Newsletter: Essential California: Drought and the economy, California’s new tobacco bills, Mayor Garcetti’s vision for L.A.

Good morning. It is Wednesday, April 15. The Lakers’ season comes to an end today, so take a tour of Magic Johnson’s L.A. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:


No smoking

California was once the leader in restricting tobacco use, but a lack of political will -- coupled with the popularity of e-cigarettes -- has slowed that progress. Now state leaders are supporting bills that would increase the legal smoking age, block e-cigarettes in all public places and ban chewing tobacco in baseball stadiums. L.A. Times

Not a drop to drink

Southern California water agencies will get 15% less water this year under a proposal approved Tuesday by the Metropolitan Water District. This is the fourth time the MWD has had to cut its water deliveries since 1977. L.A. Times

Flexing political muscle

The state water board long has been considered a politically weak body, but the ongoing drought may change that. On Friday, the board will issue regulations to force urban Californians to cut their water use by 25%. L.A. Times

Drought’s effect on economy

The drought’s damage won’t extend to California’s economy. The state’s farmers produce food for the whole country, but contribute just 2% to the state’s gross domestic product. "Even a substantial decline in agriculture's share of the economy, such as occurred during and after the 1976-77 drought, probably would have only a limited impact on the overall state economy," according to a report from state legislative analysts. L.A. Times



State of the city: In response to a jump in violent crime, Mayor Eric Garcetti wants to double the size of the LAPD’s elite Metro Division. That was just one of the highlights in his State of the City address. The mayor announced that Uber and Lyft will start picking up at LAX this summer. He also wants to install an additional 5,000 trash cans citywide in the next four years.  L.A. Times

Killing fields, 40 years later: For many Cambodians in Orange County, the emotional trauma of living through the Khmer Rouge continues. "Some Cambodian-Americans say they still struggle with the emotional toll of surviving a regime that in less than five years killed about 2 million people – often forcing young people and other civilians to do the killing." Orange County Register

Earthquake faults: Did Sunday’s earthquakes have anything to do with fracking? KCRW

P-22 returns to wild: The mountain lion known as P-22 decided Los Feliz was just not the right neighborhood for him. He vacated a home’s crawl space there and headed back to his longtime home of Griffith Park. L.A. Times



GOP and Latino voters: The presidential campaigns of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both Cuban Americans, show how out of touch the Republican Party is with the greater Latino community, according to Orange County writer Gustavo Arellano. "Many Latinos don’t like that Cruz and Rubio represent the politics of Cuban immigration to los Estados Unidos, a saga far different from that of virtually every other Latino group," he writes. The Guardian

Residency requirements: Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do is denying an allegation that he does not live in the district he was elected to represent. A Garden Grove activist has accused Do of continuing to live in Tustin, rather than Westminster. Orange County Register

End-of-life care: Patients and their family members continue to share their stories about end-of-life care as the state Legislature considers a "Death With Dignity" bill. Here, one daughter talks about the regret of ignoring her mother’s request to end cancer treatments. KPCC

Legalizing pot: If California voters legalize marijuana next year, it may force the federal government to reconsider how it classifies the drug. "Both advocates and opponents say California is the key battleground, where success or failure is likely to determine whether most of the country decriminalizes the drug for recreational use." Bloomberg



History of violence: Ex-NFL player Lawrence Phillips was accused this week of killing a fellow inmate at the state prison where he is serving 31 years for beating an ex-girlfriend. That violent streak is nothing new. This column from 1995 expresses outrage at the University of Nebraska for allowing Phillips to remain on the college football team despite the brutal beating of a then-girlfriend. L.A. Times

Cleaning up jails: After a local cartoonist was released from L.A. County jail, she drew images that represented the humiliating experience. That caught the eye of the jail system’s leadership and some changes, like regular showers and clean underwear, are taking shape. LA Weekly

Arrest in alleged sexual assault: Bail was set at $8 million for a man accused of raping a 15-year-old girl. The teenager had been missing for three weeks before she was discovered in a Culver City home. L.A. Times



Restricting Airbnb: In San Francisco, a proposed law would cap short-term rentals, like the kind offered through Airbnb, at 120 days. Right now, the law allows for short-term rentals to continue year-round if a host is present in the home. "Our current home-sharing laws must be clearer and easier to enforce," said Mayor Ed Lee. SF Gate



Chopping waters: A cruise ship docked in San Diego yesterday with 133 ill passengers on board. It’s the second ship this week to arrive in San Diego with passengers and crew who’ve caught the norovirus. L.A. Times



College as an investment: Is college for everyone? That’s the debate going on right now as observers weigh the costs of higher learning with the additional earning potential that may come with a college degree. In San Francisco, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel is funding $100,000 fellowships for young adults who forgo the college experience. L.A. Times

Fined for misleading students: The Santa Ana-based Corinthian College was fined $30 million by the U.S. Department of Education for misrepresenting its job placement numbers. The school has been on the brink of collapse since last year, when the federal government started restricting student aid to the for-profit college. L.A. Times



Rush hour race: Can a cyclist beat a driver and his Ferrari as they race through Los Angeles traffic? You’ll have to watch the video to find out. Buzzfeed

Preserving history: One man is trying to preserve Los Angeles’ history, programmatic architecture, one bar and bowling alley at a time. That includes North Hollywood’s Idle Hour, which looks like an enormous barrel. LAWeekly

Hear something? What does the Golden Gate Bridge sound like? How about the Hollywood (101) Freeway? One artist is mapping the sounds of California. KQED

Disney swag: Disneyland’s food offerings are getting an upgrade, from Walt's Chili and Beans to a Lucky Fortune Tea. The park’s 60th anniversary will also include a new fireworks display and parade. L.A. Times

California cuisine: The 13th season of "Top Chef" will showcase the cuisine of California. Shooting will begin in late spring. L.A. Times

Disincorporated 2015: A grand jury report recommends that a coastal town in Santa Barbara County disincorporate due to growing debt and ongoing financial mismanagement. If Guadalupe disincorporates, it would be the first California city to do so since 1973. L.A. Times



In Tuesday’s Essential California, we asked you for feedback on the NFL’s potential return to the Southland. Here’s what you had to say:

"I was a Raiders’ season ticket-holder their last few years in LA.  The lure of a pro football team isn’t strong enough to make me schlep from Silver Lake to Carson or Inglewood on the bus." -- Sue Kamm

For today’s Talk Back, we want to know about your experiences as a pedestrian in a big city. In Los Angeles, a city still dominated by the car, a jaywalking ticket is $197. Do you walk in L.A.? What about San Diego or San Francisco? Do you feel safe and protected when you’re walking through traffic? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter with the tag #EssentialCalifornia or send us an email: Alice Walton and Shelby Grad.



Happy birthday, San Francisco! The city was incorporated on this day back in 1850.


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.

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