Government

Potentially Earthquake-Unsafe Residential Buildings — a (Very Rough) List

Noah Arroyo, SF Public Press — Jan 14 2013 - 1:51pm

This story appeared in the Winter 2012-2013 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

San Francisco’s Department of Building Inspection has kept a preliminary list of potentially dangerous soft-story buildings since 2009, but inspectors say it has not been verified by actual building inspections, and was never intended for public consumption. Some of the addresses the city generated might be wrong. The Public Press is publishing the list so that residents who might possibly be at risk in their homes can participate in the debate over how best to retrofit thousands of properties in coming years.

Earthquake Retrofit Delays Leave Thousands at Risk

Noah Arroyo and Barbara Grady, SF Public Press — Jan 7 2013 - 6:38pm

It will take at least 7 years to secure older wood buildings dangerously perched above windows or garages

This story appeared in the Winter 2012-2013 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

One in 14 San Franciscans lives in an old building with a first floor that city inspectors say could be vulnerable to collapse if not retrofitted soon to withstand a major earthquake.While officials have had a preliminary list of nearly 3,000 suspect properties for more than three years, they have not told landlords, leaving the estimated 58,000 residents who live there ignorant that their buildings could be unstable.

Q&A: Bay Area Needs to Organize to Fight Sea-Level Rise, SPUR Researcher Says

Annie Sneed, San Francisco Public Press — Mar 24 2014 - 2:36pm

Laura Tam, who has done environmental sustainability research at the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association for six years, says climate change adaptation planning is one of her most important responsibilities. She helped shape the Bay Plan, a controversial policy that answered complaints about guidance recommending restrictions on bay-front development issued by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission in 2010. The following year, she published “Climate Change Hits Home,” listing the ways the Bay Area could be more prepared for changes in weather, freshwater supply and sea-level rise.The following is an edited transcript of our interview with her.

A version of this story ran in the winter 2014 print edition.

Mission Accomplished? Currently Planned Housing Already Meets S.F. Mayor’s ‘Ambitious’ 6-Year Goal

Noah Arroyo, San Francisco Public Press — Mar 13 2014 - 11:21am

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s goal of adding 30,000 units to the housing market by 2020 may not be as “ambitious” or “aggressive” as he claims. Records show that the city could hit that goal just with existing development projects and those currently under review. An assessment by the mayor’s office shows that at least 27,000 housing units are already in the pipeline for construction. In combination with the planned refurbishing of 4,000 homes, projects now in the planning process would more than meet the mayor’s goal.

Activists Call for Revival of Harvey Milk’s Anti-Speculation Proposal

Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 10 2014 - 5:39pm

Before his death, Supervisor Harvey Milk introduced an “anti-speculation” proposal that would have heavily taxed profits generated by quickly flipping properties in San Francisco. Now Brian Basinger, a housing activist and former president of the nostalgically named Harvey Milk Democratic Club, is pushing for the city to resurrect it. The proposal was one of seven considered at Saturday’s citywide Tenant Convention at the Tenderloin Community School auditorium. Participants were able to rank their preference for various proposals by ballot. The event was the culmination of a series of neighborhood tenant conventions that aimed to generate ideas to solve the city’s affordable housing crisis.

New Law Gives People With Criminal History a Chance for a Job and Housing

Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 6 2014 - 7:28pm

A new local law will help people with a past criminal conviction secure housing and find employment in San Francisco. Known as “ban the box,” a newly approved plan by Supervisor Jane Kim will mean job applicants no longer have to disclose their criminal history until after they have participated in a live interview. It will also mean public and private agencies will be limited in how that information can be used to place people in below-market-rate housing.

Some S.F. Leaders Want Failing Streetlights Added to Seismic Safety Bond

Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press — Jan 29 2014 - 2:26pm

A $400 million bond to improve emergency-response services and other public safety infrastructure in San Francisco will be on the June ballot, but Supervisor Scott Wiener said the bond should be expanded to fix hundreds of streetlights that have fallen into disrepair. The bond would include $70 million to repair and retrofit fire stations, $30 million for improvements to police stations and $65 million toward the construction of a new seismically sound medical examiner facility. It would also include $70 million in upgrades to the city’s alternative water supply system used to fight fires and $165 million for a new police building for traffic and forensic services. The proposal is the second in a series of Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response bonds that the city has proposed in order to cover the costs associated with retrofiting buildings and other infrastructure in preparation for a large earthquake.

Audio Interview: Board Game Teaches California’s Cap-and-Trade Climate Program

Chorel Centers and Adriel Taquechel, San Francisco Public Press — Jan 27 2014 - 12:56pm

Public Press reporter Chorel Centers sat down with editor Michael Stoll and illustrator Anna Vignet to discuss the creation of a board game that allows teaches players how California’s year-old cap-and-trade greenhouse gas pollution control program works. It's part of a trend of “gamification” of the news, using interactive formats to engage audiences and teach complex policy issues. Players work as greenhouse gas tycoons in a race to make money before the caps on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases take full effect. The game is laid out like a Monopoly board.

The project was published in the summer 2013 print edition, and the prototype board game was printed on the back page of the first section of the newspaper. It accompnanied an extensive investigation on California’s cap and trade program, which aims to cut back to 1990 levels of greenhouse gases by 2020.

New Responses to City Housing Crisis Include Eviction Protections, Construction Incentives

Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press — Jan 15 2014 - 5:22pm

Supervisor Eric Mar on Tuesday floated a plan to protect tenants from eviction by property owners selling units within multifamily buildings under tenancy in common agreements. It is the latest in a series of attempts to reduce displacement and increase affordable housing opportunities. David Campos called on Mayor Ed Lee to join him in regulating the tenant “buyouts” that often allow landlords to evict without invoking the Ellis Act, and Scott Wiener introduced new legislation to encourage developers to build more affordable units.

Supervisors Respond to Increased Pedestrian Deaths With Questions About Ride Sharing

Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press — Jan 8 2014 - 7:32pm

With pedestrian deaths reaching a high point in San Francisco last year, elected leaders vowed Tuesday to address a problem that killed 20 people in 2013. The issue was given a new sense of urgency with the tragic death of another pedestrian just outside City Hall shortly after the supervisors’ weekly meeting concluded.

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