California Sun

Good morning. It's Wednesday, Oct. 9.
Today's edition: 13 items, < 5 minutes

PG&E takes drastic measures in the face of fire danger.
The first-ever statewide cap on rent increases.
And an epicenter of California's cowboy culture.



Gov. Gavin Newsom reacted after signing a rent-control bill in Oakland on Tuesday.

Ben Margot/A.P.

"No one thought this could be done."

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed California's first-ever statewide cap on rent increases, one of the strongest such measures in the country. The law limits annual rent increases at 5 percent plus inflation for the next 10 years and bans landlords from evicting people for no reason, meaning they can't kick people out just to raise the rent for a new tenant. More than half of California's tenant population — about 9.5 million renters — is considered rent-burdened. S.F. Chronicle | Curbed Los Angeles


Voters lined up in Laguna Beach on Nov. 6, 2018. California has aimed to remove barriers to voting.

Barbara Davidson/Getty Images

Starting next year, California will allow voters to register on Election Day anywhere ballots are cast under new legislation signed by the governor. As many as 6 million Californians are eligible to vote but not registered. Supporters of the new law hope it will significantly reduce that number as voters realize they can register at the last moment. L.A. Times | A.P.


Newsom is directing money collected through gasoline taxes away from road repairs in favor of rail projects, and Central Valley leaders are furious. Highway 99 stands to lose out on $17 million to widen lanes in Madera and Tulare counties. "What the hell were you thinking?" Assemblyman Jim Patterson, a Fresno Republican said of the move. "I don't normally talk like this, but it's hard for people who are out of touch in Sacramento to fully understand what it's like to try to fix Highway 99." Sacramento Bee |


Well water near March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County was found to be contaminated.

An L.A. Times investigation found that 21 military bases in California are contaminated with toxic chemicals left from firefighting foam, which was used since the 1960s in training exercises. In communities surrounding at least six of the bases, contaminants have spread to both private wells and public drinking water systems. Yet the Pentagon has conducted only limited testing and cannot say how many civilian water sources they've polluted. L.A. Times


California's cowboy culture is alive in Parkfield.

Parkfield, a rural patch of land in Monterey County with just 18 permanent residents, is an epicenter of California's cowboy culture. Each weekend, hundreds of city slickers descend on the town to indulge their inner cowboy at the V6 Ranch, 20,000 acres of untamed land where they teach you how to handle a horse and a rope and go on real-live cattle runs. "This is really where cowboys started," owner Jack Varian told the California Now podcast. "Everyone seems to forget that there really is a huge amount of open land and cowboys that do it very similar to the way they did it 100 years ago." California Now | Sacramento Bee


Northern California


A worker monitored screens at PG&E's Wildfire Safety Operations Center in San Francisco in August.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

PG&E began cutting power early Wednesday to what could total 800,000 California homes and businesses — representing roughly 2.4 million people — in the largest preventive outage in state history. Forecasts called for windy, dry weather that creates extreme fire danger. For PG&E, forced into bankruptcy by devastating fires caused by its equipment, there was no alternative, officials said.

The outages were expected to hit 34 counties across northern and central California and could last as long as until next Tuesday. "We are doing everything we can to minimize the impact on our customers' lives," a PG&E official said. A.P. | S.F. Chronicle


More on the blackout:

The affected regions include the Bay Area, the northern Sierra foothills, and Shasta and Humboldt counties. Here are outage maps by the S.F. Chronicle and PG&E (though the utility's web site has been repeatedly crashing). And here is the full list of potentially affected counties and cities.
PG&E said it would open dozens of emergency resource centers, offering restrooms, bottled water, charging stations, and air-conditioned seating areas: Their locations (scroll down).
Store drinking water. Keep phones charged. Replenish emergency kits. Learn how to operate your garage door. Here are a couple checklists on preparing for life without electricity. |

The Warriors crossed the bay to San Francisco. The Raiders are headed for Las Vegas. Now Rob Manfred, baseball's commissioner, has warned Oakland that the A's could be the next team to leave town. He told local officials if they can't stop squabbling over a new waterfront stadium the Oakland A's could become the Las Vegas A's. "Obviously," Mayor Libby Schaaf said, "he chose his city wisely as far as exposing a pain point that all Oaklanders feel about losing our sports teams." | S.F. Chronicle


San Francisco's Howard Street, then known as Skid Row, in 1937.

Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange had a studio in San Francisco in the 1920s, where she captured the city's high society. After the stock market crashed in 1929, she turned her lens to the streets. "The Depression woke me up," she said. The images invite comparisons with the human misery now on display on San Francisco's streets. Petapixel |


Southern California


Santa Ana winds swept across Southern California in 2002.

"I have neither heard nor read that a Santa Ana is due, but I know it, and almost everyone I have seen today knows it too. We know it because we feel it. The baby frets. The maid sulks. I rekindle a waning argument with the telephone company, then cut my losses and lie down, given over to whatever it is in the unpurified air."
— Joan Didion

Can you feel it?

Santa Ana winds are expected to whip through Southern California starting early Thursday, causing humidity levels to plummet and bringing potentially critical fire danger during one of the worst times of the year for wildfires. Red flag warnings were set for most of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Southern California Edison said it was considering power cuts to more than 160,000 customers across eight counties. L.A. Times | O.C. Register


An L.A. Times analysis found that Los Angeles police officers search blacks and Latinos far more often than whites during traffic stops — and whites are more likely to be found with illegal items. "All you're doing is dragnetting, with a very high cost in trust," a civil rights attorney said. L.A. Times | The Guardian


The California coast is gradually disappearing under the rising sea.

With sea rise threatening coastal properties, California's Coastal Commission recommended 25 modifications to Del Mar in San Diego County. The city rejected every one. Rather than retreat from the encroaching ocean, Del Mar's plan favors seawalls and sand replenishment. Coastal property, the city reasoned, is simply too expensive. S.D. Union-Tribune

"In the last 100 years, the sea rose less than 9 inches in California. By the end of this century, the surge could be greater than 9 feet." L.A. Times


P-53, a 4-year-old female, was one of two mountain lions found dead.

Two mountain lions have been found dead in the Santa Monica Mountains and both had rat poison in their systems. The anticoagulant rodenticide gets passed on to other animals as dead rats are eaten, poisoning eagles, great-horned owls, and mountain lions, among other wildlife and pets. "Just about every mountain lion we've tested throughout our study has had exposure to these poisons," an ecologist said. LAist | A.P.

L.A. Times editorial: "Rat poison is killing California's mountain lions. We need to act."


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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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