|Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, Oct. 28. I’m Justin Ray.
Economists say you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your earnings on rental costs. But a recent report reveals troubling information about renting in California — specifically for residents of color.
The findings of a Zillow report showed that Black and Latino renters are paying a high percentage of their income on rent. For instance, “across all races and markets analyzed, Black renters in San Diego are the most rent burdened, spending more than half (52.6%) of their income on rent.”
“The results of this study are infuriating, but not surprising,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria told The Times in a statement. “Historically, as San Diego has moved forward, its communities of color have often been left behind. That’s why one of the first things I did after being sworn in as mayor was to make equity central to everything we do and every decision we make. My top priority as Mayor is to ensure that all San Diegans have a roof over their head at a price they can afford.”
The Zillow report also asserts that while the most unaffordable rental market for Latino renters is Orlando, where such households can spend 42.0% of their income on rent, that is “still less than the Black household rent burden in three other metros — San Diego (as noted), Sacramento, and San Francisco.”
Zillow explained the methodology behind the study to The Times. The analysis looked at 100 local markets in the U.S. The income data are from the American Community Survey, a demographics survey program conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. Data about rents paid are also from ACS, blended with the company’s own rent index.
The Times has found that there are other factors harming residents of color in the state:
· Black Americans have long been more likely to have unaffordable rent and mortgages compared with white people, census data show. With the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic, Black households face a greater probability of being unable to pay, raising the risk that some people may be forced onto the streets or into shelters already disproportionately occupied by Black people.
· “Crime-free housing” is a collection of policies that have expanded the power of the police to decide who can and can’t live in more than a thousand cities across the country. A map of the programs’ expansion has left a distinct pattern: As Black and Latino people moved to the suburbs, crime-free housing policies often came soon after, making it easier for landlords to reject or eject current and would-be tenants. Considering that Black and the Latino communities are disproportionately the target of law enforcement, it can easily be seen how this policy makes it harder for people of color to find housing. My homie Fidel Martinez explains it further in an edition of his newsletter “Latinx Files.”
· Homes in Los Angeles neighborhoods such as Crenshaw, West Adams, Hyde Park, Leimert Park and, of course, Baldwin Village and View Park now regularly sell for north of $1 million. Bidding wars among white families are common. In an effort to preserve the racial makeup of these neighborhoods, this has meant that some Black residents have to fork over the eye-popping down payments and accept the exorbitant mortgages that have become the norm of home-buying in places like South L.A.
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
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In-N-Out Burger, the iconic California eatery, is increasingly at war with health officials over COVID-19 rules. Earlier this month, San Francisco’s only In-N-Out was forced to temporarily close for violating a local rule requiring proof of vaccination for indoor customers. This week, Contra Costa Health Services confirmed that an In-N-Out in Pleasant Hill was also forced to close after repeatedly violating county COVID-19 rules. Here are some stories to get you caught up on the hullabaloo, including what the standoff says about California, and what may be next in the battle. Los Angeles Times
Malibu squares off against car guys. A brouhaha at the beach pits owners of expensive cars against landlords of expensive property in a collision of upper-class egos and celebrity. The fight involves some of the biggest names in the California car scene, including Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld: “We’ve been doing this for 15 years but suddenly we’re like the MS-13 of Malibu.” Los Angeles Times
Bruce Meyers, a retail and real estate magnate, parks his 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster during a gathering in Malibu. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
A federal judge has ordered Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to testify under oath in a lawsuit brought by Vanessa Bryant alleging that deputies shared gruesome photos of the helicopter crash scene where her husband, daughter and seven others died in 2020. Lawyers for L.A. County sought to block Villanueva’s testimony, arguing that he doesn’t have any relevant information that Bryant’s attorneys can’t obtain elsewhere. But U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles F. Eick knocked down the county’s argument, saying Villanueva, along with L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby, both appear to have “unique first-hand, non-repetitive knowledge” relevant to the case. Los Angeles Times
