Essential California: Reimagining the California shower

Good morning. It is Wednesday, Aug. 12. This interactive map and photo exhibit show which parts of Watts and South L.A. suffered looting, damage and deaths during the riots 50 years ago. Here's what is happening in the Golden State:


How we get around

For a long time now, the car has been king in Los Angeles. We’ve torn down homes, paved canyons and flattened hillsides in the name of building bigger, faster roads. Now, city officials are taking a new approach to easing the city’s congestion -- more bicycle and bus-only lanes. The city wants to expand those options over the next 20 years. It’s a major policy shift as the proposal is likely to make traffic worse for commuters who choose to stay in their own vehicles. Opponents, many of whom live on the city’s Westside, plan to sue. Los Angeles Times

New Fisker plant

Southern California is getting its first new automotive plant in 20 years. Fisker plans to build its plug-in electric hybrid automobiles out in the Moreno Valley. The additional jobs will be welcomed in a region where 46% of residents don’t have an education beyond high school. “You need jobs that can allow people to migrate up to the middle class,” said economist John Husing. Los Angeles Times

Mentally ill inmates

In a sign that Los Angeles County jail officials plan to change the way they treat mentally ill inmates, 1,000 offenders with mental health issues will be moved out of lockups. The Board of Supervisors also voted to build a new downtown jail that will specialize in treating those with mental illness and substance abuse problems. Once built, the new jail would allow the county to stop using the decrepit Men's Central Jail, a dungeon-like facility that has been the scene of beatings, killings and suicides. Los Angeles Times


Heat is on: Drought conditions and extreme heat can be a combustible combination. A low-pressure system coming in from the north is clashing with a high-pressure system that originated in Texas, and that will make for some unusual weather over the next few days. San Diego County could have some thunderstorms today. By the end of the week, the entire Southland area will be in the midst of a heat wave. Los Angeles Times

Longer showers, less water: The creators of a new San Francisco start-up believe they’ve re-engineered the average shower head to use less water. The product works by breaking up water into tiny particles to increase the surface area. The effect is a heavy mist. San Francisco Chronicle

Major PSA: The doughnut at Randy’s Donuts in Inglewood had a new look this week. The Metropolitan Water District covered the iconic symbol to make it look like a water spigot. The message: Shut off hoses and faucets to save water. LAist

One can dream: This cartoon rain cloud will make it rain. BuzzFeed


Police protest: Demonstrators briefly disrupted the Police Commission’s meeting Tuesday to mark the one-year anniversary of Ezell Fords death. The South L.A. man was killed in a shooting by police that marked a significant change in the way the civilian commission determines whether an officer’s actions were within policy. Los Angeles Times

Looking for inspiration: Cities like San Antonio and Pittsburgh could serve as inspiration for development around the Los Angeles River. “There’s hardly a city in the country that hasn’t tried to reconnect with its waterfront. Some have had more success than others,” said Ed McMahon, senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute in Washington. Los Angeles Times

Airport partnership: Now that Ontario officials will be back in charge of their own airport, columnist Dan Walters suggests they partner with San Diego, which has become a major tourist and convention destination. That city’s airport is bursting at the seams, whereas Ontario has nothing but space. Walters suggests building a new bullet train that connects the two airports. Sacramento Bee

Bug bites: Have mosquitoes gotten worse in the Los Angeles area? Yes, apparently. The region now has more varieties of mosquitoes and warming temperatures have allowed them to thrive. 89.3 KPCC

Move your car: Long Beach is about to undergo what its mayor calls the biggest parking reform in 30 years. Gone will be the 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. parking restrictions on street-sweeping days. That means residents won’t have to move their cars in the pre-dawn hours to avoid a $50 parking ticket. Long Beach Press-Telegram


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.


Race relations: A new documentary on the late L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley is a reminder of how fragile the city’s progress is, writes columnist Cathleen Decker. “To react to the film celebrating Tom Bradley’s life was to hold two competing thoughts: that his tenure in office mattered hugely, and that huge vulnerabilities remain in the city he loved, and in the country as well.” Los Angeles Times

Political background: For those voters outside California who may be unfamiliar with Carly Fiorina, Times columnist Michael Hiltzik breaks down her tenure at one of Silicon Valley’s marquee firms and her 2010 run for the U.S. Senate. Highlights include her decision to donate to politicians rather than vote in elections and the $40 million she received when she was booted from Hewlett-Packard. Los Angeles Times

New health department: Three health agencies run by Los Angeles County will merge under the leadership of one director. Supporters believe the move will save money and help healthcare workers better coordinate services for patients. However, critics fear the move will favor public hospitals at the expense of mental health and public health services. Los Angeles Times

Environmental review: Developer Rick Caruso’s project near coastal wetlands in Carlsbad could leapfrog the state’s environmental review process. That’s because proposals that receive enough signatures to qualify for the ballot can be approved by a city council without a California Environmental Quality Act review. That’s not sitting well with the region’s environmental groups. Voice of San Diego


Work of fiction? Students at UC Santa Barbara want to stall the release of a film, “Del Playa,” that they say is based on the killing rampage of Elliot Rodger. “The film ‘Del Playa’ intentionally seeks to commoditize the death of six beloved students, and makes light of the tragedy faced by the entire Isla Vista/UCSB community,” according to a petition circulated by students. The film was directed by a UCSB alum. Los Angeles Times


Joan’s story: “The Last Love Song” examines the life of author (and California native) Joan Didion. “Revered (worshiped, in many cases) as much for her glamorously aloof public persona as for her infectious, revolutionary-in-its-time prose style, Didion was — and remains — famous in a way that writers seldom are anymore.” The Atlantic

Next hot spot: One musician who played the House of Blues says its demise is part of the evolution of the Sunset Strip. “We have seen many genres fall out of fashion — hair metal, anyone? — and witnessed the demise of many of the venues that housed them. HOB Sunset had its day, like other bygone music-centric institutions before it, including Pandora’s Box, the Coconut Teaser, and more recently, the Key Club,”  writes Greg Richling, a member of the Wallflowers. Zócalo Public Square


Riverside will be sunny and 96 degrees. Los Angeles will have a high of 86 degrees along with some clouds and sunshine. San Diego will have low clouds and then sun. Temperatures are expected to reach 79 degrees. San Francisco will also have low clouds and 70 degrees.


A new report from the U.S. Geological Survey finds it’s not just California or the West Coast that faces the threat of earthquakes in the United States. As many as 143 million Americans -- that’s roughly half the population -- face a “significant risk” from a shaker.

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.