California Sun

Good morning. It's Wednesday, Dec. 12.

Jerry Brown's warnings as he heads for the exit.
An L.A. County officer is charged with killing a man.
And the hidden wonder of Oakland's redwood forest.



In a wide-ranging interview with NPR, outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown sounded a pessimistic note on whether California's housing crisis is even solvable. "We've done quite a lot for what the state can do," he said, "but there's a lot of resistance to changes, to density in neighborhoods that don't want density. In many ways I don't blame them."


TJ Cox was propelled to Congress with out-of-district donations.

Ringo H.W. Chiu/A.P.

A massive wave of outside cash helped clinch the victories of Democrats who flipped Republican congressional seats. An analysis found that about 9 out of 10 dollars poured in from out-of-district sources, the Bay Area in particular. Central Valley Democrat TJ Cox, for example, fueled his stunning upset of Rep. David Valadao with $1.4 million in donations. The amount raised locally? $3,026.


A Central Valley lawmaker was arrested over accusations that he hurt a child. The police said Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, a Democrat, was arrested on suspicion of child cruelty after an injury was found on a child at a Fresno elementary school. No further details were given. A Republican leader called for Arambula's resignation.


Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott briefed government leaders in Chico on Nov. 17.

Paul Kitagaki Jr.-Pool/Getty Images

California's top firefighting official said it's time to talk seriously about banning new home development in thickly forested hills and chaparral-lined canyons. "We owe it" to firefighters and homeowners, he said, "so that they don't have to keep going through what we're going through." A.P.

Separately, Los Angeles County leaders approved a new development that would add nearly 20,000 homes in a fire-prone area at the foot of the Tehachapi Mountains. LAist | L.A. Times


The Pinecone Treehouse was built to immerse its occupants in nature.

Alissa Kolom

Here are a few tantalizing properties on the market:

In Oakland, there's a treehouse — enclosed in glass and shaped like a pinecone — that hovers 60 feet above the forest floor. Asking price: $150,000, plus installation. Curbed |
The Hollywood Hills love nest of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio has been listed for $2.7 million. Monroe’s rent in the 1950s? $237.82. Curbed Los Angeles | L.A. Times
It's virtually impossible to find spacious plots close to popular ski resorts. That's one reason a historic ski chalet in Squaw Valley is asking $15 million. | Curbed

Northern California


A Raiders fan shared his feelings about the team's relocation at the Oakland Coliseum on Sunday.

Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Oakland sued the NFL over the relocation of the Raiders to Las Vegas. The city is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars for lost revenue and money that Oakland taxpayers invested in the team. "The Raiders' illegal move lines the pockets of NFL owners and sticks Oakland, its residents, taxpayers, and dedicated fans with the bill," Oakland's city attorney said.


PG&E revealed that on the morning of Nov. 8 — the day California's deadliest and most destructive wildfire started — its workers observed a fire near one of its transmission towers about three minutes before the official start time of the blaze. The utility has lost almost half of its market value since the Camp fire ignited. Bloomberg

Separately, a group of protestors entered the lobby of PG&E's San Francisco headquarters and read aloud the names of people who died in the fire. Curbed San Francisco | S.F. Chronicle


Google's Sundar Pichai testified on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Sundar Pichai, the Google chief executive, emerged largely unscathed from his first-ever testimony to Congress. Republican lawmakers used most of their time trying to hammer the tech giant for anti-conservative bias, allegations that Pichai shot down. WIRED said the hearing amounted to a missed opportunity to probe the powerful company's data and privacy practices. What's more, the publication wrote, "It was a foreboding reminder of Congress's continued technological ignorance."


When a breastfeeding mother of three asked a judge to be excused from jury duty, he asked her who would watch the kids if she "got hit by a Mack truck." Later, he remarked, "I'm amazed that people don't have child care available to them.” The exchange infuriated the mother, who went to the press and ignited a debate over whether women face a double standard. They do, a Fresno Bee columnist said. "No two ways about it."


This is Oakland. Some people are surprised to learn about the existence of Redwood Regional Park. Tucked away in the hills about six miles from downtown, it has trails through ethereal foggy forest with trees that rise 150 feet. And unlike Muir Woods, it can often be enjoyed without the crushing crowds.


Southern California


Los Angeles detectives surveilling a USC gynecologist observed him spending time inside a storage unit. They later raided the space and found a trove of homemade pornography along with photos of unclothed women in what appeared to be a medical exam room, officials said. The investigation of Dr. George Tyndall is now believed to be the largest sex crimes investigation involving an individual in LAPD history.


Sheriff's deputy Luke Liu, right, appeared for a hearing with his attorney in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Al Seib/L.A. Times, via A.P.

For the first time in nearly 20 years, a Los Angeles County law enforcement officer has been charged with killing an unarmed civilian while on duty. In 2016, Luke Liu was on patrol when he approached Francisco Garcia, 26, in what was believed to be a stolen car. Officials say that as Garcia pulled away slowly, Liu ran alongside the vehicle and fired seven shots at Garcia, killing him. "We believe the officer's use of deadly force was unjustified and unreasonable," the district attorney said.


The McDonald brothers on the site of their hamburger restaurant in San Bernardino in 1948.

It was on this day in 1948 that the first streamlined McDonald's opened in San Bernardino. The brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald had been operating a barbecue joint for years when they decided to make a momentous change. They eliminated the carhops, introduced a mechanized kitchen, and pared the menu down to hamburgers, french fries, and drinks. In 1955, a milkshake-machine salesman named Ray Kroc joined the company as a franchise agent and eventually bought it.

Richard McDonald was asked years later if he had any regrets. None, he replied. "I would have wound up in some skyscraper somewhere with about four ulcers and eight tax attorneys trying to figure out how to pay all my income tax."


Eso Won Books often hosts readings with authors.

Robert Gauthier/L.A. Times, via Getty Images

Los Angeles has only one black-owned bookstore. Eso Won Books has been a center of black intellectual life in the Leimert Park neighborhood for nearly 30 years. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have visited, and Ta-Nehisi Coates called it his favorite bookstore in the world. "In much the same way we need diversity among authors and editors," he once wrote, "we need diversity among the ranks of booksellers."


Danielle’s tree

Friends and family gathered for the Christmas lighting of Danielle’s tree last year.

There’s a little almond tree at the edge of an orchard outside Modesto that's festooned with decorations on holidays throughout the year.

For passing motorists, the display is a bit of random cheer and also a mystery: Why this tree along this lonely stretch of road?

The story, first reported in the Modesto Bee, begins some time ago, when the orchard owner David Genzoli planned to yank the tree out because it was failing to thrive.

Genzoli's little girl, Danielle, was a nature lover. Alerted to her dad's plan, she convinced him to spare "the Charlie Brown tree," as she called it. Together, they made a project out of caring for it.

Years later, in 2005, Danielle was killed in a car crash at the age of 16.

That Christmas, the family went out to discover that someone had decorated her almond tree. A tradition was born. Schoolchildren left laminated hearts for Valentine’s Day. It was bedecked for Easter and Halloween.

Some people left letters on the tree. In one, a former schoolmate recounted how Danielle had cheered her up after her parents’ divorce by singing "Don't Worry, Be Happy." "I just needed you to know what she did," she wrote.

Last Saturday, a few dozen friends and family members gathered to add Christmas ornaments to the tree on what would have been Danielle’s 30th birthday. The group shared memories and joked that Danielle would be travelling the world right now.

Reached by phone, Danielle's mother, Kimber Genzoli, said she would have loved it.

"It's just nice that people are really drawn to the tree," she said. Danielle's absence is especially hard on her birthday, Genzoli added, "But I know she's smiling down as happy as can be that her tree is still bright."

The Genzoli family runs a charity in Danielle's memory that helps young people in crisis. Head over here to learn more.


Thanks for reading!

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

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