California Sun

Good morning. It's Thursday, April 1.

Mass shooting leaves four dead in Orange County.
San Francisco school board member sues colleagues.
And reports from California's premier wildflower spots.

Reminder: The newsletter is pausing through next Friday. Back in your inbox on April 12.



“Our phones have been ringing off the hook."

More than 7 million Californians between 50 and 64 become eligible for a coronavirus vaccine today. Many will be frustrated. This week, Contra Costa County provided a preview of how the rush for appointments might unfold. When the county offered vaccines to anyone 16 and older on Tuesday, 30,000 requests came in overnight. Officials said those people should be prepared to wait "a few weeks" before actually getting a shot. S.F. Chronicle | KTVU

State sign-ups, county sign-ups, drugstores, Twitter bots. Here are some strategies for getting an appointment. 👉 S.F. Chronicle | L.A. Times


Light traffic on the 110 freeway toward downtown Los Angeles last April.

Robert Gauthier/L.A. Times via Getty Images

It was nice while it lasted.

An analysis of traffic data found that the number of daily passenger vehicle trips across the U.S. has reached pre-pandemic levels for the first time in a year. In Los Angeles, passenger vehicle miles hit 99% of their pre-pandemic levels on the weekend of March 20-21. San Francisco was at 88%. Researchers said the increased travel reflected the return of a humming economy. A.P.




Arnold Schwarzenegger celebrated his recall election win in Los Angeles on Oct. 7, 2003.

Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

Arnold Schwarzenegger on the parallels between the 2003 gubernatorial recall that put him in office and now: "It's pretty much the same atmosphere today as it was then. There was dissatisfaction, to the highest level. And it’s the same with the momentum. Something that sets it off to a higher level, kind of the straw that breaks the camel’s back ... like an explosion.” Politico


A CalMatters investigation found that at least 1,300 people have been incarcerated in California jails longer than three years without being tried or sentenced. Of those, 332 people have been waiting for longer than five years. "These are men and women for whom the notion of 'presumed innocent' has been turned on its head. They — along with the victims of crimes awaiting justice — are the human toll of a California judicial system that struggles to dispose of cases in a timely manner."


A view from Kensington toward the San Francisco Bay.

Ethan Daniels

The Washington Post published an eye-opening analysis of California's population slowdown, a consequence of three factors: an exodus to other states, a larger-than-normal baby bust, and slowing immigration. California has time to right the ship, the data specialist David Byler wrote. "Otherwise, states like Texas, Florida and Arizona will become the new promised lands of opportunity."


Northern California


Alison Collins has faced escalating calls to step down.

San Francisco Unified

Alison Collins, a San Francisco school board member who was stripped of a leadership position for posting racist Tweets, sued the school district and her board colleagues, saying they violated her speech rights. Citing "spiritual injury to her soul" among other harms, Collins is demanding $87 million in damages. She also wants a written apology, her lawyer said. State Sen. Scott Wiener reacted with disbelief. "After years in politics, I thought I’d seen every inappropriate & self-absorbed thing a politician can do," he wrote. "I was wrong." S.F. Chronicle | Mission Local


The California inmate accused of fatally strangling the serial killer known as the "I-5 strangler" confessed in a five-page letter to the Mercury News. Jason Budrow explained that he was "avenging" Roger Kibbe's victims, who included at least seven women and girls. Budrow, a convicted murderer himself who has a "666" tattoo above his right eye, said he was unconcerned about legal consequences. No jury would see him executed for killing the "I-5 strangler," he wrote. Mercury News


The lonely parking meter of Winters become a minor tourist attraction.

Bruce Ferrari

The small farming town of Winters, near Sacramento, has a four-block downtown with 300 parking spots and a single, lonely parking meter. Installed by a mystery prankster on April Fool's Day in 2015, the meter was so amusing to city officials that they left it in place. Confused out-of-towners can sometimes be seen dropping a coin in the machine. The proceeds, roughly $100 a year, go toward a July Fourth fireworks fund. Atlas Obscura


Southern California


Law enforcement combed through the Orange building where a mass shooting unfolded on Wednesday.

Kent Nishimura/L.A. Times via Getty Images

Four people were killed, including a child, after a gunman opened fire in an office building in the city of Orange on Wednesday, the authorities said. A fifth victim, a woman, was in critical condition. Details were scarce late Wednesday, with no word on what might have prompted the shooting. A male suspect was taken into custody and transported to a hospital with a gunshot wound. The mass shooting was the third across the United States in two weeks. O.C. Register | L.A. Times


The son of a well-known business leader in Los Angeles has been charged with setting fire to a homeless encampment in 2019. Prosecutors accused Daniel Nogueira, 27, of throwing a device described as a “mortar” or “firecracker” at the encampment, sparking a brush fire that injured three people and threatened nearby homes. Nogueira's father, Michael Nogueira, is the president of the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce. L.A. Times


Jill Biden participated in a roundtable in Delano on Wednesday.

Kent Nishimura/L.A. Times via Getty Images

Jill Biden, the first lady, traveled on Wednesday to Delano, the Central Valley town that helped birth California's farmworker movement. Joined by Gov. Gavin Newsom, she delivered a speech that praised farmworkers for keeping America fed. Without them, she said, "no one would have made it through this year." Valley leaders hope the visit signals the Biden administration's commitment to immigration reform. Bakersfield Californian | Fresno Bee


California the beautiful


Wildflowers at Half Moon Bay in early March.

California's dismal rainy season has been followed by a dismal wildflower bloom — with notable exceptions. Here’s what reports from some of the state’s premier wildflower destinations have been saying:

The blooms in the desert lands of Anza-Borrego, Joshua Tree, and Death Valley have been spotty at best, though the resilience of desert life means visitors sometimes stumble upon surprising patches of color. California State Parks shared this comparison from Anza-Borrego, east of San Diego, in the spring of 2020 (upper image) and 2021 (lower image). 👇

Photo: California State Parks

The poppy fields of Antelope Valley, just north of Los Angeles, and Walker Canyon, near Lake Elsinore, have not donned their brilliant orange-colored hues of years past. The verdict of one family’s trip after walking through Antelope Valley’s brown landscape and getting gnats all over their clothes: “Worst poppy trip ever.”
At Carrizo Plain in Central California — a riot of purple, yellow, and orange in good years — there is hardly a wildflower in sight.
Wetter Northern California has done a much better job of heralding the season. There have been numerous reports of gorgeous tableaus across the Sierra foothills, including hillsides along the Merced, San Joaquin, and Tuolumne rivers. Kirk van Gorkom shared this view of Merced River Canyon, captured Sunday. 👇

Kirk van Gorkom

The bloom at the North Table Mountain reserve has been described as average. But average at this volcanic mesa near Oroville, with its huge diversity of wildflowers and one of California's prettiest waterfalls, is still outstanding.
Also popping, more or less: Colorful blossoms at Pinnacles National Park, yellow mustard fields along the coast south of San Francisco, golden poppies on Mount Diablo, and this amazing multicolored Napa Valley hillside captured over the weekend by the photographer Craig Philpott. 👉 @CphilpottCraig


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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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