California Sun

Good morning. It's Tuesday, Sept. 25.

How California depends on taxation of the rich.
The most beautiful restaurants in San Francisco.
And a travel writer shares her five favorite campgrounds.

The lede


Counting on the rich

Palo Alto’s 94301 ZIP code paid 28 times more in taxes in 2016 than all those living in rural Tehama County, above.

The future of California's economy lies in the hands of millionaires in Palo Alto’s 94301 and a handful of other wealthy ZIP codes.

That's thanks to California's lopsided reliance on personal income tax, the L.A. Times reported. The worry is whether the red-hot economy will hold.

"We are very dependent on millionaires," a former budget director for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said. "If the millionaires get a cold, we all die of the flu."

Read the story in the Times.




A couple years ago, California took in nearly 7,000 refugees. During the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, the figure will be roughly 1,300, thanks to policies enacted by President Trump’s administration to cut the number of eligible refugees. They're eroding California's reputation as a mecca for beleaguered people from around the world.


Drilling in Kern County.

John Ciccarelli/Bureau of Land Management

"Oil companies have dumped what they want and pretended they aren't impacting useable groundwater. That's not the case." California is one of last states in the nation to allow oil companies to dump toxic wastewater into unlined ponds. The vast majority are in the Central Valley, where they are threatening the limited groundwater and the humans who rely on it.


Roughly 1 in 5 workers in the Central Valley town of Los Banos braves a commute of at least 90 minutes each way, the highest such proportion in the nation. Commutes in valley "exurbs" have worsened over the years as Bay Area workers have increasingly relocated in search of homes they can afford.


Saddlebag Lake is 10,000 feet up in the Sierra just outside Yosemite National Park.

Ann Marie Brown has authored 13 guidebooks on California recreation. She told a podcast host her five favorite campgrounds in California:

5. Jalama Beach, Santa Barbara County — "Right next to the beautiful, windswept Pacific."

4. Patrick's Point State Park, Humboldt County — "A North Coast lonesome beach experience."

3. Ryan and White Tank campgrounds, Joshua Tree National Park — "The real appeal of camping in Joshua Tree is the star show."

2. Cold Springs, Sequoia National Park — "Just beautiful alpine lakes."

1. Saddlebag Lake, "The highest campground you can drive to in the state."


Northern California


Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of Instagram, are leaving the company after growing tensions with Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of parent company Facebook, sources told Bloomberg. The founders were frustrated by Zuckerberg's day-to-day involvement in the app, which now has more than a billion users. The departures add another challenge for Facebook as it confronts the most sustained set of crises in its history.


A married 58-year-old man was arrested in the so-called NorCal Rapist spree, which terrorized Northern California between 1991 and 2006. The suspect, Roy Charles Waller, appeared on Monday in a Sacramento courtroom. One of the victims was there. "Last time, he got to see my face when I was in fear," she said. "This time, I got to see his face when he was in fear."


Rush hour in Fresno, where air pollution commonly reaches dangerous levels.

Gary Kazanjian/A.P.

Fresno is the fourth most ozone-polluted city in the U.S. That's where the Trump administration decided to kick off a public hearing on Monday to test how Americans feel about its plan for rolling back car and truck pollution standards. "This is ironic because the auto standards Trump wants to repeal would go a long way toward cleaning up the valley’s air pollution," a law professor said.


Bix, in the Financial District, has soaring ceilings.


The S.F. Chronicle's food team debated the city's most beautiful restaurants and came up with a list of the top 26. Bix was called the most classically beautiful restaurant. Being there, a writer said, "makes me feel special."


The epic corn maze in Dixon has been certified as the world's largest by the Guinness World Records.

Cool Patch Pumpkins

A magazine ranked the nation's best corn mazes and gave top honors to one in Dixon, about 15 miles from Sacramento. At 63 acres, Cool Patch Pumpkins is the world's largest corn maze. A unique design is carved every year.


Southern California


Prosecutors said Cameron Terrell, a rich white teenager from Palos Verdes Estates, joined the Crips. He was arrested on suspicion of murder in an alleged gang killing, then posted $5 million bail. In July, he was acquitted, a result that critics saw as an example of unequal justice. "He wasn’t set free because he was white," his lawyer said. "But I do think that the jurors gave him the benefit of the doubt."


The shoreline in Malibu, where fights over beach access are notorious.

Along the 27 miles of Southern California coast known as Billionaire's Beach, celebrities have fought hard to keep the riffraff off the beach. The trouble is California law enshrines public access to the state's 1,271 miles of coastline. "It's relentless and it's just constant pressure," a state official said of the resistance from wealthy beachfront homeowners.


Cast members help visitors forget about the world outside.

One in 10 Disneyland employees has experienced homelessness while working there. One cast member who works as a princess has seen up to five princesses share a small apartment. She remembered what an older princess told her on the day she started her job: "This is a corporation. We don’t make magic; we make money."


Long Beach's Prospector Pete mascot fired up the crowd in Portland in 2012.

Don Ryan/A.P.

Cal State Long Beach is retiring its Prospector Pete mascot, which some student leaders argued was a symbol of the massacres visited upon Native Americans during the Gold Rush. The decision came after years of debate over whether it was appropriate to pay homage to the "49ers" image.


Seau committed suicide two years after retiring as one of the premier linebackers in N.F.L. history.

Winslow Townson/A.P.

Junior Seau, favorite son of Oceanside and former Chargers linebacker, embodied the best that football had to offer. But he was plagued by depression and headaches. He once told a friend, "I’ve had a concussion since I was 15." At age 43, alone in his bedroom, he fatally shot himself in the chest in 2012. ESPN has produced a new documentary about Seau as part of its celebrated 30 for 30 series.


Thanks for reading!

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

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