State Homeless ‘Bill of Rights’ Put on Hold Until Next Year

T.J. Johnston, San Francisco Public Press — May 30 2013 - 3:41pm

A “homeless bill of rights” in California must wait until next year for a vote in the full Assembly after clearing its first hurdle.  Advocates say the legislation would protect homeless people from local enforcement of so-called “quality of life” laws, and specify homeless people as deserving of protection in the state’s antidiscrimination statutes.

California Environmentalists Decry Governor’s Raid on Cap-and-Trade Dollars

Chantal Jolagh, San Francisco Public Press — May 17 2013 - 3:47pm

Gov. Jerry Brown’s effort to divert $500 million earmarked for environmental initiatives into the general fund would hurt California communities with high pollution levels and slow down efforts to spur efficiency, mass transit and alternative energy, critics told legislators this week. The state’s environmental officials have been developing programs to fund a range of programs in communities disadvantaged by environmental burdens. The money comes from auctions of greenhouse gas permits from the state’s new cap-and-trade pollution control marketplace.

California Environmentalists Decry Governor's Raid on Cap-and-Trade Dollars

Chantal Jolagh, San Francisco Public Press — May 17 2013 - 3:41pm

 

Gov. Jerry Brown’s effort to divert $500 million earmarked for environmental initiatives into the general fund would hurt California communities with high pollution levels and slow down efforts to spur efficiency, mass transit and alternative energy, critics told legislators this week.

The state’s environmental officials have been developing programs to fund a range of programs in communities disadvantaged by environmental burdens. The money comes from auctions of greenhouse gas permits from the state’s new cap-and-trade pollution control marketplace.

State Should Follow S.F.'s Lead and Raise Minimum Wage, Says Lawmaker

Alex Kekauoha, San Francisco Public Press — May 15 2013 - 5:27pm

San Francisco’s record of raising the minimum wage 10 years ago without crashing the local economy proves that California can do the same, said a leading labor policy reformer in the Legislature. Watsonville Assemblyman Luis Alejo’s plan to raise the state minimum to $9.25 an hour by 2016 draws heavily on the experience of San Francisco.

S.F.’s Minimum Wage, Highest in the Nation, Eludes Thousands as Enforcement Efforts Face Obstacles

Aaron Tilley and Michael Stoll, San Francisco Public Press — May 1 2013 - 11:07am

10-year-old reform unfinished as businesses routinely flout $10.55 mandate, labor activists say

This story is part of a special report in the Spring print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

While San Francisco’s minimum wage is the highest in the nation, thousands of workers still earn below the current mandate of $10.55 an hour, say economists, anti-poverty activists and public officials. It has been 10 years since voters passed the groundbreaking labor reform, and the city has built a first-of-its-kind inspection team that has recovered back wages for more than 3,000 workers. But these efforts appear to have addressed only a fraction of the problem. ALSO: Listen to discussion of S.F.'s minimum wage enforcement on KALW Radio’s “Your Call” Friday Media Roundtable.

Domestic Violence Record-Keeping Still Flawed, but Police Say Fix Is Near

Tay Wiles, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 29 2013 - 11:04am

Some cases were not referred immediately to Special Victims Unit

This story appeared in the Spring print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

Nine months after the San Francisco Police Department fully implemented a new digitized case management system, inspectors were still finding as many as 20 domestic violence cases per month that were not immediately referred to the Special Victims Unit for investigation, said a lieutenant in charge of the domestic violence team.

Indigenous People Face Obstacles Seeking Legal Pay

Jonah Harris, New America Media — Apr 24 2013 - 12:46pm

Mayas from Yucatán find work in food service, but face language, immigration barriers

This story is part of a special report in the Spring print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

Few are more susceptible to the crime of wage theft than indigenous newcomers from Latin America, say labor experts, advocates for minority ethnic communities and immigrant workers themselves. Indigenous people from Mexico and Central America, who make up as much as 30 percent of the population of immigrants from there, are less likely to be literate, to speak either Spanish or English proficiently or to have legal documentation.

Restaurant Worker Paid Below Minimum Wage for ‘Training’

Tearsa Joy Hammock, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 22 2013 - 1:00pm

Food-service sector among worst violators of wage laws

This story is part of a special report in the Spring print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

Last year, Mauricio Lozano found a job through a friend at a pizzeria in North Beach. The pay was $8 an hour, in cash. He said a supervisor told him he would get less than San Francisco’s minimum wage because he was “in training.” Under city law, that’s no excuse for paying below the mandated wage floor, then $10.24 an hour. But the restaurant needed someone right away, and Lozano was in no position to negotiate. 

S.F. Lacks Data to Set Minimum Wage Policies

Alex Kekauoha, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 15 2013 - 1:24pm

Estimates of low-wage workers range from 20,000 to 55,000

This story is part of a special report in the Spring print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

With President Barack Obama proposing to increase the federal minimum wage, local policy experts say fully understanding the economic effects of the change could be a problem given the dearth of accurate statistics in the large city that has had the highest minimum wage for years: San Francisco. No one has ever done a formal tally of minimum wage earners in San Francisco, said Ted Egan, chief economist for the city’s Office of Economic Analysis.

Economists Say City Minimum Wage Means Big Boost for Working Class

Christopher D. Cook, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 10 2013 - 3:26pm

Backers say it helps recruitment and retention, opponents say it kills jobs

This story is part of a special report in the Spring print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

“Job killer” is a common refrain from businesses in opposing wage increases and other worker benefits. But some researchers are challenging the assumption that boosting the minimum wage depresses hiring. “We don’t see any decline in employment,” said Michael Reich, director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley.

