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Resident health measured in new online report card

A large number of private and public health groups have put together a report card grading the health of San Francisco residents.

The Community Vital Signs report was introduced online Thursday and will identify areas of concern using collected data.

The report has drawn from about 50 sources and uses 150 measures, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Some examples of data from the report include Bayview-Hunters Point residents will live 14 fewer years on average than those living on Russian Hill, and about 800 people are injured or killed by cars each year while walking around the city, with pedestrian accidents most commonly occurring in Chinatown, the Financial District, South of Market and Civic Center.

Health officials plan to use the report card to monitor the health of residents and to make improvements where ever possible.

The city has been posting health data online since 2007 with the Health Matters in San Francisco website. The Community Vital Signs report builds upon that and serves as a sort of one-stop shop for health providers, policymakers, employers and residents with more and comparable data to use to improve health conditions and find solutions to problems.

The report card took more than a year to develop. The report card will be managed by the Healthy Communities Foundation of Sausalito, who also designed the software used. Officials say data can be updated in real time once it becomes available.

Board president wants promoters to register with city

San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu wants to make it city law that event promoters must register online with the city in order to host events at clubs.

Chiu said the ordinance will weed out untrustworthy promoters like those whose events in the past have attracted violence to areas where clubs are located, according to SF Appeal. 

The ordinance would provide officials with some level of oversight on promoters for the first time. 

If approved, all promoters would have to register with the city's Entertainment Commission, and clubs would only be allowed to work with registered promoters.

Promoters that get a record of putting on events that have resulted in violence would face tougher regulations, including increased security requirements, liability insurance and criminal background checks of employees, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

The ordinance is part of the city's attempt to curb violence at and around nightclubs after three widely publicized shootings in the past year.

Newsom looking to expand background checks on potential city employees

On Tuesday KCBS radio reported on Mayor Gavin Newsom looking to expand background checks on potential city employees. This was brought on by the case of former city engineer Terry Childs, who took San Francisco’s computer system hostage for weeks back in 2008.

Childs had felony convictions in Kansas for robbery and burglary, information that was left out because San Francisco only goes as far as California for background checks.

Newsom spokesman Tony Winnicker said: “This legislation will give us a greater ability to weed those kind of folks out, so nobody falls through the cracks like Terry Childs.”

Criminal history doesn’t automatically cut out an applicant, but it provides a better way to match the said applicant to the right position, according to the KCBS report.

Board to consider expanding tobacco ban

After becoming the first city in the country to ban tobacco sales in drug stores, San Francisco now must decide whether to expand the bill to include banning tobacco from all stores that have pharmacies.

The bill is designed to close a loophole that arose out of a lawsuit from Walgreen’s, which saw cigarettes vanish from its stores but not at supermarkets and big-box stores with pharmacies, making Walgreen’s say it was unfairly targeted, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

A California appeals court sided with Walgreen’s, which forced the board to craft the new legislation. 

The expansion of the tobacco ban would bring the total number of stores on the no-smoking list from 60 to 74, according to SF Weekly.

Safeway, which makes up nine of the 14 stores that would be added to the list, has suggested paying for an educational anti-smoking campaign or to exclude stores where pharmacies don’t take up much floor space instead of being included in the ban. A spokesperson said this bill was another in a line of bills that has made it harder to conduct business in the city, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

A vote on the legislation was expected later Tuesday, with a final vote to pass it in two weeks. Mayor Gavin Newsom has said he will sign the bill.

Police present plan to stop violence at nightclubs

San Francisco police have finalized plans to curb violence that occurs outside area nightclubs.

Under the new plans, entertainment venues would have to have security cameras, metal detectors and ID scanners that electronically store a person’s driver’s license data for 15 daysto counter recent violence that has occurred outside nightclubs, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. 

ID data would be turned over to police at their request, along with camera images, according to a draft of the recommended plans. 

Tony Winnicker, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s spokesman, said these plans are only preliminary and are one step in a lengthy process that will include input from club owners and promoters. 

“The mayor asked for the most expansive list of possible steps that could be taken,” Winnicker said. “The idea is that we would narrow it down to the ones that would be both practical and prudent to ensure public safety inside and outside the clubs.”

Some of the plans will likely be opposed by civil rights advocates on the grounds they invade privacy. Club owners will probably see some recommendations as expensive and impractical.

Currently, an appointed Entertainment Commission reviews security plans for venues before issuing permits. After several shootings outside venues, the mayor and Board of Supervisors questioned whether the panel could effectively manage the clubs.

Plans were formulated shortly after theAug. 8 killing of tourist Mechthild Schröer, 50, of Minden, Germany, who was killed in a hail of gunfire along the tourist-filled 400 block of Mason Street, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

Venues will have to meet the conditions in order to obtain an entertainment permit.

CityPlace foes lose appeal before Board of Supervisors

Plans to break ground for a mid-level retail mall on Market Street — CityPlace — are underway for the summer of 2011, say project consultants.

Though the prospective tenants are “highly confidential,” the developer, Urban Realty, is actively seeking retailers to fill the three vacant buildings on Market Street between Fifth and Sixth streets, one of which is the old St. Francis Theater.

The Planning Commission’s approval of the project’s environmental review in July  was appealed by Livable City. The appeal was  unanimously rejected by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

A subsurface parking lot with nearly 200 spaces and concerns about historic preservation of the vacant buildings were the most contentious issues regarding CityPlace.

Oakland cops to receive uniform-mounted cameras

Oakland police will receive uniform-mounted cameras within the next few weeks, The Oakland Tribune reported Thursday.

The cell phone-sized cameras will cost more than half a million dollars for the whole system that includes 350 cameras. The money allotted for the cameras was originally going to go to an in-car system surveillance program, but the equipment never worked properly and the company that provided the system went belly-up.

The video footage from the cameras can never be deleted. Department spokesman Officer Jeff Thomason told the Tribune that the new technology could “streamline the truth-finding process by providing the best evidence” and “provide an additional layer of accountability and trust between the police and the public.”

Officers don’t have to tell anybody they encounter that they are being filmed since there is no expectation of privacy in a public.

Mayor says SF has cut homeless by 12,000

Mayor Gavin Newsom said he has reduced the homeless population of San Francisco by 12,000 since taking office in 2004.

The number includes those helped by programs such as Care Not Cash, which slashes welfare checks in exchange for housing, and Homeward Bound, which pays for people’s bus tickets home.

Newsom referred to former Mayor Willie Brown and his famous statement homelessness could never be solved in San Francisco, saying, “It can be solved,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported. 

Dariush Kayhan, Newsom’s director of homeless policy, said around 7,000 people have found permanent supportive housing, and that 90 percent who find housing are able to stay housed. The city paid for 5,000 bus tickets for homeless folks who had a receptive relative or friend to pick them up.

A biennial homeless count shows a 25 percent drop in homelessness since Newsom took office. However, those numbers show the drop occurred between 2003 and 2005. Homelessness has risen slightly since then.

As part of his campaign for lieutenant governor, Newsom wants to expand his homeless programs, such as one-stop shop for homeless services Project Homeless Connect, to the entire state.

The city estimated there were 6,500 homeless people in the city earlier this year, but homeless experts put the number at between 10,000 to 15,000, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

City passes alcohol fee, mayor vows to veto

 The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday to pass a fee on alcohol distribution to help cover the cost of treating and dealing with problem alcoholics, but the measure faces a certain mayoral veto.

The board voted 7-3 in favor of the fee, which will be imposed on liquor wholesalers, brew pubs and winemakers beginning Jan. 1, according to the Associated Press. It needed eight votes to survive a veto from Mayor Gavin Newsom.

The approval came amidst heavy opposition from the alcohol industry and business advocates who said the fee will harm the local economy, according to the San Francisco Examiner. The fee breaks down to about three cents for a beer and four or five cents for a glass of wine or hard liquor. At the wholesale level that works out to 35 cents per gallon of beer sold, $1 per gallon of wine and $3.20 per gallon of hard liquor.

Revenue generated from the fee is estimated at $15-16 million. The fee would cover 90 percent of what the city spends on helping problem drinkers with things such as substance abuse treatment.

The fee is the first of its kind in the state, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Its backers say without its additional revenue, the city will find it difficult to keep existing services intact. Mayor Newsom sided with the opposition, saying now isn't the time to place additional burdens on businesses that are already struggling in this economy. Liquor industry representatives have pledged to sue if the fee is passed.

Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier was recused from the vote because she owns a small wine business with her husband. A final vote is scheduled for next Tuesday.