Essential California: How much does it cost to fast-track an NFL stadium?

Good morning. It is Wednesday, May 6.  Here's what is happening in the Golden State:


Not saving enough

Californians cut their water use 3.6% in March -- a far cry from Gov. Jerry Brown's executive order to reduce consumption 25%. "We need to do more," said water board staff scientist Max Gomberg.  Los Angeles Times

Price of doing business

St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke paid $1.7 million to fast-track his stadium proposal in Inglewood. In Carson, it cost about a third of that to bypass environmental studies on a stadium proposal. That speed "gave both a decided advantage over the cities trying to keep the footloose franchises from fleeing for Los Angeles. The NFL could take relocation applications as soon as this fall." Los Angeles Times

Be our guest

Tourism in Los Angeles and California hit record highs in 2014. An estimated 251 million people visited the state, spending $117.5 billion. Reasons for the uptick include high consumer confidence and pent-up demand from Americans who put off travel during the recession. A growing middle-class in China also contributed to the record numbers. Los Angeles Times



Killing the trees: Over the last four years, at least 12 million trees have died in California's national forests as a result of the drought. The lack of snow and rain, along with rising temperatures, also increases the chance of wildfires. Los Angeles Times

Abandoned kittens: Could the drought have put love in the air for Oakland's feline population? The staffs at animal shelters think so now that they are overrun with kittens. SF Gate

Building in a drought: Orange County doesn't have enough housing -- or water. Now developers are trying to square those competing interests. "The drought could cloud a home-building recovery that has seen sale prices hit all-time highs, with construction at its highest level in a decade." Orange County Register

Not a drop to drink: An 18-year-old man was just 12 hours into his hike on the Pacific Crest Trail when he ran out of water and had to be rescued by a CHP helicopter crew. The man said he had planned to drink from water sources along the trail but they had all dried up due to the drought. Sacramento Bee

Books on water: A literary look at water and history in the West. Boom



DWP apology: The head of the Department of Water and Power offered up a public apology to Mayor Eric Garcetti Tuesday. Marcie Edwards said she allowed her frustrations with an auditing process get the best of her. That audit found money set aside for safety and training programs was spent on vacations, steak dinners and credit cards. Los Angeles Times 

Walking in L.A.: The city of Los Angeles is reconsidering jaywalking fines in light of L.A. Times articles that highlighted the $197 ticket. Actually, the jaywalking fine is $25, but the city, county and state have added on fees for things like courthouse repairs and a DNA Identification Fund. Los Angeles Times 

Child abuse settlement: L.A. County will pay a $450,000 settlement to a man whose 2-year-old son was killed by his mother's boyfriend despite repeated calls to county social workers about ongoing abuse. Los Angeles Times

Homes for homeless: A South L.A. man is building tiny homes on wheels for homeless men and women. Video of Elvis Summers' first house ended up on YouTube and that brought in a flood of donations totaling $50,000. Because the houses are so small, they don't require a building permit. Los Angeles Times

Rewriting history: One writer talks about the process of writing a fictionalized account of the 1992 riots. "What I saw when I emerged from my research was a city that both explained the present and shaded it, adding tones of grayness where previously things had been more starkly black and white." Zocalo Public Square



Uproar over punishment: DEA agents who left a UC San Diego student in a holding cell for five days without food or water were punished with what some are calling a slap on the wrist: Four agents got reprimands and two others were suspended for a few days without pay. The student, Daniel Chong, reached a $4.1-million settlement with the government. Los Angeles Times

Inmate death: An inmate at a state prison in Solano was found dead Monday. He was discovered after a riot broke out involving 58 inmates. Los Angeles Times



Water cleanup: The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to make a decision soon on whether to clean up groundwater under Fullerton and Anaheim. That could reignite a debate over who should pay for such cleanup. Ten years ago, the Orange County Water District accused manufacturing businesses of dumping contaminants that ended up in the aquifer. Orange County Register

Whale washes ashore: For the second time in three weeks, a dead whale washed up on a Pacifica beach. Scientists have not yet determined a cause of death. SF Gate



Donating to charity: Who gave more to charity in 2012: residents in Compton or Beverly Hills? It turns out people in both cities gave more than 4% of their income to good causes. Same went for Inglewood and Palo Alto. Sacramento Bee

Which is better? San Francisco vs. New York, as told through cartoons. The Cooper Review



An L.A. Times editorial calls for vigilance in rooting out graffiti in state and national parks. "A visitor painting faces on rocks — as one notorious vandal did in several national parks across the West, including Joshua Tree — is not the same as Native Americans leaving petroglyphs 1,000 years ago when the land was their home." Los Angeles Times



Is there something we missed in today’s Essential California? Drop us a line and we’ll include your link (and a credit) in tomorrow’s edition. Share your thoughts with us on Twitter with the tag #EssentialCalifornia or send us an email: Alice Walton and Shelby Grad.



There’s a slight chance of drizzle in Los Angeles and San Diego. Temperatures will be in the mid-60s during the day and then drop to the mid-50s tonight. San Francisco will be sunny with highs in the low 60s.



It’s good to have school spirit -- just make sure you've got the right school. Rapper Snoop Dogg showed up for a performance at UC San Diego sporting the school colors for San Diego State University.



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.