Lariza Dugan-Cuadra.

Federal Enforcement Actions Recall Authoritarian Crackdowns For Central Americans in U.S.

Almost two weeks ago, protesters in Portland, Ore., were detained by federal police and taken away in unmarked cars. Five days later, President Trump said that he would send federal agents to a dozen other liberal cities, including Oakland. For some of the Bay Area’s Central American residents, there are parallels between this moment and their own experiences with authoritarian governments in their countries of origin. Lariza Dugan-Cuadra, director at advocacy and social service nonprofit CARECEN SF, spoke to “Civic” about how the Bay Area’s Central American diaspora is reacting.  “One of the things I always ask myself, like, why doesn’t the American people rise up?

Working From Home May Drastically Change the Workplace Even After the Pandemic

Zoom meetings and other communications tools have made it possible for many white collar workers to remain employed as they work from home. 

Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom says what had once been uncommon, is now a necessity. “Before COVID, about 5% of working days were spent at home and that was done by about 15% of Americans, with an average of one in every three days. During COVID, 42% of us are now working from home so it’s an eight-fold increase.”

Courtesy of Nicholas Bloom. Of the remaining pre-COVID workers, Bloom found that nearly 33% are not employed and the remaining ones are essential workers and others who work directly with people or products. 

When the pandemic is over, Bloom predicts that fewer people will work five days a week in a central office. “We’ll go from very occasionally working from home to something like two to three days a week.” He predicts that will have a major impact on where people will live.


Months Into Pandemic, Physician Reflects on Developing Coronavirus Knowledge

In March, Dr. Monica Bhargava, a pulmonary critical care physician at the county hospital in Oakland, predicted on “Civic” that the novel coronavirus would deeply affect the region’s health care system for many months to come. That, and some of her other observations, turned out to be correct. In recent months, scientists and doctors have learned much more about how the virus spreads and what makes patients vulnerable to serious complications. Bhargava returned to “Civic” to follow up on her earlier observations and discuss how the conversations doctors, patients and whole communities are having about managing the coronavirus pandemic have changed. “A lot of my patients live five or six patients to a one-bedroom.

Raven and Rhonda2 - Club Stride

Empowering Youth to Advance Justice in Vallejo

On June 2, police in Vallejo shot and killed a 22-year-old San Francisco man, Sean Monterrosa through the windshield of a police truck while Monterrosa was kneeling. Since then, the California attorney general has announced an investigation into the Vallejo police department. The detective who shot Monterrosa, Jarrett Tonn, was found to have been involved in three other shootings. A windshield that was shattered during the shooting was not preserved as evidence, and video relevant to the incident was initially withheld. According to the news site Open Vallejo, Monterrosa was the 19th person killed by the Vallejo police department in 10 years.

Cover of “Into the Streets: A Young Person's Visual History of Protests in the United States” by Marke Bieschke.

‘Into the Streets’ Shows How Recent Demonstrations Echo Historic Protests

The coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of people to stay home from work and school, but it has not suppressed a deep cultural impulse for expressing frustration, solidarity and demand for change through public protest. This year, that impulse has come from across the political spectrum, with early statehouse demonstrations decrying economic shutdown, followed by a national wave of protests against racism and police brutality. Marke Bieschke gives the conversation about these events and an even broader range of actions historical context with his new book, “Into the Streets: A Young Person’s Visual History of Protests in the United States.”

Rendering of a self-sustaining village. - Courtesy Kuth Ranieri Architects

Imagining an Eco-Friendly Post-Pandemic Downtown

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for space in San Francisco’s office towers seemed insatiable. But with no end to the pandemic in sight and the prospect that many employers will allow their people to continue to work from home after the crisis, it’s possible that at least some of those gleaming office towers will empty out. As they sheltered in place in North Beach, architects Elizabeth Ranieri and Byron Kuth wondered what could be done with all of that vertical real estate. 

They looked at two blocks of buildings bounded by Beale, Main, Market and Mission streets where Pacific Gas and Electric is scheduled to move out of one of the largest buildings. Ranieri said they realized that the entire two blocks could become a self-sustaining village. 

“This is potentially the building stock that’s needed because it’s quite diverse,” she said. “Everything from the 1970’s tower to the historic buildings on Market Street that would be very well suited for repurposing for housing.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin at a press conference in Nob Hill. Laura Wenus / Public Press

Supervisor Proposes Limit on Disruptive Construction

Supervisor Aaron Peskin has introduced legislation that aims to keep landlords from engaging in construction work in ways that disrupt the lives of their tenants who are sheltering in place. For example, it would require that landlords provide alternative electrical and water supplies if the construction they’re doing results in either being shut off. 

“While we are sheltering in place, it is profoundly important that the residents of these buildings can shelter in peace,” he said. Peskin announced the proposal in front of a Nob Hill apartment building, where one tenant says construction is constant and most residents have left. Andrea Carla Michaels, a professional namer and crossword puzzle creator, is best known in San Francisco as “the Pizza Lady” for her practice of distributing pizza to homeless people. Michaels says construction in the building has been significantly disruptive to her life. 

“From literally the day, every time he moves someone out, he begins floor-to-ceiling renovations without permits.

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.

Lisa Geduldig and Tanyalee Davis. Courtesy photos.

S.F. Comedy Mainstay Goes Online, International With Virtual Series

As live events of all kinds go virtual, one Bay Area comedy show producer has taken it upon herself to launch a monthly online performance with international talent. Lisa Geduldig, who has produced San Francisco’s “Kung Pao Kosher Comedy” and “Comedy Returns to El Rio” for years, will launch “Lockdown Comedy” at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 16, featuring a group of London-based comedians. Geduldig and comedian Tanyalee Davis talked with “Civic” about coping with isolation, nailing comedic timing on Zoom and laughter as medicine. “It’s a matter of getting the timing right and trying to be as engaging as I can be in a small little screen. It’s a whole different ball game.”— Tanyalee Davis

“Occasionally when a comic will do some crowd work and talk to someone, it’s just this connection.

A panel of Bay Area Black community leaders discusses how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Screen capture from Zoom courtesy of BARHII.

Bay Area Black Community Leaders Envision Equitable Coronavirus Response

The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected people of color throughout the Bay Area  — as of late April, state health department data showed Black Californians were dying from COVID-19 at nearly twice the rate of white residents. In the Bay Area, Latino and Black residents have been testing positive at much higher rates than other groups. At a panel organized by the coalition of health departments known as BARHII, Black community leaders from fields ranging from public education to community development to transportation, said those most affected have not been given a seat at the table when it comes to determining the region’s pandemic response. In these excerpts from their remarks, they discuss initiatives they have set in motion to support their communities during the pandemic and what they would like to see done next. “We have to center the leadership of those who are impacted by the issues.