Newsletter: Essential California: New water standards, L.A.'s sustainability plan, more West Nile cases

Good morning. It is Thursday, April 9. Here's what is happening in the Golden State:


Sustaining Los Angeles

In the next 20 years, Mayor Eric Garcetti wants Los Angeles to have more electric cars and cleaner air and water. They’re key points in his sustainability proposal called "the pLAn." One of its initiatives, moving the city off coal-fired power plants, was started by the mayor’s predecessor. L.A. Times

Efficient water appliances

New standards for faucets, toilets and urinals are expected to save California billions of gallons of water when they take effect in 2016. It’s a big step -- some studies suggest more than a quarter of household water is flushed down the toilet. L.A. Times

More West Nile cases

The drought may be to blame for an uptick in West Nile cases. Birds and mosquitoes are coming into closer contact as they fight over water. Some water sources may have stagnated, making them even more attractive to mosquitoes when they lay eggs. L.A. Times

Vaccine controversy

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is speaking out against a proposed state bill that would require all children to be vaccinated unless they have a medical issue. Speaking about the perceived harm done to children by vaccines, Kennedy said, "The autism holocaust has permanently consumed 1 million children in this country." L.A. Times



Archiving the Valley: More than 45,000 photographs that depict the San Fernando Valley’s transformation from ranches and orchards to tract homes are being archived by the L.A. Public Library. The images come from the Valley Times, a small newspaper that folded in 1970. “What’s unique about the collection … is that because the paper focused on social life and not just on hard news, it had the kind of photos people could clip out and hang on the refrigerator.” L.A. Times

Segregated L.A.: Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner on growing up Jewish in Hancock Park.  "Los Angeles was not integrated. Los Angeles had restricted country clubs. And Hancock Park had a cotillion. And someone from my high school was arrested for defacing a synagogue." Tablet

Paying off campaign debt: It turns out it was perfectly legal when L.A. City Councilman Paul Krekorian collected donations from lobbyists, unions and companies with business before the city. That’s because the donations were paying down debt from an old state race. But an editorial argues legal doesn’t make it ethical. L.A. Times

West Coast burgers: Four reasons why In-N-Out won’t expand to the East Coast. Business Insider



Congressional retirement: Rep. Lois Capps will retire next year. The Democrat's exit could be an opportunity for Republicans to pick up another seat. One in five voters in the Santa Barbara district registered as nonpartisan. L.A. Times

Latino lawmakers’ top bills: Enhanced drivers licenses, voter registration and clean energy are the top priorities of the state Legislature’s Latino Caucus. "The issues that the Latino legislators care about are issues that matter to all Californians," said Assemblyman Luis Alejo. L.A. Times



Sloppy assault investigations: Former NFL player Darren Sharper was able to continue assaulting women even as he was under investigation for rape, in part, because "police did not inquire into Sharper's history. Had they done so, they would have detected a chilling predatory pattern that strongly bolstered the women's accounts." It wasn’t until an attack in Los Angeles last year that Sharper was arrested. He ultimately pleaded guilty or no contest to raping or attempting to rape nine women in four states. ProPublica

Lawsuit in unarmed shooting: A 15-year-old boy who was shot when L.A. police mistook his friend’s toy gun for a real gun will seek $20 million in damages. LAPD’s internal investigation into the shooting is ongoing. L.A. Times

Should O.C. judge step down? An Orange County judge is facing a barrage of criticism after he significantly reduced the prison sentence of a 20-year-old man convicted of sodomizing a 3-year-old relative. Judge M. Marc Kelly reduced the defendant’s 25-year sentence to 10 years because "there was no violence or callous disregard for (the victim’s) well-being," Kelly said. An online petition to remove Kelly from the bench has received 15,000 signatures. Orange County Register

Aid worker deported: The North Korean government is deporting a Los Angeles woman who runs a nonprofit established to help children in that country. The country’s official news agency reported Sandra Suh was accused of "plot-breeding and propaganda." L.A. Times



Conserving by example: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer wants to conserve water on the city’s golf courses and smaller parks. The city will also bring back a program that encourages property owners to rip out their lawns. L.A. Times

Bay Area’s ugliest lawn: San Francisco is hosting a contest to find the city’s ugliest lawn. The winner will get a makeover with drought-tolerant plants. Officials with the Department of the Environment hope the contest will increase awareness of how much water gets wasted tending to lush lawns and gardens. SF Gate

Got milk? Does it take more water to produce beer or grape juice? Soy milk or apple juice? L.A. Times



Nostalgia for paper maps: Even in the age of Google maps, GPS devices and Waze, there’s still love for the tried and true Thomas Guide. "The art of driving here means taking Fountain Avenue instead of Santa Monica Boulevard, not because the machine said to, but because when Bette Davis was asked how an aspiring actress could get into Hollywood, she replied: 'Take Fountain.'" New York Times

San Francisco by air: A drone flew over San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge to bring back these beautiful images. SFist



In Wednesday’s Essential California, we asked about the kindness of strangers. Here’s what you shared:

"I am always amazed at how unfriendly people are in LA -- in my humble opinion!  OK, so I get it we're not friends, but at least a basic friendly 'hello' would work ... and I'm talking about neighbors that live in the same complex, not random meetings on streets." -- Karin Rogers

For today’s Talk Back, we want to hear about your experiences with 911 services in your city. Los Angeles is considering a plan to hand off low-urgency calls to a nurse practitioner and paramedic. The move could save money and result in fewer trips to the hospital.

What do you think? Do paramedics and firefighters need to respond to emergencies? Would you be comfortable with a nurse practitioner responding to a 911 call? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter with the tag #EssentialCalifornia or send us an email: Alice Walton and Shelby Grad.



Among the 45,000 photographs the L.A. Public Library is archiving, one picture shows Mrs. James Avery, the first African American to serve as postmaster for a major post office. Nancy Avery was appointed by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. She was a civil rights activist who died in 1992, according to her obituary in the Los Angeles Times.


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.