By Jackie Botts, Ben Christopher, Elizabeth Castillo, Ana B. Ibarra and Matt Levin, CalMatters

041820CaliforniaMayorsCities have been ground zero in California’s coronavirus response — with many initiating shelter-in-place orders, organizing emergency housing for homeless people and supporting health and essential workers. But even before restrictions get lifted, mayors, managers and city councils are being tested in a new way: pandemic-induced budget deficits. 

Already, unemployment is projected to be higher than it was during the Great Recession. Sales and property tax revenues have cratered. And while some of a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund tucked into the federal stimulus CARES Act will go directly to large cities with a population of 500,000 or more, the League of California Cities has already declared it insufficient

Across California cities, the clamor for a federal bailout is growing. Whatever reserve they may have built up during the recovery is being wiped out and replaced by red ink. City hall leaders now face an unsavory menu of service cuts, furloughs and staff reductions. Public employee pension and health care obligations will only add to the pain. 

(Image: A woman pushes a cart past the shuttered Fox Theater in downtown Oakland on March 25, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters)

Here’s a look at California’s 10 largest cities and how they’re responding to the coronavirus fallout:

Los Angeles: Big promises in California’s biggest city

With just under a fifth of California’s confirmed cases in his city, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has frequently acted like a governor, often steps ahead of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Garcetti, a Democrat, halted all evictions in mid-March, weeks before California courts did the same statewide. The city has mounted 26 free testing sites, where anyone with symptoms can get tested within two days. Last week Garcetti ordered residents to cover their faces in public, a move the state has not yet taken. 

When the mayor announced a philanthropic fund to send cash cards to families, particularly those with undocumented immigrant members, 56,000 immediately applied. 

Despite his rising profile as “storyteller-in-chief,” Garcetti’s big plans have sometimes fallen short. He initially promised to set up 6,000 beds for homeless individuals, but it’s now more likely to be 2,000.

All these initiatives cost big money even as sales tax revenues dry up. In a recent address, Garcetti said he expected a 30% to 40% drop in the city’s hotel occupancy tax and significant decreases in sales tax revenue. Unemployment could soar to 20%. 

The mayor has moved $20 million from city reserves into an emergency COVID-19 response fund, but he said the city needs help.

“There’s no question though that we’re going to have cuts,” Garcetti said. “I’m imploring our Congress, I’m imploring our president to make sure the next round (of relief) also helps bail out cities.”

San Diego: Beach town facing budget deficit

Newsom praised San Diego for taking early and bold action to house the region’s 8,000 homeless people, including procuring more than 2,000 hotel rooms as emergency isolation units. Mayor Kevin Faulconer led an effort to turn the San Diego Convention Center into a massive homeless shelter, taking in more than 800 people without stable housing. 

But those extraordinary measures come with extraordinary bills for California’s second largest city. The repurposing of the convention center will cost $2.8 million per month; the hotel rooms, $6 million per month. 

While federal, state and county dollars will offset some of those costs, the city’s coffers will be strained at a time when hotel tax and sales tax receipts—two key revenue streams in the tourism-centric city—are plummeting. The city faces a $250 million deficit, and Faulconer has called for cuts to libraries, recreation centers and the arts to make up the shortfall. 

“Make no mistake, these are going to be some of the most significant cutbacks in San Diego history,” the Republican mayor said in late March. 

San Jose: A $100 million hit to Silicon Valley

San Jose’s budget will take at least a $100 million hit because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Mayor Sam Liccardo. And that’s still an early projection. He wouldn’t be surprised if it will be worse. “This is going to be a rough ride,” said the Democrat.

Residents have seen it before: The city endured a painful pension battle in the aftermath of the last recession, eventually losing a third of its workforce due to a hiring freeze, pay cuts and employee attrition. 

Now, Silicon Valley is taking another blow as a viral hotspot. Last month, the fire department had to manage an outbreak of COVID-19 cases among its first responders. As one of the regions to be hit early, Santa Clara County was among six counties that initiated a shelter-in-place order on March 17, two days before a statewide order went into effect.

Still, the area is resilient. To help people impacted by the pandemic, the community created Silicon Valley Strong, which has raised more than $20 million to help the area’s most vulnerable residents, small businesses and nonprofits.

The current relief bill should help reimburse the city’s emergency response efforts but Liccardo hopes to see more financial help from Washington, D.C. 

San Francisco: First to lockdown yet homeless remain unsheltered 

SanFrancisco

San Francisco has been upheld as a model for how to deal with the pandemic but Mayor London Breed isn’t resting on her laurels. During the 1918 Spanish Flu, San Francisco introduced aggressive social distancing in the fall, tamping down the initial outbreak, only to open back up prematurely, with lethal consequences.

