California Sun

Good morning. It's Wednesday, Oct. 10.

Voter apathy among California's university students.
San Francisco's mustachioed cycling fanatics of the 1800s.
And the unique delta town built by and for Chinese.

The lede


The youth vote

Jacob Soboroff interviewed U.C. Irvine students about whether they planned to vote.

NBC News

An NBC News correspondent, Jacob Soboroff, went to a bus stop crowded with U.C. Irvine students and asked whether anyone planned to vote in the midterm elections.


"Anybody?" Soboroff asked, "Anybody? Nobody's going to vote?" When he found some students willing to talk on camera, they seemed oblivious to the issues at stake.

Some viewers reacted to the video by noting that it was anecdotal, and maybe the students just didn't want to talk to him.

But it's also true that young people are notoriously unreliable voters. A poll this summer showed only 28 percent planned to certainly vote in the midterms. That's compared to 74 percent of seniors.

Have a look at the NBC News video. (The bus stop part starts around 1:50.)




Investigators blamed PG&E for another California wildfire. This time two sagging power lines, whipped by heavy winds, made contact and ignited the Cascade Fire last fall. The blaze scorched 15 square miles across Yuba County, killing four people, injuring a firefighter, and destroying 264 structures. PG&E has now been blamed for 16 fires last year.


Alex Spanos gestured after the N.F.L. announced that the San Diego Chargers secured the 1988 Super Bowl.

Tim Boyle/A.P.

Alex Spanos died. The self-made billionaire and owner of the Chargers rose from humble beginnings as a son of immigrants in Stockton to build a national real-estate empire. "When Alex was born the doctor slapped him and Alex said, 'Would you like to rent an apartment?'" the comedian Bob Hope once joked about his friend. Spanos was 95.


There's more than $9 billion in unclaimed property just sitting in a fund run by California. The state requires that banks, insurers, and other companies turn over customers’ property — such as stock dividends, tax refunds, and wages — after three years of account inactivity. To find out if you’re owed money, it’s as easy as a Google search. Give it a try here.

After that, try another pot of cash — this one in the form of unclaimed insurance payouts.


Beehives are often left in fields, making them targets for thieves.

"You can’t just leave your bees in one place anymore." Bee theft has become a major problem in the Central Valley. California's almond growers depend on beehive rentals to fertilize their flowers. Theft has been an intermittent phenomenon for years. But lately the numbers have been climbing sharply.


Northern California


Marc Benioff is worth $6.6 billion, according to Forbes.

A voter initiative would essentially double what San Francisco spends on the homeless by taxing big business. Supporters argue that the only way to get ahead of the crisis is with a surge of new spending. Others say it would merely attract more homeless arrivals to the city. This week, the Salesforce chief Marc Benioff threw his support behind the measure — even though it would cost his company. "At the end of the day," he said, "it’s going to be, Are you for the homeless or not for the homeless?"


The Trump administration has tightened restrictions on H-1B visas for skilled foreign workers, and it plans to ban their spouses from holding jobs in the U.S. For Canada, that's presented an opportunity. The northern neighbor's government has been moving aggressively to lure top foreign talent out of Silicon Valley and place them in jobs in places like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.


A man who police alleged to be Eric Clanton during a “free speech” rally in Berkeley on April 15, 2017.

Citizen Reporter

A former Bay Area professor who faced four felony counts after he was accused of using a bike U-lock to strike people in the head at a Berkeley protest accepted a deal that keeps him out of jail on probation. Eric Clanton was linked to antifa, the loose affiliation of far-left radicals who advocate violent tactics.


The hammer has an estimated value of $15,000.

City of Healdsburg

You'd think it would be hard to miss. But thieves somehow snuck off with an 800-pound hammer, a massive art piece, from the front lawn of Healdsburg’s community center — and apparently no one saw a thing. "Why would you take this thing?" the artist asked. "Where are you going to put it?"


Cyclists took a break after a ride around the East Bay in 1886.

California Historical Society

The Bay Area's early bicyclists would put today's hipsters to shame. In the late 1800s, before the automobile, bicycles were cutting-edge, known variously as bone shakers, penny farthings, and high wheelers. The San Francisco Bicycle Club was the first of its kind on the West Coast. And they liked to pose with their fixies in photos.


Southern California


This summer, one of the oldest Christian universities on the West Coast removed its ban on same-sex relationships. Then conservative Christian media criticized the move, and the school reinstated the ban. The back-and-forth by Azusa Pacific University, in the San Gabriel Valley, has led to student protests.


Amazon fulfillment centers have added thousands of jobs in the Inland Empire.

David Zalubowski/A.P.

Among large cities, the Riverside-San Bernardino area posted the nation's largest jobs gain over the last five years. The growth has been propelled in part by the Amazon-led boom in packing and sorting centers, which have made the Inland Empire one of the country's leading distribution hubs.


U.S. and Mexican officials discovered a sophisticated cross-border tunnel that connected the countries in a remote area east of San Diego. The incomplete tunnel included systems of lighting and ventilation powered by solar energy. It was also lined with a rail system. The authorities said it was likely intended to smuggle drugs.


The trees put on a show in downtown Julian last November.

Julian Chamber of Commerce

Julian, perched between the desert and coast east of San Diego, is famous for its apples — and apple pies. The colorful mountain town is included in a list of the 12 best places to soak up the fall within a few hours of Los Angeles.


California archive


Last Chinese town

The community gathered for the opening of the Locke Chinese School in 1926, in an image scanned from the book “Bitter Melon.”

Sacramento River Delta Historical Society

Perched along a river bank in the California Delta is the only surviving town in the U.S. to have been built by and for Chinese.

The tiny community of Locke traces its origins to this week in 1915 when the Chinatown in nearby Walnut Grove was destroyed in an accidental fire. That prompted a group of displaced Chinese to take a lease from a landowner named George Locke and create a place of their own just up the river.

Locke became a rare sanctuary from the anti-Chinese racism then rampant in California.

Locke’s narrow Main Street hasn’t changed much in the last century.

Chinese laborers had flowed into the delta region starting in the 1860s to do the grueling work of reclaiming the flood lands for agriculture. Many stayed to work the crops.

In a 1983 interview published in "Bitter Melon," an oral history of Locke, a longtime resident of the delta, Bing Fai Chow, recalled the hostility they faced: “We never dared to walk on the streets alone then — except in Locke. This was our place.”

In its heyday, between the 1920s and '40s, Locke was home to more than a thousand Chinese residents. On the weekends, the population would swell as visitors arrived to indulge in the town’s gambling halls, brothels, and opium dens.

The historic Star Theater is being held up by cables.

Today, Main Street’s two-story clapboard buildings stand essentially as they did in the old days, if now crumbling under the weight of time and neglect. The Star Theater, which once showcased Chinese opera, lists precariously to one side.

A foundation was set up in 2004 to forestall Locke's descent into a ghost town. But its fate is far from certain. At last count, the population had dwindled to less than 80. Just 10 or so were Chinese.


Thanks for reading!

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

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