News From Our Partners

Chevron Joins News Publisher Wars in East Bay City

By Sukey Lewis and Asha Dumonthier, New America Media

A good, old-fashioned muckraker’s war is going on in Richmond, in Contra Costa County, and Chevron’s “community-driven” news site, the Richmond Standard, is the latest fighter to step into the ring.

This sprawling city east of San Francisco is home to Chevron’s oil refinery, which has made it a battleground between the company’s business interests and environmental activists who are calling for checks on air quality and safety.

Now, 

as part of the company’s latest effort to rehabilitate its image in the city, Chevron is launching its own community news site.

Chevron spokesperson Melissa Ritchie said that Chevron wanted to start the site because, “We want to make sure there’s a way to have a conversation with Richmond.”

But many community members complain that Chevron is already communicating too much with Richmond – and that the communication goes only one way. 

Read the complete story at New America Media.

8 Things to Know About Proposed Golden Gate Bridge Toll Hike

By Amanda Stupi, KQED News Fix

For those of us who remember when crossing the Golden Gate Bridge cost a dollar, the possibility of raising the non-FasTrak toll to $8 might have triggered a knee-jerk “What?! An $8 toll?!” response, followed by a few expletives and, finally, some questions like, “Why do they need so much more money if the bridge is already built?” or “When will the increase take effect?” For those of you have reached the questioning phase of your reaction, here a few things to keep in mind when considering the ultimate $8 price tag:

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix.

Longtime Residents and Mission District Newcomers Bond Over Pupusas

By Daniel Hirsch, Mission Local

Usulutan, a Salvadorean restaurant on 24th Street, welcomed a particularly diverse and determined crowd Monday night. Swapping business cards over pupusas, third-generation Mission residents, tech startup founders, nonprofit professionals, recent transplants, activists and more all gathered to do the simple, but challenging, work of meeting new people.

The dinner was the first public event hosted by Engage SF, a new organization committed to bridging the gap between new and established neighborhood residents in an effort to enhance diversity and build community. By the looks of the assembled crowd — about 50 people — Engage SF was so far doing a pretty good job.

As the crowd mingled, Laura Yarnow, a native San Franciscan and former teacher at Horace Mann Middle School, explained to two twenty-something tech workers about the importance of salsa music in the neighborhood’s history. The twenty-somethings listened intently.

Read the complete story at Mission Local. 

 

Transit Experts Weigh In on Tech Buses

By Daniel Hirsch, Mission Local

To be less irksome to neighbors, they could be smaller and the routes could be restricted to larger streets. But transportation experts say the tech buses between San Francisco and Silicon Valley basically do a good job at what they do — effectively shuttling approximately 35,000 people a day and most likely keeping thousands of cars off the freeway.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which passed its resolution to let the tech buses use Muni stops for $1 per stop in January and limit where these buses can stop, will be holding public hearings  this month to seek input on which Muni stops the shuttles should be using. Those who cannot attend the meetings have until February 23 to post comments on an interactive map on the agency's website.

In advance of those meetings, Mission Local asked transportation experts for their ideas on how to mitigate the intensity of the buses’ impact on the neighborhoods in which they operate. The experts addressed the transportation issues and not the larger issues of rising rents or gentrification, though all said that these issues were crucial for policy officials to address.

Read the complete story at Mission Local.

Ride-Service Firm Announces New Insurance Coverage for Drivers

By Jon Brooks, KQED News Fix 

The ride-service company Lyft on Wednesday announced it is offering additional insurance coverage to augment a $1 million excess liability policy mandated by the California Public Utilities Commission.

From the Lyft Blog:

(W)e have worked with leading insurance carriers to now provide additional insurance solutions for drivers on the Lyft platform. Today, we’re excited to be the first company to announce three additional excess coverages now live:

Collision ($2,500 deductible and $50,000 maximum applicable to drivers who have purchased collision coverage on their personal policy)

Uninsured motorists ($1M limit covering drivers if they are hit by an uninsured motorist that is at fault)

Underinsured motorists ($1M limit covering drivers if they are hit by an underinsured motorist that is at fault)

Two weeks ago, Kara Cross, general counsel for the Personal Insurance Federation of California, told us the lack of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage was one of the defects in TNC, or transportation network company,  insurance. Cross said that drivers injured while on a network company call could  draw on the network company coverage only  if the network company driver was judged to be at fault. Lyft’s new insurance coverage seems intended to address that.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix. 

