Essential California: San Diego’s football future, L.A.'s dirty streets, ports’ powerful union


Essential California is a daily collection of the best reporting on the Golden State. The newsletter is brought to you by reporter Alice Walton and California editor Shelby Grad.


‘Lords of the docks’

At the heart of the labor dispute that has shut ports across the West Coast is a small but powerful labor union. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has succeeded where others have failed because its workers have unique skills that are hard to replace. Union members have earned the nickname “lords of the docks,” a reference to jobs that, with overtime, can pay six figures. One labor expert said: “They’re not going to roll over and play dead.” L.A. Times

Making L.A. less filthy

A report obtained by the Los Angeles Times last year found that the city’s streets are so dirty they make Los Angeles appear “unsafe and ungoverned.” Now, City Hall has a new cleanup plan. The City Council is considering a law that would make it easier for sanitation crews to clear sidewalks of tents, sleeping bags and other items. Deciding when to remove unattended property has been a problem in neighborhoods such as Venice and Skid Row, which have large homeless populations. Under the proposed ordinance, the city would hang on to the property for 90 days. L.A. Times

San Diego football dispute

It’s getting heated between Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the San Diego Chargers as officials with the National Football League team seek a new stadium. Negotiations are taking place as the owner of the St. Louis Rams moves to build a stadium in Inglewood and possibly relocate his team to Los Angeles. That has given rise to concerns in San Diego that the Chargers could try to beat the Rams to Los Angeles or, failing that, become a tenant at the Inglewood stadium along with the Rams. L.A. Times


Pet population control: All cats in unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County would have to be spayed or neutered under a plan approved by the Board of Supervisors. Last year 70% of cats brought into county animal shelters were euthanized. The move comes after the Los Angeles Times reported that the percentage of cats killed in county animal shelters is significantly higher than that in the city of Los Angeles or in Orange County. L.A. Times

West Hollywood drama: An aide to West Hollywood Councilman John Duran was suspended last month after he was accused of bugging a colleague’s office. The aide, Ian Owens, says he was targeted because he is actually a “whistle-blower” and is being wrongly punished. The political drama comes a few weeks after a City Council candidate was sued by Jimmy Jimmy Coco, who provides spray tans to celebrities. The city’s election is on March 3. L.A. Times

Oscar voting: On Sunday, the Academy Award for best picture may not go to the film that a majority of voters had at the top of their lists. That’s because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences uses a preferential voting system that asks voters to rank their choices. “Often it’s the movie listed fourth or fifth on a great many ballots that ends up winning. That’s hard for people to understand,” said Brian Cullinan, one of two partners with accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers who will be tallying the ballots, which were due Tuesday evening. L.A. Times

Museum gets a nickname: After an open house this weekend, it looks as if the almost-complete Broad museum of contemporary art has a nickname: "The Cheese Grater." L.A. Times

Food trucks go on diet: The great Los Angeles food truck boom was never a dieter’s delight, but there’s a new push to make the traditionally caloric fare a little healthier. One food truck cook is skeptical: “People like greasy food.” Daily Beast


Political novice: Assemblywoman Patty Lopez (D-San Fernando) pulled off California’s biggest political upset last year by defeating an incumbent state legislator. But her lack of political experience or formal education has left a lot of Sacramento wondering how successful she can be in office. “I never thought to be in the political arena, never cared about holding an elected [position], but I see people in that position have a lot of impact in our communities,” Lopez said. Sacramento Bee

Republican runs for Senate: Assemblyman Rocky Chavez is the first Republican to announce that he is exploring a run for the U.S. Senate. Chavez is hoping to succeed Sen. Barbara Boxer when she retires after the 2016 election. The Republican Party has not had a candidate elected to statewide office since 2006. L.A. Times

What drought? San Diego residents are using more water than they were five years ago. That’s the finding of a think tank that looked at water consumption between 2010 and 2014. San Diego Union-Tribune

Sick sea lions: Marine mammal rescuers are overwhelmed by the number of sick sea lion pups showing up in Southern California. The problem has become so bad that a team of scientists went out to the Channel Islands, where most sea lions breed, in search of clues. L.A. Times


Water leaks: One-fifth of Los Angeles’ water pipes were installed before 1931, and they are responsible for almost half of all water main leaks. It would cost $1 billion to fix the problem. The neighborhoods with the most water leaks, an analysis by the L.A. Times found:

-- Hollywood Hills West

-- Mid-City

-- Hollywood

-- Hyde Park

-- Hollywood Hills

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