Suspect arrested in break-in at home of L.A. Mayor Karen Bass

A 29-year-old Los Angeles man smashed a window and broke into the home of Mayor Karen Bass early Sunday morning, police said.

Ephraim Matthew Hunter was arrested without incident on suspicion of burglary around 6:40 a.m., according to Capt. Kelly Muniz, the Los Angeles Police Department’s chief spokeswoman. Bass was home at the time of the incident. Nothing was taken, and no injuries were reported, authorities said.

“This morning at about 6:40 a.m., an intruder broke into Getty House through a window. Mayor Bass and her family were not injured and are safe. The Mayor is grateful to LAPD for responding and arresting the suspect,” Zach Seidl, deputy mayor of communications, said in a statement.

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Getty House, in the 600 block of Irving Boulevard in Windsor Square, is the official residence of the mayor of Los Angeles.

Hunter is being held in lieu of $50,000, according to jail records. A case will likely be presented to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office this week.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Column: Kevin McCarthy wants vengeance. Now he’s free to pursue it

Kevin McCarthy is having a grand old time.

(Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call Inc via Getty Images)

He’s traveling the country giving six-figure speeches, playing pundit and elder statesman on TV, holding forth at high-brow political forums and, not least, plotting vengeance against those behind his unceremonious ouster as House speaker.

Eight Republican lawmakers joined 208 Democrats in toppling the former Bakersfield congressman, the first time in history a House leader has been voted out. Rather than hang on, McCarthy left office at the end of 2023.

Two of the eight Republicans are joining him in retirement. Three others — Bob Good of Virginia, Eli Crane of Arizona and Nancy Mace of South Carolina — face strong primary challenges. McCarthy has been working behind the scenes to end their congressional careers, strategizing and directing money and other resources to their opponents.

“He wants to hold to account those who pushed him out,” said a Central Valley political operative, who has a decades-long relationship with McCarthy.

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Like most, the operative asked not to be quoted by name, to preserve his relationship with the ex-speaker. McCarthy declined to be interviewed, perhaps because of the ways — fecklessmorally bankrupt — your friendly columnist has described him.

McCarthy’s chief nemesis, according to several who have spoken with him, is Rep. Matt Gaetz, who was the main instigator of McCarthy’s downfall. The pugnacious Florida Republican faces little danger of losing his House seat but may run for governor in 2026.

During an appearance this month at Georgetown University, McCarthy dropped a depth charge on Gaetz, insisting the only reason he lost the speakership is that “one person wanted me to stop an ethics complaint because he slept with a 17-year-old.”

“Did he do it?” McCarthy added, after asserting for all the world he had. “I don’t know.”

The reference was to allegations that Gaetz paid for sex, including relations with an underage girl, while in Congress. The Justice Department investigated the Florida lawmaker and decided not to bring charges. The House Ethics Committee is continuing its probe.

“McCarthy is a liar,” Gaetz shot back on social media. “That’s why he is no longer speaker.”

McCarthy is a political animal down to his marrow and the speakership is a job he coveted much of his career. His tenure — less than nine months — lasted barely long enough to pose for the portrait that will someday hang in the Capitol.

But now, said one political associate, McCarthy feels free. He’s no longer responsible for shepherding a colicky, eyelash-thin Republican majority — over to you, Mike Johnson! — and can fully devote himself to what has long been McCarthy’s forte: campaigns and elections.

He remains close to the many lawmakers he recruited and helped get in office and keeps in touch with a nationwide donor network built during years as one of the GOP’s top congressional strategists.

Keeping Republican control of the House is, of course, a top priority for McCarthy this November. So is reelecting members like Orange County’s Young Kim and Michelle Steel and Oregon’s Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who helped diversify the white-as-snow ranks of the House GOP.

Click here to read the ful article in the LA Times

With public pressure mounting, state legislators get serious about stopping shoplifting surge

Lawmakers attempt to crack down on retail crime, while preserving progress made in lowering incarceration rates

Tackling retail crime is top of mind for many state lawmakers, as evidenced by the flurry of new bills taking aim at shoplifting, smash-and-grabs and retail theft.

Why the intense attention this legislative cycle? California politicians are facing new and mounting pressures to deliver solutions on rising rates of retail crime.

Shoplifting jumped by 81% in the city of Los Angeles last year — from around 6,600 reports in 2022 to almost 12,000 in 2023.

Statewide, reports of shoplifting rose around 30% between 2019 and 2022 and commercial burglary rates were up in 14 of the state’s 15 most populous counties.

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“The Legislature is responding to concerns of both the business community as well as the electorate; their citizens are complaining quite a bit because they have seen retail theft happen in person or on the news,” said veteran Sacramento lobbyist Chris Micheli. “We know this is a rampant problem and it is not getting better.”

In Downtown L.A.’s Fashion District, entrepreneur Sarhra Santhiallan says she’s eager to hire a security guard for her newly opened store. While this will be a significant cost for the small business, she feels it’s necessary to protect herself, protect her products and safely stay open after sunset.

A few doors down, Mike Shirazi says he won’t open his jewelry store unless he has private security available.

“It’s getting worst every day,” he said. “We hear lots of news that people get robbed and just a couple days ago we saw a smash-and-grab.”

The uptick in theft has prompted stores to lock goods behind glass and, in extreme cases, shut down.

“In parts of my district we were risking having major retailers starting to pull out and when that happens it impacts the whole neighborhood — it impacts the workers who lose their jobs and impacts the small businesses who rely on the large retailers for foot traffic,” said Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur, D-Los Angeles. “That’s why I went to (Assembly) Speaker Rivas and let him know that I was interested in working with him on developing a strategy to combat retail theft.”

Compounding public pressure for legislative action, signatures were recently submitted for a state ballot measure that would overturn key parts of Prop. 47 and reinstate harsher penalties for shoplifting and drug possession.

Prop. 47 was passed by voters in 2014 and made the theft of $950 or less in goods a misdemeanor. The goal was to decrease incarceration rates and direct offenders into rehabilitative programs. But since then many people have soured on the bill and believe it’s to blame for the rise in retail crime.

While many Republican legislators have long called for repealing the measure, many Democratic lawmakers would prefer to create new ways to tackle theft without repealing Prop. 47 wholesale.

