Essential California: Billions to secure L.A.'s water, tenants forced out of Hollywood, transparency in California government

Good morning. It is Saturday, March 21. If you’re looking for some fresh air this weekend, CicLAvia will be in the San Fernando Valley tomorrow. Here are a few stories to keep you busy this weekend:  

Billions to protect our water: A key pillar of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plan to prepare Los Angeles for a major earthquake is strengthening the city’s network of water pipes and aqueducts. Up until now, the cost to do that wasn’t disclosed. Perhaps that’s because the $15-billion price tag could send water bills through the roof. The mayor expects to pay for the upgrades with a state bond but even his supporters say it's a long shot. L.A. Times

Tech execs move south: Billionaires and millionaires have long enjoyed buying a second (or third) home in the Los Angeles area but more and more, real estate agents are finding young Bay Area tech executives purchasing property in SoCal. “Compared to San Francisco in particular, it's very cheap,” said one entrepreneur, who paid $2 million for a Santa Monica home. L.A. Times

More criticism of LAPD's handling of murderer’s speech: A new report finds Los Angeles police were wrong to help a former Mexican Mafia gang member leave custody to give a speech to a business group earlier this year. Not only had the court order that allowed Rene Enriquez to leave prison expired, but it specified that he was allowed out only to help prosecutors on a case. Security for the inmate cost taxpayers $22,000. L.A. Times

Movin’ on out: Tenants are being forced out of a new apartment building in Hollywood. They’re collateral damage in a legal fight between a developer, neighborhood association and the city. L.A. Times

Transparency in government: California does not have an official policy that would prohibit politicians from conducting government business on their personal email accounts. “I've always assumed that when state or local officials want to cover their tracks, they use their private email to conceal what's being done and who else is involved in doing or influencing it,” said an attorney for Californians Aware. Associated Press

Orange County’s jailhouse problems: There’s more fallout from Orange County’s use of jailhouse informants. A gang member who was facing a life sentence for an attempted murder will instead be released from prison next year. The district attorney’s office said the gang member’s constitutional rights were violated when an informant interviewed him after he had hired a lawyer. Orange County Register

Around-the-world wedding: A Los Angeles couple wanted to do something out of the ordinary when they decided to get married. So acrobats Cheetah Platt and Rhiann Woodyard are flying around the world, hosting 38 weddings in 83 days. The two were ordained as ministers so they could perform their own ceremonies. Despite all the celebration, the two are not yet legally wed. Buzzfeed

Drought in pictures: Five photographs of Half Dome in Yosemite capture California’s drought. Sacramento Bee


This week’s most popular stories in Essential California


  1. Why is Metro employee Jody Litvak the “most hated woman in Beverly Hills?” She’s the liaison on Metro’s expansion of the Purple Line subway. Los Angeles Magazine

  2. When a $1.2-million business deal went wrong, a Napa Valley winemaker shot and killed his business partner in the vineyards. SF Gate

  3. Many people had never heard of Robert Durst before the HBO documentary “The Jinx” highlighted his bizarre and extravagant life. He was arrested Sunday night for the 2000 murder of a crime writer. L.A. Times

  4. Blue Shield of California frequently faced criticism over its rates, executive pay and a reserve worth $4.2 billion. It was a nonprofit but state authorities stripped away that tax status -- and didn’t tell anyone. L.A. Times

  5. The ban on fast food restaurants in South Los Angeles has not had the effect on health that politicians were hoping for. A new study found obesity rates actually increased after the 2008 ban. L.A. Times


ICYMI, here are this week’s California Great Reads

Profile of the Inglewood mayor: James T. Butts Jr. is a former police chief who is focused on bringing development and jobs to Inglewood. His next challenge may be an NFL stadium. L.A. Times

Second draft of history: Historians are revisiting Franciscan friar Junipero Serra now that he’s on track to become a saint. L.A. Times

Robert Durst’s penmanship: Los Angeles police suspected for more than a decade that real estate scion Robert Durst may be connected to the murder of Susan Berman, a crime writer and the daughter of a mob boss. But false starts derailed the case -- until now. L.A. Times


Looking ahead

-- Stop by a poetry reading on Sunday as CicLAvia makes its way through the San Fernando Valley


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