Essential California: San Francisco to re-examine cases after cops' racist, homophobic texts

Good morning. It is Friday, May 8. Here's what is happening in the Golden State:


Newspaper merger

The Los Angeles Times' parent company will purchase U-T San Diego for $85 million, uniting newspapers in California's two largest cities under one umbrella. "We’re combining two of the most enduring institutions in California," said publisher Austin Beutner. The editor of the San Diego paper, however, noted the merger could lead to layoffs. Los Angeles Times, U-T San Diego

Cases not closed

In San Francisco, as many as 3,000 criminal cases will be revisited to see if officers who sent racist and homophobic text messages showed bias. "If just one individual was wrongly imprisoned because of bias on the part of these officers -- that's one too many," said Dist. Atty. George Gascon. Los Angeles Times



Water, water everywhere, but ... : On Catalina Island, hotels are sending out laundry to the mainland and water is being brought over on barges. In October, residents, who already have cut consumption 30%, will face new restrictions that could halt construction projects and force hotels to shutter rooms. Los Angeles Times 

Drought suggestions: Think you know how to solve the drought? You're not alone. State officials are filing away Californians' suggestions, which range from towing in icebergs to investing in biodegradable towels. Los Angeles Times 

Political consequences: There are no easy answers for California's local, state and federal politicians as they confront the drought. Politico

Water closet: Toilets account for more than a quarter of a household's indoor water use. That has researchers hard at work on the toilet of the future. "The toilet, in any form, will play a role in meeting state water reduction rules that ... shifted from voluntary to mandatory." Orange County Register

Exceptional drought: The latest maps that show the severity of California’s drought. Los Angeles Times

Drought bingo: Yes, there have been a lot of stories about the drought. Now there’s a bingo game. Squares include "almonds," "Chinatown" and "swimming pools." LA Weekly



Surf culture: Surfers flocked to Newport Beach this week for the massive waves generated by a storm that started on the other side of the world. Writer Robin Abcarian went down there to catch up on surf culture. "But you don't have to be a surfer to identify with surf culture. For many of us, surfing is an aspirational thing – Maybe I’ll learn to do that one day," she writes. Los Angeles Times 

Ill dolphins: Pollution in Santa Monica Bay is leaving dolphins vulnerable to tumors and skin lesions. "Pesticides, PCBs and toxic metals like lead show up in the bay when rainwater washes in from dirty streets of the sprawling L.A. area. One inch of rain can yield 10 billion gallons of this contaminated runoff." 89.3 KPCC

Landmark's birthday: The Griffith Observatory will celebrate its 80th birthday next week. Construction began in 1933 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration. City Lab



Gubernatorial candidate? Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa continues to make the media rounds, fueling speculation that he will run for governor in 2018. "I would be honored to serve. And wouldn't be surprised if one day I started knocking on those doors," he said. Fox News Latino

Toll fines: One Inland Empire commuter was shocked when the Orange County Transportation Authority sent him a bill for $27,000. A billing problem with his FasTrak pass went undetected as Cameron Aanestad continued to use the Highway 91 toll lanes. Now he's stuck with the outrageous bill. Orange County Register



Dangerous inmate: A man who already was on death row in Arizona was brought to Riverside County in 2010 to stand trial for a 1995 murder. Five years later Ernesto Salgado Martinez, described as one of the county's most dangerous prisoners, still hasn't gone on trial. "He is incredibly dangerous because he is so bright," said Riverside County Dist. Atty. Mike Hestrin. Desert Sun

Targeting johns: It's not what police expected when they conducted an undercover operation to arrest johns soliciting prostitutes -- the presence of children. One man who solicited an undercover officer will also face child endangerment charges since he had his 5-year-old and 2-year-old sons in the car at the time. Orange County Register

Stow attacker: One of the men responsible for beating Giants fan Bryan Stow outside Dodger Stadium will serve an additional three years in prison for weapons charges. Louie Sanchez says he regrets the 2011 attack. "That poor decision has placed me and my family in this situation that I find myself today…. The choices that I had made has cost me so much," Sanchez wrote in a letter to the court. Los Angeles Times

Sugar attack: Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine was hit with a bag of powdered sugar as he left "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in Hollywood. A 28-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of battery. Los Angeles Times



Teacher housing: The L.A. Unified School District is building affordable housing for teachers. A 66-unit building in Hollywood is expected to open next year. Curbed LA

Landlords' fine: San Francisco landlords who evicted tenants and turned an old Victorian house into tourist lodgings must pay $276,000 in penalties and fees. Officials say the landlords violated the Ellis Act and failed to obtain the necessary permits to rent out the property. SFist



Fault lines: California is hardly alone when it comes to the dangers of earthquakes. A new study finds nearly 150 million Americans are threatened by earthquakes strong enough to do damage. Los Angeles Times

Seeing Shamu: Attendance at SeaWorld was up in the first quarter. That follows a year when overall attendance was down by 1 million following the release of "Blackfish," a documentary that exposed how captive killer whales are treated. Los Angeles Times

Happy hour: Just in time for summer, 16 L.A. bars that have beautiful patios. LAist



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.



San Diego and Los Angeles are expected to have rain today with a chance of thunderstorms in the L.A. area. Wind gusts could reach 15 mph, with temperatures in the mid 60s in both cities. San Francisco should be partly sunny and 62 degrees.



Los Angeles' iconic Tiki-Ti is closing indefinitely … but not forever. The owner of the 12-stool bar says he’ll reopen after "some restructuring." Uga booga!



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.