Good morning. It’s Friday, Dec 9.
- A record number of California’s household wells go dry.
- Bay Area warden convicted of sexually abusing inmates.
- And Mayor Eric Garcetti’s legacy of broken sidewalks.
Under the CARE Act, signed into law in September, California plans to mandate treatment for people with severe mental illness and addictions. Anthony Mazzucca’s story illustrates how hard that will be. Since falling into the grip of schizophrenia 10 years ago, Mazzucca has been hospitalized, jailed, medicated, and housed in care facilities. “None of that kept him from cycling through the system time and again,” wrote Thomas Curwen in an eye-opening and compassionate long read. L.A. Times
“Both of those drugs, together and alone, make it so that people will literally refuse treatment, will literally refuse housing even when they’re living in tent encampments, even when they’re living in feces, in lethal temperatures, beaten, pimped out, because they do such a masterful job in potency and in supply of keeping, of thwarting that instinct to self-preservation.”
“I call it a silent disaster because it’s not like hurricanes where everything is getting blown over.”
This year, nearly 1,400 household wells have been reported dry — a record high and a nearly 40% increase over the same period last year. In parts of the Central Valley, residents have lived more than five years on water hauled to temporary storage tanks. Excessive groundwater pumping by agriculture is largely to blame. L.A. Times
Buckle up for another big storm. Forecasters said the latest system would dive into California from the Pacific Northwest between late Friday and Monday, delivering blistering winds, as much as 5 feet of snow in the Sierra, and significant rainfall at lower elevations all the way to the southern border. “It’s going to be gnarly out there,” said meteorologist Britta Merwin. Accuweather | FOX Weather
Track live weather. 👉 Zoom Earth
A jury found the former warden of a Bay Area women’s prison guilty of molesting inmates and forcing them to pose naked in their cells. Ray J. Garcia, who served as warden at FCI Dublin, was accused of sexual abuse after the FBI found photos of nude inmates on his work cellphone. During trial, he explained that he had wanted to document that the women were breaching prison policy by standing around naked. Jurors didn’t buy it. He faces 15 years in prison. Mercury News | A.P.
The journalist Bari Weiss posted a new batch of internal communications from Twitter on Thursday that she said showed the company secretly suppressed the voices of disfavored commentators. Unnamed sources told Weiss that Twitter executives embraced what they called “visibility filtering.” “We control visibility quite a bit. … And normal people do not know how much we do,” an engineer said. Among those targeted for suppression was Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a Stanford professor who criticized coronavirus lockdowns. Axios
The Washington Post’s Will Oremus: “[Weiss’s] framing is deeply misleading and sensationalistic, and ultimately obscures far more than it illuminates.” @WillOremus
☝️ This has been called the most storied Victorian in San Francisco.
Built by a German immigrant in 1889, the Westerfeld House was a club run by Czarist Russians in the early 1920s, a home for jazz musicians during the neighborhood’s heyday as Harlem of the West, and a hippie pad for members of the Calliope Company commune during the 1960s. In 1986, it was purchased at auction by Jim Siegel, a 30-year-old head-shop owner who had a vision of owning the home as a teenager during an LSD trip. The price was $750,000, a ridiculous sum at the time, when few people valued Victorians. He’s been restoring it ever since. Atlas Obscura | SFGATE
Give something they’ll open every day.
In 2016, Los Angeles announced a plan to fix the city’s slanted and shattered sidewalks. Five and a half years later, as Mayor Eric Garcetti prepares to leave office after nearly a decade as mayor, the sidewalks are still a mess. “This failure could more or less describe Garcetti’s tenure,” wrote Alissa Walker. “If you want to know what kind of mayor he’s been for our city — botching the basics locally while chasing national clout — just look down.” Curbed
Mayor-elect Karen Bass of Los Angeles vowed repeatedly during her campaign to make homelessness her No. 1 priority. Three days before her inauguration, a homeless encampment across from City Hall was already getting attention: government workers cleared it on Thursday, whisking inhabitants to a temporary shelter. “They said that they were going to be coming through here and cleaning this whole section out, because the mayor is having her inauguration,” said one of the inhabitants. L.A. Times
On this week’s California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman talks with Zev Yaroslavsky, who served for 40 years as a supervisor and City Council member in Los Angeles. He argued that the solution to Los Angeles’ homelessness crisis is simpler than many people say: It starts with repurposing motels for supportive housing. “Despite the fact that there’s this lore that NIMBYs won’t allow any homeless housing in their backyard, that’s not true,” he said.
A young girl named Madeline wrote a letter to Los Angeles County’s animal control agency asking for permission to house a unicorn — “if I can find one.” Tickled, the agency replied on official letterhead, spelling out the proper care of a unicorn: give regular access to sunlight and rainbows, offer watermelon treats weekly, polish horn with a soft cloth. They also enclosed a rose-colored metal tag with “Permanent Unicorn License” emblazoned on it. A.P. | L.A. Times
In case you missed it
Five items that got big views over the past week:
- Tucked along the eastern edge of Joshua Tree National Park are hundreds of abandoned homes in neat rows. The former iron mining community of Eagle Mountain is one of the country’s best-preserved ghost towns. A photographer paid a visit. Architectural Afterlife
- The New York Times published a front-page article on California’s effort to pay reparations to Black residents for the economic legacy of slavery and racism. A task force has estimated compensation of $569 billion for housing discrimination, or $223,200 per person. N.Y. Times
- The Michelin Guide announced its 2022 star recipients, including 89 restaurants in California. Among cities, San Francisco dominated with 28 starred restaurants. San Diego was also celebrated as Addison earned the state’s only new three-star rating. See the California restaurants. 👉 Michelin
- In 2015, California’s state water agency learned that a man was illegally bottling water from a tributary of the Tuolumne River and selling it at Starbucks. Six years later, they are still tangling with him in court. Grist wrote about why it’s so hard to catch water thieves in California.
- In 1964, Esquire sent the New York photographer Bruce Davidson to document the burgeoning city of Los Angeles. He found, he wrote, a “cultural desert with acrid air, bumper-to-bumper traffic, tall palms, and seedy Hollywood types.” The Cut | Vogue
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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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