“People basically say ‘all of this has happened because of Prop. 47, and their focus is on repealing Prop. 47 rather than actually thinking about what is it that we really need to do in order to stop the problem,” said Zbur. “I’ve never thought that the issue was Prop 47. I think what the data shows us that the issue is we have impediments to law enforcement doing their job.”

Click here to read the full article in the Press Enterprise

California governor pledges state oversight for cities, counties lagging on solving homelessness

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Nearly $200 million in grant money will go to California cities and counties to move homeless people from encampments into housing, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday while also pledging increased oversight of efforts by local governments to reduce homelessness.

Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

The Democratic governor said he will move 22 state personnel from a housing enforcement unit to help cities and counties deliver on projects to reduce homelessness — and to crack down if they do not. He also said local governments will have to plan to build new housing for homeless residents or face potential legal action from the attorney general’s office.

“I’m not interested in funding failure any longer,” he said at a virtual news conference. “Encampments, what’s happening on the streets, has to be a top priority. People have to see and feel the progress and the change. And if they’re not, or counties are turning their back … I’m not interested in continuing the status quo.”

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scathing state audit released last week found that despite allocating $24 billion to tackle homelessness over the past five years, California has done little to track whether all that spending actually improved the situation. Newsom said the cities and counties that receive the money have to produce more data.

An estimated 171,000 people are homeless in California, a number that has grown despite massive investment by the state. Newsom, a former mayor of San Francisco who was elected governor in 2018, has made homelessness and housing twin priorities of his administration, including a novel plan to purchase and convert motels into housing for homeless people.

Under his watch, California has cracked down on local governments that refuse to plan for and build more housing as required by state law. Details were thin Thursday, but Newsom said a housing accountability unit within the California Department of Housing and Community Development will now tackle homelessness spending.

Newsom has repeatedly hammered a message of accountability, telling local officials to think bigger about ways to attack the crisis. In 2022, he paused $1 billion of state spending for local governments, saying their plans to reduce homelessness were “simply unacceptable.”

Click here to read the full article in AP News

Who owns businesses in California? A lawmaker wants the public to know

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California lawmaker wants to require business owners and landlords to disclose their identities under legislation aimed at cracking down on opaque ownership structures that have enabled some companies to skirt state laws without facing consequences.

 (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

Limited liability companies and similar corporations in the United States are often formed to protect a business owner’s personal assets. In California, the world’s fifth largest economy, such businesses are already required to register with the Secretary of State and share information including the name of the business, its address and the names of its executives or representatives.

But Democratic state Sen. Maria Elana Durazo said that that’s not enough. She also wants the public to know who actually owns the company. Her bill would require these companies to list anyone who owns at least 25% of the company’s assets on its registration with the state. It would apply to all LLCs and similar corporations regardless of the size.

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Durazo said the lack of that crucial information has allowed people to set up business structures where one company is owned in the name of another, all to shield their identities from the public, government officials and even law enforcement agencies. In many cases, local and state officials must spend significant time and resources to track down the owners before they can charge or sue the business for violating state laws, if they can find them at all.

“Some owners can abuse LLC to shield not only their assets but also their identities,” Durazo said at a hearing Wednesday. “This is a good governance bill.”

With support from labor, housing and environmental groups, her bill passed a key legislative committee Wednesday. There was no debate. It needs a second committee vote before reaching the Senate floor.

A similar proposal last year did not survive the Legislature’s suspense file, a mysterious process where lawmakers decide — with no explanation — whether bills should move forward or not.

The legislation faces fierce opposition from a number of business groups including those that represent landlords. They argue that LLCs must already share lots of information with the government and note that they will be required to disclose ownership to a branch of the U.S. Treasury Department by 2025.

They also point to costs. Last year, the Secretary of State estimated the new disclosure requirement would cost $9 million to implement and an additional $3.4 million annually in subsequent years to employ 28 support workers.

“It really doesn’t make any sense to us.” said Debra Carlton, an executive of California Apartment Association. “Why add these costs onto the state,” she asked, “when we’re already having financial challenges?”

The practice of operating business anonymously is prevalent in many California industries, proponents of the bill said. In Oakland, after city officials condemned a dilapidated building rented out to low-income immigrant families, the city attorney’s office spent more than a year investigating and combing through hundreds of city code enforcement records to find the owners of the building, said Suzie Dershowitz, who worked on the case at the time. The city eventually found and successfully sued the landlords, who owned more than 130 properties in the city through a network of LLCs and corporations. The investigation would have had taken half a day of work if Durazo’s bill was law at the time, she added.

“As a government agency, I had access to a lot of information,” said Dershowitz, who now works for Public Advocates, an advocacy group sponsoring the bill. “But the lack of transparency in corporate ownership really hampered our investigation.”

Some employers also rely on the practice to dodge labor violations and cheat workers out of their pay, labor attorney Ruth Silver-Taube said. She pointed to a case in San Jose where a hotel worker was fired from his job for filing a wage theft claim with the state. The state couldn’t track down the business owners and had to name 14 different companies, some of which were defunct, in its lawsuit before the owners agreed to settle, she said. The agreement came nine years after the worker filed the initial complaint.

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” Silver-Taube said.

By hiding behind an anonymous LLC, Silicon Valley billionaires were successful in shielding their identities in a secretive $800 million land-buying spree in rural Northern California, despite years of local scrutiny.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

After a divorce and false starts, my L.A. life surprised me

At 46, I’ve made some sense of my life by thinking about it as a story of second chances. If my evil twin were the author, it would be a string of dead ends — of not being a good enough writer, mother, wife, daughter, friend, teacher, sister (the list is endless). But I see my life as an endorsement of second chances. Almost everything that defines me happened because I failed and then tried again.

My first marriage was an early one. I was 23, lacking all confidence, and had moved to London for my boyfriend. At the Chelsea Old Town Hall I clutched a bouquet from my best friend, Lexy, the only person in my life who knew about the wedding. Afterward, we celebrated over coffee and Danishes at a nearby Starbucks before my new husband returned to work and I wandered the streets of Kensington, pressure building behind my eyes, the sky blooming dark gray.

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I hoped then that my charismatic spouse, who worked in finance, would protect me from myself, from uncertainty, from the world. Instead, we had months of fights and halfhearted reconciliations, culminating in the morning I packed a duffel, went to Heathrow and boarded the first flight home to L.A.

