Good morning. It’s Thursday, May 11.
- Oakland teacher strike grinds on over societal ills.
- “Unconscionable” abuse in Los Angeles County jails.
- And pictures of midcentury San Francisco in vivid color.
California’s Reparations Task Force is expected to recommend that the state pay roughly 2 million Black residents as much as $1.2 million each in restitution for slavery and modern-day racism. But the proposal, due on July 1, will arrive on lawmakers’ desks as California faces a ballooning budget deficit long after the height of the racial-justice protests of 2020. On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom pointedly declined to endorse the payments. Politico | S.F. Chronicle
- Try a California reparations calculator. 👉 CalMatters
California has gone aggressively after cities such as Huntington Beach and Elk Grove for failing to do their part to address the state’s housing shortage. But the state itself is a vast landholder, with enough real estate to fit Los Angeles County three times over. In Sacramento, state buildings and parking lots fill the city’s urban core, and much of it is ugly or unused. Gregory Shill, an urban planning expert, said he’s unaware of another American city with comparatively high housing demand where the state occupies as much land. S.F. Chronicle
When Virdell Hickman got a promotion at the Bay Area nonprofit where she works, she pleaded with her bosses not to give her a raise. They eventually forced her to accept one, lifting her salary above a $60,000 threshold that meant she no longer qualified for federal housing subsidies. As a result, she became worse off financially. Economists call the problem the “benefits cliff,” and it’s become increasingly common in California, where wages don’t keep up with inflation and exorbitant rental markets. The Guardian
As Oakland teachers plan to enter their sixth day on strike, the impasse is no longer focused on money or benefits. The district has offered pay increases of as much as 22%, plus backpay. But the union is also demanding so-called “common good” measures, which include repurposing school buildings for the homeless and reparations for Black students. Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell called the goals laudable, but said “they should not hold children’s learning hostage.” Mercury News | KQED
Elizabeth Weil wrote about “spiraling in San Francisco’s doom loop”:
“A poll from the controller’s office found that San Franciscans felt less safe in the city than we had in 27 years. And of course we did. Everywhere you looked, you saw it billboarded: The social contract had ruptured, and we’d ceased to believe we could fix it. The city often seemed to operate like an incompetent parent, confusing compassion and permissiveness, unable to maintain boundaries, producing the exact opposite result of what it claimed to want.” Curbed
- Downtown San Francisco is losing another store after Coco Republic announced the closure of its flagship location. SFGATE | SF Standard
Remote work appeared to be a likely explanation for stubbornly low ridership on BART, which has remained at roughly 40% of its pre-pandemic levels. But according to a new poll commissioned by a business advocacy group, Bay Area residents are primarily staying off the trains over concerns about safety and filth. More than 60% of respondents described the transit system as unsafe; 64% called it unclean. Nearly half said they had witnessed a crime firsthand on BART. KRON | KGO
- A man slashed a BART passenger with a meat cleaver during a robbery attempt on Wednesday, police said. Mission Local
Charles Cushman, a voracious traveler from small-town Indiana, was an early adopter of color photography. From 1938 to 1969, he created more than 14,500 Kodachrome color slides, including nearly 2,000 in San Francisco. Taken together, they offer a rare multi-colored portrait of the city at midcentury, when middle-class families could still buy homes, modest art deco structures dominated the skyline, and bohemians swaggered along Haight Street. Here are 22 favorite pictures from the Cushman archive. 👉 California Sun
Early settlers in Sonoma County described the area as a gateway to hell after they encountered steam rising from the bowels of the Mayacamas Mountains. About 1.3 million years ago, a blob of magma barged through the earth’s crust, leaving a shallow rock that is still piping hot today. The 45-square-mile area above it now comprises the world’s largest energy-producing geothermal field. Known as the Geysers, it satisfies nearly 60% of the power demand for the coastal region from San Francisco to the Oregon border. The travel reporter John Bartell once took a tour. YouTube/ABC10
“Unconscionable.” “Barbaric.” “Subhuman.”
In Los Angeles County jails, mentally ill people are chained to chairs and left to sleep on concrete floors. Some smear feces on the walls of their cells. Others scream and pace back and forth. In an editorial, the L.A. Times denounced a carceral system where “desperately sick people enter jail to lie for days in their own waste and eventually emerge (if they survive) untreated, more broken and more dangerous.”
A government-funded nonprofit has been driving around Los Angeles Skid Row in a golf cart and handing out glass pipes to methamphetamine addicts. Fox 11 aired video that showed a man approach one of the Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles carts and ask for a pipe, which a worker then hands him. “Thank you,” he says. “You’re welcome,” the person replies. The executive director of Homeless Healthcare said the pipe distribution is part of the same “harm reduction” approach adopted for needle exchange programs. Fox 11
New satellite imagery showed the remarkable transformation of the southern San Joaquin Valley after torrents of rain and snowmelt submerged cropland in the historic basin of Tulare Lake, drained for farming a century ago. The pictures use false color, which makes the water dark blue to stand out from its surroundings. The climatologist Daniel Swain told the L.A. Times that the big melt in the Sierra is only getting started: “I know that’s hard to believe, but we’re getting into May, and the peak is probably yet to come.” Earth Observatory
In a story illustrated with lush photography, the reporter Corrine Purtill wrote about how “everything is growing everywhere all at once in Southern California”:
“Magenta explosions of bougainvillea frothed over the kitchen’s gates and the cinder-block walls of the vacant lot next door. The Indian coral tree’s fire-colored blossoms popped against green leaves. There was even a calla lily blooming from a patch of dirt everyone at the kitchen thought had gone barren.” L.A. Times
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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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