This year’s positive gains to date have — like all of San Francisco’s achievements — been marred by its most conspicuous failing: the city’s massive unsheltered homeless population.  

So far more than 90 residents and 10 staff at San Francisco’s largest shelter have tested positive for coronavirus, the largest single cluster of cases in the city. It’s fueled criticism that the city has failed to protect its most vulnerable.  

Earlier this week, San Francisco’s board of supervisors passed an ordinance demanding that Breed’s administration lease 8,250 hotel rooms, to get the estimated 8,000 people living on the street in doors by April 26. So far, the city has leased about 2,000 and sheltered nearly 800 people.

“There is no way we’re going to be able to accomplish the goals of the ordinance,” said Breed, a Democrat. Supervisors hope she rises to the challenge.

San Francisco is trying to ramp up services just as its finances are being gutted. The city’s controller recently estimated the pandemic will push the city between $1.1 and $1.7 billion into the red over the next two years — wiping out the city’s $800 million in reserves. 

But those estimates are preliminary and depend on just how hard this all hits the economy — one with plenty of stay-at-home-ready tech workers, but also a disproportionate number of tourism, hospitality and restaurant workers. 

“We’re in the middle of an unprecedented economic shock and we’re in the middle of a bit of data vacuum,” said Ted Egan, chief economist for the city. “There’s not a lot we do know at this point.”

Fresno: ‘Want our economy to come back’

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand first issued a shelter-in-place order for his city of more than 500,000 people on March 18, one day before the governor asked all Californians to stay at home. For the most part, the order is working, he said. 

“People in Fresno get it, they’re staying at home, they want our economy to come back,” Brand said.

Prior to coronavirus, Fresno’s economy was in one of the best shapes it had been in a long time. After struggling for years to jump back from the last recession, the city’s 2020 budget boasted $34 million in reserves, the biggest in the city’s history, he said. In recent years, the city hired more police officers and boosted city services. 

“We are the only city in California with a fully funded pension,” said the Republican mayor. 

Last May, the city even hit a new mark: an unemployment rate under 5%. More often, Fresno’s unemployment rate is typically higher than state and national averages.  

Now those gains are threatened. People are losing jobs and sales tax, a big source of city revenue, is being significantly impacted. Brand said he’d like to see cities included in another round of relief funding from the federal government. 

Locally, the city set up a $750,000 fund to help small businesses. The relief program allows owners to apply for a zero-interest loan that will be forgiven after one year if their business is still operating. 

Sacramento: Capital city seeks assistance

SacramentoScreenshot

A recent influx of Bay Area transplants will help the sixth-largest city in California qualify for nearly $90 million in federal assistance from the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg hopes that money can buoy city coffers as California’s capital braces for a prolonged downturn. The budget for the remainder of this fiscal year, which ends June 30, should hold — but cuts loom.

“We’re going to have to figure out how to make it up,” said Steinberg spokeswoman Mary Lynne Vellinga. “We’re hoping there will be some more assistance coming down the pike.”

Sacramento will also be tested in its response to a growing population of people experiencing homelessness. Steinberg, a Democrat and co-chair of a statewide homelessness task force, has instructed staff to come up with longer-term housing strategies for people placed in temporary hotels or trailers.

Long Beach: Burning through overtime

Long Beach projects revenue losses and increased expenses brought on by the coronavirus pandemic will cost the city between $38 million and $44 million during the current fiscal year ending in September. And that’s optimistic.

City finance director John Gross noted his projections assume the city will enter a recovery period soon after May. Otherwise, he warns, the city “should be prepared for more adverse impacts.”

Long Beach is being hit by the loss of sales tax, oil revenue and a transient occupancy tax, which is paid by hotel guests. The city is also burning through staff overtime and other costs associated with its response. 

The city closed down on March 19, following Los Angeles County’s “safer at home” order. So far, the majority of the city’s deaths have been linked to nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

The city has opened a free clinic at Long Beach City College, where people can be assessed and referred to testing for COVID-19. Near the clinic, the city also opened a drive-thru testing site. The centers are staffed by the city’s own Long Beach Medical Reserve Corps, a program that was in place years before the state’s recently launched Health Corps. 

Oakland: Exacerbating economic and racial inequalities

OaklandScreenshot

On March 9, long before most mayors had to contend with the possibility of a pandemic, the Grand Princess, a ship full of contagious cruise takers, docked in the Port of Oakland. 

“That’s the moment it went from being a problem in the world to a problem right here at home,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf, a Democrat. 

