California Sun

Good morning. It's Wednesday, July 18.

Skateboarders fly down San Francisco's steep inclines.
Noncitizens are allowed to vote in school board elections.
And Wiz Khalifa gives a tour of his fabulous Los Angeles home.

The lede



Skaters tore down a street in San Francisco during a flash "hill bombing."

Skateboarders are flying down some of San Francisco's steepest streets — often withouts helmets — and posting the videos on Instagram. They're called "hill bombs," and they look terrifying.

Check out the videos at Curbed San Francisco.




Sometimes the best way to prevent a fire is to light a fire. Experts predict that California's wildfires will only get more destructive, fueled by climate change and development too close to dried and overgrown forests. That's prompted plans to increase the number of prescribed burns as a way to use up fuels and prevent monster fires from erupting later.


The Mandalay Bay resort and casino in Las Vegas, where Stephen Paddock

John Locher/A.P.

Survivors of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting have started to get startling legal notices: “A lawsuit has been filed against you." MGM Resorts International, owner of the Las Vegas hotel that Stephen Paddock used as a perch to fatally shoot 58 people, is suing to claim immunity from lawsuits. The move is drawing an intense backlash. "They are trying to victimize these people twice," a lawyer said.


"A state that prides itself on its dynamism shouldn’t have tax laws that lock people in place." Virginia Postrel, a Bloomberg columnist, called for reforming Proposition 13, the 1978 voter initiative that limited property taxes. The measure doesn’t just allow people to keep their homes until they want to sell, she wrote, it encourages them to stay put. That's exacerbating the housing crisis.


Seven Teacups is a canyoneering playground.

Seven Teacups is a geological wonder in the Sequoia National Forest. Situated on a tributary of the Kern River, it's a popular destination for canyoneering, a sport that combines rappelling, hiking, and sometimes jumping off waterfalls. The outdoor playground is included in a curated list of under-the-radar destinations in California.


Northern California


San Francisco began allowing noncitizens to register to vote in school board elections. It became the first California city to extend the privilege after a ballot proposal was passed in 2016. Many immigrants came to the U.S. seeking a free education for their kids, a supervisor said. "It is only right that they would have a say in who will be governing the education of their children."


Crews recreated the fabled highway on top of the debris left by a massive slide in May 2017.


Fourteen months after an epic mud slide on Highway 1 cut off Big Sur and reshaped the California coast, officials planned to reopen the road Wednesday morning. The Mud Creek Slide moved so much earth that, rather than remove it, crews built a new highway over the top of the slide. It's as much as 250 feet west of where it used to be.


Charles Phillips waited for a procession carrying the body of the firefighter Braden Varney on Monday in Mariposa.

Noah Berger/A.P.

Mariposa is a speck of town where everyone knows everyone. It's been shaken by the loss of one of its own, Braden Varney, a firefighter who died while battling the Ferguson Fire near Yosemite, which was still raging early Wednesday. Varney left behind a wife and two young kids. “How is a 5-year-old going to comprehend that?" a local man said. "We could barely comprehend it."


"We were constantly fighting the homeless in our front yard." "My kids are respectful, and in California kids are not respectful." "Long story short, I now own five acres of beautiful oak tree-covered property." The Press Democrat asked people who moved from Sonoma County to Texas why they did it.


Ospreys survive almost exclusively on fish, diving as deep as three feet into the water to collect them.

"It’s a little bit punk. A little bit geeky." Until recently, the osprey was a rare sight in the Bay Area. But many have now traded the treetops for the urban jungle, putting on spectacular diving and fishing displays. It's uncertain why, but a raptor expert suggested the birds are responding to climate change.


Southern California


The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against Riverside County, alleging that teenage students are being criminalized for missteps as trivial as poor grades or tardiness to class. The legal group said a program administered by the county's probation department subjects children to searches, drug testing, and interrogation.


Gavin McInnes, in necktie, was flanked by fellow Proud Boys at a 2017 rally in Berkeley.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/A.P.

A fight broke out between a right-wing men’s group and leftist protesters at a Los Angeles bar over the weekend. The Proud Boys have been labeled a hate group but identify as a pro-Western fraternal organization. Now the bar, the Griffin, is dealing with the fallout. It's been inundated with negative Yelp reviews and calls for a boycott — from both sides.


Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is the U.S. congressman named in an F.B.I. affidavit that accused a Russian woman of working with Americans to carry out a secret Russian effort to influence American politics. The Orange County Republican acknowledged meeting with the woman, Mariia Butina, in 2015 but said Monday's indictment was "stupid" and intended to undermine President Trump's relationship with Russia.


Wiz Khalifa is also a style star.

Chris Pizzello/Invision/A.P.

Wiz Khalifa's house has a marijuana bar, heated pool, and a gumball machine. The music artist gave a tour to Architectural Digest of the Mediterranean-style home that he rents for $16,000 a month. He graciously offered them some weed.


Today I learned


Thwarted floods and flying discs

Fred Morrison with his Pluto Platter in 1957.

Wormhole Publishers

Here are three things to know about California:

The Frisbee was invented in the Golden State. As a teenager in 1930s Los Angeles, Fred Morrison had tossed around cake pans for fun. Later, after serving as a pilot in World War II, he created a series of flying disc prototypes. He sold a plastic version called the Pluto Platter to Wham-O, which rolled out the first batch in 1957.

The company renamed them Frisbees after the the Frisbie Pie Company in Connecticut, where college students made a game of tossing the pies’ tin lids. It became insanely popular, spawning full-fledged sports, as players fell in thrall to the truism once uttered by Albert Einstein himself: It's simply a beautiful thing to watch a disc fly. N.Y. Times

The Yolo Bypass was flooded last February.

U.S. Forest Service

California's capital city, nestled along the Sacramento River, used to be routinely flooded. So in the early 1900s, engineers developed an ingenious system of weirs and bypasses that would reduce pressure on the swollen river by diverting flows around the city.

In the century since, experts say, Sacramento has been saved from flooding more than half a dozen times.

The star of the system is the Yolo Bypass, a 90-square-mile floodplain on the city's western edge that happily doubles as a wildlife preserve. During the heavy rains last year, flood gates along the Sacramento River were opened for the first time in a decade, filling the bypass. (Here's a helpful simulation.) Motorists along a highway viaduct that crosses the floodplain had the sensation of driving above a massive inland sea. Water Deeply

A Catalina eddy was captured by satellite on Feb. 17, 2013.


Every so often, an epic whirlpool of clouds forms over California's Channel Islands. A number of factors converge to create what is known as a Catalina eddy.

Cool water forms a marine layer off the Southern California coast. Winds traveling down the coast round Point Conception, where the land makes a hard turn to the east. The winds do as well, then collide with the coastal mountains, turn north, and develop a counterclockwise swirl. Its center is often right above Catalina Island.

The eddies can form anytime, but occur most often between April and October, peaking in June. They contribute, as you may have guessed, to the dreary Southern California phenomenon known as June gloom. NASA | L.A. Times

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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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