times

One tunnel or two?

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is reconsidering the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta project and is facing a choice: Approve $5.2 billion in funding for a single tunnel that would be built in the center of the state’s waterworks, or OK up to $10.8 billion to help finance the construction of two tunnels. There is a lot riding on the vote as the tunnel project struggles to survive. Los Angeles Times

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Complex issue: Is Yamashiro a historic piece of authentic Japanese architecture, or a very old piece of cultural appropriation, or neither? Reporter Frank Shyong tries to find out and ends up with a headache. Los Angeles Times


Trump meets his match: Meet Stormy Daniels’ Newport Beach firebrand attorney. His aggressive legal and media tactics have driven television coverage of the scandal over the president’s alleged affair with the porn actress. Los Angeles Times

Fast track: The 14 new “automated” screening lanes at the Tom Bradley International Terminal are promoted as helping cut screening times by as much as 30%. LAX now has 27 total such lanes, besting Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Los Angeles Times

Important to hear: Parents share painful stories of teenage children struggling with depression, anxiety and sometimes suicide. Orange County Register

Siren call: For the second time in a week, authorities are investigating how an ambulance was stolen in the city of Los Angeles. It turns out that thefts of emergency vehicles are surprisingly common around the country, sometimes causing devastating crashes. Los Angeles Times

Animal-free carnitas? L.A.’s vegan Mexican food movement. Los Angeles Times



More details: Defense Secretary James N. Mattis has signed an order to send up to 4,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border but barred them from interacting with migrants detained by the Border Patrol in most circumstances. Los Angeles Times


Perception and reality? “We think of ourselves as Mayberry when we really are closer to Gotham City.” One political scientist on Orange County after several turbulent weeks. San Francisco Chronicle

Change on the way: The death of liberal lion Judge Stephen Reinhardt gives President Trump a chance to remake the famously leftist court. New York Times

Not what they expected: Women immigrating from India find their American dream in jeopardy. New York Times



The principle of it: It began as a $280 citation for using a video camera in a courthouse. But to Gary Gileno, at stake was much more than the couple of hundred bucks he was told to pay. Los Angeles Times

Must-see: A stunning photo project in Stockton, tracking ex-cons as they try to reemerge into the world. New York Times

Intervention: Police are using “drone killers” to disable flying devices in emergency situations. Los Angeles Times

City Council responds: Growing criticism in Sacramento government over the shooting of Stephon Clark. Sacramento Bee

Plus: Who was Stephon Clark? Sacramento Bee



Cleaning up: After an intense tropical storm caused flooding in roads and rivers throughout Yosemite Valley on Saturday, the national park reopened to vehicles and visitors Sunday afternoon. Los Angeles Times


Don’t call it “Marvel Land”: Several aging toddler attractions at Disney California Adventure Park could be bulldozed in the next year or so to make way for an expansion based on some of the world’s most popular fictional characters. The new land in Anaheim will feature superheroes made famous in Marvel comic books, movies and video games, including Spider-Man, the Hulk and Iron man, among others. Los Angeles Times

On identity: Inside the Hapa Project, a collection of the words and images of more than 1,500 volunteer subjects from across the country, most with partial roots in Asian or Pacific Islander ancestry. Los Angeles Times

Award time: Two Hot Tamales make good. Los Angeles Times

Who knew? Taco Bell’s creation story involves this San Bernardino cafe. Eater LA


Dude! Skate parks, once considered a menace, are booming everywhere around the world. Now we head toward the first skateboarding Olympics.” New York Times


Los Angeles area: sunny and 90. San Diego: sunny and 79. San Francisco area: partly cloudy and 70. Sacramento: mostly sunny and 78. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California: labor leader Dolores Huerta (April 10, 1930), Rep. Susan Davis (April 13, 1944), Rep. Jim Costa (April 13, 1952) and Rep. David Valadao (April 14, 1977).

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.