Since then the city, like much of the Bay Area, has — so far — not seen the massive death tolls and overcrowded hospitals that were once forecast. But the pandemic has exacerbated the city’s long-standing economic and racial inequalities, said Schaaf. 

Even with San Francisco across the bay, 15% of Oakland households do not have Internet access. Of the 1,100 small business owners who applied for emergency relief from a city-sponsored charity fund, seven out of 10 made less than 35% of the area’s median income. 

The municipal budget has been “decimated,” Schaaf said. The city has already laid off hundreds of temporary workers.

Some of Oakland’s pre-pandemic responses to homelessness are helping. The creation of one-person shed camps and sanctioned RV parks for the homeless has reduced shelter crowding — a potential contagion cluster

Schaaf said the city is planning to move 50 people from those group shelters into hotels. She said she hopes to convert many into permanent housing though funding is now scarce.

Bakersfield: Missed out on stimulus funding

The city of nearly 400,000 residents failed to qualify for direct federal aid under the Coronavirus Relief Fund because of the population cutoff. But Bakersfield will be able to cushion the blow thanks to a local sales tax measure passed two years ago to bolster the economy and reduce homelessness.

The tax increase has generated more than $50 million. While about half has already been allocated, money can still be tapped to help deal with the local downturn, said City Manager Christian Clegg.

“It is a saving grace,” he said. “We’ll have to be really strategic, but we’ll actually have some ability to do a few new things next year when most cities will be cutting back.”

Still, Clegg is expecting a double-digit reduction in sales tax revenue and hopes Congress will reduce the population threshold in the next round of stimulus spending.  

Meanwhile, the county continues to battle the virus as the number of confirmed cases rises in Kern County. As of this week, the county reported nearly 500 COVID-19 cases with more than 300 in patients between the ages of 18 and 49.

Anaheim: An economy built on crowds

Anaheim made international headlines when Disneyland closed for the third time in history in early March, sputtering the local economy to a halt.

The pandemic has hit the city’s workforce and budget hard — both depend heavily on large groups of people bumping up against each other in the city’s theme parks, hotels and convention centers. The city believes that at least 10,000 workers in the tourism industry have lost jobs and predicts a minimum revenue loss of at least $10 million, mostly from hotel and sales tax, said city spokesman Mike Lyster.

While the city has left public health management to Orange County, it has used $1.4 million in state funds to open a third homeless shelter and has repurposed the Honda Center, usually home to the Anaheim Ducks ice hockey team, to house food bank distributions for thousands of people at a time.

Already Republican Mayor Harry Sidhu, himself the owner of several El Pollo Loco franchises, says he has a $15 million plan to restart the economy. It includes $8 million to support seniors, workers who have lost jobs and people who are struggling with rent. Nearly all of the rest would go to VisitAnaheim.org, the city’s main driver of tourism, which has laid off half of its staff. City leaders are cautiously optimistic that some restaurants could open for dine-in business again in May or June.

“The challenge for finances is getting our economy moving again as soon as it’s safe to do so,” Sidhu said. “But we know economic recovery will be gradual.”

CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.

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Inching closer to the red tier

by Tessa Paoli
Since August, Sonoma County’s been stuck in the state’s most restrictive tier in terms of COVID-19 recovery. But the possibility of opening up the economy a bit more is finally possible. Sonoma’s one of four Bay Area counties still in the purple…
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Mar 02, 2021

Santa Rosa Clears a Large Homeless Encampment

by Tessa Paoli
Dozens of people living in Santa Rosa’s largest homeless encampment were forced to pack up and leave Tuesday morning. It marks Santa Rosas’s second encampment clearance in the past week. Activists showed up before sunrise to protest the clearing of…
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Feb 26, 2021

County Postpones Vaccine Appointments Due to Scarcity

by Tessa Paoli
Next week, Sonoma County is suspending all first dose vaccine appointments due to supply shortage. But the county will keep second dose appointments for both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Sonoma County has been allocated 7,680 doses for…
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Feb 24, 2021

The County is Nervous about Blue Shield's Vaccine Takeover

by Tessa Paoli
On March 7, Blue Shield of California will start administering Sonoma County’s vaccine rollout. The nonprofit insurer will take over the data collection and decide how many doses each provider receives. They’ll also streamline the sign-up process,…
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Feb 19, 2021

County Shifts Vaccine Priority to 65 and Up and Food Workers

by Tessa Paoli
On Monday, residents 65 and older, along with food manufacturing, grocery store and restaurant workers will be eligible for a vaccine at one of the county-supported clinics. Prioritization will be given to those with server illnesses, such as cancer…
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Feb 17, 2021

