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August 13, 2019

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the justified sinner/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

“In an effort for (Pacific Gas & Electric) not to be more vulnerable, in terms of losses and litigation, they are making all of us more vulnerable.”

Northern California cities and counties are bracing for intentional blackouts. After filing for bankruptcy protection amid lawsuits because its infrastructure sparked some of the deadliest wildfires in California history, utility PG&E is poised to cut entire cities off from its electric grid in the worst-case scenario to prevent fires. Devices that run on electricity, from stoplights to cell phones, could be affected. San Francisco Chronicle

Hedge funds Abrams Capital Management and Knighthead Capital Management, which are competing for control of Pacific Gas & Electric, sent a letter to PG&E board Chairwoman Nora Mead Brownell proposing that they could invest up to $15 billion to help the utility exit bankruptcy protection. San Francisco Chronicle


Data pulled from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week showed that the average low temperature of The City’s summer nights has increased by 2.7 degrees — to about 56 degrees — between 1970 and 2018.

While these lower temperatures pose no risk to San Franciscans, an increase of even a fraction of a degree in temperature represents a catastrophic change in climate. And outside The City, nighttime temperatures of 80 degrees or warmer prevent people — especially the elderly, young children and those without air conditioners — from recovering from daytime heat. Curbed San Francisco

“California is falling into the sea piece by piece, and coastal conditions will only grow more dire with (the) worsening climate crisis.”

As erosion actively wears away at three-quarters of California's coastlines, collapsing coasts in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area have endangered and destroyed infrastructure — and lives. The Guardian


The Sheriff's Department will no longer investigate itself when accused of serious misconduct. The Department of Police Accountability will conduct those investigations instead. City officials have called for improved transparency and accountability of the Sheriff’s Department several times this year alone, including when its investigators looked into allegations that its deputies forced inmates of a jailhouse to fight each other — and then used immunized statements from deputies unlawfully and moved to destroy evidence showing that it did so.


Gov. Gavin Newsom and Bay Area officials condemned a Trump Administration policy requiring immigration officials to weigh whether immigrants applying for visa extensions or permanent residency benefit from or are likely to apply for government-funded resources like food, housing and health care. Mayor London Breed, Newsom, University of California President Janet Napolitano and others say the policy, which goes into effect Oct. 15, will deter immigrants from obtaining help they may need. Lawyers with the National Immigration Law Center plan to sue.


E-cigarette giant Juul’s obscure language on its ballot proposal to overturn San Francisco’s blanket ban on e-cigarettes has caused the committee that summarizes the voter guide to mention that the measure could overturn a different, voter-approved ban on flavored e-cigarettes. Despite Juul Chief Administrative Officer Ashley Gould's desire to edit the measure's wording and clarify that it would not overturn the flavor ban, the language cannot be changed because it’s what voters signed onto. San Francisco Chronicle | 48hills

In other election-related news, two new candidates have jumped into the school board race to challenge incumbent Jenny Lam for her open seat. They were prompted by the debate over the proposed $600,000 paint job of George Washington High School's controversial New Deal-era mural "The Life of Washington.” San Francisco Examiner

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Packets of drugs confiscated by police.

Fentanyl-related overdose deaths shot up from 36 to 89 between 2017 and 2018, making the drug San Francisco’s leading cause of opioid overdose deaths, according to new data from the San Francisco Department of Public Health. By comparison, prescription opioids caused 70 overdose deaths in 2018. Heroin caused 60. Five fentanyl-related deaths were reported in 2008.


“It’s tragic, it’s horrifying to see people living on the street. But when the last bit of shelter is taken from them, it is cruel and inhumane.”

Advocates for people experiencing homelessness decried San Francisco's homeless policies as cruel, arbitrary and ineffective at last Wednesday's Police Commission meeting. Coalition on Homelessness speaker Chris Herring condemned the Healthy Streets Operation Center — San Francisco’s multi-department task force meant to improve street safety — claiming that since HSOC’s establishment in January 2018, homelessness has been further criminalized and the number of human rights violations has risen.


“It's really almost like a third branch of the Legislature."

