Newsletter: Essential California: Are changes coming to the Coastal Commission?

Good morning. It is Thursday, Jan. 21. Hallelujah! An artificial orange that’s about the size of a toddler was reunited with its owner after it floated into a creek during heavy rains. The whole thing went down in the city of Orange. Here’s what else is happening in the Golden State:


Enrollment up

The University of California is scrambling to find housing, professors and services to accommodate the growing populations on its campuses. An additional 6,500 students will be enrolling in the state’s universities come fall. Those students represent a commitment from UC President Janet Napolitano to admit more California residents. One outstanding question though is how to pay for the needs of all these students.Los Angeles Times


Environment vs. development

The California Coastal Commission is thinking about dismissing its executive director, Charles Lester. The action is led by development-oriented commissioners, including Gov. Jerry Brown’s four appointees. “The commission regularly clashes with some of the state’s wealthiest and most powerful interests — a contest of wills that Lester’s predecessor, Peter Douglas, often won.” Lester’s performance is expected to be discussed at the Feb. 10 meeting in Morro Bay. Los Angeles Times

Deal with Iran

Iranian Americans’ views on the nuclear accord with their motherland show generational divides. In Southern California, home to the largest Iranian population outside that country, younger people have hope while older generations are more skeptical about the future. “The only thing that gives me a good feeling is when I see fellow Iranians happy,” said Roozbeh Farahanipour of the West L.A. Chamber of Commerce. Los Angeles Times


Drought solutions: Researchers are flooding an almond farm in hopes of finding new solutions to California’s drought. “Researchers believe they should pour that water onto fields and let it replenish groundwater overdrafted by farmers and cities during the state’s five-year drought.” Los Angeles Times

Strange solution: A San Diego group believes fish waste could help solve the state’s drought. Aquaponics uses the waste to fertilize vegetable gardens, which then recycle the water back into a tank. “I 100% think that it could save California,” said the spokeswoman with ECOLIFE Conservation. ABC 10



A man and his dog: Joseph Trotter was a fixture outside the Public Defender’s Office, chatting up attorneys about their trials. He and his dog, Cookie, lived together on the streets under a blue tarp. When one of the office’s attorneys got a call that Cookie had been taken to an animal shelter, he knew something had happened to Trotter, writes columnist Steve Lopez. Los Angeles Times

Racial discrimination: Two African American police officers went undercover at LAX and found that taxi drivers rejected their request for rides 20% of the time. That has the Los Angeles City Council considering stiff penalties for drivers found guilty of racial discrimination. The undercover operation was a result of ESPN analyst Doug Glanville’s essay on being discriminated against at L.A.’s airport. Los Angeles Times

Ride home: Uber will be allowed to pick up passengers at LAX beginning today. Los Angeles Times

Tax proposal: The city of Los Angeles will stop taxing illegal pot shops. Dispensaries that operate illegally have been using their tax certificates in an attempt to show they are legitimate businesses. A voter initiative approved in 2013 capped the number of legal pot shops at 135. LA Weekly


Vaccination rates: About 93% of students enrolling in kindergarten in Orange County this year were vaccinated, according to new data. That represents a 10-year high. Orange County Register


Housing demand: The City of Industry is looking to do something it hasn’t done in 30 years: build new housing within its city limits. Up until now, the city, which has only 60 homes of its own, had been able to pay into a fund that provided housing in nearby jurisdictions. San Gabriel Valley Tribune

GOP characters: Before there was Donald Trump, there was Arnold Schwarzenegger — a celebrity who talked trash and found political success at the highest level. But that appears to be where the similarities end. The former actor “is an eternal optimist who uses politics to bring people together to solve problems instead of divisive rhetoric and proposals that push us further apart,” according to his former spokesman. BuzzFeed


Up in the air: West Hollywood approved new regulations for drones Tuesday. Operators may not take photos, videos or audio recordings of people in places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. Drones there are also prohibited from flying at night or over parks during city-sponsored events. Los Angeles Times


Police work: The union that represents Los Angeles police officers wants a public hearing on the city’s rising crime figures. The Police Protective League’s demand is just the latest public sign of its displeasure with Chief Charlie Beck. Last week, union officials slammed Beck for his recommendation that a police officer be criminally charged in the shooting of an unarmed man. Los Angeles Times

Convictions overturned: The perjury and voter fraud convictions of former L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon and his wife were thrown out Wednesday by a panel of judges who found the trial judge had given improper jury instructions. The politician had been accused of living outside his City Council district. “I’m just feeling grateful — grateful to all the people who never stopped believing in us,” Alarcon said. Los Angeles Times


Boy’s death: The Yuba County Sheriff’s Office is recommending that a 24-year-old woman be charged with felony child endangerment in connection with her 9-year-old brother’s death. Tyler Trammell-Huston was mauled to death by his sister’s pit bulls. Alexandria Griffin-Heady had been pursuing custody of her brother after he was placed in foster care. Sacramento Bee


Unregulated stays: A third of the revenue received by Airbnb comes from properties that are rented out year-round, according to a new study from the American Hotel and Lodging Assn., a trade group for hotels. The short-term rental company rejected the findings. “The hotel industry has long been critical of short-term rental companies such as Airbnb, but the study represents the first time the industry has compiled data to support its claims that such businesses operate much like regular hotels without having to meet health and safety standards.” Los Angeles Times



Poet’s death: The Chicano poet and children’s author Francisco Alarcón died Friday at age 61. Alarcón, who was once a finalist for California poet laureate, was famous for writing about love, immigrants and Mexican traditions. Los Angeles Times

Becoming parents: Embryo adoption was virtually unheard of 20 years ago, but now the practice is giving hope to couples unable to conceive. “I always tease people and say, ‘I beat the fertility clock,’” said one woman who was able to deliver twins when she was 50 thanks to adopted embryos. LA Weekly

Born in 1899: An Oakland man believed to be the oldest person in the world died Monday at age 117. Andrew Hatch lacked the official declaration of being the world’s oldest living person because he didn’t have a birth certificate. SFist



San Diego will have clouds and sun with a high of 71 degrees. Riverside will be sunny and 75. There will be clouds and sunshine in Los Angeles, where temperatures are expected to reach 75. San Francisco will be cloudy and 60.


Today’s California Memory comes from Cathy Swanson:

“My husband was transferred to L.A. in 1998. I was thrilled, but he was from the country and not so sure about moving here. As we flew into LAX for our house-hunting trip, the plane needed to circle before landing. It was dark outside and the lights went on for miles and miles in every direction. I thought it was the most beautiful sight, but was worried about his reaction on the density of people. My fears were quelled when he turned from looking out the window back to me and said, ‘Cool!’”


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.