Newsletter: Essential California: In San Francisco, a clean slate for thousands with pot convictions

San Francisco worked with the nonprofit Code for America to identify marijuana-related convictions eligible for expungement under Proposition 64, the district attorney’s office said.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, Feb. 26, and here’s what’s happening across California:


A yearlong review of marijuana-related convictions in San Francisco has been completed, with more than 9,300 crimes slated to be removed from people’s records, prosecutors announced Monday. Given that recreational marijuana is now legal in California and that the “war on drugs” has had a disproportionate effect on minorities, Dist. Atty. George Gascón said, his office’s effort is aimed at removing barriers a criminal conviction poses for individuals long after they’ve served their sentence. Los Angeles Times

San Diego’s housing push


San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer thinks his city has said “no” to housing for too long. Where it once grew by sprawling — with political leaders in the middle of the last century annexing hundreds of square miles from the San Pasqual Valley near Cleveland National Forest to the border with Mexico — today San Diego is planning for an urban development boom so that people don’t have to drive to work. But that growth hasn’t happened yet and the city’s housing costs are escalating. Still, opposition from residents is bubbling up. Los Angeles Times

New tax on the horizon?

Transportation officials are considering a tax on Uber and Lyft rides in Los Angeles County, saying the Silicon Valley companies don’t pay their fair share to maintain public streets and that they exacerbate congestion. The ride-hailing tax is in the early stages of discussion at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, along with more than a dozen other strategies to manage congestion and fund transportation projects before the 2028 Olympic Games. Los Angeles Times

Programming note!


Even as crime has dropped in L.A. over the last two decades, there are thousands of children who grow up with a constant drumbeat of death while navigating safe paths to schools in neighborhoods where someone has been killed nearby. In a multi-part series being published this week, Times education reporter Sonali Kohli reveals more about killings near schools, and the students left behind. Los Angeles Times

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More rain: Get your umbrellas back out because California’s wet winter isn’t over yet. The rain will be particularly heavy in Northern California, but Southern California will see its share too. Los Angeles Times


Spring training surprise: Dodgers officials met with free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper in Las Vegas on Sunday night, manager Dave Roberts confirmed Monday morning. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Clayton Kershaw’s aching shoulder is a touchy subject for the Dodgers. Los Angeles Times

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw plays catch during spring training at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., last week.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Oscars post-mortem: “Green Book” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” signal a return to populism, but what about “Black Panther”? Los Angeles Times


Plus: How Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” Oscars created a dialogue about the faces we see on screen. Los Angeles Times

Mapped: Nineteen places in L.A. where black architects left their mark. Curbed Los Angeles


In D.C.: Gov. Gavin Newsom’s only encounter with President Trump during a two-day trip to Washington this week for the National Governors Assn. convention amounted to a quick handshake and brief chat. Instead, the Democratic governor invested time with top administration officials, hoping to smooth tense relations with the White House that could obstruct federal assistance in addressing critical issues facing California. Los Angeles Times


Facing a test: Cal State L.A.’s plan to raise admissions standards faces pushback from students and faculty. Los Angeles Times

Primary times: Sen. Kamala Harris attracted crowds in Iowa but left questions about what she believes. Yahoo News

Big picture: Can America still build big? A California rail project raises doubts. New York Times

Ka-ching? California wants Silicon Valley to pay you a data dividend. CNET



Interesting twist: The Supreme Court on Monday overturned a 9th Circuit Court decision on equal pay because Judge Stephen Reinhardt from Los Angeles died 11 days before the ruling was announced. Los Angeles Times

Sad: Detectives and police volunteers began searching a landfill in Corona early Monday for the body of 6-month-old Jacsun Manson, who has been missing since late January. Los Angeles Times

See you in court: In Fresno, a teen is suing her school for banning her from wearing a MAGA hat. Vox



New types of insurance: “Hoping to prevent another California utility from being driven into bankruptcy by wildfires, state officials may create a new kind of insurance fund to help cover costs from the increasingly devastating disasters.” San Francisco Chronicle

Plus: “There’s fire everywhere”: The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has released the initial 911 calls from the Camp fire. Ukiah Daily-Journal



Remember that Super Bowl ad: After feeling “emotionally ambushed,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn tearfully honored those who saved his life. Los Angeles Times

Elon, Elon, Elon: Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk violated his agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission by tweeting inaccurate information and should be held in contempt, the federal agency said Monday in a court filing. Los Angeles Times

Fun! “This 19th century church is now a popular roller rink in San Francisco.” Atlas Obscura

The new economy: The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America. The Verge



Los Angeles area: Cloudy, 65, Tuesday. Partly cloudy, 63, Wednesday. San Diego: Cloudy, 62, Tuesday. Sunny, 64, Wednesday. San Francisco area: Rainy, 56, Tuesday. Rainy, 59, Wednesday. San Jose: Showers, 58, Tuesday. Rainy, 63, Wednesday. Sacramento: Showers, 54, Tuesday. Rainy, 62, Wednesday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Judith Cain:


”I arrived in California in November 1944 (I was 4 years old) on a train from New York filled with sailors headed to war in the Pacific and some, like my father, civilians working for the Navy who were being sent to the shipyard at Hunters Point, San Francisco, to build ships for the Pacific Fleet. We arrived in Oakland after three days and three nights on the train and took the ferry across the Bay to San Francisco’s Ferry Building, and I think it was a taxi that took us to our assigned housing at Hunters Point.

“We lived on a steep hill in WWII ‘temporary’ housing — long, two-story buildings with eight or 12 small two-bedroom apartments. Despite the spare housing, we had a fabulous view of San Francisco Bay and across the bay to Berkeley and Oakland. The hills between buildings were covered with bright orange California poppies. We all had ice boxes, and the ice delivery people arrived with blocks of ice and, if we were persistent, chips for us kids to suck on.

“After the war, my parents weighed their options: Return to New York or remain in San Francisco? The choice was obvious for them, and so instead of growing up a Bronx kid, I grew up a California girl enamored of San Francisco — riding my bike alone through Golden Gate Park, visiting the De Young Museum and Japanese Tea Garden, swimming in the saltwater Fleishhacker Pool near the zoo, reveling in Playland at the Beach, swimming and ice skating at the old Sutro Baths before it burned and familiar with the dynamic neighborhoods of Chinatown, Japan Town, North Beach. Over the next 10 or so years, some of our New York relatives joined us in California, yet another migration from east to west.”

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.