California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, Aug. 2.

A sprawling web of alleged sexual abuse by a track coach.
Envisioning an outdoor-recreation mecca at Hetch Hetchy.
Do your friends get the Sun? Invite them to sign up!



California lawmakers are considering shifting billions of dollars from the Central Valley bullet train to rail projects in Southern California and the Bay Area. "Let's be intellectually honest," the Mercury News wrote in an editorial. "This is a political fight over which region of the state gets the remaining money from a failed high-speed rail project." Mercury News | L.A. Times


Friday night lights are dimming in California.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law limiting full-contact practices for youth football teams to an hour a week over concerns about the degenerative brain disease known as CTE. A.P.

Participation in high school football in California fell for a fourth consecutive year, a survey showed. Since 2015, participation has fallen by 12 percent to about 91,000 athletes, a 20-year low. "Parents are afraid of head injuries," one player said. "That's the problem." L.A. Times | Record Searchlight


The state's biggest teachers union is spending enormous sums to convince lawmakers to restrict charter schools. This year, the California Teachers Association has pumped $4.3 million into its lobbying effort, more than any other lobbying group in the capital, including big oil. Sacramento Bee


A home enveloped by forest is up for grabs in Willits.

Engel & Voelkers

Some standout homes for sale — rustic, refined, and sexy:

A small home sitting on 20 forested acres in Mendocino County looks like an outdoor-lovers delight, with deer hunting, birdwatching, and a tributary of the Eel River within walking distance. Asking: $375,000. Circa | Engel & Voelkers
Built in 1896, this Queen Anne Victorian mansion in Escondido is recognized on the National Registry of Historic Places. The interior is "exquisite," a preservationist said. Asking: $3.3 million. S.D. Reader |
Here's a super stylish midcentury modern in Whittier. Designed by noted architect Thornton Ladd, it includes black walnut floors and a glass breezeway. Asking: $1.4 million. Unique California Properties | Curbed Los Angeles

California Historical Society Collection

Pictured above is widely believed to be the earliest photograph of Los Angeles. Taken in the early 1860s, it looks southeast toward the Los Angeles Plaza, the city's commercial and social center. By the end of the century, the city grew from roughly 4,400 souls to more than 100,000. Two factors helped drive the boom: A new railroad, and the efforts of promoters hoping to get rich. In pamphlets, books, and articles, they regaled chilly Midwesterners with visions of a paradise by the sea with weather so pleasant that it could cure illness. KCET

Also, here are the 10 oldest pictures of San Francisco. Curbed San Francisco


Northern California


The Hetch Hetchy Valley before it was submerged.

San Joaquin Valley Library

"Hetch Hetchy is a grand landscape garden, one of nature's rarest and most precious mountain temples."
— John Muir

Ever since Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy Valley was dammed to quench the thirst of San Francisco in 1923, people have fantasized about restoring it to its former majesty. Now an economic assessment has put dollar figures on the recreational value that a new outdoor-recreation mecca might generate — as much as $178 million per year. Asked to indulge the thought experiment, a water official cited the need to sustain people and businesses in the Bay Area. "What's that worth?” he asked. S.F. Chronicle

See 13 photos of the valley before it was dammed.


The epicenter of California's homelessness crisis? Oakland. An analysis found that the Bay Area city has an estimated 742 unsheltered homeless people for every 100,000 residents — the highest among the state's largest cities. By comparison, San Diego has one quarter of that rate. The mayor blames a shortage of housing. S.F. Chronicle

Not encouraging: A survey found that residential building permits in the Oakland region fell 30 percent in the last year. Mercury News


Google's main campus in Mountain View.

Amy Osborne/AFP/Getty Images

Kevin Cernekee, a former Google engineer and Trump supporter, went public with accusations that right-leaning employees are routinely bullied at the company. According to a report to human resources in 2017, a manager publicly asked about workers holding views like Cernekee's: "Can't we just fire the poisonous assholes already?" Google fired Cernekee a year later, citing violations of company policies. Wall Street Journal | N.Y. Post


Noam Cohen has concerns about all this disruption.

