Good morning. It’s Monday, April 3.
- California’s wet winter nourishes wetlands and wildlife.
- Alarm raised over “economic death spiral” in San Francisco.
- And incredible win sends San Diego State to first title game.
The L.A. Times on California’s remarkable recovery:
“The state’s largest reservoirs are filled to near capacity. Groundwater has begun to recharge after years of overpumping. Hillsides have exploded with a profusion of California poppies, sky-blue lupine and other wildflowers. Moisture-starved trees, including the state’s signature pines and mighty oaks, appear on the rebound.”
Tulare Lake, a phantom lake resurrected by epic rainfall, is already more vast than all but one of California’s reservoirs. Now farmers are bracing for the next phase, as walls of snow in the Sierra liquefy and further inundate the Central Valley, a prospect meteorologists have begun calling “The Big Melt.” “This is a slowly unfolding natural disaster,” said Jeffrey Mount, a water expert. “There’s no way to handle it with the existing infrastructure.” N.Y. Times | NBC News
It’s a common pattern: Young teachers start at high-poverty schools, put in a few years, then transfer to a school in a more affluent neighborhood. As a consequence, California schools with the highest rates of low-income students have fewer experienced teachers. A seemingly obvious solution would be to offer higher pay at those schools, but California won’t do it because of union opposition. CalMatters
“The barred owl was taking over. And it was going to wipe the spotted owl off the map.”
Beginning in 2017, a group of scientists placed roughly 2,000 microphones across the Sierra Nevada and recorded the summer sounds of the forest. The data revealed that invasive barred owls were muscling into the old-forest habitats of smaller spotted owls. Nature writer David Dobbs told the story of how conservationists used bioacoustics to fight off an existential threat to one of California’s most beloved species. bioGraphic
In a jarring editorial, San Francisco’s hometown newspaper urged the state to rescue the city from “an economic death spiral”:
“This is the city where it can take 87 permits, 1,000 days of meetings and $500,000 in fees to build residential housing projects. … This is the city where it costs an estimated $100,000 to build one tiny home for the homeless. … This is the city that at one point celebrated plans to build a single public toilet for $1.7 million.” S.F. Chronicle
After Twitter said it would remove blue verification marks from accounts that didn’t pay up, only a few dozen accounts were targeted upon the Saturday deadline. Among them was New York Times, which had its blue badge removed under orders from Elon Musk as he tweeted about his disgust for the newspaper. “Their feed is the Twitter equivalent of diarrhea,” he wrote. “It’s unreadable.” Twitter, whose ad revenue has plunged 90% since Musk took over, responded to a reporter’s request for comment with a poop emoji. Bloomberg | Washington Post
After the former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner was sentenced to just six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in 2016, outraged voters recalled the judge. The campaign aimed in part to raise consciousness about white privilege. But a study found that resulting increases in sentencing have fallen disproportionately upon Black and Hispanic defendants. In a documentary exploring the consequences of the recall, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen noted: “When a fire is started … a lot of things are going to get burned.” New Yorker
In December, Arcata raised the Earth flag to the top of the flagpoles at City Hall and other public buildings, above the U.S. and California flags. The move by the North Coast community, once named the country’s 17th best city for hippies, is believed to the first of its kind in the U.S. It’s also plunged Arcata into uncharted legal territory as the city tests federal and state laws that prohibit placing any flag above the Stars and Stripes. North Coast Journal
Some are already referring to it simply as the play. Down by one point against Florida Atlantic on Saturday with about seven seconds on the clock, San Diego State’s Lamont Butler Jr. raced the basketball up the court, darted left, elevated, and sank a gorgeous jumper as the buzzer rang out, clinching the Aztecs a spot in their first title game. Pandemonium. The reporter Billy Witz told how Butler, of Moreno Valley, went to his father’s hotel room later that night rather than join in the celebrations. “So he came in and just sat down, like nothing happened,” his father said. “I said, ‘Do you know you just hit the biggest shot in San Diego State history?’ He was more happy that we were happy.” N.Y. Times
- San Diego State faces Connecticut tonight at 6:20 p.m. According to the oddsmakers, they’ll need another miracle. S.D. Union-Tribune
When Assemblywoman Jasmeet Bains, of Kern County, cast the only Democratic vote opposing Gov. Gavin Newsom’s bill aimed at capping oil industry profits last week, she said she was standing up for her constituents in California’s biggest oil-producing region. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon responded by kicking her off a legislative committee. Critics called the move petty, but so-called Valleycrats, known for being less dogmatic than other party members, said they are used to such treatment. Bakersfield Californian
“We believe it’s a work of art.”
In the early 1960s, the celebrated architect John Lautner designed an almond-shaped mansion with 30-foot-tall windows overlooking a canyon in the Hollywood Hills. The Garcia House is now considered one of Los Angeles’ most significant midcentury homes. Architectural Digest just took a video tour.
Here’s a quick catch-up on news you may have missed from the past week:
- Gov. Gavin Newsom, who says he has no interest in running for president, announced a $10 million campaign to fight “authoritarianism” in red states. S.F. Chronicle | Washington Post
- San Francisco’s mayor asked a federal prosecutor to help curb the city’s open-air drug markets. “The problem is beyond our local capacity,” she wrote. S.F. Chronicle | ABC7
- One powerful local politician, Mark Ridley-Thomas in Los Angeles, was convicted on corruption charges, while another, Nathan Fletcher in San Diego County, stepped down after being accused of sexual assault. LAist | KPBS
- In 1999, the newspaper in Salinas, hometown of John Steinbeck, buzzed with about 35 journalists. It now has zero. L.A. Times
- Seven CHP officers were charged with manslaughter in the death of man during a 2020 traffic stop. Video showed him screaming “I can’t breathe.” L.A. Times | LAist
An item in the newsletter published on March 24 misstated when Owens Lake was drained. It was the early 1900s, not 1990s.
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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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