Good morning. It’s Thursday, Jan. 11.
- Lawmakers advance ban on youth tackle football.
- Avalanche leaves skier dead at Palisades Tahoe.
- And the original Pea Soup Andersen’s quietly closes.
While California has been losing residents at all income levels, another demographic has helped offset the decline: immigrants. Between 2022 and 2023, the state had a population loss of more than 75,000 people. Without immigrants, a new analysis found, that figure would have been 225,000. Economist say the workers are crucial to replenishing a shrinking American labor force. The difficulty, said the American Enterprise Institute’s Nicholas Eberstadt, is the chaos at the southern border. “What I worry about is that it’s going to poison public support for immigration.” L.A. Times
- Dan Walters: California’s worker shortage has become an existential issue. CalMatters
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday proposed spending cuts to plug a $38 billion budget deficit left by inflation and depleted tax revenue from wealthy earners. The estimate is significantly less dire than the $68 billion shortfall projected by the state’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst in December. Still, it’s bad enough that Newsom called for dipping into reserves, cutting climate spending, and delaying a planned minimum wage hike for health care workers. CalMatters | Mercury News
A State Assembly committee advanced a measure Wednesday to ban tackle football for kids under 12 in what would be the nation’s first minimum age requirement for the sport. “Kids only have one brain. They only have one life,” said Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, the bill’s sponsor. A 2023 Washington Post poll found that attitudes toward the issue are strongly shaped by politics. Roughly 75% of conservatives said they would recommend youth or high school football to kids, compared with just 44% of liberals. Washington Post | L.A. Times
Prior to the arrival of Europeans on the West Coast in 1542, California grizzly bears were roughly 90% vegan. Researchers revealed the finding Wednesday in a study that analyzed the chemical signatures in museum specimens. The proliferation of unfenced livestock in California likely prompted the grizzlies to incorporate more meat in their diets. By the 1600s, colonists were depicting the bears as crazed killers, capable of massacring whole flocks of sheep. In time, it was the grizzlies that were wiped out by unbridled hunting and trapping. The Atlantic
- Monarch, the bear said to be depicted on the state flag, became a different kind of symbol: first of ego, then of suffering, and finally of a lost California. California Sun
“The American Hotel rises again!”
In 2018, a pair of friends sank their life into into the $1.4 million price tag for a ghost town in the Inyo Mountains, east of the Sierra. The plan was to transform the decaying former mining town into a tourist destination with accommodations in original homes and hotel rooms. One of the owners, Brent Underwood, moved to Cerro Gordo, posting videos on his lonely existence. Then in 2020, the project was dealt a devastating setback when the town’s historic hotel burned down. Now, three years later, Underwood has shared a time-lapse video of its rebuilding. YouTube (20 mins)
A 66-year-old man was killed and three others were injured in an avalanche early Wednesday at Palisades Tahoe that led to a frantic emergency response. The authorities said the victim, Kenneth Kidd, was completely buried by a mass of snow that created a debris field roughly 150 feet wide. Storm Jacobs, 16, saw the drama unfold from a chairlift. Everyone was screaming, “Avalanche, avalanche!” he said. “We were all in shock, like, ‘Oh my goodness, we could have just watched people die.'” L.A. Times | S.F. Chronicle
On Monday, the videogame software provider Unity Software said it would cut 25% of its workforce.
On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported a major round of layoffs at the livestreaming site Twitch.
On Wednesday, it was Google’s turn. The Mountain View search giant said it was firing hundreds of workers, framing the cuts as part of its pledge to focus on bigger priorities such as artificial intelligence. Analysts said the layoffs show that the tech industry still isn’t back to the rapid growth it saw over much of the past decade. Bloomberg | N.Y. Times
In 1992, East Palo Alto had the highest per-capita homicide rate in the country — 42 in a population of 24,000. With the start of the new year, the city celebrated a remarkable milestone for 2023: zero murders. City leaders attributed the turnaround to job programs, mentorship for young people, and rising confidence in law enforcement. Also: gentrification. “Oftentimes we hear about gentrification being so negative, right?” Rev. Deborah Lewis-Virges said. “I think we’re a prime example of it having a positive impact,” she added, noting that newcomers included Black, Asian, and Latino homeowners. S.F. Chronicle
Falk, a ghost town deep within one of Northern California’s misty redwood forests, was just added to the National Register of Historic Places. Founded as a lumber town near Eureka in the 1880s, Falk thrived for nearly 50 years — boasting a general store, dance hall, and its own rail line — before succumbing during the Great Depression. Abandoned, the forest reclaimed the land. But remnants of some of the old wooden structures still poke up through the undergrowth. Reporter Ashley Harrell paid a visit a few years ago. SFGATE
- See a collection of archival photos of Falk. 👉 Flickr
The original Pea Soup Andersen’s, one of the most recognizable roadside destinations along the 101 just up the coast from Santa Barbara, shuttered without warning. Founded by a Danish chef in 1924, the restaurant become synonymous with its home, Buellton, which adopted the slogan “the home of split pea soup.” It was said to serve more than 2 million bowls of the soup each year. Plans for the site remained murky, reports said. One long-time employee said the owner planned to tear down the restaurant and rebuild it. L.A. Times | Mercury News
Matthew Kenney, a pioneering raw food chef, has a talent for opening trendy restaurants that make a splash. Then they quietly close with piles of unpaid bills. In an expose on Kenney’s crumbling food empire, a former manager said the chef was providing vegan, yoga, and fitness influencers with up to $10,000 in free food a year while employees’ paychecks were bouncing. In one case, Kenney acknowledged he never even read a lawsuit a lawsuit filed against him and several of his companies. “It obviously got very, very bumpy over the last year,” he said. L.A. Times
An Australian architecture magazine took a video tour of what it called “the world’s best houseboat.” Situated in the historic bohemian houseboat community of Sausalito, the home is modern and airy with a 19–foot diameter circular opening. The architect, who led the tour, said the home feels like a “viewfinder” on the beauty outside, including Mount Tamalpais and the bay. YouTube (~6 mins)
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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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