Blanca Torres


In 2020, I dove into the world of public radio as a producer for Forum, a daily news and public affairs program on KQED in San Francisco. Forum is one of the nation's most listened-to radio programs. I have produced segments on a variety of issues such as the economy, racism, social issues, real estate, immigration, literature, politics, and pop culture.

At my core, I am a storyteller always striving to help my audience understand the world and why it is the way it is. I focus on telling the untold story with context and nuance.

Previously, I covered business topics including retail, consumer issues, employment, economic development and real estate for more than 15 years at major daily and weekly newspapers.

I have been based in the Bay Area for most of my career. I spent a decade on and off with the San Francisco Business Times writing about major real estate deals, news, trends, key players and policies that influence the Bay Area's economy and people. I excelled at breaking news on a daily basis while taking time to write in-depth enterprise pieces. During my time there, I won 10 awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors and several awards from the California News Publishers Association.

From 2014 to 2016, I wrote about the economy and how it affects people's everyday lives for The Seattle Times. I also wrote book reviews and served as an editorial writer and columnist. My columns won an award from the Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest.


Stories for the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2022 California Fellowship

The California Report Magazine Audio Story: Many California Families Can't Access Mental Health...

We meet a mom from East Palo Alto named Jasmine Cuevas, who has spent years trying to help her kids cope with anxiety and trauma. They’re among a rising number of children across California struggling with their emotional and mental health. Experts and policymakers call the situation a crisis – one that was brewing before the pandemic and then intensified when schools shut down and kids spent months isolated from the outside world.

Many California Families Can't Access Mental Health Care for Kids. This East Palo Alto Mom Found...

In California, 1 in 8 children was diagnosed with anxiety or depression in 2020, a 70% increase from 2016 when 1 in 14 received a similar diagnosis, according to a 2022 report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Demand for mental health services for children has swelled as expressions of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts have increased alarmingly — a situation experts have labeled a crisis. But while parents are told to “get help” for their children, they often run into one or two...

Culture & Identity Stories

How Vicente Fernández Earned Appreciation for Rancheros Like My Dad

I first remember seeing Vicente Fernández perform on the Mexican television show Siempre en Domingo, when I was a kid growing up in Eastern Washington. Fernández, who died on Dec. 12 at 81 years old, would amble across the stage in his charro outfit, backed by an expansive ensemble of mariachi musicians also decked out in charro gear. Like many Mexican Americans, I often heard Fernández’s music on the radio, in the car and at seemingly every party. He provided a soundtrack for our lives....

Enterprise News

San Francisco Business Times
The Bay is rising. Where does that leave a wave of big waterfront projects?

Water defines the Bay Area, even its name. For most if its history, though, much of the bayfront was closed off to residents. In the 1960s, only about four miles of the 400 to 500 miles of shoreline was accessible. Today, the bayfront looks far different and another wave of change is coming. A slew of small and large development projects promise to bring tens of thousands of new homes, millions of square feet of commercial space, and hundreds of acres of public parks, trails and open space to...

San Francisco Business Times
Welcome to 'hipsturbia:' San Ramon's city within a city

Lively streets, shopping opportunities, interesting places to hang out and proximity to work -- it’s a trend becoming known as “hipsturbia” (hipster + suburbia) or “surban” (suburban + urban).

San Francisco Business Times
Prop. 13 Turns 40

To its fans, California’s historic 1978 tax-cutting measure retains its youthful vigor four decades on. Are they ignoring signs of an impending mid-life crisis?

San Francisco Business Times
The Big Cost of Small Dwellings

Secondary units could add thousands of new homes to the Bay Area. Building one faces many hurdles, but new companies are trying to change that.

San Francisco Business Times
Why housing costs so much in California and why it may only get worse

The Golden State is under supplied by 3.4 million homes to meet its current housing needs, according to a report on housing underproduction from Up for Growth California, a nonprofit research and advocacy group. The national shortfall is 7.3 million homes, which means California makes up about half of that total.

San Francisco Business Times
Oakland struggles with keeping economic diversity - San Francisco Business Times

After years of high unemployment, Oakland is undergoing an economic boom. The boom has drawn backlash from residents and activists who say the city's newfound prosperity is leaving out - or pushing out - longtime residents who don't earn high salaries and people of color, especially African Americans, who fear the Oakland they once knew and loved is going away.

The Seattle Times
Seattle condos: Short supply puts extra squeeze on housing market

Condos are fairly rare in the Seattle area's housing market. Some who might opt for a condo wind up competing for more prevalent single-family homes, driving prices higher. Share story Kelley and Craig Dobbs, in their 50s, sold their 5,000-square-foot home in Sammamish and downsized into a $1 million-plus, two-bedroom condo in a luxury tower in Belltown with killer downtown views.

