News From Our Partners

Cleaning up gas stations' legacy in Mission District

By Noah Arroyo, Mission Local

What the Mission District lacked in rich people, it made up for in gas stations.

Because the neighborhood was a major transportation corridor, “they were everywhere,” said Albert Lee, who handles many of the city’s cleanup cases as a senior inspector for the Department of Public Health’s Local Oversight Program.

The legacy of that bounty is contamination. Early tanks were built with steel that inevitably corroded and leaked. Other neighborhoods, like wealthy Nob Hill, also experienced contamination leaks, but theirs came from personal heating-oil tanks, Lee said.

A map of contaminated sites in the Mission shows 157 former and 15 ongoing sites. The contamination “plumes” come almost exclusively from older-generation underground storage tanks where gas stations stored gasoline, said Chuck Headlee, the underground storage tank manager for the S.F. Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Read the complete story at Mission Local.

Bikeshare program heading to S.F. this summer

By  Jon Brooks, KQED News Fix

In August, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency will roll out a new bikeshare program in a staggered launch. The effort is part of a five-city initiative by the Bay Area Air Quality Management district to bring bikesharing to the region. The other participating cities are San Jose, Redwood City, Mountain View and Palo Alto.

The San Francisco program will offer 500 bikes at 50 stations downtown, South of Market, and along the eastern edge of the city.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix. 

Community leaders call for transparency in S.F. Police-FBI collaboration

By Zaineb Mohammed, New America Media

Arab American, Muslim and South Asian community leaders are urging Mayor Ed Lee to approve an ordinance that they believe could re-establish trust between their communities and the San Francisco Police Department.

Recently, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors narrowly passed the Safe San Francisco Civil Rights Ordinance, intended to prevent civil rights abuses in Police Department-FBI collaboration. The measure, proposed by Supervisor Jane Kim and supported by about 80 civil rights, legal and community groups, hopes to increase transparency and restore local control over the actions of San Francisco police officers operating as members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The ordinance is up for a final Board of Supervisors vote this week, and if it passes, it will head to the desk of Mayor Ed Lee.  

Read the complete story at New America Media.

Health clinic goes on the road to help underserved youth

By Jordan Katz, KALW

What’s the quickest way to a child’s heart? How about a Harry Potter movie? The staff at the Bay Area’s Teen Health Van know their patients are no exception.

Katie Baker, the van’s newest physician’s assistant, says showing movies makes the patients feel “more comfortable” when waiting for treatment. The mobile clinic’s waiting room is the size of a cubicle. The movie drowns out any sounds coming from nearby exam rooms, helping preserve patient privacy. Patients range in age from 10 to 25 years old. Half are homeless. Most lack health insurance.

“The kids that we see typically have not had regular health care,” says Dr. Seth Ammerman, a practicing pediatrician and medical director of the Teen Health Van. Ammerman says most of the patients have had sporadic physical examinations, if at all. “What we do is provide comprehensive medical care,” Ammerman says.

Read the complete story at KALW. 

Kidnapping charges dropped after supposed victim changes her story

Charges against an El Sobrante man suspected of kidnapping a woman off the streets of San Francisco were dismissed after the supposed victim changed her story in the course of legal proceedings.

A Superior Court judge dismissed the charges on Jan. 20 and freed Terrell Trammell from San Francisco County Jail. The woman police suspected of being the victim said she was Trammell’s girlfriend and not a kidnap victim as she had earlier claimed. 

Stephanie Ong Stillman, spokeswoman for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, said that accounts of the incident from independent witnesses revealed that the suspected victim may have gotten into Trammell’s car voluntarily. 

At the time of arrest last December, the police said Trammell rammed his car into a San Francisco Police Department car on Oakland’s International Boulevard. But no such charges were ever filed.

Deal reached with rival group on California tax hike initiative, governor says

By the Associated Press and KQED, KQED News Fix

Gov. Jerry Brown says he has reached a deal with a rival group to combine forces on a November ballot initiative seeking to raise taxes. Brown told the Associated Press that he is happy with an agreement reached with advocates of the so-called millionaire's tax, including the California Federation of Teachers and Courage Campaign.

Brown says joining forces creates a higher probability of victory, "and that's good for school kids, it's good for public safety." The governor made the comments Wednesday after a press conference at the Boeing Co. facility in Long Beach.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix.

 

S.F. sheriff plea deal means probation, fines

By KQED news staff and wires, KQED News Fix

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge in connection with the domestic violence case involving his wife.

Mirkarimi, 50, appeared in court after agreeing to the plea deal with prosecutors, who dropped three other misdemeanor charges related to a Dec. 31 incident in which he allegedly grabbed and bruised the arm of his wife, Eliana Lopez, during an argument.

He will be sentenced on March 19 to three years' probation, 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling, 100 hours of community service, parenting classes, and will have to pay various fines and fees, prosecutors said.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix. 

Growth of composting industry strains state oversight

By William Harless, California Watch

California’s next big step in recycling – composting its meat scraps, broken egg shells, coffee grounds and other detritus of eating – is straining the state’s ability to effectively manage the ever-growing and sometimes dangerous industry.

In October 2011, 16-year-old Armando Ramirez and his brother, 22-year-old Heladio Ramirez, died of poisoning after Armando had been cleaning out a stormwater drain at the Community Recycling & Resource Recovery composting facility near Bakersfield. Heladio had gone down a hole and into the drain to rescue his brother.

The two undocumented workers inhaled hydrogen sulfide, a poisonous gas that sewage can generate. According to county documents, the facility near Lamont used discharged sewage water from an adjacent utility district to moisten its composting piles.

The brothers' mother, Faustina Ramirez, filed a lawsuit in January against Community Recycling & Resource Recovery seeking at least $25,000 in damages, including funeral and burial expenses. She said she believes the company should have hired a professional service to clean the stormwater drains.

“What happened with my children was negligence – because they didn’t give them protection and because they knew what was going on in that site, and they sent them,” she said in an interview.

Read the complete story at California Watch. California Watch, the state’s largest investigative reporting team, is part of the independent, nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting. For more, visit www.californiawatch.org.

S.F. supervisors OK ordinance requiring commercial buildings to accommodate bicyclists

By KQED News Staff and Wires

People biking to work just got a boost from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which gave initial approval today to an ordinance requiring commercial building owners in the city to accommodate bicyclists in their buildings. 

The proposal, introduced by Supervisor John Avalos last August, would allow tenants to bring bicycles into a building or require building owners to provide secure bike parking nearby.

Owners who want to put limitations on bike access to their buildings would have to complete a bicycle access plan and submit it to the city's Department of the Environment for approval, according to the ordinance, which will go into effect 30 days after its passage.

Read the complete story at KQED's News Fix.

Bay Area Ridge Trail faces uncertain future

By Rachel Gulbraa, Bay Nature

The vision to create a 550-mile trail around the San Francisco Bay is threatened by state park closures scheduled for this summer, trail advocates say.

The Bay Area Ridge Trail may not be the target of California state budget cuts, but because it runs through four state parks that are on the chopping block, advocates are worried about its future. As the July 1 deadline approaches on state park closures, the trail advocates say it's still unclear how trail access, maintenance and public safety will be handled, as well as what happens to long-term prospects for connecting new trails to the loop.

Read the complete story at Bay Nature.