Good morning. It’s Thursday, Sept. 28.
- Rare bipartisan alliance seeks to clear encampments.
- Colorful leaves herald autumn in the Eastern Sierra.
- And a “crosstalk apocalypse” at the Republican debate.
Frustration over squalor in cities across the West has led Republicans and Democrats to forge an unlikely alliance. This month, Gov. Gavin Newsom joined right-wing legislators in Arizona along with dozens of other governments and organizations urging the Supreme Court to overturn lower court rulings that barred cities from making it a crime to sleep on public property. “It’s just gone too far,” Newsom said. “People’s lives are at risk. It’s unacceptable, what’s happening on streets and sidewalks.” N.Y. Times
A decade after California declared clean drinking water a human right, about a million residents still lack access to it. The problem is especially dire in Kern County, where people rely on trucked-in water and sometimes just take the risk of using arsenic-tainted tap water. Dana Ezelle has lived without safe tap water for 20 years in the Antelope Valley. Plans are underway to connect her trailer park to a larger neighboring water system. Its water, while better, is contaminated too. L.A. Times
Fall is beginning to flaunt its colors at higher elevations in the Sierra Nevada. In California, the reds, yellows, and oranges of autumn parade gradually down the mountains, starting typically mid-September at around 10,000 feet and concluding on the valley floors and coasts as late as December. On Tuesday, the photographer Jeff Simpson captured views in Virginia Lakes, pictured above, in the Eastern Sierra. California Fall Color | MonoCounty.org
- Five dazzling fall destinations. 👉 California Sun
The newest appointment to Shasta County’s mosquito control board warned about mosquitoes weaponized by the Japanese to be “flying syringes” that can mass-vaccinate the population. Jon Knight, who owns a garden supply store in Redding and cofounded a group opposed to “government overreach,” won the support of the Board of Supervisors’ far-right majority in a vote on Tuesday. Supervisor Mary Rickert, a moderate, said the decision made them look like “idiots.” Later in the same meeting, the board adopted a resolution opposing Covid-19 mandates. Record-Searchlight
For decades, Fort Ord on Monterey Bay was one of the country’s largest light-infantry training bases. But with the end of the Cold War, it was deemed unnecessary. The military left and the cities of Seaside and Marina, where Fort Ord had been a linchpin of the local economy, was left with a ghost town that they couldn’t afford to tear down. Also left behind: stockpiles of unexploded ordnance, lead fragments, industrial solvents, and explosives residue. “They didn’t do anything to remove the blight — 28 years after the base closed,” said Layne Long, Marina’s city manager. N.Y. Times
Sam Altman, the OpenAI CEO, has a sister named Annie that he seldom talks about. She is extremely intelligent, an artist and the host of a podcast called “All Humans Are Human.” When she faced financial hardship a few years ago, she asked her wealthy brother for help. He refused, and Annie turned to sex work. “I was just at such a loss,” she said, “in such a state of desperation, such a state of confusion and grief.” Elizabeth Weil wrote a fascinating profile of the affable 38-year-old ushering in the age of artificial intelligence. New York Magazine
Siskiyou County, roughly the size of Connecticut with a population half that of Santa Monica, is a place of vast, open spaces. Each year, people take in a bird’s-eye view of the county’s Shasta Valley, in the shadow of the namesake mountain, during a hot-air balloon festival in Montague. A local photographer, Roxanne Coonrod, captured a nice series of pictures, if unfortunately marred by wildfire smoke, from the 2023 event last weekend. Facebook
- Stunning waterfalls, soaring granite spires, charming Gold Rush towns. Here are 15 things to do in Siskiyou County. 👉 California Through My Lens
Several reporters came away from the Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate in Simi Valley with the same takeaway. As the columnist Benjamin Wallace-Wells put it: “None of these candidates look like they can beat Donald Trump.” They bickered relentlessly, talked over one another, ignored the moderator’s questions, and delivered only glancing blows at the front-runner, Trump, whose decision to skip the debate seemed to be validated. Afterward, DeSantis summed up the spectacle: “If I was at home watching that I would have changed the channel.” New Yorker | N.Y. Times
The government has dropped off an estimated 7,800 migrants on the streets of San Diego in the past two weeks as a new wave of illegal immigration strains the Border Patrol. With shelters nearing capacity, the county’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to declare a humanitarian crisis and plea for more federal assistance. “While we are a community that values compassion and empathy,” said Supervisor Jim Desmond, a Republican, “we must also acknowledge the practical limits of our capacity to meet the needs of those who arrive in our region.” Wall Street Journal | S.D. Union-Tribune
Ojai just became the first city in the U.S. to recognize the legal rights of an animal, besides humans. The City Council in the artsy enclave just east of Santa Barbara voted Tuesday to “codify” the rights of elephants to enjoy sanctuary-like conditions. There are no elephants in Ojai. Councilmember Leslie Rule said the measure was inspired in part by reports of elephant mistreatment at zoos in Fresno and the Bronx. “It isn’t a joke,” she told Ojai Valley News. “We can do some real good here.” KTLA | KION
The “L.A. Fingers” gesture was first popularized by Estevan Oriol’s 1995 photo of a Latina woman’s gilded fingers forming the letters. It signaled West Coast pride, the journalist Caroline Ryder once wrote, taking the typography of the Hollywood sign and reworking it “for the gardeners, maids, and miscellaneous Latino laborers upon whose shoulders the city still rests.” A quarter-century later, the L.A. fingers gesture will now be honored in the form of two 14-foot bronze sculptures at either end of the celebrated 6th Street Viaduct. Hyperallergic
Southern California has the greatest density of dolphins of any place on Earth. That makes it an ideal place to see so-called mega pods, rollicking herds of dolphins that can number in the thousands. A videographer with Dana Point Whale Watching captured some amazing drone views of a dolphin stampede off Dana Point last week. YouTube (~1 min)
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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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