Essential California: LAPD's new strategy, unpopular water cuts, LAUSD wants a refund

Good morning. It is Thursday, April 16. Here's what is happening in the Golden State:


Questioning LAPD’s strategy: A decision to deploy elite LAPD metro officers to high-crime areas is receiving mixed reviews. Critics say it’s a departure from LAPD’s community policing philosophy, but Chief Charlie Beck says the two strategies can work in harmony. “These are the same cops that were patrolling neighborhoods before. They’re just given a slightly different mission,” Beck said. L.A. Times L.A. Times

Cities protest water cuts: Cities and water agencies have sent more than 200 letters to the state Water Resources Control Board in response to proposed mandatory urban water-use reductions that reach as high as 35% in some areas. Critics of the proposal say the state is ignoring previous conservation efforts and using faulty data to calculate the proposed cuts. L.A. Times



L.A. as a club promoter: When it came time to find a new operator for the Greek Theatre, heavyweights Live Nation and Nederlander duked it out. The L.A. City Council ultimately rejected both applicants, so now the Recreation and Parks commissioners have decided on a different plan -- they’ll run the concert venue. L.A. Times

Do you have your receipt? LAUSD officials want Apple to refund them for software that never worked properly on iPads provided to public school children. And the school district doesn’t want anything to do with Apple or its subcontractor, Pearson, going forward. “While Apple and Pearson promised a state-of-the-art technological solution ... they have yet to deliver it,” the district’s attorney wrote in a letter to Apple. L.A. Times

New DTLA hotel: The 12-story Giannini Place in downtown Los Angeles was once home to the Bank of Italy. Now, it’s getting a major makeover to become a boutique hotel. The building is noted for its marble floors, Doric columns and golden ceiling. L.A. Times L.A. Times



51st state: Residents in Northern California are continuing their efforts to break away and create the new state of Jefferson. The secessionist movement is trying to gain momentum, arguing that rural residents are not fairly represented. So far, five counties have endorsed the new state. Sacramento Bee

Celebrity endorsement: Cher is endorsing Heidi Shink in the upcoming special election for a seat on in West Hollywood city council. The singer said she was motivated to make an endorsement because her son Chaz Bono lives in the city. “My most significant role in life is that of a mother and like any mom, I value my child's happiness above all else.” Hollywood Reporter



Return to sender: V. Stiviano, who used to date Donald Sterling, must return $2.6 million worth of gifts to the former Clippers’ owner's wife. A judge found that the gifts Sterling gave Stiviano, including a $1.8-million duplex and luxury cars, were assets he shared with Shelly Sterling. Stiviano plans to appeal. L.A. Times Also, what kind of house does a billionaire buy for his mistress? Curbed LA has pictures.

Stolen masterpieces: Two paintings valued at $400,000 were pilfered from the home of the late Sam Simon, a former producer of “The Simpsons” who died in March. The stolen art includes a piece by Roy Lichtenstein. L.A. Times



Forced to move out: Residents of Hollywood’s new Sunset Gordon apartment building are experiencing some unpleasant tumult. Last year, after tenants had already moved in, a judge retroactively declared that the building’s permits were invalid. Tenants may be forced to move out any day, and they’ve been told it’s unlikely they will get their security deposits back. Worst of all, management called the cops on tenants who asked questions about the litigation. Curbed LA

House hunters: Southern California is home to four of the country’s fastest-moving housing markets, a new report finds. “California’s going fast, just like usual,” according to an economist for the real estate website Trulia. L.A. Times

Proposition 13 benefit: One bright spot in California’s housing woes -- homeowners in 16 states pay more in property taxes. On average, Californians pay $1,431 in property taxes. L.A. Times



Selfies with sea lions: Sick sea lion pups are ending up on Orange County beaches because they’re not getting enough nutrients in their natural habitat of the Channel Islands. Volunteers in Huntington Beach are trying to keep people from abusing the animals or trying to take selfies with them. Orange County Register



Best public murals: Here are the 12 best pieces of street art in San Francisco. Thrillist

Monkeying around: How the Old Zoo at Griffith Park came to be -- and why it was abandoned, though some of the old cages remain for curious hikers to check out. KCET

No free lunch: How much would you pay for lunch with Apple’s Tim Cook? One charity raised as much as $610,000 for face time with the executive. SF Gate

Environmental protection: The true story of how one man saved the San Francisco Bay in an attempt to destroy it. Boom

Responding to the drought: Have the media overblown the effect of California’s drought? Some readers think reports of the state’s problem have been greatly exaggerated. New York Times



In Wednesday’s Essential California, we asked you for feedback about pedestrian safety in Los Angeles. Here’s what you said:

“I'm the rare Angeleno who walks the city quite a bit. I have to be extremely vigilant at crosswalks. I think it would do more for public safety to have a hefty fine for drivers who ‘roll’ stop lights into right hand turns while the Walk light is on, oblivious to pedestrians waiting on the curb, than to penalize jaywalkers.” -- Kathryn Campbell

“I'm a lifelong pedestrian in L.A. and surrounding communities. I always feel safe walking around. I don't feel safe riding a bike. Pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings.” -- Stephanie Olivas

For today’s Talk Back, let’s focus on California’s relationship with wildlife, from bears to coyotes to mountain lions. How should local governments and residents handle encounters with these animals? Is right to tranquilize an animal if it wanders into an urban environment? Do humans need to be more respectful of their natural habitats?

Share your thoughts with us on Twitter with the hashtag #EssentialCalifornia or send us an email: Alice Walton and Shelby Grad.



An elite group of painters are tasked with painting the Golden Gate Bridge its signature color, International Orange. It’s a full time job to keep the bridge looking good. City Lab


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.