In summary

Elected officials are zeroing in on mental health reform, as well as gun control, as voters show increasing concern on crime and homelessness.

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“We are living in a very fragile moment, a very fragile moment in our society where the issues of mental health are becoming ever more prominent.”

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg made those comments Monday, a day after California’s capital city experienced its worst mass shooting in history and the country’s deadliest so far this year. Police have arrested two suspects, brothers, so far.

Although it’s unclear whether mental illness was a factor in the shooting that killed six and injured 12, Steinberg said, “I hope that this is the time where mental health gets elevated from an issue that no one frankly would ever talk about or work on to an issue that dominates the legislative session.”

Indeed, the press conference at which Steinberg spoke — one to promote Democratic state Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman of Stockton’s sweeping package of bills to reform California’s behavioral health system — was the latest indication that elected officials are zeroing in on mental health as voters show increasing concern about crime and homelessness and grapple with the enduring trauma of the pandemic.

  • Eggman’s eight-bill package would, among other things, allow courts to order medications as part of treatment plans for severely mentally ill and disabled Californians; establish an online dashboard showing available beds in psychiatric, crisis stabilization, mental health and alcohol or drug abuse recovery facilities; and create a regional strategy for developing behavioral health infrastructure.
  • Eggman and some of the mayors of California’s 13 largest cities who spoke at the press conference emphasized that the proposals complement Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to develop a framework for courts to force people with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders into treatment.
  • Also Monday, lawmakers sent to Newsom’s desk a bill that would establish quality standards for substance-use treatment programs and require those facilities to enact a client’s bill of rights ensuring safe and ethical treatment.
  • Local governments are also placing more emphasis on mental health: Many law enforcement agencies are incorporating behavioral health clinicians into their 911 response, and San Francisco is rapidly hiring public health workers to help manage its ongoing drug overdose crisis.

Learn more about legislators mentioned in this story

Susan Talamantes Eggman

Susan Talamantes Eggman

State Senate, District 5 (Stockton)

Susan Talamantes Eggman

State Senate, District 5 (Stockton)

How she voted 2021-2022
Liberal Conservative
District 5 Demographics

Voter Registration

Dem 44%
GOP 26%
No party 22%
Campaign Contributions

Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman has taken at least $1.3 million from the Party sector since she was elected to the legislature. That represents 21% of her total campaign contributions.

For many Californians, the Sacramento mass shooting exemplified the ways in which the state’s various crises can collide. Among the six victims identified Monday by the coroner’s office was Melinda Davis, a 57-year-old homeless woman.

  • Steinberg told the Sacramento Bee: “The homeless themselves are victimized in more ways than any of us who are concerned or complain about the larger social condition. Here is an innocent person who was unsheltered or homeless who lost her life. If this tragedy compels us to work even harder to get more people indoors, then her memory will be a blessing.”

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The coronavirus bottom line: As of Thursday, California had 8,494,005 confirmed cases (+0.05% from previous day) and 88,207 deaths (+0.1% from previous day), according to state data now updated just twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

California has administered 72,844,876 vaccine doses, and 74.5% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated.

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1. Will shooting spark more gun control?

A memorial for the victims of the mass shooting in Sacramento near the Starbucks on L Street and 10th Street. April 4, 2022. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters
A memorial for the victims of the mass shooting in Sacramento on April 4, 2022. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters

The Sacramento mass shooting has also prompted Democratic lawmakers to double down on a package of gun control bills making its way through the Legislature. Today, a key committee is slated to consider a controversial proposal — sponsored by Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta — that co-opts the structure of Texas’ abortion ban by giving private citizens the right to sue firearm makers and sellers who violate certain state gun laws. Democratic legislators are also planning a press conference today to tout the bills’ ability to help end California’s “scourge of gun violence.”

In a Monday appearance on Fresno talk radio station KMJ, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert — one of the candidates challenging Bonta for attorney general — was asked if California needs more gun laws. Schubert, a longtime Republican who re-registered as an independent in 2018, noted that the Golden State already has the country’s strictest gun laws. Still, she appeared open to additional measures.

  • Schubert: “That doesn’t mean there’s not opportunities to do more.  Listen, I’m an advocate for doing everything we can to deal with ghost guns. … We don’t want those guns, or any guns, in the hands of people that shouldn’t have them.”

