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Bay Area Headlines: Friday, 8/14/20, AM

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Spotlight On Kamala Harris's Role As Attorney General / Alcatraz To Re-Open To Visitors / Stanford University Remote Learning / Bay Area Job Cuts Continue / SFMTA Proposes Changes To Folsom Street / Bay Area Heatwave

Spotlight On Kamala Harris's Role As Attorney General
Now that Senator Kamala Harris is Joe Biden’s presidential running mate, there’s a renewed spotlight on her record as a prosecutor in California. Some progressives say Harris was a defender of the status quo in a broken criminal justice system.

“Her critics point to ‘her opposition to a bill’ four years ago, as attorney general, that would have required her office to investigate police shootings.They also cite her decision not to weigh in on state ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana — and to reduce penalties for nonviolent crimes. Harris at the time said she stayed neutral on those because in her role as attorney general she had to write the titles and summaries for those voter initiatives, and she didn’t want to be seen as having a conflict of interest."

Harris was elected California attorney general in 2010 and re-elected four years later. Before that, she served two terms as San Francisco’s district attorney.

Alcatraz To Re-Open To Visitors

Alcatraz, the infamous former island prison in SF Bay which once housed Al Capone and George "Machine Gun Kelly," will reopen Monday. But it will be an outdoor-only experience, to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, the Mercury News reported Thursday.

Visitors, which normally reach about 5,000 to 6,000 people a day in the summer, will be limited to 750 a day. Those taking the ferry to head to the island will have their temperature taken before getting on the boat and will be required to wear a mask.

Charles Strickfaden, a spokesman for the National Park Service said "This is a great opportunity. There will be fewer visitors on the island, and it’s an opportunity to take a walk on the wild side at Alcatraz. There are thousands of nesting birds out there. There are amazing views. There’s a lot to do."

The National Park Service, which owns Alcatraz, has been steadily reopening other national parks, including Yosemite, Muir Woods, Sequoia-Kings Canyon, Pinnacles and others, often with reduced visitation and closed visitor centers. Wherever you’re thinking of visiting, be sure to call ahead or check the NPS website at nps.gov before travelling.

Stanford University Remote Learning

Stanford University announced Thursday that "almost all" of its undergraduate classes will take place remotely with few in-person classes. Furthermore, first-year, sophomore and new transfer undergraduates will not be able to live on campus for the autumn quarter, as previously announced. (A small number of students who were previously approved to live on campus through special circumstances will be able to do so, however.) Incidentally, according to the Mercury News, Stanford University is also planning on job cuts affecting 238 workers, effective on Sept. 1.

Bay Area Job Cuts Continue

The pace of planned layoffs in the Bay Area has slowed dramatically so far in August compared with July — but job cuts continue to jolt a wide array of industries amid renewed shutdowns linked to the coronavirus, official state filings show.

Numerous Bay Area companies had attempted to hang on by using furloughs, but renewed business shutdowns ordered by state and local government agencies have forced a growing number of employers to switch from furloughs to full-fledged layoffs, partly because they have no idea when — or how — they can reopen.

SFMTA Proposes Changes To Folsom Street

Folsom Street between Second and Fifth streets has been the site of at least 31 traffic collisions involving a bicycle or pedestrian since 2014, according to City of San Francisco data.

With four, one-way lanes, parking on both sides, curbside stops for public buses and an on-road bike lane, this section of Folsom Street serves just about every kind of transit user, but it also makes for dysfunctional and dangerous traffic patterns.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, a key stakeholder in The City’s Vision Zero commitment  to eliminate traffic deaths by 2024, is proposing a number of short-term changes to mitigate the area’s most pressing safety concerns, and it’s asking the public to provide input.

Now through August 26, residents can access a virtual presentation detailing the suggested changes and leave questions or comments for staff to review. SFMTA will respond to feedback directly through the site within one week. View the plan and comment at sfmta.org

Bay Area Heatwave

A heatwave that is already in motion and expected to blitz the inland areas of the Bay Area over the weekend will spread farther with even hotter temperatures than initially expected, and lightning may make an appearance, according to the National Weather Service.