The statewide wildfire liability law passed last month placed the inspection of 4 million electric poles and 200,000 miles of wire in the hands of the San Francisco-based California Public Utilities Commission, which two years ago already raised concerns that it was spread too thin. The commission, led by five people, is the same agency that regulates hundreds of businesses and utilities across California — gas and electric utilities, water and sewage utilities, telecommunications giants, ride-hailing companies, railroad companies, light rail systems and more. The Wildfire Safety Division of the CPUC will transfer to the California Natural Resources Agency and be called the Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety in July 2021.

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Postmates' Serve is a semi-autonomous delivery robot.

San Francisco is expected to soon award its first-ever permit for operating robots on the sidewalk to on-demand delivery company Postmates. Last December, Postmates unveiled its semi-autonomous rover Serve, which uses cameras and light detection to navigate sidewalks and has a remote pilot monitoring it. One charge can fuel a Serve robot to carry 50 pounds for 25 miles.


The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced last week that for two weeks beginning Aug. 12, it will replace the subway's train service with light-rail transit from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. to fix problems inside the tunnels. Muni advises that its customers "leave extra travel time when riding Muni during subway closure.”

The Neighborhoods


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Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony.

A new 100,000-square-foot facility for the San Francisco Police Department’s Traffic Company and Forensic Services Division broke ground at 1995 Evans St. Public Works is spearheading the project with funds from the Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond program. Completion is expected by fall 2021.


South of Market

On Sunday, for the first time since defects were discovered in September 2018, AC Transit and other transit agency buses returned to the $2.2 billion Salesforce Transit Center. Greyhound will return there in a few weeks.



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Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Landing Ship Tank Utah at Normandy in June 1944.

Poet and City Lights bookshop co-founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti has allowed for a collection of his photographs from the World War II D-Day landing on June 6, 1944, to be shown at the Recreation and Park Department’s Harvey Milk Photo Center. During the invasion of the coast of Normandy, Ferlinghetti commanded a submarine chaser. The exhibition celebrates the esteemed poet’s 100th birthday.



The day that newly appointed U.S. Attorney David Anderson announced a crackdown on drug-dealing called the “Federal Initiative for the Tenderloin,” plainclothes officers arrested 73 people on suspicion of crimes such as burglaries, outstanding warrants, drug offenses, sex offenses and assaults.



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Bicyclists ride on Valencia Street.

“Vehicle loadings in the bike lane dropped from 159 observed instances in October 2018, before the project, to two observed instances in May 2019.”

The Office of Mayor London Breed is touting the success of the Valencia Street Pilot Safety Project, which has minimized the number of vehicles illegally loading in bike lanes on Valencia Street from Market Street to 15th Street with the installation of protected bike lanes. Citing the success, the mayor called for the installation of an additional 20 miles of protected bike lanes by the end of 2020.


South of Market

On Sunday night, Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez became the most famous victim of The City’s smash-and-grab epidemic when thieves broke into his rental vehicle and stole an estimated half-million dollars’ worth of jewelry and electronics. The San Francisco Police Department’s extra secretive investigation produced a confidential corresponding report, only accessible by the police involved.



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A portion of "The Life of Washington."

Board of Education President Stevon Cook announced that he will introduce a proposal to preserve the controversial New Deal-era frescos at George Washington High School. The board’s unanimous decision to destroy “Life of Washington” by Russian émigré artist Victor Arnautoff drew widespread criticism and the threat of a potential a ballot initiative to reverse the decision.


Design District

Humanmade, a non-profit community-based organization dedicated to manufacturing, prototyping and training workers, will hold a grand opening event for its 13,500-square-foot facility that opened in July. Its focus on hardware starkly contrasts with The City’s reputation as a cornerstone for coding, making it a unique proposition for jobseekers.

The Columnists
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Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, On Guard: Police Stop Offering One-Night Shelter Stays to Homeless After Realizing ‘It Doesn’t Work’

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Joe Eskenazi: Fentanyl is Killing Too Many San Franciscans. San Francisco’s Homeless Policies Can Actually Make Things Worse.

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Carl Nolte, Native Son: Near Civic Wonders, Drugs A Constant Scourge

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Willie Brown, Willie’s World: Trump Appears to Enjoy Pushing Race Button, Regardless of Topic

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Sally Stephens: Trying to Understand and Prevent Mass Shootings

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Phil Matier: San Francisco Board of Supervisors Sanitizes Language of Criminal Justice System

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Heather Knight, On San Francisco: Forget Driving. It’s Time to Rethink the 49 Mile Scenic Drive with #TotalSF

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