Axios San Francisco

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It's Monday again.

Today's weather: Partly sunny. High of 62, low of 49.

🎂 Happy birthday to our Axios San Francisco member Ming Lacey!

Situational awareness: For the first time since 2019, April 15 is Tax Day — the deadline to file federal income tax returns and extensions to the Internal Revenue Service — for most of the country.

Today's newsletter is 966 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Democrats tackle voter engagement in California

The California State Capitol. Photo: Visions of America/Joe Sohm/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Even in solidly blue California, discontent with the Democratic Party and President Joe Biden has grown in recent years, leading some local and national leaders to worry about voter engagement in state-level races.

Why it matters: Voter turnout in the March primary was lower than in previous presidential primaries. More than half of Californians hold an unfavorable view of the Democratic Party, per a February survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

State of play: The narrow margin of voters that decided Proposition 1 — the product of legislation passed in 2023 — was a wake-up call for Democrats, PPIC survey director Mark Baldassare told Axios.

  • "It does raise some questions about how secure you can feel about the vote in November," he said.
  • Democrats hold a two-thirds majority in both chambers, which allows them to place constitutional amendments — like 2022's abortion rights — on the ballot without GOP votes.

The latest: The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) is rolling out a new messaging strategy — emphasizing the threat of policy actions in red states — to engage voters in blue states, including California.

  • It plans to make the case that blue states aren't immune to the impact of legislative attacks on issues like reproductive rights — the ongoing abortion pill legal challenge, for instance, could curtail access even in states where abortion is legal.

The other side: "California Democrats are wrong to tailor their messaging on issues that are completely settled in this state," state Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones said in an emailed statement.

  • GOP messaging will highlight how Democratic policies have led to "record-high prices," homelessness and crime, according to Jones, who noted he sees opportunities for Republicans to "pick up a couple of seats."

What they're saying: Republicans have launched a coordinated effort in state legislatures, and "the story that we're really trying to tell is that the same is true for Democrats," DLCC president Heather Williams told Axios during a trip to San Francisco.

Yes, but: Anger over policy issues won't necessarily motivate people who aren't politically engaged, said UC Berkeley political scientist Lisa Garcia Bedolla.

Go deeper

2. Warriors to face Kings in play-in

Stephen Curry shoots during a game against the Sacramento Kings at Chase Center in January. Photo: Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors, the No. 10 seed, will face the Sacramento Kings, the No. 9 seed, in the play-in tournament tomorrow.

Why it matters: Another battle of Northern California is upon us, and the Warriors are hoping they'll be as successful as they were last postseason when they beat the Kings in the first round of the playoffs.

Driving the news: The NBA regular season ended yesterday, with the Warriors beating the Utah Jazz 123-116.

  • But wins by the Los Angeles Lakers and the Kings didn't allow the Dubs to move up the standings to get a more favorable spot in the play-in.

Zoom in: As the No. 10 seed, the Warriors are tasked with winning a do-or-die game on the road in Sacramento.

  • The winner of that game will then face the loser of the No. 7 versus No. 8 game, so either the New Orleans Pelicans or the Los Angeles Lakers, on Friday.
  • If the Warriors win that game, they'll be in the playoffs as the No. 8 seed, facing the Oklahoma City Thunder, the No. 1 seed, in the first round on Sunday.

Of note: Any loss at any point in the play-in tournament will mark the end of the Warriors' season.

What's next: Tip-off is tomorrow at 7pm.

  • The playoffs begin April 20.

3. The Wiggle: Navigating the news

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

🛫 Oakland's airport will be renamed the San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport after the name was approved by Port of Oakland commissioners. (SF Standard)

🪩 Temple Nightclub, a downtown establishment known for attracting tech crowds and world-class DJs, will permanently shutter on May 25. (SF Chronicle)

💧 The Environmental Protection Agency has issued fines to several East Bay cities for allegedly failing to keep untreated sewage out of bay waters. (SFGATE)

4. Accidental overdoses down

A San Francisco resident holds a piece of foil containing fentanyl. Photo: Jessica Christian/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Accidental drug overdoses were slightly down for the second consecutive month in March, according to the San Francisco medical examiner's office.

Why it matters: Despite the decline, San Francisco is still dealing with a deadly drug epidemic, fueled largely by the opioid fentanyl.

  • 2023 was the deadliest year on record for accidental overdose deaths in San Francisco.

By the numbers: In March, 61 people died from fatal overdoses, compared with 66 in February and 72 in January, according to the San Francisco Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

  • Of those 61 deaths in March, 45 were due to fentanyl.

What they're saying: "We are in an unprecedented place that has challenged us to constantly evolve, pivot and refine our approach to crisis," Grant Colfax, the San Francisco Department of Public Health's director of health, said late last week, the San Francisco Examiner reports.

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Illustration: Andrew Caress/Axios

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5. Humans of SF: Meet local artist Tony B. Conscious

Tony B. Conscious and his art. Photo: Claire Reilly/Axios

👋 It's Claire, your Axios SF social host here, with a spotlight on someone you may recognize.

Context: If you've walked down Haight Street, chances are you've seen Anthony Brown selling his art.

  • Tony B. Conscious, as he calls himself, paints skateboards, street signs and guitars. He even wears his art painted on his clothing.
  • I spoke to Tony on a random walk about a week ago. What started as a quick chat turned into a discussion about life, the universe and everything.
  • Others came by too, stopping to check in on him and ask him how his day was.
  • I ended up filming him for our Instagram — you can watch the video here.

What's next: Honestly, I want to keep bringing our readers and audience more of this — locals who make this city what it is, sharing their perspective on life and bringing a little joy to an otherwise ordinary day.

  • And if you have someone I should meet, drop me a message on Instagram. I'd love to hear from you!

🥎 Megan had a blast playing in her team's first softball game in the SF Gay Softball League over the weekend.

😮‍💨 Shawna is recovering from a thoroughly thrilling — but also debilitating — ride on the ziplines at Mount Hermon Adventures.

👣 Claire loves that she gets to walk the streets of SF and meet great locals like Tony for her job!

This newsletter was edited by Rachel La Corte and copy edited by Khalid Adad and Anjelica Tan.