Newsletter: Essential California week in review: A surge in L.A. County’s homeless numbers

A homeless encampment in Los Angeles under the 405 freeway.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, June 8. Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week.


Homelessness surge: The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority announced that the homeless population had jumped by 16% in the city and 12% across the county, even after homeless services got more people off the street than ever before. The unexpected numbers left officials “stunned” and citizens outraged and alarmed. Here’s a discussion on why homeless numbers keep climbing from Wednesday’s newsletter.

Deal to stave off tariffs: After marathon talks and threats of economic sanctions, President Trump announced Friday that Mexico and the U.S. had reached an agreement to curb immigration and avert punitive U.S. tariffs on Mexican exports.


Measure EE fails: Voters failed to pass a property tax that would have raised an estimated $500 million annually over its 12-year term for the Los Angeles Unified School District. After the ballots were counted, the tax earned only 45% of the vote — a stunning defeat for school leaders and Mayor Eric Garcetti, who campaigned hard for the measure.

Michelin: Two months after the Michelin Guide announced that it would once again evaluate the dining scene in Los Angeles, the prestigious but unpredictable restaurant guide awarded stars to 90 California restaurants, including 24 in L.A.

Immigrant “dream”: Mambasse Patara legally entered the U.S. on a work visa and gained citizenship fighting as a Marine. Yet after being detained at a Border Patrol checkpoint stop, the U.S. tried to portray him as a human smuggler.

Bullet train turmoil: The top consultant on the California high speed rail project has been put on suspension after a state watchdog agency began reviewing his approval of a multimillion-dollar contract for a company in which he had heavily invested.


L.A. reads: What’s everyone in L.A. reading? Here’s an interactive map that surveys 35 library systems, asking which books were most circulated in the first quarter of 2019 and which ones have the longest waiting lists.

Power outage: LAX lost power Wednesday evening, the result of a glitch at a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power station, an airport spokeswoman said. The outage plunged the airport into hours of chaos, canceled flights, and the complete evacuation of Terminal 1.

Job engine: California’s economy is slowing down, with fewer jobs likely to be created through 2021, UCLA forecasters predict.

Facial recognition: State lawmakers are considering a law that would bar all California police officers from running facial recognition programs on body cameras. This is something not often seen in Silicon Valley: an attempt to impose preemptive regulations on a rapidly developing technology.

Moving on: Tony Bland, the former USC associate head coach who pleaded guilty to a felony count of conspiracy to commit bribery in the college basketball corruption scandal, was sentenced to two years of probation Wednesday. He’s now trying to move on with his life, he said.


Before Stonewall: L.A.’s gay community launched the movement (and the battle cry) that shook the world. Los Angeles Magazine

Lautner original: The Bob Hope house in Palm Springs, long an architectural footnote, approaches masterpiece status. Los Angeles Times


The billboard: After a woman said she was raped at the strip club where she worked, she went to the manager and the police. Nothing happened. So, she decided to paint a billboard, telling her story as loudly as she could. California Sunday Magazine

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1. When authorities wouldn’t listen, a rape victim made sure her voice was heard. California Sunday Magazine

2. She saw through Elizabeth Holmes. Now a Stanford professor is a star in the Theranos saga. Mercury News

3. More Bay Area transplants: Gavin Newsom bought Sacramento’s most expensive home in 2019. Sacramento Bee

4. The Michelin Guide awarded stars to 24 L.A. restaurants, but the city was shut out of three-stars. Los Angeles Times

5. Keanu Reeves’ “Always Be My Maybe” role has everyone obsessing: Here’s why. Los Angeles Times



Saturday Recommendation: McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica

McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica
(Photo courtesy of McCabe’s)

One of the great living repositories of Los Angeles music history can be found on a quiet block of Pico Boulevard, across the street from a slate-blue motor hotel and a cutely named pet store.

Yes, the legendary McCabe’s Guitar Shop sells stringed instruments. Yes, they also do rentals and repairs. And yes, you can catch a heck of a show in the back room. But the sum total of its parts amounts to far more than a music store and a concert venue. McCabe’s is an institution and a way of life. It’s a folk music center of gravity. Aspiring instrumentalists, wandering troubadours and some of the biggest names in rock ’n’ roll have all made their way through its doors.

The store opened in Santa Monica in 1958. The guitar shop’s archives (which is not a phrase I have ever typed before) are housed at the University of North Carolina’s Southern Folklife Collection and primarily consist of audio recordings of back room live shows from 1967 to 2008, including performances by Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Ralph Stanley, Odetta, Bill Monroe and Townes Van Zandt.

The encyclopedic list of everyone who has taken the stage in that intimate backroom is far, far longer and includes Beck, Jackson Browne, Nico, Tom Waits and Arlo Guthrie, to name just a few. Concerts are usually on the weekends and typically cost $20 to $30 for a ticket.

McCabe’s is located at 3101 Pico Blvd in Santa Monica. (310) 828-4497. They are open seven days a week. The store has free coffee.

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 a giant thanks to the legendary Diya Chacko for all her help on the Saturday edition!)