California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, Nov. 19.

UC system says it plans to stick with test-free admissions.
San Francisco's colorful homes give way to gray.
And Ventura mission plans monument to Chumash.



University of California, Los Angeles.

Tekijä Kit Leong

The University of California has shut the door on the possibility of any standardized testing in admissions. The university system scrapped the SAT last year against the recommendation of a faculty task force that found the exams were good predictors of student success. Critics say the tests are, as one UC regent put it, “a proxy for privilege.” On Thursday, the university said it could find no alternative test that would avoid biased results. L.A. Times | EdSource


Americans commonly have to wait weeks to see a therapist, even for serious depression or suicidal ideations. California aims to fix that with a new law requiring insurers to reduce wait times between mental health care visits to no more than 10 days. Providers have said there simply aren't enough therapists; the legislation gives them until July 1 to staff up. KQED


The Creek House was designed by the architect Arthur Dyson.

Sanger, a few miles off Route 99 in the San Joaquin Valley, is known for orchard blossoms and a small-town atmosphere. It's also home to one of California's most whimsical homes. Nestled in a wooded area, the Creek House was designed in 1988 for a client who dreamed of living inside a sculpture. The owner gave a walkthrough last year before the home changed hands. YouTube (~1:30)


Northern California


A judge's ruling on Thursday reinstated merit-based admissions at San Francisco's top public high school — for now. In February, school board members voted to end grade and testing requirements at Lowell High School, adopting a lottery system instead in an effort to promote diversity. Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman said the board failed to give proper public notice about the potential change. It was the latest in a series of judicial rebukes involving contentious decisions by the board. S.F. Chronicle |


Victorian homes in the Mission District.

Talia Herman/The Guardian

Vivid color has long been a part of San Francisco's architectural landscape, exemplified by the Painted Ladies of Alamo Square. But the pastels have increasingly given way to grays and blacks favored by affluent newcomers. It's been a troubling trend for some residents of a city that prizes its uniqueness. “I walk the neighborhood every day and I see all these gray houses,” said Richard Segovia, who's lived in the Mission district since 1963. “It’s like being in a cemetery.” The Guardian


In 1959, a high school dropout named Bill Larson borrowed $2,500, putting his furniture up as collateral, to open a pizza place in Menlo Park. Round Table was born. Six decades later, Larson's son now owns the original restaurant. And he isn't selling. “This year, I was offered $20 million,” he said. "I said no. I'm sorry; if I sell it, it's gone forever.”


On this week's California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman chats with Bob Calhoun, whose latest book — “The Murders That Made Us” — shows how the Bay Area has been shaped by its most grisly crimes. He talked about how Western journalism was in some ways a bloodsport in the 19th century. "Newspaper publishers in San Francisco used to shoot it out with each other on Market Street," he said.


Southern California


District Attorney George Gascón, left, discussed crime reduction efforts in Los Angeles on June 30.

Jason Armond/L.A. Times via Getty Images

Here's how one progressive activist reacted after L.A. County's newly elected district attorney, George Gascón, laid out his plan to remake criminal justice: “We felt like, wow, we could have written that speech.” Nearly a year later, Gascón faces a recall campaign with support from inside his own office. Here's a deep dive on how Gascón is risking everything to keep people out of prison. 👉 N.Y. Times Magazine


Mission Basilica San Buenaventura, circa 1898. A school was subsequently built on the yard to the left, where Chumash Indians were buried.

At the Spanish mission in Ventura, Chumash Indians were conscripted to do the cooking, farming, and manual labor. Over time, roughly 3,000 Chumash were buried on the grounds. Then in the 1920s, a school was built atop the graves. It remains in use today as offices, but no marker recalls the dead. Now the mission's pastor has pledged to erect a monument to "help heal the wound of the past." Julie Tumamait-Stenslie, a Chumash leader, welcomed the move but added, "Sometimes it is maybe more of their healing than ours." Ventura County Star


Nearly 150 Mexican adolescents were bused from Tijuana to San Diego on Thursday to get inoculated against the coronavirus. Vaccine supplies have been limited in Mexico, so a group in San Diego partnered with the county to help their neighbors. Officials hailed the cooperation against a common threat in a region where work and life often straddles the border. A.P. | S.D. Union-Tribune


Today I learned


There's a place in downtown Los Angeles called The Bin where homeless people can store their belongings free of charge, whether for a day or weeks on end. The storage facility provides more than 1,500 standard 60-gallon recycling bins, which volunteers store in neat rows until clients return to retrieve things. The project helps solve at least two problems: removing clutter from sidewalks and offering a safe place for documents, clothes, and mementos. The reporter Chace Beech visited recently and met a woman who had put Shel Silverstein's “Where The Sidewalk Ends” and other books in her bin. She was saving them, she said, to share with her 8-year-old when she gets back on her feet. Spectrum News


In case you missed it


The Herald Examiner Building was walled off from the public for three decades.

Ryan Gobuty/Gensler, via Curbed

Five items that got big views over the past week:

The Herald Examiner Building, by the renowned architect Julia Morgan, is one Los Angeles' most important buildings. It's now been restored after falling into disrepair. Curbed called the decadent interior "nothing short of breathtaking."
Rick Bart, a homicide detective turned sheriff, had been haunted by the killings of a young couple since 1987. A genetic genealogist found the murderer in two hours on a Saturday. Here's a fascinating profile of CeCe Moore of San Clemente, who has become one of the country's best crime solvers. 👉 New Yorker
In his last few months, Colt Brennan, one of college football’s all-time great quarterbacks, appeared as healthy as he’d been in years. Then he was found unconscious at a budget motel in Costa Mesa. The writer Brandon Sneed spent the summer trying to understand what happened to Brennan. Sports Illustrated
Chico's Bidwell Park, known for being one of the nation's largest urban parks, is also one of its most beautiful. One of the best places to take it all in, ideally at sunset, is from Monkey Face rock. A local drone videographer got some gorgeous 4K footage. YouTube
Richard Klein was living a good life in Oakland. But he wanted to break into Bollywood. So Klein, who is divorced and has no children, packed up and relocated to Mumbai. The N.Y. Times asked Klein about the highs and lows of chasing your dream.

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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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