The San Francisco Ballet, pictured here performing "The Nutcracker" in 2008, is one of many Bay Area arts organizations shifting to online performances this year.

S.F. Arts Go Virtual for the Holidays

Seventy-six years ago, the San Francisco Ballet introduced “The Nutcracker” to America. This year, the company will introduce the “Nutcracker Online” — a virtual holiday experience for the era of COVID-19.

S.F. Ballet is just one of many local arts organizations that have adapted their holiday offerings for a socially distanced season. It’s not easy to capture the spirit of live performance without an audience, but constraints have bred creativity and opened new channels of artistic expression.

Cities’ Uses of Herbicide Differ, Like Conflicting Research on Health Impacts

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the maker of a weedkiller alleging that it causes cancer. Research is mixed on that, as the results of various studies are split on whether glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup, is linked to cancer or other health concerns. In the Bay Area, where many of those lawsuits originated, cities have handled the question of whether to keep using glyphosate in public spaces somewhat differently.

San Francisco city workers use blowtorches to remove grass and weeds from a median on Broadway at Polk Street on Feb. 3, 2020. City workers rely much less on herbicides than they did just five years ago, as health concerns mount.

As Cancer Concerns Lead Cities to Ban Herbicide, S.F. Scales Back Use of Roundup

When San Franciscans hike up Twin Peaks or stroll through Glen Canyon Park, they could be exposing themselves to an herbicide that some studies have linked to cancer. But thanks to growing concerns about public health and liability, their risks are substantially lower than they were five years ago, when the city used 20 times as much of the chemical.

That chemical is glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s top-selling weedkiller, Roundup. Monsanto owner Bayer agreed in June to a settlement of more than $10 billion with plaintiffs in thousands of pending lawsuits over claims Roundup caused cancer.

As legal victories against the company pile up, Bay Area cities have faced a tough choice — keep using a chemical that evidence increasingly shows is dangerous and exposes them to the legal liability it entails or switch to other, often less effective methods. San Francisco has limited its risk through a strategy known as integrated pest management and its move to scale back dramatically on glyphosate since 2015.

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BART Takes Cost-Cutting Measures While Making COVID Safety, Infrastructure Improvements

On BART, ridership was about 13% of pre-pandemic levels in October. Since around 65% of the system’s revenue comes from fares, the drop in ridership was a major blow to operating plans, said Janice Li, who represents BART District 8 on its board of directors. The board has since passed a cost-cutting plan that covers its expenses for the first three quarters of fiscal year 2021, but the agency still faces a $33 million deficit for the fourth quarter of the fiscal year and a projected $177 million shortfall in the next fiscal year.

Immigration Attorney: Rapid Deportations a New Facet of Old Policy

In October, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement — ICE — began implementing an expansion of rapid deportations, in which undocumented immigrants may be removed from the country without a hearing before an immigration judge. While such deportations have been conducted for decades, the new policy expands who might be affected.

Bay Area Organizers Prepare to Mobilize if Election Results Not Followed

In the event that Donald Trump refuses to concede after the results of Tuesday’s election become clear, Bay Area organizers are ready to respond with street demonstrations and other civil disobedience. For weeks, groups like Bay Resistance have been hosting trainings and developing plans to mobilize residents, elected officials and business leaders to demand the results of the election be recognized.

Local leaders have criticized a proposed mandate that would require the majority of office workplaces to ensure 60% of their employees are working from home on any given day.

Bay Area Leaders Reject Proposed MTC Telecommute Mandate

Bay Area political leaders are throwing cold water on a controversial work-from-home rule proposed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission as part of a regional climate change plan. The proposed mandate, part of a long-term sustainability initiative called Plan Bay Area 2050, would require the majority of office workplaces to ensure 60% of their employees are working from home on any given day.