Press Releases

Thursday, March 25, 2021

New Bill Seeks Fairness and Prevents Potentially Escalating Police Stops for Jaywalking

Ting Proposes to Eliminate Jaywalking Tickets In California

Jaywalking is arbitrarily enforced throughout California. When it is cited, tickets are disproportionately given to people of color, and sometimes, these encounters with police turn life-threatening. In an effort to reform this unfair system, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) has introduced AB 1238, The Freedom To Walk Act, which would decriminalize jaywalking.

“Whether it’s someone’s life or the hundreds of dollars in fines, the cost is too much for a relatively minor infraction,” said Ting at a San Francisco press conference. “It’s time to reconsider how we use our law enforcement resources and whether our jaywalking laws really do protect pedestrians.”

AB 1238/The Freedom To Walk Act promotes the fair and equitable use of roadways by:

  • Legalizing crossings, when safe, outside of a crosswalk or against a traffic light
  • Stopping the undue financial burden on low-income violators, as fines can total hundreds of dollars, if not more, because of added fees tacked on by the court, county, city and other jurisdictions
  • Preventing police from using jaywalking as a pretext to stop Black and Brown people, especially since under-resourced neighborhoods often lack adequate crossing infrastructure

“Jaywalking laws do more than turn an ordinary and logical behavior into a crime; they also create opportunities for police to racially profile. A stop for harmless jaywalking can turn into a potentially life-threatening police encounter, especially for Black people, who are disproportionately targeted and suffer the most severe consequences of inequitable law enforcement,” said Jared Sanchez of the California Bicycle Coalition (CalBike), sponsor of AB 1238.

While there are many examples of California cases in which a jaywalking stop has gone wrong, the most recent case occurred in September when San Clemente Police killed Kurt Reinhold. In the Bay Area, Chinedu Okobi was killed more than two years ago in Millbrae by San Mateo County deputies. And in 2017, Nandi Cain was beaten by Sacramento Police. The victims in each of these cases were African American, and video captured each incident.

The numbers behind police stops for jaywalking are just as telling. From 2018-2020, data compiled by the California Racial and Identity Profiling Act (RIPA) shows Black Californians are severely overrepresented when it comes to being stopped for jaywalking, up to four-and-a-half times more than their White counterparts.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) joined Bay Area lawmakers in asking state leaders to reconsider California's vaccine distribution equity plan. While they applaud the effort to set aside eight million doses for low-income communities, only ten zip codes in the Bay Area qualify. Read the full letter here: Vaccine Equity Letter


Wednesday, March 10, 2021

In advance of the California Department of Justice's hearing on March 11th, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) leads the effort in asking the agency to reconsider its proposal to withhold gun violence data from researchers.

As representatives of the people of California, we rely on the best possible scientific evidence to help us fulfill our duty to serve the public’s interest. We view the draft regulations as obstructing the development of that evidence and hope that the Department will reconsider.

Read the full letter here: Letter to DOJ on Gun Violence Data


Monday, February 22, 2021

California Legislature Approves .4 Million in State Funding To Help Address Surge of Hate and Xenophobia Directed toward Asian Americans In response to the recent wave of hate incidents targeting Asian Americans, California lawmakers today approved $1.4 million in state funding to bolster the research and reporting work underway that is tracking this concerning trend. The Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus (APILC) lauds the efforts of Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, who secured the appropriation as part of AB 85, a fiscal measure providing additional resources for California’s ongoing pandemic response.

“The history of the Asian American Pacific Islander community in the United States has been punctuated by times of racism and hate including the Chinese Exclusion Act, the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americas in World War II, the murder of Vincent Chin, hate crimes against Sikhs after 9/11, and most recently, attacks and murder of API seniors incited by racist rhetoric about the COVID pandemic,’ said Dr. Richard Pan, Chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus. “I am grateful that California will be funding data collection and research at UCLA to address racism and hate against the API community thanks to the leadership of Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting.”

