Newsletter: Essential California: How the state’s new laws could affect you


Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Dec. 28, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Hundreds of new California laws take effect on Jan. 1, imposing a raft of new mandates on scores of issues, including rules dictating when plastic straws will be handed out at restaurants, that workplace sexual harassment settlements are disclosed and that set new limits on the ownership of guns. Los Angeles Times

Awaiting the governor


With Gavin Newsom taking office as California governor, he faces myriad tough issues from healthcare and homelessness to fire policy.

-- With California’s ambitious but troubled high-speed rail, Newsom inherits a tough decision from outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown: delay indefinitely the goal of a statewide bullet train system and salvage something useful out of the billions of dollars in sunk costs, or recommit to the original vision and find at least $50 billion in new money to keep it going. Los Angeles Times

-- What the fire unions expect from Newsom. Sacramento Bee

Killed in the line of duty

A profile of Ronil Singh, the Central Valley police officer killed early Wednesday in the line of duty, breaking hearts in the small town he patrolled. “He told me he came to America to become a police officer. That’s all he wanted to do,” the police chief of Newman said. “He truly loved what he did.” Los Angeles Times

Plus: Authorities say the suspect is in the U.S. illegally, and that prompted President Trump to weigh in. Los Angeles Times


BEST OF 2018

Essential California is beginning our annual list of California’s best reads of the year. Look for more through Jan. 1.

A dazzling, deep exploration of how one family is changing agriculture in the Central Valley, and also is trying to alter the fraught social contract between farmers and labor. By Mark Arax, California Sunday Magazine

Revelations by reporters about allegations of sexual misconduct by a longtime USC gynecologist over decades sparked a revolution at one of California’s most important and esteemed institutions. By Harriet Ryan, Matt Hamilton and Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times

In the tiny town of Mojave, modern-day rocket men are risking their lives to make space tourism a reality. By Nicholas Schmidle, New Yorker

One of America’s bloodiest hitmen operated with impunity in rural California. The story of how he got away with murder for so long says something profound about justice and class in California. By Jessica Garrison, BuzzFeed News


Russia, fake news, bad actors and Facebook’s tumbling from the world’s best friend to a cautionary tale for our times. By Sheera Frenkel, Nicholas Confessore, Cecilia Kang, Matthew Rosenberg and Jack Nicas, New York Times

California is the wealthiest place in America, brimming with Silicon Valley dollars and Hollywood glitz. But it’s also home to crushing child poverty, often hidden amid the familiar suburbs. By Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times

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What goes up … : The L.A. housing bubble hasn’t burst, but those popping sounds are getting louder. Southern California home sales fell sharply in November, deepening a retreat from a sustained housing boom that placed home ownership out of reach for many. The 12% drop in November sales from a year earlier was the fourth consecutive monthly decline for the six-county region. However, housing experts aren’t ready to declare that a bust is underway. Los Angeles Times


History lesson: The pioneering woman who helped build downtown L.A. Curbed Los Angeles

Flower powerhouse: The 130th Rose Parade may be kicking off early Tuesday morning, but officials at Cal Poly Pomona say its planned Rose Float Lab will not be part of the float building process this year. School officials say design tweaks have forced them to delay construction until early next year. Los Angeles Times


The trouble runs deep: California Republicans fear the worst is yet to come. Fresno Bee

RIP: Barbara Edelston Yaroslavsky, a longtime community leader and the wife of former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, has died. Los Angeles Times



Cost-saving strategy: Inside the new L.A. County sheriff’s plan for body cameras. LAist

Remains identified: A Manhattan Beach woman who went missing more than two years ago during a family trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has been confirmed dead. Los Angeles Times

Born on drugs: The alarming increase in babies of addict moms. Los Angeles Daily News

That’s just his opinion, man? Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk has moved to have a defamation lawsuit against him dismissed, arguing that his insults aimed at a Thai-cave rescue volunteer whom he called a “pedo” and a “child rapist” were merely opinions and protected by the 1st Amendment. Los Angeles Times


The image maker: Donald Trump was on the “D” list in Hollywood when he met Mark Burnett. Then came “Celebrity Apprentice,” and everything changed. New Yorker


Spidey sense: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” was something of a creative dare. The filmmakers sought an all-new visual language, conjuring the feeling of being inside the pages of a living, breathing comic book. It turned out to be a Hollywood success story. Los Angeles Times

Plus: The early line on some potential Oscar nominees. Los Angeles Times

Yum: Using Yelp to track the rise and fall of restaurants around San Francisco. San Francisco Chronicle

Woof! Can “doggie playgroups” get more canines adopted? Orange County Register


Los Angeles area: Sunny, 64, Friday and Saturday. San Diego: Sunny, 62, Friday and Saturday. San Francisco area: Sunny, 58, Friday. Mostly sunny, 57, Saturday. San Jose: Sunny, 58, Friday. Mostly sunny, 58, Saturday. Sacramento: Mostly sunny, 57, Friday. Partly cloudy, 54, Saturday. More weather is here.



Today’s California memory comes from Diane Gross:

“My family moved to the Valley in 1958. Many Saturdays, my sister and I would get up at dawn, and, still in our pajamas, get in Dad’s truck to be dropped off at his parents’ apartment in Hollywood on his way to work; we’d listen to Dick Whittinghill on KMPC as we drove through Laurel Canyon. We’d have breakfast, get dressed, then take the bus downtown to shop the department stores that still lined the streets and have lunch at Clifton’s. Sometimes, we’d stay on Hollywood Boulevard and lunch at Ontra Cafeteria. Dad, the grandparents, the stores and Ontra are all gone now; I’m glad for the memories.”

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.