Berkeley City Council passes a budget with $9.2 million cuts to police

Leaders in Berkeley passed a budget Wednesday that included a $9.2 million cut to the city’s Police Department, a sign of how swiftly the protests over George Floyd’s death have moved from streets and Twitter feeds into City Hall.

Mayor Jesse Arreguín proposed the cut, just as the Oakland City Council took steps to further slash its own police budget. The Oakland council had passed a budget last week that chopped law enforcement funding by $14.6 million, then council members decided Tuesday to amend the budget on July 21, after activists said the reduction wasn’t sufficient.

In Berkeley, the meeting began Tuesday night and ended early Wednesday morning.

“The overwhelming message is we do need to defund the police,” Arreguín said, calling his budget a first step toward that ideal, and a “down-payment” on the city’s commitment to re-envision law enforcement. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Los Angeles Will Shrink the LAPD

The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to cut hiring at the Police Department, pushing the number of sworn officers well below 10,000 and abandoning a budget priority once seen as untouchable by city leaders.

Faced with a grim budget outlook and deluged by demands for reductions in police spending, the council voted 12 to 2 to take the Los Angeles Police Department down to 9,757 officers by next summer — a level of staffing not seen in the city since 2008.

Overall, the council’s decision delivered a $150-million hit to the LAPD budget, much of it coming from funds earmarked for police overtime pay. Councilman Curren Price, who pushed for the cuts, said two-thirds of the savings would ultimately be funneled into services for Black, Latino and disenfranchised communities, such as hiring programs and summer youth jobs. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

San Francisco rents are dropping fast as tech companies embrace remote work

New monthly data from apartment rental platform Zumper shows San Francisco rents were down nearly 12% year over year in June, making the city’s decline the largest in the nation, and a record slide for San Francisco.  It’s also the second consecutive month San Francisco rental prices have dropped, says the company, which based these statistics on 9,000 listings in San Francisco. 

According to Zumper, the median rental price for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco fell 11.8% year over year, from $3,720 to $3,280, beating May’s 9% drop. The survey also reports a 1% uptick in national rents, with the average median apartment in the U.S. renting for $1,229 in June.

“Zumper has been tracking rent prices across the country for over five years but we have never seen the market fluctuate quite like this,” says Zumper co-founder and CEO Anthemos Georgiades. “For example, rent prices in San Francisco have historically only gone up and typically only incrementally, yet now we are seeing double-digit percent rent reductions. This is unprecedented for this generation of renters.” …

This article was originally published by CNBC.

49% surge in hospitalizations puts San Francisco on high alert

On a day that California Gov. Gavin Newsom signaled additional restrictions for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, the city of San Francisco announced an alarming rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations that is putting new strain on an anxious health care system.

Among other major developments Tuesday, the state recorded 7,820 new cases — its second highest tally in a 24-hour period — and surpassed 6,000 deaths from the coronavirus; New York, New Jersey and Connecticut imposed a 14-day quarantine on anyone arriving from California; and the nation’s top infectious disease official warned the U.S. could see 100,000 new cases per day if the current upward trajectory does not change.

To date, California has had 231,960 confirmed coronavirus cases. Of those, 25,411 cases, including 578 deaths, have been in the Bay Area. While the state enjoyed early success in “flattening the curve,” recent outbreaks in prisons and nursing homes and an overall relaxing of sheltering restrictions over the last several weeks are now driving a high number of new cases and hospitalizations. The state set the record for the most cases in a day on Monday, with 8,196 cases. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Protests Heat Up Los Angeles D.A. Contest

Less than a week after video surfaced of a Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee into the neck of George Floyd, the man challenging Jackie Lacey for the office of Los Angeles County district attorney attempted to connect the tragic case to her record of failing to prosecute killings by police.

By late June, after weeks of unrest and protests over Floyd’s death that included demands for her resignation, Lacey joined other L.A. County law enforcement leaders in calling for the creation of a task force to investigate future police killings, a possible nod to criticisms that internal reviews are biased toward police.

The November contest between Lacey and former San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascón to oversee the nation’s largest prosecutor’s office had already been framed as a test of appetites for criminal justice reform, with Gascón the flag-bearer for a nationwide movement to elect progressive prosecutors and Lacey representing a more traditional approach to crime and punishment. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

LAPD Posts Images of Property Damage From Riots – Seeks to ID Suspects

The Los Angeles Police Department posted a collection of images and video online Monday showing people lighting fires and destroying property during recent protests in Los Angeles, and called for the public’s help in identifying suspects.

The FBI, working with the LAPD, has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the highlighted incidents, which officials said endangered residents and undermined the message of peaceful protesters.

“The FBI respects and supports those who are exercising their 1st Amendment rights, including the right to peacefully protest,” said Voviette Morgan, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office. “Individuals should not have to have their constitutionally protected rights hijacked by individuals committing criminal activity.” …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Newsom Threatens to Revive Closures in California

Explaining his decision to require limited bar closures in seven counties, Gov. Gavin Newsom warned Monday that the state will continue to pull back on reopening as COVID-19 spreads in California.

“The bottom line is: We’re doing this because we have seen an increase in the spread of this virus,” Newsom said. “We need to take further steps and that’s exactly what we did this weekend.”

Newsom reported a 45% increase in coronavirus cases in the last seven days and said the rate of positive tests is now at 5.5%.

As of Monday, the state is monitoring and working with 19 counties that have failed to meet guidelines for hospitalizations, transmission of the virus or sufficient testing for at least three days. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

A ridiculous Suggestion for Vice President

This column was published in the L.A. Times on Jun 29:

Former Vice President Joe Biden could do worse than to choose U.S. Rep. Karen Bass of Los Angeles as his running mate.

He could, for example, select one of the far better-known vice presidential contenders: Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts or another Californian, Sen. Kamala Harris.

Warren, 71, and Biden just aren’t in sync ideologically. And her outspoken, liberal views on such issues as “Medicare for all” and corporate tax hikes could turn off moderate voters in crucial battleground states that sided with President Trump in 2016. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

State Orders Bars Closed in L.A.

Citing the rapid pace of coronavirus spread in some parts of California, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered seven counties including Los Angeles on Sunday to immediately close any bars and nightspots that are open and recommended eight other counties take action on their own to close those businesses.

The order shuts down any bar, brewery or pub that sells alcoholic drinks without serving food at the same time. Those that sell food will either be subject to the stricter dine-in rules or asked to focus on takeout and patio service.

The decision was announced in a statement issued by the governor’s state public health director, Dr. Sonia Angell. Bars in seven counties are immediately affected by the state order: Los Angeles, Fresno, Kern, San Joaquin, Tulare, Kings and Imperial.

Eight other counties have been asked by state officials to issue local health orders closing bars: Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Stanislaus. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Beverly Hills Police Actually Doing Their Job – Good for them

Beverly Hills is facing criticism after officers arrested 28 people during a peaceful protest against police violence overnight, two weeks after imposing an unusual ordinance banning demonstrations in residential areas that “disrupted the tranquility.”

The latest protest, which began about 7:30 p.m. Friday and drew about 75 people, was the third demonstration in Beverly Hills organized by the Black Future Project, but the first that resulted in arrests, said organizer Austin Tharpe, 29.

“We’re protesting for Black lives,” he said. “Specifically in Beverly Hills, because of the privilege and the whole makeup of the community, we felt like our voices needed to be heard over there.”

He said that after protesters marched for several hours, police deployed a long-range acoustic device, also known as a sonic cannon, and declared the demonstration an unlawful assembly just before midnight. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.