2. San Diego eyes more eviction protections

Aerial view above Hillcrest neighborhood with downtown San Diego on the background. Photo by Thomas De Wever via iStock
An aerial view of the Hillcrest neighborhood with downtown San Diego on the background. Photo by Thomas De Wever via iStock

Amid concerns that tens of thousands of California renters are still at risk of eviction despite recently extended statewide protections for some tenants, the San Diego City Council voted 5-1 Monday to block landlords from removing tenants if they want to take their property off the market or make significant repairs. Under the moratorium, which requires another council vote to become law, landlords will have to wait to do so until 60 days after the local COVID state of emergency ends or Sept. 30, whichever happens first, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. However, landlords would still be able to evict tenants if they or a closely related family member want to move in. While some tenant advocates applauded the moratorium, it was opposed by some landlord groups, including the California Apartment Association, according to the Union-Tribune.

In other California housing news:

3. California climate updates

Cattle graze as California’s Tamarack fire burned amid drought conditions and gusty winds in 2021. Photo by Ty O’Neil, SOPA Images/Sipa USA

Three indications climate was California’s word of the day on Monday:

  • The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, which advises state lawmakers, previewed today’s release of six reports assessing climate change’s implications for California’s economy, health, education, transportation and more: “Addressing the widespread impacts of climate change represents a significant challenge for the state, and one that will increasingly occupy the Legislature’s agenda in the coming years,” the office wrote. “For example, in 2021, California experienced its hottest average summer temperatures, its second largest wildfire and its third driest year on record.”
  • The Newsom administration unveiled a new interactive website for California’s climate adaptation strategy, which under state law must be updated every three years. For the first time, Californians can track the state’s progress in meeting deadlines and success metrics for nearly 150 key actions under the umbrella of six priority themes, the administration said.
  • And a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that while it’s unlikely countries will be able to keep the planet from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030 “without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors,” there are nevertheless “significant opportunities” to slash emissions in half by 2030. That could galvanize California, which the Newsom administration has described as “an international leader” in combatting climate change, to consider even bolder actions.

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CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: A California water war peace treaty? More like a partial and perhaps temporary ceasefire.

Recharging California’s battery disposal program: Our proposal would require manufacturers to develop a collection program for batteries and rechargeable devices, helping reduce toxic exposure risk, write Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman of Brea and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin of Camarillo.

Other things worth your time

Sacramento County supervisors ‘abandoned’ public health during COVID-19 crisis, grand jury finds. // Sacramento Bee

Op-Ed: California online notaries have been behind the curve. // Capitol Weekly

With students in turmoil, California teachers train in mental health. // Associated Press

L.A. ranks as one of deadliest cities for rappers, according to data analysis. // L.A. Taco

The number of 911 calls from one S.F. McDonald’s underscores a crisis in the fast-food world. // San Francisco Chronicle

S.F.’s original homelessness czar has a new gig with a fast-rising local nonprofit. // The Frisc

Op-Ed: Why won’t UC clinics serve patients with Medi-Cal? // Los Angeles Times

California has new benefits for undocumented immigrants. They’re not enough, workers say. // CalMatters

Thousands of Californians could be due a tax refund from 2018. // Sacramento Bee

Oakland Unified gets budget oversight reprieve. // EdSource

These are the ultra-wealthy donors pouring money into the Chesa Boudin recall battle. // San Francisco Chronicle

Ron Galperin’s city controller office steeped in racial discrimination, say former employees. // Knock LA

How a California lawyer became a focal point of the Jan. 6 investigation. // Los Angeles Times

Judge orders L.A. sheriff to testify about deputy gangs. // Courthouse News

Little-known civil liberties group tests limits of free speech at San Diego State University. // San Diego Union-Tribune

Elon Musk takes surprise 9% stake in Twitter, sending shares higher. // Wall Street Journal

Senate Bill 917 wants to create an all-agency Bay Area transit pass, but is facing headwinds. // Mercury News

Ports of L.A., Long Beach launch port truck fee after years of planning. // Daily News

How climate change is making valley fever worse. // Los Angeles Times

I’m a scientist in California. Here’s what worries me most about drought. // New York Times

S.F. usually has good air quality. So why are sensors detecting such high pollution in this one area? // San Francisco Chronicle

Kanye West drops out of Coachella, no Travis Scott performance. // TMZ

How L.A. got hooked on Adderall. // Los Angeles Magazine

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...