California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, June 14.

Scheduling note: The newsletter will be off on Monday. Back in your inbox on Tuesday.

An explosion of homicides at California jails.
A valedictorian's scorched-earth grad speech.
And stirring photos of life along the L.A. River.



Home ownership is basically blocked to young people in many California metros.

A report analyzed how long it would take to save up a standard down payment on the median home in a given city by saving 5 percent of the city's gross median income per year. In 1975, the national average was nine years. Now it's 14. But in California's white-hot housing markets, the numbers go haywire. In Los Angeles, it would now take 43 years. In San Francisco, 40. And in San Jose and San Diego, 31. The Atlantic

Also: California cities are leading the nation in inflation. A chief culprit is housing costs. L.A. Times


Inmates at the Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles.

Gary Friedman/L.A. Times via Getty Images

Since 2011, inmate-on-inmate homicides have risen 46 percent in California's county jails. The spike followed reforms that redirected dangerous inmates from prisons to local jails that were ill-equipped to handle them. Now, Californians who are accused of crimes but innocent under the law are commonly shoved into cells with volatile criminals. Three-quarters of those killed in jails since 2011 were awaiting trial. Some were hours away from being released. Sacramento Bee/ProPublica


Energized by the decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms in Oakland, activists are taking the movement statewide. The group Decriminalize California has made Los Angeles its center of operations, with outposts in San Francisco, San Diego, and Irvine. The goal: Gather enough signatures to put the question on the 2020 statewide ballot. L.A. Magazine


Paul Schrade laid on the ground at the Ambassador Hotel after being shot on June 5, 1968.

Frank Carroll/NBC NewsWire

On this week's California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman chats with Paul Schrade, a longtime friend of Robert F. Kennedy who was shot along with the presidential candidate 51 years ago last week. Schrade recounted that fateful night at the Ambassador Hotel and how it shook the country and his own life. "I was really torn apart by this," he said. California Sun Podcast

Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

A historical depiction of the raising of the bear flag at Sonoma.

California Historical Society

California, America's rebel state, flies a flag with secessionist origins. It was on this day in 1846 that a ragtag group of settlers defied the ruling Mexican government with the declaration of an independent California, emblazoning their flag with a grizzly bear. Alas, the so-called Bear Flag Revolt lasted only a few weeks.

A month before the rebellion, America had declared war on Mexico. On July 7, U.S. forces swept into Monterey, the capital of Alta California, and the rebels dropped their independence claim. But the flag lived on. A refined version was adopted as the official state flag in 1911. National Park Service | Bear Flag Museum


Northern California


Stephen Curry left the court after the Warriors's loss at Oracle Arena on Thursday.

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Hobbled by injuries, the Warriors fell to the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of the N.B.A. Finals, 114-110, missing a chance to extend their dynasty of three titles in the last four years. They now enter an offseason of uncertainty, with star Kevin Durant sidelined by a devastating Achilles injury. No matter what happens, it's the end of an era for Oakland — the team's home of 47 years — as they relocate to a glossy new arena in San Francisco. East Bay Times | S.F. Examiner


A Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay was fined $1.6 million for failing to provide public access to the beach. The oceanfront hotel was built in 2001 after years of battles over concerns that it would block two sandy beaches. Then it did, officials said. "You think about the families and local folks and visitors who have not been able to go to those beaches for almost a generation," a coastal commissioner said. Mercury News | A.P.


Lack of development means brilliant skies in Modoc County.

In California's northeastern corner, the courthouse chairs have hangers for cowboy hats. Modoc County — official slogan: "Where the West Still Lives" — has a fiercely protected way of life and a landscape like no other in California. The region is exceptionally beautiful, with pristine mountains, alpine lakes, lava beds, and high desert. Another bonus: As one of the state's least populous counties, the night skies are breathtaking. | Travel & Leisure

Here are the nearest dark sky areas all over California.


Jonathan Majors, left, and Jimmie Fails in “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.”


