Essential California: Blame this bear attack on the drought

Good morning. It is Friday, Aug. 14. Here's what is happening in the Golden State:


Big one

The El Niño storms that hit California in 1997 and 1998 killed 17 people and caused more than $500 million in damage. This winter, the storms could be even more powerful, and there are concerns about the damaging effects of floods and mudslides, particularly in the Pasadena area. “There is risk of flooding south of the dam — affecting the 110 Freeway, Pasadena, South Pasadena and northeast Los Angeles — if the San Gabriel Mountains are soaked with a series of unrelenting storms and send large amounts of mud, rocks and burned trees into a full basin.” Los Angeles Times

Jail scandal

A retired captain with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has agreed to plead guilty to lying on the witness stand. William “Tom” Carey is accused of lying in the trial of sheriff’s Deputy James Sexton, who was convicted of obstructing a federal investigation. It’s the latest shoe to drop in the ongoing investigation into abuse in the Los Angeles County jail system. Los Angeles Times


Turf rebates: In one chapter of the state’s drought, residents in Rancho Santa Fe were painted as villains for their copious water consumption. Now, new data show the five biggest residential turf rebates went to homeowners there. “We took out truckloads of plants that are huge water hogs,” said one of those recipients, who saw his monthly water bill drop from $1,200 to a couple hundred dollars. Los Angeles Times

Drought narrative: The #drylandsCAroad trip came to an end, though the drought didn’t. “Along the roads of California, rivers have slowed and the winter snows never came. Everyone we met was uneasy. But no one was ready to say it was too late,” writes Diana Marcum. Los Angeles Times

Defensive moves: Think you’re tough? One Northern California man fended off a bear attack and then drove himself to the hospital. It occurred at 4 a.m. when the man encountered the bear eating from a bag of garbage. The drought has pushed California’s wild animals to extremes when it comes to foraging for food. Los Angeles Times

Drought solutions: Shock Top Brewing Co. is funding innovative solutions to California’s drought. The first project is called Drop-A-Brick 2.0 and it is a rubber brick that goes inside a toilet tank to save water. Los Angeles Times


Puma killed: A mountain lion the public came to know through a series of intimate portraits was killed on the 5 Freeway in Castaic. The male puma known as P-32 had successfully crossed several other freeways in his short life. Wildlife officials believe he was hit by a car between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. Los Angeles Times

Nightlife: The resurgence of gay bars isn’t taking place in the traditional spots of West Hollywood and Silver Lake. It’s happening downtown. “For a long time, gay bars didn’t open; they closed. It’s good for everyone if we can revitalize gay nightlife and get people to go out and do stuff, as opposed to just sitting at home with their damn phones,” said Thor Stephens, co-owner of Precinct. Frontiers

Politics of music: Dr. Dre’s new album is a sign of Los Angeles’ dominance of hip-hop in 2015, writes Times critic at large Sasha Frere-Jones. “Where trend pieces about leaving L.A. or coming to it are long on rent discussions and short on existential meat, these albums step in. L.A. is way up, and Dre's ‘Compton’ is the last card in a four-of-a-kind hand,” he writes. Los Angeles Times


New caucus: Writer Joe Mathews thinks it’s ridiculous that small states like Iowa and New Hampshire get to play an outsized role in selecting the next president of America. Instead, he proposes allowing the Central Coast be allowed to caucus. “Candidates would confront homelessness on the beach in Santa Barbara, the perils of offshore oil drilling, and drought. Public health might get a boost from candidates doing photo ops at yoga classes in Seaside instead of greasy spoons in Cedar Rapids,” he writes. Zócalo Public Square

Presidential fundraiser: California’s real role in presidential politics is a financial one. To that end, former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will host a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton at his new home in the Hollywood Hills, though the candidate herself won’t be there. Hollywood Reporter

Tax refund: The city of Los Angeles may have to pay as much as $92.5 million to taxpayers and attorneys to settle a lawsuit over the city’s telephone tax. The case was brought nine years ago by a resident who believed the tax had been illegally collected. The final amount to be paid by the city will depend on how many taxpayers seek a refund. Los Angeles Times

New rules: The city of San Diego is looking to legalize and regulate short-term rentals through websites like VRBO and Airbnb. One area of concern, however, is determining at what point a home becomes a bed and breakfast, which is subject to additional permit and parking regulations. Voice of San Diego

Web of accusations: This handy chart shows how the players in a San Francisco bribery case are connected. They include former state Sen. Leland Yee, Mayor Ed Lee and Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow. San Francisco Weekly


Police boundaries: San Diego residents say they feel violated when police officers use a new technology on them -- facial recognition software. Up until June, the San Diego Police Department did not have an official policy on when and how the software could be used. “The complaint is always that they did it and didn’t get permission. ‘The police put me in cuffs and I’m on the curb, and they pull out an iPad and are taking pictures,’” said one civil rights attorney. New York Times

Paying respects: Billionaire Ed Roski of Majestic Realty donated $1,000 to the funeral fund of a 20-year-old Echo Park man found dead last Saturday. A relative of the victim works for the company and had solicited donations from co-workers. Eastsider LA

Security stepped up: Movie theater owners are putting extra security in place this weekend for the debut of “Straight Outta Compton.” The precautions are both related to the nature of the movie, which includes gang violence and police harassment, and recent theater shootings. Los Angeles Times


Then and now: Back when N.W.A was hitting the charts in the late 1980s, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy-E could be found shopping for clothes at a South Gate vintage shop. Now, that same store is outfitting the actors playing those three in the new “Straight Outta Compton” film. Los Angeles Times

Avoid La Cienega: The city of West Hollywood is continuing its trend of non-traditional PSAs. This latest video spoofs SNL’s “The Californians” to remind residents a major road will be shut down for nearby construction. Curbed LA

Square to spare: Now that a handful of San Francisco’s public walls have urine-resistant paint, you may need this guide to the best public restrooms in the city. SFist


Don’t call him “alien”: Jose Antonio Vargas, who was brought to the United States as a child, was handed a permanent-resident card (which turned out to be fake) by his grandfather that dubbed him an “alien,” a label he was never comfortable with. In an op-ed article, Vargas says the federal government ought to follow California’s lead and stop using the offensive and counterproductive anachronism to describe people like him. Los Angeles Times

DWP dollars: L.A.’s giant utility is asking residents to pay more for power as a way to fund upgrades in infrastructure and meet new renewable energy targets. Problem is, 20% of the additional revenue will likely pay for nothing of the sort, going instead to Los Angeles’ general fund for whatever projects the City Council wants. In an op-ed article, San Fernando Valley business leaders Gregory N. Lippe and Richard F. Moss offer a counterproposal. Los Angeles Times


Get ready for more high temperatures. San Diego will be 83 degrees with clear skies. Riverside will be hot and sunny at 102 degrees. Los Angeles will be 92  and mostly sunny. San Francisco will be partly sunny and 73.


The Aug. 11 newsletter mischaracterized botanical information consultant Frank McDonough's comments on irrigation. The typical Southern California landscape needs to be watered once a week, not the typical lawn.


This photo gallery serves as a reminder of how destructive the El Niño storms were back in the late 1990s.

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.