Essential California: Rev. Robert Schuller dies, farmers fight for water, life as a driver for the L.A. County sheriff

Good morning. It is Friday, April 3. One Southern California beach is gearing up for Corgi Beach Day, which is expected to attract hundreds of canines and their human companions. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:


Free pass for farmers?

Gov. Jerry Brown’s critics say his new water mandates don’t go far enough because they ignore agriculture, which uses 75% of the state’s water. But growers point that they’re getting less water and last year, were forced to leave 400,000 acres unplanted. That resulted in a $2-billion hit to the agricultural economy. L.A. Times

‘Hour of Power’ reverend dies

The Rev. Robert H. Schuller started out preaching at a drive-in and finished his career inside the $20-million Crystal Cathedral. His style was noted for its optimism, often tying positive thinking into the Gospel. After his retirement, he saw his ministry torn apart by financial abuses and family squabbles. Schuller died Thursday at the age of 88. L.A. Times

Ski resorts find new sports

What’s a ski resort to do when there’s no snow? Resorts have opened zip lines, climbing walls and mountain bike trails. Bear Mountain and Snow Summit each closed the season two weeks early in yet another sign of how the drought is affecting California. L.A. Times



Sheriff’s new driver: It may not sound prestigious but for years, serving as the driver for the L.A. County sheriff was a sure-fire way to move up the ranks of the Sheriff’s Department. Drivers tended to be young men plucked from an inner circle. Now, Sheriff Jim McDonnell is changing that by opening up the job and hiring the first female driver. L.A. Times

Hollywood agents defect: Ten talent agents representing some of the biggest names in comedy left Creative Artists Agency this week for rival United Talent Agency. This could set off a long war between the two agencies as many expect CAA to sue over breach of contract. L.A. Times

Courthouse surprise: A woman gave birth to a baby boy in the hallway of Los Angeles’ civil courthouse Thursday. The infant arrived before paramedics could arrive on scene. L.A. Times



Westwood’s legal scholar: A UCLA law professor is one of the country’s most influential conservative bloggers. Eugene Volokh is “become a leading conservative and libertarian legal theorist, establishing himself as one of the few Angelenos to play a prominent role in hard-right political circles.” L.A. Magazine

Compton sues over pot: The Compton school district is suing the city of Compton over pot shops. School officials say marijuana dispensaries have been allowed to open too close to schools due to lax oversight by city leaders. “No one I know thinks a marijuana dispensary near a school is a good idea,” said Micah Ali, school board president. L.A. Times



Harassment accusations: Two L.A. County prosecutors are suing a deputy district attorney for sexual harassment. The women accuse Gary Hearnsberger of grabbing them and making sexually explicit comments. Moreover, their lawsuit alleges that other female prosecutors who submitted to the harassment were assigned to high-profile cases. Hearnsberger denies the allegations. L.A. Times

Protecting California’s children: A group home in Davis that was supposed to help some of the most disturbed and vulnerable children in California was shut down after reports of rape, drug use and chaos. “The breakdown at FamiliesFirst has helped spur California to rethink how it cares for its most troubled children, a question that for decades has confounded not just the state but the country.” ProPublica

Getting permits in O.C.: The Orange County sheriff wants to make it tougher for residents to get concealed weapon permits. Last year, a court ruled Sheriff Sandra Hutchens needed to relax the rules for getting a permit but with that decision in legal limbo, the sheriff still wants residents to provide”good cause” as to why they need a weapon. Orange County Register



Mapping trash: How does a piece of litter you toss onto the street become your swimming companion in the Pacific Ocean? This graphic traces the journey of the cigarette butt. L.A. Times

Feeding feral cats: All around Southern California, volunteers feed stray cats. At the same time, animal shelters euthanize thousands of unwanted cats and kittens every year. The intersection of those two actions has sparked a fierce debate: Is it irresponsible to feed feral cats? “Feeders might be doing as much harm as good. And the city's plans to step in and humanely reduce the feral cat population have been stalled for years by a legal battle.”  LA Weekly

New warning labels: Put down that soda and no one gets hurt. Three supervisors in San Francisco want to put warning labels on the sugary drinks, warning that consumption may lead to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. KCET



Growing fast: New census data show a population boom in the Bay Area. That growth mirrors booms in nearby Silicon Valley. SF Gate

Funds for affordable housing: San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee wants a $200-million housing bond on the November ballot. The funds would be directed toward affordable housing. In San Francisco, the average rent is now $2,802 a month. Bloomberg



Mapping film history: It was a very different Los Angeles when Harold Lloyd filmed “Safety Last!” in 1923. This map highlights the filming locations in Hollywood, around downtown and even on a crowded streetcar. Curbed LA



In Thursday’s Essential California, we asked for your thoughts on legalizing marijuana. Here’s what you had to say:

“It is time to decriminalize pot. Let's use the tens of millions of dollars spent on enforcement, court costs, and confinement on things that benefit society. Education, desalination, sidewalks, streets. I could go on as the needs are many.” -- David Monroe

Today, we want to know how the drought is affecting you. Have you torn out your lawn? Installed new shower heads? Perhaps you’ve let dust and dirt build up on your car. Share your thoughts with us on Twitter with the tag #EssentialCalifornia or send us an email: Alice Walton and Shelby GradShelby Grad.



Take a trip back to 1983 when the Los Angeles Times profiled the Rev. Robert Schuller in his prime. “He doesn't even like being called a televangelist. Instead, he likes to ‘think of myself not just as a minister but also as a therapist, a mass psychologist.’”


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.