California Sun

Good morning. It's Tuesday, June 29.

Californians are accelerating Austin's housing boom.
Facebook hits $1 trillion mark after lawsuit dismissed.
And LeVar Burton's quest to succeed Alex Trebek.



Newly constructed homes in Austin.

Roschetzky Photography

A typical house in the Bay Area is roughly $1.3 million. In Austin, a larger house with a yard and access to better schools is about $560,000. That price, however, is swiftly rising as Californians fuel a housing frenzy in the Texas capital. “I think the last few decades kind of belong to California," said Ray Shapley, a real estate broker. “I think the next few decades might belong to Central Texas. As someone who was born here and loves Central Texas the way it is, I don’t know that I necessarily love that.” S.F. Chronicle


California banned state-funded travel to five more states — Florida, Montana, West Virginia, Arkansas, and North Dakota — citing measures deemed discriminatory against gay and transgender people. "Make no mistake," said state Attorney General Rob Bonta. "We’re in the midst of an unprecedented wave of bigotry and discrimination in this country." Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for Florida's governor, defended the state's law banning transgender females from women’s and girls’ sports. “It is disappointing that the politicians calling the shots in Sacramento are not willing to stand up for women and girls in California,” she said. L.A. Times | A.P.


California lawmakers voted on Monday to speed up the recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom, a move intended to help the governor as his approval ratings hold strong amid the state's reopening. It's the second time in four years that Democrats have changed recall rules to help their own. In 2017, they slowed down the process. Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley accused Newsom and the Legislature of cheating. S.F. Chronicle | A.P.

S.F. Chronicle editorial: The plot to rush the recall is "noxious."


The Lava fire burned near the community of Weed on Friday.

Cal Fire

As many as 10,000 residents were under evacuation orders in Siskiyou County after a wildfire doubled in size Monday to roughly 6 square miles. The Lava fire was ignited by a lightning strike on Friday before being pushed by gusting winds toward communities north of the city of Weed. Other significant blazes were burning in Madera, Kern, and San Bernardino counties. S.F. Chronicle | KDRV


Greg Noll at his home near Crescent City in 1996.

Lawrence K. Ho/L.A. Times via Getty Images

Greg Noll, a pioneer of big wave riding, died on Monday. Born in San Diego in 1937, he traveled from Southern California to Mexico, Australia, and Hawaii in search of the biggest waves. In 1957, at Waimea Bay on Oahu’s North Shore, he caught a wave as high as 30 feet in a feat thought impossible even by the local Hawaiians. In 1969, at Hawaii’s Makaha Beach, he rode what surfers who saw it said was the biggest wave ever surfed. Noll spent his later years board shaping and sport fishing. He was 84. A.P.

See a clip from the movie "Riding Giants" on Noll's landmark Waimea Bay ride. 👉 YouTube (~4:30 mins)


Northern California


A federal court on Monday dismissed a pair of monopoly suits against Facebook filed by the U.S. government and a coalition of states that sought to break up the company. The decision sent the Menlo Park company's shares soaring, pushing its market value to more than $1 trillion. Silicon Valley's critics said the case illustrated the need to rewrite the nation’s antitrust laws. Politico | Bloomberg

N.Y. Times: A trillion is beyond human comprehension.


Oakland's City Council voted last week to divert $18 million from the police department even as the city confronts a surge of violent crime. On Monday, Chief LeRonne Armstrong spoke emotionally about the lives lost to gun violence. “It’s easy to sit in a room and have a discussion as to what public safety looks like,” he said. “It looks much different when you’re out in the community and meeting with the families." Mercury News | S.F. Chronicle

Hours after Armstrong spoke, armed robbers held up a news crew that was interviewing Oakland's chief of violence prevention outside City Hall. Mercury News


A lot of people are rooting for LeVar Burton.

Emily Berl for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Through performances as Kunta Kinte in “Roots,” Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge on “Star Trek: The Next Generation," and host of PBS's “Reading Rainbow,” Sacramento's own LeVar Burton has become part of the fabric of American culture. Now he wants badly to succeed Alex Trebek. "It’s difficult to explain," he said in a Q&A with the N.Y. Times, "but there’s something inside me that says this makes sense. I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do."


Awaiting the solstice sun crack in Noe Valley on June 24.

Nico Madrigal Yankowski/

Some cultures mark the summer solstice with music, bonfires, and the donning of floral crowns. In San Francisco's Noe Valley, they wave noisemakers and sage at a narrow crack between two homes, where — at about 4:25 p.m. — a sliver of sunlight aligns perfectly with a painted yellow line on the pavement.


Southern California


People visited the Grand Central Market in Los Angeles on June 15.

Genaro Molina/L.A. Times via Getty Images

Los Angeles County is now urging people to wear masks in indoor public places — regardless of their vaccination status. The guidance departs from that of the CDC, but county health officials said they were alarmed by the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus. Still, they noted that inoculated residents appeared to be well protected. Of 123 people in L.A. County infected with the Delta variant, 110 were unvaccinated and three were partially vaccinated. L.A. Times | A.P.


The Washington Post sent a reporter to ask people at the beach in Santa Monica what they were eating.

"Veronica Price, Randy Jones and Linh Hang are all in their early 30s but have decided to be lifelong friends. 'We’re going to be like the "Golden Girls,"' Hang said. Price clarified: 'Except we'll all be Blanche.' They quaffed hard seltzers and bourbon straight from the bottle even though, Price said, 'we're more tequila people.' Their only snack was a small bag of spicy lime Cheetos. Asked if they had any fruit, Price took a hit of a vape pen and blew an aromatic cloud in a reporter’s face, explaining: 'That’s watermelon.'"


Old miners' homes carved into solidified ash, an abandoned gas station festooned with old shoes, and what may be one of California’s loneliest graveyards — 9 miles from the nearest road.

The photography of Zach Bradley portrays a battle between human aspiration and the erosive power of the desert. The humans are clearly losing. Raised in Barstow, Bradley has wandered the wide-open region between Los Angeles and Las Vegas with a film camera for years. Asked what draws him there, he said there’s an overlooked richness to the desert that he likes to describe with a song lyric by Rüfüs Du Sol: “The rush of falling into emptiness."

See a few of Bradley's images below, and many more at his Instagram feed. 👉 @gh0stsinl0ve

Dublin Gulch is believed to have housed miners during a silver boom.

Zach Bradley

A gas station was transformed into a footwear-themed art piece.

Archer Cemetery is located by a railroad track in the middle of nowhere.


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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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