California Sun

Good morning. It's Thursday, Oct. 11.

A plan to add teacher housing faces resistance in San Jose.
Vandals splatter Mission Santa Barbara with red paint.
And a real-life Shangri-La at the base of the Trinity Alps.

The lede


No place for teachers

A residential area in San Jose, where housing costs are insane.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/A.P.

In San Jose, where the median home costs $1.1 million, teachers are commuting up to four hours a day to and from the city’s schools. Talented staff are quitting in droves. Desperate for a solution, the school district proposed turning aging schools into teacher housing.

Cue the backlash.

More than 5,000 residents signed a petition denouncing the plan. Among the reasons: Low-income housing would depress their home values. "There has to be a better solution," one resident said, "or a better location to do this."

Read the story in the Mercury News.




Farmers in Southern California's Pauma Valley. Tariffs on Chinese goods have unsettled the state's agricultural producers.

California faces a housing crisis, threats to agriculture, and rising cost of living. By nearly every account, a national recession is overdue. But the state soon won't have Gov. Jerry Brown, who has been a fixture through five national recessions. Whether his successor is John Cox or Gavin Newsom, California will be, the N.Y. Times wrote, "in the hands of a relatively untested governor."


During a rally in Iowa, President Trump singled out Sen. Dianne Feinstein — mispronouncing her name as "Fein-steen" — saying she "100 percent" leaked a letter written by Christine Blasey Ford that accused now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. The crowd burst into chants of "Lock her up!"


A partial map showing proposed cannabis appellations in Northern California.

Mendocino Appellations Project

California's cannabis growers have been swamped by regulations. One farmer in the Emerald Triangle predicted that fewer than 5 percent of the growers in the area would make it. That's one reason a campaign has begun to adopt branding that denotes where cannabis was grown. The hope is that appellations would do for California cannabis what "Champagne" has done for French bubbly.


Humboldt County timber men in an undated image.

Humboldt State University Library

At the time of California's statehood in 1850, more than 3,000 square miles of northwestern California were covered by ancient redwood trees. By 2000, only 5 percent of that old growth remained. Much of it was used to build Los Angeles. KCET tells the story.


Northern California


Robots tended leafy greens in vats at a grow space in San Carlos.

Iron Ox

A company in Silicon Valley has created the world's first autonomous robot farm. Iron Ox claims its indoor machines can grow 30 times as much produce in vats than traditional farms can in the fields. The technology could shake up an industry facing a serious labor shortage and pressure to produce more crops.


The San Francisco school board bypassed the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of its meeting Tuesday night, breaking with decades of tradition in a purposeful omission by the board’s new president. He said he planned to open meetings instead with quotes from inspirational Americans like Toni Morrison, Harvey Milk, and James Baldwin.


A videographer followed his friend on an electric skateboard.

Someone flew a drone along the entire length of the new Eureka Waterfront Trail, meandering through willow patches, sand dunes, and river habitat on the shore of Humboldt Bay. It will eventually connect with the Humboldt Bay Trail, linking the two biggest cities in Humboldt County, Arcata and Eureka.


Fall colors in downtown Weaverville.

Trinity County Chamber of Commerce

In 1941, a British author on a lecture tour of the U.S. was asked: What's the closest place you've found to a real-life Shangri-La? "A little town in northern California," he said. "A little town called Weaverville." Nestled at the base of the majestic Trinity Alps, Weaverville is a wonderfully preserved Gold Rush town. Among its attractions: a Taoist temple built by Chinese prospectors in 1873.


The old stone walls of Mission Santa Barbara were defaced.

Vandals splattered Old Mission Santa Barbara with red paint, scrawling "rape," "never forget the lives + land stolen," and misspelling the word "genocide." Police suspect it was done to protest the mistreatment of Native Americans by the Spanish Franciscans, who established the mission in 1786. The cost of the damage was estimated at $30,000.


Southern California


A ghost bike for 22-year-old Frederick Frazier, who was killed in a hit-and-run in Los Angeles last April.

A renaissance of urban cycling is flourishing across America. Not so in Los Angeles, which should be a bike haven with its mostly flat boulevards and dreamy weather. Instead, cyclists keep getting killed — more than 180 riders in the metro area in the past five years. That's one reason Bicycling Magazine has declared that "Los Angeles is the worst bike city in America."


Lynsi Snyder, the only grandchild of the In-N-Out founders, became full owner of the restaurant chain on her 35th birthday last year. She's now worth $3 billion. Normally media shy, the devout Christian talked to Forbes about struggles through her father's tragic death, three failed marriages, and a battle with alcohol and marijuana.


L.A. City Council meetings can get lively.

Chris Pizzello/A.P.

Fed up with disruptions of City Council meetings, Los Angeles lawmakers voted to crack down on protesters. Starting in January, people who are repeatedly ejected from meetings for shouting can be banned from attending other meetings. Activists say the new rules are a ploy to squelch dissent. They started shouting "We do not approve!" and "We will not be silenced!" One was escorted out.


Photograph by Estevan Oriol

"The king of capturing L.A.’s lowrider and street cultures." That's L.A. Magazine on Estevan Oriol, a photographer born and raised in Los Angeles whose work is renowned for its insider vantage on a guarded subculture. His Instagram feed is a must-follow for Angelenos.


Today I learned


Joan Kroc's super-sized giving

The oldest operating McDonald's restaurant, located in Downey.

Bryan Hong/Wikimedia Commons

Ray Kroc turned a hamburger stand in the California desert into a fast-food empire that changed the way Americans eat. Less is known about his wife, a dashing piano player named Joan whose life was arguably every bit as cinematic.

Joan Kroc took control of her husband’s $3 billion McDonald’s fortune after his death in 1984. As chronicled in Lisa Napoli’s biography “Ray & Joan,” she oversaw the San Diego Padres, ran with her own rat pack, gambled prolifically, and ferried zoo animals on her private plane.

Impoverished as a child, she also became one of America’s great philanthropists.

She produced activist films, books, and music and supported causes that might have given her Republican husband heartburn: nuclear disarmament, AIDS research, environmental causes, the Democratic Party.

Joan Kroc, in San Diego in 1984, gave away her vast fortune.

Lenny Ignelzi/A.P.

She gave money to the widow of a gunman whose 1984 rampage in a San Ysidro McDonald’s left 21 people dead because she had compassion for the woman’s two young children.

But Kroc's most lasting legacy might in her last rush of charity after she was told she had brain cancer and only a few months to live.

She gave more than $1 billion to the Salvation Army and $225 million to NPR, gifts that transformed the institutions.

Kroc had also wanted to donate to PBS — which similarly does public broadcasting but is an altogether separate entity — but ultimately did not. Why? According to Napoli, PBS never returned her phone call, and time was short.

Joan Kroc died at 75 on this week in 2003. Fifteen years later, she's still thanked on air by NPR every day.


Thanks for reading!

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

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