On this week's California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman chats with Noam Cohen. The author and journalist argues that Silicon Valley is undermining authentic ways of life. "We are entrusting so much of our lives, or the way our society is organized, to people who have just very different values," he said. "And I don't think we've really thought it through." California Sun Podcast

Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

Southern California


Life on the street in Los Angeles.

David McNew/Getty Images

Los Angeles is often criticized, notably by the president, over its homeless crisis. But it turns out people working to solve homelessness across the country see Los Angeles very differently. At a conference on homelessness in Washington, DC, attendees repeatedly held up Los Angeles and the state as models to be emulated. "I think there's actually incredibly strong things happening across California," one federal official said. L.A. Times


A San Diego man facing the rest of his life in prison for a "three strikes" conviction was released under a new California law that lets prosecutors take a fresh look at whether such sentences are unduly harsh. In 2003, Kent Joy Williams got 50 years after his third-strike felony conviction for burglary and auto theft. He is believed to be first person freed under the new law. "You're looking at a grateful man," he said. A.P. | S.D. Union-Tribune


Conrad Avondale Mainwaring at a Los Angeles-area track earlier this year.


"The effects of this, it ripples out into almost every relationship you have."

A yearlong investigation by ESPN uncovered a pattern of sexual abuse allegations against a private track coach working in Los Angeles. Conrad Avondale Mainwaring, a 67-year-old former Olympian, has been accused of molesting more than 40 boys and young men since the 1970s. Now, they're speaking out. ESPN


"He's a human being... We need to CSI the hell out of it."

In 1999, a man ended up in a vegetative state after a crash in the California desert. For the next 17 years he was known only as "Sixty-Six Garage," from a place near the accident, as he was kept alive with breathing and feeding tubes at a San Diego hospital. Here's the story of what happened when people finally decided to learn his story. L.A. Times


The Allensworth branch of the Tulare County library system, circa 1910-19.

California State Library

It was on this week in 1908 that Allensworth was established, the only town in California to have been founded and governed solely by African-Americans. The town just north of Bakersfield was spearheaded by Col. Allen Allensworth, a former slave and Army veteran who envisioned a promised land where blacks could live free of discrimination. It flourished for years before drought and poor crop yields put the dream to an end. Today Allensworth enjoys a second life as one of California's most unique state parks. |


In case you missed it


Michael Toth

Five blurbs that got big views over the past week:

Above is a map of California showing just roads created by a data scientist named Michael Toth. Here's a larger version. (Also check out Toth's California river map, which he sells on Etsy).
In 1969, LIFE magazine sent a photographer to the hippie-infused high school campuses of Southern California. It was beads, fringes, and bell-bottoms as far as the eye could see. Here are the groovy pictures. Mashable | TIME
A luxury campsite has opened near Yosemite Valley that includes 80 Airstream trailers with small kitchens and Tempur-Pedic mattresses. Also on the grounds: an expansive clubhouse with a heated pool and a bar serving craft beer. dezeen | Outside magazine
In the Coachella Valley is a place known as the city of the presidents. That's thanks in no small part to the legacy of Sunnylands, a pink-walled paradise built for media mogul Walter Annenberg and his wife Leonore in 1966. They hosted legendary parties. Vanity Fair | Palm Springs Life
Five years ago, National Geographic thought it would be cool to try to capture one of the world's largest trees in a single photograph. It took 32 days and 126 individual frames to stitch together the full photograph. NPR | Petapixel

Thanks for reading!

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

The Sun is built by Marquee on Proof.

Consider becoming a member.

Please tell us how we can make the newsletter better. Email

California Sun masthead
The California Sun, PO Box 6868, Los Osos, CA 93412
Wake up to must-read news from around the Golden State delivered to your inbox each morning.