The Seattle Times
A year in, 'the sky is not falling' from Seattle's minimum-wage hike

The city's multistep minimum-wage law, heading to $15 for all by 2021, has lifted up some low-income earners, shaken up some business models and stirred up controversy while prompting similar moves elsewhere. Share story A year after Seattle's minimum-wage increase went into effect, Tegegne Desta Yigzaw is bringing home larger paychecks.

The Seattle Times
Recyclers of metals, plastics battered by global commodity plunge

Recyclers are fighting to stay alive as tanking commodity prices bring down the value of recycled industrial and post-consumer materials. Share story During the past year, the Recycling Depot has slashed its workforce to 15 employees from 35 as it struggles with plunging prices and a lack of demand for scrap metal.

The Seattle Times
Older workers left out of region's hiring boom

Some older workers re-entering the labor market struggle because of outdated skills or a lack of technologically savvy - not to mention age bias. A local program can help smooth their return to the workforce. Share story Rebecca Austin moved back to the Seattle area two years ago, excited to spend more time with her only son and start over after three decades in Honolulu.

The Seattle Times
Shortage of homes for sale pushes prices upward, buyers outward

The low inventory of homes for sale has turned the Seattle region into an "extreme seller's market," where prices continue climbing and buyers have fewer options. For a look at prices in your area, see the interactive map. Share story Would-be homebuyers in the Puget Sound area continue to face slim pickings in a tight housing market.

The Seattle Times
Washington state ranks No. 1 for combined job and wage growth

Washington state hit a sweet spot of both strong employment and wage growth in the fourth quarter, according a recent report on the private-sector workforce. Share story Contrary to the popular perception that American wages are stagnant, wages are going up for some full-time workers - those who have been employed for more than a year - according to the most recent ADP Workforce Vitality Report, which analyzes private-sector job and wage growth.

The Seattle Times
Original Boeing 727 prepares for its final takeoff

The first Boeing 727 - a model that became one of the company's top-selling planes of all time - will take to the skies one last time after a 25-year restoration effort. It's bound for its final home, the Museum of Flight.

San Francisco Business Times
Rebooting Real Estate

Tech entrepreneurs see an industry that’s ripe for transition into the digital age. From new tools linking buyers, sellers and agents to closing deals online, everything’s subject to change.

San Francisco Business Times
Buying the time for a baby

No longer experimental, ‘egg freezing’ has gone mainstream for Bay Area women looking to preserve their fertility.

San Francisco Business Times
Tequila sunrise

New Bay Area brands are giving tequila fresh flavor and sophistication. You can leave the lime and the salt shaker at home.

San Francisco Business Times
CEO comes full circle at BRE Properties

Connie Moore’s career at BRE Properties started with a white polyester suit that she wore to an interview. The suit made her feel confident, professional and “smug” enough to ask for a job even though she was six months away from finishing her undergraduate degree. She decided she could learn just as much at work as she could at school. “The CEO didn’t want to hire me,” Moore said. “He was worried about, ‘What’s my wife going to say when I travel with (you)?’”

Breaking News

San Francisco Business Times
Exclusive: Fight between church and historic preservation group shows why it's so hard to build...

For decades, members of the Fifth Church of Christ Scientist contemplated turning their church in San Francisco’s gritty Tenderloin neighborhood into housing. In recent years, as thousands of people have been priced out of the city and homelessness surged, the idea gained urgency. But, like many people who want to build housing in San Francisco, they are now tangled in a complex approvals process. That’s to be expected, but what church leaders didn’t expect is what they are calling an...

San Francisco Business Times
Developers Boston Properties and Hines topped off Salesforce Tower, unveiling some of the...

After years of hype, Salesforce Tower, poised to be the tallest building in San Francisco and arguably the West Coast, is coming to fruition with construction crews putting a roof on the 61-story high rise. Boston Properties and Hines, the developers behind tower, marked the construction milestone, known as a topping off, on Thursday morning.

San Francisco Business Times
Shorenstein Properties restarts construction on 601 City Center office tower in Oakland after...

With an anchor tenant locked in, Shorenstein Properties restarted construction this month on a 24-story office tower in Oakland - the city's first new office highrise in nearly a decade. "It's is very inspiring particularly given the nine-year hiatus that we went through," said Todd Sklar, head of development for Shorenstein, of seeing the construction crews back at work on the 600,000-square-foot building.

