Good morning. It’s Tuesday, Oct. 17.
- The roots of the homeschooling surge in California.
- Vallejo police force is placed under state oversight.
- And Central Coast communities push back on wind farms.
“To the conventional wisdom that one ought never to build on a floodplain, California has responded with its capital city.”John McPhee, 1993
As California faces the potential of another wet winter, state water officials are quietly talking about an idea once considered taboo: that whole communities may need to move. “A big part of how we got here was we had a mindset of we are going to tame nature,” said Karla Nemeth, California’s top water official. “Ultimately, what we are going to do is move a lot of people.” KQED
Pacific Gas & Electric wants to bury power lines in California regions most prone to fire. But it can’t move forward without approval from state regulators, who say the $5.9 billion project would cost customers too much. They want the utility to put protective covers on overhead lines instead, a step PG&E says would only reduce fire risk by about 62%. “We’re not going to live with 35% risk,” said PG&E CEO Patti Poppe, rounding down in her assessment. “Who wants to get on a plane that has a 35% chance of crashing?” A.P.
Homeschooling has shot up roughly 85% in California since the year prior to the coronavirus pandemic. During a homeschooling conference in San Luis Obispo last spring, mothers rattled off their reasons for losing faith in public education: racism, vaccinations, book bans, school shootings, poor test scores, hostility to trans children, “woke” ideological capture, and on and on. While they embraced varying political beliefs, they all arrived at the same solution. “I believe we can change the world,” a speaker told the auditorium through tears. “I believe we already are.” The Believer
Vallejo has become synonymous with police brutality over the years thanks to a drumbeat of news stories depicting killings, abuse, and secrecy by the Bay Area city’s police department. Now California Attorney General Rob Bonta is demanding sweeping changes. On Monday, he announced that Vallejo would be required to implement dozens of reforms under court oversight, including steps aimed at limiting pretextual stops, increasing accountability to civilians, and revising protocols for responding to calls involving mental health crises. “Trust has been broken,” Bonta said. Open Vallejo | Vallejo Times Herald
“By many measures, San Francisco is the safest it has ever been. Violent crime is a third of what it was in 1985 … The city has a triple-A credit rating. Most of its residential neighborhoods are clean and green and bustling. With the exception of the Tenderloin … a walk through San Francisco is a stroll around an affluent Pacific capital of small bookstores and night markets and weekend festivals — so much so that one can almost wonder where the idea of a city in decline emerged.”
Nathan Heller wrote about what really happened to San Francisco. New Yorker
Weeks before Sam Bankman-Fried, the son of Stanford professors, faced indictment, the Stanford dropout Elizabeth Holmes was sentenced over her fraudulent blood-test startup. Around the same time, Stan Cohen, a Stanford genetics professor, was fined $29 million for misleading investors in his biotech company. And earlier this year, Do Kwon, a Stanford alum, was arrested for a multibillion-dollar crypto scheme. “More than ever, it would seem Stanford is due for some serious introspection,” wrote journalist and Stanford student Theo Baker. New York Magazine
UC Berkeley on Monday announced plans to build a $2 billion space research center on NASA property in Mountain View. The Berkeley Space Center at NASA Research Park will sit on 36 acres at the Moffett Field and include sleek offices, classrooms, and laboratories set among parks and outdoor work areas, all aimed at pushing frontiers of science in quantum computing, aeronautics, planetary science, and other fields. “The timing could not be better,” said Eugene Tu, director, NASA’s Ames Research Center. “We are at a major pivot point, if you will, in space exploration.” KQED | Mercury News
You can now ride rail bikes through California’s Gold Country. The new tourist attraction opened last week along 4 miles of the historic Amador Central line in the foothills east of Sacramento, a route that once moved lumber between gold mining communities. The rail bikes come fitted with an electric motor, so pedaling is minimal. ABC10 | Sacramento Bee
- See video of the ride. 👉 YouTube
Two conservative school board members in Orange County appear to poised to face a recall after a group said it submitted more than enough petition signatures to qualify for the ballot. The effort to remove Madison Miner and Rick Ledesma signifies potential trouble for a batch of newly seated Republicans across Southern California, who have embraced a host of cultural wedge issues, most notably the requirement that schools notify parents if their child identifies as transgender. Politico
While local officials in Humboldt County have largely welcomed plans for offshore wind turbines, the mood is different along the Central Coast. In Morro Bay and other nearby communities, the tourist economy has relied on the allure of lonely beaches and Main Streets seemingly frozen in time. Some locals say plans to place hundreds of enormous turbines 20 miles off the coast will spoil what people love about the place. “This is just another attempt to industrialize the coast,” said Rachel Wilson. “I can just see Port Hueneme with cranes and lights and a huge wharf in my charming little coastal community. No way.” CalMatters
Brenda Mendoza, born and raised in Los Angeles, used to live near the Marriott hotel where she has worked for 14 years. Priced out, she moved to Downey two years ago. But that also got too expensive. Now she lives in Apple Valley, 100 miles away. To make it to her 7 a.m. shift she wakes up at 3 a.m. and commutes two to three hours. Mendoza’s story exemplifies why striking hotel workers are making the unusual demand that hotels build affordable housing. Hotel owners say fixing the region’s longstanding housing crisis isn’t their job. NPR
A shocking San Diego County murder got the “48 Hours” treatment. In December 2020, Jade Janks, an interior designer, found nude photos of herself on a computer that belonged to her stepfather, a man she was said to care for deeply. Days later, she drugged him and strangled him to death, a jury would find. The broadcast includes dramatic courtroom testimony, including the moment Janks was asked about a text she sent that read “I just dosed the hell out of him.” CBS News
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