California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, Jan. 11.

A gunman fatally shoots a young police officer in Davis.
Rain and snow is expected to last through next week.
And a split-screen tour of old and new Los Angeles.



Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a $209 billion budget that includes big new investments for schools, colleges, housing, health care, and welfare. He projected a massive $21.5 billion surplus — far beyond anything the state has seen in nearly 20 years.

The proposals, the N.Y. Times wrote, "left little doubt that California, already one of the more liberal states in the nation, was taking a turn to the left, and moving beyond the fiscal restraint of his predecessor, Jerry Brown."


Construction workers on a job in Encinitas. Newsom has called for a housing "Marshall Plan."

Sandy Huffaker/Corbis via Getty Images

The governor also proposed a radical new measure to address California's housing shortage: punishing communities that block homebuilding by withholding state tax dollars. "If you're not hitting your goals," he said, "I don't know why you get the money."


Wildfires have gotten so out of control partly because California has been terrible about clearing the brush that turns into tinder. That's why business is booming for grazing goats. Herders have been maintaining waiting lists of panicked towns hoping to avoid the catastrophe that befell Paradise in November.


Drought conditions as of Jan. 10. Red is “extreme drought,” orange is “severe,” tan is “moderate,” yellow is "abnormally dry," and white is “normal.”

Forecasters said a parade of storms would bring rain and snow to California through next week. That's great news for parched areas of the state, but also worrisome for residents in burn areas prone to mudslides.


Northern California


Natalie Corona was a rookie officer.

A police officer was fatally shot while responding to a traffic accident in Davis on Thursday, triggering a manhunt that ended with the suspect found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot. The officer, Natalie Corona, was just 22. "She was a rising star in the department," the Davis police chief said.


A new state plan would limit draws from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park.

San Francisco estimates that a state plan to divert more Sierra Nevada water to fish instead of people would force Bay Area households to cut water use by 20 percent or more. Creating an unlikely alliance, the city has now joined forces with Central Valley farm communities in a lawsuit to block the plan.


In Monterey County, the number of homeless students has grown from fewer than 1,000 to more than 9,000 over the last decade. Increasingly steep rents have led to such severe overcrowding — a family of seven in a single room, for example — that some kids are considered homeless even though they have a roof over their heads.


Here's a great shot of Devil's Slide, just down the coast from San Francisco. A harrowing section of Highway 1 that once hugged the cliff edge was transformed into a scenic 1.3-mile trail. Walking it gives the eerie feeling of being on an abandoned highway.


Jack London, in 1905, believed in writing outdoors.

Bettmann/Getty Images

Jack London was born in San Francisco on this week in 1876. Though he died at only 40, his adventures could have filled multiple lifetimes. He was a hobo, sailor, oyster thief, gold miner, longshoreman, prisoner, war correspondent, and among the first American writers to live solely off his prose with works like "The Call of the Wild."

London was also a proud Californian who wrote lovingly of the Bay Area and his birthplace, rising "like a second Rome." Later in life, he settled on a ranch among the gentle hills of Sonoma County that is preserved today as a state park. Visitors can find the grave where his ashes were buried atop a grassy knoll, per his wishes, in a testament to his love of nature.


Southern California


More than 30,000 Los Angeles teachers are poised to strike on Monday after union and district leaders failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. The biggest impasse is not salary, but demands to reduce class sizes that have ballooned to more than 30 and 40 students. Some officials have suggested size shouldn't matter to a great teacher, an education reporter wrote. She added: "Actually, research clearly shows that it matters — a lot."


One of the vandalized Joshua trees.

National Park Service

Vandals cut down several federally protected Joshua trees at the namesake national park, which has been understaffed during the partial government shutdown. A park official said the trees were destroyed by off-roaders seeking to get into sensitive areas where vehicles are banned. “We had some pretty extensive four-wheel driving," he said.


A surfer caught the wave of a lifetime as a pod of dolphins joined him off the coast near Ventura. By sheer chance, a drone photographer was there to capture the spectacle. Warriors coach Steve Kerr had this reaction: "I love California."


A still from video by Kevin McAlester, via New Yorker

Downtown Los Angeles was once home to some California's finest Victorian mansions and hotels. The New Yorker asked a filmmaker to recreate a drive through the area that was captured in the 1940s, then made a fascinating split-screen showing how dramatically the area has changed over 70 years. Numerous commenters bemoaned the loss of character.


Today I learned


Lick Observatory in 1900.

Wikimedia Commons

James Lick, once the wealthiest Californian, donated funds to build the world's most powerful telescope with the stipulation that it double as his tomb.

An austere Pennsylvania Dutchman, Lick made his fortune snatching up real estate in the small village of San Francisco just as the Gold Rush was taking off.

He built the city's sumptuous Lick House, regarded as the finest hotel west of the Mississippi. He planted orchards in San Jose, built the largest flour mill in the state, and helped kick start the Ghirardelli chocolate empire.

A plaque marks the grave of James Lick at Lick Observatory.

After suffering a stroke, the millionaire bachelor resolved to donate his entire fortune to the public good. His bequests included public baths, a home for aging widows, and a vocational school.

He was talked out of leaving money for a pyramid tomb in his own honor in downtown San Francisco. Instead, he donated $700,000 for what became Lick Observatory in the Diablo Range as a monument to both himself and the sciences. Completed in 1887, it was the world's first permanently occupied mountaintop observatory and brought discoveries including several exoplanets and moons around Jupiter.

It scans the skies to this day under the auspices of the University of California. A bronze plaque and silk flowers mark the place where Lick's bones were deposited beneath the great telescope, which, according to one tribute, "points to his home among the stars and brings it nearer to our gaze."


In case you missed it


Ryan Reynolds, left, Alyssa Milano, and Johnny Galecki at Checca in 1999.

Pantera Sarah, via Hollywood Reporter

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

A magazine published a series of photos of Hollywood nightlife in the early 2000s, an era before social media when young stars could actually go out and have fun with their friends. The Hollywood Reporter
Last year, California's Supreme Court made it harder to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees. Now the ruling is reverberating in an unexpected industry: San Francisco's strip clubs. S.F. Examiner
"Another freakin' beach with sand and water." The Bold Italic scoured one-star Yelp reviews for beloved California state parks and found some amusingly tough-to-please visitors. The Bold Italic
"There shouldn't be this pressure to pretend to love something when I don't feel this way." Former employees offered a glimpse inside Facebook's "cult-like" bubble. CNBC
Windswept deserts, redwood forests, rocky coastlines, and rows of vines. Here are one magazine's picks for California's 20 most beautiful places. Condé Nast


Thursday's newsletter quoted an L.A. Times article that referred to "1,000-foot cliffs" at Montaña De Oro. The cliffs are indeed majestic, but they don't rise nearly that high.

Thanks for reading!

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

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