Jail for water wasters?

Apr 1, 2015

extreme drought restrictions coming?  Today’s rules are lightweight compared to the drought responses of the 1970s and ‘90s, where one could face up to six months in jail for wasting water.  From Matt Stevens at the Los Angeles Times:


“In 1977, amid one of California’s most severe droughts, the Metropolitan Water District proposed a ‘model’ ordinance to penalize repeat water wasters with ‘a fine of up to $300 or 30 days in jail or both,’ according to Los Angeles Times articles…”


“Those suspected of violating the 1977 ordinance would be served a written notice and, if they continued to ignore the law, local water agencies could limit their water flow – or turn it off altogether. A second offense constituted a misdemeanor. Local police agencies enforced the law, which the city of Los Angeles adopted, according to Times reporting.


“Faced with another drought in 1990, local water agencies again adopted emergency regulations. The Central Basin Municipal Water District considered an ordinance that would have made ‘wasteful water practices’ a misdemeanor, publishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in county jail. In Northern California, a Marin County rationing plan called for a $1,000 fine and 30 days in jail for repeat offenders.”


Speaking of the drought, veteran journalist Lou Cannon penned a long takeout on California’s water situation for Real Clear Politics.  Short take: any time you use the word “extinction” it’s not looking good.


“If the scientists who have examined tree rings that reveal weather data back to the year 1000 are right, the Southwest probably is not in the late stages of a normal drought but the beginning phase of a 35-year mega-drought -- the sort that contributed to the extinction of the ancient Pueblo peoples, or Anasazi, of the Colorado Plateau.”


As the drought ravages Southern California, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians are taking legal action to gain some control over the aquifer that supplies their groundwater.  Also from Matt Stevens at LAT:


“[Tribal chairman Jeff L. Grubbe] and his tribe filed suit against the two districts in 2013, asking a court to recognize its water rights and give its members a say in how the water is managed.


“In court documents, the tribe argues that because the reservation was established by executive order in 1876, it has rights to groundwater ‘sufficient to accomplish the purposes of the Reservation.’ The tribe contends it should get a formal say on decisions about how to distribute and protect the dwindling resource.”


And, not an April Fools joke: sales taxes are going up in many California counties today. Check this chart from the California Taxpayers Association to see if your next trip to the store will bite more than yesterday.


Everyone knows that gas prices are higher than the U.S. average in California, but no one can agree on why.  Tiffany Hsu at LAT looks at the elements influencing the state’s gas prices: taxes, environmental regs, limited supply, lack of competition, etc…


“Some are accusing oil companies of manipulating prices. The industry blames an explosion and a strike at two refineries. Academics say it's structural — the unique way California gets and sells gas.


“They may all be partially right.”


The recent voter reg numbers aren’t good for political parties: independent voters increased by nearly 3% in the past two yearsChris Nichols has the story at the San Diego Union Tribune:


“Statewide, 23.57 percent of registered voters declined to choose a political party, up from 20.86 percent two years ago, according to the 2015 Report of Registration, released late Monday by Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Political observers attribute the rise of independent or ‘decline to state’ voters, as they are sometimes called, to an overall disenchantment with the Democratic and Republican political parties.


The Democratic Party continues to have the highest share of registered voters in California, at 43.15, though its percentage dipped by 0.7 percent. Voters who registered Republican account for 27.98 percent, down 0.9 percent from two years ago.”


Aside from the battles over Net Neutrality, Silicon Valley hasn’t been a huge player in the political arena.   That is changing quickly.  Tech industry leaders presented a united front against Indiana’s anti-gay religious freedom law, and are forming a Washington D.C. think tank called the Economic Innovation Group.  Josh Richman has the story at Political Blotter.


“The Economic Innovation Group describes itself as “an ideas laboratory and advocacy organization dedicated to forging a more dynamic, entrepreneurial, and innovative U.S. economy for the 21st century” which will “convene leading voices from the public and private sectors, develop original policy research, and work with policymakers to advance legislation designed to bring new jobs, investment, and economic growth to communities across the nation.”


“It’ll be led by former Obama Administration senior economic advisor Steve Glickman and John Lettieri, a former aide to Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and trade association executive. And the group’s Founders Circle includes angel investor Ron Conway of San Francisco; Rebecca Lynn, co-founder of Canvas Venture Fund in Menlo Park; Brigade chairman Sean Parker of Los Angeles, formerly of Napster and Facebook; Joseph Sanberg of Los Angeles, co-founder of Aspiration.com and Pt Capital; Dana Settle of Los Angeles, co-founder of Greycroft Partners; and Ted Ullyot of Hillsborough, investor and Facebook’s first general counsel.”


And speaking of Silicon Valley, Google has just made your April Fools Day way less productive.  The tech giant tweaked their Google Maps service so that you can now play Pac-Man on maps of real world locations


Just go to Google Maps, zero in on a location with lots of streets and then click on the Pac-Man icon in the lower left.


Heads up that the game can only be played on desktop computers and mobile devices that have the newest updates for Apple iOS or Google Android.


Now get back to work!