Bay Area Headlines: Friday, 6/5/20, AM
SF Mayor Breed’s Proposed Budget / Californians Surveyed About Crisis / Commercial Rent Protections Proposed / Court Rules EPA Shouldn’t Have Approved Herbicide
SF Mayor Breed’s Proposed Budget
On Wednesday, San Francisco Mayor London Breed presented her rebalanced budget. The new plan will close the gap in the city’s budget created by the pandemic.
This new budget is a balancing act. One that needs to bridge a $246 million dollar deficit. In order to get there, the city will withdraw half of the general fund reserve and reduce funding for capital projects.
Cuts will be made to street repair, curb ramp installation, behavioral health services for transitional youth, child care subsidies and fire department purchases.
The city’s police department was spared any budget cuts, despite growing calls from protestors to be defunded. Los Angeles by comparison has already introduced a resolution to slash police funding by up to $150 million dollars following the police involved killing of George Floyd.
Officials say many more hard decisions remain. And that’s because the current year’s budget was balanced mostly with “one-time” use funds. Looking forward, the city will still face a $1.5 billion deficit from the economic impacts of COVD19. City departments have until June 12th to adjust to the cuts and submit their budget proposals to the mayor.
Californians Surveyed About Crisis
Overall, Californians approve of Governor Gavin Newsom’s handling of the crisis. He has a 65 percent approval rating, a 12 percent jump from February. But his revised budget, which proposes steep cuts to education and other public services, is getting mixed reviews.
A slight majority of Californians believe the worst is yet to come when it comes to the coronavirus. That's according to a new survey out from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. PPIC President Marc Baldassare says 69 percent of African Americans say the worst is coming compared to 41 percent of whites.
“There are strong racial disparities and income differences in California that have placed Californians, especially African Americans, in a very vulnerable situation during this particular health and economic crisis.”
The economic impacts of the pandemic are far-reaching — one in three California adults has reported a job loss due to the virus, and just over half of those surveyed say someone in their household has lost income or had work hours reduced.
Commercial Rent Protections Proposed
It’s the beginning of the month and rent is due. One state lawmaker wants to expand protections for commercial renters during the pandemic.
The coronavirus and stay-at-home orders have steamrolled businesses. But State Senator Scott Wiener says some have been hit particularly hard.
“We face a significant risk that we’re going to lose a massive number of our small businesses and nonprofits, particularly our neighborhood-serving restaurants, bars and cafes.”
The San Francisco democrat has a bill to let those businesses renegotiate their leases, which he says have become unworkable because of stay-at-home orders.
But commercial property owners say the bill forces the burden on their shoulders. Rex Hime is president of the California Business Properties Association:
“It’s a totally unbalanced approach to resolving the things that all of us are involved in facing with the COVID-19 situation.”
The bill has already made it through a Senate committee along a party-line vote. Wiener says he’s working on amendments to get more buy-in from landlords.
Court Rules EPA Shouldn’t Have Approved Herbicide
A federal appeals court says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shouldn’t have approved a weedkiller called dicamba.
The herbicide has been used for over 50 years, but only to clear fields of weeds before crops are grown. In 2016, the EPA approved a new formula of the chemical, developed by Monsanto, to be used directly on crops. And, in 2018, it extended that approval for two more years.
But, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday, that approval violated federal pesticide law. The court said the EPA didn’t consider the herbicide’s cost to farming communities.
Dicamba can drift in hot or windy weather, causing damage to the surrounding environment. That means even if a farmer doesn’t use the herbicide, it can drift over from neighboring farms.
An attorney for the Center for Food Safety, one of the groups suing over the EPA’s approval, called the decision a massive win. The organization said dicamba has damaged millions of acres of plant life.
The EPA or Monsanto could choose to appeal the ruling. But it only applies through the 2020 growing season. And a company spokespersonsaid Monsanto is already trying to register dicamba for use in the 2021 season.