S.F. sees ‘unprecedented’ drop in rent prices

As the National Guard and law enforcement officers stood guard near the White House, surveillance planes kept watching on protesters in the nation’s capital from the air.
At one point Wednesday night, an FBI plane, an Army surveillance plane, and a Park Police helicopter were circling overhead.
The demonstrators broke up into two groups; one stayed at the White House, the other marched to the Capitol. Protesters held signs and chanted, but there were no indications of any confrontations with law enforcement.
Hundreds of protesters stood face to face with military and federal officers who had formed a perimeter around Lafayette Park across from the White House. Military vehicles were parked on nearby streets, also blocking access.
The demonstration was held to protest the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minnesota.
Military police and law enforcement officers from a variety of federal agencies were out in force. A senior Defense official said at least 2,200 Guard members would be on the streets Wednesday.
The South Carolina and Utah National Guards had forces in place. Bureau of Prisons personnel wore blue uniforms. There were also agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, the FBI hostage rescue team, and the Secret Service.
Washington’s mayor set an 11 p.m. curfew in the city after earlier restrictions the previous two nights.
MINNEAPOLIS — A full autopsy of George Floyd, the handcuffed black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police, was released Wednesday and provides several clinical details, including that Floyd had tested positive for COVID-19.
The 20-page report released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office came with the family’s permission and after the coroner’s office released summary findings Monday that Floyd had a heart attack while being restrained by officers, and classified his May 25 death as a homicide.
The report by Chief Medical Examiner Andrew Baker spelled out clinical details, including that Floyd tested positive for COVID-19 on April 3 but appeared asymptomatic. The report also noted Floyd’s lungs appeared healthy but he had some narrowing of arteries in the heart.
The county’s earlier summary report listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use under “other significant conditions” but not under “cause of death.” The full report’s footnotes noted that signs of fentanyl toxicity can include “severe respiratory depression” and seizures.
LIBERTY, Mo. — Civil rights organizations on Wednesday called for the resignation of Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith, hours after a group of mostly black pastors demanded changes to improve relations between police and the city’s minority community.
The Urban League of Greater Kansas City, the NAACP’s Kansas City, Missouri branch, and More2 said in a statement that Smith should resign because of his handling of excessive force complaints and officer-involved shootings of black men.
“Since November 2019, our Civil Rights organizations, in collaboration with faith and community leaders, have become increasingly appalled and very much concerned about Chief Smith’s questionable leadership of the Kansas City Police Department,” the coalition said in a statement.
The group also criticized the city’s Board of Police Commissioners for allowing Smith to conduct internal investigations of officer-involved shootings and complaints of excessive force rather than calling in independent investigators.
The police department should be under local control, officers must be required to wear body cameras and the city must dismantle the Office of Community Complaints, which has been criticized as ineffectual, the coalition said.
A group of mostly black religious leaders made similar demands earlier Wednesday, but without calling for Smith’s resignation.
Emanual Cleaver III, the pastor at St. James United Methodist Church, said the pastors believed it was necessary to seek change because: “What happened to George Floyd was nothing new.” He said pastors “will take action” if the city doesn’t respond, though he declined to elaborate.
Public relations officers for the department did not immediately respond to the demand that Smith resign.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said her office was reviewing video of Kansas City police officers who pepper-sprayed two protesters and arrested one who was yelling at police during protests Monday night.
Mayor Quinton Lucas said Tuesday that he reviewed videos that had been sent to him from people concerned about police actions, and asked the FBI and federal prosecutors to review any that might violate procedures or show misconduct.
Kansas City has endured five days of protests over Floyd’s death while in police custody May 25 in Minneapolis. Peaceful daytime demonstrations devolved into violence. Police used tear gas on protesters for the first four nights before relative calm returned Tuesday night.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The police department in North Carolina’s largest city is coming under criticism after a video posted to social media appeared to show officers using chemical agents on demonstrators who were boxed in while protesting the death of George Floyd.
The video was recorded Tuesday night by Justin LaFrancois, co-founder and publisher of the alternative Charlotte newspaper Queen City Nerve. He said officers fired tear gas and flash-bangs from behind the protesters, and in front of them as well. He also said officers perched on top of buildings were firing pepper balls down on the crowd.
“We were completely trapped,” LaFrancois said. “There was one way to get out, and half of the group did go out that way through the tear gas and through the pepper balls. But for the rest of us, the only route of escape ... was to pull up a gate on the parking structure that we were pressed up against.”
LaFrancois said people tried to squeeze under the 6-inch opening in the gate and find safety. But as those people looked for an exit from the parking deck, he said officers began firing pepper balls after they entered the deck from the other side.
“They were relentless in not allowing us to leave the area that they were trying to get us to leave,” LaFrancois said. “It was the most extreme action that I had seen taken. It was the first time that I was actually in fear for my life.”
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said on Twitter they are looking into the incident.
“We are internally reviewing the circumstances that developed this evening on 4th Street to ensure policy and protocol were followed,” the police department tweeted Tuesday.
SAN FRANCISCO — A man suspected of robbing a pharmacy in the San Francisco Bay area was fatally shot by officers who thought a hammer he was carrying in his waistband was a firearm, police said Wednesday.
