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Public Press Weekly: North Bay Fires — Now Comes the Recovery

San Francisco Public Press
 — Oct 29 2017 - 10:07am

The destructive North Bay wildfires have been fully contained, after torching more than 200,000 acres, causing at least 42 deaths and incinerating thousands of homes and businesses, reducing urban landscapes to smoking rubble. (San Francisco Chronicle) Now the post-disaster phase is beginning: recovery. The region faces a staggeringly difficult task of cleaning up piles of ash, charred debris and misshapen metal. (San Francisco Chronicle) For those who lost their homes in the conflagration, even finding a new place to live can be maddening. In Santa Rosa, which had a tight housing market before the fires, 5 percent of its housing went up in flames. (CNN) “Home” might now be no more than a shelter, a park or even a car; rents are spiking, and many residents are considering not returning at all. (The Guardian) As if housing woes weren’t bad enough, fire victims were also warned to be on the lookout for scam artists and identity thieves, said the feds in an official statement. (CBS SFBay Area) Also, people shouldn’t believe everything they read. Breitbart news, a right-wing media outlet, fabricated a story that an immigrant had started the Sonoma fires: “This is completely false, bad, wrong information that Breitbart started and is being put out into the public," said the Sonoma County Sheriff’s office. (BuzzFeed News) The fires also exposed another problem — one county’s lack of Spanish-language emergency information. (El Tecolote) As for the fires themselves, their sites of origin have been pinpointed, but no consensus exists on what caused the fires or how to prevent them. (San Francisco Chronicle) One thing won’t change: June through October is wildfire season in California, but the cost of the wildfires and their toll on housing supply and health are still unsolved problems that will bedevil the state in years to come. (CALmatters)

A Look at the World of the Working Stiff

•     Working a gig as an independent contractor may be the way of the job world now, but, sadly, these contractors usually lack goodies like benefits — workers’ compensation or unemployment insurance, health insurance, sick pay or retirement — and may have to work till they drop. “California Game Changers: Reimagining Job Benefits in a Gig World” (Capital & Main)

•     No matter what your gig is, though, the pickings are slimmer in the Bay Area job market these days. “Bay Area Hammered by Loss of 4,700 Jobs” (The Mercury News)

•     Improving workplace diversity appears to be on the minds of many Bay Area employers, but a recent job fair shows that may be easier said than done. “Diverse Candidates Crowd SF Tech Job Fair, But Tradition May Clog Pipeline” (Mission Local)

Life as We Know It — Online

•     Soon, all San Franciscans may be connected, wirelessly, that is — the city is mulling over a report on a project to create a $1.5 billion city-owned fiber-optic network linking every home and business to a very fast 1-gigabit Internet service, “San Francisco Moving Closer to Building a City-Owned Internet Network” (San Francisco Chronicle), and some are jumping for joy at this prospect, “San Francisco Just Took a Huge Step Toward Internet Utopia” (Wired). The cost? Oh, it’s not cheap. “Study: Connecting Every SF Resident, Business to Fiber-Optic Internet Would Cost Up to $1.9B” (San Francisco Examiner)

•     But is all this tech stuff — like self-driving cars, artificial intelligence — a good thing? That’s the question, and check out the answers in “Should We Worry?” (Wired)