David Owen was a freshly minted lawyer when he decided to open up a marijuana-focused land-use law firm in San Francisco. The former legislative aide to then-Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin had been involved in the early days of the city's cannabis regulation development. Since opening his firm, Owen has represented SPARC, a high-end medical pot dispensary, and helps local pot cultivators navigate conflicted legal waters. In light of regulation problems in Southern California and San Jose, Owen talked about the challenges of being a medical marijuana attorney as San Francisco’s once forward-thinking regulations have become "stagnated" over the past six years.
UPDATE 5/2/11: Sherriff Michael Hennessey wrote an op-ed piece in the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle explaining his position on Secure Communities.
More than two decades ago, San Francisco took a stand against what it saw as an attack on undocumented immigrants. It imposed a “sanctuary city” policy, shielding people without papers who had been arrested on minor crimes and without criminal histories from federal immigration officials. Last June, however, the federal government introduced a database that began to vacuum up identifications of everyone arrested, looking for immigration violations. But now city officials are planning to again shield some immigrants in the San Francisco jail from possible deportation by refusing to hand them over. Sheriff Michael Hennesey says he believes this is permissible under federal law.
Erica Gies, Special to SF Public Press — Apr 13 2011 - 3:47pm
COMMENTARY: It’s like the Oscars for the Patagonia set. Every April, just before Earth Day, San Francisco’s environmental community comes together at the city’s Opera House to laud six grassroots activists from around the globe, whose stories enrage and inspire. The Goldman Environmental Prize offers recipients $150,000 to use as they see fit and international recognition that confers respect on their endeavors, pressures their local governments to act, and even protects their personal safety.
One of San Francisco’s principal shelters is gambling on a new lottery system, operational as of today, that it says will more effectively allocate available beds for homeless people. The plan by Multi-Service Center-South, a 300-bed shelter at Fifth and Bryant streets, is aimed at ending competition among shelter seekers, who line up daily during the early morning hours in the hopes of obtaining one of 60 single-night bed reservations available across the city.
In the future, you might not need to go to a doctor for follow up visits even if you suffer from a chronic disease. You can connect devices like blood pressure or glucose meters to your phone or enter in data from them, as well as tell your device how you are feeling. The phone (or the application, to be exact) will tell you if you need to adjust your habits, diet or medication – or if you should visit your doctor. Mobile technology is expected to give patients better access to care at lower costs while empowering them to take care of their health. At the University of California, San Francisco, Jeff Jorgenson and his mHealth development team are building next-generation patient apps.
Second of two articles about hygiene options for San Francisco’s homeless
San Francisco’s 25 freestanding, so-called “self-cleaning” public restrooms scattered across the city are magnets for prostitution and drug use. They are so filthy that even after automatic cleanings, they require one to five manual scrub-downs a day. The Department of Public Works, which contracted with JCDecaux more than a decade ago to install and maintain the units, blames the company. The company blames the police. And the police say they don’t have time to babysit city toilets 24 hours a day. The homeless are often shut out of the facilities, which constitute the only public restrooms where they are welcome. Meanwhile, San Francisco takes a cut of the company’s profits from billboards that envelope the toilets.
For San Francisco writer Yvonne Daley, the birth of the city’s Octavia Boulevard signified more than a swanky refurbishment of the streets to replace the neighborhood's dilapidated Central Freeway. The thoroughfare that was created following the ruin of the freeway in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and its impact on the people who resided there, serves as the backdrop for her latest book.
The book, “Octavia Boulevard,” is designed as a memoir, and Daley moves between stories of her life and the people she befriends in the neighborhood, and intertwines snippets about some of the economic and political issues in the city at large — homelessness, drug abuse, housing woes, same-sex marriage — as it relates to those people.
PG&E has proposed charging residential customers to opt out of having wireless transmission of electric meters turned off at their homes.
The proposal announced Thursday would allow the utility to recoup the expenses it says are associated with running an opt-out program by charging participating customers. The utility has come up with a rate program with one-time charges of either $135 or $270, plus either monthly fixed charges or a surcharge on hourly rates for gas and electric.
City College of San Francisco is helping students without a science background gain laboratory experience to work in the biotech industry, one of the Bay Area’s most promising employment sectors. The idea is to meet the demand in the industry for lab technicians who don't necessarily have four-year degrees in science. While some big companies have been hesitant to take on two-year college graduates from the Bridge to Biotech program, smaller companies are more willing to take a risk on them. How much education do you need to get a laboratory job? “Science always seemed to me like something for the intellectual elite,” said Kiel Copeland, whose internship led to a job at a San Francisco startup developing drugs to fight HIV and other viruses. “I never saw myself as that.”