Months later, hoping to restart my life while still haunted by the hurt and shame of London, I met Philip at a mutual friend’s house. I fell for him at first sight. An unexpected second chance at love, I thought, realizing that cliches exist for a reason. A cinephile and aspiring film producer, Philip cannon-balled into our friend’s pool wearing only see-through white briefs. Bold,I thought. Later that afternoon we sat in his Ford Explorer in the driveway, the interior smelling of crushed M&Ms and old tennis shoes. He turned to me: “I’m going to marry you.” “Yeah, I know,” I said.

A few years after Philip and I married, I got pregnant. When September arrived with its dry arid heat, I was at 28 weeks, well past the big 20-week scan and, I thought, the danger zone. But I had noticed a reduction of the baby’s movements. On a Friday morning, I went to my gynecologist for a last-minute visit before the weekend, just in case. When she checked for a heartbeat, the machine echoed the rush of my own blood but nothing else.

I felt I had been cursed with the evil eye, my first child spirited away. I was convinced that I was already a bad mother, lacking the intuition or vigilance to protect him from death, that the gods had cursed me for wanting a child too much — or not enough. I had failed at motherhood, enduring the awful contradiction of birthing a child who was no longer alive. After numerous tests, pathologists examining placental tissue and vials of my blood, his death remains a mystery.

Two years later we tried again, this time under the supervision of a doctor for high-risk patients. Starting at 27 weeks, every day for 30 minutes, I went into the doctor’s office for a “nonstress test” to listen to her heartbeat. Every morning I sat with the nurse who administered the test, talking about the weather, books, the blissful ordinariness of my daughter’s heartbeats. I remember her saying, “Boring is perfect in pregnancy.” She too had lost a child, her first.

Miraculously, after about 60 uneventful tests and on the first day of spring, the season of renewal, my daughter, Lucia, was born. Her name means light bearer. It was raining, the L.A. Marathon in full swing, and I held her to my chest, knowing she was so hard-won.

A few years later, my third child, Levi, slid into the world, my water breaking on the upholstery of my husband’s new car en route to the hospital, the labor barely lasting three hours. On Levi’s first night home, he laughed in his sleep. My husband and I stared down at him in astonishment. Maybe he could hear his older brother cracking jokes.

My daughter just turned 13; she slams doors in my face, is always willing to give me a makeup tutorial and will, in unpredictable moments, put her long arms around me and whisper, “I love you.” My son is almost 11; he calls me “bro” on occasion, loves to cook and is addicted to basketball YouTube shorts. He says I’m the best mom and also the most annoying mom in the world. They are becoming more of who they are while I mourn their fading littleness: chicken nuggets thrown on the floor, reading fairy tales to them in bed, hours spent helping them craft dioramas for school and tending to their fevers.

They fill me with so much love, and I spend so much energy trying to soften my parental panic as I mourn my first, lost child, the son I’ll never know.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Walters: California’s high construction costs limit housing. A Supreme Court decision might help

California’s chronic inability to build enough housing – particularly for low-income families – has many causes, but a big one is its extremely high cost of construction.

Some costs are intrinsic and unavoidable, such as land acquisition and building materials. But some are artificial and could be lowered, especially those imposed by state and local governments. They include dictating the use of high-cost unionized construction labor, time-consuming environmental clearances, arbitrary design criteria and so-called “impact fees.”

Collectively, these costs have the effect of minimizing the number of housing units that can be constructed for a given amount of investment – less bang for the buck.

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Four years ago, the Los Angeles Times illustrated the syndrome by delving into a decade-long effort to construct a small apartment project for low-income residents of Solana Beach, an affluent coastal community in San Diego County.

What was proposed in 2009 as an 18-apartment project that would cost $413,913 per unit became – after 10 years of political and legal wrangling – a 10-apartment project costing more than $1 million a unit. It simply would not pencil out and was ultimately suspended.

Solana Beach was not an isolated example. Other projects costing $1-plus million per unit have surfaced, including one approved last week in Santa Monica, another upscale coastal community.

The 122-unit project, aimed at providing shelter for homeless people and built on city-owned land, will cost an estimated $123.1 million. It could become even costlier because of an extended development timeline: It’s not expected to be built until 2030.

Development costs are particularly high in coastal communities, but even in interior areas building modest apartments for low-income residents easily tops $500,000 per unit, which is often costlier than single-family homes in those communities. It defies logic but that’s the reality of housing in California.

As mentioned earlier, the many cost factors affecting housing in California also include impact fees.

While local governments had imposed some fees for decades, they began escalating sharply after voters in 1978 passed Proposition 13, the iconic property tax limit, to offset the loss of tax revenue.

A 2015 study found that California’s fees, averaging $23,000 a unit, were the highest in the nation and four times the national average. Housing advocates have argued that reducing fees would increase production but local governments have zealously defended them.

Last week, as Santa Monica was approving the low-income housing project costing more than $1 million a unit, the U.S. Supreme Court was putting the brakes on California’s impact fees. The court ruled unanimously that fees constitute an unconstitutional “taking” of private property without compensation unless based on actual costs.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

Gavin Newsom Can’t Help Himself

“We don’t need magazine profiles,” California Governor Gavin Newsom told me. “We don’t need any problems.”

Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

We were sitting on opposing couches in his Sacramento office, a makeshift space across the street from his usual suite in the state capitol, currently being renovated. Newsom, leaning his head back into his intertwined hands, looked every bit the sleek pol he plays on TV—the big smile, the suit, the hair gel. He had just led me on a tour of this sterile habitat that he likens to a “dentist’s office.” Everything about it felt slapdash and temporary. “People know they’re not here for very long,” said Newsom, who is 56 but emits the frenetic energy of an upstart.  

This aura can invite distrust. So can participating in magazine profiles when you don’t want to be seen as buffing your national image at the expense of being a team player—the team being President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.

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“The shadow campaign” is what Newsom calls the theory, happily promoted by Republicans and the occasional Democrat, that he’s been plotting a clandestine effort to supplant Biden as his party’s nominee. Newsom is clearly sensitive to this perception and eager to disprove it. He has spent the past several months vouching for the president in a variety of adverse settings: after a Republican debate at the Reagan Library, on Fox News, and across several red states, from South Carolina to Idaho. He managed to put off our interview for nearly two months, long enough for Biden to clinch his nomination. By the time we met at the end of March, Newsom had fashioned himself as a kind of presidential super-surrogate—a chief alleviator of fears about Biden’s lagging poll numbers, advanced age, and ability to again defeat Donald Trump.

