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A Snapshot of California Public Policy and Politics

California Policy and Politics Friday

Biden meets with Alexei Navalny’s widow and daughter in San Francisco -- Biden met with the two women to “express his heartfelt condolences for their terrible loss following the death of Aleksey Navalny in a Russian prison,” the White House said in a statement. Biden also told them personally of his plans to announce major new sanctions against Russia on Friday in response to Navalny’s death and Russia’s war in Ukraine. Shira Stein in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/23/24

In Bay Area, Biden vows to restore abortion access amid legal uncertainty about fertility treatments -- Just days after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos can be considered “children,” President Biden held a fundraiser at a leading stem cell research advocate’s Silicon Valley home, warning that voting for Donald Trump would limit reproductive rights beyond abortion. Mackenzie Mays in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/23/24

Poll: Schiff leads, with Porter and Garvey battling for second place in CA Senate race -- Adam Schiff has a clear advantage in California’s Senate race, with fellow Democratic Rep. Katie Porter and Republican Steve Garvey in a fierce battle to advance to the November runoff, according to a new statewide poll. Christopher Cadelago Politico -- 2/23/24

Powerful women are backing a man for California’s Senate seat -- California’s streak of female representation in the Senate may come to an end after this year’s election — and women appear to be a leading reason. Laurel Rosenhall in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/23/24

Garofoli: Ranked-choice voting will loom large in S.F. mayor’s race — and that could hurt Breed -- Ranked-choice voting has produced surprising mayoral winners in the Bay Area over the past two decades. But that system is unlikely to help Mayor London Breed, given her latest ominous poll results. It actually could make her road ahead harder. Joe Garofoli in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/23/24


San Diego judge blocks state from enforcing law meant to hold gun industry accountable for gun violence -- A federal judge in San Diego has temporarily blocked California Attorney General Rob Bonta from enforcing a portion of state law that gave Bonta, local governments and private citizens the ability to hold gun companies legally liable for gun violence. Alex Riggins in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ Kevin Rector in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/23/24


Restaurants say they must cut jobs, raise prices thanks to new California law. Labor experts are wary -- Some restaurants are taking steps — either by cutting workers or raising prices — to protect their bottom line ahead of a new California fast food wage law. Bob Egelko in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/23/24


Once the darling of the EV world, the electric truck-maker Rivian is reeling -- But the Irvine-based company hit the brakes Wednesday, announcing a 10% cut to its workforce and lower production expectations. The news sent its stock plummeting. Samantha Masunaga in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/23/24

Bait and Switch

L.A. County accuses Grubhub of ‘bait-and-switch’ with last-minute fees -- In a lawsuit filed Wednesday against Grubhub, county lawyers argue the food delivery company has repeatedly flouted a state law barring false advertising by promoting meals at a cheaper price than what customers see at the checkout page. Rebecca Ellis in the Los Angeles Times$ Kevin Smith in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 2/23/24


PG&E profits hop higher as revenue surges from electricity and gas -- The Oakland-based power company earned an eye-popping $2.24 billion in profits last year, an increase of 24.6% from 2022, PG&E reported on Thursday. The report also predicted the utility titan’s investors can anticipate even better earnings in 2024. George Avalos in the East Bay Times$ -- 2/23/24


Large swath of California’s Central Coast land to be preserved with $10.3 million grant -- The grant, awarded by the state agency to the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County, will allow the nonprofit to purchase a conservation easement for Camatta Ranch, a working cattle ranch — adding to protected lands its 27,512 acres, an area more than than three times the size of nearby San Luis Obispo. Sam Whiting in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/23/24


Violent OC white supremacist group founder back in federal custody after brief release from lockup -- The purported founder of a Southern California-based militant white supremacist group was re-arrested on Thursday — the same day that 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judges reversed his release from lockup. Sean Emery in the Orange County Register -- 2/23/24

Traffic stops in San Francisco are about to fundamentally change — unless police block the move -- The San Francisco Police Commission voted Wednesday to restrict officers’ ability to pull over drivers for low-level infractions, a form of traffic stop disproportionately used against people of color. Rachel Swan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/23/24

Oscar Grant’s mother receives her son’s cell phones 15 years after notorious police killing -- Rev. Wanda Johnson cradled two flip phones in her hand Thursday — her thoughts turning to how soon she could power them up and search for pictures left behind by her son, Oscar Grant. It was a moment 15 years in the making. Jakob Rodgers in the East Bay Times$ -- 2/23/24


Toys, turkeys and grants: How backers and critics of the Dodger Stadium gondola are wooing locals -- The proposed Dodger Stadium gondola goes before the Metro board as the fight for community support intensifies at William Mead Homes, a public housing project on the edge of Chinatown. Rachel Uranga, Bill Shaikin in the Los Angeles Times$ Steve Scauzillo in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 2/23/24

