This Week in WTF, July 31, 2015

– In some circles, that’s a valuable natural resource: Residents and business owners in La Jolla, a San Diego neighborhood perhaps best described as “tony,” filed a lawsuit in San Diego County Superior Court in late 2013 against the city and its interim mayor, demanding that they clean up the apparently excess amounts of sea lion and cormorant poop currently stanking up La Jolla Cove:

The plaintiffs, Citizens For Odor Nuisance Abatement, also want the city to remove a fence that limits public access to the cove.

According the suit, San Diego has “exclusive dominion, control and responsibility for the maintenance of the cliffs in and around the La Jolla Cove and is responsible for keeping the area free of noxious odors.”

The nonprofit group, which was created earlier this year for the express purpose of eliminating annoying odors, claims the city “at some point in time and without public notice, erected a fence along the sidewalk that runs along La Jolla Cove, preventing the public from accessing the rocks. The fence was built without an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and is in violation of the Local Coastal Plan (LCP), which requires maximizing coastal access.”

The fence allegedly prevented access to the rocks and created a “buildup of excrement from sea lions and cormorant birds, causing noxious odors resulting in illness to the citizens of San Diego and others who visit this area.”

"La Jolla Cove view" by Dirk Hansen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons + "Sea lion head" by Alexdi at English Wikipedia [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons + "Great Cormorant RWD2" by DickDaniels ( (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons + "Mladenovo, Guano hill at the bottom of the steeple" by Author:Sors bona (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons = "Free Illustration: Gavel, Hammer, Judge, Justice - Free Image on Pixabay - 568417" by Mdesigns [Public domain, CC0 1.0 (], via Pixabay

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Water Rationing for Rich People

Rancho Santa Fe, California is about to become subject to water rationing for the first time, and some residents aren’t happy, according to this Washington Post story that really has to be read to be believed (h/t Ned Resnikoff):

RANCHO SANTA FE, CALIF. — Drought or no drought, Steve Yuhas resents the idea that it is somehow shameful to be a water hog. If you can pay for it, he argues, you should get your water.

People “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful,” Yuhas fumed recently on social media. “We pay significant property taxes based on where we live,” he added in an interview. “And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.

[Emphasis added.] Continue reading


Ignoble Moments in U.S. History: The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882

On May 6, 1882, U.S. President Chester A. Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred all immigration into the United Stated from China for ten years (h/t Melynda). With subsequent renewals, it remained in effect until 1943. Technically, the law only barred “Chinese laborers,” but it effectively prevented all immigration for reasons I’ll get into below.

Chinese immigration to the western United States began around the time that area became the western United States (as opposed to northern Mexico), in the late 1840’s. The California Gold Rush was a major factor, but the (white) Americans coming to California from the eastern U.S. weren’t necessarily thrilled with them being there, but they were tolerated for some time.

Chinese railroad workers sierra nevada

As the Gold Rush wound down, Chinese immigrants and their families settled in cities, especially San Francisco. Many of them took work in restaurants and laundries, and Chinese-Americans played a prominent role as laborers in railroad construction. After the Civil War, however, they made convenient scapegoats for all number of complaints: Continue reading


Russians in California

320px-FortRoss-chapel-reconstructedRussia maintained an outpost called Fort Ross in northern California, about 91 miles north of San Francisco, from 1812 to 1842. According to Wikipedia, on March 15, 1812, “Ivan Kuskov with 25 Russians and 80 Native Alaskans arrive[d] at Port Rumiantsev and proceed[ed] north to establish Fortress Ross.”

Spain still held most of California at the time, and they weren’t too thrilled to have Russians that close by. They built the Mission San Francisco de Solano near Sonoma in 1823 to keep an eye on them. Later on, after Mexican independence, Mexico built El Presidio de Sonoma in the area in 1836 for the same reason.

The fort provided agricultural products for Russia’s Alaskan colony, including crops and furs, but it ceased to be viable in the 1840’s when the Alaskan colony started obtaining goods elsewhere. The Russians sold it to a guy for $30,000, although Russian historians claim he never paid for it, and that the land is still titled to Russia. I’m sure they’ll be claiming on that any day now.

This is one of those things we never learned about in school, so I just thought you should know.

Russia also established a fort on the island of Kauai, Hawaii in 1817. They turned it over to the Hawaiians later the same year, though.

Photo credit: ‘The chapel in Fort Ross (reconstructed), California, USA’ by Introvert [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons.