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tv   NBC Bay Area News Special Reality Check  NBC  February 8, 2016 12:00am-12:31am PST

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[music] sam brock: you're watching an nbc bay area news special, "reality check," tonight: female: this represents all people who have been forced out of their homes, out of their communities, in this city. sam: a wave of evictions in san francisco and a storm of protests over a decades old law, the ellis act. a state senator has a plan to fix it, but will the bill turn the tide on one of san francisco's biggest problems? plus: male: we have several down at-- sam: domestic terrorism in southern california, stoking fears and claims about a rising number of mass shootings. but what do the numbers say? we make sense of the mound of data tracking the violence. then...pumping up the state's transportation purse strings. falling gas prices have taken the air out of gas tax revenues.
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we explore the governor's plan to refill on fees driven by your pocketbook. finally: male: get the [bleep] out. sam: a viral beating, and now a legal u-turn as an uber rider beats up his driver, then sues him for filming without permission. cracking california's two-party consent law could be the key to this bizarre case. we ask the experts and get to the truth in tonight's "reality check." sam: and a good evening. thank you very much for joining us for this special edition of "reality check." i'm sam brock. tonight, for the next 30 minutes, we dive into the stories dominating news headlines and fact check the claims concerning your neighborhoods and everyday lives. we'll rely on hard data and expert analysis to separate the truth from the bunk. and what better place to start than in san francisco with housing? or for many city goers, a loss of their housing. rising rents and low supply have made conditions tough to begin
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with, but a rash of evictions has some residents claiming that a long-standing state law is being used as a vehicle to kick them out. it's called the ellis act. we look at whether the efforts to amend that law will actually work. theresa flandrich: and his family's been here since 1966. sam: it's just one city block. theresa: i've always called it a village. sam: but for theresa flandrich, who's lived here for decades, this little strip in north beach tells a fuller story of tenant evictions. twenty-two people displaced on this block in just the last two years. theresa: this represents all people who have been forced out of their homes, out of their communities in this city. sam: flandrich is staring at an ellis act eviction herself, looming this month, after 3 years of legal battles. san franciscans have fought the ellis act both in the streets. all: stop the evictions! sam: and up the stairs of city hall.
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it's a decades old california law, created to protect landlords looking to get out of the rental business. under the ellis act, landlords can evict tenants, so long as they provide up to a year notification, compensate renters, and agree not to re-rent to units at market rate. mark leno: really a stick in the eye to the ellis act. sam: state senator mark leno says property owners are taking advantage of the law, selling their buildings to so-called real estate speculators looking to make a quick buck. mark: it's making a mockery of a law that was created as a right for landlords, being abused in a very cynical way. sam: leno's proposal? sb364, which would require buyers to own a property for 5 years before they can evict tenants. that could prove to be a critical number. research from the anti-eviction mapping project bolsters leno's case. between 2009 and 2013, there were about 700
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ellis act evictions. roughly 1 out of 2 happened within 1 year of new ownership. almost 4 our of 5 evictions occurred within 5 years. so, would leno's measure pump the breaks on evictions? opponents of the reform bill, like the california apartment association, say it might, but at what cost to small time landlords? debra carlton: if we can find a way to define what mr. leno likes to call a speculator from the small mom and pop who really just either needs to get out of the business or wants to move into their property, let's do that. he hasn't done that yet. sam: we found leno's proposal does protect the mom and pops. according to the text of the bill, those with, quote, "no more than two properties or four total residential units" are exempt from the 5-year requirement. the california apartment association says 16 units would make more sense as a cut-off. the reality? the topic of ellis act evictions remains highly controversial in san francisco.
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its fate will likely be decided in the coming months. sam: this community is over a century old, or about a century old. theresa: yes, at least. sam: the same time theresa flandrich must leave her home in north beach. theresa: this is the core, the tradition of north beach, of a community. and it is a huge, huge loss for all of us. sam: and the california association of realtors is the richest and most active opponent of senator leno's bill. now, the group tells us san francisco already has the tightest rules to protect tenants in the entire state, and that's true. it also says leno's bill would discourage investment in san francisco's rental housing market. that might be true, but here's a fact. six state senators voted against this bill in committee, killing leno's previous attempt to introduce it, and all six received money from the california association of realtors. staying on this topic and turning to growing demand for
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housing, this time in oakland. the city council there just clenched its plans for a brand-new complex, apartments and retail. but critics say this kind of project is a band-aid, not a long term solution. they believe building for the future means building homes, not apartments. so, we looked at the trends and who's looking for that housing to see if their argument has any merit. female: and so, the primary motion, in terms of what is noticed, is adopted with the vote of 8 ayes. sam: overwhelming approval by the oakland city council for a new mixed used development project smack dab in the middle of the city's uptown. the project will pump out 234 new housing units, mostly market rate, but some affordable options, too, along with retail stores. it's all walking distance to bart and oakland's famed auto run. rachel o'dwyer flynn: we have plenty of demand and we're trying to get more supply. so, this was one way to expedite the process and get developers building.
