2019: The Year We Report On News That Isn't Wholly Depressing (We Hope)

(Photo courtesy of Tony Mangan/Flickr)

2018 was truly horrible: the state's deadliest and most destructive fires, a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, the death of our favorite food critic Jonathan Gold, another sex abuse scandal (this time at USC) and a World Series loss we can't wait to forget.

There were good times too, like...

Anyway, it's finally over.

Our New Year's resolution is to start seeking out the good. We've already ordered a gratitude journal. So tell us: What stories (feel-good or otherwise) we should be looking for? Is there something you care about that you want us to cover? Share your thoughts below.

Looking for inspiration? Here are some of the big issues our reporters will be asking about this year:

HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

Reporters: Matt Tinoco, Jill Replogle, Libby Denkmann, David Wagner

  • Will home prices and rents finally start to cool down?
  • How did we end up with tens of thousands of people are living homeless on the street and hundreds of thousands more worried about ending up there? How are we going to fix it?
  • Though voters have approved multiple ballot measures that raise billions of dollars for homeless services and housing, the money raised pales in comparison to the total cost city and county governments ultimately spend. What will it really take to end homelessness in Southern California?
  • With 500 new emergency shelter beds and an ambitious plan to build 2,700 units of permanent supportive housing for individuals and families who have been chronically homeless, can Orange County become a model for fixing homelessness?
  • Will the effort to overhaul the 388-acre West L.A. Veterans Administration facility ever come to fruition or will the promise to build 1,200 units of permanent veteran housing there continue to be delayed?
  • In 2018, we saw the number of veterans sleeping on the street tick downward after steep increases in previous years. Was the decrease a sign of hope or just a fluke?
  • How does racialized housing discrimination happen, and what are we doing about it?

TRANSPORTATION

Reporter: Meghan McCarty Carino

  • Will electric scooters continue to proliferate on the streets? How will riders and officials respond to the ways they are challenging current transportation laws and infrastructure?
  • Will L.A. County find ways to accelerate big ticket transportation projects ahead of the 2028 Olympics, and how?
  • Will communities seeing multi-billion dollar investments in transit through L.A. County allow denser development nearby to help address the region's housing crisis? How will officials work to mitigate the effect of gentrification in communities where such development could push out vulnerable residents?
  • Will controversial efforts to improve street safety and reduce traffic fatalities under the Vision Zero program move forward or be buried by residents angered by the prospect of slowing cars?

IMMIGRATION

Reporter: Leslie Berestein Rojas

  • What will happen to asylum seekers and the asylum process as the Trump administration tries to restrict their entry? Will families again be separated or forced to remain in Mexico?
  • How will further restrictions on refugee entries — the lowest ceiling in decades — affect local communities?
  • How will the Supreme Court weigh in on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA? Will we see an end to life in limbo for the hundreds of thousands of young people who benefit from it? Or will they face deportation?
  • Will efforts be made to improve conditions for migrant families with children? Thousands of children are currently being held in federal custody. Hundreds more wait in Mexico with their families as the adults seek asylum here. And two kids in US immigration custody have recently died

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Reporter: David Wagner

  • As minimum wage and the cost of living tick upward, will lower-wage workers actually get ahead? Which fast-growing jobs are paying well, and which aren't? Will union ballot measures — like the one in Anaheim focusing on Disney resort workers — lift more employees out of poverty?
  • What can — and will — Gavin Newsom do to help California's struggling middle class? And what will he do to address poverty rates, which are higher in California than in any other state?

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Reporters: Frank Stoltze, Annie Gilbertson

  • How will newly elected L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who has little command experience, lead the nation's biggest and arguably most troubled sheriff's agency?
  • Will Villanueva follow through on his promises to kick ICE out of the jails, place body cameras on deputies and address a severe deputy shortage?
  • How will the new sheriff handle the demands of the deputies union, which spent $1.3 million helping him score a huge upset over former Sheriff Jim McDonnell?
  • Body camera videos and investigative records of police shootings will soon be more readily available thanks to new laws. How will that affect officer conduct?

ENVIRONMENT AND INFRASTRUCTURE

Reporters: Emily Guerin, Sharon McNary

  • Who pays when utilities-owned power poles and equipment spark fires — especially when those blazes turn out to be the largest and deadliest wildfires in California history?
  • With steep declines in land-line use making the "reverse 9-1-1" call system less effective, what's the best way to alert and evacuate people during a fast moving, wind-driven fire?
  • Will a study underway in Los Angeles lead to a reduction in drilling here in L.A.?

ENTERTAINMENT

  • The group 50/50 by 2020 wants a new balance of power in Hollywood. They're striving for parity— including more women, people of other, LGBTQIA+ people in executive positions, on boards, as directors, talent agents and more. What will they do in 2019 to make their 2020 goal possible?
  • How will all the new streaming services launching in 2019 stack up against existing players like Netflix and Hulu?
  • As the 2020 presidential race heats up, how will it be reflected in art, culture, music, late-night TV?
  • What will Disney's purchase of Fox mean for both companies— how about for Hulu?
  • Will the Time's Up legal defense fund be used for any major lawsuits outside of Hollywood?

K-12 EDUCATION

Reporter: Kyle Stokes

  • How will students and families be affected if teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District go on strike on Jan. 10? If the teachers union gets its way and a strike is averted, how will LAUSD's financial picture change?
  • How will LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner deal with issues like declining enrollment, rising benefits costs and a leveling-off in state funding?

HIGHER EDUCATION

Reporter: Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

  • Will the rising cost of living continue to be one of biggest barriers to affording college? If so, what can be done to make higher education tenable?
  • Can UC and CSU administrators convince Sacramento, and maybe the public, to increase funds for construction — to the tune of nearly $50 billion and $14 billion, respectively?

POLITICS

Reporters: Mary Plummer and Jill Replogle

  • Following the Democrats' blue wave wins during the November 2018 midterm elections, how will Republicans rebuild their numbers and morale? Who will they pick as their new party leader? How will they set priorities for the quickly approaching 2020 presidential election?
  • How will state Democrats regroup after their leader resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment and abuse just weeks after their big wins in November?
  • Since tens of thousands of voters were impacted by registration-related mistakes at the DMV in 2018, how, if at all, will the Motor Voter program be reformed?
  • Can Democrats, who swept the 2018 congressional races in historically conservative Orange County, deliver on campaign finance reform, more attention to environmental concerns, and a check on President Trump?

HEALTH CARE

Reporter: Michelle Faust Raghavan

  • In 2019, California legislators will take another swing at expanding Medi-Cal to people living in the country without legal status. But with an estimated cost of $3 billion and a track record of similar efforts that have failed, will lawmakers have the political will?
  • Will California give serious consideration to a public health care option, as mandated by a 2018 law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown?

EARLY CHILDHOOD

Reporter: Priska Neely

  • Black babies in L.A County are three times as likely as white babies to die in their first year of life. L.A. County public health officials have announced a new goal to close that gap by 30 percent in the next five years. Is the county going to take substantive steps to make that goal a reality?
  • Will Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom, who on the campaign trail pledged his support for everything from prenatal care to universal preschool as a way to address the achievement gap and lower poverty rates, deliver on his pre-election priorities?

UPDATES:

Jan. 3, 9 a.m.: This article was updated with questions about entertainment.

This article was originally published at Jan. 1, 6 a.m.


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