The County Still Faces a Vaccine Shortage

by Tessa Paoli
Two months into Sonoma County’s vaccine rollout, 19% of the adult population has received at least one dose. The county is keeping up with other Bay Area counties in vaccinating residents and has opened up dozens of clinics, but the biggest problem…
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Feb 10, 2021

The County Reaches for More Vaccine Data

by Tessa Paoli
Officials say Sonoma is administering vaccine doses at a faster rate than similarly sized counties. On February 10, officials announced the county has vaccinated nearly 50 percent of its residents who are 75 and older. But because of holes in…
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Feb 09, 2021

The County Compromises on Eviction Limitations

by Tessa Paoli
On February 9, Sonoma’s Board of Supervisors voted to place more limitations on evictions during COVID-19. The amendment limits evictions to extreme circumstances, like when landlords can prove their tenants pose an imminent threat or danger, or…
Feb 06, 2021

Sonoma County Extends Stay-At-Home Order

by mark prell
State public health officials have extended a Stay-Home Order for the 11-county Bay Area region, including Sonoma County. The move comes as COVID-19 cases continue to rise and ICU capacity for the larger Bay Area region remains below 15%. The order…
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Feb 03, 2021

The County Promises an Equitable Vaccine Rollout

by Tessa Paoli
Earlier this week Sonoma County reaffirmed its commitment to vaccinate the oldest seniors first, those 75 and older. Younger seniors were told to be patient, along with essential workers whose communities have been gravely affected by COVID-19. The…
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Feb 03, 2021

What We Need to Know: COVID in Sonoma County

by Tessa Paoli
What are the current county restrictions? Sonoma County is currently in the orange tier of the California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. This is the second least restrictive tier and indicates that COVID-19 transmission is moderate. In the orange…
Nurses protesting outside of Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital. Photo courtesy of the California Nurses Association.
Jan 31, 2021

Santa Rosa Nurses Demand Safe Staffing

by Tessa Paoli
UPDATE: Earlier this week California’s Department of Public Health halted the staffing waivers. The State says they will not accept any new applications and all approved waivers will expire February 8, unless a hospital can prove “unprecedented…
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Jan 27, 2021

Sonoma County Opens its First Clinic for Oldest Seniors

by Tessa Paoli
Sonoma County is following the state’s guidance to prioritize seniors ages 75 and up in its vaccine rollout. While there’s progress and hope in the air, there’s also a lot of confusion and frustration about when and where people can actually get a…
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Jan 21, 2021

County Strategizes Reopening Schools

by Tessa Paoli
Covid-19 is rampant in Sonoma County and spreading faster than ever, which means kids are still stuck at home. While vaccines are being rolled out, the question about when kids will be able to go back to school is still up in the air. KRCB’s Tessa…
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Jan 13, 2021

PBS Employee Makes Controversial Statements on Hidden Camera

by Darren LaShelle
Julian Wyllie of CURRENT news reports in a story entitled "PBS Distances Itself from Former Staff Attorney Ensnared in Project Veritas Sting," that Project Veritas, a group founded by conservative activist James O’Keefe, has released a video of a…
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Dec 06, 2020

Understanding the New Regional Stay-At-Home Orders

by Darren LaShelle
Regional Stay Home Orders will go into effect within 24 hours in regions with less than 15% ICU availability, and prohibits private gatherings of any size, closes most businesses and services except for critical infrastructure and retail, and…
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Nov 20, 2020

Radio Special: Democracy In Santa Rosa's First District

by Adia White
In 2020, for the first time, residents of Southwest Santa Rosa voted for a city council member to represent their community. The election gave more power to historically disenfranchised neighborhoods in Santa Rosa. How will decades of inequity be…
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Nov 11, 2020

Rohnert Park Welcomes Three New Council Members

by Adia White
Rohnert Park has three new city council members. The wins also mean there will be more diversity on what was formerly an all-white council. One of the newcomers is Jackie Elward who won against long-time council member Jake Mackenzie. KRCB News…
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Nov 09, 2020

‘She’s From Oakland!’ Photos Capture Bay Area Celebrations of Biden-Harris Win

by Adia White
By Anne Wernikoff November 8, 2020 In the corner of California where Vice President-elect Kamala Harris grew up and launched her political career, residents cheered, danced, honked horns, donned American flags and popped champagne to celebrate the…
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Nov 05, 2020

California Protects Homeowners From Having Fire Insurance Dropped — Again

by Adia White
By James Bikales November 5, 2020 As this year’s historic wildfire season winds down, Californians living in fire-prone territory got temporary relief from another threat: they can’t lose their homeowners’ insurance policies for another year.…
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Nov 02, 2020