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sam: city leaders like rachel o'dwyer flynn praise the future building at 2330 webster street part of a broader plan to carve out more room in a housing market that's squeezed residents with rising rents. the median home price in oakland has almost doubled in just 5 years. rents have grown by 50% in that time. ralph mclaughlin: at this point in the affordability crisis in the bay area, all new housing is good new housing. you can certainly split hairs about the types that get built, but we're in such low supply for all housing types that any housing is good housing. sam: but a chorus of critics is singing a different tune, stoking fear that the units in this building, all one and two bedrooms, are just a quick fix. they say, "more available housing? yes, but what happens when new, younger residents want to expand and start families?" truly, as chief economist ralph mclaughlin says, that's not an issue in the near term,
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based on the data that he's seeing. ralph: the mid-30s now is the new mid-20s for getting married and having kids. they're doing it later in life. so, new households who move into that area probably won't be looking to move out very quickly to start families. sam: mclaughlin highlights another trend popping up in research. people want to be closer to work and closer to transportation. in the middle of a major city, that's achieved through denser housing. rachel: otherwise, you promote sprawl, and the less dense you build, where you're gonna have to build somewhere else and keep going further out. the whole point of an urban setting is to maximize density where you have the transit, and that's what these plans are about. sam: there are downsides to developments like the one approved from the broadway/valdez area too. for one, more people typically means more traffic, and that's not all. ralph: there's a possibility that prices could, you know, rise in the area if it gentrifies. and while that's good for existing homeowners, if rents
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also rise, that's actually not great for existing residents. sam: well, for comparison's sake, if you built the same amount of housing in single family homes, that would require much more viable land, land that's not really available thanks to the region's fault lines and hillsides. plus, apartment complexes typically include a requirement of 15% affordable units. there's not a similar rule for new homes. we're just getting started right now. coming up next, from homes to horrifying scenes of mass violence. male: a shooting, she's scared, she's hiding in a closet with two other people. sam: mass shootings in america. they darken our television screens on a far too regular basis, but are they actually on the rise? there's a library of data. we read up on the numbers to find out what story they tell. plus: male: i'm kicking you out. male: get the [bleep] out. sam: the shocking beating of an uber driver goes viral,
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but now the rider is the one suing for millions. we look into his case for a payday as the courts examine a new precedent for privacy and protection.
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-lois pricese. [ifrom grocery outlet. - hi, it's... the rest of us! - hey there. - hi! - hey. loifor over 60 years now, grocery outlet has been selling the brands you know and love, for up to 60% less than what you'd pay at traditional grocery stores. - and check this out. announcer: right now, granny goose potato chips are buy two, get one free! - and we've got a really catchy theme song.
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hit it! - ♪ grocery outlet bargain market ♪ - ♪ bargain market ... now it's stuck in my head. k. one mass shooting is one too many. recent tragedies like the attack in san bernardino continue to shock the public conscience and to prop pivotal questions about how often these violent attacks are taking place. our eyes and our hearts tell us they're happening at an increasing rate. the numbers tell a slightly different story. male: so, we have several down at-- sam: devastation in southern california. male: she just said there was a shooting, she's scared, she's hiding in a closet with two other people. sam: and another mass shooting added to america's tally. female: they turned out the lights and tried to block the door and lock it. sam: these horrific attacks have stoked fear that mass shooting incidents are becoming all too common in the u.s.
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but do the numbers confirm that fear? the answer really depends on how you define mass shooting. the fbi studied the history of active shooters, defined as anyone, quote, "actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area." by fbi standards, the u.s. suffered 160 such incidents between 2000 and 2013. but the study found there were many more shootings in the second half of that time period, 2 1/2 times more shootings. by now, you've almost certainly seen the shooting tracker study, identifying more mass shootings in 2015 than there are days in the year, but shooting tracker has the broadest definition of a mass shooting. it includes gang and domestic violence and no minimum number of deaths. "mother jones magazine" might have the most discriminating criteria. the publication only counts shootings that take place in a public setting where the primary motive is mass murder.
