San Francisco will soon spend previously unthinkable sums on the fight against homelessness. The massive influx of cash — nearly $600 million over the next year collected thanks to a voter initiative, combined with hundreds of millions of dollars in expenditures by the homelessness department — could be a game changer.
In late March, a cell phone video made by detainees was leaked to the public from Mesa Verde Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center in Bakersfield, Calif. Dozens of men in orange jumpsuits walked past the camera while Charles Joseph read a petition. “Many of us have underlying medical issues,” he said. “This turns our detention into a death sentence, because this pandemic requires social distancing and that is impossible in this environment. We request that you give us parole or bond so we may return to our families.”
Joseph’s plea caught the attention of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, which joined a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, and two law firms — Lakin & Wille, and Cooley LLP — seeking the release of detained immigrants with pre-existing health concerns.
Real estate groups Monday sued the City and County of San Francisco to overturn an eviction ban designed to help renters weather the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiffs argue that the city ordinance “violates constitutional and state law” empowering landlords to evict, and conflicts with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Executive Orders, which have allowed local governments to issue temporary bans on evictions — not permanent ones. The San Francisco Apartment Association, the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute, the San Francisco Association of Realtors and Coalition for Better Housing jointly filed the suit in San Francisco Superior Court. The groups are also seeking a temporary restraining order to suspend the law, said Noni Richen, president of the small property owners group. The legislation, signed into law June 26, outlaws eviction for nonpayment of rents that were due from March 16 through July 29 — a time period tied to Newsom’s executive order.
After backlash from neighbors, activists and others, several Haight-Ashbury businesses plan to drop a federal lawsuit against San Francisco for its placement of an approved homeless encampment at Haight and Stanyan streets. The plaintiffs plan to withdraw the suit Monday or Tuesday, Joe Goldmark, the partner-manager of record vendor Amoeba Music’s Haight-Ashbury location, said by phone Monday morning. In addition to Amoeba, plaintiffs include Escape From New York Pizza and the Concerned Citizens of the Haight, a newly formed neighborhood association. A statement from the Concerned Citizens noted that members of the group “still have health and safety concerns, and believe that there are more appropriate sites than directly adjacent to a residential/commercial neighborhood and opposite a preschool. We hope that the City will honor their commitment to use this site for 3-6 months only.”
“We’re moving on, and I don’t have any further comments at this time,” Goldmark said.
Uber and Lyft can no longer keep their safety reports quite so secret. Their California regulator reversed a rule shielding that data from public view.
Voters approved a measure in 2018 that guaranteed legal counsel to every tenant facing eviction in San Francisco. But six months after Proposition F was supposed to have been fully implemented, a third of tenants facing eviction have had access to only partial representation.
In a dramatic reversal, the agency that regulates the state’s massive ride-hailing industry has proposed that annual safety reports filed by Uber and Lyft should be presumed public. A San Francisco Public Press investigation published Jan. 7 found that the California Public Utilities Commission, the primary regulator of the state’s ride-hailing industry, has permitted the firms to file the reports confidentially on the basis of a single sentence inserted into the regulations as footnote 42, without prior public notice amid heavy industry lobbying.
The California Public Utilities Commission says it expects to decide by the end of March whether to revise or throw out an obscure footnote that it has used to justify keeping data about thousands of ride-hailing accidents across the state under wraps. “We anticipate issuing a decision on the matter in the first quarter of 2020,” commission President Marybel Batjer said in a letter dated Jan. 27 to Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. The agency also “has established a team dedicated to investigating potential TNC misconduct.”
Seth Rosenfeld, the reporter who broke the story that ride-hailing safety data has been kept hidden from the public with the help of the industry’s chief regulator, offers an update.
Two state legislators and the chairman of San Francisco’s transportation board say the California Public Utilities Commission should release secret safety records on thousands of ride-hailing accidents. Their comments came in response to a San Francisco Public Press investigation that found the agency has been keeping confidential reports on accidents involving Uber, Lyft and other app-based transportation firms for more than six years.
The number of ride-hailing accidents is rising as the services boom. But the industry has hidden safety records — with help from its chief regulator. 1. Footnote 42
Around midnight on March 13, 2016, Robert Robinson and his wife, Ruth, used the Uber app to hail a ride to their home at the edge of Nob Hill. Uber driver Baher Tamim saw their request flash onto the screen of his device and swiftly picked them up in his white 2015 Toyota Corolla.