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Water Conservation Wanes in California as Most Mandatory Restrictions End

By Craig Miller, KQED News Fix/KQED Science

It appears that California water suppliers have, by and large, abandoned mandatory water conservation — and it may be showing up in the latest monthly statistics on water saving in the state.

According to the State Water Resources Control Board, urban customers reduced water use by 21.5 percent in June, compared to the benchmark year of 2013. That’s down from 27.5 percent savings a year ago, when statewide mandatory controls were in place. Savings were down even more compared to May of this year. 

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix/KQED Science.

From Tampon Taxes to Overtime Pay, Legislature Weighs Bills Focused on Women

By Katie Orr, KQED News Fix/The California Report

Summer recess is over for the California Legislature. Lawmakers are back in the Capitol to begin a final month of work before adjourning for the rest of the year. Among the bills still left to consider are several related to helping women. 

For example, there’s a bill to make tampons exempt from sales taxes and one to expand the definition of rape. Another measure would make permanent a law requiring that domestic workers be paid overtime. That bill is a priority for the Women’s Foundation of California. The group’s Marj Plumb says it’s a good time to be backing policies that support women.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix/The California Report.

How Well Can Law Enforcement Address Sex Trafficking?

By Sukey Lewis, KQED News Fix

A sexual exploitation scandal that has launched investigations into misconduct across multiple Bay Area police agencies has some questioning how well law enforcement is positioned to combat sex trafficking and prostitution.

So far, about 30 police officers are alleged to have had some form of sexual contact with the young woman known as Celeste Guap, who told reporters she had sex with some officers when she was only 17.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix. 

For more on the issue of sex trafficking, read the San Francisco Public Press Spring 2012 special section, Human Trafficking in the Bay Area


S.F. Supervisors Approve Tenant Protections Against Fires

By Laura Wenus, Mission Local

San Francisco supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved three proposals aimed at protecting renters from the repercussions of structure fires by prioritizing them for affordable housing and requiring landlords to provide more information to tenants and to the city.

All three pieces of legislation were passed on first reading unanimously and will become law after another Board of Supervisors vote and mayoral approval. 

Read the complete story at Mission Local. 

Civil Grand Jury Report: Fire Safety Inspections Fall Short

By Laura Wenus, Mission Local

San Francisco’s Civil Grand Jury, a volunteer citizen oversight body, issued a report this month that found that the Department of Building Inspections and Fire Department sometimes take too long to correct fire safety code violations.

According to the Civil Grand Jury —  19 volunteers who serve for a year before a new group is selected — buildings go uninspected for longer than the city code requires and fire hazards persist because of inefficiencies in the two departments’ protocols. 

Read the complete story at Mission Local. 

Parents Plan for Paid Family Leave in San Francisco

By Lisa Bartfai, KALW Crosscurrents

Rents and cost of living in the Bay Area are still on the rise, but San Francisco families will soon start seeing some relief: The city has a new family leave law that will go into effect in January 2017. The law will guarantee parents six weeks off with full pay while they’re home with a new child. That's a big departure from the current policy.

Right now, you get the same amount of time off, but with only 55 percent pay. That part is covered by state disability insurance; and when the new law takes effect, employers will cover the rest.

Read the complete story at KALW Crosscurrents.

Ballot of the Bulge: Why a New Law Isn't Shrinking the Ballot Much — Yet

By Lauren Rosenhall, CALmatters

Protracted policy questions. Big-money battles. Contradictory proposals that are difficult to discern. It’s shaping up to be an all-too-typical fall election— once again confronting California voters with an unwieldy ballot.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. After polls confirmed that California voters were frustrated by ballot overload, lawmakers two years ago made changes aimed at pre-empting at least some initiatives from landing on the ballot, and improving those that do. One change gave the Legislature extra time to hold hearings and try to compromise with interest groups pitching complex issues.

Read the complete story at CALmatters.

Mobile Restrooms Offer Solution for Lower Polk’s Homeless Community

By Libby Leyden, KQED News Fix

Two portable bathrooms stand surrounded by flower pots and a white picket fence in one of the dirty and run-down alleys in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. A large van decorated with LED lights is parked nearby, stocked with clothes, home-cooked food and hot coffee.

This is the mobile City Resource Relief Center. Seven days a week it moves through the side streets in the Lower Polk section of the Tenderloin, assisting the homeless that live here, often because it’s close to services. Starting last week, the center evolved from being just a nocturnal operation to one that provides 24/7 access to a clean and safe public restroom — a basic need that has been hard to satisfy in this neighborhood.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix. 

BART Needs to Speed Up Installing Surveillance Cameras, Says Top Official

By Ted Goldberg, KQED News Fix

BART needs to stop “tap dancing” around and quickly install surveillance cameras on all of its trains, the chairman of the Bay Area’s regional transit planning agency said after learning that the system was moving slowly in putting the devices in place.

“I don’t know what’s taking so long,” Dave Cortese, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said in an interview. “I think there’s a genuine concern that BART isn’t able to move quickly enough on some of these basic maintenance- and security-type issues.”

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix.

Displaced Tenants Pick Up Checks, But Many Have Nowhere to Go

By Laura Waxmann, Mission Local

Community efforts raised $140,000 to help 67 individuals displaced by a five-alarm fire at 29th and Mission streets last month get back on their feet.

The Mission Economic Development Agency dispersed some of that money Friday night at the Salvation Army Community Center at 1156 Valencia St. near 23rd St.

Most of those picking up their checks are still without permanent housing and expressed serious concerns about the city’s efforts to relocate them.

Read the complete story at Mission Local.