California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, Oct. 19.

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Rural Californians also feel the pain of the housing crisis.
John Cox is portrayed as a hypocrite on marital infidelity.
And an illustrated guide to Northern California's fall nature.

The lede


'Work, work, work, work, work'

Farmlands and residential areas in Salinas, where housing costs have ballooned.

Jae C. Hong/A.P.

California's housing crisis isn't confined to the cities. Salinas — the world’s salad bowl and home of John Steinbeck — is one of America's least affordable places to live.

Families turn sheds into bedrooms and fret over unpaid bills, the Associated Press reported. Many residents are hoping a rent control measure on the November ballot will offer relief in a housing market where the median home price has soared to nearly $550,000 and two-bedroom apartments cost roughly $1,800 a month.

"I work, work, work, work, work. I take every extra pay job I can do," a middle-school teacher said, "and I never quite get ahead."

Read the story at the A.P.




John Cox spoke during a debate with Gavin Newsom in San Francisco on Oct. 8.

Jeff Chiu/A.P.

John Cox, the Republican candidate for governor, has made an issue of Gavin Newsom's past marital infidelities, calling them "far, far more" than a moral lapse. Turns out Cox's first wife accused him of cheating. In a court filing, she said he bought a home for the other woman while still married. Asked to comment, Cox said, "I'm not interested in gutter politics."


Government scientists are predicting a warmer winter than usual in California, with parts of the state's southern reaches likely to see more rain than normal. A weak El Niño, the ocean-warming phenomenon associated with rainier winters, is expected to be in place by late fall to early winter.


Prisoners awaited processing after arriving at the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy.

Rich Pedroncelli/A.P.

Up to 4,000 nonviolent third-strike inmates in California will be able to seek parole after a court fight over a 2016 ballot measure that was designed to reduce the state's prison population. A separate ruling is forcing the state to consider earlier parole for potentially thousands of sex offenders.


A simple bolting process costing less than $7,000 could prevent major earthquake damage to single-family homes. Yet most California homeowners ignore it. The difference can be between a retrofitted home that survives a quake intact, or one that buckles and financially ruins its owner. That's why the state wants to give homeowners up to $3,000 to get it done.


The Cecil opened in the 1920s. Some people think it's haunted.

There's been so much death and violence at The Cecil hotel in downtown Los Angeles that an entire Wikipedia page is dedicated to the subject. The historic hotel had a nice reputation before falling into disrepair after the Great Depression. So many people killed themselves within its walls that it became known among locals as the The Suicide. The Cecil is included in a list of the most haunted buildings in California.


Northern California


Public officials have cleared the way for residents to rebuild quickly.

Lorin Eleni Gill/A.P.

A year after 2,700 Santa Rosa homes were lost in California’s most destructive wildfire in recorded history, you might expect city officials to have strengthened building codes or zoning ordinances. You'd be wrong. Little — if anything — has been done to create a safer Santa Rosa. "We don’t stop people from building because we live in an area with natural risks," the mayor said.


For years, Facebook egregiously overstated the success of videos posted to its social network, according to a new legal filing. One side effect: hundreds of journalists and editors laid off as media companies burned through cash to make a disastrous "pivot to video."


The sign outside Albany's Club Mallard, one of the best bars in the East Bay.

The Bay Area has 101 cities. Editors at San Francisco Magazine crunched the numbers on criteria like doctors, bars, transit, and affordability, then added a dollop of their own opinions to rank every city from "best" to "worst." Albany took the top spot, thanks in part to its small-town charm. San Francisco didn't even crack the top 20. Last place? Antioch.


At least 19 species of raptor. Toxic jack o’lantern mushrooms. Orb-weaving spiders. Every fall, a medley of wildllife and flora emerges in the Bay Area. Here's a great illustrated guide to six natural wonders to watch for.


Southern California


Imperial Beach is California's southernmost beach town.

Coastal cities have done little to prepare for the slow-moving catastrophe of rising seas — with at least one exception. The small town of Imperial Beach, south of San Diego, is backing a radical plan to move beachfront properties three blocks inland. "Cities are inherently very conservative places," the mayor said, "but we decided that it would be unwise to be conservative in this situation."


An overflowing crowd of Venice residents erupted in anger as the mayor laid out the city's plan to build a homeless shelter in the heart of the seaside community. It was Mayor Eric Garcetti's first town hall on an ambitious plan to open shelters in each of Los Angeles’s 15 council districts. "The easy thing to do politically is to walk away," said Garcetti, who struggled at times to be heard over the jeers. He added, "We can’t afford to walk away from homelessness."


Pirate's Cove is a Central Coast treasure.

Pirate's Cove was once a secret landing spot for liquor smugglers. Today, the crescent-shaped hideaway at the end of a windy road near San Luis Obispo is a favorite among locals for its breathtaking promontory and trails. Fair warning: among the wildlife are nudists who inhabit a stretch of beach popular with the clothing optional set.


A portrait believed to show the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island, circa 1853.

Southwest Museum of the American Indian

A Native American woman lived alone for 18 years on one of California's Channel Islands. Her tribe had faced catastrophic losses, and in 1835 the 20 or so members who remained were taken to the mainland by missionaries. But for reasons unknown, the woman stayed behind. Discovered years later, she was brought to Mission Santa Barbara. After seven weeks, on this day in 1853, the so-called Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island died of dysentery. Her story inspired a novel that became required reading in California schools.


In case you missed it


Photo by Bill Washburn

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

In the 1980s, a cab driver in San Francisco used a small camera mounted on his dash to capture random moments of passengers during his trips. The pictures are a fascinating study of a grittier San Francisco. Timeline |
Ready for November? There are 11 statewide propositions on the ballot that could shape housing affordability, animal welfare, gas taxes, and more. has a super simple guide.
San Francisco's architectural persona was firmly established by the Victorian homes that went up after the 1906 earthquake. Today, the city showcases a diverse blend of contemporary and historic buildings. Curbed put together a cheat sheet of 16 styles. Curbed San Francisco
Netflix pays so well that it's been sued by competitors. Sources say salaries at the Los Gatos streaming giant are up to 50 percent more than those of legacy media companies. Entry-level assistants make between $70,000 and $80,000 a year. Hollywood Reporter

Los Angeles Union Station.

George Townley

When a young Briton came to California on a study abroad program, it changed his whole sense of style. A self-taught artist, he channeled his fascination with the state into gorgeous illustrations of architectural gems in Los Angeles. California Sun

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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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