Newsletter: Essential California week in review: The guns and Getty connection

More than a thousand guns were seized after federal agents searched a home in Holmby Hills, authorities said.(Video by Myung Chun/Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, May 11. Here’s a look at the top stories of the past week:


The guns and Getty connection: The scene was straight out of a B-movie: Run-down mansion. Tony neighborhood. Anonymous tip. The whiff of celebrity. And a jaw-droppingly large cache of weapons, some of questionable legality.

Massive cache of 1,000 guns
Authorities seized more than 1,000 guns from a Holmby Hills home after getting an anonymous tip regarding illegal firearms sales in a posh area near the Playboy Mansion.

Vaccine triumph: In 2015, California lawmakers passed one of the toughest mandatory vaccination requirements in the nation. This graphics story shows how, as a result of the law, the state’s falling measles vaccination rate reversed.

Hot chicken hotbed: Los Angeles has become a hotbed of Nashville hot chicken, with more than two dozen restaurants, pop-ups and food trucks open in and around the city in the last three years.

Antagonizing Trump: California has already sued the Trump administration more times in the last two years than Texas took President Obama to court during his eight years in office. And the state is winning nearly all its environmental cases.

Tech activism: More than 200 workers at Riot Games walked out of the video game developer’s Los Angeles headquarters Monday to protest the company’s use of forced arbitration to handle sexual discrimination lawsuits. Also this week, ride-hail drivers went on strike in L.A. and around the country to protest pay rates and working conditions ahead of Uber’s massive planned IPO.


Share the wealth: Gov. Gavin Newsom has assigned a team to create a “data dividend” — a payment that businesses would make to the state or to consumers if their personal data are sold.

USC problems: USC’s social work school might be forced to lay off nearly half its staff and eliminate the vast majority of its part-time teaching positions after the revelations of severe budget problems that began under a former dean.

Nipsey’s vision: At the time of his death, Nipsey Hussle was reaching out to a diverse array of partners — from fellow musicians and L.A. politicians to a Republican senator from South Carolina — to make the revitalization of Hyde Park something larger and potentially longer-lasting.

Racial profiling? The California Department of Justice is expected to release newly proposed standards for how law enforcement can use CalGang, the state’s gang database, to identify gang members. Critics say CalGang remains a vehicle for racial profiling.

May the Force be with you: “Star Wars” fans have spent years waiting for Disneyland to let them enter a galaxy far, far away. How then does the Magic Kingdom get them to leave?


Understanding the lost language of Los Angeles: For decades Tongva, the language of the first people who lived in the Los Angeles region, was consigned to notebooks and papers hidden away in museums. Now, through the efforts of a UCLA linguist, it’s being spoken again. Los Angeles Times

How Lisa Hanawalt and Raphael Bob-Waksberg — creators of “BoJack Horseman” and now “Tuca & Bertie” — are changing the way Hollywood thinks of animation. California Sunday Magazine


The roar of “Star Wars Canyon”: Military veterans, aviation enthusiasts and photographers gather at the top of “Star Wars Canyon” in Death Valley National Park. They’re there for a glimpse of the all-metal birds that randomly streak across the sky — and the military pilots who fly them. Los Angeles Times

Get the Essential California newsletter »


1. Twenty-eight unusual museums to visit in Southern California. San Gabriel Valley Tribune

2. A legendary Neapolitan pizzeria gears up for a Hollywood opening. Eater LA

3. Angela Alioto’s use of a racial epithet at a Democratic Party board meeting prompts calls for her removal. San Francisco Examiner

4. A map of the 75 best places to eat in Orange County in 2019. Orange County Register

5. How one of America’s smallest Indian tribes bounced back from the brink of dying out. Desert Sun



Saturday Recommendation: The observation deck at Los Angeles City Hall

The view from the L.A. City Hall observation deck.
(Scott Harrison / Los Angeles Times)

Our weekly recommendation offers a succinct pitch for a single great thing around the state — be it a restaurant meal, a specialty bookstore, or the stairs to climb for the best view of an iconic vista.

When I used to work in downtown Los Angeles and needed to clear my head, I would often sneak out of the office and up to the City Hall observation deck, where I could be alone with my rambling thoughts and a slightly dizzying, panoramic outlook on the city. There might be a half-dozen tourists up there or the rare school group hustling by, but the deck was usually uncrowded, despite the shockingly good, sweeping view.

In fact, many locals are not even aware that an open-air deck wraps around the 27th floor of L.A.’s 28-story, neoclassical City Hall building, let alone that access is free and open to the public. It can be a bit of an adventure getting up, but the process does offer a mini-tour of City Hall, which is worth visiting in its own right.

Enter the building through the Main Street entrance and check in with security to get a visitor pass. After that, you can proceed as if you’re on some very official city business and take the express elevator to the 22nd floor, and then another elevator to the 26th floor, where you’ll walk up the stairs to the 27th floor. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the mayor as you make your way through the building.

The City Hall observation deck is accessible through the visitor entrance to City Hall at 201 N. Main St. in downtown Los Angeles. (If you enter just “City Hall” into your GPS, you’ll end up at the Spring Street entrance and need to walk around to the other side of the building.) Open during business hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes. (And special thanks to the legendary Diya Chacko for her help with the Saturday edition!)