Good morning. It’s Tuesday, July 26.
- A militia group rattles locals in Yosemite fire zone.
- Los Angeles allows housing vouchers to go unused.
- And San Francisco’s last full-service video rental store.
Legislation signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last Friday was modeled after a Texas law that deputizes private individuals to sue abortion providers. But the California measure differs in a significant way: It allows citizen lawsuits against gun dealers who sell banned weapons. The reporter Ian Millhiser, who holds a law degree, called it a “blatantly unconstitutional” gambit designed to troll the Supreme Court after it upheld the Texas law. Vox
On Nov. 20, President Biden is set to become the first American president to celebrate his 80th birthday while in office. Yet according to the presidential biographer Jeffrey Frank, the White House has shown little interest in enhancing the role of the person who could inherit the presidency at any moment: Vice President Kamala Harris. “That Ms. Harris has been stuck in a political role is troubling for anyone concerned about the stability and continuity of the executive branch.” N.Y. Times
Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office praised a militia group after it set up a mobile kitchen for evacuees from the wildfire raging near Yosemite. But some residents were rattled by the appearance of the California State Militia 2nd Regiment, whose camouflaged and sometimes armed members have become a growing public presence across the state. “The last thing I’m going to do is take a free tri-tip sandwich from a right-wing extremist group,” one local said. Mercury News
Firefighters “significantly slowed” the Oak fire on Monday. A.P.
To help meet its ambitious climate goals, California wants to siphon millions of tons of carbon dioxide from smokestacks and pump it deep underground. But some environmentalists say the plan is a ruse. That’s because it relies on pumping pressurized carbon dioxide into existing wells, which will allow drillers to flush out crude that would otherwise remain out of reach. One study found that a petroleum producer in Kern County could “effectively reverse the recent decline of oil production.” L.A. Times
The average San Francisco building project takes nearly four years to be permitted. When UC Berkeley researchers interviewed developers and construction workers about building in the city, they agreed on one thing: “The most significant and pointless factor driving up construction costs was the length of time it takes for a project to get through the city permitting and development.” The Atlantic
A 36-year-old kite festival on the Berkeley waterfront is ending after the city imposed $45,000 in fees, the festival organizer said. Tom McAlister, who founded the Berkeley Kite Festival, said he paid just a few thousand dollars in 2019 before officials hiked the fees to cover firefighters, parking attendants, and other services. A July Fourth festival was also canceled this year and may not return. After a story was published about the festival’s demise, Mayor Jesse Arreguin called for an exception to be made. Berkeleyside
San Francisco still has a full-service video rental store. Opened in 1983, the shelves inside Video Wave are piled high with DVDs and VHS tapes. In a charming short video, owner Colin Hutton explained that he’s in debt even after cutting his expenses to the bone. But his whole life is movies. “I don’t do anything else but this,” he said. “I work, I go home, I make food, I watch movies, and then I come and do some more work.” SF Standard (~5 mins)
Mike Davis, the great chronicler of Los Angeles, has terminal cancer and decided to end chemotherapy treatments. On a recent afternoon, the reporter Sam Dean sat for some hours with the 76-year-old author at his home in San Diego. He said he’s not depressed and that he takes comfort in having control over “the final act” thanks to California’s aid-in-dying law: “If I have a regret, it’s not dying in battle or at a barricade as I’ve always romantically imagined — you know, fighting.” L.A. Times
In July of 2021, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department awarded 3,365 housing vouchers to Los Angeles to help get desperate people off the streets. As of Thursday, only 196 had been used, or 5.8%. Other cities haven’t had this problem. Santa Barbara, for example, got 89 vouchers last July. By February, HUD gave the city 25 more because it had already used the entire first allotment. L.A. Times
- The weekly Covid-19 death rates in Los Angeles County and the Bay Area were roughly the same in June. Then something changed. Now it’s 70% higher in L.A. County. L.A. Times
- Outbreaks have swept through LAX with at least 400 cases among TSA staff and workers at American and Southwest airlines, county officials said. L.A. Times | CBS News
- Resistance is brewing over a potential mask mandate in L.A. County. Beverly Hills said it would refuse to enforce it. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger issued a statement saying a mandate would just rile people up. KTLA | CBS Los Angeles
A reverse migration has been gaining steam in San Diego as people priced out of the housing market increasingly choose to rent or buy homes in Mexico. Gustavo Galvez, a commercial insurance broker, moved his family from San Diego to Tijuana last summer. It’s noisier; the roads have abundant potholes; and the air is more polluted. But his monthly rent plummeted from $2,300 to $1,450. N.Y. Times
On March of 2021, a 3D artist from Covina named Jason Chou edited Paddington into a movie still from “Godzilla vs. Kong” and posted it to an irreverent film discussion group on Reddit. That kicked off a 16-month — and ongoing — quest to build an entire Paddington bear cinematic universe. As of Monday, he was up to 503. Mental Floss
See a few favorites below, and many more at Chou’s Twitter feed. 👉 @jaythechou
Thanks for reading!
The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
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