Slated For Deception? Beware of All Those Glossy Mailers Telling You How to Vote

by Adia White
By Ben Christopher, CalMatters Updated: Nov. 2, 2020 Amid the torrent of laminated campaign ads churning through the postal system this season, the slate mailer stands out as a perennial — and many say unseemly — California political tradition that…
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Oct 21, 2020

Election 2020: Results, Voter Guides and More

by Adia White
By NorCal News Staff Looking for election results? We've put together key resources to help you find the information you need past election night. Find local news updates, live updated results, and interviews with experts looking ahead. California…
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Oct 16, 2020

Santa Rosa Metro Chamber Hosts City Council Candidate Forum

by Adia White
NorCal News Team Oct. 16, 2020 At the end of September, the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber hosted a forum with city council candidates from districts 1, 3, 5, and 7. Listen to the forum below. Participating candidates: Eddie Alvarez - District 1 Duane De…
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Oct 13, 2020

Annual State of the Latino Community Covers Gaps in Home Ownership

by Adia White
Sonoma County leadership organization, Los Cien, hosts an annual forum on the state of the Latino community. The topic this year was "Re-imagining Sonoma County Post Pandemic". Panelists focused on equity gaps in homeownership and how to fix them.…
Oct 02, 2020

SCHOOL CLOSURES for Thursday, October 1 & Friday, October 2, 2020…

by mark prell
The following school districts are confirmed to be closed through Friday, October 2, due to fire threat and evacuation: Bennett Valley Union School District (no distance learning) Kenwood School District (no distance learning) Rincon Valley Union…
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Oct 01, 2020

Photojournalist Describes Monday Night's Firefight

by Adia White
Firefighters, law enforcement and others working to evacuate residents were all on the scene as the Glass fire made a fast run toward the city of Santa Rosa on Sunday night. Also out during those late hours was Erik Castro, a freelance…
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Sep 30, 2020

Evacuation Orders Lifted for Some Santa Rosa Neighborhoods

by mark prell
Cal Fire announced Tuesday at 3:15 pm, evacuation orders are lifted for the following areas in Santa Rosa: All of Summerfield All of Spring Lake Northeast 1 Northeast 3/Middle Rincon Certain parts of the Calistoga-South/Skyhawk communities: west and…
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Sep 29, 2020

Sonoma County Learns From Past Botched Care Home Evacuations

by Adia White
Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane has led the outreach effort to ensure that residents are getting the mental health support they need. She’s also been working to ensure that those housed at care facilities are evacuated safely and with ample…
Sep 29, 2020

Watch Cal Fire and Sonoma County's Glass Fire Updates

by Adia White
Sonoma County and Cal Fire host a joint press conference on the Glass Incident every evening at 5 p.m. Watch the press conferences here at 5 p.m. or on our facebook page @norcalpublic. . This article will update with the most recent press conference…
Sep 29, 2020

Sonoma County Glass Fire Evacuation Map: Updated Live

by Adia White
Monitor evacuation warnings and orders for the Glass Fire burning in Sonoma County. Please note that the map below is typically updated 15- 20 minutes after a Nixle evacuation alert is sent out. Sign up for Nixle by texting your zip code to 888-777.…
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Sep 11, 2020

Sonoma County Supervisors Vote on 2020-2021 Budget

by Adia White
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is expected to finalize the county’s 2020-2021 budget today. Supervisors faced a 46-million-dollar deficit and spent Wednesday discussing where to make cuts. KRCB’s Adia White spoke with Board Chair Susan Gorin…
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Sep 02, 2020

Conversations on Race Series Addresses Policy Reform (Aired: September 3, 2020)

by Adia White
Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County has been hosting weekly conversations to discuss racism in our community. In Monday’s conversation, CAP's Communications Manager, Marcus Clarke, spoke with Sheba Person-Whitley, Executive Director of the…
Sep 02, 2020

Could Strong DAs Be a Solution to Police Accountability?

by Steve Mencher
Editor's Note: Solutions Journalism is a way of looking at problems and issues with an eye toward uncovering and explaining ways that communities have moved toward solving those problems. Find out more here. Driven by community input, our current…
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Aug 28, 2020

The West Is Burning, So California Struggles To Find Help Fighting Its Wildfires

by Adia White
BY JULIE CART , CALMATTERS AUGUST 28, 2020 California’s wildfire resources are the envy of the world: It owns the most extensive fleet of firefighting aircraft, and the largest and best-equipped crews. Yet, already this year, CalFire can’t keep up…
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Aug 27, 2020

