tv KQED Newsroom PBS November 10, 2019 5:00pm-5:30pm PST
tonight on kqed newsroom, san francisco voters cast balless on measur ranging from affordable housing to he decidinger to keep a ban on e-cigarettes. we'll look at the outcome of the votes. and two races that are still too close to call. pressure builds to turn pg&e into a publicly owned utilitas governor gavin newsom meets with top executives in sacramento. bay area news outlets team up in silicon vaey. the impact they're having on the region's housing crisis. good evening ane welc kqed newsroom i'm scott shafer. we begin tonight with a look atr the resuom san francisco's election earlier this week. on tuesday voters in san francisco headed to the polls. they decided the fate of
several ballot measures including proposition c, which would overturn the ban on selling distributing e- cigarettes. two housing measures including a $600 million affordable housing bond that mayor london breed supported appears to be headed for victory. still no winner in the close francisco's next dt attorney. thousands of ballots are left to be counted. r most of the week interim d.a. has beclto a slim ad over chase houboudine. and editor, columnis joe esconozzi, welcome to both you. let's start with the top of thei topic, br to the easy reelection, getting almost 70% of the vote. t did she a mandate, joe? >> i don't know if i could use the term mandate, but think she got enough votes. you would have to be splitting hairto say that's not a good enough percentage. what i would look at if i were in mar breed'inner circle is the vast number of people
who voted for mayor and ju skipped it. tens of thousands of people. the statistics we know a third of san franciscans apparently want to leave. you know, disturbing circumstances like these and that a fringed candidate with disturbing racist views would get 15% of the votes. and that could show some cracks in the base ofthe moderate movement specifically with es right leaning ch americans. >> and so given that he is somewhat popular d the city is going, now why weren't there d to have a serious mayoral campaign. between june of last year and now and the only people in the position to do it would be mark leno and jane kim. and that ju wasn't on the radar for them. >> and they are fillin, out, you kne lay mayor, and the service as mar, and so obviously they will need a little more time. >> right. and you would think if you foha
that there might have been more opposition to heand nonetheless, prop a we mentioned briefly, the housing nd, a victory for heand that is somthing she supported along with many other people. what does that mean in terms of what she'll be doing going forward. obviously housing, homelessness are big issues in tye >> huge issues. i mean we would look at the city's controller that was released and housing th on minds of people who are considering whether they want to stay in the city or leave. i think her trallenge is ng to figure out how to house all of our homeless populatis. they need a place to stay and housing is just expensive to build. it will take wha e to build, you know, from the mayor's offi that it will take about $700,000 to build anunffordable housin. and about five years, the most expensive place in the world to build. >> it's expensive. there's a lot of reasons why and so that is going to be the challenge intrying to get housing units, not just for low
income people and middle incomee le and also for extremely low income people who are sleeping on the streets. >> i want to talk about the da's race and the district five race where the mayor's elected her own against dean preston, the tenant rights attorney. what difference will the outcome of that ma interms of what mayor breed could do with the board of supervisors? >> it will be significant. it's not going to be a game ger, but it will be more difficult for mayor breed if you are hand picked and a former aid is replaced by someone who ran against you and is one of your more opponents. >> he almost beat london breed. >> yes, he did. an so there is a progressive super majority on the boarand if they replace them, there will not be a moderate block anymore. and it will be a couple of moderates and some factions of the progressive. there will be more to make things difficult for her d to propose whatever they want, push it in front of her.
