Front page of Issue 16

The winter 2015 print edition is in stores now. Special report on the persistence of segregation in local public schools. Plus: 24-page insert commemorating the now shuttered weekly San Francisco Bay Guardian, produced by the newspaper’s former staff.

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Living Wage: UC Berkeley's Ken Jacobs on Restaurant Wages in San Francisco

By Todd Whitney, KALW Crosscurrents

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, San Francisco passed a variety of measures to help low-wage workers try to keep up with the rising cost of living. The city now has the highest minimum wage in the country, at $10.74  an hour. It also requires employers to either provide health benefits or pay into a pool so the city can cover their health care costs.

So how has this worked out for workers and their employers? Ken Jacobs has been studying those questions for over a decade. He is chair of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, and co-author of the book "When Mandates Work" about the impact of San Francisco’s labor laws..

KALW’s Todd Whitney invited Jacobs on a driving tour around some of San Francisco’s restaurants to get an on-the-scene sense of wage issues.

Listen to the complete interview at KALW Crosscurrents. 


Harassment on Muni and BART — Informal Poll of Women Who Use Public Transit

By Laura Wenus, Mission Local

BART and Muni records of catcalling, groping, rape and other types of sexual harassment on stations and vehicles indicate that this public nuisance is rare.

Only 12 incidents have been recorded in the past two years. BART’s numbers are even more impressive, with no incidents whatsoever in the Mission since 2012, and only 20 incidents in all of San Francisco.

Talk to women on the streets, however, and it quickly becomes clear how misleading the official numbers are. In only 19 interviews, Mission Local turned up six victims of sexual harassment — half the official number reported in two years. Extrapolate out, and it is likely that among the 700,000 boardings a day on Muni and 117,000 on BART, sexual harassment incidents number in the thousands.

Read the complete story at Mission Local. 

Preserving San Francisco’s Latino Voices

By Leslie Nguyen-Okwu, Mission Local

If San Francisco city planners had known more about the former thriving North Beach Latino neighborhood near Guadalupe Church, they would have done more to minimize the negative impact of the Broadway Tunnel, which ultimately displaced the community in the early 1950s.

Now, a team of scholars working with the San Francisco Latino Historical Society and San Francisco Heritage are in the midst of collecting the Latino and indigenous history in San Francisco through a project called Nuestra Historia. The group had its second public meeting on Saturday at the Mission Neighborhoods Center on Capp Street to record stories. It is one of many ways the group is documenting Latino history.

Read the complete story at Mission Local.

Replanting Bay’s Underwater Meadows

By Katie Harrington, Bay Nature

Wildlife in the San Francisco Bay can be  elusive. If it is not flapping quickly by, it is diving for a meal, cruising the ocean floor or intermittently surfacing to breathe. In other words, it can be hard to take a closer look —  that is, until you wade into an eelgrass meadow and literally feel the wildlife brush against your legs.

Beginning this summer, there will be more of those meadows to visit. In June, Kathy Boyer, an associate professor of biology at San Francisco State University’s Romberg Tiburon Center, began a nine-year effort to restore 70 acres of Zostera marina, the native eelgrass in the bay. The work is funded by settlement money from the Cosco Busan oil spill that emptied 58,000 gallons into the  bay in 2007.

Read the complete story at Bay Nature. 

How to Prepare for Bay Area’s Next Earthquake

By Lisa Pickoff-White, KQED News Fix

The South Napa Earthquake is a sobering reminder that the Bay Area could be hit by a devastating earthquake at any time. Are you prepared?

1) Create an Earthquake Kit

Unlike hurricanes and other severe storms, earthquakes come without any notice, so it is imperative to have a supply kit that will keep you and your family safe and comfortable if disaster strikes. You should have supplies for three days.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix. 

Technically Illegal: How Thousands of S.F. Property Owners and Renters Are Breaking the Law

By Ben Trefny, KALW Crosscurrents

Activists gathered in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood last month to call attention to part of the city’s housing crisis. They got together around a three-unit apartment building where flats are rented out to vacationers through an online broker. The protesters plastered the building with green stickers that said the tourist rentals there are illegal.

This used to be the rent-controlled home of elderly tenants, until out-of-town investors bought the building and ousted the residents. That makes Ted Gullicksen furious.

“They’re making a lot of money doing this, and it’s a purely illegal business model,” he says. “They’re taking away our rent-controlled housing stock and they’re causing evictions.”

Read the complete story at KALW Crosscurrents. 

'Future Is Rich' for City College of San Francisco, Says Chancellor

By Peter Schurmann, New America Media 

This week marks the start of the fall semester at City College of San Francisco, which celebrates its 80th anniversary next year. Even as the fight to retain its accreditation continues, school administrators say they are working to ensure the school's survival for another 80 years.

“City College is not too big to fail, it’s too important to fail,” said Chancellor Art Tyler at a press briefing last week. The comment was in response to a recent New York Times op-ed slamming the school for its perceived fiscal and educational shortcomings.

Read the complete story at New America Media.


Enter the Void: New Buildings, Vacant Storefronts

By Daniel Hirsch, Mission Local

In the Mission this past year, at least four large mixed-use developments have opened their glittering modern doors for amenity-rich housing to those who can afford it (and, in the case of about 50 out of 270 households, those who got lucky in an affordable housing lottery).

In almost every case, before a building has even finished construction, the market-rate residential units get scooped up quickly—units at the 3500 19th Street development sold for a record-breaking rate of $1,400 a square foot. But to say these buildings are at full capacity omits a glaring on-the-ground truth: The street level commercial spaces frequently remain vacant—for months or even a year or more.

Read the complete story at Mission Local. 

Survey of Mission District Families Tries to Discover Why Kids Are Falling Behind

By Melanie Young, KALW Crosscurrents

With the start of a new school year, families all around San Francisco are sending their children off with hopes for a good year and a bright future. But according to Carolina Guzman with the nonprofit Mission Economic Development Agency, children in the Mission District struggle on every rung of the education ladder. She says half the children entering kindergarten are not prepared to learn.

“They don’t know their figures, colors, letters,” she said. “So that’s a big problem.”

The problems continue as the children advance through school.

Read the complete story at KALW Crosscurrents. 


Water Bond Heads to November Ballot as Proposition 1

By Scott Detrow/KQED News Fix

A plan to spend $7.5 billion on water projects across California is on its way to the November ballot.

The water bond measure — officially the “Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014” — passed both houses with near-unanimous support Wednesday night.

The signing ceremony Gov. Jerry Brown held immediately after the vote was the kind of sight that has become an endangered species in politics these days: a bipartisan celebration of a major legislative package.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix.