California Sun

Good morning. It's Thursday, June 14.

A candidate's rise from the projects to San Francisco City Hall.
The movement to reintroduce grizzlies in California.
And a legal resident is arrested from his home by I.C.E.

The lede


Mayor Breed

London Breed arrived to address reporters at San Francisco's City Hall on Wednesday.

Lorin Eleni Gill/A.P.

London Breed will be San Francisco's next mayor, the first black woman to hold the post.

She squeaked to victory past Mark Leno, a former state senator, who was gracious in defeat, saying, "Her success is San Francisco’s success.”

Breed — who supports injection sites for drug users and divestment from oil companies — is regarded as moderate in the lingo of San Francisco's liberal politics. “Whether you voted for me or not," she said from City Hall on Wednesday, "as mayor, I will be your mayor, too.”

The S.F. Chronicle columnist Heather Knight wrote a profile of Breed, 43, a couple months ago.

Among the highlights:

She grew up poor, raised by her grandmother in San Francisco's housing projects. Her younger sister died of a drug overdose, and her older brother is in prison.
She was credited with transforming an arts center it into a lively neighborhood hub. She said she wants do the same for San Francisco — “I want San Francisco to be just as beautiful."
She has sometimes lacked a filter, once thundering to a news site, “I don’t do what no mother— body tells me to do.”
Rivals have accused her of representing the status quo, but they acknowledge that she is smart and strong.
She still regards her political rise as something of a dream. “I just never thought this was possible,” she said.

Read Knight's column in the Chronicle.



An inmate at the Madera County Jail. California has tried to reduce its prison population.

Rich Pedroncelli/A.P.

California voters’ decision to reduce penalties for drug and theft crimes in 2014 led to a jump in car burglaries, shoplifting, and other theft, a study found. Larcenies increased about 9 percent by 2016. Supporters pointed out that Proposition 47 did not result in more violent crime, and achieved other goals, including drops in prison populations along with the costs associated with them.


State legislators have been advancing a bill that would force public companies to include women on their boards. Members of the L.A. Times editorial board debated the idea over email. One congratulated the lawmakers "for making us confront this gross disparity." Another called the proposal "social engineering at its worst, but so what else is new in Sacramento?"


President Trump’s endorsement of John Cox, a long stretch out of public office, a lackluster Latino voter turnout. Antonio Villaraigosa, the former Los Angeles mayor, reflected on what went wrong in his bid for governor. “I have no regrets," he said. "I left it all on the field.”


Monarch, one of California's last grizzly bears, in an enclosure at Golden Gate Park, circa 1910.

California State Archives

Long read: Nearly a century has passed since the last wild grizzly bear was seen in California. In that time, suburbs have sprawled, habitats have vanished, and the human population has exploded. Yet a group of conservationists is studying how to reintroduce the animal that looms large in the Californian imagination. "California is a state of big dreams," one supporter said, "and it has really caught on."

Northern California


A ballot initiative in Napa County that would restrict vineyard planting bitterly divided the valley. Supporters said profit-hungry growers were abusing the landscape. Opponents said the measure would sabotage the region's lifeblood industry. Now, with most ballots counted, the measure's author says it appears doomed. “This movement will not be diminished,” he said. “It will go forward.”


Mariposa Grove is home to more than 500 mature giant sequoias.

Christian Ronnel/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Mariposa Grove, the largest of Yosemite's three sequoia groves, is reopening on Friday after being closed for nearly three years. A $40 million restoration project was completed in part to protect the trees, among the world's largest, from tourists trampling the roots. Visitors will now stroll along a new boardwalk. A former parking lot is now forest floor.


"Larry Page's flying car project suddenly seems rather real." A co-founder of Google unveiled the latest iteration of his Kitty Hawk Flyer. It looks a bit like a human-sized drone, with 10 battery-powered propellors and two control sticks. The company hasn't said when the Flyer would go on sale or how much it would cost.


Competitors at the start of the Dipsea Race, circa 1950s.

Mill Valley Public Library

The Dipsea Race is said to be the country’s oldest trail-running race. It's also punishing, "a topographically schizophrenic romp" through the redwoods, up Mount Tamalpais, and down to Stinson Beach. But the toughest part is mental, knowing that the slowest runners get a head start. "It is like unloading a zoo’s worth of animals in reverse order of mobility and releasing the cheetahs at the end."


An 1858 house overlooking the Hudson River in New York, a lakefront condominium in Chicago, and a storybook-style house on Belvedere Island in Marin County. Here's what $4.75 million buys you right now.

Southern California


Jose Luis Garcia, a legal resident of the U.S. who arrived in the country nearly 50 years ago, was arrested by I.C.E. agents while drinking his morning coffee outside his San Fernando Valley home, his family said. The authorities told the family that Garcia "has past criminal convictions that make him amenable to removal from the United States.” Garcia's daughter said he is in shock. “He is obviously devastated."


Palmer Luckey, the 25-year-old founder of Oculus, is trying to fuse virtual reality and surveillance technology to create a virtual border wall to replace President Trump's hopes of a physical one. The technology from his new startup, based in Orange County, has been tested by the federal government, and has already helped customs agents "catch 55 unauthorized border crossers."


Los Angeles police are investigating reports of elder abuse against Stan Lee, the 95-year-old Marvel Comics legend. A restraining order has been filed against Keya Morgan, who has claimed to be Lee's caregiver. Morgan was arrested after he called 911 and said burglars were in Lee's house when in fact two detectives and a social worker were there to conduct a welfare check.


San Miguel Island, where the remains of an ancient man were discovered.

Robert Schwemmer

In 2005, archeologists found a Native American man who died 10,000 years ago buried on one the Channel Islands. His remains were excavated and studied. Then, rather than being stored in some facility, they were handed over to a local Chumash tribe. Last month, among singing and the burning of sage, the so-called Tuqan Man was reburied on the island. “We’re very happy that we could lay this man to rest,” a tribal official said.

Today I learned


Did you know?

The Southern Pacific Railroad built the Tehachapi Loop in the 19th century.

Scott Sparks

Here are three random facts about California:

It's the stuff of dreams for a child with a toy train set.

In the Tehachapi Mountains near Bakersfield, a railway line makes a full 360-degree loop.

Zigzagging usually suffices to navigate tricky terrain. But engineers trying to cut a path through the range between Bakersfield and Mojave, about 50 miles away, confronted a particularly steep section. The Tehachapi Loop allows trains to spiral upward for nearly three-quarters of a mile, gaining 77 feet in elevation.

Train buffs travel from all over to see it in action from roadside viewing areas. (Here's a great aerial video.) The Loop | Interesting Engineering

The cedar and palm trees along Highway 99 as seen via Google Maps.

On Highway 99 between Merced and Fresno, a peculiar pairing of trees rises from the center median.

A palm tree and a cedar tree stand side by side, like companions, the only two trees along a stretch otherwise filled with oleander shrubs.

The origin story of the trees is murky. But some researchers think they were planted around the 1920s as an arboreal monument to the geographical midline of California, which is nearby. The palm represents the state's south, and the cedar — which is commonly misidentified as a pine — signifies the north.

No plaque or roadside viewing area marks the spot. Visitors catch only a glimpse as they drive by. Yet locals have embraced the trees as a cultural treasure. In the 1980s, Cal Trans proposed removing them for some road improvements, prompting an outcry. The trees stayed. The Geographer's Scrapbook

From left, Sam Batwai, a Yahi translator; Alfred Kroeber, an anthropologist; and Ishi in 1911.

U.C. Berkeley, Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology

In 1911, a Native American man emerged from the Sierra foothills near Oroville. He was malnourished and terrified.

He became known as Ishi, meaning "man," and was believed to be the last living member of the Yahi tribe, which had been wiped out through killing, starvation, and disease during California’s Gold Rush.

Dubbed the "last wild Indian," Ishi lived in an apartment at a museum in San Francisco, where his reactions to modern wonders were breathlessly chronicled in the press.

After five years, in 1916, he died from tuberculosis at 54. Decades later, his ashes were scattered by a tribal delegation in the Mount Lassen foothills that he called home. U.C. San Francisco | Wikipedia

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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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