Kaiser Begins Phase 3 COVID-19 Vaccine Trial in Northern California

by Adia White
Northern California residents can now join the efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Kaiser Permanente began recruiting participants for an advanced clinical vaccine trial at the beginning of August. Dr. Nicola Klein, Director of the Kaiser…
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Aug 26, 2020

Crew Shortage Reveals California's Reliance on Incarcerated Firefighters

by Adia White
California’s efforts to fight destructive fires across the state were hampered this year by an unexpected circumstance. Coronavirus precautions made inmate crews a less reliable source of labor. This system has long been criticized, as their pay…
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Aug 24, 2020

Farmworkers Risk Hazardous Air to Continue the Harvest

by Adia White
The LNU Lightning Complex Fires broke out in Napa and Sonoma Counties during this year’s peak grape harvest season. Reports are now surfacing that vineyard workers are being asked to continue the harvest despite poor air quality. KRCB’s Adia White…
Aug 21, 2020

Timely Film Tells Story of Napa, Sonoma Essential Workers

by Steve Mencher
In a film now available on the web and through KQED's series Truly, CA, Eva Rendle explores the aftermath of the 2017 Wine Country Fires, and their impact on agricultural workers and others at the bottom of the pay scale in our divided and unequal…
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Aug 20, 2020

Concern Workers Are Being Asked To Harvest Despite Smoke

by Adia White
By NorCal News Staff August 20, 2020 During the 2019 Kincade Fire and 2017 Wine Country Fires, workers were asked to continue to work outdoors despite hazardous conditions. Often, they were not given masks. This concern is again surfacing as the…
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Aug 19, 2020

Sonoma County Reassures Voters Ahead of Election

by Adia White
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has agreed to suspend changes to the USPS as 20 States announced plans to file a federal lawsuit. The states behind the lawsuit say these changes would disrupt mail service ahead of the November Election. KRCB’s Adia…
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Aug 19, 2020

In Sebastopol, Out in the Streets for the Post Office

by Steve Mencher
Our roving photographer Diane Askew was in Sebastopol Monday, recording the demonstration there at the local post office. Those who showed up are watching carefully as the president says he may be delaying the mail to thwart voters. Hearings are…
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Aug 18, 2020

Sonoma County Celebrates Centennial Of Women's Suffrage

by Adia White
Tuesday marked the centennial of the ratification of the 19th amendment, granting women the right to vote. But there is still much work to be done to increase voter enfranchisment. Events are planned throughout the week. KRCB’s Adia White spoke with…
Aug 18, 2020

Make Your Voice Count! Community Meeting Sept. 9, 7:00 pm

by Steve Mencher
In cooperation with Community Action Partnership, Sonoma County; the League of Women Voters, Sonoma County; and Los Cien; Northern California Public Media is helping lead a virtual Town Hall on Wednesday, September 9 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm for…
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Aug 17, 2020

Officials Urge Residents to Prepare for High Fire Conditions

by Adia White
As the dog days of summer roll by, residents of Sonoma County can't help but worry about fire season. This year’s conditions are especially concerning, with recent temperatures soaring into the triple digits. KRCB’s Nate Charles has the story. We…
Aug 17, 2020

Trump Withheld Calif. Wildfire Aid Says Former DHS Official

by Steve Mencher
In a new video released on the eve of the Democratic convention, a top ranking former official in the Trump Department of Homeland Security says that the president told FEMA to withhold aid to California during the 2017 wildfires. "He was so…
Aug 17, 2020

Vox Video on Changing Approaches to Election Coverage

by Steve Mencher
In July, Northern California Public Media had the chance to attend a workshop on how journalists are abandoning "horse race" election coverage (Who's Up? Who's Down?) in favor of a more nuanced approach to elections that talks about what the…
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Aug 13, 2020

Board of Supervisors Rejects County Sheriff's Request to Fund Legal Services

by Adia White
Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick requested $50,000 from the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday for legal services. Essick intended to explore the legality of a ballot measure aimed at strengthening oversight of his office. KRCB’s Adia White reports.…
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Aug 12, 2020

Community Action Partnership Hosts Discussion on Law Enforcement Accountability

by Adia White
We're in the midst of a national debate about law enforcement oversight and accountability. That was the subject of this week's edition of the virtual "Community Conversations on Race". These interactive panels have been presented by local nonprofit…
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Aug 11, 2020

Health Officials Warn Against Ending Protections For Renters

by Adia White
Housing and tenant advocates are concerned the State’s current eviction moratorium could end Friday, causing a wave of homelessness that would worsen the current public health crisis. On August 3rd, San Francisco Assemblymember David Chiu held a…
Aug 10, 2020