‘I Don’t Think You Can Survive in This City on the Minimum Wage’

Christopher D. Cook, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 10 2013 - 3:21pm

At S.F.’s largest soup kitchen, working adults say full-time work no longer pays the rent

This story is part of a special report in the Spring print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

As President Obama’s minimum wage hike proposal renews a national debate over costs and benefits, many low-wage workers in San Francisco say they can hardly get by even on the nation’s highest minimum wage of $10.55, which is nearly $3 an hour higher than the federal rate. As rents have soared above $1,500 for a typical studio apartment,  low-income workers say San Francisco’s minimum wage isn’t enough to keep up. 

Rent-Control Tenants May Foot the Bill for Mandatory Seismic Retrofits

Noah Arroyo, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 3 2013 - 4:53pm

Tenants in 3,000 rent-controlled buildings could potentially pay all the costs of retrofitting those structures against earthquake damage unless they receive a financial hardship waiver from the city’s Rent Board, under the provisions of a new law approved Tuesday by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors will vote again on the retrofit law on April 9, and it will need the mayor’s signature before becoming law.

Testing Online Privacy Limits, OKCupid Lets Strangers Read Intimate Messages

Rachel Swan, SF Public Press — Mar 25 2013 - 2:19pm

Users on the popular dating site OKCupid.com might not be aware of it, but fellow participants have been tapped to be community moderators, who have access to private correspondence. Those with access to the “moderation” button often are checking accounts that have been flagged for possible terms of service violations. But they also get to eavesdrop on what many users assumed to be private conversations.

Tenants Say Earthquake Retrofit Law Could Circumvent Rent Control

Noah Arroyo, San Francisco Public Press — Mar 20 2013 - 4:04pm

A proposed San Francisco law designed to save rent-controlled housing stock from the next big earthquake could actually displace low-income tenants, say tenant rights advocates. Building owners could pass through the cost of the retrofits to tenants in the form of monthly rent increases. Tenants’ only recourse would be to successfully declare financial hardship.

UCSF Facing Cuts in Wake of Sequester; Free Bus Passes for Youth

Ambika Kandasamy, SF Public Press — Mar 4 2013 - 1:40pm

Sequestration isn’t just some Washington abstraction. It’s hitting home. The automatic federal budget cuts that rolled out on Friday — known as the sequester — are going to hurt the University of California, San Francisco. The world-class teaching hospital and research center receives funding from the National Institutes of Health. According to KQED’s “California Report,” the university’s vice chancellor for research, Keith Yamamoto, said that some laboratories have already instituted hiring freezes.

Bringing Life Back to Mountain Lake

Dhyana Levey, Bay Nature — Feb 28 2013 - 7:33pm

As drivers speed along Highway 1, past the Richmond District and into the Presidio, they might only catch a quick glimpse of Mountain Lake off to the east. But anyone who takes a stroll down to this small body of water, tucked away behind a playground and tennis court, will see one of the city’s only remaining natural lakes – and one of its oldest.

Up-to-Date Earthquake Kit Will Increase Your Survival Chances (Infographic)

Jason Winshell and Anna Vignet, SF Public Press — Feb 11 2013 - 11:58am

It’s never too late to prepare for the next big earthquake. The California Emergency Management Agency advises that the first 72 hours after a disaster are critical. Electricity, gas and water may be unavailable and first responders will be busy focusing emergency services on the most serious crises. Having an earthquake kit is key to toughing it out on your own. Here’s what it should have, at a minimum.

Mandatory Earthquake Retrofit Proposal Advances Quickly in San Francisco City Hall

Noah Arroyo, SF Public Press — Feb 5 2013 - 5:38pm

San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu Tuesday unveiled legislation to make seismic retrofits mandatory for so-called soft-story buildings throughout the city. Chiu called the proposal to make retrofitting mandatory in stages by 2020 the “next major step to ensure that we are prepared for the next big one.” He said he expected a major quake, which could happen anytime, could be two to three times stronger than the 1989 Loma Prieta quake that destroyed 7,000 buildings statewide. (Listen to Public Press reporter Noah Arroyo on KQED Radio’s “Forum”)

San Francisco Would Post Signs Warning of Earthquake Risk on Buildings Whose Owners Fail to Retrofit

Noah Arroyo, SF Public Press — Feb 5 2013 - 11:05am

A plan being unveiled Tuesday in San Francisco would require the city to inform the owners of thousands of potentially earthquake-unsafe buildings that they need to retrofit at their own cost or demonstrate why not. If they don’t comply, the city would post a scarlet-letter sign on the property: “This building is in violation of the requirements of the San Francisco Building Code regarding earthquake safety.” (Listen to Public Press reporter Noah Arroyo on KQED Radio’s “Forum”)

San Francisco Plan Would Earthquake-Proof Thousands of Soft-Story Buildings by 2020

Noah Arroyo, SF Public Press — Feb 1 2013 - 4:41pm

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is planning to take up a proposal to force owners of soft-story buildings to retrofit them by 2020, said a city official in charge of earthquake safety. Supervisors Scott Wiener and David Chiu plan to sponsor the ordinance and other supervisors might co-sponsor it by Tuesday. The legislation would apply only to wood-frame buildings built before 1978, with at least three stories. Unlike previous proposals, the new law would come without direct financial aid from the city. Financing questions, one official said, were “a major reason for the delay.”