Bay Briefing: The pandemic brought them off the street, into hotels. Now they can’t stay

Good morning, Bay Area. It’s Thursday, Oct. 29, and if you’ve enjoyed a potsticker in America, then thank Cecilia Chiang. Here’s what you need to know to start your day.

‘I’m in limbo’

San Francisco will begin gradually moving more than 500 homeless people out of hotel rooms Monday, but there’s still no clear plan on where they will live next.

Case managers will work with people who have been living in seven different hotels since the pandemic begin to figure out their options, according to the city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

But word that several hotels are closing by the end of the year — without a detailed plan to house the residents — has prompted fear and frustration among advocates, city supervisors and hotel residents, who are concerned that many will end up back in shelters or on the streets.

Read more from reporter Trisha Thadani.


• “Huge, inappropriate gatherings” in Solano County drove a coronavirus surge that may reverse county’s reopening.

• S.F.’s coronavirus positive test rate is the lowest of all big U.S. cities. Can it stay that way?

A legend

Cecilia Chiang introduced a more refined Chinese cuisine to San Francisco and the nation.

Cecilia Chiang, the mother of Chinese food in America and one of the most influential figures in Bay Area culinary history, died early Wednesday. She was 100 years old.

Chiang made her name as the pioneering owner of the Mandarin, a bygone San Francisco restaurant that broke the mold in 1959. It was there that she introduced Americans to now-ubiquitous Chinese dishes like potstickers, hot-and-sour soup and smoked tea duck.

She embraced not only the role of grande dame of San Francisco Chinese food, but of gracious mentor of the restaurant industry as a whole, even well into her nineties.

Read more about her incredible life.

Wildfires, then renewal and rebuilding — for some

Voris Brumfield’s home in Anderson Spring (Lake County) survived the Valley Fire of 2015.

Wine Country has endured a series of unforgiving infernos over the last five years, during which more than 60% of the land in one county — Lake — has burned. Neighboring Sonoma and Napa counties have also endured some of California’s most damaging fires ever, losing entire neighborhoods overnight.

But this dramatic burning of the landscape hasn’t entirely turned off a boom in business.

“We’ve been approached by eight real estate investors asking if we would be interested in a cash offer on some of our parcels or all of our ranch,” said Kaj Ahlmann, operator of Six Sigma Ranch and Winery.

As California’s long-standing income inequalities collide with the increasingly urgent crisis of climate change, the questions at play in Wine Country are becoming relevant statewide. Who can afford to rebuild, or even buy fire insurance as premiums surge? Whose businesses get to survive? And what if the most fundamental choice of all — to stay or to go — is not available to everyone?

Read more from reporters J.D. Morris and Esther Mobley.

Around the Bay

The Mondrian House at Ocean Beach has been repainted by new owners, covering the paint job that echoed artist Piet Mondrian.

Primary colors: San Francisco house design inspired by Piet Mondrian has been painted over — but there are other tributes to the artist around the Bay Area.

Power back on: PG&E shut-offs saw 74 instances of damage.

From Justin Phillips: California’s chaotic reaction to Prop. 16 shows the state’s feelings on equality.

Beyond expanding the court: Rep. Ro Khanna thinks he has answer to Supreme Court turmoil — term limits.

It’s staggering how many ballots we’ve received: Bay Area’s early votes are pouring in. Haven’t filled out yours, or voting in person? Check out our Bay Area Voter Guide.

One day less: Federal court says California can’t use sentencing work-around to prevent deportations.

From Otis R. Taylor, Jr.: Reparations are no longer a fringe topic, but commissions aren’t the answer.

$11 million over four years: Giants’ Charles Johnson dwarfs other team owners in political donations, report says.

Cruel’: Group of doctors, including one from UCSF, say Trump’s family-separation policy amounts to torture.

The Culture Desk

Tani Hasegawa decorates an altar for Día de los Muertos at The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts.

In any other year, Día de los Muertos, the Mexican celebration of the dead, would entail a procession through the streets of San Francisco’s Mission District in honor of ancestors and a neighborhood park so full of ofrendas that it would be hard to move among them.

But, as with so many other things, these traditions have had to adapt to the reality of an ongoing global pandemic. So one group moved the Festival of Altars online.

Here’s a look behind the scenes.


• The Chronicle explores the good, the bad and the uncertain about navigating the local arts and entertainment scene during the COVID era.

• The Bay Area is done with 2020. These Halloween yard decorations are proof

• As San Francisco reopens, facials return with science-fiction precautions.

Bay Briefing is written by Taylor Kate Brown, Anna Buchmann and Kellie Hwang and sent to readers’ email inboxes on weekday mornings. Sign up for the newsletter here, and contact the writers at [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]

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