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March 19, 2019

Good Tuesday morning!

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A Munu bus operator speaks to a customer.

Two-thousand Muni operators had their union representatives replaced as local union infighting heightened days before contract negotiations began. The national union, the Transportation Workers Union of America, will negotiate with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency in the local union’s stead.

TWUA stripped the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A of both its president and negotiating power on Thursday after peace talks between the local union’s President Roger Marenco and Secretary-Treasurer Terrence Hall fell through.

“The internal strife among your divided local officers must not be permitted to harm our members any further,” a TWU letter to Muni operators stated.

Mayor London Breed and City Attorney Dennis Herrera sent a letter to Pacific Gas & Electric on Thursday to reaffirm The City’s seriousness in studying the feasibility of buying PG&E infrastructure.

However, Sacramento’s long and arduous process of buying PG&E infrastructure nearly 100 years ago may provide insight. Residents voted to create the Sacramento Municipal Utility District in 1923, but it took 23 years for the district to provide electricity, as PG&E sued early on to block SMUD from issuing bonds authorized by voters. And decades later, in 2006, PG&E spent millions to campaign against the SMUD’s expansion into Yolo County.

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Public Works
An incident of illegal dumping in the Bayview.

Every year, The City and Recology respond to an estimated 81,600 requests to clean up illegal dumping. District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton and Public Works Deputy Director for Operations Larry Stringer explored how The City might address what officials call roots of the issue: construction debris, inadequate garbage services and residential move-outs. Stand-out ideas include increasing fines, confiscating vehicles used in dumping, rewarding tipsters whose reports result in fines, surveying illegal dumping hotspots and implementing sting operations.


Alongside other Bay Area leaders and domestic violence victim advocates, Mayor London Breed issued an open letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred that called for San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer to be penalized for an incident in which Baer was recorded wrestling away his phone from his wife, dragging her to the ground as she screamed for help. Baer took a leave of absence after a video of the incident went viral.

The letter requests that MLB — or the Giants — reprimand, suspend and fine Baer, and require him to undergo a specialized domestic violence treatment plan. “Every little girl, every woman should be able to attend a Giants game with a clear sense of the [Giants’] values,” Breed wrote.


Despite the drug use, homelessness, feces and needles that pervade The City’s streets, San Francisco’s tourism industry set new records for the ninth consecutive year in 2018. The number of visitors increased 1.2 percent to 25.8 million last year, and their spending rose 2.3 percent to $10 billion. San Francisco International Airport peaked in popularity with 57.8 million passengers as average hotel occupancy slipped to 82.2 percent.


Last week, the state of The City’s mental health system for homeless individuals was examined by the Board of Supervisors Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee. The committee identified shortcomings such as long wait times for admission into treatment programs, a need for 200 to 400 more shelter beds and gaps in coordination for treating substance abuse and mental health issues.

While the increased number of units of permanent supportive housing was highlighted as an improvement by Department of Homeless Services Director Jeff Kositsky, Coalition on Homelessness Executive Director Jennifer Friedenbach said there are so many people on the street in the first place that the social safety net needs to be examined as well.

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A thousand Bay Area middle and high school students left school on Friday to participate in a protest dubbed "Youth vs. Apocalypse." Starting at the Federal Building on Seventh and Mission streets, the group stopped traffic on Market Street en route to Union Square.

"We, the youth of America, are striking because decades of inaction has left us with just 11 years to change the trajectory of the worst effects of climate change, according to the October 2018 UN IPCC Report,” a statement on the Youth Climate Strike website reads. “We are striking because our world leaders have yet to acknowledge, prioritize or properly address our climate crisis."


The City and County of San Francisco obtained the authority to remove subcontractors from city projects, a power usually wielded only by the prime contractor, a state court decided. The determination stems from a lawsuit in which a subcontractor on a city project replacing utility lines on Haight Street broke five gas lines in as many months, and The City ordered the subcontractor be removed.

The Neighborhoods


With its longtime location up for sale, Wah Mei School, The City’s first and longest-running bilingual preschool, has entered contract negotiations with its landlord to buy the building. The purchase would secure the organization’s future serving hundreds of families each year.



A mysterious barrel of Red Delicious apples for the taking has been a staple of the experience attending a performance at Bill Graham’s Fillmore Auditorium since the 1960s. But no one really knows why. KQED’s Bay Curious may have the answer.



Wanting a piece of neighborhood history, neighbors and fans descended on Lucca Ravioli Co. to buy branded hats and shirts before the 94-year-old business closes for good. When those ran out, they bought old aprons. Now they are purchasing the hand-painted window signs.


Bayview-Hunters Point

Environmental and community advocates at an open house warned off potential buyers of dozens of new condominiums at Lennar Corporation’s Shipyard housing development, citing radioactive contamination. “We have the highest rate of asthma around here and these people will soon find out when their health issues start coming on, they are going to want to get on the bandwagon,” Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice's Tandra Lowe said.


South of Market

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Transbay Joint Powers Authority
A crosscut rendering of the Transbay Transit Center.

Four levels of inspections at the Transbay Transit Center failed to prevent or uncover a construction flaw that resulted in cracked girders and a months-long closure of the facility. Three teams of contractor-hired quality-control inspectors didn’t notice that the girders were not grinded down to eliminate small cracks caused by drilling holes. The Transbay Joint Powers Authority’s own inspections missed the lack of grinding too.


Treasure Island

Calls for increased scrutiny of Treasure Island’s ongoing toxic cleanup have left some residents fighting alleged retaliation from their landlords as displacement looms at the formal Naval base, which awaits the development of 8,000 new housing units. In one part of the island, residents say their 8-year-old agreement prevents them from either accessing planned new units or relocating somewhere else. Former Treasure Island resident Andre Patterson, who said he was removed from the island for speaking out about his cancer, estimated about one-third of the island's roughly 1,800 households have formerly homeless, veteran and disabled residents.


North Beach

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A postcard depicting Julius' Castle.

Julius' Castle, the historic 1923-built restaurant atop Telegraph Hill, can reopen after a judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by a group of neighbors who claimed its restoration required an environmental review process and that its lack of adequate vehicle access for customers would be a nuisance.



“It was a misunderstanding,” Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory owner Kevin Chan said after a BBC report about his business’s potential closure due to a $4,350 rent hike went viral. “They didn’t really understand what I was talking about. I just told them that we had tough times. Not me, us! We meant us in The City, and a lot of people are having tough times. If I have tough times other people have it even worse; that’s what I’m trying to emphasize. And they made it sound like I am having a tough time. I mean, I do have a tough time but that’s not exactly what I meant. I’m still here. People say that I’m closing and it’s just not fair.”


The Columnists
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Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, On Guard: Warriors Arena Smoke Detectors to be Installed by 130-Year-Old Company That Maintains San Francisco’s Historic Fire Alarms

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Heather Knight, On San Francisco: Bring on the bagpipes — It’s a #TotalSF Movie Event at San Francisco’s Balboa Theatre

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Tim Redmond: San Francisco to Pay $13.1 Million to Man Framed by Cops

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Phil Matier: Things Look Good for San Francisco Supervisor Peskin’s Deal to Add Tax to Uber and Lyft Rides

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Carl Nolte, Native Son: They Escaped Russian Persecution and Settled Atop Potrero Hill. An Immigrant Story

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Willie Brown, Willie’s World: Even for Trump’s Corrupt Hangers-On, Justice Should be Blind

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Denise Sullivan, S.F. Lives: Spanglish Spoken Here: Josiah Luis Alderete and ‘The Great American Language’