Monster avalanche on California mountain forms 60-foot walls of snow -- An avalanche at Mount Shasta over Presidents Day weekend moved a “mind-boggling” amount of snow, forming 60-foot-tall walls, according to the Mount Shasta Avalanche Center. Megan Fan Munce in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/23/24


California Policy and Politics Thursday

California lawmakers seek to short-circuit new income-based utility charges -- Multiple efforts are underway on both sides of California’s political divide to short-circuit a 2022 law that would impose new income-based fixed fees on customers of PG&E and other utility leviathans. George Avalos in the East Bay Times$ -- 2/22/24

Judge clears charges against alleged white supremacists, says there’s a bias against the far right -- An Orange County federal judge has dismissed criminal charges for the second time in five years against accused members of a Southern California white supremacist group suspected of inciting brawls at political rallies throughout the state. Brittny Mejia in the Los Angeles Times$ Sean Emery in the Orange County Register -- 2/22/24

Single-payer healthcare is a ‘tough, tough sell’ as California faces massive budget shortfall -- California Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas says he likes the idea of a state-run single-payer healthcare system, but isn’t convinced the state can afford it. Anabel Sosa in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/22/24

‘In very serious trouble’: Chronicle poll shows S.F. Mayor Breed’s re-election bid is in danger -- A poll of nearly 1,000 likely voters, conducted this month, found that the vast majority disapprove of Mayor London Breed’s job performance. J.D. Morris in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/22/24

Protesters seeking recall of Oakland mayor disrupt news conference -- A group of demonstrators supporting a campaign to recall Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao on Wednesday disrupted a news conference at which Thao announced that the city was awarded a $3.5 million state grant to put more “safety ambassadors” on the streets. David Hernandez in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/22/24

California’s streak of female senators may be ending — and women appear to be a reason -- At least one woman has represented California in the U.S. Senate for the last three decades. That streak may come to an end after the 2024 Senate election. Benjamin Oreskes in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/22/24

Barabak: Who needs passion or drama? Adam Schiff tries bland and steady in California U.S. Senate race -- The Burbank congressman has been the pacesetter in California’s U.S. Senate race. As rivals campaign on passion and presence, the Democrat’s appeal is his practicality. Mark Z. Barabak in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/22/24

Kevin McCarthy made a chaotic exit from Congress. The race to replace him is just as messy -- The race to replace Kevin McCarthy in Congress has included a court fight over who can appear on the ballot, surprising endorsements and Donald Trump weighing in. Shira Stein in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/22/24

Walters: Sacramento, California’s capital, is also the capital of official sneakiness -- California’s capital city, Sacramento, has become a startling example of official sneakiness in how it conducts its business. Dan Walters CalMatters -- 2/22/24

Biden, at a Los Angeles fundraiser, says 2024 election offers a stark choice -- President Biden, speaking Tuesday night at a Los Angeles fundraiser, said the 2024 election offers a “crystal-clear” choice for voters between a Democratic agenda to improve Americans’ lives and Republican Donald Trump’s efforts to restrict freedoms and destroy the progress Democrats have made on issues such as healthcare and drug costs. Seema Mehta in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/22/24

In the Bay Area, President Biden shows he can still energize donors. But what about voters? -- Topping off his record-setting re-election war chest, President Biden landed in the Bay Area on Wednesday for a two-day fundraising trip, complete with $100,000-a-pop tickets, showing he can still energize donors two weeks before Super Tuesday. Julia Prodis Sulek, Scooty Nickerson in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 2/22/24

Calmes: I watched a Trump rally so you don’t have to. But you need to know what he’s saying -- What the former president reveals on the stump should wipe away any doubt about which candidate is unhinged. Jackie Calmes in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/22/24

Abcarian: Would you expect a firefighter to run into a burning building to save a frozen embryo? -- In a Bible-infused ruling, Alabama’s Supreme Court has held — dangerously and preposterously — that frozen embryos are ‘children.’ Robin Abcarian in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/22/24


Biden considering major new executive actions for migrant crisis -- The policies under consideration include changes to asylum standards and stricter points of entry. Myah Ward Politico -- 2/22/24


Waiting and sweltering: Why are California’s indoor heat protections for workers five years late? -- In March, the state is finally set to approve rules to protect workers from excessive heat indoors. Officials busted a 2019 deadline — a delay that demonstrates California’s byzantine rulemaking process. Jeanne Kuang CalMatters -- 2/22/24

Staffing startup agrees to reclassify workers as employees under S.F. settlement -- Qwick, a hospitality staffing company, has agreed to reclassify its California workers as employees and pay them $1.85 million in a settlement with the city of San Francisco. Bob Egelko in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/22/24

California Forever

Tech-billionaire promises for a new city, from roads to water, are worth hundreds of millions of dollars — if they’re binding -- California Forever CEO Jan Sramek says promises of new homes, jobs, investments are binding, but legal experts and elected officials are skeptical. Levi Sumagaysay, Ben Christopher CalMatters -- 2/22/24


