California Sun

Good morning. It's Thursday, April 18.

A major S.F. quake would leave up to 7,800 people dead.
The scrambling of the marine ecosystem off California.
And experts name the best Southern California homes.



Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to bring down prescription drug costs through a statewide purchasing system that leverages the power of California's largest public and private buyers. The effort just got a major boost as Los Angeles County agreed to join the system. Californians have been gouged by price increases, Newsom said. "There's a reason the pharmaceutical companies are working aggressively against us."


Employees pulled clothes from a bin at a Goodwill in Hollywood. The nonprofit no longer screens workers for cannabis.

Gary Friedman/L.A. Times via Getty Images

A failed pot test has traditionally disqualified many job applicants, but that's changing in California. With a growing economy and a low unemployment rate of 4.2 percent, employers are increasingly not screening for cannabis, or ignoring some of the results. "It's a 'don't ask, don't tell' kind of a thing," a Goodwill executive said. L.A. Times

Separately, in a first, Los Angeles sued an unlicensed cannabis dispensary, accusing it of selling marijuana sprayed with a dangerous pesticide. L.A. Times | A.P.


"I'm a 35-year-old professional woman and I shouldn't have to live with roommates."

Affordable housing is slipping ever out of reach for teachers working in coastal California. An analysis found that first-year teachers in 40 percent of California school districts couldn't afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment. In 39 districts, they faced the prospect of spending more than half their income on housing.


Gas prices haven't been so high since 2014.

California gas prices surpassed the $4-a-gallon mark for the first time in almost five years. At $4.02, it's the most expensive gas in the nation, propelled by a 60-cent jump in just the last month. Analysts blamed refinery issues and a switchover to a pricier blend of gas. The national average? $2.83. Sacramento Bee | KTLA

For years, Californians have paid a "hidden" 20-cent surcharge on each gallon of gas that no one has been able to explain. In January, a group of lawmakers asked the state's attorney general to investigate. They haven't gotten a response. San Gabriel Valley Tribune


California's car culture has given rise to a peculiar form of performance art: The freeway overpass dance. Captive audiences of motorists number in the thousands per hour as JaVonne Hatfield dances and waves a giant red heart above Highway 101 in San Francisco. In San Diego, Frankie Ortiz dons full Mariachi attire and dances for motorists on the 5. Neither man earns a nickel. Why do it? "To make people laugh and smile," Ortiz said.


Northern California


Species unfamiliar to the Northern California coast have been showing up with more frequency.

George Rose/Getty Images

In the waters off California, foreign and native species are mingling in a newly scrambled ecosystem. It's been accompanied by strange new behaviors, incluing a surge of whales in the San Francisco Bay, where — for the first time ever — Grays and Humpbacks are gathering simultaneously. Scientists believe it all has to do with a pair of warming events several years ago that invited southern species to move north.


Susan Wojcicki, the most measured person in tech, has had a rough tenure as the chief executive of YouTube. In a single week, she faced an uproar over ads running alongside anti-vax videos, and panics over the platform seeming to abet child suicide and pedophilia. She said she wonders how people will look back in 10 years: "Would they feel we were on the right side of history? Would I feel proud? Will my children feel like I made good decisions?"


“Beach Blanket Babylon” has ranked in San Francisco culture alongside the Golden Gate Bridge and cable cars.

Rick Markovich/Beach Blanket Babylon

After 45 years and 17,216 performances, San Francisco's beloved "Beach Blanket Babylon" musical is ending its run. The cast of the zany spoof has donned gargantuan hats and skewered politics and pop culture since 1974, making it the longest-running musical revue in the world. The reason wasn't financial. "It's just time," producer Jo Schuman Silver said.


Sacramento's City Council banned flavored e-cigarette cartridges and other tobacco products within city limits, citing the risks to teens. Several vape shop owners said the loss of business would force them to close. They beseeched the council — "I stand in front of you today begging for mercy," one said — to no avail.


Health officials said a person infected with the measles spent time at Google's Mountain View campus last week. The virus is highly contagious and can linger for two hours after an infected person leaves a room. Measles has been surging across the country, with 21 cases reported so far this year in California. That's roughly the number the state usually sees over an entire year.


A detail from a panorama photograph of a ruined San Francisco on May 29, 1906, 41 days after the disaster.

Library of Congress

It was on this day at 5:12 a.m. in 1906 that a 7.9-magnitude earthquake shook San Francisco for one interminable minute, toppling hundreds of buildings and unleashing fires that burned for days. All told, more than 3,000 people died and another 250,000 were left homeless. The Atlantic has a collection of 40 stunning photos of the disaster. The Atlantic

Also, federal projections estimate that up to 7,800 people would die in a repeat of the 1906 quake. S.F. Chronicle


Southern California


The petition argues that the Salton Sea was wrongly ignored in a new drought plan.

A California water war is heating up, again. Last month, a hard-won multistate agreement was reached to keep the Colorado River, a crucial Southern California water source, from sinking too low. Now a powerful water district, the Imperial Irrigation District, is suing to block the plan, saying the shrinking Salton Sea was wrongly left out of it.


Jurors were brought to tears as a trial opened in the 2016 killing of two Palm Springs police officers. The officers — Lesley Zerebny, 27, and Jose "Gil" Vega, 63 — had been called to the family home of John Hernandez Felix, an admitted gang member, after he became agitated during a fight over a TV remote. Prosecutors say Felix then ambushed the officers with an AR-15 rifle — simply because they were police.


A bitter fight between Hollywood writers and their talent agents just went "nuclear." The Writers Guild of America filed a lawsuit against the entertainment industry's four biggest talent agencies, claiming that compensation practices incentivize agents to reduce the amount that writers are paid. Agents say writers don't understand the fee system. Writers say they understand fine — they just think it's rotten.


This is the Chemosphere, perched 30 feet high in the Hollywood Hills. The site was initially thought to be unbuildable, until groundbreaking architect John Lautner conjured the UFO concept. When the L.A. Times asked a panel of experts to name the best Southern California homes of all time, the Chemosphere made the cut along with Schindlers, Neutras, Wrights, and a number of surprises.


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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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