In summary

State of emergency declared for Los Angeles County because of George Floyd protests. Proposition 13 initiatives qualifies for November ballot.

Good morning, California. It’s Monday, June 1.

Peaceful protests give way to weekend violence

A crowd kneels with their hands up facing a police line during a demonstration Downtown Oakland on May 29, 2020. Thousands took to the streets Friday night in solidarity with protesters in Minneapolis against the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police earlier this week. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
A crowd kneels with their hands up facing a police line during a demonstration in downtown Oakland on May 29. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

There are now two official states of emergency in California — one statewide due to the coronavirus pandemic and one in Los Angeles County in response to protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police a week ago today.

Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed Los Angeles to be in a state of emergency shortly before midnight Saturday, deploying members of the National Guard to help the county respond to arson, looting, vandalism and violent clashes between protesters and police.

As peaceful daytime protests gave way to violent night disruptions across California over the weekend, urban centers like Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica instituted curfews — some starting as early as 1 p.m. and others lasting indefinitely. Nevertheless, protests — some violent — continued in a number of cities on Sunday night.

  • Newsom in a Saturday statement: “There are indications that violent actors may be attempting to use these protests for their own agendas. To those who seek to exploit Californians’ pain to sow chaos and destruction, you are not welcome.”

The extent of the damage incurred on Saturday night — both fiscal and personal — is unclear but clearly staggering. A federal officer was shot and killed in Oakland. Protestors and police were injured. One San Francisco jeweler whose business was looted said, “I can’t put a dollar estimate on it. My wife is devastated. She’s been here since 1991. She built this over almost 30 years.”

Sunday saw community members and leaders gather in cities across the state to clean up broken glass, scrub away graffiti, fix broken doors and support business owners facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage and stolen merchandise on top of losses incurred by the coronavirus pandemic.


The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Sunday night, California had 103,866 confirmed coronavirus cases and 3,904 deaths from the virus, according to a CalMatters tracker.

Also: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. And we’re tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

Other stories you should know

1. High-profile measure to amend Prop. 13 qualifies for November ballot

Three-quarters of ballots mailed to Californians had yet to be returned as of the day before Election Day. Photo illustration by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
Photo illustration by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

One of California’s highest-profile ballot initiatives qualified for the November ballot Friday, just a week after another prominent measure did the same. The initiative would amend Prop. 13, the landmark 1978 measure that capped property taxes, by nixing its protections for commercial property owners. Businesses would thus pay property taxes based on their current market value, raising as much as $12 billion for public schools, community colleges and local governments. Exempted from the proposed change: agricultural properties and owners of commercial and industrial properties with a combined value of $3 million or less.

In an April poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, 53% of likely voters supported the idea, while 47% were opposed.

  • San Francisco Mayor London Breed: “Any local official will have a tough time explaining to their constituents why, in the midst of this crisis, they didn’t support closing corporate tax loopholes to bring more resources back locally for our schools and local communities.”
  • California Business Roundtable President Rob Lapsley: “We are going to have the largest tax increase in California history at exactly the wrong time in our economy to be able to afford it.”

2. Newsom: Counties can move through phase 3 reopening at own pace

A masked server speaks with guests at Ristorante Allegria in Downtown Napa on May 22, 2020. The bustling restaurant has been busy since reopening their dining room and patio earlier this week. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
A masked server speaks with guests at Ristorante Allegria in downtown Napa on May 22. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Counties can decide for themselves how quickly to move through the third phase of reopening, which includes higher-risk businesses like nail salons, gyms and fitness centers, Newsom said Friday. However, the counties still have to follow the state’s reopening guidelines for those businesses — slated to be released this week — and are not allowed to reopen phase 4 businesses like nightclubs, concerts and conventions.

  • Newsom: “The state puts out the guidelines by sector on how to safely reopen. It’s the counties, working with their health director, that can determine the pace of when. The state is not dictating, not mandating, those dates.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court refused Friday to strike down Newsom’s stay-at-home order about religious gatherings, after hearing arguments in a case that San Diego’s South Bay Pentecostal Church brought against the governor. Nevertheless, some California churches held large Pentecost services Sunday in violation of the order, which caps services at 25% of building capacity or 100 people, whichever is lower.