Details of the shooting were revealed even as some California counties and cities began plans to end curfews after days of largely peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.
Sean Monterrosa, 22, of San Francisco is the first confirmed death at the hands of law enforcement related to smash-and-grabs and protests in California since Floyd’s death. Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said officers were responding to calls of looting at a Walgreens early Tuesday when the shooting occurred.
Officers said Monterrosa began running toward a car when he suddenly stopped, got on his knees and placed his hands above his waist, revealing what appeared to be the butt of a firearm in his waistband. An officer shot five times through a car window, striking him once.
“The intent was to stop the looting and arrest any perpetrators if necessary. The officers reacted to a perceived threat,” Williams said.
John Burris, an attorney for the family, said he is appalled police would shoot at a person who was on his knees with his hands raised.
OGDEN, Utah — A criminal justice professor who wrote an inflammatory series of tweets during the nationwide protests said Wednesday he has resigned.
Scott Senjo told The Associated Press in an email that he agrees his tweets were “simply wrong” and his resignation from Weber State University would be effective immediately.
Last weekend, he tweeted at a black reporter who said he had been hit by New York City police: “Excellent. If I was the cop, you wouldn’t be able to tweet.” He also expressed support for damage done to CNN headquarters in Atlanta.
In response to another tweet showing a New York City police car driving into people, Senjo commented: “That’s not how I would have driven the car into the crowd.”
Senjo said his posts were part of the “oftentimes vulgar, extreme back-and-forth that can occur on Twitter,” but he now realizes they were “far beyond the realm of acceptable university policy as well as acceptable social norms.”
Weber State University has condemned the messages as “abhorrent” and opened an investigation to determine if other measures would be taken to ensure campus safety. The school had placed him on paid leave Tuesday to conduct a review and did not ask him to resign, officials said in a statement.
Senjo had been a professor at the college in Ogden since 2000.
CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro railed against President Donald Trump while expressing solidarity with the family of George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis has sparked protests and street violence across the United States.
Maduro on Wednesday accused Trump of turning the U.S. military against his own people. He spoke on state TV at a ceremony decorating Venezuelan soldiers credited with fending off a recent attack that the socialist leader blames on Trump.
Maduro also extended Venezuela’s solidarity with blacks and young people in the U.S. He says they are taking to the streets demanding an end to racism and police violence.
The White House has launched a campaign to oust Maduro. The U.S. and other nations as well as human rights groups condemn Maduro for employing brutal force and torture to silence Venezuelans who oppose the socialist government.
MINNEAPOLIS — The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has sent a national response team to Minneapolis and St. Paul to help investigate fires set during unrest following the death of George Floyd.
Local and state authorities requested the team’s help in investigating about 100 business fires in Minneapolis and about 35 in St. Paul.
Special Agent in Charge William Henderson of the ATF’s St. Paul Field Division said in a statement Wednesday “the cause of these fires is quite obvious. The task at hand now is to determine who is responsible.”
The team arrived earlier this week.
SEATTLE — A sea of protesters packed streets in Seattle on Wednesday in a sixth straight day of demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd.
By mid-afternoon, thousands had descended upon City Hall, where police holding batons formed lines behind metal barricades. The demonstrators carried “Black Lives Matter” signs and called for cutting the police department’s budget and shifting the money to social programs. They chanted for officers to remove their riot gear and knelt or sat together as they surrounded the building.
There’s been increasing criticism of the repeated use of tear gas and flash-bangs by Seattle police to disperse mostly peaceful crowds.
Mayor Jenny Durkan met with protest leaders in City Hall before meeting with demonstrators outside for a second straight day. City Attorney Peter Holmes noted that citizens had filed some 12,000 complaints over the police department’s handling of the protests.
PARIS, Texas — A member of a Texas city council has resigned under fire over a social media response he made to a protest of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody.
Paris City Council member Benny Plata submitted his resignation at a special meeting Tuesday.
Mayor Steve Clifford called the meeting to censure Plata after the council member messaged a protester, “Why don’t you leave America if it’s so bad,” The Paris News reported.
Plata said he really cares about the city and was responding to one person berating America.
Paris is a city of about 25,000 residents about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northeast of Dallas.
PHILADELPHIA — Explosions have hit 50 cash machines in and near Philadelphia since the weekend in a coordinated effort to steal them or take the money inside, authorities said Wednesday.
A 25-year-old who’s accused of selling homemade dynamite on the streets with instructions on how to use it on ATMs has been arrested, though authorities aren’t yet sure whether the man is connected to the coordinated effort, the state attorney general said.
One theft resulted in the death of a 24-year-old man hours after he tried to break into an ATM early Tuesday, authorities said.
More than a thousand people demonstrated peacefully for several hours on Tuesday night in Philadelphia to protest the killing of George Floyd. Cash machines in other cities also have been stolen from or damaged since civil unrest struck the nation after Floyd died on Memorial Day.
After years of people bemoaning the state of San Francisco, a city stifled by skyrocketing rent prices and overrun by tech-worker drones decked out in matching Patagonia vests, new data suggests that change could become.
