California Sun

Good morning. It's Tuesday, Jan. 14.

Trump rushes to show progress on southern border wall.
#OscarsSoWhite revived by very male, very white nominees.
And photos of Wes Anderson-style settings in California.



A state task force on homelessness wants to create a constitutional amendment that would force California's cities and counties to show progress in reducing their homeless populations — or face sanctions. The plan would appear as a statewide ballot measure in November. "We've tried moral persuasion. We've tried economic incentives," the chairman of the task force said. "But all of it's optional. Why should this be optional?" CALmatters | L.A. Times

Fairgrounds, decommissioned hospitals, Caltrans properties. Proposals for centralized facilities for the homeless are gaining momentum with California leaders. Curbed


Independent voters number more than 5 million in California — more than registered Republicans — and they are eligible to vote in the March 3 Democratic primary. That means the voting bloc could be crucial to victory. But there's a catch: Independent voters have to ask for a Democratic ballot. Which candidate could be most hurt most by confusion over the election rules? By one analysis, Bernie Sanders. N.Y. Magazine | A.P.

The momentum belongs to Sanders in California. A new poll puts him, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden at the top of the race. S.F. Chronicle | Mercury News


Rather than rot, the fiercely durable wood of Bristlecones erodes like stone against the elements.

In the latest New Yorker is a lovingly written essay on the world's oldest trees, the wraithlike bristlecones of California's White Mountains. "The possibility that climate change will cause their extinction has inspired a spate of alarmed news stories, although tree scientists tend to discount the idea that the bristlecones are in immediate danger. They have survived any number of catastrophes in the past; they may survive humanity." New Yorker


The Berkeley City Club.

Today I learned: There's a fantastic Instagram account called @accidentallywesanderson that showcases buildings that look like they belong in the kitschy aesthetic of a Wes Anderson film. California, it turns out, abounds in fitting locations, including the Eastern Columbia House in Los Angeles, the Malibu Pier, a swimming pool at the Berkeley City Club, and Half Dome Village Camp in Yosemite. Vogue | AFAR

Here are more California images from the Reddit group that inspired the project.


Northern California


Moms 4 Housing supporters protested in front of an illegally occupied house in Oakland on Monday.

Jane Tyska/East Bay Times via Getty Images

Tensions mounted in the standoff over the Oakland home illegally occupied by Moms 4 Housing, a group protesting the housing crisis. After a judge ordered the squatters to leave, more than 100 supporters linked arms in front of the residence on Monday, prepared to risk arrest. "We are not running," the group's founder said. "We are staying here." The property owner compared the actions to "mob rule." Mercury News | Curbed San Francisco


An owl flew over Bethel Island, an island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta surrounded by levees.

David McNew/Getty Images

Islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta have been sinking for a century thanks to the effects of farming and water development. Some are as much as 25 feet below sea level. With only aging levees holding back the sea, the situation is growing increasingly dire. "Certainly the sea level is rising," a water expert said, "and for the islands that have peat soil the land level is falling, so we kind of know how this story is going to end." S.F. Chronicle


Chesa Boudin, San Francisco's new district attorney, faced criticism after firing at least seven prosecutors last week. The purging comes as Boudin looks to implement the progressive vision of his campaign. A city attorneys union called the move the "Friday Night Massacre," saying it could damage public trust. "I think the impact on morale is going to be devastating," a fired attorney said. KQED | S.F. Exmainer


Southern California


Clayton Kershaw reacted after being removed in the fifth inning of Game 5 of the 2017 World Series against the Astros.

Rob Tringali/MLB via Getty Images

Major League Baseball confirmed that the Houston Astros used technology to steal signs during the 2017 season, the year the team defeated the Dodgers in the World Series. For sports columnist Bill Plaschke, that made it official: "The Dodgers were cheated out of the 2017 World Series championship. This is not sour grapes. This is not revisionist history. This is now and forever fact." L.A. Times


Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is likely headed to prison after the U.S. Supreme Court declined his last-ditch request to review his case. The 77-year-old former sheriff, who has Alzheimer's disease, was sentenced to three years in prison for obstructing an FBI investigation into abuses at the nation's largest jail system. A.P. | L.A. Times


A section of border fence snakes through the desert between Yuma and Calexico.

David McNew/Getty Images

President Trump is preparing to divert an additional $7.2 billion in Pentagon funding for construction of the southern border wall — five times what Congress authorized him to spend. The funding would allow the government to increase the length of new barriers from 509 miles to 885 miles. Washington Post | N.Y. Times


Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker,” which led with 11 nominations, including best picture.

Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros.

The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite was revived on Monday after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handed out the most Oscar nominations to four very male, very white movies: "Joker," "1917," "The Irishman," and "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood." Out of 20 acting nominees, one was nonwhite. No women were nominated in the best director category. N.Y. Times | Hollywood Reporter

Here's the complete list, and where to stream the movies.


California archive


An aerial view of the proposed nuclear facility on Bodega Head in 1964.

If PG&E had its way, it would have built a nuclear plant atop the San Andreas Fault along a pristine stretch of the Sonoma coast.

It was in 1961, a time of boundless optimism about the potential of nuclear energy, that the utility revealed plans for one of the world's biggest nuclear generators on a promontory at Bodega Bay. Locals were mortified. They protested the project and, in a publicity stunt, released 1,500 helium balloons to illustrate how radioactive molecules might travel across Northern California.

"I began to think that there really was evil in the world," a leader of the opposition, David Pesonen, recalled in Sonoma Magazine. "PG&E had a single-mindedness that didn't involve people's well-being."

The nuclear plant barreled toward completion.

Hazel Mitchell campaigned against the nuclear project at the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa on July 17, 1964.

Then, in a pivotal moment, the activists asked a renowned geologist named Pierre Saint-Amand to inspect the site. His report, published in 1963, noted that the fault that once destroyed San Francisco ran directly through a construction pit.

Even so, PG&E dismissed the concerns, declaring that the company would simply "overdesign the plant."

Saint-Amand's report, however, got the attention of federal regulators who confirmed his findings. In March of 1964, an 8.6 earthquake in southern Alaska reshaped the shoreline and provided a dramatic illustration of the risks at stake. Gov. Pat Brown came out against the Bodega plant. With the writing on the wall, PG&E surrendered.

The Battle of Bodega Head, as it became known, has since been credited as ushering in the nuclear free movement. "The tactics and precedent set at Bodega, a historian told the Press Democrat, "are one of the big reasons that the California coast is not lined with nuclear plants." Bay Nature | Sonoma Magazine

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Bodega Head, pictured above, is today part of the state parks system, with multicolored foliage and dramatic cliffs that are perfect for whale watching. Outdoor Project | Sonoma Magazine


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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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