California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, April 23.

K-12 public schools see biggest enrollment drop in 20 years.
More drama for San Francisco Board of Education member.
And vaccine hesitancy at the "last free place in America."



A student walked through the mostly deserted campus at UC Riverside on April 7.

Gina Ferazzi/L.A Times via Getty Images

California State University and the University of California said they will require all students and faculty to be vaccinated before returning to campus this fall. The directive is the largest of its kind in American higher education, affecting more than 1 million members of the university systems. Stanford also announced that it would require students to be inoculated. A.P. | S.F. Chronicle


California public schools saw their biggest drop in enrollment in 20 years this year as the pandemic took a devastating toll on K-12 education, data released on Thursday showed. A significant amount of the decline was driven by roughly 61,000 missing kindergarteners. Many parents simply kept their kids in preschool, which offered in-school instruction. Others opted for private school. EdSource | A.P.


“We’re in a pivotal position right now.”

The pace of coronavirus vaccinations in California declined for the first time in weeks, a sign that demand is slipping even as all adults are now eligible. On average last week, roughly 360,000 doses were administered daily across the state, down from about 391,000. Roughly a third of California adults are now fully vaccinated. With evidence of vaccine hesitancy mounting, some experts have warned that herd immunity may be unattainable. Mercury News


Slab City is not a place for rule-followers.

Slab City, a community of artists and drifters in California's Sonoran Desert, is where people go to escape society. But the pandemic found them. Even so, many so-called Slabbers have resisted vaccination. Of approximately 1,200 residents, just 20 have gotten a dose. "The pressure for the vaccine is ridiculous,” said a man who introduced himself as Pink Gorilla. Desert Sun




Traffic flowed along I-80 in Berkeley.

The Biden administration said Thursday that it will drop a Trump-era rule that blocked California and other states from setting their own tougher car pollution standards. Trump's 2019 decision to end California's independence kicked off a protracted court fight that is now poised to end. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she looked forward to "new standards that combat climate change, protect public health and save consumers money.” L.A. Times | Bloomberg

Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to announce a ban on new permits for fracking, a form of extraction that makes up a small part of California's oil production but holds major symbolic significance. Politico


On this week's California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman talks with Joe Mathews about how, in his view, Los Angeles has become a drag on California. The columnist and editor at Zócalo Public Square said Los Angeles is hamstrung in part by a "do-your-own-thing" culture that, in contrast to that of the Bay Area, fails to connect people, schools, or policies. "It can be a lonely, isolating place," he said.


Northern California


The seemingly inexhaustible drama of San Francisco's Board of Education took another turn Thursday as the city ruled that board member Alison Collins had illegally merged two Russian Hill apartments. Collins was rebuked by the board last month over racist tweets she posted in 2016. She responded with an $87 million lawsuit. Critics said the apartment-merging was especially galling because it eliminated a unit in a city where housing stock is sorely lacking. Collins tried to sell the properties as a single home for $3.25 million. S.F. Chronicle


Jesse Larios has been walking for 11 days, sleeping along the road.

Bearsun, the Forrest Gump of teddy bears with a relentlessly cheerful disposition, was spotted in San Jose Thursday, having walked all the way from Los Angeles on a quest to reach San Francisco. The man inside, 33-year-old Jesse Larios, set off on a lark on April 12, documenting his journey on Instagram. The stunt has grown into something bigger, inspiring fans who have come out to cheer him on. Mercury News | @iambearsun


Southern California


The Long Beach Convention Center welcomed a first group of migrant children on Thursday, making it the second shelter to open in Southern California for children stopped along the Mexico border. Reporters were given a tour of the center, which included rows of cots, butterfly decorations on the walls, and a play area with board games and screens to watch movies. It's expected to hold 1,000 children. “It looks like a place where children can be,” an immigrant advocate said. Long Beach Post | A.P.

Here's what it looks like in the facility. 👉 L.A. Times


Jake Paul has parlayed his YouTube fame into a boxing career.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

"In the vast world of YouTube villains, there may be none as famous as Jake Paul."

The N.Y. Times took a look behind the scenes at life in the Team 10 house, a rented mansion in Los Angeles where a collective of young content creators film videos, throw parties, and spur drama — all under Paul's direction. Interviews with 10 former members turned up stories of bullying, harassment, and exploitation. Two women alleged sexual misconduct. N.Y. Times


Photo: Rene Compean

The Washington Post recounted the incredible story of a hiker who became hopelessly lost in the Angeles National Forest on April 12. Before his phone died, Rene Compean sent a friend a text with the grainy image of his legs, above. He feared it would be the last picture he ever took. Rescuers, stumped, tweeted it in hopes that someone would recognize the location. Among those who saw it was Ben Kuo, an amateur radio operator with an unusual pastime: "I have always loved looking for where photos are taken." The race was on.


In case you missed it


Mori Point in Pacifica made the list.

Five items that got big views over the past week:

A hidden redwood forest. A perch with views from Farallon Islands to the Sierra Nevada. And the remains of a 19th-century shrimp fishing camp. In a region crammed with natural beauty, Condé Nast Traveler listed the Bay Area's nine very best trails.
A new short documentary by The New Yorker tells the story of Sept. 9, 2020, in San Francisco through the memories of its residents. The title: "When the Sky Turned Orange." YouTube (~5:30 mins)
Jake Larson, a 98-year-old man in the Bay Area, lost his wife to cancer in 1991. His granddaughter surprised him with an animated picture of his late wife when she was young. Posted on TikTok, the video of his reaction has been viewed millions of times. "Look at that smile," he says, tearing up. @storytimewithpapajake
When 18-year-old Jacob Cruz died fighting the Imperial Japanese Army in 1943, his family waited for his body to be returned. Weeks turned into months, then years. The military finally admitted that they couldn't find his body. Then, in April of last year, Jacob's surviving siblings got shocking news. L.A. Times
For a new docuseries, a gonzo journalist plunged into California's Emerald Triangle to investigate rumors that three cannabis-farm workers were killed by Sasquatch. He doesn't find the mythical forest monster, but he does encounter a genuinely frightening underworld. | The Guardian

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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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