With an estimated 70,000 residents living in vulnerable structures, landlords are moving fast to meet the city’s new retrofit deadlines.
California regulators are weighing plans to make it easier and less expensive for oil refineries and other big industries to comply with the state’s new cap-and-trade system for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and environmentalists are alarmed. At a hearing last week in Sacramento, the California Air Resources Board heard staff proposals to amend the year-old cap-and-trade program to extend “transition assistance” to industry through 2018. The change, coming on the heels of lobbying from industry, would give businesses possibly hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free allowances to pollute, and alter the economics of the emerging auction market for carbon.
Years of Lobbying Helped Transportation Fuels Industry Win Exemptions From California’s Climate Rules
For four years oil companies, airlines and ground transportation industry groups have petitioned California for exemptions from the state’s cap-and-trade greenhouse gas market, saying consumers would take the hit through higher prices at the pump and in stores. And in court they are still arguing that the state lacks the regulatory authority to compel participation. To a degree, they have succeeded. This story is part of a special report on climate change in the summer print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.
It will take at least 7 years to secure older wood buildings dangerously perched above windows or garages
This story appeared in the Winter 2012-2013 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.
One in 14 San Franciscans lives in an old building with a first floor that city inspectors say could be vulnerable to collapse if not retrofitted soon to withstand a major earthquake.While officials have had a preliminary list of nearly 3,000 suspect properties for more than three years, they have not told landlords, leaving the estimated 58,000 residents who live there ignorant that their buildings could be unstable.
At 10 a.m. Wednesday, California’s potentially revolutionary carbon cap-and-trade program launched in a humdrum fashion. Numbers began appearing on a secure Web site accessible to the biggest oil exploration companies, manufacturers, utilities, state regulators and independent monitors. No one outside of this select group got to see its inner workings. But the event marked a new phase in the state’s pioneering effort to halt climate change: actual dollars traded for permits to emit carbon dioxide.
San Francisco’s civil grand jury on Thursday chastised many of the city’s restaurants for profiting from surcharges they add to customers’ bills under the name of paying for health care and recommended that the city ban the practice.
A nearly three-year effort to put a strong anti-human-trafficking law before voters succeeded this week, organizers said, when they counted 873,000 signatures on their petition to put the proposed Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act on the November state ballot. The citizen-led campaign to strengthen criminal penalties against people who traffic teenagers, children and immigrant laborers on the streets of California cities, and over the Internet, has been working on the issue since 2009, when some Fremont residents started a grassroots organizing effort.
A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2012 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.
It’s no wonder there is a hue and cry about an uneven playing field among businesses as they comply with San Francisco’s Health Care Security Ordinance. The law requires most employers to provide health care benefits to workers who put in at least eight hours a week. But an analysis of compliance reports submitted by 15 randomly selected employers to the city’s Labor Standards Enforcement Office finds that they spent wildly different amounts on health benefits per employee in 2010, the most recent year reported.
Unintended consequences of city’s effort at universal health care
A San Francisco requirement that businesses pay for their employees’ health needs has led to more workers having some form of health care. But after businesses initially stepped up to buy private health insurance for more of their workers, there has been a steady retreat. Since 2008, a growing percentage of employers have ditched private insurance for a cheaper way of meeting the law’s requirements: city-engineered reimbursement accounts, which cost companies half or less what they previously paid for traditional insurance.
Coordination and prevention improve care, but as businesses resist, some costs are borne by one-time grants and struggling clinics
Four years ago, San Francisco launched a grand experiment, becoming the first city in the nation to offer comprehensive health care to its growing ranks of uninsured. Stitching together two-dozen neighborhood health clinics and an array of hospitals, the city bet that two reforms — emphasis on primary care and a common electronic enrollment system — could improve outcomes and buffer the city against soaring health care costs. By many measures, San Francisco’s effort to provide universal health care has been a huge success. The initiative, Healthy San Francisco, has over time treated more than 100,000 city residents. But the city’s grand plan has not solved the central problem dogging health care across the country: figuring out who pays for it.