But being a super-surrogate requires a performative humility, subordinating one’s own ambition to the candidate’s. This is not something that comes naturally to a restless dazzler such as Newsom. “You’re good at this,” Bill Maher told the governor during a January appearance on HBO’s Real Time, praising Newsom’s pugnacious strikes against Republicans and his willingness to be “kinda mean” at times. Newsom then blasted off into a diatribe about how Democrats need to stop being so timid, earning an extended ovation. At which point, Maher paused, looked approvingly at Newsom, and asked: “Can you teach that speech to Biden?”

[Ronald Brownstein: The Democrats’ new spokesman in the culture wars]

Newsom chuckled awkwardly. He did the same when I recounted the Maher exchange to him. The subtext is obvious, and gets at the thorniness of being Newsom these days: the risk of being so “good at this” that it can seem like he’s running himself.

When pressed about his own presidential aspirations, as he still often is, Newsom is adept at pivoting to his reverential spiel about Biden. “He’s doing things that I could never imagine doing,” the governor told me. He said he has gotten to know Biden and has “really grown to deeply admire him, with conviction.” Newsom has objected in numerous ways, in numerous forums, to the idea that the 81-year-old president is slowing down. “You become an SNL meme,” he said of the challenge Biden surrogates face when trying to defend the president’s geriatric fitness in fresh and credible ways.

I mentioned to Newsom that age seems to be the intractable issue for Biden: Large majorities of Americans keep telling pollsters, over and over, that he is too old to run again. At a certain point, can anything really be done? Newsom swerved the conversation onto delicate terrain.

“Well, there’s Pretagen, and all those things on TV that seem to argue—to help—with that,” he said. He seemed to be referring to an over-the-counter supplement called Prevagen that supposedly promotes brain health. “I can’t turn on the damn TV without the vegetable and fruit supplements,” said Newsom, who professes to watch a lot of Fox News.

“Have you talked to Biden about maybe going on a more vigorous Prevagen regimen?” I deadpanned.

“Look, I mean, I was—” Newsom faltered for a moment. “I don’t know if I was joking, but I was lamenting about how many different ways, on different networks, I’ve answered this question in an effort to try to answer a little differently each time.”

On that, Newsom succeeded. His Prevagen answer was novel, if risky. Sometimes he can’t help himself.

Newsom has solicitous eyes that often dart around a room, as if he’s scanning for something that might entertain his guest, or him. He is a fourth-generation Californian who himself embodies many dimensions of the unruly dream-state he is attempting to govern: He is profuse and thirsty at the same time, high-reaching, a bit dramatic, and never far from some disaster.

“I don’t want to be derivative,” Newsom said in our interview. He loves the word derivative almost as much as, he says, he hates things that are derivative—the kind of repetitive sound-biting that can be as basic to a politician’s job as throwing a baseball is to being a pitcher (which Newsom was in his youth, a lefty).

I have known Newsom for about 15 years, but hadn’t officially interviewed him since he was finishing his second term as mayor of San Francisco and preparing to run for governor in 2010. The campaign was short-lived, as it became clear that Newsom had limited reach beyond the Bay Area and little shot against California’s former and future governor, Jerry Brown. Newsom instead ran for lieutenant governor, winning the privilege of spending eight restive years as Brown’s understudy.

[From the June 2013 issue: Jerry Brown’s political reboot]

One of the few highlights of Newsom’s tenure, he told me, occurred in 2013, when Brown was on a trade mission to China. Newsom, in his brief stint as acting governor, issued a proclamation designating the avocado as California’s state fruit. Newsom said he felt like Brown was not showing him or his office “a lot of respect,” so he undertook the avocado gambit as a benign “act of defiance.” (He insists that his love of avocados is genuine and that he tries to eat one “six to seven days a week.”) The rogue operation extended to artichokes (which Newsom named as the state vegetable), rice (the state grain), and almonds (the state nut).

Newsom seemed to take immense pride in this small harvest of edicts, milking them for laughs and press coverage. He boasted of the “cornucopia of landmark accomplishments” that he had achieved “over these magical six days.” More than a decade later, Newsom still sounds amused, even if Governor Brown, upon his return from China, apparently was not. “I don’t know that amused and Jerry Brown have ever been used in the same sentence,” Newsom said. (Brown declined to be interviewed, but praised Newsom in a brief statement for providing “much needed continuity” on climate and China policy—two issues central to Brown’s time in office.)

For much of his political career, Newsom has been perceived as something of a wild child. He has nurtured that image by getting into occasional trouble. In 2007, as mayor, he admitted to an affair with his appointments secretary, who’d been married to Newsom’s close friend and deputy chief of staff; this was following the breakup of Newsom’s first marriage—to the future Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is now engaged to Donald Trump Jr. As recently as 2020, Newsom violated COVID restrictions by attending a group dinner at the French Laundry, one of California’s fanciest restaurants, which became a major issue in an unsuccessful campaign to recall him.

His breakneck impulses also resulted in the signature policy action that would establish Newsom as a national figure—his 2004 order for San Francisco to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. “It’s the Roger Bannister theory of life,” Newsom told me, referring to the English runner who broke the four-minute-mile barrier. Newsom said that, like Bannister, he was young and dumb and “didn’t know that he couldn’t.” He quoted his political idol, Robert F. Kennedy Sr., who in a 1966 address in South Africa said that the world “demands the qualities of youth; not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity.”

Today, Newsom has logged two terms each as a big-city mayor and as lieutenant governor, plus five years leading the nation-state of California. He married again in 2008, and has four children with his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a filmmaker and former actor. Newsom’s tenure as governor has featured high-profile moves that have positioned him as a national avatar of blue-state boosterism: an executive order mandating that new cars sold in California be zero-emission by 2035; a call for a constitutional amendment that would raise the legal age to purchase firearms to 21; a commitment to make California a “sanctuary” for abortion access.

As much as Newsom believes that it’s important to “continue to iterate,” I was struck by how often he talked about keeping experienced mentors close by. During the early crisis months of COVID, Newsom told me, he convened Zoom meetings with his living predecessors—Brown, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis, and Pete Wilson. “To have these kinds of legendary figures—” Newsom said, shaking his head. Sometimes he would just sit back and absorb the exchanges. “Just the weird history, and the dynamic—it was a lot of fun,” Newsom said. He referred to the group as his “council of the elders.”

