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Bay Area Headlines: Wednesday, 4/15/20, PM

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Disaster Assistance For Immigrants Rate Increases In SFMTA Budget Proposal / California DMV Extends Driver's License Validity

Disaster Assistance For Immigrants

In his daily press conferences, Governor Gavin Newsom often recites specific numbers from memory. Today, he shared some about the state’s makeup of immigrants. Half of California children are born to at least one immigrant parent. Twenty seven percent of the state’s residents were not born in the United States. And 10 percent of the state’s workforce is undocumented, with disproportionate representation in manufacturing, construction, agriculture, and health care.

Newsom said, "We feel a deep sense of gratitude for people that are in fear of deportation that are still addressing the essential needs of tens of millions of Californians. And that’s why I’m proud as governor to be the first state to announce a program for direct disaster assistance to those individuals."

The state is ponying up $75 million, with another $50 million coming from private industry. The money will go to Californians impacted by COVID-19 who are ineligible for unemployment insurance and other programs because of their immigration status. The governor’s office says about 150 thousand people will receive a one-time cash benefit of $500 per adult to deal with specific needs arising from the pandemic.

Rate Increases In SFMTA Budget Proposal

Next week the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) will vote on how to restructure fares for Muni, and the Board of Supervisors is urging them to reconsider. 

Yesterday, during a virtual supervisors meeting, the board passed a resolution intended to put pressure on the SFMTA to hold off on any rate increases. Supervisor Dean Preston doesn’t think there should be an increase at all, given the financial challenges many city residents are facing during this pandemic.

"When we turn the corner and we come out of this crisis and we will, I think the last thing we want to do is be raising fairs during a time when San Franciscans will be very economically insecure, and where a lot of San Franciscans may be skeptical about congregating on public transit," Preston said.

The SFMTA board will vote next week on next year’s budget. If the current proposal passes, it’s fare increases will likely go into effect by July.

Here are the proposed increases: a single ride paid by Clipper card increases 12%. That means $2.50 will become $2.80. Adult monthly Muni passes would increase by $5.00.

Out of 11 supervisors, only one — Rafael Mandelman — voted against the resolution. He pointed to new programs that the fare increases allow the SFMTA to do, which are free rides to anyone under 19 years old and to anyone experiencing homelessness. 

But the supervisors that spoke out against the fare increase said now isn’t the time, given the unprecedented economic fallout from the global pandemic.

California DMV Extends Driver's License Validity

Worried about driving on an expired license during a pandemic? Well, the California Department of Motor Vehicles is extending the validity of all expiring driver’s licenses through May 31. 

The DMV announced the extension in a press release yesterday. It states that licenses that expire between March and May this year are now valid through May 31. In addition, all commercial driver’s licenses are now valid through June 30. Drivers with suspended licenses are not eligible for the extension.

Earlier in the month, the DMV mailed out 120-day extensions to drivers 70 and older in an effort to keep more of them from leaving their homes. Drivers under the age of 70 receiving the automatic extension will not be mailed a card unless they request one online. However, the DMV says that it has notified California law enforcement of the extensions.

The DMV is encouraging eligible Californians to renew their licenses online. Those who wish to change the name, address or gender that appears on their license are not eligible for online renewal and will need to renew in person once DMV field offices re-open.

Also if you’re planning on getting a REAL ID before they’re required for domestic flights, you now have an extra year. The Department of Homeland Security said that it will not require REAL IDs for air travel until October 2021. However, the only place to get one is still at a DMV field office once they re-open.