First of two articles about hygiene options for San Francisco’s homeless
This much is clear: the lack of public restroom facilities in the Tenderloin is causing a stench. Fecal matter covers the streets, making it nearly impossible to walk without looking down to dodge the droppings. But what is less clear is who’s to blame.
At the end of February, SF Weekly, The Examiner and SF Gate each ran stories accusing food service providers of not offering adequate bathroom facilities to accompany their operations – effectively saying that they were stuffing people with food, then giving them no place to go afterwards.
However, an investigation by the Public Press showed that the largest non-profit kitchens, which serve food more than three days a week to thousands of hungry people in the Tenderloin, also provide restroom facilities.
A Muni light-rail vehicle was struck by a big rig Monday morning, injuring six people, according to San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Lieutenant Mindy Talmadge, in an incident that highlights the rancorous debate happening right now at the state level concerning the city’s transport safety.
The California Public Utilities Commission is weighing a decision to penalize San Francisco's Metropolitan Transit Agency for alleged violations of key safety regulations on its light-rail system, including defective tracks and a malfunctioning automatic train control system.
A failure to communicate more regularly, and transparently, with the state was another charge leveled at the agency in a recent report issued by the commission, which oversees safety guidelines for all rail systems in the state..
A computer failure forced San Francisco homeless shelter residents to wait hours in the cold to gain admittance as staffers turned to pen and paper to register those who needed assistance.
The system, known as Coordinated Homeless Assistance through Guidance and Effective Services went offline on March 12 as the city's Human Services Agency underwent seismic upgrades at its building on Otis Street.
California health and emergency officials said a “plume” of radiation coming from the Japanese nuclear crisis that’s expected to hit the West Coast as early as tomorrow will bring radiation levels to no higher than normal background levels.
The California Public Utilities Commission has decided to allow PG&E customers to opt-out of having Smart Meters installed in their homes in Northern California.
PG&E is expected to present a proposal back to the commission within two weeks to allow the opt-out "at a reasonable customer cost," according to utilities commission President Michael Peevey.
Foes of the Smart Meters were pushing for a moratorium on further installation of the devices.
The America’s Cup, still two years away from its arrival in San Francisco, is already a topic of concern among environmental groups and regulators. Officials have launched an accelerated environmental review of the plans, and the event organizer are promising to raise tens of millions of dollars to mitigate the effects of the world’s premier sailing event. Part of the concern is boat traffic. Also on the agenda: the pollution from cleaning and repairing the boats.
Even as supporters of the University of San Francisco’s radio station race to file a petition with federal regulators to block the sale of its frequency, the school and a nonprofit group called Classical Public Radio Network are moving quickly to relocate the station’s transmitter off campus.
Dismissing critics of the recent dismantling of the student- and community-run radio station, USF and the radio network filed their own petition Monday to move the transmitter to Sausalito, requesting speedy approval.
Assemblymen Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) and Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) have proposed legislation to ban all sales and distribution of shark fins in the state. Both assemblymen say the shark population has decreased dramatically due to the popular rise of a Chinese delicacy of shark fin soup served at many Chinese restaurants in the Bay Area.
Opponents of the legislation like State Sen. Leland Yee says this is an attack on the Chinese culture and heritage.
Erica Gies, Crosscurrents on KALW Public Radio — Feb 14 2011 - 6:48pm
The movie “Jaws” created the notion of sharks as powerful eating machines who stalk humans. Yet ironically, in the 35 years since that movie debuted, it’s sharks that have been driven nearly extinct by humans. Around the world, about 10 people are killed by sharks annually. But every year humans kill up to 73 million sharks.
These numbers are unsustainable, and as a result, shark populations have been decimated — many dropping 90 to 99 percent over the last few decades. It’s largely because of a status symbol dish popular in Asia: shark fin soup. As Asian economies have boomed, particularly China’s, demand for shark fin soup has exploded. The San Francisco Bay Area has one of the largest Chinese populations outside of Asia, so activists here are trying to stop the excesses of the shark fin fishery.
The city says it spends $3.5 million annually on unclogging sewers from fats, oils and grease from food service establishments. A new ordinance that received a unanimous vote by the Board of Supervisors this week requires all restaurants to have a grease capturing device. The devices will be inspected by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to make sure they are working properly and are well-maintained.
In much the same way as they annually transform a desolate stretch of the Nevada desert into a week-long countercultural art festival, the organizers of Burning Man are now hoping to transform a desolate stretch of San Francisco’s Market Street.