California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, Sept. 17.

Please note: The newsletter will pause Monday through Wednesday next week. Back in your inbox on Thursday.

Gavin Newsom signs bill to limit single-family housing.
Crews wrap sequoias in fireproof blankets as flames near.
And the first colors of fall emerge in the Eastern Sierra.



Homeless people slept on the beach in Venice on Aug. 12.

Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

In California, where the median home is obscene and the number of homeless could populate a mid-sized city, legislators have fought for years over proposals to increase housing density. With the recall safely behind him, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday handed a major victory to pro-density advocates, signing legislation that lets owners build up to two duplexes on single-family lots. It could yield hundreds of thousands of new units — yet that's still far fewer than experts say is needed to keep up with population growth. A.P. | S.F. Chronicle


A wildfire burned in Sequoia National Forest on Thursday.

Noah Berger/A.P.

As wildfires raced toward a storied grove of gigantic old-growth sequoias in Sequoia National Park on Thursday, crews wrapped trees with fire-resistant aluminum blankets. Fire officials expected flames to reach the Giant Forest within 24 hours. Among the trees getting priority attention: Five of the 10 largest sequoias on Earth, including the largest of all: the 275-foot General Sherman. Mercury News | L.A. Times


On this week's California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman talks with Miriam Pawel, an author on California politics and history. She discussed what the recall result meant for electoral challenges to Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2022. Paraphrasing recall vote analysts, she said: "This was not really an indication of widespread support for Gavin Newsom. It was a rejection of the extremist Republican agenda represented by the alternative."


Believe it or not, this coming Wednesday is the first day of fall.

In California, autumn colors begin mid-September in the high Sierra then unfold down the mountains, ending with bursts of burgundy and gold in the valleys as late as December. On Thursday,, the state's clearinghouse for fall foliage reports, heralded some of the first sightings of the season in the Eastern Sierra. Below, a few photos from Mono County captured by Jeff Simpson.

Conway Summit, Sept. 13.

Virginia Lakes, Sept. 8.

The Bodie Hills, Sept. 11.

● ●

The five best places to bask in California’s fall colors. 👉 California Sun


Northern California


On Aug. 2, San Francisco imposed a mask mandate for all indoor public settings. "I know people are tired of being told what to do," Mayor London Breed said at the time, "but the facts is, this is where we are." On Sept. 2, she reiterated the need for masking, saying "if we want to keep reopening, we will have to keep wearing masks when we leave home.” On Wednesday, Breed spent the night partying maskless at packed San Francisco nightclub. There are photos. 👉 S.F. Chronicle | KGO


SF Weekly couldn't survive any longer in San Francisco.

San Francisco — a place shaped by dreamers, contrarians, and radicals — no longer has a functional alternative weekly. After more than 40 years in print, SF Weekly said last week that it would cease publication “for the foreseeable future.” Joe Eskenazi, who worked at SF Weekly for nine years, called it an incalculable loss: "Every time another one disappears, it’s a Kurt Cobain moment: You’re shocked but not surprised." Mission Local


A building in Chinese Camp in Tuolumne County.

Carol M. Highsmith/Getty Images

Chinese immigrants in early California are often associated with urban enclaves such as San Francisco’s Chinatown. But many others descended on the Sierra to find their fortunes. A reporter went in search of Asian American history in a tiny dot on the map called Chinese Camp, a Gold Rush settlement east of Modesto that was once home to roughly 5,000 Chinese residents. N.Y. Times


Southern California


Beverly Hills hosted a Trump rally last November.

David McNew/AFP via Getty Images

You could drive around Los Angeles County for hours and never hit a precinct where a majority voted "yes" in the recall election. An exception is Beverly Hills, a lonely island of Trump supporters that stayed true to form on Tuesday: 61.6% voted to remove Newsom. Other "yes" redoubts: Yorba Linda, San Clemente, and Coronado. This map lets you explore neighborhood-level election results across Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties. 👉 L.A. Times


A growing network of self-proclaimed "reporters" are portraying the Mexican border as a marketplace of drugged children, fueling QAnon-style propaganda about pedophilic Democratic elites. In one widely shared video by Anthony Aguero, who was among the Jan. 6 Capitol mob, a group of migrant children appears to be sleeping. "They’re sedated. They are sedated," Aguero says without evidence. Newsmax host Rob Schmitt aired the video on a segment on Sept. 6, saying: “This is some pretty scary stuff.” L.A. Times


Jiyeong Laue cared for her daughter, Serenity, behind their home in Fort Irwin in 2014.

Arin Yoon/National Geographic

"When we looked through his photographs, he teared up at one of a ceremony featuring boots and a rifle. I didn’t know what they symbolized but then I understood: They had belonged to a member of his unit killed in combat. I was learning his story without him having to talk about it."

Arin Yoon was an artist in Los Angeles when she married an Army soldier and was thrust into military life at Fort Irwin. She wrote movingly about the unseen burden that war puts on military families. National Geographic


A rendering of the Star.

MAD Architects

☝️ Developers want to build this fantastical, $500 million office tower in Hollywood. Dubbed the Star, the glass-skinned structure would rise 22 stories and contain garden levels open to the elements and an enclosed landscaped rooftop with a restaurant. A funicular tram would travel up and down the sides. L.A. Times | Archinect


In case you missed it


One of the last remaining residents of Table Mountain Ranch.

Michael Schmelling/GQ

Five items that got big views over the past week:

In the 1960s and 1970s, waves of young people went back to the land in Northern California. Many eventually returned to comfortable lives in the city, but a small number stuck it out. They are holdouts of fading hippie utopias at the end of winding roads. GQ magazine
In July, San Francisco supervisors discussed a plan to make garbage can prototypes for up to $20,000 apiece. One supervisor asked: Why not just use an off-the-shelf model at a fraction of the cost? A deep dive on the bizarre quest for the perfect trash can. 👉 Mission Local
In an indictment of California's affordability crisis, the State Department excluded all coastal California cities from its list of places deemed suitable for Afghans who qualify for Special Immigrant Visas. The Atlantic
Some people hike Yosemite's Half Dome in the dark. Sean Goebel created a great time-lapse video that shows headlamps winding up and down the trail like glowing insects. Vimeo
Early in the fraud trial of Elizabeth Holmes, a man identifying himself as Hanson chatted up reporters. They were stunned when he showed up one day with Holmes' entourage. Turns out Hanson was Bill Evans, a San Diego hotel magnate and the father of Holmes' partner. NPR

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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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