Good morning. It’s Thursday, May 4.
- Another California bank faces crisis as stock plunges.
- Oakland teacher strike to disrupt school for 34,000 pupils.
- And a world-class hike in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Please note: The newsletter will be off Friday and Monday. Back in your inbox Tuesday.
“This could be the best bloom for the rest of our lifetimes.”
California’s kaleidoscopic spring is a reminder of how vast parts of the state once looked. Botanists are relishing the moment given that a pattern of prolonged droughts is making the phenomenon increasingly rare. A reporter and photographer created an immersive report on California’s most dazzling wildflower destinations. Washington Post
Another California bank appears to be faltering. Shares of PacWest Bancorp, in Beverly Hills, plummeted 60% Wednesday after a Bloomberg report said it was considering a breakup. The bank has lost about 85% of its value since early March. The hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman warned of more banking stress to come. “Confidence in a financial institution is built over decades and destroyed in days,” he tweeted. “As each domino falls, the next weakest bank begins to wobble.” Bloomberg | Reuters
A few eye-catching homes on the market:
- An East Los Angeles home on stilts won fans after its turn as the residence of Danny Trejo’s character in the 1995 movie “Heat.”
Stilt houses proliferated in Los Angeles in the 1950s and ’60s as developers embraced the inexpensive approach to building on spectacular hillsides. Yours for $1.4 million. Dirt | Los Angeles Magazine
- John Marsh Davis, a master of organic architecture, built some of the most original Bay Area homes in the second half of the 20th century. One of his works in Marin County has 16-foot-tall glass doors and a primary bedroom with views of Mount Tamalpais. Asking price: $5 million. Wall Street Journal
- A technicolor home in Palm Springs has over-the-top pink, blue, and emerald-green rooms. Built in 1969, it seems to be frozen in another era, with a jukebox, chandeliers, and shag carpeting. Yours for $2.2 million. Realtor | Dirt
Oakland teachers planned to strike Thursday, union officials confirmed late Wednesday, disrupting instruction for more than 34,000 students. Oakland has among the lowest-paid teachers in the state, but parents have been split on whether to support the strike. Thursday’s strike would be the third in just over a year for a district where only 35% of students are proficient in reading. Oaklandside | S.F. Chronicle
In a rare pushback to a prosecutorial decision, San Francisco supervisors called on District Attorney Brooke Jenkins to release video from the fatal shooting of a shoplifting suspect by a Walgreens security guard after she declined to file charges in the case. “You do not have the right to execute someone for shoplifting,” Supervisor Shamann Walton said Tuesday. Jenkins called the killing a tragedy but said the guard acted in self-defense. Her decision infuriated activists and friends of the victim, Banko Brown, identified as a Black trans man who had struggled with homelessness. KRON | SFGATE
Keith Doolin, a death row inmate convicted of killing two sex workers in 1995, has spent 27 years locked inside a cell at San Quentin, often for 23 hours a day. It’s roughly 4 feet by 10 feet, small enough that he can touch both walls at the same time. He sleeps on the floor so he can use the bed as a desk. He’s never walked without a guard escort or without his hands shackled. He’s never stepped on grass or eaten a meal with a group of people. The reporter Sam Levin wrote about the last days of death row in California. The Guardian
A creative agency hired to design passenger stations for California’s bullet train released renderings that envision them as sleek and modern with sweeping lines and elevated, landscaped terraces. The stations would be built in Fresno, Merced, Hanford, and Bakersfield — the initial stops along the first operational stretch of the train. See more renderings. 👉 Fresno Bee | Kilograph.com
An Oakland man put two tiny homes in his yard as a way to make extra cash. They are now his primary source of income. Ansel Troy said he got an RV loan to buy the first unit for $33,000 and started renting it on AirBnb in 2018. It went so well he added the second home in 2021 and before long was able to walk away from his 9-to-5 job. He’s planning now to add a third tiny home. Insider
Jenny Craig, a weight-loss institution headquartered in Carlsbad for nearly four decades, told employees it is planning to close its doors, reports said on Tuesday. Founded in 1983, Jenny Craig became a household name with celebrity spokeswomen such as Mariah Carey, Kirstie Alley, and Valerie Bertinelli. In recent years, it faced financial challenges as dieters cut spending and new weight-loss drugs gained popularity. NBC News | S.D. Union-Tribune
Nipton, a dusty outpost in the Mojave Desert, has attracted a series of entrepreneurs over the years hoping to strike it rich. There was the gold miner who hoped to create a Mecca for nature lovers; the cannabis company that envisioned a wonderland for potheads; and the buyer who wanted to build a testing ground for solar power. The latest dreamer is Ross Mollison, who bought Nipton on a whim last year for $2.5 million. His vision: a retreat for circus performers to workshop new acts. N.Y. Times
The Santa Monica Mountains got a shout-out in a veteran outdoorsman’s list of the world’s 10 most beautiful hikes. Grayson Haver Currin snubbed the Pacific Crest and Appalachian trails in favor of the Backbone Trail, which zig-zags for 67 miles along the spine of the Santa Monica range, offering views of the ocean from several thousand feet above Los Angeles. Outside Magazine
- How to do the Backbone Trail in eight day hikes. 👉 L.A. Times
The Gold Rush has been called the most demographically male event in human history, with California men outnumbering women by roughly 10 to one. Rowdyism flourished, and some young men who struck out in the gold fields tried their luck at bare-knuckle boxing. Before long, San Francisco became one of the world’s great boxing cities. Its most hallowed institution was the Olympic Athletic Club, founded in 1860s, which produced more champions than any sporting club in the country. In 2011, Princeton acquired and digitized a photo album from the club that contains 1,086 photographs of boxers with names like Goldie Burke, Pickles Martin, and Dynamite Murphy. Their battered faces tell the story of life in the ring. Slate | Flashbak
- See the entire volume of photos. 👉 Princeton.edu
An earlier version of this newsletter misstated Jenny Craig’s valuation. The weight loss company was not valued at $224 billion. (That figure was an estimate of the entire weight loss market in 2021.) Jenny Craig was valued in 2002 at about $115 million.
Thanks for reading!
The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
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