Monday, January 13, 2020

Publication: Los Angeles Times

Across California, can and bottle redemption centers have closed. Consumers struggle to find places to get nickels and dimes for their containers. Supermarkets are obliged to redeem cans and bottles not deposited elsewhere. Trash companies take the remainder.

Standing apart in California’s recycling crisis are drink manufacturers. They have never been required to find a permanent repository or reuse for the billions of bottles and cans they produce. California’s 3-decade-old “Bottle Bill” — the law that seeks to boost recycling by putting a 5- or 10-cent bounty on most cans and bottles — has left that work to everyone else.

That soon could change. This year, some in the state Legislature want to overhaul the Bottle Bill. 


“The state can no longer put off solving this ever-growing crisis,” Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) said last week in introducing a bill he said will strive to prop up struggling recyclers and demand greater reuse of plastic by the beverage industry.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Publication: KQED"s Political Breakdown

The California legislature returns and Governor Gavin Newsom prepares to release his state budget plan. Marisa and Scott discuss new bills on housing and wildfires, and what to watch for in Newsom's spending plan. Then, Assembly Budget Committee chair Phil Ting joins to discuss his family's political history in China and Taiwan, finding his life purpose in college, and his thoughts on SB 50, PG&E, and solutions to the state's homeless crisis.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Publication: San Jose Mercury

Apple engineer Santosh Kumar emptied his savings account to buy a $1.5 million home with a backyard apartment in Mountain View.

His plan: fix up the 70-year-old unit for his in-laws.

After two years and dozens of conversations with city officials, he’s still battling to upgrade his property.

But this month, new laws governing older granny flats will give him new options to renovate his property. The laws give owners more time to fix-up old backyard apartments and build units with fewer fees and city restrictions. Housing advocates see ADUs as a relatively quick way to add apartments as the state is mired in an epic housing shortage.


Another measure, AB 68, authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, allows multiple units and limits a city’s permitting time from 120 to 60 days. It also bans minimum lot sizes for construction, requiring replacement parking and other restrictions on building size.


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

For years, driving alone in the carpool lane was a glimmering sign of privilege, limited to owners of flashy new electric cars.

In January, California will extend this benefit to the less affluent. A new state law will enable low-income motorists who purchase secondhand electric vehicles with expired “clean air” stickers — passports into the diamond lanes — to trade them for new stickers that are valid until 2024.

Social justice advocates champion the idea, saying it will expand what was traditionally a rich person’s market, enticing more motorists to choose zero-emission vehicles. The new law applies to people whose household income is 80% of the state median, or lower. Officials at the Department of Motor Vehicles pegged that threshold at $65,777 a year.


Fans of the stickers push back, saying California urgently needs to convert more drivers to electric cars and hybrids. Former Gov. Jerry Brown set a target of 5 million by 2030, a steep climb from 600,000 registered today.

“We know that if we don’t start moving from dirty cars to clean cars, we won’t get there,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, Democrat from San Francisco and owner of an electric Chevy Bolt.


Saturday, December 28, 2019

Publication: CBS 5/San Francisco

2019 has been the biggest year for mass killings since the 1970s.

211 people were killed in 41 mass killings nationwide, according to a compilation by the Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.

California, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, had eight mass killings this year, the most of any state.

The report defined a mass killing as one in which four people died, not including the suspect.

Many people KPIX interviewed near San Francisco’s Ferry Building said the report makes them feel sad and shocked.

“I don’t know what the answer is. I really don’t. How do you teach respect for life?” wondered Carol Hemingway of Las Vegas.

“Protect the homeland. Take care of ourselves where we’re suffering from, mentally and spiritually, and we’ll stop shooting each other,” added Marc Coleman of San Francisco.

California is enacting tough new gun-control laws in the new year.

Beginning Jan. 1, only those 21 and older can purchase a semi-automatic rifle and Californians will only be allowed to buy one such rifle per month beginning in 2021.

Gun licensing and fees will cost more come the new year and those who aren’t allowed to own guns in another state will be banned from purchasing one in California.

In addition, the state is expanding the gun-violence restraining order program to workplaces and schools.