[From the April 2023 issue: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s last act]

“He has grown, learned, and matured in terms of his approach,” says Representative Nancy Pelosi, the former speaker of the House, who has known Newsom since “before he was born.” (Bill Newsom, Gavin’s father, was a well-connected Bay Area judge—appointed to the bench by Jerry Brown—whose sister was married to the brother of Pelosi’s husband, Paul.)

Pelosi is among a gallery of California political giants who have nurtured Newsom through his career. Willie Brown, the longtime speaker of the state assembly and mayor of San Francisco, appointed Newsom to his first political job in 1996, on the city’s Parking and Traffic Commission, and later to a vacant seat on its board of supervisors. Newsom told me he also took boundless knowledge from watching Jerry Brown for eight years in Sacramento, even though the two almost never interacted and Newsom’s impact as lieutenant governor was mostly limited to his heroic advocacy of the avocado.

By any measure, Brown had a remarkable leadership résumé—two previous terms as governor in the 1970s and ’80s, three presidential campaigns, stints as California’s attorney general and secretary of state, time as chair of the state Democratic Party, and two terms as mayor of Oakland. Like Newsom, he was known early in his career for his zesty and impatient style. “He was a man on a mission. He was the guy running for president over and over again,” Newsom said of Brown. But the late-career version of Brown “was just a different Jerry,” Newsom said. He sometimes watched Brown and wondered, “Why hasn’t he said anything about issue x, y, z?” And then, a few months later, the shrewdness of Brown’s silence would reveal itself.

“I want temperance. I want wisdom. I want someone who can govern, someone that’s not unhinged,” Newsom told me. He was talking now about Joe Biden, and trying to make the case that the president’s age should be seen as an asset, just as it was for Brown near the end of his career. It’s a compelling parallel, except that Brown left office at 80, and Biden is running for his second term at a year older. I noted to Newsom that Biden clearly has been well served by his wealth of experience, but that what his skeptics question is his ability to beat Donald Trump. “It’s an election question, I got it,” Newsom told me. “You gotta win.”

As the president departed on a trip to Los Angeles in February, a reporter shouted a question from the White House lawn about whether Newsom should be standing by in case a Democratic alternative was needed for 2024. Biden blew it off, but the episode highlighted the ongoing nuisance of the age issue, which had just been revived by Special Counsel Robert Hur’s report describing the president as “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” As Newsom has denied any interest in replacing Biden, the president in turn has flattered him on the subject. “He’s been one hell of a governor, man,” Biden said of Newsom during a stop in San Francisco last November. “He could have the job I’m looking for.”

For much of last year, however, aides close to the president were wary of Newsom’s motives. He aroused particular suspicion by challenging Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to debate him on Fox News in November, in what the network billed as the “Great Red vs. Blue State Debate,” to be “moderated” by Sean Hannity. Newsom told me he would’ve skipped the debate if asked, but he heard nothing from the White House. “They never said, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it,’” he said. “But I can imagine they were like, What is he doing?” (A spokesperson for Biden’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.)

“Yes, there was chatter,” Jeffrey Katzenberg, the DreamWorks co-founder, who’s a longtime supporter of Newsom and a co-chair of the Biden reelection campaign, confirmed to me. “It wasn’t, ‘This is terrible. He shouldn’t be doing it.’ But I do think there was chatter like, ‘Really?’” Katzenberg added. “‘Why give DeSantis the platform? You’re elevating him.’”

Senator Laphonza Butler of California, whom Newsom appointed to her job in October after the death of Senator Dianne Feinstein, told me: “Had I been advising him, I’m not sure I would have said, ‘Yeah, that’s a great idea.’”

Newsom went ahead with the debate anyway, in part, he said, because he had already committed to it. “I’m glad for no other reason [than] you develop a muscle you didn’t know you had,” he told me. It was helpful, he said, that the event was delayed for months, allowing Newsom to prove himself a reliable partner to the White House. He has brought in large sums of cash for the reelection campaign and, last March, started a PAC that has raised more than $9 million for Biden and other Democratic candidates. Still, the Fox spectacle, which occurred not long before the start of the primaries, was an odd look for both participants.

[David Frum: Ron DeSantis debates his grievances]

Newsom received generally positive reviews. “I thought he made some solid points,” Butler said. “He made DeSantis stumble.” He delivered perhaps the line of the night when he mentioned that he and DeSantis had something in common: “Neither of us will be the nominee for our party in 2024”—another signal to the White House that Newsom was fully onboard. It was also one of several times that Newsom hammered DeSantis over how Trump was beating him badly in the Republican primary, something that undoubtedly delighted the former president.

Trump represents a more natural foil to Newsom than DeSantis. Both are outsize, sensitive, and at times self-immolating showmen. Newsom clearly enjoys pitting himself against the former president, whose deep unpopularity among Democrats makes his antagonism an unquestioned political asset. Trump recently started calling the governor “New-scum,” which Newsom belittled to me as a lame “seventh-grade nickname.”

At the start of our interview, Newsom pointed across his room to a photo of himself with Donald and Melania in the Oval Office. “My staff put it up there, kind of as a joke, and I kept it,” Newsom told me. It is also a conversation piece, over which Newsom became quite animated. He appears to have a fascination with Trump, and not just as an evil adversary. Newsom, who campaigned in 2018 on a pledge to make California “a resistance state,” likes to mention that he worked well with Trump during his first two years in Sacramento. “We had the baseline of a relationship that benefited California significantly,” he told me. He watched Trump closely and tried to decipher how best to manage the needy president during COVID and severe wildfires in his state. He stroked Trump in public. “I want to thank you and acknowledge the work that you’ve done to be immediate in terms of your response,” Newsom told Trump in front of reporters at Sacramento’s McClellan Airport during a visit from the president in September 2020.

As Newsom continued a prolonged riff about Trump during our interview—what he learned watching Trump’s “dialectic” with the media or riding with him on Air Force One—he sounded strangely captivated, as if he had been privileged to observe a feral and predatory peacock in the wild. The association sounded more important to Newsom than I might have imagined.

