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July 30, 2019

Good Tuesday! The columnists are extra insightful this week. Read Joel Engardio on the Civil Grand Jury, Sally Stephens on PG&E blackouts and Joe Fitzgerald-Rodriguez on "The Last Black Man in San Francisco." (Here's the sign-up page if you don't subscribe to This San Francisco.)

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Lenny Maughan/Strava
Lenny Maughan took a 28.9-mile run to create Frida Kahlo's visage.

From Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia’s hand to the Batman logo, Lenny Maughan has created 53 designs along the streets of San Francisco using his own running route, most recently completing a 28.9-mile run that outlined the late Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The Guardian

Former Olympian triathlete Gregory Billington, a 30-year-old San Francisco resident, came in first at Sunday's San Francisco Marathon with a time of 2:25:24 — just nine seconds shy of the current record. San Francisco Chronicle


“People want housing. They don’t always want to go back to their cities.”

The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing is planning to increase use of Homeward Bound, its program that provides homeless individuals with bus tickets to go live with family. The San Francisco Chronicle examined program data and found that within a month of leaving The City, 56% of program participants from late 2018 to early 2019 said they were stably housed. However, the remaining 44% could not be found or were struggling elsewhere. San Francisco Chronicle

Backed by the area’s District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton, Mayor London Breed announced plans for a 200-bed Navigation Center in the Bayview on a plot owned by Caltrans. If the proposal for a 44,500-square-foot facility at 1925 Evans Ave. comes to fruition, Breed will have delivered more than half of the 1,000 new beds she has promised by the end of 2020. Curbed San Francisco

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Five 10-week-old penguins waddled to their new home at San Francisco Zoo and Gardens’ Penguin Island after graduating from "fish school.” The program helps penguins learn to swim, eat and socialize with caretakers. One thousand fans lined up at the zoo to witness the annual March of the Penguins, which can be viewed on the zoo’s Twitter. NBC Bay Area | San Francisco Chronicle

To alleviate passenger anxiety, San Francisco Airport is stationing a squad of 22 dogs and the world's first airport therapy pig. A video is available on SFGate. SFGate


Outside Lands festival organizers will seek approval from The City’s cannabis office to permit the sale and consumption of marijuana at the 210,000-person event. While California legalized recreational cannabis use last year, consuming it is illegal in public. If Outside Lands gets the permit, it will become the first festival in San Francisco allowing attendees to legally light up. SFGate

While details are scarce, the Office of the City Attorney is planning specific enforcement tactics to curb online sales of e-cigarettes. San Francisco Chronicle

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“I feel like we are being played. This is an Extended Stay America, this is not a housing project.”

A new seven-story building at Market and Church streets operated by San Francisco-based Sonder that will provide extended-stay rentals is being targeted by Planning Department leaders for abusing a loophole in city rules for short-term rentals. District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said he is determining if the business is allowed under existing law.


Last week, the Planning Commission closed public comment on the Academy of Art University’s proposed institutional master plan. The plan is required by the terms of a 2016 legal settlement after the Office of the City Attorney sued the school to resolve numerous land use and compliance issues including the loss of rent-controlled housing withe the 43 buildings AAU owns across The City.

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Transportation Roundup

Officials at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency admitted on Thursday that they don’t know when the Central Subway will open, despite already delaying its target opening date to December. The project would expand the T-Third light rail line to the South of Market Area, Union Square and Chinatown. Muni says it will better know when the station will open after a six-week review led by project manager Nabeem Tahir. NBC Bay Area | SFBay

General Motor subsidiary Cruise is postponing its goal to launch a self-driving taxi service this year. The Verge

The BART Board of Directors appointed Robert Powers, a former interim general manager for BART, as its new general manager on Thursday to address a host of challenges. San Francisco Examiner

"It no longer smells like an outhouse.” BART’s pilot program that stations attendants in elevators to prevent them from becoming bathrooms will expand to the Montgomery and Embarcadero stations. SFGate

Following its underwhelming initial public offering in May, Uber announced on Monday that it has laid off some 400 people on its marketing team to cut costs and streamline operations. SFGate


“We believe PG&E’s bankruptcy presents an historic opportunity for a restructuring that allows the City to take control over its energy future while at the same time helping PG&E to emerge from bankruptcy on solid financial footing in a way that compensates fire victims, protects remaining ratepayers and better serves California.”

Mayor London Breed and City Attorney Dennis Herrera presented a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom outlining their plans to make an “attractive offer” for the embattled utility’s San Francisco-serving power system.

Tom Dalzell, the PG&E worker union’s business manager, said his organization opposes the bid, and he doubts City Hall leadership knows what it’s actually in for.

The Neighborhoods


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Associate Capital
A rendering of the former Potrero Power Plant.

In 1901, industrialist Claus Spreckels built the Potrero Power Plant to compete with San Francisco Gas and Electric. For decades, the facility has sat in ruins. Now Peter Linenthal, a volunteer with the Potrero Hill Archives Project, is petitioning developer Associate Capital to preserve the historic plant’s brick buildings and use its industrial machinery as sculptural pieces.



Three weeks before a deadly collision killed a pedestrian at Taylor and O'Farrell streets, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency eliminated a traffic lane from Taylor Street and added a white buffer zone to minimize the type of crash that occurred there. Neighbors are calling for SFMTA to time the crosswalk signals.


Civic Center

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A rendering of Middle Ground.

Outside the main public library the Exploratorium is installing a new interactive exhibit called “Middle Ground: Reconsidering Ourselves and Others” designed to prompt visitors to hold conversations about issues facing the community. Set to open Aug. 13, the project comprises 14 towers, each featuring a different kind of chair or seat on top.


Treasure Island

Life Learning Academy’s first class of students is moving into its mountain lodge-like dorm. The charter school, which specializes in serving at-risk high school-age youth, will offer free room and board to up to 24 of its 50 to 70 students.



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Mayor London Breed at the Meals on Wheels groundbreaking ceremony.

“We have embraced our responsibility to amplify the voice of seniors and to make San Francisco all it can be for them.”

Meals on Wheels San Francisco held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new 35,794-square-foot facility at 2230 Jerrold Ave. that will enable the organization to increase its meal output for seniors from 8,000 to 20,000 daily. Completion is expected by the end of 2020.



Last Thursday, the Planning Commission approved a seven-story, 60-unit residential building with ground floor commercial spaces after lengthy and contentious negotiations between the developer and neighborhood advocates fell apart. A coalition of 16 local community groups failed to insert more affordable housing units and community benefits into the $20 million project. Commissioners said they did not think that the developer had negotiated in good faith.


Bayview-Hunters Point

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Starting Saturday, Muni shut down the T-Third light rail line and replaced it with bus substitutions between Embarcadero station and Sunnyvale for approximately 10 days. The service interruption allows the transportation agency to demolish and replace platforms at the UCSF Mission Bay station to accommodate the Golden State Warriors Chase Center. One more closure is anticipated before the venue opens in September.



“Closing nearly 100 small businesses on the same block, all at once, would be an economic crisis for the Mission.”

After facing eviction for seven months, more than 100 massage therapists, tattoo artists, psychotherapists and other small businesses were permitted by an ordinance to continue operating in ActivSpace, a production, distribution and repair zoned facility, so long as each obtains proper permits.

The Columnists
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Joel Engardio: The Jury Has Spoken. Will Anyone Listen?

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Phil Matier: San Francisco Hiring Retired Cops for Mean Streets of Union Square

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Sally Stephens: What Happens If San Francisco’s Power is Shut Down to Prevent Wildfires?

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Willie Brown, Willie’s World: Democrats Thought Mueller had the Silver Bullet. He Fired Blanks Instead

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Joe Eskenazi: In San Francisco, We Obsess Over Contrived Homeless Stats — And Neglect the Ones We Really Ought to Know

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Carl Nolte, Native Son: London, Through the Eyes of a San Franciscan

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Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, On Guard: Secrets, Struggles And Cameos in ‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’

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Tim Redmond: After 50 Years, San Francisco Poised to Move on Public Power

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