These entertainment workers could barely make rent. A Hollywood housing complex offers relief -- The Hollywood Arts Collective, an affordable housing complex for entertainment workers in Los Angeles, opened in April near the start of the WGA strike. Christi Carras in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/22/24


S.F. revives old parking ban to clear RV sprawl in Bernal Heights -- Twenty-seven years ago, the city banned overnight parking along most of the south side of Bernal Heights Boulevard. But parking control officers rarely enforced it, if ever. Rachel Swan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/22/24


L.A. Times and consumer group ask judge to unseal records in DWP scandal -- The Times and Consumer Watchdog are seeking to make public 33 search warrants, affidavits and other documents in the government’s case. Dakota Smith in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/22/24


Longtime SJSU professor placed on leave following altercation with pro-Palestinian protester -- Jonathan Roth is a history professor and the 2019 recipient of the university’s Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes faculty for exemplary leadership. Clare Fonstein in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/22/24

Property-poor districts demand fairer funding for school facilities -- Lawyers representing organizations in property-poor school districts are pressing Gavin Newsom and legislators over a school bond for the November ballot. John Fensterwald EdSource -- 2/21/24

Narcan at California colleges: Are students getting overdose medication? -- The Campus Opioid Safety Act required colleges and universities to put the power of reversing fentanyl overdoses directly into the hands of students. Some campuses are giving out the life-saving nasal spray Narcan, while others are not. Li Khan CalMatters -- 2/22/24


‘There’s a war going on’: L.A. anti-Scientology protests bring arrests, attack allegations -- Three protesters have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy and using tear gas, part of a clash in Hollywood that has brought attack allegations from both sides. Noah Goldberg in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/22/24


California reservoir managers could sharply limit water to farms and cities this year -- The State Water Project and Central Valley Project announced plans to limit water deliveries, citing concern that California’s weather could turn dry. Kurtis Alexander in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/22/24

Here’s how much California’s snowpack has improved after recent storms -- The latest measurements from the California Department of Water Resources places the statewide snowpack at 85% of normal for this time of year, according to data as of Tuesday. In comparison, the snowpack was just 52% of average on Jan. 30 and a paltry 25% of average on Jan. 2. Jack Lee in the San Francisco Chronicle$ Ian James in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/22/24

Experts urge California to avoid pitfalls in water deals in the delta -- Experts are urging California officials to beware of pitfalls as they pursue water management agreements in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Ian James in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/22/24

Klamath River

As massive California dam-removal project nears completion, who gets the once submerged land? -- The states of California and Oregon will inherit about 8,000 acres of land as part of the Klamath River dam removal, some of which is expected to be transferred to the original stewards. Kurtis Alexander in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/22/24

Rain Train

‘They just can’t take this kind of beating’: California mansions on the brink -- The latest storm battering the California coast has brought fresh flooding, mudslides, sinkholes and coastal erosion to the state — but the three mansions atop the cliffs of Dana Point remain anchored in place. Joshua Partlow in the Washington Post$ -- 2/22/24

$7.2 million wall to be built along train tracks in San Clemente after latest landslide -- The new wall proposed to line a San Clemente bluff is the latest armoring as OCTA attempts to keep hillside dirt from landing on its tracks. Laylan Connelly in the Orange County Register -- 2/22/24

Robo Taxi

Waymo must wait to learn whether it can expand robotaxi operations in Bay Area, L.A. -- The commission’s Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division issued the 120-day suspension of Waymo’s expansion request on Tuesday, meaning the state regulator won’t vote on the issue until after June 19 at the earliest. Ricardo Cano in the San Francisco Chronicle$ Ethan Baron in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 2/22/24

Dodger Gondola

Battle over Dodger Stadium gondola is being fought at a Chinatown housing project -- The proposed Dodger Stadium gondola goes before the Metro board as the fight for community support intensifies at William Mead Homes, a public housing project on the edge of Chinatown. Rachel Uranga in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/22/24


Oversight investigators find deputy gang ‘logo’ outside Los Angeles women’s jail -- An image linked to the so-called Regulators deputy gang appeared in the Century Regional Detention Facility parking garage in December, inspectors said. Keri Blakinger in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/22/24

California bill proposes new standards for court-ordered parenting classes after Times investigation -- Legislation by Assemblymember Isaac Bryan cites a Times investigation that found court-ordered parenting classes go largely unregulated in California. Mackenzie Mays in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/22/24


Arellano: ‘This Fool’ got L.A. Latinos right. Who’s to blame for its cancellation? -- The show’s untimely end brought the same reaction as previous cancellations, but the problem is as much with Latino viewers who failed to watch as it is with Hollywood. Gustavo Arellano in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/22/24

Isolation. Trauma. Returning to the closet. State’s aging LGBTQ population faces unique challenges -- California is conducting its first-ever survey of LGBTQ older adults to better understand their diverse needs across the state. Erin Allday in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/22/24