CEO Discusses Racism and Starting a Sonoma County Business

by Adia White
Every Monday, the Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County hosts a community conversation on race. On July 27, the conversation focused on the experience of local Black business owners and influences. In this excerpt, moderator Joy Dehnert…
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Aug 07, 2020

Changes to Police Oversight Set for November Ballot

by Steve Mencher
In an epic meeting of more than nine hours, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors covered a number of controversial topics yesterday. Among them, an agreement to put significant reforms of IOLERO, the police oversight office, on the ballot in…
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Aug 05, 2020

Local High Schoolers Are Finalists in NPR Podcast Contest

by Steve Mencher
Back for its second year, the NPR Student Podcast Challenge wrapped up in June. Among two thousand entries in grades 5 thru twelve, the story of Popo the Clown, a local entertainer, rose to be one of only 25 finalists, although it didn't win one of…
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Aug 04, 2020

Sonoma County School Districts Move Carefully To Reopening

by Steve Mencher
Our friends at Sonoma West Publishers are a unique local resource. For years, they produced newspapers that reflected life in the towns of Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Windsor and West Sonoma County. Now only the Healdsburg paper continues in print,…
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Jul 30, 2020

Sonoma County Report Finds Santa Rosa Police Violated Protesters' Rights

by Adia White
At the beginning of July, The Sonoma County Human Rights Commission published a 40-page report titled, “Human Rights Violations in Santa Rosa California - Policing the Black Lives Matter Protests.” The report alleges numerous violations by law…
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Jul 30, 2020

Sebastopol Celebrates Black Lives Matter in Art - Photos

by Steve Mencher
Photos and Text by Diane Askew On Friday evening, July 24, several hundred people came out to create Sebastopol’s Black Lives Matter mural. The mural was painted across the sidewalk in the town plaza. It consists of the words “Black Lives Matter,”…
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Jul 29, 2020

Could Looser Cannabis Permit Requirements Help Boost Tax Revenue?

by Adia White
When Sonoma County shut down this spring, cannabis businesses, deemed essential, were allowed to stay open. Now that the county is wrestling with a plunge in tax revenues, marijuana growers and sellers see an opportunity. Loosen permitting and other…
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Jul 28, 2020

Local Organization Works To Get Everyone Counted On The 2020 Census

by Adia White
By Adia White, Nor Cal Public Media Posted July 28, 2020 The State of California is suing the Trump administration over an order that aims to block undocumented immigrants from being counted in the census. The effort is likely to fail. But some fear…
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Jul 28, 2020

Board of Supervisors To Vote On Ordinance To Strengthen Sheriff's Office Oversight

by Adia White
Next Tuesday, The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is set to vote on an ordinance intended to strengthen the county’s law enforcement watchdog agency. The ordinance is named after the late activist Evelyn Cheatham. Its proponents say that The…
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Jul 23, 2020

KBBF Informe: Licencia Por Enfermedad Remunerada, Paid Sick Leave

by Adia White
Por Edgar Avila, KBBF Radio This episode was produced by Edgar Avila, KBBF Radio This article is a summary of a KBBF informe special loosely translated by NorCal Public Media. Listen to the original version in Spanish below. Puedes escuchar este…
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Jul 22, 2020

Lawyer in Voting Rights Cases Faces Death Threats

by Steve Mencher
News director Steve Mencher spoke with Malibu lawyer Kevin Shenkman this spring about his work convincing localities in California to move to district-based rather than at-large elections. He cites the California Voting Rights Act as the basis for…
Jul 22, 2020

Cómo postularse para ocupar un cargo para el consejo municipal en su ciudad o pueblo

by Adia White
Este video explica cómo postularse para ocupar un cargo de ayuntamiento. Según la ciudad de Santa Rosa, "El período de nominación de candidatos para las elecciones del Consejo de la Ciudad de Santa Rosa del 3 de noviembre de 2020 para los distritos…
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Jul 20, 2020

BLM @ SRJC - July 11, 2020 - Photo Essay by Diane Askew

by Steve Mencher
Text and photos by Diane Askew On Saturday afternoon, July 11, several hundred people showed up for a rally on the campus of Santa Rosa Junior College. The event was sponsored by the school’s Black Student Union and Uplifting Black Leaders, a newly…
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Jul 20, 2020

Santa Rosa Activist Describes What Defunding The Police Could Look Like

by Adia White
The national movement for racial justice following George Floyd’s killing has found a stage in Sonoma County. Libby is a local activist working with the grassroots group Love and Light. Libby, who is biracial, queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming,…
Jul 16, 2020

