Newsletter: Essential California: Killing the L.A. dream

A biker pedals along 6th Street in downtown Los Angeles, past the Santa Fe Lofts building. The property just sold for nearly $70 million, part of the transformation of downtown in recent years that has been accompanied by rising rents.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, April 17, and here’s what’s happening across California:


For L.A.’s young, the dream of getting ahead — let alone owning a home — is fading fast. According to a survey released Monday by the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA, residents across L.A. County are increasingly anxious about the cost of living, with housing at the top of their worries. Young people are feeling it the most. “It’s a perfect storm for young people who are spending a disproportionate amount of their income just to have shelter,” a study author said. Los Angeles Times

L.A.’s future


Mayor Eric Garcetti, fresh off a trip to Iowa to test the waters for a presidential run, delivered a State of the City address that billed Los Angeles as a thriving, progressive metropolis that has hiked the minimum wage, snagged the Olympics, invested in its subway system and is tackling big issues such as climate change and gun violence. But he continues to struggle with a crisis that the city has yet to solve: homelessness. Los Angeles Times

Water costs

So who will end up paying for the delta tunnel? When the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted to finance the lion’s share of the project, some on the board called it a bold stroke of leadership. The delegations from Los Angeles and San Diego, however, called the move alarming, financially risky and irresponsible. The future of California’s water supply might hang in the balance of this $11-million question. Los Angeles Times

LAUSD’s next leader?

Austin Beutner has emerged as a leading contender to run the Los Angeles school district, with backers saying he is smart enough and tough enough to confront its financial and academic struggles. But there have been questions over his lack of education experience and, most recently, over his nonprofit. Despite this, many think he’ll get the job. Los Angeles Times

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Making history: Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for music on Monday, providing arguably the biggest surprise as the awards for arts and letters were announced Monday in New York. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Why Lamar really deserves this honor. Washington Post

A little digging: Elon Musk’s tunnel-digging venture, Boring Co., raised $112.5 million in a recent funding round, according to a document filed Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Most of the money — more than 90% — came from Musk himself. The rest was from “early employees” of the company, according to Boring Co. Los Angeles Times

Beyond pastrami: How Langer’s changed its menu to stay relevant as other L.A. diners faded. Los Angeles Times



Fire update: As detectives investigated the deadly blaze that ripped through a Studio City recording studio Saturday morning, they made a chilling discovery. Security video from the studio and other nearby businesses showed a man purchasing gasoline at a Chevron station across the street, police said. The man then walked to the studio. Officials believe the arsonist had a grudge. Los Angeles Times

More video: The Sacramento Police Department on Monday released more than 50 new video files of officers responding to the shooting of an unarmed black man, an incident that sparked weeks of demonstrations and heightened already simmering tensions between police and the city’s black community. Los Angeles Times

Another sad story: The search for the Santa Clarita family of four whose vehicle plunged into a Northern California river more than a week ago has entered a new and tragic chapter. Los Angeles Times

Further review: The Sheriff’s Department will take a new look at a mystery death in San Diego. San Diego Union-Tribune

He was out campaigning: In Corona, controversy after a resident called police on a black campaign worker canvassing in the neighborhood. Press-Enterprise



Scooter alert: San Francisco has long been a place where tech companies roll out their services first and seek permission later. City officials, however, are losing patience with such strategies. Los Angeles Times

BART! The long-awaited BART extension could transform once-sleepy downtown San Jose. Mercury News

Rally: More drama in Los Alamitos over “sanctuary” state opposition. Orange County Register

DiFi dollars: Sen. Dianne Feinstein has widened her massive fundraising advantage in the run-up to June’s primary, collecting twice as much in the first quarter as her strongest Senate challenger, former state Senate leader Kevin de León, has sitting in the bank. Los Angeles Times

Staying the course: Gov. Jerry Brown told a Canadian audience Monday that he believes President Trump’s efforts to reverse course on climate change policy are a “momentary deviation” as others in the United States seek limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Los Angeles Times

Lotta’s Fountain: Renaming a famed San Francisco fountain after the late Mayor Ed Lee? Not so fast, the city says. San Francisco Chronicle



More Pulitzers: A historic win for a newspaper that not only chronicled the destruction of its community but became a support system months afterward. Press Democrat

A statement: Why Beyoncé’s performance at Coachella was both a cultural and political moment. New York Times

LAX-adjacent: El Segundo was created by Standard Oil and is still dominated by the refinery that gave the town its name. The little seaside community — soon to be the new home of the Los Angeles Times — is a peculiar combination of Mayberry and industrial wasteland. And the people who live there are just fine with that. Los Angeles Times

Cover story: David Hockney’s new old look. The New Yorker

Fighting for peace: The 90-something senior peace activists of Marin County. San Francisco Chronicle


No chill here: Netflix shows no signs of slowing down. Wall Street Journal

They live! Master-planned communities might be out of favor in this era of denser urban designs, but they are far from dead in California. San Diego Union-Tribune


Los Angeles area: Sunny, 70, Tuesday. Sunny, 72, Wednesday. San Diego: Sunny, 65, Tuesday. Sunny, 67, Wednesday. San Francisco area: Sunny, 59, Tuesday. Showers, 58, Wednesday. Sacramento: Partly cloudy, 65, Tuesday and Wednesday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Sabrina Nucciarone:

“Hard to imagine that in the 1960s the counties of Los Angeles and Orange had lots of farms with crops, cows, and dairies. When I was a small child, my family lived in La Mirada, where on breaks of riding my tricycle and later my two-wheeled Schwinn, I studied shiny flecks of gold in the gutter dirt as water from the lawn sprinkler pooled and streamed. The milkman left bottles at the back door, the Helms Bakery truck carried my favorite chocolate-chocolate doughnuts, and when Mom didn’t want to cook tonight, Dad called Chicken Delight. Special memories belong to visiting Knott’s Berry Farm when it was free and when Dad would get his annual raise, he’d take the family to Disneyland. It was heaven.”


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.