California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, Sept. 7.

A mosaic of forest and prairie opens along the Sonoma Coast.
A government panel forces equal pay for female surfers.
And Elon Musk smokes a joint and talks humanity with Joe Rogan.

The lede


Coastal treasure

The preserves, just north of the town of Jenner, offer hiking from the shores of the Pacific to the peak of Pole Mountain.

"The best of Sonoma County."

After more than a decade of planning, the spectacular Jenner Headlands and Pole Mountain preserves open to the public today. Together they encompass more than nine square miles of coastal prairie, oak woodland, and redwood and Douglas fir forests.

The highest peak of the Sonoma Coast — 2,200-foot Pole Mountain — offers commanding views of it all. But you have to earn it: the hike to the top is 15 miles roundtrip.




Sen. Kamala Harris questioned Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

Jacquelyn Martin/A.P.

Sen. Kamala Harris's courtroom-style questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh reverberated widely on social media. A seasoned prosecutor with likely presidential ambitions, Harris at one point asked, "Can you think of any laws that give the government the power to make decisions about the male body?" Kavanaugh, seeming flustered, replied, "I’m not — I’m not — thinking of any right now, senator."


Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that bans cities from charging residents so-called prosecution fees. The move came after a Desert Sun investigation found that Coachella Valley cities were bringing property owners to court for small infractions, then billing them tens of thousands of dollars to pay the cost of their own prosecution.


Riding a Bird scooter in San Diego.

Nathan Rupert/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

As electric scooter companies have seen their valuations soar, emergency-room physicians are reporting a wave of severe accidents. Critics say the scooters pose risks similar to other motorized vehicles, but without the same safety regulations. Still, the Santa Monica scooter company Bird is fighting legislation that would require riders to wear helmets.


The waves can be monstrous at Mavericks, a break about 20 miles south of San Francisco.

Shalom Jacobovitz via Wikimedia Commons

"The waves do not discriminate." An obscure state government panel has forced the Mavericks big wave contest to award equal prize money to male and female surfers. The move could set a precedent for equal pay in sporting events held on public lands across California.


A map of the San Francisco Bay Area with an 1895 map overlaid on top.

U.S. Geological Survey

Here's a fun rabbit hole for map nerds. The U.S. Geological Survey created a searchable map that lets you compare your city or region against historical maps.


Northern California


On Wednesday, Alex Jones walked the corridors of Capitol Hill, where hearings were held with leaders of Twitter and Facebook.

Jose Luis Magana/A.P.

Twitter banned Alex Jones and his website InfoWars, citing harassing messages by the far-right conspiracy theorist. The decision, which followed bans by Facebook and YouTube, cuts off Jones' final direct channel to mainstream audiences. Jones responded: "This is the deep state striking back and really pressuring these tech firms to censor."


Two luxury retirement complexes abandoned residents at the height of the deadly Santa Rosa wildfires last October, state officials said as they moved to revoke the facilities' licenses. A scathing report said more than 20 people would have died when a dementia facility burned to the ground had emergency responders and family members not arrived to evacuate them.


Josephine Zhao, a San Francisco school board candidate, has been professing one position on gender-neutral bathrooms when addressing English-speaking audiences, while telling Chinese-speaking residents the opposite. A newspaper obtained text messages in which she acknowledged the strategy of contrasting messages.


Elon Musk, the Tesla C.E.O., puffed a joint during a YouTube webcast of Joe Rogan's show Thursday night.

Elon Musk had a whiskey-fueled conversation with Joe Rogan on the comedian's podcast, discussing humanity, artificial intelligence, Tesla, and China. At one point, they shared a joint and giggled about turning Mars into "a big Jamaica." Moments later, Musk said, "I'm getting text messages from friends saying 'What are you doing smoking weed?'"


Southern California


A sign warned beachgoers of contaminated water at Imperial Beach, south of San Diego.

Lenny Ignelzi/A.P.

California filed a lawsuit against the federal government, accusing it of allowing millions of gallons of raw sewage to spill from the Tijuana River Valley into San Diego. The pollution is so bad that San Diego beaches are repeatedly closed and dozens of border patrol agents have fallen sick.


How bad has college affordability gotten in California? Cal State Long Beach is asking its students to donate meals for the estimated 38 percent of the student body who sometimes go hungry. Most Californians now see cost as a major problem in public higher education.


Burt Reynolds in London in 1972.


Burt Reynolds died yesterday at 82. One of Hollywood’s most charismatic leading men during the 1970s and 80s, he starred in "Deliverance" and "Smokey and the Bandit" and caused a pop-culture sensation as Cosmopolitan magazine’s first nude male centerfold. Here is Reynolds's career in photos.


Point Vicente Lighthouse is situated on the southwestern end of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

The Palos Verdes Peninsula is 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles, yet it’s worlds apart. It doesn't get the tourism love of Santa Monica, Venice, or Malibu, yet — according to one travel writer — it boasts "the best coastal views in Los Angeles County, set against lush landscapes, rocks, mountains, cliffs, and slopes."


In case you missed it


Some people in the Shasta region claim to have seen figures traveling in and out of Mount Shasta by way of lenticular clouds.

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

About 10 years ago, a hole appeared on the side of Mount Shasta. Theories for what caused it have included gold mining and a mysterious underground civilization. KQED
An 18-year-old was said to have plunged more than 800 feet to his death while trying to take a selfie at the edge of Yosemite's Nevada Fall. Fresno Bee

Ojai Valley is uncommonly beautiful.

Ojai is known for its natural beauty and artsy vibe. Architectural Digest gave a tour of five places that have made the town a destination for design lovers. Architectural Digest
"Aggressive, shameless, obsessive, and optimistic." The N.Y. Times spent time with the tech billionaire Vinod Khosla, who is trying to keep the public off a beach south of Half Moon Bay. N.Y. Times

Jumbo Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park is popular for families with kids.

The California desert is ideal for camping in the fall, when temperatures are mellow and the crowds are too. Here are two nice roundups of favorite campgrounds, including Joshua Tree's Jumbo Rocks. Hipcamp Journal | Sunset Magazine

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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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