Essential California: State could see mandatory water cuts amid drought, Newsom says

A man in a suit and tie sits at a table behind a microphone and gestures as he talks.
Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks with leaders of urban water agencies during a meeting in Sacramento on Monday.
(Gov. Newsom’s Office)

Good morning and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, May 24, and I’m your guest host, Sarah Parvini.

Gov. Gavin Newsom met with leaders of the state’s largest urban water suppliers on Monday and implored them to step up efforts to get people to reduce water use as California’s drought continued to worsen.

As my colleague Ian James reports, Newsom warned that if conservation efforts didn’t improve this summer, the state could be forced to impose mandatory water restrictions throughout the state.

Ten months ago, Newsom called for Californians to voluntarily cut water use by 15%, but the state remains far from that goal. The latest conservation figures have been especially poor. Water use in cities and towns increased by nearly 19% during March, an especially warm and dry month.


Compared with a 2020 baseline, statewide cumulative water savings since July have amounted to just 3.7%.

Read more of Ian’s report: “Newsom urges aggressive water conservation and warns of statewide restrictions.”

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

Anaheim’s mayor resigns amid a corruption probe into his role in Angel Stadium land sale. Two prominent Orange County political leaders resigned within 24 hours of each other amid fallout from a sprawling federal public corruption investigation linked to the proposed sale of Angel Stadium and allegations that a secretive “cabal” controlled Anaheim’s politics. Los Angeles Times

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.


Sex abuse suits are pouring in as the state’s Catholic leaders seek relief from the nation’s highest court. California has twice extended the statute of limitations on child sex abuse claims, prompting nine state bishops to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to declare the law unconstitutional, arguing that they face “potentially ruinous liability.” CalMatters



Track home prices in every Bay Area city and ZIP Code. Using Zillow home values data, the San Francisco Chronicle has mapped Bay Area median house prices and charted changes in the housing market. See home prices by plugging in addresses to the interactive map. San Francisco Chronicle


Sacramento Valley is feeling the heat of water cuts. Growers protected for decades by their water rights are suffering for the first time during this record-breaking drought. Wildlife refuges are struggling too. CalMatters

Coronavirus cases in California are rising fast, with some regions seeing infections double. Statewide, the increase was 63%, bringing the case rate to 231 for every 100,000 residents. A rate of 100 and above is considered a high rate of transmission. Los Angeles Times

The plastics industry, facing a crackdown, targets Democrats with mailers deemed deceptive. The mailers assert without attribution that bans on single-use plastics “will have a devastating impact on working families” by driving up costs for consumers. Los Angeles Times


Candidates for L.A. County sheriff ride the ‘anyone but Villanueva’ wave but lack name recognition. Two weeks before the primary election, Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s opponents have plenty of ammunition with which to attack and force a runoff. Most of their attacks have focused on the sheriff’s fractured relationship with the Board of Supervisors, which oversees the department’s $3.5-billion budget. Los Angeles Times

Newsom signs a compromise law raising the limit on medical malpractice damages. California’s $250,000 limit on damages for pain and suffering caused by medical malpractice, a ceiling enacted by lawmakers in 1975 at the insistence of doctors and insurers, will be lifted next year. San Francisco Chronicle



Five workers left restaurant jobs in the pandemic. Where are they now? Returning workers, including chefs, managers, short-order cooks and servers, faced the daily dissonance of being hailed by some as part of the “essential” workforce while being spat on or cursed at, overworked and — in many cases — laid off. Los Angeles Times


Virtual workouts are here to stay. At the height of the pandemic, when going to the gym wasn’t an option, millions of people began exploring virtual workouts from home for the first time. And many of them now say they won’t go back. LAist

A longtime festival for West Hollywood’s Russian community pivots to help Ukraine’s refugees. City officials recast this year’s event as a fundraiser for Ukrainian refugees, pairing free activities for children — face painting, magicians, carnival games — with a silent auction and exhibit booths for humanitarian aid groups to collect donations. Los Angeles Times

Share your love life with us. Send us your love story in 300 words or less and we may feature it in a future article. Los Angeles Times

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at


Los Angeles: Partly cloudy and 76 . San Diego: Partly cloudy and 65. San Francisco: Mostly sunny and 74. San Jose: Mostly sunny and 91. Fresno: Sunny and 98. Sacramento: Mostly sunny and 100.

Our daily news podcast

If you’re a fan of this newsletter, you’ll love our daily podcast “The Times,” hosted every weekday by columnist Gustavo Arellano, along with reporters from across our newsroom. Go beyond the headlines. Download and listen on our App, subscribe on Apple Podcasts and follow on Spotify.



Today’s California memory comes from Andrea Regan:

“Growing up in the San Francisco Bay area, fishing was my father’s passion. I remember early morning drives to Fisherman’s Wharf before it was a tourist destination. My childhood memories consist of puttering beneath the Golden Gate Bridge on a salmon boat, feeling the damp cold and hearing blaring foghorns. Salmon and Dungeness crab were staples on our dinner table. “Cheaper per pound than hamburger, and so much more delicious,” my dad would say as he served the crab he picked up at Race Street Market on his drive home from work. My favorite photo of us is with a salmon bigger than me!

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (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 to