Essential California Week in Review: Expect more water restrictions next year


Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Oct. 8.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week

More water restrictions are likely to come next year. Four water districts and the state’s Colorado River Board said in a letter to the federal government Wednesday that they were proposing to reduce water use by up to 400,000 acre-feet per year. That would amount to about 9% of the state’s total water allotment from the river through 2026. In Southern California, officials with the Metropolitan Water District planned to endorse mandatory conservation measures to begin rationing water for cities and local agencies that supply 19 million people across six counties.

Bass and Caruso faced off in their second one-on-one L.A. mayoral debate. The rhetorical daggers flew, with Rep. Karen Bass attempting to portray real estate developer Rick Caruso as a shape-shifting opportunist whom voters can’t fully trust. Caruso, in turn, aimed to characterize the congresswoman as lacking judgment and having little to show for her time in Washington, D.C.

What you need to know about the gas tax refunds. On Friday, the state began dispersing one-time payments ranging from $400 to $1,050 for couples who filed jointly on their 2020 state income tax return and $200 to $700 for those who filed independently. Payments will arrive in several ways, including direct deposits to roughly 8 million bank accounts for those who e-filed their 2020 state income tax return. The state expects the majority of all direct deposits to hit bank accounts by the end of October, and more will be sent out through Nov. 14. An additional 10 million payments will be mailed on debit cards to California residents.


Gas prices in SoCal fell slightly, but for how long? Oil and gas analysts said wholesale prices for California-grade gasoline seemed to have peaked this week after shutdowns of at least five refineries statewide led to shortages. But they said it often takes much longer to see prices at the pump reflect market dips. And Wednesday’s announcement by OPEC+, a coalition of two dozen countries, to cut oil production by 2 million barrels a day has the potential to affect California prices, officials said.

Why flu season may be worse in L.A. this year. Influenza has been largely dormant the last two seasons, a development some attribute to the infection-prevention protocols put in place to ward off the coronavirus. But with measures such as mandatory masking, physical distancing and limitations on business and social activities having been put aside amid improved pandemic conditions, California could be in line for a more active flu season this year.

An internal LAPD report ruled that an officer’s training death was an accident. The report on Houston Tipping’s death last spring found that Tipping and the other officers involved in the training session followed standards set by a state agency. It did not uncover evidence to support an allegation made by Tipping’s mother that other officers were simulating a mob and beat him during the training.

Free online games

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

A plan to save the Salton Sea was rejected. By moving desalinated seawater across the desert, some local residents and environmentalists say, California could stop its largest lake from shrinking and growing saltier and could restore its once-thriving ecosystem. But advocates of tapping ocean water were dealt a significant blow when a state-appointed panel of experts rejected the idea after a yearlong review, citing costs estimated in the tens of billions of dollars, harm to the coastal environment and a construction timeline that would take many years before any water would reach the lake.

A serial killer might be behind six shooting deaths. Last week, Stockton police said five fatal shootings reported between July 8 and Sept. 27 in the Central California city were related. On Tuesday, they said a sixth fatal shooting last year in Oakland and a nonfatal shooting in Stockton are also connected. All of those killed were men, shot in the late-night or early-morning hours, with no signs of robbery, police said. Five of the six were Latino, according to police.

L.A. landlords can resume evictions starting Feb. 1. The City Council unanimously voted to end restrictions that have prohibited landlords from evicting renters affected by COVID-19. In February 2024, landlords will also be able to begin evicting tenants for unauthorized pets or residents who aren’t listed on leases. In rent-controlled apartments, rent increases will be allowed to resume in February 2024.

A high school football team forfeited the season after players staged a “slave auction.” Doreen Osumi, the superintendent of Yuba City Unified School District, called the incident at River Valley High School in Yuba City “extremely distressing” and confirmed that participating students are not playing the rest of the season. The student-athletes were in violation of the code of conduct, Osumi said.


Enjoying this newsletter?

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a Times subscriber.

ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

The USC Cardinal Divas are more than just a dance team. Even before stepping on campus at USC, Princess Lang knew she wanted to join a dance team. USC had several options, but “none of them called my name,” she said. So she set out to form the Cardinal Divas, a majorette team whose moves during USC’s football game against Fresno State recently went viral. “I want to be able to create a Black space for Black women anywhere,” Lang said.

How a corrupt FBI agent protected an L.A. crime figure for cash. Edgar Sargsyan, a phony lawyer who had made a fortune through identity theft, pulled a laminated piece of paper out of the glove box and handed it to officers during a traffic stop in Burbank. The parking placard had a U.S. Department of Justice seal on one side and an FBI agent’s business card taped to the back. Sargsyan thought the placard would get him out of a minor jam. Instead, the 2016 traffic stop set in motion a cascade of events that led to the conviction Tuesday of a decorated FBI agent on federal charges of bribery and money laundering.

Haute (dog) cuisine. Some eateries may welcome customers’ furry companions during a sit-down meal, but Dogue — which opened Sept. 25 in San Francisco’s Mission District — serves only canines. During the week, Dogue serves Parisian pastries and “dogguccinos” that start at $4.95. A $75 three-course meal — which is seasonal and rotates frequently — is served only for Sunday walk-ins. “It’s as if you have come into my restaurant, and the star guest is your dog,” said owner and head chef Rahmi Massarweh.

Today’s week-in-review newsletter was curated by Jason Sanchez. Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to

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.