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San Francisco to track bedbugs' trails

San Francisco bedbugs: Stand up and be counted.

That is the message from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which approved an ordinance last week that aims to give the city a more accurate picture of where the pests lurk.

Exterminators will now be required to report to the Department of Public Health about the number of units that they treat for bedbugs each month. While they won’t have to include the address of the infested apartments or hotels, they will be required to identify each unit’s census tract to help chart the bugs’ distribution around the city.

“From a public health point of view, it’s very important to be able to target your resources, and this will give us a chance to do this,” said Karen Cohn, a program manager at the department’s Environmental Health section.

While the bedbug population has increased nationally in recent years, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the city of San Francisco does not have reliable data on the persistent pests’ prevalence here.

The ordinance, backed by Supervisor Jane Kim, reflects concern among tenants advocates that the city remains unaware of how widespread the blood-sucking bugs really are.

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Alameda County takes on drug companies over medication disposal

Alameda County is poised to make drug companies pay for the safe collection and disposal of residents' unused medications.

The measure would apply to prescription drugs like penicillin as well as tightly controlled substances like OxyContin.

Supporters say the ordinance would help prevent overdoses and accidental poisonings and reduce water pollution – claims the pharmaceutical industry insists are not true.

Public agencies currently pay for 25 drug disposal sites in the county. (To see locations, click here.) The ordinance would require drug manufacturers and producers to pay for the disposal of their products or face fines of up to $1,000 a day. 

“The county should not be responsible for continuing to bear the financial burden alone,” said Nate Miley, president of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and sponsor of the ordinance.

The measure also requires drug manufacturers to fund any efforts by Alameda County law enforcement agencies to collect controlled substances. Federal law requires that officers be present when such drugs, like Adderall, are returned. 

The ordinance is designed to make it easier for residents to get rid of their unwanted prescription medications. But it does not stipulate where or how drugs would be collected, for instance, whether there would be collection bins at hospitals or pharmacies, or if residents would have to return their unused medications through the mail.

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SF officials urged to bring terror task force under local control

Muslim community members and other residents are urging San Francisco officials to pass a proposed ordinance that would restore local control over a terrorism task force made up of police and the FBI.

Speakers turned up for a City Hall hearing on the matter last week and recounted what they described as unnecessary questioning and surveillance at the hands of task force operators. More than 70 such teams were created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to bolster information and resource sharing between the Justice Department in Washington and local police.

County Supervisor Jane Kim wrote the proposal [PDF] for tougher oversight and says a secret 2007 agreement between the San Francisco Police Department and FBI clashes with state and local policies meant to protect privacy and restrict intelligence gathering. The agreement only became public last year following a public records request from advocacy groups.

 

“This legislation is not about blaming any entity for what is going on today,” Kim said at the hearing, motivated in part by complaints from Muslim and Arab small-business owners in her district. “It is merely about ensuring our civil rights. It’s also about making a statement to our residents that we don’t tolerate investigations that don’t have a basis, that don’t have grounds in criminal suspicion.”

Filed under: Public Safety, Daily Report

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