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According to this interview from October 2019, GF really did go to Redwood City as part of their SwSh promotional tour: Game Freak Talks Sword And Shield's Champion, Wild Area Interactions, And More
I'm not saying I think this is proof the Gen 9 region will definitely be California, but it...
My updated predictions for now:
-Q1 2023 release
-Region is based on Italy
-Starter final evolution typings are Grass/Dark, Fire/Fairy, Water/Fighting
-Trials return instead of Gyms, but instead of battling a Totem Pokemon at the end you battle the Trial Captain
-After completing all 8 Trials...
Some early predictions I have for Gen 9 (admittedly, also kind of my own personal wishlist):
-Region is based on Ontario, Canada
-Starters are a forest sprite (Grass/Fairy), ox that looks like a hot rod motorcycle (Fire), and a bipedal fighting fish based on a shaolin monk (Water/Fighting)...