Asian Americans have been wrongly blamed for the coronavirus and have increasingly been subjected to racist behavior. As cases escalated, the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council (A3PCON), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University launched the Stop AAPI Hate reporting website nearly a year ago. They have been tracking incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination and child bullying against Asians and Pacific Islanders in California and the United States. In the last month, the Bay Area has particularly seen more and more attacks directed toward seniors – one 84-year-old man died as a result of his injuries.

“The rise in hate incidents against Asian Americans during the pandemic is alarming. But, we can’t solve a problem without knowing how big it is. New state funding allows the data gathering to continue, and the research will ultimately lead us to solutions that will make all communities safer,” said Ting.

Through 2020, more than 2,800 incidents have been logged. Of that, more than 1,200 occurred in California. It is widely believed the numbers are under-reported, as many victims distrust the government and are reluctant to come forward.

Nonetheless, tracking is still important and the new state funding ensures that continues. Data is critical for law enforcement and our community as they try to put a stop to the violence. The information gathered will help us move past this dark chapter in American history, spurring accountability and action to bring about justice and peace.

AB 85 awaits the Governor’s signature.

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Monday, February 22, 2021

Ting Introduces Second Chances Bill Helping Millions of CaliforniansMillions of Californians face barriers to employment, housing and education because of old arrests and convictions, increasing the likelihood of recidivism. Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) has introduced AB 1308, legislation that would automatically clear criminal records for people already entitled to such treatment under current law. Many don’t go through the existing process because it’s burdensome and expensive.

“California believes in rehabilitation and invests heavily in programs that give incarcerated people a second chance. Yet after they’ve paid their debt to society and are released, they’re trapped in a ‘paper prison.’ They cannot find work, a place to live or go to school,” said Ting. “We can easily help them get back on their feet and lead productive lives by making it easier for them to automatically clear their records.”

AB 1308 builds upon a recent law that Ting championed in 2019, providing automated records relief for certain convictions occurring January 1, 2021 or later once individuals have served their sentences and completed probation; it also applies to arrests that did not result in a conviction. The new proposal, sponsored by Californians for Safety and Justice and Prosecutors Alliance, would make the policy retroactive to arrests and convictions starting from 1973, opening doors to a fresh start for millions more people.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Sacramento – California has long known Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) can boost the state’s affordable housing supply, forging legislation in recent years to make them easier and less expensive to build. Commonly known as casitas, backyard cottages, granny flats and in-law units, ADUs enable homeowners to generate rental income or keep family, like aging parents, close by – both desirable benefits, especially during a pandemic.

However, ADU construction loans are often difficult to secure. Under AB 561 introduced today by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), the state would create a financing program for homeowners who don’t typically qualify for traditional loans so they, too, can experience the advantages of property additions and be part of the solution to California’s housing crisis.

“The number of ADUs has skyrocketed, as a result of our new laws that have encouraged their growth. But the flurry of activity is mostly happening in wealthier areas,” said Ting. “In the name of equity and fairness, we must extend this opportunity for rental income and increased housing supply across all neighborhoods.”

ADU ExamplesWith changes like lower fees, faster approvals and bans on parking and minimum lot size requirements, ADU permits in California jumped 11-fold from 2017-2019. However, an August 2020 study by UC Berkeley’s Terner Center found much of that production occurred in places where home values or rents are high. AB 561 would help extend the reach of ADUs beyond those areas, paving the way to greater adoption in more parts of the state.

Ting’s proposal is estimated to create an additional 50,000 homes over five years. The advantage of ADUs is the speed with which they can be built, and why more states and cities are embracing them as a meaningful housing solution. Units can be up and running in a few months; in contrast, a new complex or subdivision takes years.

AB 561 is expected to be heard in committee this spring.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) released the following statement regarding the first report issued by the Committee on Revision of the Penal Code, established by the Budget Act of 2019:

I have long advocated for a more fair and just criminal justice system, successfully enacting legislation that created an avenue for resentencing, a diversion program for first-time misdemeanor offenders and a new standard for the elderly parole program. Clearly, we have more work to do, and this new report gives us a road map that keeps California moving toward equity. Changes to our laws and the way we hand out punishment can be made without sacrificing public safety, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in pursuit of the committee’s recommendations.

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