The law is drawn from lessons learned in the Parkland, Fla. school massacre.

Right now, in California, relatives or police can get a restraining order to take away the firearms of a person who has threatened violence. The new law allows employers, co-workers, principals and teachers to request a restraining order.

Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-S.F) says it bolsters a program that California has had for three years.

“UC Davis did a study on this. They found, in 21 cases, gun violence restraining orders prevented mass shootings,” said Ting. “We’re doing the most to make sure we’re proactive in preventing those mass shootings by getting the guns out of the hands of the wrong people.”

That law takes effect in September after a training period.

Also in the new year: if you have a gun violence restraining order against you, you will not be able to buy any kind of firearm for five years. 

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Publication: NBC Bay Area

Julio Arevalo said he just wanted to get his son a donut when he left his home at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park late one night last July.

He never came home with that donut.

In the morning, Arevalo says he woke up handcuffed to a hospital bed with a fractured bone in his face and a brace around his neck.

While Arevalo says he doesn’t remember any of it, surveillance video from the donut shop obtained by Cody Salfen, Arevalo's attorney, captured the encounter with Palo Alto police officer Agent Thomas DeStefano Jr..

"[DeStefano] ended up slamming Julio on the ground and shattering his orbital bone and knocked him out completely cold," Salfen said. "And all for essentially nothing."


NBC Bay Area wanted to review footage from DeStefano’s body-worn camera to see exactly what led up to the incident, and why DeStefano tried detaining Arevalo in the first place. But the Palo Alto Police Department has either denied or ignored multiple public records requests from NBC Bay Area to obtain that footage – records they are required to provide by law.

The Investigative Unit sat down with California Assemblymember Phil Ting, who authored a new law requiring police officer body-worn camera footage to be released in a timely fashion after police shootings or incidents involving serious bodily injury. The law allows law enforcement agencies to withhold the video if they can provide a specific reason as to why such a release might harm an investigation, but not declare a blanket exemption because the case is still under investigation.

Palo Alto’s Police Department has yet to give any reason as to why it will not release Officer DeStefano’s body-worn camera video in Arevalo’s case, other than saying the case remains under investigation.

Assemblymember Ting declined to discuss the specifics of Arevalo’s case, but said it’s troubling when police departments do not appear to comply with the new law.

“I think it’s disappointing,” said Ting. “Because obviously I understand that there’s a certain amount of tension between police departments and the communities that they serve, but I think ultimately this transparency makes everybody better.” 


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Publication: SF Curbed

Game-changing facility will open by year’s end

Some of San Francisco’s neediest residents will soon live a few yards away from the city’s most expensive housing, despite the earnest efforts of angry condo owners in South Beach.

Mayor London Breed and other city honchos announced Tuesday that the divisive homeless navigation center at Seawall Lot 330—just a skip and a jump from the Bay Bridge along the Embarcadero—had finished construction and is set to open by the end of the year.

The new facility, built on a city-owned parking lot, consists of a cluster of two long tent-like structures that will eventually house up to 200 people at a time. It also comes with one administrative building, private bathrooms and showers, and outdoor tables and benches. The pristine white interiors of the dorms, tightly insulated from the cold and impending drizzle outside, somewhat resemble how we might imagine a moon base in a far-flung Utopian future. And the center’s exterior gate is made up corrugated steel, wood trim, and assorted greenery used for landscaping.

Expensive East Cut and South Beach condo buildings, like One Rincon Hill and the Jasper, are visible from the courtyard. Some of the homeowners inside those high-rises spent most of 2019 trying to scuttle the project with protest and a series of lawsuits. But in the end, Breed’s plan outreached the long arm of NIMBYism.

During a press tour of the facilities, the mayor and other lawmakers used the occasion to promote—over and over again—the theme of more housing. “We all know the statistics—more than ever we need housing,” said Breed.

“This is not normal, this is not how it plays out in the rest of the country,” State Senator Scott Wiener said, commenting on both the homeless crisis and local opposition to housing development.

“It’s not rocket science,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting. “Everybody says they are for more housing—in someone else’s neighborhood or city.”