Good morning. It’s Friday, Dec. 15.
- Regulators vote to extend the life of Diablo Canyon.
- Incoming storms are expected to soak California.
- And a skydiving center where 28 people have died.
State regulators voted on Thursday to add five more years to the life of California’s last nuclear plant, allowing it to operate until 2030. The Diablo Canyon facility, which went online in 1985 and supplies about 9% of the state’s power, has faced years of public pressure to close over safety concerns. But energy experts and lawmakers argued for keeping it open to ensure the reliability of the power grid as it transitions to renewable energy. Opponents said California was courting nuclear catastrophe. LA. Times | A.P.
During California’s Gold Rush years, prospectors embedded a code in the state’s emerging water laws: first come, first served. “Their water rights assured, the settlers gobbled up land, laid down dams, ditches, communities,” wrote climate reporter Raymond Zhong. “Shrewd barons turned huge estates into jackpots of grain, cattle, vegetables and citrus. California grew and grew and grew.”
The New York Times published a fascinating account of how California still remains at the mercy of water claims that were staked in a less crowded world more than a century ago.
California developments connected to the Mideast crisis:
- Protesters staged a “die-in” outside Google’s San Francisco offices on Thursday, demanding the company end its software contract with Israel. The demonstrators draped themselves in sheets emblazoned with a mock version of Google’s logo that spelled “Genocide.” S.F. Chronicle | KQED
- Dan Kalb, a liberal Jewish member of the Oakland City Council, was disinvited from giving an environmental talk at UC Berkeley after students discovered that he supported Israel. Kalb called the incident plainly bigoted. Jewish News of Northern California
- Oakland’s school district, where teachers faced blowback for holding a pro-Palestine teach-in, canceled its Wednesday board meeting in response to bomb threats. The teachers union denounced the cancellation, suggesting the threats were not credible. Oaklandside
Here they come.
After a lackluster start to California’s rainy season, meteorologists said on Thursday that a strengthening jet stream — the steering current for storms — was poised to deliver what could be a progression of rainmakers. The timing and intensity of the first storm remains uncertain, but the center is expected to sweep across the northern half of the state between Saturday and Wednesday, dropping inches of rain and high-elevation snow. Meteorologist John Lindsey expressed alarm about models that called for as much as 7 inches of rain in two weeks along the Central Coast. Accuweather | Washington Post
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In 2010, nearly 80% of voters in Siskiyou County said they opposed the removal of dams along the Klamath River. With the largest-ever dam removal now underway along the river, rancher Richard Marshall said he sees the project as part of a larger effort to eradicate ranching and agriculture in Northern California. “A lot of us believe that’s really the game plan.” The Washington Post told the story of the Klamath’s fiercely contested water politics in a visually impressive reporting project titled “Nature, Undammed.”
Since 1985, 28 people have died skydiving from just one location outside Lodi, known today as the Parachute Center. Yet people keep jumping. A Sacramento Bee investigation found that the failure to shut the business down could be attributed to one reason: California, which regulates businesses like nail salons and car washes, does not regulate skydiving. An introductory video on the story, showing 18-year-old Tyler Turner preparing to jump in 2016, is gutting. Sacramento Bee
The Nevada County Board of Supervisors voted against a corporate prospector’s proposal to reopen an abandoned mine on Thursday, thrilling locals who had fiercely opposed the plan. Rise Gold, a Canadian company, took an interest in the 150-year-old Idaho-Maryland Mine near Grass Valley as the price of gold skyrocketed, promising jobs and tax revenue. It had sought confirmation that its mining rights remained valid based on historical use, which the board rebuffed. Rise can still seek a permit, but it is now subject to environmental review. S.F. Chronicle | Sacramento Bee
San Francisco has become a national poster child for urban disorder in recent years. But the problems of crime and homelessness are more severe across the bay in Oakland. The city’s homeless population has grown by 1,000 people since the start of the pandemic. Vehicle thefts surged nearly 50% this year. In July, the Oakland chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. published an open letter denouncing an “intolerable public safety crisis.” “What has happened has been basically an institutional exodus from the city,” said Mitchell Schwarzer, a historian who has lived in Oakland for 24 years. N.Y. Times
With the last remnants of fall giving way to winter, photographer Jake Edwards headed into the breathtaking backcountry of the Indian Valley in the northern Sierra foothills, where the winter vibes have officially arrived. See 10 of his photos. 👉 @scenescapery
Beaches between San Diego and the Mexican border have been closed on and off for years because of constantly high bacterial contamination. Local officials say the problem has only worsened as sewage from the Tijuana River flows into an estuary just north of the border. “I’m a surfer,” said Paloma Aguirre, the mayor Imperial Beach. “I’m in love with the beach and I can’t surf in my own town.” Wall Street Journal
On this week’s California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman talks with the writer Ryan Bedsaul, who wrote recently in Current Affairs about finding Los Angeles with Anthony Bourdain as a guide. “For me Bourdain’s work is a guiding light toward what really matters when we’re traveling, or even beyond travel when we’re living in a place and trying to understand it as best as we can,” he said. “In a way, it’s almost like this mentality applies all of the time. It’s not just about travel.”
In case you missed it
Five items that got big views over the past week:
- In the 1970s, the photographer David Hurn made a series of pictures in California, where he visited the Salton Sea, Disneyland, and Palm Springs. A few years ago, he donated his photography to the National Museum Wales, where you can now see more than 50 of his California works online. They are fantastic.
- Rep. Kevin McCarthy has used a thinly regulated leadership PAC to spend lavishly on high-end resorts, private jets, and fine dining, a journalism investigation found. All told, his PAC dropped more than $1 million on hotels, meals, and private jets, more than 10 times the spending of other congressional leaders. L.A. Times
- Mark Rober, who delighted the internet by baiting package thieves with glitter bombs, has now gone to war with people stealing from cars in San Francisco. Rober placed a rigged backpack in the back of a vehicle that would explode with glitter and fart spray when stolen. YouTube
- In San Francisco’s realest neighborhood, there’s an International Style laundromat, a Chinese restaurant famous for its Filipino food, and a deli that doubles as an alteration shop. Julie Zigoris wrote a love letter to the Excelsior District. SF Standard
- See 25 photos of the Excelsior District. 👉 California Sun
- Dr. Kwane Stewart, a veterinarian who roams San Diego’s homeless encampments offering free pet care, was named CNN’s 2023 Hero of the Year on Sunday. He gave a magnificent acceptance speech. CNN
Thanks for reading!
The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
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