California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, Sept. 10.

The fiction that Afghan refugees are welcome in California.
Several fires reported after lightning rakes Bay Area.
And San Diego cops threaten to quit over vaccine mandate.



The Coachella Valley sizzled on July 10.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

The 2021 summer was the hottest on record in California, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada, according to federal data released Thursday. Rising temperatures have been a common denominator in ecological crises across the West: A heat wave in the Pacific Northwest killed hundreds; an estimated 1 billion sea creatures died off the coast; and a parched landscape invited infernos that burned 2 million acres and more than 3,000 structures. L.A. Times | Washington Post


California lost 776 men and women in the war on terror — 11% of the nation’s casualties. Nearly 20% were old enough to fight but too young to buy a drink. They left behind 453 children. In a powerful Column One piece, Maria L. La Ganga told the stories of families who have lived with the hurt every day. It begins, "Leroy Harris Kelly III enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 17. He was married at 18. A father at 19. Dead at 20." L.A. Times


Shop owners hung American flags in Fremont's "Little Kabul" district on Oct. 24, 2001.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

"Take down your stupid Refugees Are Welcome sign — they're not."

Fremont, home to an estimated 30,000 Afghans, would seem a prime destination for incoming refugees from Afghanistan. But in a telling indictment of California's affordability crisis, the State Department excluded not just Fremont but all coastal California cities from its list of places deemed suitable for Afghans who qualify for Special Immigrant Visas. The Atlantic


It's four days until recall election day. Recent developments:

While two-thirds of women oppose the recall, parents with children at home are roughly split. The difference has been attributed in part to "mad moms" galvanized by school closures. CalMatters
Gov. Gavin Newsom's advantage has been growing with each new poll. The state of the race as of Sept. 9, according to an averaging of polls by FiveThirtyEight: 54.7% for keeping him; 41.7% for removal.
“A lot of people feel that I can make California better.” Even if Newsom prevails, Larry Elder has established himself as a force in California politics. He declined to answer directly when asked if he would run for governor in 2022. A.P.

Northern California


A volunteer crossing guard in the East Bay city of Lafayette was fatally struck as he pushed at least one child out of the path of an oncoming SUV on Wednesday. Witnesses said Ashley Dias, 45, saved a little girl. Dias was a clinical research associate at a biotechnology firm and had been volunteering at the crosswalk in his spare time. The driver of the SUV was a woman who was picking up her grandson. KGO | S.F. Chronicle


Lightning touched down near Sacramento late Thursday.

Meteorologists reported intense dry lightning strikes across parts of Northern California late Thursday into Friday morning, raising fears of new wildfires propelled by blustery winds. At least two small blazes were reported in the Bay Area. Another, the Rock fire, erupted near Hopland in Mendocino County. “This is an ‘all hands on deck’ event for us,” Sonoma County Fire District Chief Mark Heine said of the fire risk. “It’s a very high-impact event.” Press Democrat | S.F. Chronicle

Video of lightning strikes near Santa Rosa. 👉 @SantaRosaFire

Radar of thunderstorms sweeping across the North Bay overnight. 👉 @NWSBayArea


On this week's California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman talks with Woody Hastings and Jenny Blaker, co-coordinators of the Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations. The Sonoma County activists played a role in convincing Petaluma to adopt the nation's first gas station moratorium — with surprisingly little pushback. Their strategy is now being embraced statewide in the fight against fossil fuels.


Southern California


As expected, officials in Los Angeles approved a vaccine mandate for all children 12 and older in public schools. Now the fight begins, with litigation all but certain. Parent comments ahead of the vote on Thursday signaled the challenge ahead:

"This decision should be made by parents, not by you."
“Our role as parents is being taken away from us.”
“I’m not going to allow you to experiment on my children.” Washington Post | L.A. Times

San Diego police kept an eye on a "Patriot March" on Jan. 9.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

In a survey of San Diego police officers, 90% said they opposed coronavirus vaccine mandates, and 65% said they would consider quitting if forced to get inoculated. San Diego has set a Nov. 2 deadline for city employees to get vaccinated, but consequences for noncompliance remained uncertain. As of late August, fewer than half of the city's police officers reported being fully vaccinated. S.D. Union-Tribune


In 2010, UC Santa Barbara agreed to add housing for about 6,800 students and staff. Eleven years later, it's more than 5,000 units short of that goal. The failure to provide lodging for its growing student body, a problem across the UC system, explains why hundreds of Santa Barbara students have nowhere to live as the academic year starts. James Estrada, a senior, bought a van with a bed. He just needs to figure out where to park. “It feels ridiculous,” he said. KCRW


The L.A. Times created a ballot of visual icons in Los Angeles and asked the editors and writers on its arts desk to rank them from best to worst. The result makes for a good checklist of must-see Los Angeles. LAX's spidery Theme Building, above in 1962, came in at No. 11.


In case you missed it


Boucher Trail in San Simeon is part of the California Coastal Trail.

Five items that got big views over the past week:

No continuous trail exists connecting Mexico to Oregon along California's coastline. But the dream to create one has been inching closer to reality. A new interactive map lets you explore accessible sections of the California Coastal Trail, now 70% complete.
Burning Man was canceled for a second straight time this year. But that didn't stop roughly 20,000 renegade burners from gathering in Nevada's Black Rock Desert over the weekend. Here are 42 photos. 👉 Reno Gazette Journal
On Thursday, Firefly Aerospace launched its first rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base on the Central Coast only to see it explode over the Pacific about two minutes after liftoff. See the moment of the explosion. 👉 @thejackbeyer
Street racing is a problem in Bakersfield, fraying residents' nerves and causing occasional deaths. The filmmaker Chris Filippone portrayed another side of the pasttime: a form of catharsis for laborers who toil in oil and agriculture fields. aeon (~9 mins)
In 1903, Chiura Obata, then 17, left Japan for San Francisco to pursue a career as a painter. He met acclaim, but also racial discrimination. His disappointment with the human world could help explain where he found his passion: in California's natural world. Brainpickings

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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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