"Raven and Michael, USA, 2017" Laura Henno

Best of the California Sun: 10 must-read stories from the past week

The California Sun is a daily newsletter that hand-curates the most compelling stories about California from dozens of publications across the internet. Here are 10 of the most popular stories in the newsletter from the past week:


“It’s a place always balancing between heaven and hell.” In Slab City, the Mojave Desert outpost of drifters and dropouts, residents live without running water, sewers, or electricity. A French photographer spent two months at the former military base documenting the flip side of the American Dream.

Laura Henno | Huck Magazine


Devin Nunes, the Republican congressman from the San Joaquin Valley, has long portrayed himself as a straight talker with values rooted in his family’s dairy farm. But a reporter discovered that the farm had been moved to Iowa, a secret that the family has sought to conceal. Also, it relies on illegal immigrants.


Adopted in 1940, San Francisco’s flag design leaves room for improvement.

Wikimedia Commons


San Francisco’s city flag is such a mess that when a speaker unveiled it during a TED talk a few years ago, laughter erupted. “I know,” he said. “It hurts me, too.” Poorly designed municipal flags are a scourge in California. But some cities are being shamed into doing something about it.

California Sun


Googie. Midcentury modern. Eastlake Victorian. Chateauesque. Spanish-Moorish. Monterey Colonial Revival. Beaux-Arts. What city has a more diverse spread of architecture than Los Angeles? Curbed put together a cheat sheet of 16 styles that every Angeleno should know.

Curbed Los Angeles

A Buddha shrine transformed a corner in Oakland.

Google Maps


In 2009, an Oakland man frustrated by illegal dumping on a median by his house placed a small stone Buddha there out of desperation, hoping it would deter ne’er-do-wells. To his amazement, it worked. Not only did the trash problem vanish, crime in the area dropped by 82 percent.

Oakland North | SFgate.com


“I love my kids and my wife more than anything else on this Earth.” A struggling couple had been squatting with their five children in a derelict cabin in Joshua Tree for months. When their 7-year-old died from exposure on a hot summer day, they were charged with child abuse. Now they’re on the run.

Desert Sun

Mineral King was so named because miners thought a fortune in metals awaited there.

Andrew/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Mineral King is a hidden valley about 7,500 feet up in Sequoia National Park. The road there, in the words of one travel writer, is “a true thrill ride. It’s a narrow, heart palpitation-producing odyssey of more than 300 curves past sheer drop-offs on a sometimes-paved, sometimes-not surface.” The reward is a setting of deer-filled meadows and rambling rivers — without crowds. Mineral King is included in a list of 12 “wow spots” in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks.

Sunset Magazine


Californians will soon decide on Proposition 10, an initiative that would create a pathway to more rent control across the state. Supporters say it would bring quick relief to the state’s overburdened renters. But what do economists say? They rarely agree on much, wrote the L.A. Times Liam Dillon. But there’s consensus, even among liberal economists, that rent control doesn’t help with housing affordability.”

L.A. Times

The Trinity Alps, seen in late September 2017, offer some of the most spectacular terrain in the western U.S.

Vlad Karpinskiy/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


With 550 miles of trails, the rugged wilderness of the Trinity Alps northwest of Redding is a nature lover’s delight. Yet it’s not unusual to arrive at its most stunning vantages and find that you’re the only one there. The mountain range is included in a list of seven favorite fall backpacking trips across the United States.

Outside Magazine


Here’s how much you need to earn to afford a home in America’s biggest cities:

1. San Jose $274,623

2. San Francisco $213,727

3. San Diego $130,986

4. Los Angeles $114, 908

5. Boston $109,411


The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times. Sign up here to get the newsletter delivered to your inbox weekday mornings — for free.

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