Glowing reviews have been piling up for "The Last Black Man in San Francisco," a film about a young man trying to hold on to a sense of home in a gentrifying city:

"A lyrical, visually stunning tone poem to loss, lies, reclamation and making peace with the past." Washington Post
"It's a plaintive American narrative that here becomes an expressionistic odyssey, both rapturous and melancholic." N.Y. Times
"It feels singular, righteous, heartfelt. It's already one of the best movies of 2019 by a long shot." Rolling Stone

Southern California


Rep. Duncan Hunter's wife pleaded guilty to a single corruption count, acknowledging that she and her husband used campaign funds to bankroll personal expenses that included a plane ride for their pet bunny, Eggburt. Margaret Hunter said she was "deeply remorseful." She faces up to five years in prison. The San Diego County congressman has portrayed the case as a political witch hunt and laid the blame for any campaign-filing errors on his wife. A.P. | S.D. Union-Tribune


Common ravens have been expanding into territories where they are not welcome.

The population of the common raven is exploding across the American West. They are threatening several threatened species, including desert tortoises of the Mojave Desert, which the birds been hammering to death by the hundreds. Biologists have tried to repel the strutting predators using guns, poison, and traps — with little success. Now they're getting creative: with drone warfare. L.A. Times


The valedictorian of San Ysidro High School delivered a scorched-earth graduation speech that accused her counselor of being unavailable, and office staff of failing to tell her about scholarships. Then, to cheers from the assembled students, she directed her ire at a teacher who she said was regularly drunk during class: "Thank you for using yourself as an example to teach students about the dangers of alcoholism." Washington Post | S.D. Union-Tribune


Jessica Biel said she opposed intrusions into family decisions about whether to vaccinate.

James Devaney/GC Images

Actress Jessica Biel faced intense criticism after photos surfaced of her posing alongside Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an activist who has spread misinformation about childhood vaccines. The pair were in Sacramento to lobby against a bill that aims to limit dubious vaccination exemptions. In an Instagram post, Biel explained that she is not opposed to vaccinations, but added: "I also support families having the right to make educated medical decisions for their children alongside their physicians." N.Y. Times | Hollywood Reporter


Los Angeles's namesake river was the city's original source of life. After being paved to prevent flooding in the 1930s, it came to be regarded by many as an inhospitable drainage ditch. But life thrives along its edges. As part of his ongoing project "Concrete River," California photographer Mathew Scott has been documenting the people and places along the waterway's winding 51 miles. The images are fantastic. FotoRoom |

Here are nine views of the L.A. River before and after it was paved. Curbed Los Angeles


In case you missed it


Members of the Washoe Tribe in the Lake Tahoe area, circa 1860-1870.

Society of California Pioneers

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

If you're in California, you're on Indian land. This interactive map tells you about the indgenous people who once dwelled where you live. Native Land
National Geographic's 2019 Travel Photo Contest included stunning shots from California, including an osprey attack in the San Fernando Valley, slackliners suspended above Yosemite Valley, the Golden Gate Bridge draped in fog, and a landing at San Francisco International Airport.
A startup is renting bunk beds in San Francisco and Los Angeles: "The dystopian implications of renting what's little more than an enclosed bed for $1,200 per month are hard to miss." Curbed San Francisco
In the 1940s and '50s, crowds gathered at Santa Monica's Muscle Beach to see a sort of fitness variety show, with acrobatic stunts, weightlifting contests, and beauty pageants. Here's a great photo collection. Daily Mail
The wife of Warriors owner Joe Lacob faced death threats after asking Jay Z if he wanted a drink on the sidelines of a game. Why? A meme spread suggesting that Beyoncé, Jay Z's wife, gave her a dirty look. ESPN

California Sun gear

Get your California Sun T-shirts, tank tops, and sweatshirts over at Cotton Bureau — also in kids' sizes!

Thanks for reading!

The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.

The Sun is built by Marquee on Proof.

Consider becoming a member.

Please tell us how we can make the newsletter better. Email

California Sun masthead
The California Sun, PO Box 6868, Los Osos, CA 93412
Wake up to must-read news from around the Golden State delivered to your inbox each morning.