Companies tied to California officials get US virus loans

Businesses tied to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and two of the state’s legislative leaders were among those that received federal loans aimed at keeping small businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, records released Monday showed.

A Northern California winery and hospitality company, PlumpJack, founded and partly owned by Newsom, received a loan worth $150,000 to $350,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program, according to data released by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Before taking office as governor in 2019, Newsom announced he would step away from his businesses and put his assets in a blind trust managed by a family friend and attorney. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associated Press.

California’s political campaigns transformed by coronavirus, Black Lives Matter

With a resurgent coronavirus raging across California and anti-racism rallies and protests a near-daily occurrence, there’s a brand-new focus as candidates gear up for the fall campaign.

Rep. Harley Rouda, an Orange County Democrat, sent out a standard fundraising email Tuesday, looking for re-election cash. But the message was anything but traditional.

“These last few months have tested our leaders — and we’ve seen far too many fail,” the email read. “From organizing a PPE (personal protective equipment) drive in Orange County, to marching for Black lives, to simply wearing a mask, Harley has stood out for his leadership in this crisis.”

Nothing about the economy. Nothing about foreign affairs. Nothing about what he has done for his district in his 18 months in Washington, or any of the other campaign standbys. …

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

Bay Area Rents Plummeted in June

Bay Area apartment rents continued to drop in June as the coronavirus kept most offices closed and layoffs mounted.

One-bedroom rents fell compared to the prior year in 27 of 31 Bay Area cities tracked by Zumper, a real estate listings website. The biggest drops were concentrated in major Silicon Valley tech hubs, including Cupertino, the home of Apple; Mountain View, where Google is headquartered; and Menlo Park, Facebook’s hometown. Those cities have some of the region’s highest rents. Emeryville was the only East Bay city that saw a double-digit drop.

San Francisco’s one-bedroom rents plunged 11.8%, the highest drop on record and the biggest among major U.S. cities. The city remains the most expensive in the country. …

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

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.