Newsom told me that every time he placed a call to Trump in the White House, someone would patch him through or the president would call right back. That changed when Newsom reached out a few days after Trump lost the 2020 election. He heard nothing. “And I was like, Wow,” Newsom said. “And then I called a few days later—I figured he was busy—and they said, ‘He’s not available.’ And I’m like, Whoa.” He said he was genuinely taken aback by the snub, despite the addled state Trump was obviously in at the time and the overall madhouse that the White House had become.

I asked Newsom if he had spoken with Trump since, or heard from him after the DeSantis donnybrook. He said no (a spokesperson for the former president echoed this), but my query appeared to trigger an odd reaction in Newsom. His face turned red, which I noted to him. “No, that’s because the sunlight is beaming on me,” he protested, pointing out the window into the expansive California glare.

Newsom said that my “line of questioning is interesting.” He offered a wordy zigzag of a reply: “The fact that you are not the first person to ask me ‘Did he call you?’—particularly some of your sophisticated colleagues—is suggestive.”

I found Newsom’s labyrinthine answer to also be “suggestive.”

Newsom has a personal connection to Trump, via his first wife, Guilfoyle. He does not love to discuss his ex. “I’m sensitive to the world I’m currently living in, at home particularly,” he told me. Still, he is asked about Guilfoyle a lot, mostly in the vein of “What’s the deal there?”

[From the October 2019 issue: The heir]

Newsom and Guilfoyle met in 1994, at a Democratic fundraiser in San Francisco. She worked in the district attorney’s office, and he owned a chain of local food and wine establishments. They married seven years later and were dubbed “The New Kennedys” in a Harper’s Bazaar spread. “Do I think he could be president of the United States?” Guilfoyle told the magazine. “Absolutely. I’d gladly vote for him.” That comment appears no longer operative. (Guilfoyle declined to comment for this article.)

Newsom and Guilfoyle divorced in 2006. Things ended amicably, Newsom said: “No kids, respect, both sides.” Newsom told me he wished Guilfoyle well, and not “backhandedly.” He did not want to say anything negative about her, even though, he said, “She’s taken shots at me publicly.”

In fact, in an interview on CNN’s The Axe Files podcast last year, Newsom said Guilfoyle had been a “different person” when they were married. He told me she was committed to “social justice and social” values, and that she was a Republican, “but it was more traditional conservatism.”

“She fell prey, I think, to the culture at Fox,” he said on the podcast. He added, “She would disagree with that assessment.”

Yes, she did.

“I didn’t change; he did,” Guilfoyle fired back in an interview with the right-wing commentator Charlie Kirk. She said Newsom was once a champion of entrepreneurs and small business but has since become “unrecognizable” to her. “He’s fallen prey to the left, the radical left.”

If Trump wins in November, Newsom will remain the governor of the nation’s most populous state and biggest resistance zone. In his office, he keeps a marked-up copy of a policy blueprint, “Project 2025,” prepared by the Heritage Foundation as a possible preview of a next Trump term. “I’m going through 100 pages of this. I’m not screwing around,” Newsom told me. He said his team is “Trump-proofing California,” preparing to enact whatever measures they can to thwart a hostile Republican White House. To better understand his political opposition, Newsom begins each morning with a heavy intake of far-right media. “There’s so many things that come our way that are so batshit-crazy,” he said. “You can’t deny where half of America lives.”

Newsom has endured a difficult few months in California. His approval ratings recently dropped under 50 percent for the first time since he became governor. He devoted a great deal of time and capital to promoting a ballot measure—Proposition 1—to allocate $6.4 billion to mental-health treatment programs. The proposal was expected to pass easily in March but barely did—a possible sign of weakness as Newsom faces another recall effort and a budget crisis.

After 90 minutes of conversation in his office, Newsom was getting antsy, as he does. He rose from the couch and walked over to his massive desk, where he would soon devour his daily helping of the California state fruit, over chicken salad.

Newsom is a student of workspaces. “I always like going in people’s offices, going, ‘Why is that there?’” he told me. He loved his usual quarters across the street, now deep in renovation. His desk there used to belong to Earl Warren, the former chief justice of the Supreme Court and the governor of California from 1943 to 1953. But Newsom assured me that no serious thought went into decorating these temporary quarters. He seemed pleased to give the impression of being a short-timer. “This is literally the things that came out of the first boxes,” he said. “We threw it up; a lot of it’s no rhyme or reason.”

One of Newsom’s prized mementos is a framed letter he received during the height of the COVID crisis, from none other than the baseball legend Willie Mays. “I don’t write many letters, but I’ve been watching you on TV and thought you might appreciate some words of encouragement,” the “Say Hey Kid” wrote.

[From the July/August 2023 issue: Moneyball broke baseball]

Newsom can be deeply cynical at times when discussing politics. But he can also display a boyish and even starstruck side. I watched him stare wide-eyed at his note from Mays and marvel. “Piles of ‘Go fuck yourself,’” Newsom said, describing his typical mail. “And then Willie Mays sends a letter.”

He showed me a few items in a side office, at the moment dominated by the big-screened head of the legal commentator Jonathan Turley yammering on Fox. A few feet away stood a picture of Newsom and Pelosi from the 1990s, in his first race for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors; shots of Schwarzenegger, Newsom’s late father, and various Kennedys; and a small table full of booze. Newsom hoisted a bottle of wine someone had recently given him: DeSantis, the vintage is called. I imagined a libation of complex and astringent notes, not at all supple or aromatic.

Click here to read the full article in the Atlantic via MSN

‘Nobody saw this coming’; California dairies scramble to guard herds against bird flu

Earlier this spring, California dairy farmers noted a puzzling drop in milk production in Texas, New Mexico, Idaho, Ohio, Kansas and Michigan. Weeks later, news broke that several herds in these states, as well as North Carolina, had been diagnosed with avian influenza — the same strain that has devastated bird populations across the globe and shown a troubling ability to jump to mammals.

In an effort to prevent local herds from infection, officials in California and elsewhere have imposed restrictions on cattle imports from the affected states, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture has urged livestock managers to minimize the movement of cattle as much as possible.Click here to SUBSCRIBE to CA Political Review 

Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes the current risk for the general public is low, the development has left dairy farmers reeling. Never before have U.S. dairy cows been infected with H5N1 bird flu viruses.

“Nobody saw this coming,” said Michael Payne, a researcher and outreach coordinator at the Western Institute of Food Safety and Security at UC Davis.

