This San Francisco cityscape logo

Good morning. It's Thursday, Jan. 24.

— Mayor appoints education adviser to school board.

— $71.2 million community center project approved.

— And the future of the dive bar questioned.

Please share our newsletter with a friend. We rely on word of mouth.

block.alt_text ? block.alt_text : ''

A tax on vacant commercial and residential units may go before voters this November.

Proposed by District Three Supervisor Aaron Peskin, the ballot measure aims to curb the sharp increase in commercial vacancies and put vacant apartments back into circulation.

Tax revenues would go to the Office of Economic and Workforce Development and the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development to assist tenants and businesses.

Last year, Oakland voters passed a $6,000-per-year parcel tax on vacant lots, residential and commercial buildings and $3,000-per-year parcel tax on empty condominiums and storefronts.

Six supervisors must support the measure for it to be put on the ballot.

Mayor London Breed appointed her education adviser Jenny Lam to the seven-member San Francisco Board of Education. Lam, formerly a manager at the nonprofit EducationSuperHighway, a national organization ensuring internet access in public schools, co-chaired two San Francisco Unified School District committees and is an advocate with the nonprofit Chinese for Affirmative Action.

While serving the mayor and holding public office is legal, it does raise ethical concerns, specifically should the Board of Education conduct business with a department that the mayor controls.


Months after the death of a construction worker inside Twin Peaks Tunnel exposed a lax contract-bidding process and a staggering streetcar operator shortage, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has implemented new safety rules for companies applying for transportation infrastructure projects.

Construction firms will be required to submit more detailed safety plans and hire dedicated safety managers. However, an attorney who specializes in heavy equipment accidents said the new rules don’t go far enough, and that employers should provide disability and life insurance policies for all workers.

A new study by the University of Kentucky that examined public transit in 22 major cities across the country, including San Francisco, found that ridership has been flat or declining in the past few years. Despite San Francisco’s growth in population, its bus ridership dropped nearly 13 percent since 2010, according to the researchers. Curbed San Francisco


Uber is challenging Lyft’s dominance in the Bay Area’s bike-share market. An attorney for the company sent a letter to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission claiming that Lyft-owned Motivate, the company behind Ford GoBike, does not have an exclusive contract to provide e-bike or dockless bike-sharing programs. Motivate has a 10-year exclusive contract with Bay Area cities to run docked bike-share operations. 3,700 shareable bikes have been deployed to date. Uber has 500 JUMP bikes available across The City.


A survey of 5,292 BART riders found overall customer satisfaction down to 56 percent, 13 percent lower than 2016. In 2014, 74 percent of riders were content with the transit system.

Satisfaction with fare cheat enforcement fell nearly 20 percent, sense of security fell 16 percent and police presence comfort fell nearly 15 percent. 27 percent said the transit system is overly dirty, 23 percent were concerned about crime and 21 percent said train cars are too crowded. Approval rose in some areas: ratings improved by around 3 percent for BART’s noise levels, hours of operation and website.


The San Francisco Police Department is not releasing records related to how it will comply with a new state law requiring police departments to release personnel records of officers found guilty of misconduct and records related to discharging firearms and use of force that results in significant bodily injury or death.

However, the San Francisco Department of Human Resources has released documents related to its processes for implementing the law. SFPD possesses these records but has withheld them.


Tonight, 500 volunteers will search The City’s streets to survey the homeless population for the biennial Point In Time Count as required by the federal government’s Department of Housing & Urban Development. The 2017 count estimated there were 7,499 unsheltered individuals. The 2019 count results will be released later this year.

The Neighborhoods


Whither the San Francisco dive bar? Citing lower sales and a rent increase, Paul Bavaro is closing Whiskey Thieves, a bar he set up 15 years ago. Bavaro, who also owns two bars in the Mission, suggests the dive bar may be going out of style. "A dive-y bar might not be what people want anymore," he said.



Residents are dismayed by the sudden reassignment of their neighborhood Police Capt. Steven Ford. Recognized for making inroads with the neighborhood’s African-American community, Ford was transferred by Chief Bill Scott to San Francisco Police Department’s Professional Standards and Principled Policing Bureau in December. In the past eight years, the nine captains have cycled through the station.


Western Addition

Twenty-five years ago, the historic Saint Paulus Lutheran Church burned down. Since then, it’s operated out of a storefront while its former home sat vacant. The church struck a deal with San Francisco-based developer Maracor to develop the property into 95 residential condominiums — 11 below market rate — and a 10,000 to 12,000 square-foot commercial condominium for the church.



After years of planning and outreach to residents who have long wished for a new community center, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission approved a contract to build a Southeast Community Facility at 1550 Evans Ave. Estimated to cost $71.2 million, the 40,000-square-foot, three-story center is planned to have its christening in 2021. Construction is expected to begin this summer.


Upper Haight

While plans are being drafted and negotiated for a new affordable housing development at 730 Stanyan St., The City will allow a temporary project to occupy the 38,000-square-foot site for four or five years. Contenders include food truck and catering company Off the Grid and neighborhood alliance Coalition for a Complete Community. Applications will be accepted through the end of February.


Hayes Valley

After four years gestating, a new public parklet is being built to add more seating for customers of restaurants Souvla and Patxi’s, and the general public. The parklet was delayed by years of infrastructure improvements.


Jackson Square

City Hall will sell Fire Station No. 13 at 530 Sansome St. to a developer that will rebuild the station with 100 luxury housing units on top. Zoned for a 200-foot tower, the parcel is expected to sell for $20 million.

The Columnists
block.alt_text ? block.alt_text : ''

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, On Guard: ‘Da Mayor’ Willie Brown Moves Into Sinking Millennium Tower

block.alt_text ? block.alt_text : ''

Jaya Padmanabhan, In Brown Type: Rapper Cardi B is Scared About Trump’s Wall-Induced Government Shutdown and You Should be Too

block.alt_text ? block.alt_text : ''

Broke-Ass Stuart, Broke-Ass City: A Bright Spot in The City’s History of Poor Planning

block.alt_text ? block.alt_text : ''

Kelly Dessaint, I Drive SF: Driving San Francisco Again

block.alt_text ? block.alt_text : ''

Tim Redmond: Some Reality Facing the Candidates for President

block.alt_text ? block.alt_text : ''

Robyn Purchia, Green Space: A Couple’s Lifetime of Possessions Find New Homes

block.alt_text ? block.alt_text : ''

Heather Knight, On San Francisco: The Baby on the Bus: Dad, Infant Take Muni Adventures Across San Francisco

How about that?

How a 1937-built Art Deco monolith became Twitter headquarters.