|Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, July 2, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.
With officials scrambling to stave off disaster as COVID-19 cases continue to surge and cooped-up Californians head into a holiday weekend, Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced tougher restrictions for much of the state.
Restaurant dining rooms and other indoor recreational activities have been ordered to close for at least three weeks in 19 counties experiencing increased spread of the coronavirus, including Los Angeles, Sacramento and Orange County. Restaurants in those counties can still offer sit-down dining outdoors, as well as takeout and delivery. Indoor wineries and tasting rooms, entertainment centers, movie theaters, zoos, museums and card rooms will also be closed in the listed counties.
[Read the story: “Restaurant dining rooms, wineries, card rooms to close for at least three weeks in 19 California counties” in the Los Angeles Times]
The counties subject to the order account for less than a third of the total counties in California, but they are home to more than 70% of the state’s population. Along with L.A., Sacramento and Orange, the order also applies to Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Merced, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Stanislaus, Tulare and Ventura counties.
The change “marks a major reversal in the state’s reopening process,” according to Sacramento reporters Phil Willon and Taryn Luna. That reopening process began in early May and quickly progressed by June 12 to allow retail stores, dine-in restaurants, bars, religious services, card rooms, hair and nail salons, gyms and other businesses to open again with modifications in counties that met state guidelines.
[Read more: “What to know as California halts indoor dining, shutters other businesses” in the Los Angeles Times]
For already beleaguered restaurants, the changing restrictions amount to the latest blow for owners and employees, many of whom were already struggling to keep their businesses afloat.
As my colleagues Garrett Snyder and Jenn Harris in the Food section report, Wes Avila’s downtown restaurant Guerrilla Tacos had opened its dining room for the first time since the March shutdown just an hour before the governor’s announcement. Co-owner Brittney Valles said the restaurant had spent hours training the staff, installing protective plexiglass and stocking up on PPE to prepare for opening, estimating that the total costs had amounted to roughly $40,000.
She told Snyder and Harris that she hadn’t felt that it was completely safe to reopen, but a decline in the demand for takeout forced their hand. Now, she’ll be forced to rejigger again.
Up in the Central Valley, Yelena Tysmbal had diners sitting in her bistro restaurant in Turlock when she heard about the new restrictions. “I was like, ‘Do I tell them to swallow your food and get out of here?’ ” she told a Modesto Bee reporter. “I am scared for the future, because I can’t afford to close permanently. I think a lot of people are in a similar situation.”
A number of other closures were also ordered or announced across the state:
— Bars in Orange County are ordered to close beginning Thursday. Bars in L.A., Riverside and San Diego have already closed. Orange County Register
— Newport Beach is closing beaches over the holiday weekend after two lifeguards tested positive for COVID-19. Newport officials had earlier planned to go ahead with full access for the traditionally peak weekend, expecting an influx beyond even the typical Fourth of July crush as displaced L.A. beachgoers look for the next-closest sand and surf. The closure adds Newport Beach to Los Angeles County, Ventura County and the city of Laguna Beach in locking down Southern California beaches for the weekend. Los Angeles Times
— Parking lots will be closed at state beaches in nine counties, including Marin, San Francisco Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara. East Bay Times
[See also: “What’s open and closed at Southern California beaches, parks, trails” in the Los Angeles Times]
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
L.A. votes to cut police spending, abandoning a budget priority once seen as untouchable by city leaders. Faced with a grim budget outlook and deluged by demands for reductions in police spending, the Los Angeles City Council voted to take the Los Angeles Police Department down to 9,757 officers by next summer — a level of staffing not seen in the city since 2008.
