Good morning. It’s Friday, Sept. 9.
- Storm poses flooding risk in Southern California.
- Ecologist warns of a species shift in Yosemite.
- And Oakland gives part of city park to tribal group.
Please note: Photos in the newsletter have been displaying inconsistently for some readers. I’m aware of the problem and working on a fix.
Now weakened to a tropical storm, Kay was expected to churn along the coast of northern Baja California through Friday, bringing potential flooding to Southern California through the weekend. While the storm was projected to veer away from the coast Saturday, forecasters said it may come closer to Los Angeles than any tropical storm since the 1970s. That city and San Diego could be deluged by up to 2 inches of rain, forecasts said. They typically get less than a quarter inch in all of September. Accuweather | A.P.
Firefighters battled two explosive wildfires threatening communities at both ends of the state on Thursday.
- The Fairview fire near Hemet, in Riverside County, grew to about 40 square miles, raising the possibility of a massive evacuation campaign. John Crater, a Cal Fire division chief, said the fire was unlike any he had seen in the county. “Have your bags packed, have a go bag and have a plan,” he said. L.A. Times | CNN
- In the northern Sierra, the Mosquito fire spread to more than 20 square miles, burning several homes and threatening thousands more in the Gold Rush towns of Placer and El Dorado counties. As flames bore down on Foresthill, home to about 1,500 people, fire official Brian Este told a community gathering that firefighters were doing everything they could to save the town. Sacramento Bee | CapRadio
See a live fire map. 👉 Cal Fire
Drought, fire, vanishing glaciers, invasive species — the ecosystems of Yosemite National Park are changing in ways once unimagined. Surveying the valley, National Park Service forest ecologist Garrett Dickman pointed toward chaparral and brushland emerging from burned ground. “We’re seeing a species shift,” he said. “In a few areas, what’s coming back isn’t forest at all, it’s cheatgrass.” USA Today
After a deadly hit-and-run in the North Coast community of Crescent City in 2018, the case quickly went cold. Then CHP officer Ted Luna learned about so-called “geofence” technology, allowing him to analyze Google data for which mobile devices passed through the intersection around the time of the killing. That led to a critical break and an arrest. Reporters investigated the growing use of geofence warrants across California. USA Today
An Alameda County sheriff’s deputy, Devin Williams Jr., turned himself in to law enforcement on Wednesday hours after being accused of a double murder. Relatives of the victims — Benison Tran, 57, and his wife, Maria Tran, 42 — portrayed the gun killings as a love triangle turned deadly. Williams’s mother said her son had been in a romantic relationship with Maria Tran since January and he believed she was unmarried. She said her son was “blinded by love.” A.P. | KTVU
Oakland is giving a Native American tribe exclusive rights to 5 acres of a city park in what’s believed to be first arrangement of its kind in the U.S. Mayor Libby Schaaf said the transfer to the East Bay Ohlone tribe was intended to repair historic harms. A tribal official said they planned to add native plants to the parcel in Joaquin Miller Park and eventually open a cultural resource center. S.F. Chronicle | Oaklandside
There’s a vineyard in Napa Valley that devotes a half-acre plot to growing fruits and vegetables for its immigrant farmworkers. Northern California’s multibillion-dollar wine industry depends on laborers who live on the margins of society, often below the poverty line. Craig Becker, of Somerton Estate, said the vineyard pays its workers at least $24 an hour. The vegetable garden was added as a small way to honor them, he said: “It’s all for the employees. Pick it from the tree and it’s yours.” Modern Farmer
On this week’s California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman chats with the founder of the San Francisco news outlet Mission Local, Lydia Chavez, and the columnist Joe Eskenazi. Asked to give her read of the media landscape in the Bay Area, Chavez lamented the stiltedness of much of the reporting. “There seems to be a total lack of humor other than Joe Eskenazi in the Bay Area journalism world,” she said. “And that bothers me.”
Rep. Katie Porter bought her four-bedroom home on the UC Irvine campus for $523,000 in 2011. The below-market price was secured through a university program aimed at luring academics unable to afford to live in the affluent area. For Porter, whose net worth is valued at as much as $2 million, the subsidized housing has far outlasted her time in the classroom, which she left four years ago to serve in Congress. The arrangement cuts against the profile she has cultivated as a critic of systems rigged in favor of the wealthy and connected. A.P.
☝️ Here’s the photo that Bakersfield Life, the monthly magazine of the Bakersfield Californian, chose for its September “Women’s Issue.” Readers had some constructive criticism:
- “The Women’s Issue. Front cover feature photo: two male lawyers. Really? Really?”
- “Am I seeing this correctly? Your September issue is titled ‘The Women’s Issue,’ but the cover photo is of two middle-aged white men in suits? How could this oversight even be possible?”
- “A major flub and a gut punch to all the wonderful women of Bakersfield.” SFGATE | Bakersfield Californian
☝️ This picture of a shark patrolling off Santa Barbara, captured by Clay Folden, was just honored in the 2022 Drone photo awards. It offers a dazzling view of what’s known as a vortex trail, created as water and sediment swirls around a shark’s caudal fin. The similarity to airplane contrails is more than just visual. Researchers have studied sharks for insights on aerodynamics — perceiving the graceful creature as a sort of airplane of the sea. Droneawards.com
See sharks making vortex trails. 👉 YouTube
In case you missed it
Five items that got big views over the past two weeks:
- A field of massive boulders in the Southern California desert, a 100-foot bluff along the Big Sur coast, and a valley between the Inyo Mountains and Eastern Sierra. A popular camping app ranked the top 10 places to camp in the West. The Dyrt
- The nine-day Burning Man festival ended Monday as tens of thousands of people streamed out of the temporary city of Black Rock to resume their normal routines. The photographer Jane Hu captured some gorgeous pictures. 👉 SFGATE
- The Bushman has returned to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. For more than 40 years, a person disguised as a bush has scared passersby along a touristy stretch of sidewalk. But one Bushman died in 2014, and another vanished in 2019. Now a new successor has emerged. See a highlight reel. 👉 YouTube
- Lake Isabella, nestled in the southern Sierra Nevada foothills, has become so depleted that the foundations of a ghost town are now peeking up from the dry lakebed. Whiskey Flat was said to be among the rowdiest places of the Old West. SFGATE
- Carousel Mall was a centerpiece of San Bernardino’s downtown for decades before falling into decline and closing in 2017. The reporter David Allen toured the abandoned structure. He anticipated a mess, he wrote: “But I didn’t expect to see sleeping quarters.” San Bernardino Sun
Thanks for reading!
The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
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