California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, June 29.

Lawmakers deliver big soda a ban on new local taxes.
California condors stage a comeback from near-extinction.
And a nap and some formula results in a hospital charge of $18,836.

The lede


Big soda flexes, and wins

Companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo used a ballot initiative as a bargaining chip to win the tax ban.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed a bill that bans new local beverage or food taxes for 12 years.

The soda industry backed the deal after being stung by new taxes in places like Berkeley that resulted in people buying fewer sodas and more water. In exchange for the new law, the industry agreed to withdraw a ballot measure that some lawmakers feared would have been worse.

In an editorial before the vote, the L.A. Times called the deal "noxious," and criticized lawmakers who hammered out the deal in secret.

"Shame on them if they give in to this ballot extortion to subvert local governments’ taxing power for years to come," the editorial board wrote.

Read more in the S.F. Chronicle and Sacramento Bee.



Immigration agents have carried out a series of sweeps in California that included people in the country legally but who committed crimes decades ago. Jose Luis Garcia, a lawful permanent resident who was arrested from his San Fernando Valley home, had a 20-year-old domestic violence conviction. “We thought this was happening to people like they said — criminals, the gang members,” his daughter said between sobs.


The San Francisco Ferry Building. A ballot initiative proposes an end to the biannual changing of clocks.

The November ballot is set. It has 12 initiatives, including four that aim to mitigate the housing crisis. Voters will also be asked to weigh in on proposals to split California in three, repeal the $5 billion-a-year gas tax, and adopt year-round daylight saving time.


California lawmakers approved the nation's toughest online privacy rules. They take aim at the data-harvesting practices of Silicon Valley that came under intense scrutiny after a series of privacy mishaps, many involving Facebook. That company, along with Google, has been quietly fighting the new rules.


A California condor with some leftover rabbit in its beak.

California condors were headed for extinction 30 years ago, when the last of the remaining 27 was captured in a desperate bid to breed the iconic birds in captivity. Now they're making a comeback, numbering nearly 300 in the wild. Lead poisoning, however, still poses a threat.

Northern California


"This is intimidation." A former I.C.E. spokesman, James Schwab, gave his first televised interview since quitting three months ago because he could not bring himself, he said, to lie for the Trump administration about immigration raids in the Bay Area. As he was speaking to a CBS News reporter at his home, a pair of federal agents showed up unexpectedly at the door.


Arlis Perry in an undated photo.

Wild theories surrounded the death of Arlis Perry, a 19-year-old newlywed whose body was found brutalized in the pews of Stanford Memorial Church in 1974. They now seem to have all been wrong. On Thursday, a former Stanford security guard shot himself in the head as sheriff’s deputies surrounded his San Jose home.


A baby fell off a bed and hit his head in San Francisco. The family, tourists from South Korea, took him to the emergency room. Doctors said the boy was fine. He took a short nap, drank some formula, and was discharged a few hours later. The bill? $18,836.


Jahi McMath's saga is over. The Oakland teenager whose brain-death case set off an emotionally charged medical and religious debate has died after surgery in New Jersey, her mother said. California had declared McMath dead nearly five years ago after she suffered irreversible brain damage during routine tonsil surgery. But her mother refused to accept the conclusion.


A first-of-its kind analysis of 177 technology companies yielded the clearest picture yet of Silicon Valley’s diversity. Ten large technology companies didn't employ a single black woman in 2016. Three had no black employees at all. Six didn't have a single female executive. Yet some companies have made big strides toward greater diversity.

Southern California


Nestle contends that it inherited rights more than a century ago to take water from the San Bernardino National Forest, above.

The U.S. Forest Service gave Nestle, the biggest bottled-water company in the country, a three-year permit to keep piping millions of gallons of water out of the San Bernardino National Forest. Critics have long fought to end the arrangement on environmental grounds. According to the latest data, most of Southern California is now gripped by "moderate drought" or worse.


Los Angeles paid out more than $200 million in legal settlements and court judgments in 2017 — a record amount that was more than the city spent on its libraries or fixing its streets. Among the costliest line items: police misconduct. “Look at how much we pay out as a city," one community leader said. "And then look at the services we don’t get.”


Last year, San Diego relied on testimony from the police chief about whether to allow marijuana sales. She cited troubling statistics about crime at dispensaries. The negative consequences, she warned, would be “enormous.” But it turns out that the police provided bogus data that inflated the crime reports.


The Ennis House in the Los Feliz neighborhood had a star appearance in "Blade Runner."

When Frank Lloyd Wright finished the Ennis house in 1924, he considered it his favorite. The sprawling concrete block home in Los Angeles is among the country's finest residential examples of Mayan Revival architecture. Now it's up for grabs for $23 million. Curbed has the pictures.

In case you missed it


Most popular

Poobah, father of the rainbow children, at Slab City.

Here are five newsletter items that got big views over the past week:

A photographer ventured into the bowels of the Mojave Desert, where a community of squatters lives on the site of an abandoned World War II base known as Slab City. Here are her pictures. (Heads up: There's nudity.)
"One of the most interesting properties in Los Angeles, if not the world." The former Bel Air home of Wilt Chamberlain was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, the redwood groves of Yosemite, and the triangle. Curbed Los Angeles

Laguna Lake is part of a natural reserve in San Luis Obispo.

San Luis Obispo has been called the happiest place in America — for good reason. Perched near the Pacific and graced by rolling hills, the historic college town seems to have it all. The Guardian
Isis Street should be everything that’s good about San Francisco. But homeless campers have turned it into a hellscape of needles, waste, and rats. One toddler on the street created a game called “jumping over the poop.” S.F. Chronicle

Rock Reach House, in Yucca Valley, is where Don Draper would go.

Pioneertown, Big Sur, Mammoth Lakes, Lassen County — Sunset Magazine explored the West to find 42 of the coziest cabin getaways. Sunset Magazine

Scheduling note

The Sun will pause next week on July 4 and 5. That means you'll receive the newsletter Monday, Tuesday, and Friday.

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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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