San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón. Screen shot from press conference

Amid Increased Hospitalizations, Government Officials Urge Caution Over July 4 Weekend

San Francisco public officials warned that people should avoid gatherings to celebrate July 4, as infection rates and hospitalizations linked to the COVID-19 pandemic have surged over the past week.

Dr. Tomás Aragón, San Francisco Health Officer, and Joaquín Torres, the director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, urged San Franciscans to get outside to some of the area’s surrounding nature over the holiday weekend in lieu of attending indoor gatherings.  » Read more

Joaquín Torres. Photo courtesy of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development

S.F. Scrambles to Support Businesses Threatened by Pandemic

Certain businesses that had been forced to close under San Francisco’s coronavirus shelter-in-place order had been expecting to re-open on Monday. But last week, seeing a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases, city officials postponed that date. Joaquín Torres, director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, gave an overview of local programs meant to support struggling businesses and workers and how many have received aid. » Read more

Drivers for Lyft and Uber organized a car caravan and protest in front of Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s home in San Francisco. Laura Wenus / Public Press

Ride-Hail Drivers Protest for Labor Protections

Drivers for Uber and Lyft staged a car caravan and rally outside Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s home last week to protest their classification as contractors despite a California law, AB5, which the state says defines such drivers as employees. “It’s personal for me, it’s personal for all these drivers, because our lives are directly affected by it,” said driver Edan Alva. “My ability to pay for my son’s health insurance, my ability to put food on the table, all these drivers’ ability to exist in a balanced way, in a dignified way, where they live, is dependent on labor protections.”

Cherri Murphy. Laura Wenus / Public Press

The drivers, affiliated with groups including Gig Workers Rising and We Drive Progress, were also there to call on Uber to withdraw support for a ballot measure backed by Uber, Lyft and DoorDash that would exempt drivers for these services from AB5’s requirements. The measure, which will be on the November 2020 ballot, would also require that drivers be paid more than minimum wage and would require health care coverage for drivers who work at least 15 hours per week.

San Francisco Superior Court

Real Estate Groups Sue S.F. Over Eviction Ban

Real estate groups Monday sued the City and County of San Francisco to overturn an eviction ban designed to help renters weather the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiffs argue that the city ordinance “violates constitutional and state law” empowering landlords to evict, and conflicts with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Executive Orders, which have allowed local governments to issue temporary bans on evictions — not permanent ones. The San Francisco Apartment Association, the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute, the San Francisco Association of Realtors and Coalition for Better Housing jointly filed the suit in San Francisco Superior Court. The groups are also seeking a temporary restraining order to suspend the law, said Noni Richen, president of the small property owners group. The legislation, signed into law June 26, outlaws eviction for nonpayment of rents that were due from March 16 through July 29 — a time period tied to Newsom’s executive order.

San Francisco Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said Friday at an online news conference that the city was working with contact tracers to identify the sources of increased cases of coronavirus infection.

San Francisco Pauses Reopening as Coronavirus Infections Rise

Mayor London Breed has ordered a halt to plans to further reopen the city on Monday, June 29, amid a spike in coronavirus cases. 

On Thursday, June 25, the city recorded 103 new cases. That’s a huge jump compared with the 20 new cases a day the city registered starting June 15, when it allowed some in-store retail and sidewalk dining at restaurants in the first loosening of the shelter-in-place order.  » Read more

The subjects of “Unsettled”: Junior, Mari, Cheyenne and Subhi. Photo courtesy of Open Door Productions

LGBTQ Refugee Doc Debuts on Public Television, Streaming

The San Francisco Bay Area has a reputation for being a kind of “queer promised land,” says filmmaker Tom Shepard. In the documentary “Unsettled,” that notion is put to the test. The film follows four LGBT refugees as they try to build new lives in San Francisco after fleeing violence and discrimination in their home countries. » Read more

Postal Workers Rally for Stimulus Support

The United States Postal Service is running out of money — the agency requested $75 billion in emergency funding in April, saying it would be out of money by September. Lower demand for its services and the health impacts of the pandemic have hit the agency hard, and legislators had planned to give the postal service $25 billion in the CARES Act. But the Trump administration blocked the funding. The postal service does have access to $10 billion in loans, but Donald Trump has suggested that the postal service should raise its prices. Louis DeJoy, a longtime Trump supporter and fundraiser, took over as the US Postmaster this month.

Pandemic and Protest: How AIDS and LGBTQ Activism in the ’80s Informs the Present

This story and the “Civic” episode should be considered opinion and not an official view of either “Civic” or the San Francisco Public Press. 

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” While the remark may or may not have been made by Mark Twain, it certainly rings true as we compare the 1980s with 2020, when an incompetent response to a pandemic and a minority’s call for justice brought people to the streets. » Read more

Landlords Threaten to Sue Over S.F. Eviction Ban

A landlords’ group plans to sue San Francisco over tenant protections established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the organization’s executive director. The Board of Supervisors this month approved a permanent ban on evictions for rents unpaid from mid-March through July. An earlier local eviction moratorium would have allowed landlords to start pursuing evictions of tenants for any remaining unpaid rents — even those due during the emergency — by the end of December. The end date of the eviction ban is based on an executive order by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who could extend the time period. The switch to a permanent ban galvanized the San Francisco Apartment Association, a property owners group with thousands of members, to threaten legal action.

Devon Tartee stands outside the city-sanctioned tent camp at 180 Jones St. where he has lived for the past two weeks. Brian Howey / San Francisco Public Press

S.F. Places More Than 250 Homeless Tenderloin Residents in Hotels

San Francisco social workers had placed 264 homeless Tenderloin residents in hotel rooms as of Wednesday morning as part of a two-week push to remove most of the neighborhood’s homeless tents. The city initiative comes in the wake of complaints from neighbors, outrage from city supervisors and a May lawsuit against the city by the University of California Hastings College of the Law over deteriorating Tenderloin conditions. Since the city began placing people in hotel rooms June 10, staff have averaged about 29 hotel placements per weekday. Jeff Kositsky, manager of the Healthy Streets Operations Center, the city’s multi-department homelessness task force leading the initiative, confirmed via text message that the city would not place anyone in hotels Wednesday, adding that he was unavailable for further comment on the city’s progress. Workers also moved an additional 10 homeless people from street camps into city-sanctioned tent encampments like one at 180 Jones St., a collection of a couple dozen tents surrounded by chain link fencing in the Tenderloin.