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Essential: California, where it all began

Good morning. It is Saturday, June 27. Here are some stories you don't want to miss this weekend.

California's battle goes national: The historic U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage took a long and twisted road through California. A burst of same-sex unions in San Francisco more than a decade ago helped begin the legal journey. It was followed by a strong backlash, years of courtroom drama and then history. As San Francisco mayor, Gavin Newsom stunned the political world in permitting gays in the city to wed. He faced criticism, but today many hail him as a pioneer. And what once looked like a political liability might now propel him forward. Finally, columnist Steve Lopez responds to dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia's dismissive remarks about the Golden State.


The 1% are different -- even in water use: It's no surprise that the top 1% of Los Angeles water users are clustered in some of the city's wealthiest neighborhoods. Places like Brentwood, Bel-Air and Pacific Palisades with large lots and lush landscape. The Department of Water and Power is now targeting the 1% with letters urging owners to cut down. Some owners are responding. "We've hit a nerve," A DWP official said. "It's one that shows the public consciousness has risen to a higher level than I believe it ever has been before."

Disneyland expansion, and taxes: Word of a Disneyland expansion has fans of the theme park excited. But behind the  scenes, a battle is brewing in Anaheim over taxes. City officials are discussing a deal that would spare Disney from paying entertainment tax on its Anaheim amusement parks if the entertainment giant agrees to invest at least $1 billion in its resort properties in the coming years. It would be an extension of a little-known pact with the city.

This week's most popular stories in Essential California

  1. How well is your community saving water? This drought report card from the L.A. Times graphics department breaks down the stats.

  2. Three stories from Times columnist Steve Lopez illustrate the housing challenges in Los Angeles, from one family sharing a studio apartment to a woman forced to bathe outside.

  3. LA Weekly offers a history of the strange, and sometimes gross, creatures that wash up on Southern California beaches.

  4. What does Dodger Stadium look like from the point of view of a pug? This L.A. Times video gives a glimpse into that world.

  5. A National Park Service photo gallery via 89.3 KPCC of a typical family dinner ... if your family is made up of mountain lions who enjoy a bit of mule deer.

ICYMI, here are this week's Great Reads

Fading from view: As a diabetes-related disease steals his sight, a Belgian animator has learned to direct cartoons instead of draw them. Legally blind in one eye and lacking all peripheral vision, Paul Demeyer sees "life through a keyhole" but nonetheless has found satisfaction in his new creative endeavors.

Theatrical reenactment: Thousands of migrants fleeing war and oppression have journeyed to Greece in recent years seeking refugee status. What they've found is an artistic community waiting to turn their suffering into art, and art into catharsis.

Looking ahead

Monday: The BET Awards in downtown Los Angeles, including a tribute to Janet Jackson.

Tuesday: Transportation officials and Mayor Eric Garcetti will tour the expanding Expo Line light rail on the Westside.

Thursday: Long Beach dedicates Jenni Rivera Memorial Park, named for the late singer who was based in the city.

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Alice Walton or Shelby Grad.