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When Governor Brown instituted mandatory water restrictions on urban water users early this April, he was widely praised for taking drastic action to address California's worsening drought. Yet, that praise was often paired with skepticism and even condemnation, as Brown had failed to mandate any reductions for agricultural water users. In California, agricultural users are responsible for four times as much water use as all urban uses, or approximately 80% of all water use in the state.

Agricultural users' reprieve hasn't lasted long, however. On Friday, California instituted sharp cutbacks for farmers, the first reduction of its kind in 38 years. The cutbacks could raise tricky legal issues in California, where water rights complicated and often controversial.

Californians who resell art out-of-state will no longer have to pay a statutory royalty to the artist. Under the California Resale Royalty Act, a seller was required pay a five percent royalty to the artist if the seller is a California resident selling out-of-state or if the sale takes place in California. That out-of-state provision is an unconstitutional violation of the Dormant Commerce Clause, the Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, ruled on Tuesday.

Under the Act, if a San Franciscan auctions off a sculpture by a German artist in New York City, the artist is owed the royalty. Similarly, a royalty is required if a Brazilian businessman buys a photograph by a Chicago artist while passing through LA. Change "San Francisco" to "Paris" or "LA" to "Detroit" and no payment is needed in either scenario.

In a decision that could undermine California's ability to respond to increasingly dire drought conditions, a state appellate court has ruled that San Juan Capistrano cannot implement tiered water rates that are not based on the cost of service provision. Under the city's plan, the rate charged for water usage increased depending on the overall amount of water used. Users in the lowest tier paid about $2.50 per unit -- the most profligate water users paid over three times that rate.

The city's plan is designed to encourage water conservation by increasing water's cost the more one uses. It also violates a state law prohibiting government agencies from charging more than the cost of a service, the court found.

In response to California's continuing drought, Governor Jerry Brown will be instituting unprecedented restrictions on water usage with the hopes of reducing urban water consumption, Brown announced yesterday. The move comes as California faces one of its most severe droughts on record.

The new water restrictions, expected to last through February, 2016, direct the State Water Resources Control Board to impose restrictions to reduce urban water consumption by 25 percent. The new restrictions could result not just shorter showers and less lawn sprinklers, but increased inspections and enforcement actions by the state.

S.F.'s 2-Year Payouts for Ellis Act Evictions Nixed by Fed. Judge

The Ellis Act acts as a check on California's fairly tenant-friendly landlord/tenant laws. Even notwithstanding tougher locals laws (like those in Los Angeles and San Francisco), the Ellis Act allows a landlord to evict a tenant if he's getting out of the landlord business altogether.

Here's the kicker: In San Francisco, where the median market rent is now almost $3,500 for a one-bedroom apartment, landlords often find that it makes more economic sense to get out of the landlord business and sell their properties to someone else -- rather than continue to collect rent from long-term, practically unevictable tenants paying much lower than market rate.

S.F. Supervisors OK New Airbnb Rental Regulations

By a 7-4 vote on Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a law permitting the operation of Airbnb rentals in the city.

The law establishes some regulation of Airbnb rentals, but not as much as Airbnb's opponents wanted.

Vinod Khosla Loses in Court, but Beach Access Battle Continues

The last time we saw Voldemort, I mean Vinod Khosla, the Silicon Valley billionaire was playing the role of mystical villain to local beachgoers. The venture capitalist purchased property in San Mateo County that contained a private access road -- the only access to Martin's Beach, which is otherwise surrounded by cliffs -- and closed off the road.

The history nerd in us quivered: The case involved property rights derived from the freaking Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Yeah, that one, the one that predated America and ended the Mexican-American War. These exact land rights were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1860, a few years before the California Constitution was revised to protect water access. Last October, a judge ruled that because the grant and treaty predated California's Constitution, Khosla's land was exempt from state law.

Yesterday, in a parallel case, a second judge reopened access to the beach, but it may be only temporary -- her holding was that Kosla was missing a permit. Still, two more challenges, in the legislature and in a state agency, are pending.

Lawsuit: SRO Owners in S.F. Illegally Renting to Airbnb Guests

We've all suspected for a while now that Airbnb is decreasing the housing stock in San Francisco, where housing units are a precious asset. Though Airbnb either disputes the claim or says it's not a big deal, investigations by the San Francisco Chronicle suggest that Airbnb hosts in San Francisco aren't just renting a room in their apartment or renting the apartment when they're not there; a significant number of hosts may be leasing a totally separate apartment from where they live as a side business.

Voter Initiatives Not Subject to CEQA Review: Calif. Sup. Ct.

When a city council wants to engage in land use planning, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires a study (which can take months) before the city council can do anything. Ah, but not so when citizens themselves propose a land use initiative: there, an abbreviated environmental impact study will suffice. It must be completed in 30 days, if at all.

This issue arose after Walmart wanted to open a new 27,000 square foot "Supercenter" in Sonora (Tuolumne County). But before it could, the city had to conduct a full CEQA study. In response, Sonora resident James Grinnell began a voter initiative (authored by Walmart, according to the Sonora Union-Democrat) that ultimately garnered the requisite number of votes. After the city council adopted the ordinance without submitting it to an election, a local small business group sued to stop it on the grounds that the city had to conduct a full environmental review first.

Last week, the California Supreme Court, unanimously overruling an appellate court decision, ruled that the city does not have to conduct a full CEQA analysis when the initiative comes from voters, as opposed to the legislature.

While certainly not as exciting as the prospect of six Californias, or as debatable as the value of the death penalty, there are still many legal issues in California that are making headlines.

In this week's update, we take a look at a new celebrity lawsuit, how California is dealing with the water shortage, and keeping firearms out of the wrong hands.