California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, Feb. 14.

Consolidation fears after McClatchy files for bankruptcy.
66,000 marijuana convictions tossed out in Los Angeles.
Scheduling note: The newsletter will pause for the holiday weekend. Back in your inbox on Tuesday.



The N.Y. Times published a maddening tale — titled "Build Build Build Build Build Build Build Build Build Build Build Build Build Build" — on one of California's most stubborn housing fights. The wealthy Bay Area suburb of Lafayette has blocked new development even as people are pushed further into homelessness and despair.

"One need only look out an airplane window to see that this has nothing to do with a lack of space. ... There is, simply put, a dire shortage of housing in places where people and companies want to live — and reactionary local politics that fight every effort to add more homes." N.Y. Times


Yellow is "abnormally dry." Tan is "moderate drought."

Nearly half of California's landmass is now abnormally dry, including roughly 10 percent experiencing moderate drought, new data showed. The drought area includes parts of the Central Valley and Sierra range. The Sierra snowpack, the source of about a third of California's water, isn't doing great either. It's less than 60 percent of normal to date. A.P. | Mercury News


P-48 and P-49, mountain lion kittens in the Santa Susana Mountains, in 2016.

Southern California mountain lions just moved a step closer to being listed as endangered. Wildlife officials recommended the protected status for six genetically distinct cougar clans between Santa Cruz and the U.S.-Mexico border that were threatened with extinction. The big cats have been besieged by habitat loss, rat poison, and vehicle strikes. LAist | Ventura County Star

See gorgeous pictures of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains. Flickr


Northern California


Ricky Davis was greeted upon his release from El Dorado County Jail on Thursday.

Rich Pedroncelli/A.P.

Ricky Davis spent 15 years in prison after being convicted for the 1985 killing of a woman 20 miles east of Sacramento. On Thursday, he was exonerated. The authorities announced that DNA evidence had not only proven Davis's innocence but also identified the real killer, who was now in custody. Davis emerged from prison to a crowd of friends and family members. "God bless the Innocence Project," he said. Sacramento Bee | A.P.


The Sacramento Bee building in 1915.

McClatchy filed for bankruptcy, ending family control of one of California's most storied newspaper companies. Founded in Sacramento in 1857, the company owns dailies from coast to coast, including five in California — the Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee, Modesto Bee, Merced Sun-Star, and San Luis Obispo Tribune. If the bankruptcy is approved, McClatchy would fall under the control of a hedge fund that has made "consolidation" a core strategy. McClatchy | NiemanLab


On this week's California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman talks with David Talbot, a Bay Area journalist and author who just published a memoir about suffering a stroke in 2017. He said he found the experience, while terrifying, oddly liberating. He didn't really like his old self, he explained. "I was stressed out. I was kind of angry. I was short-tempered. ... I just go at a slower pace now." California Sun Podcast


Southern California


District Attorney Jackie Lacey is seeking a third term running the nation’s largest local prosecutor’s office.

Mel Melcon/L.A. Times via Getty Images

Los Angeles County's district attorney announced the dismissal of 66,000 marijuana convictions, dating back to 1961. That means 22,000 people no longer have felonies on their records in California, and 15,000 no longer have any criminal record. "What this does is correct that inequity of the past," District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. L.A. Times | LAist

More than 500 people have died at the hands of law enforcement during Lacey's tenure. Her office has prosecuted only one case. That's one reason criminal justice activists want her gone. HuffPost


A leaflet warned people to avoid businesses like Panda Express. A middle schooler was beaten after classmates said he was an Asian-American with coronavirus. And thousands of people signed a petition calling for the closure of schools in a heavily Asian area. The coronavirus scare has been fueling anti-Asian bigotry in Southern California. Reuters


Michael Schroder, a former dean at Cal State San Marcos, made up dinner guests, filed duplicate expense reports, and classified a Guns N' Roses concert as college business to collect improper reimbursements. All told, the public employee collected $41,000 in fraudulent hospitality claims in two years, a report found. S.D. Union-Tribune


California the beautiful


Highway 46 offers some of the Central Coast’s most resplendent views.

Highway 46 doesn't have the star power of the Pacific Coast Highway or Highway 395 in the Eastern Sierra, but it's the prettiest drive in one of California's prettiest regions. The east-west route carves a path through the Coast Ranges of the Central Coast, passing bucolic countryside and boutique wineries, culminating at the ocean in Cambria. The travel staff of the L.A. Times were so smitten they included Highway 46 among the 15 places every seasoned Californian should visit. L.A. Times

Below, a few views.


Old school cool


"Poolside Gossip."

Slim Aarons

One morning in 1970, the society photographer Slim Aarons called up a friend in Palm Springs asked if he could come take pictures at her house, designed by the renowned architect Richard Neutra. "Call some friends over," he said. The photo shoot that resulted produced one of Aarons's most celebrated images, "Poolside Gossip." It became as much a symbol of desert living as the architecture itself: two women in lounge chairs by a crystal blue pool with the San Jacinto mountains in the background — glamorous, carefree, rich.

Nearly 50 years later, Nelda Linsk, the party host in yellow, speculated about why people found the image so enthralling. It taps into their fantasies, she told NBC Palm Springs. "People want to be in that photograph." NBC Palm Springs | N.Y. Times

Modernism Week, the annual celebration of Palm Springs architecture, kicked off this week. Among the buzziest homes is a midcentury gem with an insane roof. Architectural Digest


In case you missed it


The colors were bright and the hair was big in the 1970s Bay Area.

Nick DeWolf

Five items that got big views over the past week:

On a trip to the Bay Area in 1971, Nick DeWolf aimed his 35mm camera at the fashions and hairstyles of an era with one foot still in Summer of Love hippiedom. Flickr
Here's a fascinating animation of America's westward expansion during the 19th century. Watch for the opening of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. Steven Bernard/Reddit
Kings Canyon National Park was Ansel Adams's favorite park for a reason. One of the most popular trails within the park, if not the entire Sierra, hugs the shores of Rae Lakes. Backpacker magazine
Curbed offers some road trip inspiration with a tour of the state's 19 best midcentury motels. Curbed Los Angeles
Here's a beautifully written profile of an Eastern Sierra wildlife specialist who lures bears away from kitchens and campsites using words instead of weapons. L.A. Times

Thanks for reading!

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

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