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Essential California: The downside of conserving water

Good morning. It is Tuesday, Sept. 1. The aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan has left San Diego for Japan, where it will be the American face of naval power in Asia. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:

TOP STORIES 

Death penalty revisited

Can a federal appeals court rule on California’s death penalty before the state Supreme Court has a chance to weigh in? That question was at the center of a hearing Monday that could end the death penalty. “The tea leaves said to me that the panel would be most comfortable sending it back [to a state court],” said Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson. Los Angeles Times

On the market

In the 1950s and '60s, Caltrans prepared for the 710 Freeway extension by buying up homes in Pasadena, South Pasadena and El Sereno. That project never came to fruition and now the state agency is preparing to sell the homes, but renters are concerned they won’t be able to afford to buy the properties they’ve called home for decades. Los Angeles Times

Isolation units

California is on the verge of changing how it uses solitary confinement in state prisons. Prison guards credit solitary confinement, typically used to separate out gang members, with a drop in prison violence. Critics have argued that spending 23 hours a day in a windowless cell can cause psychological damage. Los Angeles Times

DROUGHT

New problems: Californians are learning more about the unintended consequences of the drought. Corroded pipes. Funky odors. And a huge drop in revenue for water agencies. “Every citizen thinks he or she is saving mankind, and I’m sympathetic, but it just so happens that our basic infrastructure was not designed with that in mind,” said George Tchobanoglous, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Davis. Los Angeles Times

Fewer jobs: An estimated 21,000 people, many in agriculture, are out of work this year because of the drought. Of those farmworkers who are still in the fields, many are doing more work for less pay, according to UC Davis. “We take longer to fill up the box because the strawberries are smaller. When the strawberries are bigger, you fill up the box faster,” said one farmworker. NPR

Dramatic flair: The East Bay Municipal Utility District is taking a unusual approach to promoting conservation -- skits. EarthCapades, an environmentally focused theater group, performed for 250 children and residents last weekend, with a focus on the need to save water. The Daily Californian

L.A. AT LARGE

Art and athletics: Runners with #blacklistLA are meeting up at night and setting out to see great street art. “Street art tours are not anything new. But what they're doing is great for the runners themselves. They see the city in a different way,” said artist Tristan Eaton. Los Angeles Times

Office space: BuzzFeed may be moving to Los Angeles’ Arts District. The media company is reportedly in talks to lease an old Ford factory on the edge of downtown. That could be a sign that BuzzFeed, which just received a $200-million investment from NBCUniversal,  is planning a major expansion of operations. Wall Street Journal

Public spaces: Columnist Sandy Banks reflects on the case of the African American book club members who were ejected from the Napa Valley Wine Train for allegedly being too loud. “We seem to think our own comfort is the only thing that matters — as if real life is like our online world, where intrusions can be managed by hitting ‘delete’ and content controlled with a simple swipe of the screen,” she writes. Los Angeles Times

POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

Cleanup backup: The Bureau of Sanitation was ordered to clear outstanding cleanup orders dating back to 2010 after a Los Angeles Times investigation found one-third of bulky item requests in poorer neighborhoods went ignored while requests in more affluent parts of the city were handled in a timely fashion. Mayor Eric Garcetti also wants sanitation officials to develop a tracking system that will record when waste is removed from streets and sidewalks. Los Angeles Times

GOP field: Republicans and Democrats are attacking California business executive Carly Fiorina. Does that mean the Republican presidential candidate is doing something right? “Nobody was worried too much about her before, no one was attacking her, looking at her record. All of those things can happen once you actually become a threat to somebody,” said Katie Packer Gage, a GOP strategist. Los Angeles Times

Living in poverty: More than 1 million elderly Californians live in poverty, according to a new UCLA study. Researchers determined that figure based on national poverty guidelines and the state's high cost of living. Those Californians are more likely to be African American and Latino, and they tend to be concentrated in rural communities. Sacramento Bee

COURTS AND CRIME

Higher tech: You’re on camera. After years of testing and funding challenges, the first 800 of LAPD’s officers are now equipped with body cameras. Ultimately, more than 7,000 cameras will be attached to the city’s cops. Los Angeles Times

Immigration sweep: Federal immigration officials took 244 people into custody last week as part of a sweep targeting undocumented immigrants with criminal records. Most of those arrested had at least one felony conviction. “One of the challenges we’re facing is because of state law and local policies, more individuals who are potentially deportable with significant criminal histories are being released onto the street instead of being turned over to ICE,” said an immigration spokeswoman. Los Angeles Times

Doctor on trial: Opening statements are underway in the trial of a doctor charged with the murder of patients who overdosed. Dr. Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng prescribed the medications that led to the deaths of three patients. “Enough is enough. Doctors are not above the law,” then-Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said when Tseng was charged in 2012. The defense argues the doctor should not be held responsible for the decisions of patients. Los Angeles Times

HOUSING

Changing neighborhoods: A new interactive map from UC Berkeley looks at which Bay Area neighborhoods are most at risk of gentrification. Among the findings: 53% of low-income households are in areas in danger of displacement. KQED

EDUCATION

Pre-K generation: What is the difference between preschool, transitional kindergarten and expanded transitional kindergarten? If the answers don’t immediately spring to mind, check out this Q&A. Los Angeles Times

Free classes: In Desert Hot Springs, parents and grandparents are riding the school bus to attend free English classes. “Parents are commonly held back because of language abilities. Hopefully, these classes will let them pursue more gainful employment,” said Scott Cooper, a dean at College of the Desert. The Desert Sun

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

Big break: A Cuban baseball player has been camped outside Dodger Stadium for 18 days, hoping for his chance to try out for the team. Loah Linares pointed to Jackie Robinson as inspiration while he works out and waits for his chance to play. “I am black, but I am also Latino, and it doesn't change the fact that I appreciate that kind of history,” he said. LAist

Snack time: Beware. A great white shark took a big bite out of a woman’s surfboard near Morro Strand State Beach. At first, Elinor Dempsey didn't know it was a shark. “It bit my board, realized it wasn’t a dolphin … and I just turned around and just started swimming,” she said. Los Angeles Times

Murals galore: The City Terrace neighborhood of Los Angeles has a rich history of public murals. KCET

GOLDEN STATE PERSPECTIVES

Quiet contract talks: L.A. City Hall has a history of rushing to vote on raises for unionized public employees with little input or analysis, and often with serious financial consequences. Now, budget watchers are once again rightly on edge after an announcement last month by Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Herb Wesson that they had agreed on a tentative contract for half the city’s civilian workforce. Los Angeles Times

Expensive Olympics: The more The Times editorial board knows about Los Angeles’ potential bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, the more it’s worried. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s so-called bid book includes wildly optimistic plans for investments by private-sector partners that in reality haven’t committed anything close to what Garcetti and his team project. It also relies on a $250-million contribution for a state government headed by California’s famously frugal Gov. Jerry Brown. Los Angeles Times

CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

San Francisco will have low clouds and 71 degrees. In Los Angeles, it will be partly sunny and 81. Riverside will be partly sunny and 88. It will be partly sunny and 78 degrees in San Diego.

AND FINALLY

Today's California Memory comes from Jeff Yolles:

I recall one day in February 1984, taking a leisurely walk around the West L.A. neighborhood I worked in. At one point I realized that it was winter, and I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. I had moved to L.A. from Denver the previous year. It wasn't till then that I realized what a special place I was living in.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

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.

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