that could certainly be a pain for the mayor in moving forward. the votes arstill being counted and it is extraordinarily close. >> in terms of affordable housing and homelessness, erica, you would think that there would be a natural coalition with almost anybody on the board of supervisors. they all want to do something about that and there is a split is there not between more progressives and what they want to do when it comes tohings like getting people with mental illness off the streets. ⌞> right there, is alwa a difference in politics and how to solve the sshomerisis. even the housing crisis in building lowincome housing, spending money on the top of the market to let them sort of trickle down. to house people through that with two different ways. honestly sometimes you forget how lo it will take to build housing so when you think that they would trickle that it will take a little while before those units therand then again we know it's exnsive to
build in services. >>let's talk about the d.a.'s race. that one is really nip and tuck and they wod play into that as well, shortly before the election, he will step down and the yor will point one of the four people running for the d.a. who is clinging to a very slim lead throughout the week what influence do you think that appointment made on i think it helped and hurt and we need to note that the mayor and her advisers were aware of the potential blowback, though not as much as they got and they were aware the polling that would show a low name recognition. by appointing them into the postshe was able to fire out a mountain of press releases that are approaching all the items that they care about and her opponent's gripe, they were her ideas. now stealing good ideas, is a ju
goes so far and a very tough argument to say it was anything, but the political appoy tment, and that we or may not be able to see that as we sift through the adults. >> i want to talk about her main opponent but befowe do that, i want to show you a clip headquarters and to she would capture a chant that was shown. i just tewant to before we play the clip that it is blurred out and bleeped out because what she was saying, but let's look at it. just a quick translation there, she was saying f the poa being the police officer association. and what is -- we will get to whether or not that's
appropriat but what's the history of anger towards the poa? >> the poa had led a charge. they had larcenent agencies all around to dump money into the d.a.'s race to boost both and then in some of the harshest terms with villains who look like they would be on that market production. but a white willie. it was a dog whistle, but not wh whistltle. d it has been a big force in quite a long and while or they still have a lot of money, they have been losing ces left and right and fairly late. >> and they are out of step with them even. >> they are a stepwith almost everybody in the city and they
still have that unionized represention so you could say they would have it coming with regards to that frustration. i n't think that it will be way and to play into their narrative that they would tell their cops that everybody hates you and only we could represent you. it was an unwise thing to do. >> just quickly as they were put on the ballot. they would overturn their ban on e-cigarettes d sales. and of course at the very end after spending about $18 million, they pulled ck of it because of all the bad publicity. what is the implication, the the voters saying no, we're in to keep that ban. >> and you know they would have like 160,000 in votes, you know, one of the measures that showed them the polls, considering what else was on the ballot and that housing
bond e measand that proposition got 169,000 votes. so it juis the contentious matter that the fact that you're at home that will brg them to the polls for this one, you know. >> and just the last word for you. >> i don't thin that th would pull back because of bad publicity, but the campaign that they were running locally was undermining the goal of getting the fda approval. and they were shooting themselv in that foot by claiming that they are a smokg sensation device and doing so in a way that they were undermining their efforts with the fd a and consulting the fda, which is not a good thing to do. >> okay, thank you so much. thank you. >> thank you. on moay san jose mayor led the coalition of california's mayors and supervisors, in urging the ste's top regulator to turn pg&e into a customer-owned cooperative.
more than two dozen lawmakers from northern and ntral california have signed onto the efforts, representing nearly five million pg&e customers. meanwhile on tuesday governor newsom met with bill johnson in last friday the governor announced the appointments of the new energy czar saying the state could ke over if it doesn't emerge from bankruptcy by the start of next year's wildfire season. joining us urnow isolitics correspondent. the former president of the public utilities commission, now welcome to both of you. let's begin with this letter. wh is the cathat the mayor and all the other people that are turning this into a customer-owned utility? >> their case will track what people would like to see them take it over yband y that would like to see sort of the current structure resolved. currently this is a publicly traded company, they e being paid dividends. you have bondholders who are making mon off the bonds that
theyould issue and they think that, you know, they have lost that public confidence d if it couldecome sort of something that is customer owneand not traded on wall street that you would have more money to reinvest in the system and you might be ab to rebuild that confidence. >> and to spend money on maintenance and because you need to make the shareholders happy? >> and just the distrust that we would have for the company at this point. which is very widespread. it is one of the few non- partisan issues that you can see that we have seen over and over again, you know, starting with the energy crisis 20 years explosion in 2010 ththe wildfires and a sense that safety is not in that culture of this company and it is something dramatic that needs to change. >> any kind of model for this in california or elsewhere? >> absolutely. ed there are publicly o utilities in every state of the nation including in california about 20% of our power right now that will come from edthe government-outilities. >> like smud?
>> or palo alto and so it is not a radical experiment, t it is whathappens to keep their lights on every day. ch >> how dissatisfaction is there with those public utilities? ere more confidence you would say? >> yes, absolutely. and it is just that fact that they are safer, they are more reliab, cleaner, and theyare cheaper. now they are not perfect and there are always problems with the insider shenanigans in any systems. so you have to get it right, you ve to ke sure that people are not financially conflicted. but the blic wer is power that is cheaper, better quicker, cleaner. >> we did ask what the mayor's letter said. partly reads that we will share the governor's focus on reducing the wildfire risk and share the same goal of fairly resolving the wildfire clms and exiting the chapter 11 process as quickly as possible. kind of a vanilla statement i not too much. >> i think pg&e at this point
is trying to keep hetheir s above water and to see how to put forth that restructuring plan that will be acceptable to governor newsom and other lawmakers. there are challenges to bringing this company in particular public, whether that is a co-op, essentially only meaning rate payers in the service area, the bigger government teover, as they would really mean the taxpayers and the entire state, even those who are not impeaching the service territory. one of those is we still don't know the total cost of the last arfew of the wildfires. now that would be transferred to all of us. % we are paying for anit way and i do think that there are some questions about that. in loretta, they would say this week the total liability could be something like at billion. lot of money, but if you are spreading it out, getting maybe th loans, as the public entity, maybe you could get a better rate, for exple, than you could from bondholders? >> you could do that and take the profit in the system and
plow it had back either topay the victims, workers, or to improve safety. what we know eyis that have once over and over and over again done the wrong thing. their corporate culture is one c porate negligence, cutting corners. california just simply could not afford to allothem to remain a private utility where they would cut the corners, where they are always looking for the profit and not for safety or reliability. >> one the thingsgavin newsom said and i will ask you about this has been in his words cozy th the utilities over the past couple of decades. what are your thoughts about that? certain that period under michl brown,you know, that he did not get reappointed. he chose to go away. is that a fair criticism? >> i think it hachanged the last few years to some extent. you know, thwe saw slews of e-mails in that san bruno case, where he inwas wined and dined and where they were gun
shopping forthe favorable administrative law structure. and it was very -- i mean there'esno on that it was a culture of coziness at best. but i think michael picker who jerry brown appointed after pb left did try tochangethat. i think there's a lot of criticism for regulatrs to go around and that we asked him to do a lot and that safety was not necessarily the main charge of the cpuc. but it wasn't to the extent. e, i think u could ask that question why didn't both pg&e ancpuc e this wildfire climate crisis coming. i think we don't knw yet. el >> first of all do you think that's a fair criticism of the puc? >> yes, absolutely. they were compcit. when i was there we were a watchdog. and the very first thing i did and the first i month was there to order pg&e to trim their trees and we would nd them for cutting corners on maintenance and safety. it is true for the st 15 years the puc has been co-oped
and d not concerout safety. now we were and what happened instead of trimming the trees and doing the ripgt things, , 15 years ago, they chose bankruptcy to get out from under california's contr. and now remember they chose cy bankruhis time too. >> and we are seeing san francisco has been unirting withipal powers for a long time and mayor london breed was not one that sied that letter and they would set off. and how is it that ose bears are proposing others than what san francisco is talking about? >> on the basis, the idea is takingway sort of the grid and the delivery system from pg&e. and making it either a co-op or a government entity, arguably similar things. i think the challenge for san francisco is that taking away the san rtfrancisco of the grid doesn't really address the un rlining problems. but we are ta rural areas, where the transmission lines, they have been kept and wherthere are tree issues and they have no started in urban areas. so i will have a hard time
believing that regulators are even going to allow san francio to take over and if there is not a broader restructuring an at could really change the dynamics, leaving evyone outside the urban area. >> and noyoneed to pay attention to politics, i know as they would now own this, whether or t they like that. and they do. what are the risks for him politically in any of these options that he's conf bnted with? h the governor has a whole will need to get that right. they could noallow them to get it whereon yet again. 's bad for our economy and bad for our business r and bad for mily. but the real question here is not isit technically possible or is it even financially possible? and because it is. now today's market cap of pg&e is $3.2 billion. go and purchase their stock t and the huge queson is it politically possible? and will the elected politicians do the right thing here.