Zumper, the San Francisco–based apartment-rental site, just released its latest rent figures and, according to CEO Anthemos Georgiades, the “price drops are unprecedented” in the seven-plus years the company has published rent reports. “All this talk of people leaving S.F. for a future of remote work is now backed up by hard data.”
Georgiades isn’t being hyperbolic. Per Zumper’s report, one-bedroom rents in S.F. fell 9.2 percent year over year in May, the largest S.F. drop ever in the history of the company’s monthly reports and the lowest price point in over three years. The average price for a one-bedroom in S.F. stands at $3,360; it was at $3,700 the same time last year.
The plummeting numbers fell even further down in Silicon Valley.
In Mountain View, home to Google, the price for a one-bedroom home dropped 15.9 percent in consecutive years in May. Facebook’s home of Menlo Park saw a 14.1 percent tumble, while Cupertino and Palo Alto, home to Apple and Tesla, saw prices plunge 14.3 percent and 10.8 percent, respectively.
Georgiades says that these rent drops may be even higher than the company’s published data, “since some landlords conceal price drops in ‘lease specials’ like six weeks of free rent to move in.”
A cursory glance on Craigslist reveals major price cuts, with landlords all but begging you to sign a lease: “Newly Reduced Rate” reads the headline for a new East Cut studio offering eight free weeks, while this contemporary SoMa loft dangles ten weeks of rent-free living to interested takers.
“I’ve never seen anybody giving that much free rent as an incentive the whole time I’ve lived here, since 2003,” Bay Area property manager and landlord Carlos Carbajal tells KQED.
Several factors are at play: There’s a widespread hiring freeze; mass layoffs have hit the Bay Area’s tech industry; some have suggested Airbnb rentals now being listed as homes could be a cause (Note: an Airbnb spokesperson tells Curbed, “We have more listings and hosts on the platform today than we did on Jan. 1.”); and many tech giants in the Bay Area, like Facebook and Google, have told their remaining employees to work from home until the end of the year. San Francisco’s Twitter and Square went even further, telling most of their workforce they can work remotely permanently.
Not everyone is convinced that this much-needed rent-price slump has staying power. After all, these unprecedented figures are due to anomalous times brought on by a global pandemic.
“I wouldn’t be so fast,” Kim-Mai Cutler, partner at Initialized Capital and vocal housing advocate, wrote on Twitter. “I definitely see a lot of movement right now because it doesn’t make sense to be in a closed-down city through the summer. But once things open up or the pandemic passes in 1-3 years, there will be a lot of good deals/prices, possible energy to come back.”
While this price drop is refreshing to hear, it isn’t good news for everyone, especially in East Bay cities. The drops in rent, according to Zumper, were hardly noticeable in Berkeley, where it dipped less than one percent, and in Oakland, rent prices for a one-bedroom went up 4.9 percent. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Georgiades speculated that the East Bay may become even more attractive post-coronavirus among Silicon Valley employees who want to stay in the Bay Area but don’t feel the need to live close to their corporate campuses.”
As for San Francisco returning to a city where trust-fund-free dwellers get by on a café job plus whatever cut they get from playing Bottom of the Hill? Don’t count on it. San Francisco still remains the most expensive market in the country, ahead of New York City, Boston, and San Jose, which all had negative year-over-year changes for their respective one-bedroom rents.
Former US president Barack Obama on Wednesday applauded the "profound" protests by Americans demanding racial justice and said demonstrations over last week's killing of a black man in police custody could spark nationwide reforms.
In his first video comments since George Floyd's death on May 25 in Minneapolis triggered unrest across the country, President Donald Trump's predecessor also urged state and local authorities to review their policies on the use of force.
Obama directed his comments at young black men and women who he says have often witnessed or experienced too much violence.
"Too often some of that violence has come from folks who were supposed to be serving and protecting you," Obama said in a webcast with activists.
"I want you to know that you matter. I want you to know that your lives matter, your dreams matter."
He also said that in the last few weeks, Americans have witnessed "the kinds of epic changes and events in our country that are as profound as anything that I've seen in my lifetime."
The 58-year-old, who remains popular among Democrats, noted the deadly upheaval of the 1960s civil rights movement and said "a far more representative cross-section of America" is protesting now than as compared to half a century ago.
"There is a change in mindset that's taking place, a greater recognition that we can do better," Obama said.
Young protesters, in particular, have been galvanized, he said, and their motivation could serve as inspiration for broader change.
An autopsy report has been released confirming George Floyd died from a cardiac arrest which was complicated by "law enforcement subdual."
The report, released by Hennepin County also adds Mr Floyd, 46, tested positive for coronavirus.
It says he died of "cardiopulmonary arrest complicated by law enforcement subdual" which means which the cardiac arrest made the cop's restraint more lethal.
The final diagnosis says: "a 46-year-old man who became unresponsive while being restrained by law enforcement officers; he received emergency medical care in the field and subsequently in the Hennepin HealthCare (HHC) EmergencyDepartment, but could not be resuscitated."
This comes after an autopsy ordered by the family of George Floyd found he was killed by depriving the body of oxygen that was caused by “neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain”.

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