Newsletter: Essential California: Why is California awash in plans to break up, secede from the U.S. and more?

How some Central Californians are trying to save water for the state’s next dry spell. A bigger size and more stars mark a new chapter for Coachella. President Trump doesn’t like trade-offs, but he’ll have to sell them to overhaul the tax system. Th

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Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, April 17, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Breaking up is hard to do

At least four proposals are floating about to reshape the state in some fashion, including two that would split up California along different axes. All work at cross purposes, and the result is varied degrees of hostility among proponents; none of the plans seems likely to reach fruition anytime soon, if ever. Since 1849, when the state was remade in a rush of greed and ambition, there have been more than 200 efforts to split apart, pull away or otherwise reimagine the vast empire known as California. Not one has succeeded. Los Angeles Times


LAPD changes in the offing

LAPD officers are expected to face new scrutiny when they open fire — with officials asking whether they could have resorted to less force to deal with the situation. Commissioners on Tuesday are expected to approve a policy that would require officers to try, whenever possible, to defuse encounters before using deadly force. Los Angeles Times

Battleground Berkeley

How Berkeley became an epicenter of violent clashes involving backers and critics of President Trump. There’s history and symbolism there. Los Angeles Times

High stakes on climate change

California made no secret of its ambitions when it enacted a landmark law on global warming just over a decade ago. Progress here on slashing greenhouse gas emissions, the law said, would have “far-reaching effects by encouraging other states, the federal government and other countries to act.” Now the goal has become more critical than ever as President Trump rolls back national environmental regulations. No matter how hard California pushes, the country will fall short of its obligations under the Paris agreement on climate change unless more states try to keep pace. Los Angeles Times


Plus: How Brown’s victory on a transportation plan makes the politics of climate legislation harder. Los Angeles Times And here’s an interview with Brown about his environmental agenda. Los Angeles Times


Questions over contract: Huntington Park city leaders picked a politically connected company to provide bus service for the city. Costs soon soared, as did complaints. Los Angeles Times

Last hike: Hikers in Griffith Park enjoyed their last days on a trailhead to the Hollywood sign before the path is closed down. Some decry the closure as an attack on hillside access. Los Angeles Times

Urban ruins? Are parking requirements ruining downtown Los Angeles’ future? Los Angeles Times

Plus: Developers are planning for a day when driverless cars allow them to turn parking garages into something else. Los Angeles Times


Looking back: They were interned at the Santa Anita race track in World War II. This weekend these Japanese Americans gathered to discuss the experience for history’s sake. Daily News


Coming north: He’s been deported twice and survived bandits, trains and swamps, but this Honduran immigrant remains hopeful about reaching the U.S. Los Angeles Times

Refugee city: A troubling tale of domestic violence allegations and cultural clashes in Sacramento’s huge Afghan refugee community. Sacramento Bee

Pot pitfall: Pot use might be legal in California, but for those here illegally, getting caught could still get you deported. Press-Enterprise

Flashpoint: How Austin has become ground zero in the battle against Trump’s immigration policies. Los Angeles Times


Fact check: The cold data on immigration from Mexico and how needed the wall actually is. Washington Post


Traffic upside: Traffic gridlock drives us crazy. But there’s a new effort in California to turn all those traffic jams into electricity. San Francisco Chronicle

Haircut coming? Facing a cash crunch, CalPERS wants to slash the amount of money it pays Wall Street firms to handle its massive investments. Wall Street Journal

Second chances: Continuing his tradition of considering the requests of felons for a second chance at Christmas and Easter, Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday issued 72 pardons and seven sentence commutations for crimes ranging from burglary to being an accomplice in a murder. Los Angeles Times

Big business: How marijuana is going industrial in California. New York Times



Weapons warning: A letter from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to law enforcement agencies across Southern California warning about an “emerging problem” of officers engaging in unlicensed firearms sales came just weeks after a Pasadena police officer’s home was searched and guns seized. Los Angeles Times

Horrible crash: Calling her behavior “outrageously reckless,” a judge sentenced a young woman to six years in prison for chasing a motorcyclist on two San Diego County freeways and causing the crash that killed him. Los Angeles Times


Flowing again: The post-drought good news continued as the State Water Project announced that it was boosting deliveries to the highest levels in 11 years. Most agencies, including the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, will get 85% of the amount they request. Water districts north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will get 100%. Los Angeles Times

Still dry: In these places, the California drought really hasn’t ended. ABC News



Desert party: If Coachella is your sort of thing, here’s a blow-by-blow account of the food, fashion, people watching, commerce, style and, oh, music. Los Angeles Times

Stay home: If you didn’t go to Coachella, this article from a while back might make you feel lucky instead of jealous. Daily Beast

Tourists welcome: Little Saigon is already a bustling tourist and dining area. Now there is an effort to lure more tourists. Orange County Register

Hang 10: A video of what it looks like to skateboard through a metal pipe in the middle of a California lake. Grind TV



Los Angeles area and San Diego: Partly cloudy with highs in the mid-70s. San Francisco area: Scattered showers with highs in the low 60s. Sacramento: Showers with highs in the mid-60s. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California: former L.A. Kings owner Bruce McNall (April 17, 1950), Rep. Norma Torres (April 23, 1965)

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.