and that i would applaud mayor lccardo answering about tiat qu and for california and not what's best for pg&e. >> all right, political mind fields. >> yes, i think governor newsom says there is no secret that ey would have broader ambitions for northern california and this really is us an issue, obv attracting national attention. if they could fix it, it is a huge win. if they can't, it e could be end of the political career. >> and that is who you would work f. now tell them a little bit about that. i'm sorry to bring that up in the end. >>cautionary tale. >> exactly. >> all right, thank you both very much. >> thank you. who owns silicon valley? that's the question asked by a team of rtres from kqed, the mercury news, and several other bay area ws outlets. the year-long collaboration investigated top landowners of the gion. a role in a housing crisis that led to sky high rents and hours long commutes. among the findings, stanford
university's property holdings are worth nearly $20 billion. that's more than google, apple, and intel combined. and also this week apple pledged $2.5 billion to combat the housing crisis, ying it is, "committed to being a part joining me now is rachel myro, senior editor of the silicon valley news desk. hi, rachel. >> hi, scott. >> what were yotting out to do in this year-long project? >> we wanted to find out who were the big players. how do you find that out from a data perspective? you start asth the ssor's office. one of the wonderful things about hang a multi-newsroom collaboration was we were able to have a team of data reporterfrom the mercury news, nbc bay area. going into this data, which is y pretty mline by line, cleaning it up, figuring out . who owns the most la luable land. owns the most
>> and so obviously stanford 80iversity is the pound gorilla here by far. and how did they acquire so much land? >> well it all started with leland stanford, the dad of leland jr. who, of course, whom the university is named after. he s one of the original big four railroad barrens, robert from the guilded age. and in addition to purchasing a beautiful knob hill mansion in san francisco, alhe developed the country estate that grew and grew overtime to the point ere he finally took over that land. >> that's a lot of land. more benign or positive d say a ogle these days any way. ok or and so o how should we look at them when it cometo these
issues of the housing cris? question, right many their community is more than 34,000 people. when you adthe undergraduate students, the service workers, thnurse practitioners at their medical center and they would have more than one. and a very big employer, rather than organization that will bring a lot of people to its campus in a similar fashion to these tech giants. >> yeah, and google and facebook, they had announced a billion dotiar contri for housing and then apple in this past week, $2.5 billion. and so how much housing could be built with that kind of money and why are they coming forward now? are they feeling the presre i think a lot of these organizations, they are waking up to the ctthat the housing crisis has grown in the bay
area where communities are now asking landowners, organizations with a lot of wi wear what they could do to crisis that they would help to create. it is not fair to blame stanford, even though it had a big hand in creating silicon valley. it's not fair to blame em alone and there are a lot of factors playing into the housing crisis. but now as a community, we're starting to ask more of these organizations. >> right. for quite some time. has the similar kind of pressure been placed on stanford or should it be? >> and i think that we see the collapse for their most general use permit. conversation have changed eir between stanford and santa clara county officials. and that every 10, 15, 20 years, theywould sort of
create that game plan for how they want to grow and expand year by year in santa clara county, for the mopart that has gone through without a hitch. we saw the county pushing back with the demands for the campus to mitigate some of the impacts of their suspected growth in the next 15 years. >> and it is not just the area that wilhave that housing crisis that will be expensive everywhere in the bay area, but how do they compare? >> goodness gracious. i mean you have a sense where it is just ingeto the dysfunctional place where it is working class or forc of are the community, but now tens of thousands of people. if you make less x than figures and even if you do make six figures t is very ha to live here. not just because of the housing
crisis and because of the trafc d because of the underfunded public schools that there are a lot of reasons that the bay area has become a less pleasant feasible place for many people to live in. >> because of the expensive housing in silicon valley, more and more people especially if they are not high-level executives that are moving further and further away, which exacerbates the commute. ha>> exactly. yo these commutes. and they are stanford workers who have been making these commutes. just before county supervisors were to vote on this general use application and i think that idoes reflect the conversation about growth in the bay area has changed. is >> what are you hearing as a result of the investigation from stanford or anyone else? >> they have not contacted us directly. to talk about it. talk with thembut not on tape
for veis collaborative igation. it's hard to know exactly what led to their final decision to withdraw that application,hat they plan do next. >> do you get a sense? i think he told you that th have never been turned down, in all the decades. do you get a sense that a there will be shift in that way that public officials will be looking atot just stanford, but the other developers, the corporate developers? >> absolutely. there has always en some give and take. depending on the city or the county, whenever you have a large developer, proposed massive extension and it will be worth pointing out that back in june, the santa clara county
planning commission unanimously approved their application and just that ey came back with turns that stanford wasn't willing to meet. >> rachel, anks so much for your reporting. real interesting series. that'll do it for us as always, you could find more of coverage on kqed.org/newsroom. i'm scott shafer. thanks so much for joining us.
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