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Bay Area Headlines: Tuesday, 6/30/20, PM


California Has A Budget / Alameda Cities Take Steps To Defund Police / State’s Latest COVID-19 Prevention Moves / Lawsuit Over San Francisco’s Eviction Protection

California Has A Budget

Governor Gavin Newsom has signed the state’s budget. The $202.1 billion spending plan temporarily raises taxes on businesses, pulls heavily from the state's primary savings account, and cuts more than $11 billion from state programs. The state legislature significantly changed the governor’s proposed budget revision, which was rewritten after the COVID-19 pandemic kicked in. The final version mostly avoids permanent cuts to public education and health care programs, instead delaying payments to future years and borrowing from internal funds. Newsom seemed pleased with the result.

“Again $6 billion projected budget surplus 100-plus days ago to a $54.3 budget deficit that we had to balance. Unlike the federal government, we need to balance our budgets.”

Republican legislative leaders were critical of the budget. They say deferring costs will only make it more difficult to balance budgets in the future.

Alameda Cities Take Steps To Defund Police

Two of Alameda County’s biggest cities are taking steps in response to national calls for police reform and defunding.

Last week the Oakland City Council approved the city’s mid-cycle budget, which goes into effect tomorrow. Though it fell short of calls to defund the Oakland Police Department, it did move more than $14.3 million from the OPD budget to alternative safety measures. 

One such program is the Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland, or MACRO. This pilot program will provide unarmed civilian responders and EMTs to handle non-emergency 911 calls. It will launch in East Oakland and be coordinated by the city’s Department of Violence Prevention. The Council allocated $1.85 million for the program.

Although its launch coincides with nationwide calls to defund the police and address police violence, MACRO has been under consideration for over a year. The idea is based in part on the CAHOOTS program, a thirty-one-year-old mobile crisis-intervention program in Eugene, Oregon. Oakland’s program will build on the CAHOOTS model to reflect the city’s unique communities, challenges, and resources.

In Berkeley, Mayor Jesse Arreguín proposed cutting that city’s police budget by roughly 12 percent or $9.2 million. Funds would be redirected to a variety of community programs. The city council will vote on the proposed budget later this evening.

State’s Latest COVID-19 Prevention Moves

Los Angeles will close beaches and ban fireworks displays over the holiday weekend as California officials warn further restrictions may be necessary to curb a troubling spike in coronavirus cases in much of the state. Governor Newsom says he's prepared to impose targeted shutdowns of counties or businesses. Newsom's remarks came a day after he mandated bars close in seven counties. Newsom says the state will step up enforcement of its mask order. At the same time, new guidance allows some nursing home visitation to resume, and the state is considering releasing more prisoners early amid prison outbreaks.

Lawsuit Over San Francisco’s Eviction Protection 

Real estate groups are taking legal action to overturn San Francisco’s COVID-19 Tenant Protection Ordinance. The Board of Supervisors passed the law earlier this month. It permanently protects renters from eviction if they’re not able to pay rent due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The groups suing are the San Francisco Apartment Association, the San Francisco Association of Realtors, the Coalition for Better Housing, and Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute.

They allege that the moratorium violates state law. They’re arguing it leaves landlords to resort to costly methods of collecting rent. They also say that small property owners are particularly vulnerable.

Under the ordinance, landlords are able to collect back rent from tenants through the courts. But they’re concerned this will be a lengthy process — and they’re afraid they may never recover the money owed to them.

Supervisor Dean Preston authored the city’s eviction moratorium. In a statement, he criticizes the lawsuit, calling it an attempt by landlords to “displace people who lost income due to COVID from their homes.”

According to the San Francisco Examiner, the San Francisco Apartment Association says they’ve been advocating for rent assistance, like rent reductions and payment plans, to help solve the problem.