Filing Period For Running For Santa Rosa City Council Now Open

by Adia White
We provide local news updates on The North Bay Report Tuesday-Friday at 6:45, 8:45 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. on KRCB radio 91 and 90.9. Here's our North Bay Report episode for Friday, July 17. Subscribe to The North Bay Report podcast to listen on the go.…
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Jul 15, 2020

Board of Supervisors To Consider Ordinance Strengthening Law Enforcement Oversight

by Adia White
We provide local news updates on The North Bay Report Tuesday-Friday at 6:45, 8:45 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. on KRCB radio 91 and 90.9. Here's our North Bay Report episode for Thursday, July 16. Subscribe to The North Bay Report podcast to listen on the…
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Jul 14, 2020

San Francisco Mime Troupe Pivots to Radio This COVID Summer

by Steve Mencher
For more than 50 years, one of the pleasures of summer life in the Bay Area has been the outdoor performances of the San Francisco Mime Troupe. This summer, of course, the season is cancelled. And so the Mime Troupe brings its progressive politics…
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Jul 09, 2020

Sonoma County Reports 14 Covid Related Deaths With Five Tied To Skilled Nursing Facilities

by Adia White
We provide local news updates on The North Bay Report Tuesday-Friday at 6:45, 8:45 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. on KRCB radio 91 and 90.9. Here's our North Bay Report episode for Friday, July 10. Subscribe to The North Bay Report podcast to listen on the go.…
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Jul 09, 2020

Independence Day? How About Interdependence? Photo Story

by Steve Mencher
Photos by Diane Askew Saturday's July 4 holiday came in the midst of unprecedented upheaval in our community and in the world. Members of our community are continuing to come together and imagine what our society might look like if everyone had an…
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Jul 07, 2020

Lawsuit Against County Sheriff's Office Points to Numerous Brutality Cases

by Adia White
We provide local news updates on The North Bay Report Tuesday-Friday at 6:45, 8:45 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. on KRCB radio 91 and 90.9. The following is a two-part interview that aired Thursday, July, 2nd and Wednesday, July 8. The full-length interview…
Jul 07, 2020

Santa Rosa City Council to Vote on Emergency Sick Leave

by Steve Mencher
We provide local news updates on The North Bay Report Tuesday-Friday at 6:45, 8:45 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. on KRCB radio 91 and 90.9. Here's our North Bay Report episode for Tuesday, July 7. Subscribe to The North Bay Report podcast to listen on the go.…
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Jul 06, 2020

Hope, Strength, Protest. Another Story in Photos

by Steve Mencher
Photos and Text by Diane Askew On Thursday, July 2, a daylong rally was held at Santa Rosa’s Old Courthouse Square to protest systemic racism. The protest was organized by president Rubin Scott of the Sonoma County chapter of the NAACP. From a small…
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Jun 30, 2020

Cycle for Life Celebrates Black Lives Matter and Pride

by Steve Mencher
Photographer Diane Askew has long worked locally as a wedding photographer. That work is on hold due to the pandemic. Instead Askew has been documenting the stories of our community as we work through grief and anger. In her recent essay Askew…
Jun 30, 2020

Applications for CalFresh Double During the Coronavirus Pandemic

by Adia White
We provide local news updates on The North Bay Report Tuesday - Friday at 6:45, 8:45 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. on KRCB radio 91 and 90.9. Here's our North Bay Report episode for Wednesday, July 1. Subscribe to The North Bay Report podcast to listen on the…
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Jun 29, 2020

DACA Recipient Reflects On Supreme Court Decision to Uphold Protections for Dreamers

by Adia White
We provide local news updates on The North Bay Report Tuesday-Friday at 6:45, 8:45 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. on KRCB radio 91 and 90.9. Here's our North Bay Report episode for Wednesday, June 24. Subscribe to The North Bay Report podcast to listen on the…
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Jun 26, 2020

Informe en Español: KBBF Hosts Special On Black Lives Matter Movement

by Adia White
This article is a translated, partial summary of KBBF’s 30-minute special. Listen to the complete version in Spanish below. In this thirty-minute special, KBBF’s Edgar Avila speaks with Sonoma County residents about racism in our community and the…
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Jun 26, 2020

Could Racially Motivated 911 Calls Become Hate Crimes?

by Adia White
By Elizabeth Castillo, CalMatters Barbecuing at Lake Merritt in Oakland. Selling water without a permit. Both instances in which a Black person was doing something deemed criminal by a white person. Both instances in which a white person called the…

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