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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
The father of San Francisco Dist. Atty. Chesa Boudin was granted parole this week, 40 years after he was imprisoned for his role in a deadly 1981 truck robbery, the state corrections department said Tuesday. David Gilbert, 76, has been behind bars since the infamously botched armored car robbery in which a guard and two police officers were killed. He became eligible for parole only after his 75-years-to-life sentence was shortened by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in August, hours before he left office. CBS San Francisco
CRIME AND COURTS
Did Beverly Hills police target Black shoppers on Rodeo Drive? What records and emails show. Police in Beverly Hills have been accused of deliberately targeting Black shoppers along the city’s famous Rodeo Drive. A closer examination of the Beverly Hills Police Department’s Rodeo Drive Team offers a more complicated picture of the operation. Ninety people were arrested by the unit. Eighty of them were Black, four were Latino, three were white, two were Asian and one was classified as “other,” according to the department’s figures obtained by The Times under a California Public Records Act request. Police have not explained why the operation targeted Black people to such a degree. Los Angeles Times
Beverly Hills Police Chief Dominick Rivetti stands outside Beverly Hills City Hall. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Did changes to California high-speed rail spending break the law? Appeals court to decide. Opponents of California’s high-speed rail project hope a state appeals court will put the brakes on using billions in bond funds for construction that’s now underway in Fresno County and the central San Joaquin Valley. An Oakland attorney representing Kings County farmer John Tos and others who are contesting the rail project argued that a key piece of legislation in 2016 represented a fundamental change to what the state’s voters approved when they passed Proposition 1A, a $9.9-billion high-speed rail bond act, in 2008. An attorney for the state said “courts have recognized that in [a] large public works project, substantial deviation [is] allowed between a bond and what can be built.” Sacramento Bee
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HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
A California county cuts off water to Asian pot growers. Is it racism or a crime crackdown? Conditions in Mount Shasta Vista had become desperate. Farmers watched as their chickens and ducks died from dehydration and their vegetables withered without irrigation. But, unlike in the rest of the American West, the extreme water scarcity plaguing this tiny corner of far Northern California was not the result of dwindling snowpack or plummeting reservoir levels. Instead, it was due to a concerted government effort to “choke out” a problem that had vexed Siskiyou County officials for years: the illicit, large-scale cultivation of marijuana in a single subdivision that is largely Asian. Los Angeles Times
Mort Sahl, who revolutionized stand-up comedy in the mid-1950s with his insightful political and social satire, has died at his home in Mill Valley, Calif., at 94. Sahl, whose on- and off-stage preoccupation with a conspiracy theory on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy slowed his career in the late 1960s, died Tuesday. At a time when brash comics in suits and tuxedos typically were telling jokes about their wives and mothers-in-law, Sahl shattered the stand-up stereotype, beginning at the hungry i, a small, brick-walled basement club in San Francisco’s North Beach district. Los Angeles Times
Making the case for unions in California. A third of the state’s workers make $15 an hour or less. Union participation is at historic lows and collective bargaining is less prevalent in retail, restaurants and hotels — segments of the private sector with high concentrations of low-wage jobs. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom convened a commission to lift millions out of poverty; the group found that while a college degree reduces the chance of a low-wage job by 33%, union membership improves those odds by 39%. CalMatters explains how despite the benefits of joining a union, not everyone is a fan. CalMatters
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Los Angeles: 86. San Diego: 82. San Francisco: Overcast, 67. San Jose: Sunny, 74. Fresno: 74 Sacramento: 71.
Something random: I’m a big fan of cybercrime podcasts. This new episode of Darknet Diaries is great! It’s a bit heavy on jargon but it is accessible and it leads to an explanation of one of the biggest breaches in U.S. history.
Today’s California memory is from Deb Jensen:
It had snowed ceaselessly all winter. In February 1962, tired of daily shoveling his way out of the house, my dad declared, “This is horse—. We’re moving to California.” My 10-year-old self cheered, Disneyland! The ocean! Dad left first, to find work. Mom, little brother and I packed up the Plymouth and followed when school was out, leaving generations of family history in the Midwest. Disneyland! The ocean! Well, it was Bakersfield. But, none of us ever looked back. We’re Californians and so are our kids and grandkids.
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)
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