Mayor London Breed at a city coronavirus press conference. Screen capture from SFGovTV

S.F. Will Reverse Re-Opening Amid Statewide COVID-19 Case Surge

San Francisco’s COVID-19 risk level as assessed by the state will move from “minimal” to “substantial” on Tuesday, Mayor London Breed announced Monday. As a result, she said, non-essential offices will have to close and gym occupancy will need to be reduced from a maximum of 25% to a maximum of 10% of capacity.

Jessica Lo Surdo, M.S. (foreground), a staff scientist at the Food and Drug Administration, studies chain reactions in stem cells in an FDA laboratory on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Md.

Insider Opposes $5.5 Billion State Bond to Fund Stem Cell Research

Proposition 14 asks California voters to approve a $5.5 billion bond to allow the institute to continue to provide grants for stem cell research, with the goal of creating new treatments for some of medicine’s most intractable problems. Jeff Sheehy has been a lonely voice on the board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, where he stands in opposition to the state ballot measure that would fund the organization for years to come.

Howard Jarvis.

‘The First Angry Man’ Chronicles Rise of Tax Revolt, Legacy of Howard Jarvis

The documentary “The First Angry Man” turns its lens back on the moment when Proposition 13 was passed and examines the social and political context of the time. The filmmakers, Camille Servan-Schreiber and Jason Andrew Cohn, make the case that Howard Jarvis, the public face of Proposition 13, helped usher in an era of nationwide tax revolt and distrust in government that persists more than 40 years later.

Smoke from wildfires turns the skies above San Francisco a dark orange on the morning of Sept. 9, 2020.

Smoke-Darkened Skies a Stark Reminder of Climate Crisis

Some two dozen wildfires are burning around the state, and Bay Area residents woke up Wednesday to an eerie artificial smoky twilight. A major factor in the ever-increasing severity of these wildfires is climate change — while fires are a natural occurrence in California, fire season has been steadily expanding, and the fires are getting more ferocious over the years.

What to Expect in California’s Vote-by-Mail November Election

All registered California voters will have the option of voting by mail this year, with mail-in ballots expected to reach voters by Oct. 5. To accommodate the anticipated high volume of mail that will be handled by an already strained postal service, elections officials will be able to accept ballots up to 17 days after Election Day, so long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3. Voters still have options, however, if for some reason they are unable to or not interested in sending their ballot by mail, but individual counties will determine whether to offer as many polling places as last year.

Regulation Activist: Grid Mismanagement Led to Blackouts

Californians were hit with power shut-offs last weekend and were told to conserve energy by minimizing use as power needs could exceed availability. But some energy experts are doubtful that unusually high demand led to the shutdowns, alleging mismanagement on the part of the state’s energy grid operator.

Photo by Pixnio user Bicanski. Public domain image.

Labor Advocates Say Inspector Shortage Jeopardizes Workplace Coronavirus Safety

As workers head back to their jobs, they are navigating the new workplace safety reality of operating in a global pandemic. Labor organizers say the protections against catching the novel coronavirus on the job are insufficient at many workplaces, and lack enforcement. They allege that California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA, is critically short-staffed. Erika Monterroza, a spokesperson for Cal/OSHA, said in an email the staff shortage doesn’t keep the agency from meeting its mandate. “We believe that this agency is not doing what it should be doing.


Bill Could Help Keep Some Rentals Affordable

Tenants would gain a potential pathway into permanently affordable housing — to weather the COVID-19 pandemic — under a bill making its way through the state Legislature. Assembly Bill 1703 would require most owners looking to sell residential rental property to give the property’s tenants, as well as designated groups like nonprofits, the opportunity to make the first offer to purchase. If any of those outside groups bought the building, rents would be capped to help protect low-income tenants from displacement — a major threat as the state faces a recession and widespread job loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill’s sponsors are trying to guard against a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis’ fallout. “If you mapped where most homes were lost, and who lost them, they were Black and brown communities,” said Peter Cohen, co-director of the Council of Community Housing Organizations, one of more than 40 groups that sponsored the bill and brought the concept to the state Capitol, where Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) wrote and introduced it.