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Public Press Weekly: Assessing the Costs of Wildfires

San Francisco Public Press
 — Jan 8 2018 - 2:00pm

The recent wildfires that incinerated areas in Northern and Southern California, killing scores of people and destroying thousands of homes and businesses, were among the deadliest and costliest fires in state history. (Los Angeles Times). As the recovery continues, however, so does the misery of displacement and devastation. Many residents are finding that renewing their insurance policies is easier said than done, or not possible at all: The California Department of Insurance is fielding an increased number of complaints about price hikes and denial of coverage. (Mother Jones). Allegations of rent gouging are now commonplace as the median rents soar in fire-affected Northern California counties. (Los Angeles Times). But “no fire” option exists, according to scientists — wildfires were and will always be part of the California ecological landscape and the more frequent, less dangerous fires of the past have yielded to less frequent, more dangerous fires. (Bay Nature). Also, as conflagrations generate more unhealthy air and pump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, state officials wrestle with the potential effect on California’s ability to adequately reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve its climate goals. (CALmatters).

It’s an Animal Planet

Just as our Southern California neighbors are taking a kinder, gentle approach to the occasional pet/livestock-murdering cougar — non-lethal methods first to scare off the beast, then go for the kill — San Francisco ecologists are making nice to predatory coyotes that may pop up in a backyard once in a while; these scientists are fostering a peaceful coexistence between humans and coyotes by tracking them with radio collars. "Cougars That Kill Livestock No Longer Automatically Marked for Death"; "Coyote Tracker: San Francisco’s Uneasy Embrace of a Predator’s Return" An animal lover’s newfound passion is finding the dozens of cats that went missing in last fall’s wildfire in Sonoma County. "The Hunt for ‘Fire Cats’ Amid Northern California Ashes"

One More Thing — Housing

State lawmakers are slated to hear about a plan to let cities restrict what landlords could charge tenants. Not only that, there’s a potential ballot initiative supported by tenants’ rights groups that does much of the same stuff. So, if you’re a renter, here’s what you should know about rent control. "5 Things a Californian Should Know Now About Rent Control"