Essential California: The new Orange County emerges

Good morning. It is Monday, Aug. 10. Here's what is happening in the Golden State:


Silent majority

Fifty years after the Watts riots, the African American neighborhood has transformed to become predominately Latino. Yet those residents lack political power or even a presence in most of the community’s civic groups. “It's like we're a phantom community. No one knows or cares to know we're here,” said one woman has lived in Watts for 16 years. Los Angeles Times

Greater transparency

It used to be that public inquests were held to determine whether a death was an accidental, justifiable or criminal homicide. Now, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors is considering whether to resurrect a modified version of the inquest to look at police shootings. “I think the Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner should have a process that assures quality, assures efficiency and is transparent in some respect,” said County Medical Examiner-Coroner Mark A. Fajardo. Los Angeles Times

Modern movies

Quick and cheap is a winning formula for BuzzFeed Motion Pictures. The company’s viral videos provide such a rich stream of advertising dollars that NBCUniversal is looking to acquire part of the private company. “The upstart West Coast studio is acting like no other Hollywood system before it — emphasizing an experimental, quick-hit approach to filmmaking with a heavy assist from data science to spread its content across the Web.” Los Angeles Times


Collateral damage: The drought has jeopardized Head Start programs for the children of migrant farmworkers. As water dried up, so too did jobs on fields that once produced garlic, onions and tomatoes. Now, there just aren’t enough children to maintain some of these programs. “We used to have a line out the door. There was a waiting list,” according to the director in Fresno. Los Angeles Times

Dry riverbed: The Guadalupe River in San Jose has gone dry as a result of the drought. Wildlife and fish that call the river home have either died or disappeared. “It's grim," said Matt Clifford, an attorney with Trout Unlimited. San Jose Mercury News

Maintaining strength: Firefighters tackling the wildfires in the Sacramento area are eating up to 10,000 calories a day to maintain their strength. Eggs, peanut butter, cheese and sausage are all on the menu. “These men and women have to be fueled to keep up. This is life or death. They are pushed to the limit,” said Liz Applegate, director of sports nutrition at UC Davis. Sacramento Bee

Creative farming: The drought is presenting a unique challenge to urban farmers who don’t have to let fields go fallow, like some of the state’s largest farming operations. Some city farmers are trying aquaponics: growing crops in vertical towers between pieces of a sponge-like material that recirculate water through a closed-loop system. Los Angeles Times

Your turn: In a national survey, three-quarters of respondents said farmers should be first in line for water when restrictions are placed on the resource. The findings run counter to criticism that agriculture is using too much water in California. Sacramento Bee


Ditching the car: A proposal under consideration at City Hall could dramatically transform how Angelenos move around the city. The Mobility Plan 2035 calls for more bus-only lanes and protected bicycle lanes. Critics, however, say the plan could ultimately lead to more traffic congestion as lanes are taken away from cars. Los Angeles Times

Water resources: As architect Frank Gehry works on a master plan for the Los Angeles River, one of his focuses is on how the concrete channel can be used to capture and store storm water. “Capturing more storm water could also allow the city and region to save some of the money they now spend importing water from around the West, helping finance new park space along or even spanning the river.” Los Angeles Times

All kinds: It’s a list of the top 10 NIMBYs (not in my backyard) you’ll find in Los Angeles. LA Weekly


Calling all artists: What does your California look like?

The snow-capped mountains in the Essential California logo are more a dream than reality these days. We still have the naval ships of San Diego, the Joshua trees in the Mojave Desert and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. At least, that’s what our California looks like.

Submit your drawing of California, and it could end up on a new Los Angeles Times tote bag. Selected drawings will be voted on by Essential California readers. The winner will receive a free tote bag and a package featuring some of our favorite treats from the Golden State.

Please submit your drawings here by Aug. 14.


Best available rate: Members of the Coastal Commission are trying to enforce one of their duties that is often overlooked -- ensuring there are beach accommodations for tourists at all income levels. The issue will take center stage this week as commissioners consider whether to allow a 175-room hotel to open on Harbor Island in San Diego. Los Angeles Times

Housing challenges: How can California build enough affordable housing? That’s the challenge facing Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, according to columnist Steve Lopez. "When you make $100,000 in combined salary and you're struggling because of the cost of housing — rather than because you don't budget well or spend wisely — there's something wrong with that,” Atkins said. Los Angeles Times

Close relationship: The leader of the Anaheim City Council is getting heat for a trip she took to Europe with Disney’s government relations chief. The trip that Kris Murray and Carrie Nocella took included other friends whose children attend school together. “It looks like you’re in bed with all that’s going on between Anaheim and the Disney company. Any honorable City Council person has to keep an arms-length distance so it doesn’t appear that they are biased or being influenced,” said county campaign finance watchdog Shirley Grindle. Voice of OC

New O.C.: Poverty and homelessness are on the rise in Orange County, according to a new report. As a result, the region’s “opportunity gap” is widening, and there are fears that there won’t be enough young people in the workforce to beef up the area’s tax base. “The image on TV is that everybody in Orange County is wealthy and has a great quality of life. This report punctures the myth,” said Fred Smoller, a Chapman University political science professor. Orange County Register

Country doctor:  Residents living in the more rural and isolated parts of Northern California can now visit doctors in Oregon and Nevada under the Affordable Care Act. “At the earliest opportunity to make substantive changes to our Covered California policies, we did,” said a spokesman with Anthem Blue Cross. KQED


Transgender inmates: California is the first state in the nation to agree to pay for a prison inmate’s gender reassignment surgery. But the question of whether such a surgery is a constitutional right remains unanswered. The state currently has 400 transgender inmates who are receiving hormone therapy. Los Angeles Times

Crime in South L.A.: The LAPD’s Deputy Chief Bill Scott talks about the uptick in South L.A.’s gang crime and how a hashtag spread fear throughout the community. “The first objective for me as a leader is to get our folks to understand that we are in this for the long haul.... Sometimes you can get so wrapped up in looking at what’s happening right now that you lose perspective on the bigger picture and the bigger objective,” he said. Los Angeles Times

News crimes: Thieves are targeting Bay Area news crews out on assignment. In recent years, at least a dozen reporters and photographers have been robbed of their gear. It’s unclear what’s happening to the camera equipment once it is taken, since it can’t easily be sold on the black market and none of it has shown up on eBay or Craigslist. Associated Press


Discounted real estate: One of the largest office buildings in Long Beach just sold at a steep discount. Orange County developers paid $105 million for One World Trade Center, significantly less than what the building went for during the last real estate boom. The building is expected to undergo a $15-million renovation. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles will have low clouds and sun, with temperatures reaching 79 degrees. San Diego will have low clouds and sun, with highs expected to be 75 degrees. Riverside will be mostly sunny and 88 degrees. San Francisco will start the day with clouds. Sunshine will break through later in the day and temperatures will reach 70 degrees.


This week’s birthdays for famous Californians:

Computer pioneer Steve Wozniak (Aug. 11), L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich (Aug. 12), former Laker and businessman Magic Johnson (Aug. 14), Rep. Maxine Waters (Aug. 15), actor Anthony Anderson (Aug. 15), Oscar winner Ben Affleck (Aug. 15).

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.