From AIDS to Housing Crisis — Castro’s Long-Time Residents Fight to Stay

By Liz Mak, KALW

Jeremy Mykaels is in his early 60s, and he has AIDS. As a young gay man, he moved to the Castro, where he has lived for almost 40 years. He has been in his Victorian apartment on Noe Street for about half that time — but he may not be living here much longer.

Mykaels is the last tenant still living at 460 Noe. The tenants in the other two units left around the time the new owners bought the building two years ago. But because Mykaels would not leave, the new landlords have tried to evict him with the Ellis Act, a state law designed to protect property owners who want to take their rental units off the market. The law is a controversial one, and according to some people — including Mykaels — landlords are actually misusing the law to make a profit. KALW reached out to the building’s owners, but could make contact with one; he declined to comment.

In protest, Mykaels has put up posters that cover most of the windows of his second-story unit. The signs read: “Boycott this property. Do not buy properties where seniors or disabled tenants have been evicted for profit by uncaring real estate speculators using and abusing the Ellis Act.”

Read the complete story at KALW. 

Fate of Old-Time Mission Bakeries in the Time of Tech

By Erica Hellerstein, Mission Local

In 1968, Carmen Elias moved to San Francisco from Mexico City. She settled into a comfortable job at Bank of America, where the years drifted into decades. In 1993, she decided it was time for a change and opened La Mejor Bakery on 3329 24th St., just a few paces away from  the BART station at 24th and Mission.

The move empowered Elias, but tore her family apart. “They didn’t talk to me for two years,” she said, sliding a tray of pumpkin empanadas behind the glass counter that young students routinely stare at in open-mouthed anticipation. “They thought it was really a bad neighborhood, really dangerous. And it had a bad reputation.”

Read the complete story at Mission Local. 

 

Bay Area Food Banks Brace for ‘Worrisome’ Cut to Food Stamps

By Mark Andrew Boyer, KQED News Fix

Bay Area food banks struggled throughout the Great Recession and its aftermath to feed the region’s poor and hungry. Now they are facing a new challenge: a new federal farm bill, passed by the House on this week and now awaiting a Senate vote, that will cut food-stamp funding by billions of dollars over the next decade.

Paul Ash, executive director of the SF-Marin Food Bank, says the cuts will likely force people to seek meals at local food pantries and soup kitchens supplied by the food banks. “This is going to stretch every food bank in the state. It is all going to come down to our resources, and how many more people come to our food pantries,” he said. 

Kathy Jackson, chief of Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, echoed those concerns. “There’s no way in the world that the food bank can make up for the cuts we’re seeing. I wish we could.”

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix. 

A Botanist, a Bay Area Island and a Big Surprise

By Alessandra Bergamin, Bay Nature 

For Mike Wood, 1995 was the year of discovery. That was the year the U.S. Navy found him, a well-traveled botanist with a penchant for history, and commissioned him to undertake a rare plant survey of Yerba Buena Island as the Navy prepared to withdraw from the base. For the Navy, the rare plant survey was one part of a required, environmental impact review that would primarily be used to assess any groundwater or soil contamination from hazardous materials. But that original survey has since been adapted and used in the planning process for the redevelopment of Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island.

Like thousands of other Bay Area residents, Wood had driven through the five-lane Yerba Buena tunnel countless times. He had never thought much of the scenery, since from the Bay Bridge, as he approached that gaping mouth drilled through the island’s core, all he could see was a forest of French broom and eucalyptus.

But he accepted the Navy’s proposal, thinking it would, at the very least, be neat for the views. And over the next two years, as he explored each corner of the island, treading lightly through dense vegetation and negotiating steep slopes along the sandstone cliffs, he found himself — botanically — very, very surprised.

Read the complete story at Bay Nature.

Hetch Hetchy’s S.F., Peninsula Customers Are Asked to Cut Water Use by 10 Percent

By Dan Brekke, KQED News Fix 

San Francisco officials are issuing a request for all customers of the Hetch Hetchy water system — that’s everyone in the city, plus roughly 1.8 million customers in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda counties — to reduce water use by 10 percent, effective this Friday.

Tyrone Jue, a spokesman for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, said the agency is asking only for a 10 percent reduction, rather than a 20 percent voluntary cut requested by Gov. Jerry Brown, because the water district’s customers are already “very conscious about their water use.”

The agency says San Francisco’s water use is about 88 gallons per capita per day — less than half of the statewide average of 197, according to the agency.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix.