Most California agricultural land is naturally desert. That should make the present pickle unsurprising. Worse, we apply none desert agricultural methods to it all and then use irrigation to make up the difference. This was never a good plan if it was ever a plan at all.
Natural deserts demand a local sustainable water solution. When I say local I mean by every field. There is no other way to provide commercial security. This can be made to happen by the use of both sticks and carrots.
First off though, come to your senses and put all irrigation water on an open auction scheme that forces cities to compete for water and ensure the price paid subsidizes agricultural water. This will start to make it self balancing. Use price volatility to bring all to their senses instead of playing the 'i am all right' game. It also tears the problem out of the hands of politics and monopolists.
You still will not like the result but it sets the stage for aggressive conversion to sustainable practices. As we have posted extensively the tools already exist to make agriculture self sustaining. The most important is the natural Eden machine which exploits dew nets and a basin to capture water. such a system attached to a tree and bed allows the land to be utilized in strips with the tress providing a lot of shade and crop protection.
The strip may be twelve feet wide and separated from adjacent strips by a similar amount. The trees need to be well spaced allowing a Eden machine to sit in between with a ten by ten footprint. The ones in Africa are off the ground, but they could just as easily be dug in to allow soil accumulation on the intervening beds. Surplus water would then be distributed by drip pipes to the beds and into the roots of the tree. Any actual irrigation can be fed into the basins as well. Surplus soils between these strips can also be stacked onto the growing beds.
The natural Eden machine has not been optimized yet. The one i see in Africa is a circular basket weave supporting a cone like sleeve of netting. That is pretty minimalist. A squared off design using basketry is an option along with a construct on top to hold multiple nets appears called for here. The monofiliment mesh needs to be set up in several layers in order to maximize the humidity collected. Since most moisture will be collected at night, it will pass into the ground then avoiding daytime evaporation.
With a base such as this applying organic methods should become rather easy and allow intense agriculture on these strips minimally augmented by irrigation. With a complex growing bed, it should be possible to support bees as well throughout the season with careful planning.