Essential California Week in Review: A deadly shooting in Laguna Woods

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, May 21.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week

Laguna Woods church shooting kills one. A gunman attacked a lunch banquet at a Taiwanese church in Laguna Woods, killing one person and wounding five others Sunday before congregants tackled him and hogtied him with an extension cord.

Buffalo shooting kills 10. As Buffalo residents expressed horror, anger and grief Sunday over a mass shooting that left 10 people dead at a grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood, local and federal officials said they were investigating the attack by a young white gunman as a hate crime and an act of “racially motivated violent extremism.”

L.A. hospitalizations are once again rising. The case rate in the nation’s most populous county is now high enough to land it within the “medium” risk tier. Officials had been hopeful that California could avoid the significant increases in hospitalizations seen on the East Coast.

California parents hit by national formula shortage. A crisis has been deepening for months, as millions of parents scramble to feed their children while baby formula shelves sit empty. Some nursing parents are looking to their own bodies as a source of help.

Finding a place to rent in Los Angeles has become a competitive sport. Bidding wars for houses are a common ordeal, but for an apartment to rent? The availability of apartments in Los Angeles and surrounding counties is so tight that some renters are paying above list price.

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FBI tapes reveal who really runs Anaheim. FBI special agents said in documents that Anaheim “was tightly controlled by a small cadre of individuals,” including Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu. A judge put the $320-million sale of Angel Stadium on hold Tuesday over the corruption probe.

LAUSD expects enrollment to drop 30%. Enrollment in Los Angeles public schools is expected to plunge over the next decade, leading to tough choices ahead about academic programs, campus closures, jobs and employee benefits.

Prosecutors say woman in prison led fraud scheme. Federal authorities charged 13 people and arrested five in connection with a California unemployment insurance benefits scheme they believe netted at least $2 million under the direction of a state prison inmate.

Scientists find new DDT chemicals in condors. A team of environmental health scientists have identified more than 40 DDT-related compounds that have been circulating through the marine ecosystem and accumulating in this iconic bird at the very top of the food chain.

Dave offers free cash advances, but with a catch. The West Hollywood financial app has an attractive pitch: cash advance with no fees, even without a credit check. But users are finding that the costs add up even with slick branding — it’s still a payday lender.

In fire country, Airbnb offers guests no warning or plan. Across California, thousands of short-term Airbnb rentals operate in the state’s most hazardous fire zones.

What happened to Lora Lee Michel? A child actress in the 1940s, she was billed as a “sensation” until a chain of events led to the unraveling of her life. Then she disappeared.

ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

Will L.A. elect a billionaire for mayor? Although Los Angeles may be known for over-the-top wealth and glitz, the city’s mayors have typically been cut from more modest cloth. If Rick Caruso wins, he will step into the job at a time when the gap between the reality and the fantasy of the properties he developed has never felt wider to many residents.

The 101 best California experiences. Right now, many of us are itching to explore. We’re looking for new places and new ways of seeing old places. That’s why The Times’ Christopher Reynolds is offering up a peek into his travel notebook through the Golden State: A hike through Sequoia National Park’s biggest trees, now flanked by last year’s ashes and this spring’s flowers. A taste of the 626 Night Market. The eerie shapes in San Luis Obispo’s Poly Canyon.

Why do so many L.A. apartments come without fridges? Apartments here frequently lack refrigerators, pushing many tenants into an underground fridge economy familiar to generations of Angelenos. How L.A. became a fridge-less aberration is one of the region’s more mysterious, least delightful eccentricities.

Welcome to Portugal, the new expat haven. Now go home. Within the mix of retirees, digital nomads and young families fed up with issues including the costs of housing and healthcare, Trumpian politics and pandemic policies, Californians are making themselves known in a country once considered the forgotten sibling of Spain. They’re also bringing gentrification with them.

Today’s week-in-review newsletter was curated by Laura Blasey. Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to

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