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"mother jones" found 38 incidents in the past decade, more than in the 2 previous decades combined. robert weisberg: and i think there's some evidence that indiscriminate act of killings have gone up. sam: robert weisberg, co-director of stanford's criminal justice center, still cautions that the numbers aren't that telling. robert: i don't think they represent a humongous percentage of american deaths, and i think it doesn't show that americans are more vulnerable to being killed, you know, in murders than they were 20 years ago 'cause that's simply not true. sam: and he's right. using the loosest definition of mass shootings, those deaths account for 1.5% of all firearm homicides in the u.s. the gun murder rate in this country has been declining for decades, and today's mass shootings conversations don't factor in another critical element. robert: that the increase in the number of killings in that category is still not that large relative to population growth. in fact, it may, as you just say, wash out.
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sam: all that being said, make no mistake, compared to the rest of the world, we're still in a league of our own when it comes to gun violence. david johnson: you know, i talk to my foreign law enforcement counterparts and, you know, they don't understand how something like this could happen on fairly frequent basis in the united states. no pun intended, but it's foreign to them. sam: and the bottom line here when it comes to mass shootings, the numbers and the trends vary greatly, depending on which set of criteria you're looking at. but there's a larger issue at hand here and a reality that's undeniable. the u.s. still has more gun-related deaths per 100,000 people than any other developed nation on the planet, and no one else is even in our stratosphere. coming up next, another policy issue puzzling california lawmakers. how do we pay for our roads? falling gas prices have certainly helped drivers,
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but drained state revenues. that means sacramento might try filling up from your wallets. and right now, you probably have no idea how. plus: male: i think is an unresolved area of law where there's--it's not clear how much protection extends to audiovisual recording, either under the 1st amendment or under the california statutes. sam: a beating caught on camera and a lawsuit made very public, but the shocking suit is the one the uber rider is filing against the driver he beat up. the reason this case could carve up this understanding of california's two-party consent law.
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moving into the red at the pump. as californians use more fuel efficient cars and gas prices continue to drop, governor brown is sounding the alarm on falling gas tax revenues. he's talked about switching to a mileage-based program docking
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you for the number of miles that you drive. but while that test program is grabbing all the headlines, it's actually new fees that could have you shelling out more money and soon. jerry brown: but one way or another, the roads must be fixed. sam: driving into a new year, and governor brown has already hit a speed bump. the state's transportation budget is strapped for cash. at least, that's what the administration claims. here's how much california's gas tax revenues have actually generated, according to the nonpartisan legislative analyst's office. a peak of $5.5 billion 2 years ago, $5.4 billion last year, and revenues are expected to dip to $4.4 billion by 2017. that's a loss of about $1 billion, largely because half of california's gas tax revenues are tied directly to gas prices, which continue to fall. now, here's governor brown. jerry: that means, at some point sooner rather than later,
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we have to bite the bullet and enact new fees and taxes for this purpose. sam: the governor's office has talked a lot about testing out a mileage program, docking drivers based on how much they drive. but here's what's actually proposed in the budget for this year: $65 more per driver per car in registration fees, pending legislative approval. that's a fee that's expected to drum up at least $2 billion, or double what california is projected to lose. female: i was not aware of that fee at all. female: we have to work harder to pay that kind of fee. sam: while you might be irked at the idea of an added fee, clean energy expert dan kammen at berkeley says now is the idea time to kickstart this conversation. dan kammen: what the dip in taxes highlights for me is the need to find new revenues, but because we still have significant revenues from the gas tax, it's the perfect time. sam: kammen says you can roll out a new vehicle tax like
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brown's current proposal, or use a mileage program, since both systems affect all drivers. the key, he adds, is to make the process tailored to promote cleaner fuel. dan: so, you're driving an electric vehicle, perhaps you pay the lowest fee. if you're in a gas hybrid vehicle, it's a little bit higher. if you're in a regular gas-powered vehicle, perhaps it's in the highest category. and that's something which is no more difficult to manage than things we're already used to doing. sam: and here's something that's pretty amazing. california leads the nation in electric vehicles, and they're still only a tiny percentage of the cars on the road. now, that's going to change, further drying up gas tax revenues. eventually, we're gonna have to switch our formula for raising transportation money, and there are several good options before lawmakers. but that whopper of a registration fee that could be coming down the pike a year from now, california voters once booted a governor out of office for a very similar hike. coming up next, quite the legal whiplash.
