California Sun

Good morning. It's Thursday, Jan. 30.

Santa Cruz becomes latest to embrace psychedelics.
The potentially dangerous health claims of Goop.
And quintessentially quirky getaways across California.



SB 50, the most ambitious proposal yet to combat California's housing crisis, was voted down in the state Senate on Wednesday, stalling for the third year in a row. Opponents argued that the measure to allow denser housing near transit would rob too much power from local communities. But it still has a chance. The deadline for passage is Friday, and the bill is eligible for reconsideration. L.A. Times | A.P.

NIMBY resistance to an affordable housing project in Clovis: "What they do is they put this low-income housing in and the crime spreads and everything changes."


President Trump toured an area ravaged by fire in Malibu on Nov. 17, 2018.

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Internal emails reviewed by the Guardian revealed that the Trump administration sought to play up climate pollution from California's 2018 wildfires — while downplaying emissions from fossil fuels — to justify increased logging on public lands. A California ecologist called the correspondence a "blatant political manipulation of science." The Guardian


As California cities draft their fiscal blueprints for the next year, they are facing ballooning pension bills. By 2024, the average local government is expected to be paying roughly 56 percent of their police and fire department payroll on pension costs. That means for every dollar spent on salaries, they'll need to contribute another 56 cents to CalPERS, California's public pension fund. "Services are going to suffer," Lodi's city manager said. Bloomberg


Photo credits: Castle In the Forest; Sequoia High Sierra Camp; Thomas Hawk

A few getaway ideas across California:

If you can corral 19 friends, you can rent an entire castle in a forest near Lake Arrowhead for $129 a night. It has gothic architecture, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a built-in Bavarian-style pub. Insider
Nestled at 8,200 feet within Sequoia National Monument is a retreat with 32 canvas-and-wood bungalows and an open-air dining pavilion where five-course dinners are served. One catch: You have to walk a mile to get there. N.Y. Times
An old lighthouse keeper's house is available for rent along the Mendocino coast. Surrounded by dramatic coastal scenery, the historic quarters at Point Cabrillo Light Station is perched on a headland that juts into the Pacific. S.F. Chronicle

A Mongolian yurt, a gingerbread cottage, and a magical school bus. Here are 10 quintessentially quirky Airbnbs across California. Bold Italic


Northern California


Mushroom advocates have embraced the slogan “decriminalize nature.”

The Santa Cruz City Council voted unanimously to decriminalize a wide range of psychedelics, making it the second California city to do so after Oakland. A Council member said the move to overlook the personal use of plants and fungi like mushrooms, ayahuasca, and iboga was "part of a diversity of strategies taking care of mental health in our community." Santa Cruz Sentinel | Vice


The banishment of cars from Market Street is part of a global movement to declutter downtowns.

On Wednesday, a large stretch of San Francisco's main artery went car-free. (Here's how it looked). The closure to private vehicular traffic on Market Street was a culmination of a decade-long process aimed at improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists and moving buses and streetcars along more briskly. Officials were already looking toward the next conquest: Valencia Street. CityLab | Curbed San Francisco


A developer who is said to have sought influence with San Francisco's director of Public Works, Mohammed Nuru, as part of a corruption scheme is one of world's largest luxury hotel owners. Zhang Li, a billionaire from China, is alleged to have given Nuru lavish hotel stays and a $2,070 bottle of wine in exchange for help with permits. S.F. Chronicle | SFist

An airport official who officials say was offered a bribe resigned her post, citing medical issues. S.F. Examiner | S.F. Chronicle


Horror stories from jail:

Candace Steel gave birth alone inside a Bay Area jail cell, screaming for hours without help. Steel said she wrapped the newborn in jail clothing and put her fingers in the baby's mouth to help her breathe. A judge lashed out at jail officials: "A higher degree of indifference ... is hard to imagine." East Bay Times | Courthouse News
Rodney J. DeLong Jr. had seven months left on a nine-year jail sentence at High Desert State Prison in Susanville. Then he was moved into a cell with an Aryan Brotherhood member with a history of murderous violence. DeLong lasted 32 minutes. Sacramento Bee

Southern California


The tunnel stretches nearly a mile and as deep as 70 feet beneath the ground.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office

The federal authorities announced the discovery of the longest smuggling tunnel ever found along the southern border, stretching from a small building in Tijuana to the San Diego area. The tunnel featured a rail-and-cart system to move drugs, forced-air ventilation, and high-voltage electrical cables and panels. "We never really thought they had the moxie to go that far," a border agent said. S.D. Union-Tribune | KPBS

High winds sent a new section of border wall toppling over in Calexico. The concrete had not been cured yet, an official explained. S.D. Union-Tribune | CNN


Vanessa Bryant spoke out for the first time since the death of her husband, Kobe Bryant, and their daughter Gianna. She wrote in part: "There aren't enough words to describe our pain right now. ... I'm not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it's impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way." L.A. Times | Washington Post

An ESPN anchor's tearful tribute to Kobe Bryant has catapulted a hashtag, #GirlDads. Elle Duncan recounted how Bryant once gushed about how much he loved his girls. "I suppose that the only small source of comfort for me is knowing that he died doing what he loved the most," Duncan said. "Being a dad. Being a girl dad." ESPN | A.P.


A fire tore through the the 25-story Barrington Plaza in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

"I really thought I was going to die today."

A fire at a Los Angeles high-rise led to dramatic rescues as residents fled to the roof and one man perched from a ledge and threatened to jump. He was ultimately rescued by ladder as the others were plucked from the roof by helicopter. Eleven people were injured, one gravely. Fire officials called the blaze "suspicious." L.A. Times | CBSLA


Gwyneth Paltrow spoke at a Goop event in Los Angeles last May.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

At-home coffee enema kits, psychic vampire repellent spray, and stickers that "rebalance the energy frequency" in your body.

Goop, based in Santa Monica, is a pseudoscience wonderland with a valuation of a quarter of a billion dollars. Now Gwyneth Paltrow's wellness empire has come to Netflix as the focus of a slick infotainment series — and it's even worse than you might expect, writes Beth Mole. The show is a platform "where promoting unproven, potentially dangerous health claims is a means to empower women." Ars Technica


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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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