Overall, the council’s decision delivered a $150-million hit to the LAPD budget, much of it coming from funds earmarked for police overtime pay. Councilman Curren Price, who pushed for the cuts, said two-thirds of the savings would ultimately be funneled into services for Black, Latino and disenfranchised communities, such as hiring programs and summer youth jobs. Los Angeles Times
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An L.A. ice cream vendor adapts to life in a COVID-19 world. For the past 16 years, Mauro Rios Parra has sold fruit bars and ice cream on the streets of Pico-Union, one of L.A.’s densest cities and among the hardest hit by the coronavirus. Los Angeles Times
In Los Angeles, Mauro Rios Parra sells a paleta to Matthew Chicas, 6, who has been purchasing from him his entire life. Parra came to the U.S. from Mexico about 20 years ago to financially support his wife and three kids in Oaxaca and he has been selling paletas ever since. (Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)
The Writers Guild of America and the major Hollywood studios have reached a tentative agreement on a proposed new contract, averting a showdown that many thought was inevitable before the coronavirus pandemic roiled Hollywood. Los Angeles Times
Hollywood’s C-suites are overwhelmingly white. What are studios doing about it? Los Angeles Times
See also: The industry newsletter the Ankler recently published a much-circulated “Class Photos” edition, which used screenshots of the leadership rosters from companies’ corporate websites to starkly illustrate the lack of melanin in Hollywood’s top tiers.
“I would not go to a hotel right now,” says the head of the L.A. hotel workers union. Workers tasked with cleaning and preparing rooms for guests — and the union that represents them — say hotel management is not following or enforcing state-mandated safety protocols for operating during the coronavirus pandemic. LAist
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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
As Congress leaves town, hopes for police reforms fade: After George Floyd’s death in police custody, both Republicans and Democrats immediately wrote bills to change policing practices, sparking hope that they would overcome the partisanship gripping most policy debates to enact meaningful legislation. But as lawmakers leave Washington for a two-week recess, the parties are locked in a bitter standoff with no meaningful negotiations planned and little hope of finding compromise as time on the legislative calendar grows short. Los Angeles Times
Here are the 12 propositions on California’s November ballot: Eight measures earned a spot on the Nov. 3 ballot through the collection of voter signatures. Four were added by the California Legislature. Los Angeles Times
The Riverside County city of Norco has declared a local emergency and issued a daily curfew after a violent clash between Black Lives Matter demonstrators and counterprotesters on Monday. Los Angeles Times
CRIME AND COURTS
PG&E has emerged from the biggest utility bankruptcy in U.S. history, nearly a year and a half after collapsing under $30 billion in liabilities from wildfires sparked by its equipment. Los Angeles Times
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HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
The American pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences is coming under scrutiny for agreements that activists say will restrict global access to remdesivir, an experimental antiviral drug that has shown promise in treating COVID-19. Los Angeles Times
The thee big reasons for Bay Area’s coronavirus surge stem from prison outbreaks, nursing homes and social gatherings, according to health experts. San Francisco Chronicle
Three months ago the fresh hauls of fish brought ashore to Humboldt Bay’s largest marina were purchased by distributors and shipped far away. But since COVID-19 upended the supply chains that once moved Eureka’s catch far from its origin, fishermen are now selling dockside directly to the community. Fishermen connect with locals through road signs and Facebook pages announcing fresh fish, and they’ve seen long lines of masked customers. North Coast Journal
Could a poet from Stockton win “America’s Got Talent”? Brandon Leake, a counselor at Delta Community College, wowed the judges on the show Tuesday night. Leake is also the first spoken-word artist to appear on the show in 14 years. Mercury News
Looking to get away from it all and have no shortage of disposable income? Well, apparently you can now rent out an entire summer camp for your family, planned camp activities included, with several sites available in California. Town & Country
A poem to start your Thursday: “Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes. Poetry Foundation
And a quick programming reminder: This newsletter will be off Friday and Saturday for the holiday and back in your inbox Monday morning. In the meantime, we’d like to wish all of our readers a happy and safe Fourth of July, and remind you that there’s nothing more patriotic than wearing a mask.
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Los Angeles: partly sunny, 76. San Diego: partly sunny, 71. San Francisco: partly sunny, 67. San Jose: sunny, 80. Fresno: sunny, 96. Sacramento: sunny, 91. More weather is here.
Today’s California memory comes from Richard Colman:
In 1955, I was 8 years old when we moved to L.A. to escape East Coast summers. Like many Holocaust survivors, my parents settled in the Fairfax District and stayed. My father was determined to remain an Orthodox Jew, and I was equally determined to become an assimilated American. Dragged to the synagogue every Saturday, I would wander out during breaks to buy forbidden refried beans, or later, a 25₵ ticket to 10 cartoons, two serials and a movie at the Fairfax theater, but then sneak back to synagogue just in time. I rarely saw the whole show, but I was becoming an American!
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (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, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.