Good morning. It’s Thursday, March 16.
- Wall of mountain snow blocks man from his dying wife.
- L.A. commuters abandon Metro over rampant drug use.
- And planned strike threatens to shut down L.A. schools.
As the 11th atmospheric river of the season subsided Wednesday, more than 150,000 customers remained without power statewide, many in the Bay Area. Swamped towns along the Sierra foothills, the Central Coast, and beyond surveyed the destruction of their homes and farms. Gov. Gavin Newsom visited Pajaro, where a levee broke, and promised to help hundreds of displaced farmworkers. “This is when Californians are at their best,” he said. “I’ve seen it over and over again — people coming together regardless of their differences.” L.A. Times | Monterey Herald | S.F. Chronicle
“Oh my God, she’s going to die before I get there.”
Robert Rice, a 79-year-old combat veteran living in the San Bernardino Mountains, knew how to handle his own problems. He had a generator, extra gasoline, and a pantry stocked with soup and chili. So when he was trapped by 10 feet of snow, he wasn’t worried. Then he got word that his wife, Ann, was struggling to breathe at the nursing home where she lived 27 miles away. He realized that he could be denied the chance to say a final goodbye. Desperate, he posted a message on Facebook: “This is very embarrassing for me to even ask for help.” N.Y. Times
Other storm developments:
- Residents fled four cliffside apartment buildings in San Clemente after the hillside fell away. A geologist said the top layer of the bluff is essentially made of sand. O.C. Register | LAist
- “Yes, yes, yes!” Stunning video captured a farmer driving a truck into a breached levee in a desperate bid to halt flooding of a pistachio orchard. It appeared to work. @agleader | S.F. Chronicle
- With boosted reservoirs and snowpack, officials on Wednesday lifted water restrictions for nearly 7 million people in Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties. L.A. Times | A.P.
After months of strained negotiations, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that he had abandoned his call for legislators to put a cap on oil company profits. Instead, he plans to seek a bill that would empower state regulators to penalize profits that they deem excessive. “What we’re asking for is simple,” Newsom said, “transparency and accountability to drive the oil industry out of the shadows.” An industry official said the proposal was “just another tax wrapped in unchecked and expensive bureaucracy.” CalMatters | L.A. Times
Yes, populations are shrinking in San Francisco and Los Angeles. But other California cities — concentrated mostly on the suburban outskirts of Sacramento, the Bay Area, and Los Angeles — have boomed in the last few years. Menifee, near Lake Elsinore, grew from 85,000 residents in 2016 to an estimated 116,000. The population in Dublin, in the Bay Area, also surged. The reasons are not mysterious. Both cities permitted thousands of new homes. L.A. Times | KTVU
A 25-year-old Stanford University employee was arrested and charged with felony perjury on Wednesday after prosecutors said she lied about being raped twice last year on campus. The rape reports in August and October set off campus alerts followed by protests that drew hundreds of students who carried placards that said, “Stanford Protects Rapists.” Authorities said Jennifer Gries, 25, concocted the stories in bid for revenge against a coworker “because she felt he gave her ‘false intention.'” A.P. | S.F. Chronicle
Shasta County this week offered the county’s top administrative post to a secessionist. Chriss Street is a leader of the New California movement, which wants to split the state into urban and rural halves. He’s also active in the Agenda 21 movement, whose members aim to halt what they believe is a global plot to subjugate humanity under an eco-totalitarian regime. Shasta County’s last executive officer quit during the pandemic, when public meetings turned hostile over Covid-19 restrictions. Redding Record Searchlight
There’s a Northern California beach where you can have two encounters with nature that you’ll likely remember for a lifetime. Usal Beach, at the southern end of the Lost Coast, is a remote dark sand beach with a resident herd of Roosevelt elk, majestic creatures that stand as tall as 5 feet at the shoulder. Just a half-mile inland is another stately congregation: a 500-year-old grove of candelabra redwoods. Their wild appearance resulted from fierce winds that splintered the treetops and warped new growth into multiple prongs. North Coast Journal | Save the Redwoods League
After a bruising 614-day nomination process, the Senate confirmed Eric Garcetti as ambassador to India on Wednesday. The former Los Angeles mayor, 52, spent months trying to beat back accusations that he ignored sexual harassment accusations against a top aide in his office. Ultimately, reporter Jennifer Haberkorn wrote, President Biden’s loyalty saved Garcetti from what would have been a humiliating blow to his career. Garcetti said he never considered backing out, and Biden never asked him to. L.A. Times | Politico
Commuters are abandoning Los Angeles’ Metro as the system is overtaken by rampant drug use. Since January, 22 people have died on Metro buses and trains, mostly from suspected overdoses — more people than all of 2022. Serious crimes soared 24% last year. “We don’t even see any businesspeople anymore,” a train operator said. “We don’t see anybody going to Universal. It’s just people who have no other choice [than] to ride the system, homeless people and drug users.” L.A. Times
Unions representing as many as 65,000 teachers and other school staff in Los Angeles said they would strike for three days next week over stalled contract negotiations, likely shutting down the nation’s second-largest school district. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the stoppage would hurt students already struggling to recover academically after the pandemic. He accused labor leaders of refusing to negotiate. Union leaders said the district’s offers have fallen short for a woefully underpaid workforce. L.A. Times | A.P.
In the 1990s, Marlena Fejzo suffered from a rare and debilitating illness during two pregnancies. She couldn’t move without vomiting. Her weight dropped to 90 pounds from 115. But her doctor thought it was all in her head, she said. Women make themselves sick to gain sympathy, he explained. Infuriated, Fejzo, then a postdoctoral fellow at USC, made it her life’s work to find the condition’s true cause. The one day, after years of research, she made a discovery. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is it,'” she recalled. N.Y. Times
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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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