3. Twelve hours inside a Los Angeles restaurant amid the pandemic

Edson Romero, 34, works in the kitchen at Sage Bistro. Photo by Nigel Duara for CalMatters

Spend twelve hours in a restaurant like CalMatters reporter Nigel Duara did, and you’ll get a good sense for how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting Californians of all stripes. Although it’s deepened the economic divisions between owners, managers and minimum-wage employees, everyone is taking a hit. Twenty-five percent of California restaurants aren’t expected to survive in an industry that employs 1.4 million people. Restaurants are struggling to find sustainable business models when they can’t fill dining rooms to capacity due to social distancing requirements.

  • Mollie Englehart, owner of Sage Bistro in Los Angeles: “I’d like to bring everybody back to work, but I can’t have more than 10 people in one place. I understand that if you lost someone to COVID, what I’m about to say is going to sound terrible, but we’ve flattened the curve. We’ve more than flattened the curve. What is the endgame?”

4. Newsom on humility, Trump and guiding California through coronavirus

In the lengthiest interview he’s given since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Newsom opened up to California Sunday Magazine about the scramble to understand what was going on in the early days of the virus, his back-and-forth relationship with President Donald Trump and trying to meet the needs of 40 million residents amid an unprecedented crisis.

A word that comes up frequently in the interview is “humility.”

  • Newsom: “There’s a humility because of your own feeling of inadequacy to meet everybody’s needs. What comes at you every single day is a deep overwhelm, and every day you feel that way. It’s like a coral reef. It keeps amassing on top of each other. So every day becomes even more challenging than the next, because you realize you still have to attend to last week’s work.”
  • “What I’ve learned is that what I don’t know now is exponentially greater than what I thought I did know four or five weeks ago. Every day, I’m humbled by what I don’t know about this virus.”

CalMatters virtual events

Thursday at 10 a.m.: CalMatters and the Milken Institute host “The Future of Work: The Education-to-Employment Pipeline,” a discussion on how the state plans to cultivate a 21st-century workforce in a post-COVID landscape. Speakers include Eloy Oakley, chancellor of the California Community Colleges, state Sen. Connie Levya, a Chino Democrat, and Lance Hastings, president of the California Manufacturing and Technology Association. Register here.

CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: The COVID-19 recession has put the ambitious plans of Newsom and legislators in the deep freeze — probably at least until mid-decade.

Governor making it harder for businesses: By expanding the conditions for which employees can get workers’ comp benefits for COVID-19 claims, Newsom imposed an unfair burden on employers, writes Clint Olivier, executive director of Central Valley Business Federation.

Gap year drawbacks: A gap year in uncertain times delays the longer-term investment higher education helps students make in their personal and professional lives, argues Vincent J. Del Casino Jr., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at San Jose State University.

Importance of interpreters: Lawmakers need to fix state law to safeguard the ability of professional translators and interpreters, more than 75% of whom are independent contractors, to work in California, write José García, certified health care interpreter, and Lorena Ortiz Schneider, a skilled linguist.

Every prison employee is a frontline worker: Leaders need to consider prisons — especially prison staff — in the ongoing public health response to COVID-19, write Naomi Sugie, Keramet Reiter and Kristin Turney, UC Irvine professors.

Faulty market design of cap-and-trade program: Rather than pretend everything is fine, the Air Resources Board should reform its cap-and-trade program to deliver more stable outcomes, argues Danny Cullenward, a Stanford Law lecturer.

Other things worth your time

Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on patriotism and protests. // The Atlantic

Here’s who California is tapping to fill the ranks of its coronavirus tracing army. // KQED

After 100,000 coronavirus cases, it’s clearer where Californians are getting infected. // Mercury News

Schools say public health officials, not school districts, need to take the lead on setting up coronavirus testing and tracing of students and staff. // Los Angeles Times

San Francisco requires everyone to wear masks if they’re passing within 30 feet of each other. // San Francisco Chronicle

Striking photos from across the state as it begins to enter the third phase of reopening. // Los Angeles Times

Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket docks with the International Space Station Sunday. // Los Angeles Times

Section 230, the internet free speech law Trump wants to change, explained. // Recode


See you tomorrow.

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Emily Hoeven wrote the daily WhatMatters newsletter for three years at CalMatters . Her reporting, essays, and opinion columns have been published in San Francisco Weekly, the Deseret News, the San Francisco...