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Thursday, December 31, 2015

California Passed A Lot of New Laws This Year. Here Are the Ones You Should Know.

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2015 at 12:07 PM

Where the magic happens. - PHOTO CINDY/FLICKR
  • Photo Cindy/Flickr
  • Where the magic happens.
It was a busy year for California’s legislature, which signed 807 bills into law in 2015. Some were almost laughably niche (Spanish moss was designated the state’s official lichen), while others were game changers (doctors can now prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients). 

Today, the Los Angeles Times published a handy rundown of the new laws, conveniently sorted by category. You should check it out in its entirety, but in the meantime here are some of the most important, interesting, and relevant for us San Franciscans.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Supes Say No to New $380 Million Jail, Yes to Ending Mass Incarceration

Posted By on Wed, Dec 16, 2015 at 11:15 AM

  • Photo by Mike Koozmin/SF Examiner

City Hall told the Sheriff’s Department yesterday that it’s perfectly okay with plans for a jail, except for that little part about building a new one. Could you possibly nix that bit?

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to reject an $80 million state grant, table much of the proposed legislation, and send the rest back to committee to omit all mention of jail-building, in favor of a much cheaper initiative ($16.7 million) to buy the land adjacent to the Hall of Justice and build, well, pretty much anything else.

“It’s time to tear down not just a building but the entire system of mass incarceration,” said Board president London Breed.

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Board of Supervisors Passes Bike Yield Law, But it Fails Anyway

Posted By on Wed, Dec 16, 2015 at 10:56 AM

  • Mark Nye/Flickr

Nothing on two wheels in San Francisco is fast enough to escape controversy.

Odd as it sounds, city government ended up divided on ideological grounds Tuesday over the question of whether or not bikes should have to heed stop signs.

Supervisor John Avalos’ bill granting cyclists leeway to ignore stop signs under some circumstances garnered just enough votes to pass but not yet enough to overcome a promised mayoral veto. In the midst of the debate, the 11 supervisors managed to field roughly 13 or 14 distinct arguments on the topic.

The proposal would allow cyclists to roll through stops, provided the cyclists are traveling less than 6 miles an hour, there are no pedestrians within 6 feet, and they at least slow down a bit. City Hall has taken to calling this an “Idaho Stop,” which is ironic given that the same maneuver in a car is known as a California Stop.

Surely it undermines the entire concept of a stop sign if not everybody has to stop, right?

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Idaho Stop, Up for Vote Today, Still Two Supes Shy of Overriding Mayor's Promised Veto

Posted By on Tue, Dec 15, 2015 at 12:57 PM

  • Kate McCarthy/Flickr

The fate of two big issues will be decided at City Hall today: one is whether the city will fund construction of a new $380 million jail, while the other — arguably more consequential for the average San Franciscan — is whether rolling bike stops will be made legal.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

California Privacy Group Calls for Lawsuits to Control Public Bathroom Access Based on Gender

Posted By on Mon, Dec 14, 2015 at 11:59 AM

  • Cade Buchanan/Flickr

If you live in California, your bathroom privacy is apparently under attack, and a cadre of horrified parents and church folk is gathering signatures to enforce genital segregation.

Privacy for All, the cadre in question, is peddling the Personal Privacy Protection Act, which seeks to prohibit “individuals from using facilities in government buildings except in accordance with their sex as determined at birth, through medical examination, or court judgment recognizing a change of gender.”

As we all know, there’s no more pressing issue in the state than making sure someone of the opposite sex doesn’t play peekaboo with your junk, which Privacy for All aims to ensure by encouraging civil lawsuits. If you see someone of the opposite sex using your public bathroom and feel your privacy has been violated, you can sue for at least $4,000.

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mayor Lee Proposes New City Department Tasked With Ending Homelessness

Posted By on Thu, Dec 3, 2015 at 1:06 PM

  • Michael Yan/Flickr

Mayor Ed Lee has a new plan to help get homeless San Franciscans off the street, and it’s the most ambitious in nearly a decade.

As SFGate reports, the mayor wants to create a Department on Homelessness (not its official name) that will serve as a one-stop shop for the city’s various health, housing, drug rehab, and counseling services. The mayor has reportedly earmarked $1 billion to fund the initiative over the next four years — which isn't new money, but what the city would spend on existing homeless services in that period anyway.

The mayor will also launch a national search for a director to head up the department and oversee the approximately 30 current city employees expected to staff it.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Protesters Take Over Budget Committee Vote on New Jail

Posted By on Wed, Dec 2, 2015 at 2:58 PM

  • Photo by Adam Brinklow

The protesters who took over the Board of Supervisors Budget Committee today (an action that is still ongoing; their chants of “Hell no, no new jail in San Francisco” are serenading me as I write this) waited through nearly two hours of budget wrangling so dull it could bring a statue to tears before making their move.

Give them credit: That’s endurance. A lot of people don’t make it through the first 20 minutes.

The clerk wasn’t even quite finished reading the agenda items relevant to the proposal for a new $240 million city jail to replace the decrepit earthquake hazard on Bryant Street before a whistle interrupted him and out came the banners: “NO SF JAIL” and “DON’T LOCK UP OUR BUDGET.”

At that point, the meeting descended into a festival-like atmosphere of shouting, stomping, and chanting that has been going on for over an hour now with no sign of abating.

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David Chiu Wants to Hear Your Ideas for New Laws

Posted By on Wed, Dec 2, 2015 at 11:16 AM

  • JD Lasica/Flickr

Ever wanted the glory of being a politician without any of the bullshit? If you live in California’s 17th Assembly District (which includes San Francisco), you’ll soon have your chance.

Assemblyman David Chiu, who represents the district, today launched a new initiative/contest called “There Ought to be a Law,” whereby average taxpayers like you and me can finally moonlight as lawmakers. Chiu is asking constituents in his district to propose new legislation for the 2016 legislative year, noting, “Some of the most interesting pieces of legislation I have worked on throughout my career came directly from constituents who are dealing with challenges or see opportunities in their everyday lives.”

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mayor Lee’s Demand to Make Tour Buses Safer Probably Won’t Work

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 12:25 PM

  • Chadmagiera/Flickr

The double-decker bus that lost control on Post Street a week and a half ago and injured 20 people may not be the most pressing public safety issue in the city (Vision Zero and lingering unease about PG&E gas lines come to mind), but it is the hardest to ignore.

The image of a blue juggernaut hurtling pell-mell past San Francisco landmarks while scattering orange safety barriers like dandelions in its wake would be comical if so many people hadn’t been hurt — and it’s an image not likely to slip the minds of anyone who takes a jaunt up that particular block anytime soon.

Maybe that’s what urged Mayor Ed Lee to get on the horn last week and demand sweeping inspections of the city’s entire carrier bus entourage.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Texas Governor Promises a "Revolt" if Former SF Police Chief is Hired to Lead Border Patrol

Posted By on Tue, Nov 10, 2015 at 10:22 AM

  • Jake Poehls/SF Weekly
The U.S. Border Patrol will soon be hiring a new chief, and rumor has it that former San Francisco police chief Heather Fong is on the shortlist of candidates. According to San Antonio Express-News, this doesn’t sit well with Texas governor Greg Abbott.

“If [Fong] is chosen, you will see a revolt in this country, because we are not going to tolerate this perpetuation of violating the law and not enforcing the law,” Abbott said in a Fox News appearance this morning.

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