Newsletter: Essential California: A renewed vision for The Times


Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, April 14, Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:


Something big is happening at the Los Angeles Times. We’re returning to local ownership after 18 tumultuous years under Chicago control. Billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is expected to take ownership of The Times and its sister paper, the San Diego Union-Tribune, this month in a $500-million deal — a huge premium on the value that analysts had placed on the Los Angeles and San Diego papers. Soon-Shiong’s story, which starts on the streets of apartheid-era South Africa, will resonate with many in this city of immigrants. Los Angeles Times

Plus: The Los Angeles Times this summer will move from downtown L.A. to El Segundo. The quick move is necessitated because previous owners of The Times had sold the historic building where the newspaper has operated since 1935 to a Canadian developer. Los Angeles Times


Up in smoke

The Trump administration is abandoning a Justice Department threat to crack down on recreational marijuana in states where it is legal, a move that could enable cannabis businesses in California and other states that have legalized pot to operate without fear of federal raids and prosecution. President Trump personally directed the abrupt retreat. Los Angeles Times

On the river

A thriving river, teeming with wildlife. A future in which the city meets its own water needs without importing extra from elsewhere. Can Los Angeles have both? That’s the challenge facing a city that aspires to live within its environmental means. If local agencies follow through on their most ambitious plans to capture more stormwater and reuse treated wastewater, the 51-mile-long Los Angeles River will probably dry up for a few months of the year, according to research from UCLA. Los Angeles Times


Granny flats! Could granny flats help ease the state’s housing crisis? Some advocates think so. Los Angeles Times


In Sacramento: Last year’s bloody clashes on California college campuses have spawned a battle in the state Legislature over how far the law should go to protect unpopular speech and prevent violence between those with opposing political views. Los Angeles Times

In D.C.: Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan has endorsed Rep. Kevin McCarthy as his successor, but it may not seal the deal. Los Angeles Times

In court: Television producer Jill Blackstone once worked for Rosie O’Donnell. Blackstone is now charged with killing her own deaf and partially blind sister in 2015. Los Angeles Times

What the judge?! A Southern California judge who sentenced two men to life in prison for murder was secretly recorded during the trial calling them “assholes” and “clowns” and saying that he planned to make a ruling that would help the prosecution, a newspaper reported. Associated Press

Back to earth: The sky may be the limit for drones, but local law enforcement agencies are looking for a way to bring them back to earth. San Diego Union-Tribune

LOL: San Francisco mayoral candidate London Breed, endorsed by the Yes in My Backyard group, intervened to have a bikeshare station removed from her block. San Francisco Examiner

On the water: With the commercial fishing industry in the tank, the Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival is a bright spot for the coastal hamlet. Press Democrat

Released: “A street vendor detained by immigration officials after she was arrested for selling corn has been ordered released by an immigration judge.” KPCC

Big change: SAG-AFTRA has released a new set of guidelines that call for an end to the practice of holding professional meetings in private hotel rooms or residences. Los Angeles Times

Yum! A Los Angeles mezcal crawl with Oaxacan mezcal master Ulises Torrentera. Los Angeles Times

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1. She vanished 18 months ago with no leads. Now, a volunteer cop has a troubling theory about what happened to her. Los Angeles Times

2. “Stan Lee Needs a Hero: Elder Abuse Claims and a Battle Over the Aging Marvel Creator.” The Hollywood Reporter

3. Mark Zuckerberg’s “I’m sorry” suit. New York Times

4. She challenged fire-walking guru Tony Robbins over his sexist take on #MeToo. He apologized, but not to her. Los Angeles Times

5. “The Bay Area is broken”: Why local startups are hiring outside Silicon Valley. Mercury News


Good lineage: Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon’s son Miles, 25, is new at this acting thing. He only really started acting a couple of years ago, even though he’s already landing roles in big studio films. This month, you can see his scene-stealing turn in Universal’s comedy “Blockers,” the film about three high school girls who make a pact to lose their virginity by prom night. Los Angeles Times

Wow: “An energy company wants to build another huge solar farm in the open desert east of Palm Springs — and maybe the world’s biggest battery.” Desert Sun

Funny story: This Elizabeth Holmes was not charged with fraud by the SEC. She works at the Wall Street Journal, but the rise and fall of the other Holmes has done lasting damage to her, namely (ahem) online. Marie Claire

The MAGA tour: There’s a group of about 20 people — sometimes more – from throughout Southern California who, in recent weeks, have been turning out for multiple city council debates to loudly voice their support for anti-sanctuary measures.” Orange County Register

Festival weekend: “Spending time in California’s Coachella Valley, journalist Gabriel Thompson explores how the region’s Latino communities have adjusted to a life of fear and uncertainty under a Trump administration.” Longreads

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.