• Mon. Sep 25th, 2023


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Why Californians Love California

For the first time ever, California’s population declined in 2020. And then again in 2021.

Such news tends to spawn discussions about how no one wants to live in California anymore, as it’s too expensive, drought-stricken and fire-prone. Everyone is leaving for cheaper pastures, the story goes.

Yet 39.19 million people lived in California as of January 2022, far more than any other U.S. state. And for the past few months, you’ve been writing to me about why you’re among them.

Today I’m sharing your notes about why you love your corner of California or the state as a whole. As always, you can share your own submission at CAToday@nytimes.com. Enjoy.

“We came to Orange County on vacation from Seattle when I was 9 years old. We never left, and I’ve been enjoying every day of this sunny, salty, sandy, snowy vacation for 42 years.” — Jason Allan, Irvine

“There’s nothing like leaving the humidity of (fill in almost anywhere else in the world) and flying into Fresno on a late summer afternoon. Walk out of the terminal into that dry 106-degree heat and relish the feeling! Home is the San Joaquin Valley! The smell of the grape vineyards in the middle of the night in the summer is wonderful! The miles of orchards in bloom in February are delightful! Add to that the diversity of cultures in the valley and remember that you live in the richest agricultural area in the world, and that’s my California.” — Marilyn Harvey, Fresno

“I was a career diplomat for almost three decades, but have returned to north San Diego County. From my little retirement house on a hill five miles inland, I can see the sun rise over Palomar Mountain (dusted with snow in the winter) and set over the Pacific Ocean in the evening. Oceanside, where I live, is considered by many to be Southern California’-s most authentic beach town.

It not only has great surfing and swimming beaches, it also boasts the biggest wooden pier on the West Coast, migrating whales offshore and a New England-style harbor where we locals sail, paddle, eat, drink, surf and just hang out.

It is quite expensive to live here. My house is tiny, and taxes are high. I pay a lot for earthquake insurance, and although there aren’t many trees in my coastal desert region, I keep the shrubs around my house trimmed, and am well aware of the hot, dry desert winds that spawn wildfires. I still wouldn’t live anywhere else.” — Patricia McArdle, Oceanside

“As a native New Yorker, I was enchanted when I moved to the Golden State. The weather, the charming people, the beaches, and the progressive, liberal politics of my adopted home state made me see the infinite possibilities of life as a Californian. Nothing can make me leave the state that I am proud to call my home.” — Honey Obeng, Victorville

“In 1969, my husband, Mark, concluded his domestic military service and our family moved to Sacramento. Our teenage children attended fine public schools. I became a legislative advocate for health and environment as well as a marathon runner. Many weekends were spent in San Francisco attending opera, theater and many running events.

In 1990, we moved to S.F. permanently and live on a high hill with fantastic views. We are ardent travelers although Covid outbreaks have slowed our pace. We ride electric bikes now, which helps move our 80-plus-year-old bodies up the many hills.” — Joan Reinhardt Reiss, San Francisco

Across the country, Republican lawmakers and their allies have started a campaign to rein in what they see as activist companies trying to reduce greenhouse gases.

  • Offshore wind project: The Biden administration has released the lease terms for offshore wind projects along California’s northern and central coasts — the first such project off the nation’s Pacific Coast, The Associated Press reports.

  • Diablo Canyon: This week, Gov. Gavin Newsom asked the Biden administration to modify a federal bailout program to ensure the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant would qualify for funds that would help it remain in service, Bloomberg reports.

  • Declawing cats: California lawmakers advanced a bill on Thursday that would ban the declawing of cats, a procedure opposed by animal rights activists, The Associated Press reports.


  • L.A. strippers fight to unionize: Dancers at a North Hollywood club say they’re not being kept safe — so they’re striking, KCRW reports.

  • No graduation: A San Fernando Valley charter high school is barring unvaccinated students from in-person graduation, Los Angeles Daily News reports.


  • School name change: Nearly a year after calls to rename Polk Elementary School, some students who opposed the name change said they felt cut out of the process, The Fresno Bee reports.


  • San Jose shooting: The family of one of the victims of the 2021 mass shooting filed a lawsuit on Thursday against the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority saying it failed to stop the gunman, The Associated Press reports.

  • Admissions change in S.F.: Teachers at Lowell High School gave freshman students significantly more D and F grades this past fall, the first semester after the school board eliminated merit-based admissions, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

  • Camp fire fallout: The Guardian writes about Chico, the town at the center of California’s climate refugee crisis.

Black pepper stir-fried tofu and asparagus.

Today’s tip comes from Paul Kretschmer, who recommends Pine Mountain Club, a small mountain community in Kern County:

“Whenever I get tired of L.A., I take a trip to Pine Mountain Club.

It’s the exact opposite of the city. Instead of freeways and streets, there are pine trees on mountain slopes. Instead of traffic noise and sirens, you hear total silence, or maybe the gentle sound of the wind. And instead of people walking around, you can see birds, deer, maybe even a bear (if you’re lucky).

It’s the perfect place to unwind for a weekend. You can kill yourself climbing three different peaks on a 10-mile hike, or you can take an easy stroll in the woods. There’s not a lot to do, but that’s the point. There are a couple of restaurants, but nothing fancy. A clubhouse where the locals drink and dine. And it’s only 90 minutes away from L.A.”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

In honor of its large Japanese community, Sacramento will soon be home to a 1.5-acre park filled with pink and white cherry blossoms.

The cherry blossom grove, which will be called Hanami Line, will open in 2023 in Robert T. Matsui Waterfront Park, The Sacramento Bee reports. “Hanami” refers to a Japanese custom in which people celebrate spring with loved ones under cherry blossoms.

“The Hanami Line will combine Sacramento’s love of trees with the rich cultural heritage of this region,” according to the Sacramento Tree Foundation.

Thanks for reading. We’ll be off for Memorial Day but will return Tuesday. Enjoy your weekend. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and a clue: One function of a microwave (5 letters).

Briana Scalia and Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

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