Scientists and health agencies across the globe have been tracking the spread of the virus for years.

Since 2021, it has killed hundreds of millions of farmed poultry and infected more than 48 species of mammals — including humans — as well as countless numbers of wild birds. It has also proved especially deadly among some communal mammals, such as elephant seals and sea lions in South America, as well as caged fur-farmed animals in Europe.

Nevertheless, outbreaks among dairy cows have come as a rude shock.

In addition to the cattle infections, a farmworker in Texas who was in close contact with infected dairy cows also became infected, but experienced only mild symptoms. This was the second known human case in the United States.

Despite the mildness of the farmworker’s illness, the prospect of continued infections worries some.

“The concerning trend of multiple states reporting cattle infections raises the likelihood of continued human exposure,” said Suresh Kuchipudi, professor and chair of the University of Pittsburgh’s department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology. “This could amplify the risk of further virus adaptation, potentially facilitating human-to-human transmission.”

Public health advocates, wildlife biologists and epidemiologists say there are a few reasons for why the cattle outbreaks have surprised farmers and officials.

First, while there have been sporadic infections of cattle via other flu strains in the past, no other avian flu has ever evolved the ability to pass between cows and other ruminants, said Kuchipudi.

“That was surprising,” he said. “Totally unprecedented.”

And second: There is no single federal or state agency responsible for following this disease — one that affects wildlife, agriculture and public health. Some experts say it’s a flawed silo-like approach for a virus that concerns multiple government agencies here and in other nations.

“This is a fundamental problem in our monitoring system, especially when it comes to emerging and zoonotic infections, such as the avian flu,” said Kuchipudi. “This is a public health problem, a wildlife problem and also a domestic animal problem,” for which a one-health solution — in which all three elements are included — could really help in terms of managing information collection and communication.

For instance, while it’s still unclear how the cows got the disease, if farmers had been on the look-out for sick birds or wildlife and been communicating with wildlife agencies and their farm bureaus, the infection might have been contained, experts say.

California’s Department of Food and Agriculture is now asking farmers to be on the lookout for sick birds and mammals, and to take steps to humanely remove migrating birds and waterfowl that could come into contact with their herds, and prevent them from nesting nearby.

There is also a concern that the disease was passed via infected poultry litter — a mix of poultry excreta, spilled feed, feathers, and other waste scraped from the floors of industrial chicken and turkey production plants — which, in the United States, is used in cattle feed on some farms. UC Davis’ Payne said that in California, poultry waste is processed at high virus-killing temperatures, so it is unlikely to be a concern.

The practice is banned in the United Kingdom, European Union and Canada, where fears of spreading bovine spongiform encephalitis — mad cow disease — made such practices seem too risky.

Despite concerns voiced by some experts, California officials say existing bird flu monitoring efforts are effective.

State Veterinarian Annette Jones said that she works fluidly with multiple state and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We have veterinarians and experts spread throughout the state that can do those initial investigations. And if there’s any inkling that there could be a human health issue, then we also work very closely with the California Department of Public Health, who has links to County Public Health and CDC,” she said. “To the outside person that seems probably like acronym soup, right? But to an inside person with experience, we know.”

Jones and others in the dairy and agricultural sector say there is no reason for the public to be alarmed or concerned when it comes to avian flu-infected cattle.

They say infected cows seem to have a mild reaction and get better quickly. Also, milk is pasteurized, so if an infected cow’s milk were to get into the system, the virus would be killed.

Yet others say it’s the “what’s next” question that is most worrying.

“We want to address what is happening so that we can prevent something worse from happening,” said J. Scott Weese, professor at the Ontario Veterinary College and director of the University of Guelph’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses. “That something worse is this virus becoming a virus that can be easily transmitted between humans and can cause serious disease.”

The disease has already bucked all expectations — from its ability to infect a variety of species to its international reach and duration, experts say. That should make its appearance on a mammal-based factory farm a cause for doubled-down surveillance and concern, said Crystal Heath, a Bay Area veterinarian and co-founder of Our Honor, an animal welfare organization.

“You have hundreds, if not thousands of genetically similar animals all living in the same space, standing in each others’ waste and breathing on each other,” said Heath. “Its Shangri-La for an opportunistic virus.”

And it is still unclear how widespread the virus is, or for how long it’s been infecting cattle, said Weese.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

They were ready for S.F.’s nightmare permit process. Then a simple mistake made ‘all hell break loose’

When Alan Billingsley and John Podolsky sought to expand an 85-square-foot-room on the second story of their home in San Francisco’s Eureka Valley neighborhood, they thought they knew what they were getting into. 

John Podolsky and Alan Billingsley stand in the area that they have been trying for five years to get approved for a small addition on the second floor of their San Francisco home. Scott Strazzante/The Chronicle

Both longtime San Francisco residents, Billingsley and Podolsky have friends in city government and are involved in local politics. Podolsky works in construction, focusing on tenant improvements in downtown high-rises.

Still, they did not expect that getting approval for their home project would take five years, two permit expediters, an attorney and tens of thousands of dollars — and counting.

Start of nightmare

Their problems, like those of many San Francisco homeowners in the throes of permit nightmares, stemmed from a stream of neighbor complaints that went on for months, as well as a misunderstanding of the city’s complex building code — both examples of how seemingly straightforward projects can get stuck in an endless cycle of delays.

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Based on the couple’s familiarity with the city’s system, Billingsley said that while San Francisco might be bureaucracy-heavy, he thinks it’s likely that most permit applications for small projects are reviewed and approved “in a timely manner with no drama.” 

But “the two exceptions to this are when a neighbor complains and when you make a building code mistake,” he said. “We had both.”

Billingsley and Podolsky embarked on their project in 2018. They wanted to expand a sunroom out onto an existing balcony space on their second floor, turning the balcony into about 100 more square feet of enclosed sunroom space. The work was all on one story and did not require any special exemptions from the city planning code. 

During the planning application process, they had to inform neighbors of the plans with a 311 notice, named for a planning code section. According to Billingsley and Podolsky, two neighbors showed up at the meeting and opposed part of the original plan, in which the roof of the expansion would also function as a rooftop deck. 

Rather than fight the neighbors, Billingsley and Podolsky removed that part of the project, submitting revised plans in September 2019 in which the expansion was covered with a regular roof, not a usable rooftop deck. No one filed an appeal to those plans.

