Essential California: Calls for water conservation, nepotism in L.A. County Fire

Good morning. It is Wednesday, April 8. San Francisco residents were asked about their burrito preferences. Carnitas, hot salsa and Mexican Coke all won big. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:


Punishing water wasters

Some California cities will have to cut their water use by 35% over the next year. Agencies that don’t comply could face daily fines of $10,000. That warning came the same day state officials revealed Californians did not conserve enough water in February. L.A. Times

Driving with a suspended license

One in six California drivers has a suspended license thanks to traffic court fines. Now, one group wants to end suspensions for unpaid tickets, and it wants to see a reduction in the fees tacked onto traffic tickets. Statewide, uncollected court debt has grown to $10 billion. L.A. Times



Fire Department nepotism: The union representing L.A. County firefighters responded to allegations of nepotism by hosting a “family day” for employment-age children. The event gave attendees the opportunity to take the physical exam needed to apply for the county fire department. “As scrutiny of such family connections has grown, Local 1014’s leaders have struck back.” L.A. Times

The fall of a housing icon: Park La Brea, the largest apartment complex west of the Mississippi River, has long attracted artists and young professionals. Now it’s also attracting rats, cockroaches and broken elevators. “As far as I'm concerned, it's overpriced projects now,” said one longtime resident. LA Weekly

 South L.A.’s music pioneer: In 1948, John Dolphin opened a record store in South Los Angeles that connected R&B with rock and roll. The store broadcast music on a local radio station, which attracted Billie Holiday, James Brown and Little Richard. Now, Dolphin’s story is being told on stage in a musical co-written by his grandson. LA Weekly



School funding: California may soon have a strange budget problem -- too much revenue. Higher than expected revenue could trigger more funding for education, and that could leave little wiggle room in other parts of the budget. L.A. Times

Rights for immigrants: A batch of new state bills could expand opportunities for immigrants who are in the country illegally. Proposed legislation includes extending insurance coverage and barring discrimination based on immigration status. Sacramento Bee



Settlement in unarmed shooting: Los Angeles County will pay $5.3 million to the widow of an unarmed man who was shot seven times -- including five times in the back -- by sheriff’s deputies. The shooting is still being investigated by the Sheriff’s Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau. L.A. Times

O.C.’s empty jails: Some Orange County criminals are getting to serve their sentences at home so county officials can do some maintenance work and save money on deputies who should patrol the jails. “The public has gotten so brainwashed that our jails are overcrowded that they’re not paying attention to the fact that we’re not using the jail beds that we pay for to put people in custody,” said Supervisor Todd Spitzer. Orange County Register



Football’s return to L.A.: The NFL has never been closer to coming back to Los Angeles. With three teams and two stadium proposals all vying to make the cut, there are nine ways this could shake out for the region. L.A. Times



Cultivating the arts: There is something unexpected in Fresno -- an arts scene. A multi-day festival called the Rogue shows what can happen when a city has creativity, civic pride and cheap real estate. “The people in Fresno who have gotten our attention are those who are bored by or tired of Fresno's sad-sack positioning and believe it is already being turned around.”  Atlantic

Water in the desert? It’s probably not the question on most concertgoers’ minds: How will California’s drought affect the Coachella music festival? Billboard

Secrets of Dodger Stadium: 15 things you never knew about Dodger Stadium. Thrillist

Touring California’s coast: Five California lighthouses that are still open for tours. KCET



In Tuesday’s Essential California, we asked you how your commute affects where you live. Here’s what you told us:

“I will always move to be closer to work. I do not want to drive more than 20-30 minutes to go to work. I do not want to spend my life stuck in traffic!” -- Judith Ramos

Today, we want to know about your interactions with strangers. Los Angeles Times columnist Sandy Banks recently penned a piece about receiving a hug from a stranger at a subway station. That sparked a conversation about safety and compassion.

How would you have handled the situation? Have you had similar experiences? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter with the tag #EssentialCalifornia or send us an email: Alice Walton and Shelby Grad.



It was 29 years ago today that actor Clint Eastwood was elected mayor of Carmel.


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.