A freshly covered Sequoia National Park in snow is simply majestic.


Plus: Coachella, Stagecoach to return in 2022; a tragic killing at an L.A. County fire station, and should the state turn abandoned malls into housing? 

But first. San Franciso Mayor London Breed is proposing more than $1 billion in new funding to reduce homelessness in the next two years. The San Francisco Chronicle called it “a staggering amount” to tackle “the city’s most vexing problem.” Overall, the city’s budget is about $13 billion a year; currently, the city is spending about $300 million annually on the problem. The new spending, the paper says, “reflects the intense pressure Breed and other city leaders are under to address the thousands living on the streets, in shelters and in unstable housing.”

Know someone who cares about the Golden State? Let them know they can sign up for the In California newsletter via this link. I’m Julie Makinen, California editor for the USA Today Network, bringing you today’s key headlines.

Coachella, Stagecoach to return in April 2022; headliners still a mystery

Hotel bookings dropped significantly due to the cancellation of festivals amid the coronavirus pandemic. The popular Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is held at the Empire Polo Club as seen here on October 7, 2020.  (Photo: Taya Gray/The Desert Sun)

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival will return in April 2022, ending a two-year hiatus for the renowned music event amid the COVID-19 pandemic — but dashing hopes held by some fans that they might be heading to the California desert in the fall. 

Coachella will take place April 15-17 and 22-24, 2022, while country music counterpart Stagecoach will happen April 29 to May 1, 2022, organizers announced Tuesday.

Los Angeles-based producer Goldenvoice did not announce a lineup for either festival, both of which will take place at the Empire Polo Club in Indio.

Goldenvoice will open an advance sale for Coachella passes at 10 a.m. Friday. Stagecoach advance passes will be announced at a later date. Previously purchased 2020 passes will automatically apply, and passholders will receive new wristbands. 

Both weekends of Coachella will be live-streamed on YouTube. 

Shocking study finds 10% of world’s giant sequoias killed by Castle Fire

The high-severity Castle Fire burned through the Freeman Creek Grove of giant sequoia. (Photo: USFS)

What was once a lush forest is now a “moonscape.”

At least a tenth of the world’s mature giant sequoias were destroyed by a single wildfire that tore through the southern Sierra Nevada late last year, according to a draft report prepared by scientists with the National Park Service and shared with the Visalia Times-Delta.

The catastrophic discovery that forest managers called “mind-blowing” comes five months after firefighters contained the Castle Fire — which scorched 175,000 acres across the Sequoia National Park and forest.

Between 7,500 and 10,000 monarchs perished in the wildfire, which equates to 10% to 14% of the world’s mature giant sequoia population, the study found. Researchers used satellite imagery and modeling from previous fires that burned through old-growth sequoia groves to arrive at the figure.

“I cannot overemphasize how mind-blowing this is for all of us. These trees have lived for thousands of years. They’ve survived dozens of wildfires already,” said Christy Brigham, chief of Resources Management and Science at Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.

California eyes shuttered malls, stores for new housing

This Thursday, May 27, 2021, photo shows the closed Sears in Buena Park Mall in Buena Park, Calif. California state lawmakers are grappling with a particularly 21st-century problem: What to do with the growing number of shopping malls and big-box retail stores left empty by consumers shifting their purchases to the web. A possible answer in crowded California cities is to build housing on these sites, which already have ample parking and are close to existing neighborhoods. (Photo: Damian Dovarganes, AP)

California state lawmakers are grappling with a particularly 21st-century problem: What to do with the growing number of shopping malls and big box retail stores left empty by consumers shifting their purchases to the web.

A possible answer in crowded California cities is to build housing on these sites, which already have ample parking and are close to existing neighborhoods, Associated Press reports.

But local zoning laws often don’t allow housing at these locations. Changing the zoning is such a hassle that many developers don’t bother trying. And it’s often not worth it for local governments to change the designations. They would prefer to find new retailers because sales taxes produce more revenue than residential property taxes.

However, with a stubborn housing shortage pushing prices to all-time highs, state lawmakers are moving to pass new laws to get around those barriers. 

A bill that cleared the state Senate last week would let developers build houses on most commercial sites without changing the zoning. Another proposal would pay local governments to change the zoning to let developers build affordable housing.

“There has always been an incentive to chase retail and a disincentive to build housing,” said Sen. Anthony Portantino, a Los Angeles-area Democrat who authored the bill to pay local governments. “There is more dormant and vacant retail than ever.”

Firefighter kills colleague at SoCal fire station

An off-duty Los Angeles County firefighter fatally shot a fellow firefighter and wounded another at their small community fire station Tuesday before going to his nearby home, setting it on fire and apparently killing himself, authorities said.

A 44-year-old fire specialist died and a 54-year-old firefighter was shot when the gunman opened fire shortly before 11 a.m. at Fire Station 81, which is about 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of Los Angeles, Fire Chief Daryl Osby told reporters. The wounded man was in critical but stable condition at a hospital.

The shooter was a firefighter specialist and engineer, authorities said. The fire chief said he could not speak to the motive for the attack and doesn’t know about any disciplinary actions.

“He was not scheduled to work today. He came back and confronted the on-duty personnel,” a visibly shaken Osby said. “I cannot speak to the mindset of the shooter. I can say that it’s very tragic and sad that that would be a decision point of one of the members of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.”

The gunman, who was not identified, then went to his house less than 10 miles (16 kilometers) away, which authorities found engulfed in flames. He was later found dead in an empty pool.

The shooter appeared to have a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.

All the firefighters worked at the small station in Agua Dulce, a rural community of about 3,000 people in the desert of northern Los Angeles County known for its rock formations and panoramic views.

70% of adult Californians are partially vaccinated against COVID-19

A person experiencing homelessness gets their Johnson & Johnson vaccine during a mobile vaccination clinic hosted by Central Avenue Pharmacy, All-In Monterey, and the Center for Community Health Engagement in Salinas, Calif., on Friday, May 14, 2021.  (Photo: David Rodriguez/The Salinas Californian)

One month ahead of the target date set by the Biden administration, California has now at least partially vaccinated 70% of its adult residents against COVID-19, the L.A. Times reported.

Clearing that hurdle is a vital development as the state prepares to fully reopen later this month.

The progress, however, comes alongside a significant drop in the number of people seeking their first vaccine shot.

At the peak, providers statewide were administering about 400,000 vaccine doses per day. Over the last week, an average of about 141,000 shots have been doled out daily, according to data compiled by The Times.

In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle. Julie Makinen is California editor for the USA Today Network. Follow her on Twitter at @Julie_Makinen.

Read or Share this story: