News Roundup for Tuesday, August 2, 2016

State of Emergency Still in Effect for Monterey County Wildfire

A 40,000-acre wildfire burning near Big Sur for
more than a weekhas forced hundreds of people and animals to evacuate, Cal Fire and shelter officials said Monday. The Soberanes Fire broke out on July 22 and has grown to 40,700 acres, with containment at 18 percent as of Monday evening.

An evacuation order has been lifted for residents who live on Riley
Ranch Road, Corona Road and Carmel Highland, but about 350 people who
live off of other roads have been forced out of their homes and many have
been issued evacuation warnings.

Cal Fire has also announced that residents of a portion of the Santa
Lucia Preserve can return home if they live on Rancho San Carlos Road
between Cantera Run and Garzas Trail. As of Monday afternoon, more than
100 animals evacuated from the fire are receiving care from the Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for Monterey County.

The displaced animals include 33 cats, 29 dogs and 12 chickens, shelter
officials said. More than 50 other animals have been given free food,
supplies and emergency evacuation services, according to shelter officials.

During an adoption event over the weekend, the nonprofit found new
homes for 74 animals in an effort to help clear its shelter for more
displaced animals from the fire, SPCA officials said.The blaze started at
Soberanes Creek in Garrapata State Park and continues to burn in a steep,
mountainous area that has been difficult to access for 5,292 personnel
working to extinguish the fire, Cal Fire officials said.

Firefighters have also been challenged by hot and dry weather conditions
in addition to a lot of dry grass, agency officials said. Crews expect to
face lower air quality due to an increase in smoke from the fire, more so
in Carmel Valley and Carmel River School, Cal Fire officials said. Heavy
smoke is also forecasted along the coast and above the marine layer, agency
officials said.

The wildfire killed a bulldozer operator last week identified as
35-year-old Robert Oliver III, a resident of the Fresno County community of
Friant. A state of emergency issued last Tuesday remains in effect for
Monterey County. The blaze has destroyed 57 homes and 11 outbuildings,
damaged five structures and threatened 2,000 other buildings, Cal Fire
officials said.

Those affected by the fire can receive help at All Saints’ Day School
at 8060 Carmel Valley Road in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Closures continue for trails
and roads to Los Padres National Forest in the impacted area along with a
handful of state parks. Palo Colorado Road is also closed at state Highway 1,
along with Robinson Canyon Road south of Penon Peak Trail and Weston Ridge
Road at Highway 1, Cal Fire officials said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Donations to people affected
by the fire can be made at the Big Sur State Park Multi-Agency Building at
47555 Highway 1 in Bug Sur, over the phone at (831) 667-3173 or by email at

Board of Supervisors Votes to Table Tax Measure for Tech Companies

A ballot measure proposing to tax tech companies to pay for affordable
housing and homeless services was blocked in committee Monday, preventing
it from being heard by the full Board of Supervisors.

The Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance Committee voted 2-1 Monday
afternoon to table the tech tax measure instead of forwarding it to the full
board for a vote, with Supervisors Mark Farrell and Katy Tang voting for the
motion to table and Norman Yee opposing.

The measure, introduced by Supervisor Eric Mar in June with the support of
Supervisors Aaron Peskin and David Campos, would have taxed tech companies with
gross receipts and payroll of more than $1 million at 1.5 percent of their annual
payroll. It also included a provision cutting the business registration fee for
small businesses in half.

Supporters of the measure Monday argued that the technology industry has drawn
an influx of well-paid tech workers, fueling an increase in both housing costs and
evictions. The tax was intended to have tech companies pay their “fair share” for
the cost of those impacts, according to Mar.

The measure drew opposition from business groups and officials including Mayor
Ed Lee, however, and Farrell said he viewed it as “exactly the wrong approach.”
“People don’t want to talk about it that way, but this is pitting one San Franciscan
against another,” Farrell said, saying tech workers he spoke to felt targeted and
demonized. “We need to be building community, not tearing the community apart.”

A report released by the San Francisco Controller’s Office Monday said the
proposed tax, which defines technology companies broadly, could generate between
$70 million to $140 million in revenue and reduce revenue from small business
registration fees by $5.3 million.

While the tax would put some downward pressure on housing prices, it would
also lead to the loss of an estimated 870 jobs over a 20-year period and decrease
overall earnings citywide, the report found. “Because the decline in earnings will
more than offset the decline in housing prices, housing will be less affordable,
on average,” the report said.

Mar acknowledged the report’s findings but said he would like to see an independent
study looking not only at the impact on jobs but also at the industry’s impact on housing
and homeless services. The measure would have required six votes from supervisors to be
placed on the November ballot, and two-thirds majority approval by voters to pass.

(News by BayCityNews)