The Seattle Times
Posh Seattle hair salon terminates staff via weekend text message

Finding out their jobs were going away was hard enough for many employees of Seven Salon in Seattle - but receiving the news via text made it worse. Share story Some employees at Seven Salon in downtown Seattle's Pacific Place mall found it odd when they were sent home early Saturday evening.

The Seattle Times
Ex-Im Bank still hobbled, says top exec

Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg was in Seattle to underscore how the bank's help to big exporters such as Boeing is crimped by political opponents who haven't allowed the agency to fill its roster of board members.

The Seattle Times
Report ranks Seattle strong on growth, less so on inclusion

A new report ranking economic development in the nation's top 100 metropolitan areas confirms what some Seattleites know all too well: The region's thriving economy has not spread gains evenly, particularly leaving out low-wage workers.

Opinion Pieces

Why Spanish is not a foreign language in the United States

I watched Election Day coverage from a hospital bed. Like millions of Americans, news that Republican Donald Trump was on his way to winning the presidency of the United States stunned me. I delivered my first child via cesarean only two days earlier.

The Seattle Times
The Cheech Marin you don't know

While it may seem odd that Richard "Cheech" Marin visited Seattle to talk to a group of business students, he shared a relevant message. Share story Many people may not be aware - but should know - that Richard "Cheech" Marin has done much more in his life than smoke marijuana.

The Seattle Times
Rachel Dolezal and our obsession with skin color

Skin color matters because people attach false stereotypes and prejudice. As a nation, we can do better, but we need more understanding. Share story Revelations that a white woman, Rachel Dolezal, lied about being black shocked many Americans.

The Seattle Times
Seattle disses Thug Kitchen, vegan cookbook signing canceled

Share story The authors behind Thug Kitchen, an expletive-ridden food blog and cookbook, were looking forward to visiting Seattle this week to discuss their vegan recipes and America's relationship with food. They packed their suitcases only to learn Monday they were uninvited.

The Seattle Times
Political shake-up in Seattle City Council from Latinos who overcame obstacles

Last week's election ushered in the first Latino presence on the Seattle City Council signaling progress for women and people of color that is long overdue. Share story Forget diversity, it's time to talk about inclusion, says Lorena González, one of the first two Latinas to be elected to the Seattle City Council.

The Seattle Times
One way for Latinos to shut up Donald Trump: register to vote

The proof is at the polls: Latino voters need to step up their voting game. Along with celebrating food, music and culture during National Hispanic Heritage Month, a new tradition should take hold this year: registering to vote. In the past few months, the rise of Donald Trump as offender-in-chief infuriated many in the Latino community.

The Seattle Times
Race issues in Pasco and elsewhere are still simmering beneath the surface

A police shooting in Pasco poses an opportunity for the community to confront racial tension. Share story PASCO - On a recent afternoon in his City Hall office, Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger recalled his meeting with the family of Antonio Zambrano-Montes after the man was gunned down by police.

The Seattle Times
Move past race to better policing

Pasco has gone viral because of a police shooting - that's not how I want my hometown to be known. All the media attention could serve as a call for better policing. Share story Pasco is one of those towns few know much about unless you grew up there.

The Seattle Times
Why Washington schools fail to teach Native American history

When I first heard that Washington lawmakers proposed a law that would require public schools to teach Native American history, culture and government, my reaction was: why? This is 2015, not 1950! How is it possible that Washington - my dear, progressive home state - could be failing to teach important aspects of state history?

Book Reviews

The Seattle Times
'What Lies Between Us': the hidden history of a troubled mother

Nayomi Munaweera's second novel, "What Lies Between Us," goes deep into the troubled background of a Sri Lankan woman to explore what leads her to commit a terrible act. Munaweera appears Thursday, March 3, at Seattle's Elliott Bay Book Co. Share story In her new novel, author Nayomi Munaweera takes on the subject of motherhood - and completely defaces it.

The Seattle Times
Three Hong Kong expats and their intersecting stories

Janice Y.K. Lee's new novel "The Expatriates" follows three American women as they try to find themselves in the exotic cultural mix of Hong Kong. Lee appears Tuesday, Jan. 19, at Seattle's Elliott Bay Book Co. Share story Foreigners who move to exotic Hong Kong might expect to find reprieve from their lives back home and anonymity among the bustling metropolis.

The Seattle Times
'Grant Park:' the long hard road of American race relations

In "Grant Park," Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. intertwines stories of two men, one black, one white, to show how far America has progressed in matters of race, and how far it still has to go. Pitts appears Nov. 11 at Seattle's Elliott Bay Book Co.