California Sun

Good morning. It's Monday, Dec. 16.
Today's edition: 12 items, < 4 minutes

California reaches 1 million solar roofs.
Tragedy as rescue worker dies on Mt. Baldy.
And the top-rated state parks with camping.



Inmate firefighters cleared vegetation that could fuel a wildfire near Yucaipa in 2017.

David McNew/AFP via Getty Images

California has committed more than $200 million annually to fire prevention efforts. A major part of the work is thinning forests and using controlled burns to keep undergrowth in check. But some landowners have declared they like the greenery and refused to let fire crews onto their properties. "If that property catches fire, then you get a chain-reaction, domino effect," a fire official said. "It compromises the effectiveness of the entire project." A.P.


California reached a milestone in efforts to increase its energy reliance on the sun: 1 million solar roofs. Celebrating at an event in Clovis, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said lawmakers from both parties set the target of a million solar roofs 13 years ago “because we understood that big, worthwhile goals were more important than politics." Solar Power World | L.A. Times

Starting Jan. 1, California will require all new homes to have solar power. That's expected to triple or quadruple the number of new solar-equipped homes every year. Mercury News


Gov. Gavin Newsom has rejected PG&E's plan to allocate $13.5 billion to wildfire victims and exit bankruptcy, saying the proposal falls "woefully short" of safety requirements set under state law. The rebuke threatens the utility's ability to draw from a wildfire liability fund set up by the state to help insulate utilities from inevitable fires. The author of the legislation that established the fund indicated support for Newsom's stance. "We all know that we can't trust PG&E to do the right thing or even follow the law," he said. L.A. Times | A.P.


Pismo State Beach Butterfly Grove is major overwintering destination for the colorful butterflies.

California's monarch butterflies have been in a death spiral for years. Now comes a bit of good news. Volunteers counted 6,735 butterflies over Thanksgiving week at the overwintering grove in Pismo Beach, more than double the number recorded at the same time in 2018. Scientists celebrated the news, but noted the numbers remain far from robust. Pismo once hosted more than 230,000 butterflies a season. The Tribune


Northern California


Rep. Devin Nunes, the Tulare Republican, earns $174,000 a year. Yet he's filed six lawsuits this year with plans for a seventh, each possibly costing well into six figures. It's unclear where he's getting the money. McClatchy reports: He's "either paying for the lawsuits out of his own pocket, promising to pay his lawyer a portion of any money they're awarded in court at a later date, or flouting House Ethics rules that would require him to publicly disclose who is funding the legal work." McClatchy | The Week


An Oakland Raiders fan signaled his support during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

The Raiders played their final game in Oakland before their scheduled move next season to Las Vegas. A longtime fan said what made Raider Nation special was how it drew from all walks of life. "You'd go into the Coliseum and see the lawyers next to the grandmothers next to the bikers next to the stevedores next to the white-collar accountants. Everybody bonded in their passion for the Raiders." East Bay Times | S.F. Chronicle


Last week, word spread that the Berkeley authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman planned to make a television series about the deadly Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland. Then friends and family members of the 36 victims urged them to stop, saying it was too soon for them to revive the tragedy. The couple agreed. "These appeals have been heartbreaking to hear, and they have changed our minds," they said. A.P. | AV Club


Just down the road from Mendocino, Russian Gulch State Park has both natural and manmade wonders. There are glorious headlands, a canyon covered in ferns and redwoods that leads to a 36-foot waterfall, a collapsed sea cave swirling with water known as the Devil’s Punchbowl, and, pictured above, the elegant New Deal-era Russian Gulch Bridge. A couple years ago, the Sacramento Bee aggregated tens of thousands of reviews to rank the best California state parks with camping. Russian Gulch was No. 9. Sacramento Bee | S.F. Chronicle


Southern California


Tim Staples was scouring the area northwest of Los Angeles for a missing hiker.

West Valley Search and Rescue

Tim Staples, a 32-year-old high school teacher, died after apparently falling to his death searching for a missing hiker on Mt. Baldy. Staples was a volunteer for nine years with a San Bernardino County rescue team. "Tim was an exceptional human who gave [h]is life serving others," his family said in a statement. L.A. Times | NBC Los Angeles


Chaos broke out at an event in Glendale celebrating efforts to recognize the Armenian genocide, but it had nothing to do with the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks. The trouble started when Rep. Adam B. Schiff, who is at the center of the effort to impeach President Trump, began to address the crowd. About a dozen people began yelling "Liar!" Asked to leave, they refused, leading to scuffles that lasted for 15 minutes. Desert Sun | KABC


Rosa Porto started out by selling cakes from home for neighbors and fellow Cuban immigrants.

Porto’s Bakery & Cafe

"A real American story."

Rosa Porto died. The baker arrived to Los Angeles from Cuba flat broke in the 1970s and founded Porto's Bakery & Cafe using the recipes of her Spanish-born mother. It grew into a multimillion-dollar chain, famous for its potato balls, meat pies, empanadas, and guava-and-cheese strudels. Porto was 89. L.A. Times | O.C. Register


California archive


Built in 1794, Monterey's San Carlos Cathedral is the oldest serving cathedral in the U.S.

Wikimedia Commons

"It's really where California began."

Few places teem with so much California history as Monterey. It's where the drafting and adoption of the state's first constitution was hosted in 1849. It's where the American flag was first raised in California in 1846. And it's where the Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino arrived on this day in 1602, inspiring the European colonization that would shape California for centuries.

Vizcaino's party marveled at the area's beauty and held the first Catholic Mass on California soil under a live oak tree. Claiming Monterey for Spain, they stayed only a couple weeks.

An engraving depicts the Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino.

Another 168 years would pass before the Spaniards returned as they became consumed in the governance of other parts of their empire. It was a precious reprieve for the Central Coast's indigenous Ohlone people, who told folk tales among themselves about a whale that had swallowed a brown man in Santa Barbara and disgorged a white man in Monterey.

In 1770, the Spanish came ashore at the same spot as Vizcaino, this time with a plan. They established a presidio and a mission led by Junipero Serra. Hungry for souls, his conversion of the natives into Europeans echoed the old story of the whale. S.F. Chronicle | Monterey County Historical Society

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The Lower Presidio Historic Park is often overlooked by visitors to Monterey, but it's among the most historically significant parks on the West Coast. Old Monterey Foundation


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The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.

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