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San Francisco & California - New Laws to Know in 2013

Minimum Wage, Sunday Parking Meters, Homeowners’ Rights, Social Media Privacy


New year, new laws. San Francisco, ever the pioneer, jumps into 2013 by leading the country--in wage rates. Yes, as of January 1, 2013, we have the highest minimum wage in the U.S., $10.55 an hour. Here’s the low-down on that and other new rules in San Francisco and in California that might affect or interest you, which cover everything from women's medical care and Internet bullying to texting while driving and picketing at funerals. Ignorance of the law is not a valid defense, so read on.


SF Minimum Wage

San Francisco’s 2013 minimum wage of $10.55 per hour is up from $10.24 an hour in 2012 and beats Santa Fe, New Mexico’s, minimum of $10.29. Not bad, considering California's minimum wage is $8.00 per hour and the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. But as we residents know, it’s not great considering the city’s high costs—like for housing and parking tickets (see next item). San Francisco’s minimum wage is linked to the regional inflation rate under a 2003 ordinance approved by voters.

Pay for Parking Meters on Sunday

It’s the end of free parking on Sundays, city-wide. But the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency is trying to ease us into this rule by slapping warning notices on windshields on the first three Sundays of the year. Those will be tickets starting on January 27. The meters are all wired so that you can now pay for them using your cell phone, though there’s a 45-cent fee for doing so. Parking meters bring in $47 million per year, and the Sunday meters are estimated to rake in another $2 million.

SF Dog Walker Laws

San Francisco passed new laws in 2012 to cover commercial dog walkers, requiring them to obtain a permit from the Department of Animal Care and Control, undergo training and abide by various dog-care standards. The rules will take effect by July 1, 2013.


Texting While Driving

California drivers can dictate, listen to and send text messages if they use a voice-operated, hands-free text communication device.

Selling Homemade Food

A new state law defines and legalizes “cottage food operations”–where certain types of food products are made in private, home kitchens and are then sold-- and subjects them to a permitting process with health and sanitation standards. Baked goods, for instance, are allowed if they don’t have cream, custard or meat fillings.

CA Homeowners’ Rights

Homeowners in California have more protection. Lenders are restricted from “dual-tracking,” in which they negotiate changes to the mortgage terms and move toward foreclosure at the same time.

Social Media Privacy

Colleges and universities (public and private) cannot require students and employers cannot require employees or job applicants to reveal their Facebook or other social media user names or passwords.

Medical Care for CA Women

  • Mammogram coverage: Health insurers must cover mammograms that are ordered by doctors or other health practitioners.
  • Access to birth control: Registered nurses are allowed to distribute birth control devices and drugs at health clinics.
  • Nonsurgical abortions: A program that has allowed physician assistants, nurse practitioners and midwives to do nonsurgical abortions is extended until January 2014.

Religious Dress

Discrimination based on religious clothing or grooming (e.g., Sikhs' turbans, Muslims’ headscarves) is prohibited.

Drug-Overdose Immunity

You cannot be arrested or convicted of drug use or possession if you seek medical help for a person who’s OD-ed on drugs (whether it’s yourself or someone else), where the overdose could result in death, disability, or serious injury.
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