Newsletter: Essential California: Why the heat left so many powerless in L.A.

A pedestrian tries to cool off while walking along Hollywood Boulevard near Highland Avenue late last week. Thousands of DWP customers in Los Angeles are still without power after several days of excessive heat.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, July 10, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Before the scorching heat descended on Los Angeles last week, the Department of Water and Power assured residents it had “adequate resources” to meet the electrical demands. It did, in fact, have enough power to go around, utility officials said Monday, after tens of thousands of people had suffered outages. But in many neighborhoods, the DWP said, its aging infrastructure could not handle the surging demand for electricity as Angelenos ran their air conditioning day and night. Los Angeles Times

Problems within the ranks again?


For decades, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has struggled to combat a problem within its own ranks: Secretive cliques of deputies who bonded over aggressive, often violent, police work and branded themselves with matching tattoos. Now, despite renewed promises from sheriff’s officials to crack down on the internal cliques, fresh allegations have arisen of deputies in the department’s Compton station adorned with matching skull tattoos. One of the deputies, who fatally shot a black man during a foot pursuit, acknowledged the tattoos in testimony from a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the man’s family. Los Angeles Times

A $100-million tramway

The Hollywood sign — a symbol of Los Angeles’ signature industry — has for decades been blamed for worsening traffic congestion and parking in the surrounding communities. One of the movie and television business’s biggest players, Warner Bros., says it has a solution. The 95-year-old studio on Monday told city officials it would foot the bill for an aerial tramway to transport visitors to and from the Hollywood sign, starting from a parking structure next to its Burbank lot. Los Angeles Times

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Cindy Solorzano of Van Nuys rides the Metro Red Line. Metro is planning to install vinyl seats on the subway, saying plastic-based fabrics are cheaper to install and much easier to keep clean.
( Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times )


Tracking the commute: LeBron James made headlines in 2012 by biking from his Coconut Grove home to a Miami Heat game. If he wants to pedal to work as a Laker, it will take significantly more time — and could put him at risk of hurting both himself and the team’s playoff chances next year. Los Angeles Times

Big transition: Propelled by years of complaints and a sizable dry-cleaning bill, Metro has begun to swap out the subway’s wool and nylon seats for sleek, patterned vinyl. Los Angeles Times

Looking back: “In Los Angeles, smog is a given and most of us know its primary source is cars and trucks. But the story of how our infamous smog came to be is as thick and convoluted as the smog itself.LAist


Key ruling: A federal judge in Los Angeles dealt the Trump administration a significant blow by rejecting its attempt to indefinitely detain immigrant children caught crossing the border illegally with their parents. Meanwhile, the Trump administration, under court order to reunite children younger than 5 with their parents after being forcibly separated at the border, told a judge that it will only be able to reunify just over half of the families by Tuesday’s deadline. Los Angeles Times

Mass hearings: “On Monday, California courts tried to curb their caseloads by assigning a judge to oversee misdemeanor immigration cases and holding large, group hearings that critics call assembly-line justice.” Associated Press


Not inspiring: In a sign of how modest expectations have become of Californians actually casting ballots, elections officials and advocates alike found relief Monday in the final tally showing 37% of voters cast ballots in June — small compared with total registration but the highest for a nonpresidential primary since 1998. Los Angeles Times

On the horizon: Almost a quarter of the nation’s children younger than 5 are at risk of not being counted in the 2020 census, which could have serious implications for the well-being of children around the United States. Los Angeles Times

On the campaign trail: “John Cox, California governor candidate, says his business background is a big boost.” San Francisco Chronicle

Will they have a cow? “California dairy farmers, part of Trump’s base, stand to get creamed by his trade war.” McClatchy


Not a good look: A prosecutor in the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office is on administrative leave after offensive social media rants targeting Rep. Maxine Waters and Michelle Obama, among others. Los Angeles Times

Back in court: Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty to sexual assault charges Monday, and a judge ordered that he be released on continued bail. Los Angeles Times

Eyes peeled: Authorities are searching for multiple suspects in an attack on a 92-year-old man in South Los Angeles last week. Los Angeles Times

Inside his ordeal: “The Los Angeles actor who was a victim in an alleged kidnapping-for-ransom scheme said in an exclusive interview with ‘Good Morning America’ that he is not a victim, but a survivor.” ABC News


The battle of Opal Cliffs: A beach behind lock and key is turning into a fight over social justice in California. Los Angeles Times

Debate: “Is California’s legacy environmental law protecting the state’s beauty or blocking affordable housing?” Capital Public Radio


A big deal: Dockless scooter and bicycle start-up Lime has a new ally in the fight for bike lane dominance: Uber. Los Angeles Times

RIP: Actor and singer Tab Hunter, whose blond all-American good looks made him a matinee idol and poster boy for Eisenhower-era optimism, has died. He was 86. Los Angeles Times

Seeing through the haze: With marijuana legal, California has been flooded with dubious health claims about the drug. Los Angeles Times

LeBron wasn’t the first: “Wilt Chamberlain’s trade to Los Angeles, 50 years later.” The Ringer


Los Angeles area: Partly cloudy, 90, Tuesday. Partly cloudy, 87, Wednesday. San Diego: Partly cloudy, 81, Tuesday. Partly cloudy, 80, Wednesday. San Francisco area: Cloudy, 72, Tuesday. Partly cloudy, 67, Wednesday. Sacramento: Sunny, 98, Tuesday. Partly cloudy, 97, Wednesday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Heather McLaren:

One of my fondest memories about growing up in Southern California was my time spent at Jungleland, though not always as a patron of the small animal theme park in Thousand Oaks. Our house was in the hills on the western side of the 101 (a highway — not a freeway). Water was an issue even then, so between the water pump and the septic tank, occasional plumbing issues arose. That meant my mother had to do the laundry at the laundromat! Thousand Oaks had one located adjacent to a large pen of Jungleland’s camels and llamas. While waiting for the clothes to wash, I would pull grass and wild oats from the shoulder of the little side road and feed them though the tall chain-link. Quite tame, those animals: I remember lots of shaggy fur and brown misshapen teeth chewing away happily, or so I thought.”

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.