“We were pleasantly surprised,” Billingsley said. “We thought, ‘OK, phew, we’re past that.’ ”

As they moved forward with construction plans and finalizing a building permit, knowing that that would take time, the couple decided that they would do some garden work they had been planning — including reducing the size of an existing wooden backyard deck off the first floor, unrelated to the expansion. 

“That’s when all hell broke loose,” Billingsley said.

Their landscape architect told them that they wouldn’t need a permit or city approval for this work. The couple also had a permit expediter — an outside consultant who helps homeowners navigate San Francisco’s Department of Building Inspection — double-check that that was accurate.

Stream of complaints

Cities and counties across California have complaint-driven code enforcement. Many, like San Francisco, send inspectors to check on alleged violations. Others, like Oakland and Sacramento County, send a letter to the homeowner, giving them a chance to prove that they do not have a violation, before sending someone to the site.

Officials in Oakland, with a population about half the size of San Francisco’s, said they received 6,683 complaints in 2023, compared to San Francisco’s 14,179 — or 55 per business day on average, according to Patrick Hannan, a department spokesperson.

San Francisco DBI records show at least 11 complaints filed between October 2020 and September 2021 related to Billingsley and Podolsky’s property, all claiming, in various ways, that work was being done without a permit or outside of the scope of the permit. The complaints, though they do not name the person who filed them, describe seeing the backyard work from a neighbor’s vantage point. The couple said they confirmed that a neighbor was making them.

Complaints to DBI do not necessarily mean anything is wrong or illegal and, unlike San Francisco’s notorious “discretionary review” process, do not trigger a public hearing. But they do prompt DBI to send an inspector to the site every time a complaint is made.

For Billingsley and Podolsky, the complaints meant a rotating roster of inspectors was dispatched to the house on different days to check if there actually were any violations.

In response to the first complaint, made in October 2020, inspectors determined that, despite what Billingsley and Podolsky’s consultant said, a permit actually was needed for the garden and ground-level deck work, as it included rebuilding two stairs that were more than 36 inches above grade. They issued a correction notice, and Billingsley said the inspector said the issue was minor.

“Mea culpa, ignorance of the law,” Billingsley said. “We were wrong.”

Another problem was that the first floor deck extended into the minimum rear yard space required by the city. Billingsley and Podolsky, who bought the house in 2008, said that the deck had been expanded by the previous owners around 2000, likely without a permit. But one of the inspectors who had visited the property due to the complaints noticed that the expansion was not compliant with city codes, and it was the couple’s responsibility to fix it.

“Regardless of when the illegal construction occurred, a property owner is responsible for obtaining a permit and ensuring their building is safe and code compliant,” Hannan of DBI told the Chronicle. 

To resolve the issue, the couple needed to file a revision permit to their original project application for the addition, which showed in the drawings that the first floor deck existed prior to their addition project, but was not shown in drawings on the original permit application.

Another complaint, lodged in November 2020, said that Billingsley and Podolsky seemed to be “expanding the envelope of their structure.” While that was not the case, records indicate that DBI spoke with the homeowner and directed a stop work notice for first floor deck work until a permit was issued. 

The inspector decided that “given the controversy, we should apply for a full permit for the deck and stair modifications,” Billingsley said. They asked their architect to prepare the plans and applied for the permit the same month, records show. It was approved soon after.

After another complaint about construction in November, an inspector visited and said no work was being done on the deck, and that “surface work” on their ground patio was OK to proceed. 

At the beginning of December, another complaint was filed, this time alleging that a “common wall with neighbor’s building has been removed and a new structure is being built.” An inspector visited and found that a vegetation trellis panel — which it noted was not part of the wall — had been removed with the consent of the affected neighbor, and that there was no new structure.

In December 2020, Billingsley and Podolsky applied for the revision permit that would show that their first-floor deck existed prior to their addition project application, records show.

“This turned into a very lengthy process as DBI kept having comments and then required structural drawings and analysis,” Billingsley said. “Our architect, engineer and consultants thought this way over the top, but we proceeded.” 

Records show that permit going back and forth between the planning department, the building inspection department and the applicants until it was finally approved and issued in November 2022.

In the meantime, Billingsley said, the couple told their gardening contractor to continue to work on the garden, just not touching the deck — work that by city rules was all OK to do without a permit. Plumbers and electricians were also on site, with approved permits, he added. But the couple did ask an inspector if they could still repair the top two deck stairs, as they were dangerous, he said.

The inspector “agreed, but not in writing,” Billingsley said. “Big mistake.”

In February 2021, another complaint about work without a permit was called in. An inspector went out and determined that the permit for which Billingsley and Podolsky had filed the previous November would address the issue.

A few months passed before yet another complaint was filed, in August 2021. An inspector went out and determined that no work was being done without a permit and that work being done on the patio slab did not need a permit. The inspector closed the case.

With the work generating so many complaints, Billingsley said the couple discontinued the garden project for two years. With no work going on, they went to Europe.

Deck problem resolved

At the beginning of September 2021, the neighbors filed another complaint about work without a permit. An inspector visited and found no one home. (That complaint was still open as of March 28, 2024. When asked about it by the Chronicle, Hannan said that this complaint was “inadvertently” left open. It was closed the following day, March 29.)

A week later, another complaint was filed. This time, the inspector said that metal guardrails had been installed and that the stairs were finished on the first-floor deck, without a permit, and issued a notice of violation. Billingsley said the stairs were the work that a different inspector had told them verbally they could proceed with, even without the permit, for safety reasons. 

Throughout the month, inspectors visited, finding no one home, as the couple was traveling — even though, according to Billingsley, no construction was happening during that time.

At the end of September, records show an inspector met with the homeowner and architect and determined that all work requiring a permit had stopped and the couple were in the process of getting a permit for the deck. The case got referred to city Code Enforcement, prompting further review. The permit for the deck was put on hold to wait for a hearing with the zoning administrator.

The same month, in September 2021, a zoning administrator, who works with the Planning Department, determined that their deck was legal but noncompliant with current codes. A month later, at the end of October 2021, an enforcement planner and the inspector who had already visited the property several times determined that the noncompliant portion of the deck had not been reconstructed or replaced.

Click here to read the full article in SF Chronicle