Good morning. It’s Tuesday, Dec. 12.
- Signs of progress on homelessness in Los Angeles.
- Video game maker beats Google in antitrust case.
- And a battle over an unusual wave in Laguna Beach.
California Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter, both Democrats, have been among the most vocal critics of X, signing a letter last month that accused the platform of profiting from “misinformation and hateful, violent, and terroristic propaganda videos.” But that doesn’t seemed to have slowed their spending on the social media site, a review found. In 2023, Schiff spent more than $93,000 to promote his X account, while Porter’s campaign dropped more than $74,000. Washington Post | SFGATE
Since 2020, California has allocated $800 million to the Bay Area as part of its ambitious Homekey initiative, which moves homeless people into converted motels with the aim of transitioning them into permanent housing. But a review found that most people who entered the program ended up back on the street or in other shelters. “It’s not getting the outcomes anybody’s looking for, from top to bottom,” a lawmaker said. Mercury News
Other dispatches from the homelessness crisis:
- Reno is showing rare success in its fight against homelessness. In 2021, the city just north of Lake Tahoe teamed with its neighbors to create a giant tent structure filled with beds, pictured above. The number of people on the street fell 58%. Wall Street Journal
- San Francisco is having its deadliest year ever for drug deaths. In the first nine months of 2023, 692 people died of overdoses, more than in all of 2022. Speedballs — crack cocaine mixed with fentanyl — are worsening the crisis. Guardian | S.F. Chronicle
- One year in, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass has made serious progress on at least one campaign promise: clearing encampments. Reporters recently visited 31 of 32 sites targeted by Bass. About three-fourths were free of tents or close to it. L.A. Times
A federal jury ruled on Monday that Google abused the market power of its app store to extract fees from a video game maker in a case that could reshape how businesses make money in the mobile app ecosystem. The San Francisco jury deliberated less than four hours before unanimously siding with Epic Games, the maker of “Fortnite.” “The last two decades have seen a profound shift away from the open internet towards walled gardens,” said Stanford law professor Mark Lemley. “That is one of the things that has kept the internet market so concentrated. This verdict just knocked a big hole in the garden wall.” Bloomberg
Mt. Shasta Ski Park announced Saturday that it would erect a 20-foot-tall statue of the Virgin Mary on the mountain, and locals are already organizing to block it. The park said the statue was a dream of its owner, Robin Merlo, intended not to elevate any one religion but to honor “the beauty and spiritual power of the mountain.” Opponents are gathering signatures on a petition that demands a halt to the project and asks the Forest Service, which provides use permits on the mountain, to step in. KRCR | Ski Magazine
Behold the Heineman Building. ☝️
While skyscrapers such as the Transamerica Pyramid and 555 California are more popularly identified with San Francisco, some architecture lovers hold a special place in their hearts for the oddly narrow structure tucked away in the Financial District. After the 1906 earthquake, the businessman H. M. Heineman had the petite tower built on a 20-foot-wide lot as a necktie, belt, and suspender factory. As the district was rebuilt, the Heineman Building took the appearance of being squeezed by its neighbors. Curbed once published a tribute to “the original skinny legend.”
A city audit found that the Los Angeles Police Department is flying helicopters virtually nonstop over the city, with most flights dispatched for reasons unrelated to serious crime. Over a five-year period, the helicopters logged 783 ceremonial “fly-bys” at events such as retirement ceremonies and golf tournaments, the report said. In one case, they shuttled passengers to a “Chili Fly-In.” The cost of the police flights has amounted to nearly $50 million a year, more than the entire budgets of 14 other city departments. The Guardian | LAist
Journalists from the Orange County Register and 10 other publications in the Southern California News Group are planning a one-day walk out Thursday to protest stagnant wages. According to labor leaders, some workers haven’t gotten a raise since the 2000s. The news group is owned by a subsidiary of Alden Global Capital, a secretive hedge fund notorious for gutting newspapers in order to wring out as much cash as possible. Voice of OC
Shohei Ohtani will receive just $2 million a year as a Dodger, with the rest of his record $700 million, 10-year contract to be paid out without interest after it expires, reports said on Monday. The unusual arrangement softens the team’s tax repercussions but lowers the real value of Ohtani’s contract to more like $460 million, since inflation makes money in the future less valuable than money today. It’s still the richest in baseball history. L.A. Times | A.P.
A high school senior in Los Angeles named Zach Gottlieb wrote that “the closing of the teenage mind is almost complete” at his school:
“I see teenagers unintentionally becoming more unforgiving and judgmental rather than open-minded and compassionate. When we can’t or don’t talk freely, we lose the chance to find real common ground, acknowledge complexity or grasp that even our own opinions can be malleable. If we listen only to those who already agree with us, we won’t make wider connections. We won’t grow.” L.A. Times
A veterinarian who roams San Diego’s homeless encampments offering free pet care was named CNN’s 2023 Hero of the Year on Sunday. In 2010, Dr. Kwane Stewart encountered a homeless man with a dog whose skin was ravaged by a flea infestation outside a 7-Eleven. He returned the next day with medication — and was hooked. His group, Project Street Vet, now involves veterinarians volunteering in San Diego, Los Angeles, Orlando, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and other cities. S.D. Union-Tribune | CBS8
- Stewart gave a magnificent acceptance speech. 👉 CNN
Skimboarders are battling with authorities over access to an unusual wave in Laguna Beach, the birthplace of the sport that involves flying across shallow water on finless planks. At Aliso Beach, a berm of sand commonly blocks a creek from reaching the sea. But when a heavy current allows the waterway to punch through the berm, it creates a stationary wave, perfect for skimboarding. The trouble has come as riders have used shovels to breach the berm themselves, drawing the ire of environmentalists and park rangers. The city has now resorted to installing a camera to catch people manipulating the estuary. The Inertia
- See skimboarding star Blair Conklin riding the Aliso Creek wave. 👉 YouTube
An earlier version of this newsletter misdefined the term speedball. A speedball combines a stimulant such as cocaine with an opioid such as fentanyl. It is not crack cocaine mixed with meth.
Thanks for reading!
The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
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