California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, July 30.

Shasta County prosecutor plans criminal charges against PG&E.
Racist invective at Orange County supervisors meeting.
And three celebrated homes where you can stay in Sea Ranch.



Supermarket workers rallied in support of hazard pay in Long Beach on Feb. 3.

Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

In January, Long Beach required grocery employers to pay frontline workers an extra $4 an hour for four months. Nearly 40 cities and counties followed suit across California. While companies have resisted the elevated pay, economists say they may have to get used to it. Workers are in high demand, and the pandemic reset earnings expectations for jobs that have come to be recognized as essential. Politico


For decades, fire experts have been telling California to light more small fires as a way to use up fuels and prevent monster ones from erupting later. But it hasn't been done nearly enough. Now the state is training Native American tribes, ranchers, timber companies, and others to become certified "burn bosses." Here's a nicely done short film on the program, including a trip to a prescribed burn in Sonoma County. 👉 N.Y. Times (8:30 mins)


Filson at work on a wind farm in Southern California.

Rogue Detection Teams

Wind farms are required to monitor the wildlife impacts of their spinning turbines, which kill hundreds of thousands of bats and birds in North America every year. That's resulted in a steady stream of work for scent-detection dogs, by far the quickest and most effective way to find carcasses. The stars of the scent-detection business are misfits of the pet world: either rescues or dogs surrendered by owners because they are obsessed with play. The Atlantic


Northern California


Residents watched the Zogg fire near the town of Igo in Shasta County on Sept. 27, 2020.

Go Nakamura/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Shasta County’s top prosecutor said Thursday that she planned to file criminal charges against Pacific Gas & Electric for its role in igniting a wildfire that killed four people and destroyed more than 200 structures near Redding last September. Investigators found that the Zogg fire began after a tree fell on a transmission line. Winds fanned it across 88 square miles and through the towns of Igo and Ono. In a statement, PG&E said it disagreed with the district attorney’s assessment. A.P. | Record Searchlight


Sacramento County on Thursday became the latest to announce a mask mandate for indoor public places, joining Los Angeles and Yolo counties. Dr. Olivia Kasirye, the county health officer, blamed vaccine resisters for worsening the county's vulnerability to the coronavirus. More mask mandates appear likely: Several Bay Area counties are weighing them. Sacramento Bee | S.F. Chronicle


On this week's California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman talks with Rick Doblin and Ismail Ali, both of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, based in San Jose. Doblin talked about how psychedelic therapy is about more than treating the unwell: "It's about this shift to — it's about something bigger, and I'm part of something bigger, and something enormously bigger."


In a burst of 1960s idealism, developers transformed a sheep ranch into a community of rustic, tasteful homes along 10 miles of the Sonoma County coast. The Sea Ranch, as it's known, has been called the most influential modernist community on the West Coast. Below are three celebrated homes where you can spend the night.

Drew Kelly

1. This minimalist cabin was built in the 1960s by the renowned Bay Area architect Joseph Esherick as a model for low-cost holiday housing. It was recently updated with an eye to preserving its original character. Curbed | Airbnb

via Airbnb

2. Built in 1968, the Baker House is one of Sea Ranch's most prestigious homes, designed by a founding spirit of the community, William Turnbull. Its classic aesthetic earned it a place in the National Register of Historic Places. dwell | Airbnb

via Airbnb

3.️ Don Jacobs made his mark on the Sea Ranch in the 1970s, designing homes that have been recognized as architectural works of national significance. This unit has big windows looking out on a redwood forest. Airbnb


Southern California


The USS Bonhomme Richard was consumed by fire in San Diego on July 12, 2020.

Austin Haist/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

A little more than a year after a warship erupted spectacularly in flames off San Diego, the Navy said Thursday that it had charged a sailor with starting the fire. It took four days to suppress the blaze on the USS Bonhomme Richard, which cost $761 million to build and had to be scrapped. The Navy disclosed neither the identity of the sailor nor a potential motive. S.D. Union-Tribune | Washington Post


"There is poison in the vaccines."

“You better hope that you’re willing to go all the way with blood on your hands because I am.”

"You came to my country and you act like one of these communist parasites. I ask you to go the fuck back to Vietnam.”

A Twitter thread with video from the public comment period at an Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting this week is horrifying. Cheers rose as speakers lobbed racist invective at Supervisor Andrew Do, an immigrant from Vietnam. @inminivanhell


Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second-largest school district, said Thursday that all 600,000 students would have to take weekly coronavirus tests, regardless of vaccination status. Parents anxious about the surging Delta variant expressed relief over the policy change. Others winced. "I do not need the district to poke and prod my healthy children unnecessarily," one parent said. L.A. Times | KABC


A view of the proposed site of the Poseidon Desalination Plant in Huntington Beach.

Allen J. Schaben/L.A. Times via Getty Images

"The Pacific Ocean is the largest reservoir in the world. It's always full."

Critics say desalination hurts ocean life and costs too much money. But as California contends with an unyielding drought, regulators appear ready to approve a desalination plant in Huntington Beach. After spending 22 years and $100 million navigating regulations and challenges, Poseidon Water has just one hurdle left: the California Coastal Commission. The company feels confident enough that it's talking about breaking ground next year. Reuters


In case you missed it


A group of men gathered to watch an atomic bomb flash in Los Angeles on May 5, 1955.

Herald Examiner Collection/Los Angeles Public Library

Five items that got big views over the past week:

In the 1950s, Angelenos would sometimes see two "sunrises" — one from the sun and another from atomic bomb tests in the Nevada desert. Here are 11 eerie photos of "A-bomb sunrises" recovered from the archives. 👉 Wired
In 2008, a group of activists climbed into the canopy of a Humboldt County redwood forest and didn't come down for four years. This short film about life 100 feet in the air, among the birdsong and patter of rainfall, is gorgeously done. 👉 Vimeo (~13 mins)
For California transplants in Montana, conversations about where they come from can be touchy. Many locals are blunt about their dislike of Californians, whom they blame for driving up home prices and importing the politics of "Commiefornia," as some call it.
In 1912, a film company released a short documentary that includes a fascinating trip through downtown Los Angeles, bustling with streetcars, horse-drawn carriages, and smartly dressed Angelenos in suits and big eccentric hats. YouTube (4 mins)
After the Ivanpah solar field opened in the Mojave Desert in 2014, the nation's thermal energy output nearly doubled. From above, the facility evokes art as much as infrastructure, a tension brilliantly captured in the photography of Jamey Stillings. Lens Culture |


An item in Tuesday's newsletter misstated the name of the creator of the Fall of Civilizations Podcast. His name is Paul M.M. Cooper, not John Paul Cooper.

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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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