California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, June 15.

A mayor criticizes "gilded, apartheid-style communities."
A report exposes the Stanford Prison Experiment as a sham.
And a secret paradise of wine and food in Northern California.

The lede


'Mausoleums of the wealthy'

Imperial Beach is the southernmost beach town in California.

Photos By Clark/CC BY-NC 2.0

“Frankly, I call the coastal communities that don’t want to build anything the mausoleums of the wealthy. They are gilded, apartheid-style communities that basically decided that only one income class can live there and I find that unacceptable. I want to make sure that [Imperial Beach] doesn’t become that way.”

That's Serge Dedina, mayor of the little seaside town south of San Diego, speaking to the S.D. Union-Tribune. He's worried that the rising cost of housing in Imperial Beach will wipe out what has been one of the last affordable, blue-collar beach towns in Southern California.

Residents there now need to make $140,000 a year to buy the average home. The median income? $48,000 a year.

Read more in the Union-Tribune.



A new analysis from U.C.L.A. found that sky-high housing costs are a major factor behind California's homeless crisis. The research counters the common belief that many homeless people migrate from colder climates to liberal cities in the West. In Los Angeles, for example, roughly three-quarters of homeless people had a home in the city before ending up on the street.


California lawmakers approved a $200 billion state budget. The plan uses revenue from a rosy economy to stash a significant amount of money away for future economic downturns, while boosting spending on K-12 education, healthcare, and social services. Lawmakers also approved $1.2 billion to upgrade their own offices, a decision that drew criticism. “It sends the wrong message,” one lawmaker said.


In 1941, a group of miners in Siskiyou County handed out proclamations to motorists declaring the formation of a new State of Jefferson.

An eccentric entrepreneur's bid to divide California in three has set off a lively conversation — and plenty of ridicule. But Tim Draper's gambit is not the first. At least 220 attempts have been made to carve up California since the state was formed in 1850. A bill in the early 1990s proposing a vote to create north, central, and south Californias actually cleared the state Assembly.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have been refusing to transfer suspects wanted for crimes such as sexual assault and drug possession to California law enforcement agencies. In some cases, the federal authorities are deporting the suspects back to Mexico rather than trusting California, a so-called sanctuary state, to mete out justice. The new approach breaks long-established protocols.

Northern California


The Embarcadero Center, whose towers are among those erected at a time when a flawed building technique was used.

Thomas Hawk/CC BY-NC 2.0

“We don’t know how to deal with a problem this big.” A government study identified 39 high rises in San Francisco as vulnerable in the event of a big earthquake. They include some of the city's most prominent buildings. The problems trace to a flawed construction technique that was widely used between 1960 and 1994, but was never corrected.


At a campground in the Santa Cruz Mountains, teenagers separate by race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, then trade slurs — "terrorists,” “porch monkeys,” "wrong, sinners, faggot, disgusting.” The exercise is part of a secretive "leadership camp" that's intended to teach empathy and social justice by pushing teens to the brink with unproven, ethically suspect techniques.


"Anybody who is a clinician would know that I was faking." In the Stanford Prison Experiment, volunteers were assigned roles as "prisoners" and "guards" in a mock jail. The guards, drunk with power, were said to become so cruel that it had to be shut down. The story became a cultural touchstone. But according to a new report based on audio and interviews, the most famous psychology study of all time was a sham.


Rep. Devin Nunes and his hometown newspaper are fighting again. In a YouTube video, Nunes accused the Fresno Bee of working with "radical left-wing groups to promote fake news stories" about him. That drew a point-by-point rejoinder from the Bee's editorial board. Nunes was angered by a Bee report last month linking him via his investments to a winery sued for sexual harassment. The Bee stood by the story.


About 120 miles north of San Francisco, Anderson Valley is home to numerous wineries.

Jack French/CC BY-NC 2.0

"Today, Anderson Valley is California’s most exciting emerging wine region." Mendocino County is famous for its charming coastline. But travelers are increasingly venturing inland to Anderson Valley, a secret corner of California that has flourished into a paradise for wine and food lovers.

Southern California


An illegal-immigration sweep across Southern California led to the arrests of more than 160 people, the authorities said. Most of those arrested had been convicted for drug possession, assault, manslaughter, rape, and other offenses. An immigrant rights advocate said, however, that some of those swept up were not serious criminals. “It is becoming clear that they are casting wide nets in who they deem criminal,” he said.


"We pull cockroaches out of kids’ ears every week." The world's fifth-largest economy, California has unmatched wealth — but also nation-leading poverty rates. That grim reality is demonstrated at a hospital in South Los Angeles, where doctors routinely see chronic preventable diseases common in third-world countries, and developmental delays are standard.


Meanwhile, over in the gilded part of town, a Beverly Crest mansion just hit the market with a 5,000-square-foot master suite, 155-foot infinity pool, and parking for 80 cars. Asking price: $135 million. If it sells for that much, the transaction would be the highest price ever paid for a home in Los Angeles. Curbed has the pictures.


Chubbs was lugged to the Pasadena Humane Society.

Meet Chubbs. The 10-year-old Himalayan mix was found wandering the streets and brought to the Pasadena Humane Society. "He is 29 pounds of love," the organization's leader said. The shelter is trying to find the cat's owner. They also have some advice to give about pet diet and exercise.

In case you missed it


Anthony Bourdain adored California cuisine.

Rich Fury/Invision/A.P.

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

Anthony Bourdain couldn't resist In-N-Out. He regarded San Francisco as a leader of cooking as counterculture. And of Los Angeles, he said: “The Los Angeles I love is about the family-run restaurant.” L.A. Times | S.F. Chronicle
A witness to the fatal plunge of two climbers on El Capitan recounted the final horrific moments. The climbers were using a risky technique known as simul-climbing, when something went awry.
KQED collected the stories of people who are leaving the Bay Area. Some described heartbreak. Others expressed excitement at being freed at last from the brutal cost of living. KQED

The Tehachapi Loop navigates the range between Bakersfield and Mojave, about 50 miles away.

Matt Skuta

In the mountains near Bakersfield, a railway line makes a full 360-degree loop. The Tehachapi Loop allows trains to spiral upward for nearly three-quarters of a mile, gaining 77 feet in elevation. YouTube
A California property that's roughly the size of San Francisco has been listed for $31 million. Lone Pine Ranch is 42 square miles of redwood forests, oak woodlands, and grassy meadows. | Business Insider

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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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