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first, an uber driver is attacked by a drunk passenger. now he's being sued by the same person. we take a look at the merits of a $5 million case and whether or not it's legal to film inside of your uber ride.
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and it was all caught on camera. now, an uber rider, initially apologetic, has made a legal u-turn. that man is suing the driver for $5 million claiming any recording without his consent violates his rights. this is a case that likely hinges on california law and the idea of two-party consent. but you might not have to consent if there's no expectation of privacy in the first place. male: get the [bleep] out. sam: viral violence. male: yeah? sam: and now a shocking lawsuit, as an uber rider, a former taco bell executive, sues his driver, edward caban,
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for allegedly filming him without his permission. the punishment sought $5 million and the argument likely hinges on just how private a court thinks your uber ride really is. jud campbell: so, a reasonable expectation of privacy is determined by the totality of the circumstances. sam: jud campbell is executive director of stanford's constitutional law center. he says the totality in this case includes where the video was recorded, who else was around, and whether caban made it clear the rider, ben golden, was on camera. courts haven't ruled on this kind of privacy issue before, and even uber riders are conflicted. cam huard: because it is somebody else's car, it's not uber's car. it's the own private driver's car, so i don't think you should expect any privacy when you sign up for getting in an uber. karishma jadeja: i would not mind, perhaps, my privacy being invaded if it's helping, sort of, a greater good, or helping my life, or anyone in that situation potentially.
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sam: we reached out to uber, which doesn't have a formal position on cameras in cars. the company tells us that drivers, who are independent contractors, have to follow local laws and disclosure is on them. caban's attorney, rivers j. morrell, says his client did tell golden he was on camera, but regardless, he said, it's, quote, "what [golden] did on the video, not what he said on the audio, that got him in trouble." and morrell claims california's two-party consent law doesn't cover video. is that true? jud: there's been one court in california that decided that silent video is a communication under the two-party consent law, and another appellate court decided that it wasn't. sam: a divided court history further clouds golden's efforts to get that cash. if he clears the hurdles of privacy and video, he acted violently, behavior that might render this entire conversation moot. jud: but i can see a judge going the direction of saying,
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"once you are aggressive towards a driver, the driver has the capacity to defend him or herself by engaging in audiovisual recording. sam: we reached out to golden's attorney and haven't heard back. bottom line, while the outcome in this case is unclear, there are far more ways golden can lose the lawsuit than win it. sam: and while we're talking about him, it should be noted the rider, ben golden, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery. this was back in november when the event happened. he's also being sued by the driver, edward caban, for $25,000 in damages. we're gonna continue to follow this case and bring you updates as it unfolds. if you'd like to see more in-depth stories like these, please visit our web page, we examine issues every day that affect you, so go ahead and send us your tips by e-mail to
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that does it for this special edition of "reality check." and remember, you can always check out our segments every week which air on nbc bay area news at 6 o'clock. that's gonna do it for us tonight. thank you so much for watching. we hope you have a great night. [music] cc by aberdeen captioning 1-800-688-6621
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-lois pricese. [ifrom grocery outlet. - hi, it's... the rest of us! - hey there. - hi! - hey. loifor over 60 years now, grocery outlet has been selling the brands you know and love, for up to 60% less than what you'd pay at traditional grocery stores. - and check this out. announcer: right now, granny goose potato chips are buy two, get one free! - and we've got a really catchy theme song. hit it! - ♪ grocery outlet bargain market ♪ - ♪ bargain market ... now it's stuck in my head.
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i'm sara gore and this is "open house." watch an amazing transformation as an old garden shed is turned into a fabulous new backyard entertaining space. get decor ideas from the design duo behind aphrochic. but first, an idyllic estate in connecticut with artfully designed interiors and lush landscaping. in designing the landscaping, we treated the outdoors as though it were another room, an extension of the house, which it always should be. [theme music playing] welcome to "open house." an estate with its fair share of bucolic beauty, our first property in connecticut really stands out. this idyllic ridgefield estate sits on 30 acres of park-like lawn, mature trees, and serene ponds.


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