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March 7, 2019

Good Thursday morning.

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City and County of San Francisco
A protected bicycle lane on Turk Street.

In response to two deaths and several injuries from traffic collisions across The City in the past two weeks, Mayor London Breed ordered three departments to redouble efforts to reduce fatalities.

Breed directed the San Francisco Police Department to better enforce traffic, the Public Utilities Commission to improve lighting along dark corridors and the Municipal Transportation Agency to quickly develop policies that will soon enhance safety on dangerous corridors.

"The events of the last week are yet another tragic reminder of how much work we still have to do to ensure that all of our residents are safe on our streets,” Breed said in a statement. “The current pace of traffic safety improvements in San Francisco is unacceptable and I refuse to allow red tape and bureaucracy to stop us from taking immediate, common-sense steps to improve safety while we undergo long-term improvements."

On Tuesday, District Six Supervisor Matt Haney called for a hearing to gauge the success of the “Twitter Tax Break,” which has exempted Mid-Market businesses with $250,000 or more in payroll expenses from paying The City’s 1.5 percent payroll tax. A divided Board of Supervisors approved the exemption in 2011 to revitalize the area by incentivizing Twitter and other tech giants to stay. It will sunset on May 20.

  

The Honorable Quentin Kopp held a press conference to announce his resignation from the Ethics Commission, The City’s political watchdog, after two years. Kopp said the commission was so ineffective at investigating violations of campaign finance and other laws that it was a waste of taxpayer money. The commission is actively looking into 88 complaints. It’s evaluating another 92. LeeAnn Pelham, the commission’s executive director, blamed a shortage of investigators.

Kopp will put his energy toward passing “Sunlight on Dark Money,” a measure slated for the November ballot that would create robust disclosure requirements for independent expenditure committees, the local equivalent of Political Action Committees.

  
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Emma Marie Chiang
The number of vacancies have been increasing across The City.

“The enforcement mechanisms in this ordinance are vital to addressing our vacancy problem head on and complement ongoing efforts to fill vacant storefronts so our small businesses can thrive,” District Two Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer said of her legislation to bolster the vacant storefront registry that was unanimously passed by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. To combat The City’s growing vacancy problem, property owners will have to pay a $711 annual registration fee and a third-party inspection for code compliance.

  

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that San Francisco’s cash-bail system violates the rights of poor defendants, saying it “merely provides a ‘Get Out of Jail’ card for anyone with sufficient means to afford it.”

Gonzales Rogers will issue an injunction forcing The City to adopt new rules for defendants to obtain their freedom after arrest. If her ruling stands, it would effectively make San Francisco a test case for eliminating cash bail.

Voters will decide whether to abolish cash bail on the November 2020 ballot.

  

Intrigue around an obscure treasure hunt has intensified. Fortune seekers have been trying to decode The Secret, a 1982 puzzle book by the late Byron Preiss that had clues for 12 buried casks hidden in 12 North American cities, with each containing a key to a safe deposit box containing one of 12 jewels.

Golden Gate Park has long been thought to have one cask — and a man from France claims to have uncovered it last week. However, there was no key. The Preiss family claim it’s inauthentic. The hunt continues.

  

The president of Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, the union representing 2,000 Muni operators, has been suspended from office days before the beginning of significant contract negotiations. Roger Marenco, who swept into his leadership last year, was stripped of power for improperly endorsing a candidate for office during a union meeting. TWU chastised Local 250-A in a letter.

  

A new study published in “Near Surface Geophysics” details buildings and tunnels located beneath the prison yard of Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary that historians have long surmised to exist. Part of the prison-turned-tourist attraction was built atop a military fort dating back to the Civil War, ground-penetrating radar and terrestrial laser scans proved.

  
The Neighborhoods

Mission Bay

Featuring an 18,000-seat basketball arena, The Warriors’ billion-dollar Chase Center is en route to becoming the NBA’s first privately financed sports facility. Warriors management will rent out 32 luxury suites, 580,000 square feet of office space, 100,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space and more. The facility’s planned opening is this September.

  

South of Market

Neighborhood activists are crying foul on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s attempt to choose a proposal for redeveloping a 732-space parking garage without taking community feedback. The request for proposals for the parking garage at 255 Third St. calls for two designs for a 30-story tower: one with and one without parking.

  

Chinatown

The beloved Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory received a dramatic rent hike and may be at risk of closing. The 57-year-old tourist attraction, known for showcasing neighborhood history and using a secret family recipe, had its rent increased from $1,400 in 2016 to $6,000 this year. Owner Kevin Chan plans to stick it out.

  

Civic Center

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San Francisco Planning Department
A rendering of the redesigned United Nations Plaza.

In what could be its largest project since the Transbay Transit Center, the Planning Department has revealed a modern plan for the Beaux-Arts Civic Center. Described as an “elegant oasis,” the design includes a permanent street closure, a dog park, lawns that double as youth soccer fields and a re-envisioned United Nations Plaza fountain.

  

North Beach

Davide Martello, the internationally famous bicycling pianist better known as Klavierkunst, caught so much speed riding down Bay Street he had to jump off his bike for safety. While Martello suffered no injury, his custom-built bicycle-piano was damaged. It may not be repairable. He said his brakes were not designed for The City’s hills.

  

Mission

Calle 24 Latino Cultural District may expand beyond 24th Street to serve merchants and residents on Mission Street. Its president Erick Arguello said the district has had some success stabilizing small businesses. Established in 2014, it’s one of The City’s six cultural districts. Its leadership will be holding a hearing today about the prospect of gathering community feedback.

  

Richmond

For the first time, the Richmond Neighborhood Center held an Immigrant Cultural Festival celebrating the immigrant and native cultures of the neighborhood. More than 200 people, including District Two Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer and State Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, attended.

  

Civic Center

Next week, after three years in the making, San Francisco’s first virtual reality-enhanced gym Black Box VR will open its doors. Patrons, outfitted with VR headsets and devices that monitor their movement, will work out in 10' x 10' rooms on the company's proprietary resistance training machines. The company may someday sell a home-based version of its technology.

  
The Columnists
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Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, On Guard: Emergency Official Who Racked Up Absences During Heat Wave, Power Outages, Quietly Shown the Door

  
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Heather Knight, On San Francisco: Calif. Assemblyman David Chiu Wants to Know the Real Number of Homeless Students

  
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Joe Eskenazi: City Hall Bids Adieu to Jeff Adachi. He was Irreplaceable. Who Will Replace Him?

  
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Jaya Padmanabhan, In Brown Type: Proposal to Revoke H-4 Work Authorizations Takes Direct Hit at Working Women’s Rights

  
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Phil Matier: Jumping BART’s Fare Gates Rarely Results in Any Consequences — Tickets Go Unpaid

  
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Robyn Purchia, Green Space: Gas Cars May Soon Become as Obsolete as Horse-Drawn Buggies

  
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Kelly Dessaint, I Drive SF: Hostile Uber Encounters Are Inevitable When You Are Outnumbered

  
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Broke-Ass Stuart, Broke-Ass City: How the Trump Tax Scam is Going to Gentrify Your Neighborhood