Robin Ngai, San Francisco Public Press — Jul 11 2014 - 10:33am
The challenge of preserving civil rights while providing mental health care dominated debate about “Laura’s Law,” a controversial measure adopted this week that gives family members and law enforcement a legal means to compel treatment. Proponents say the law will help families frustrated by their loved ones’ refusal to seek treatment, but service providers and activists say it is not a panacea for San Francisco's overstretched mental health system.
With California public schools set to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding in the coming school year, education reform groups say Bay Area school districts have not done enough to bring students — not just parents and other district residents — into the decision-making process.
City residents, advocates and experts gathered at “Hack the Housing Crisis” to come up with ways to make San Francisco more affordable and create space for new tenants. Possible solutions included building portable houses and creating social media websites where renters and landlords could connect. Part of a special report on solutions for housing affordability.
San Francisco has become the epicenter of the Bay Area’s affordability crisis, with high-tech corporations moving in, rents climbing skyward, and despair and evictions sweeping through long-established but lower-income communities. Yet for the sold-out crowd of 140 housing-policy visionaries, advocates, experts and activists at Hack the Housing Crisis, San Francisco’s struggle to house its citizens is an opportunity to build a better city for all. Part of a special report on solutions for housing affordability.
Two Bay Area designers are re-imagining the home as a simple consumer good. If they and other entrepreneurs are successful, San Francisco’s marginal land — including parking spaces — could theoretically be retrofitted to accommodate hundreds or thousands of these barebones, movable living spaces. Part of a special report on solutions for housing affordability.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions and, very often, good urban planning policy ideas too. San Francisco and the Bay Area are no strangers to that road. Yet as talk of a housing crisis grows, the region may need a new attitude more than new ideas to avoid the mistakes of the past. Part of a special report on solutions for housing affordability.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently approved two significant pieces of legislation that support accessory dwelling units, also known as “in-law” or secondary units, in the city. The first, introduced by District 3 Supervisor David Chiu and passed on April 17, enables existing illegal units to be legalized. The second, introduced by District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener and passed on April 16, allows for the construction of new accessory dwellings in his district.
San Francisco could boost its housing stock by as much as one-third — if only homeowners were allowed to build tiny, freestanding cottages in their backyards. This would satisfy the city’s policy of “infill development,” putting more housing on existing underutilized land. But first, the city would have to tweak existing building regulations tailored to mid-20th century lifestyles. Part of a special report on solutions for housing affordability.
With Stanford University dumping its coal investments, and Plan Bay Area’s “smart growth” strategy aiming to reduce regional greenhouse-gas emissions by 2035, has the Bay Area finally turned the corner on climate change? Far from it. In fact, Stanford’s divestment won’t even sting coal companies, and, as reported by the Public Press, Plan Bay Area will actually result in an increase in carbon pollution in the atmosphere.
Research published today also links seasonal water levels to seasonal patterns in seismicity
Depletion of groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley is having wide-ranging effects not just on the agricultural industry and the environment, but also on the very earth beneath our feet. Massive changes in groundwater levels in the southern Central Valley are changing the stresses on the San Andreas Fault, according to research published today.
Nearly 40% of subsidized units cited already exist
In his plan calling for 30,000 units of “new and rehabilitated” housing over six years, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee left many news organizations with the incorrect impression that one-third of those apartments would be additional units that most city residents could afford. Details of the plan actually show that a large fraction of the total consists of already-occupied public housing units that would be repaired, but add little the city’s overall affordable housing stock. Part of a special report on solutions for housing affordability.
While San Francisco’s 350 private corporate buses take thousands of well-off tech employees to work in Silicon Valley every morning, and home to their urban apartments and flats every evening, the service gap in late-night public transportation leaves many of the city’s service workers without a ride to their homes far out of town. Part of a special report on solutions for housing affordability.
A slew of housing experts each sped through 20 slides lasting 20 seconds apiece Tuesday night in a search for solutions to the affordable housing crisis in San Francisco. Not all of their ideas were entirely new, but some of the presenters fleshed out concepts that have been floating around San Francisco political and development circles. Part of a special report on solutions for housing affordability.
Jeremy Adam Smith spoke with host Hana Baba on KALW’s “Crosscurrents” about the disparity that parent fundraising creates between elementary schools in San Francisco, which he covered at length in a recent investigation for the San Francisco Public Press.
“This is the San Francisco Americans pretend does not exist,” James Baldwin said on KQED more than half a century ago.
Baldwin, a world-renowned black writer and activist, was referring to the Fillmore district of San Francisco, where he and KQED documented the after-effects city bulldozing, literally, black neighborhoods in the name of “urban renewal,” and the unemployment and isolation of young blacks in Hunters Point.
“There is no moral distance between the facts of life in San Francisco and the facts of life in Birmingham,” Baldwin said in the same year of the 16th street Baptist church bombing that killed four little girls in Birmingham, Ala.
Since then, the number of black residents of San Francisco has shrunk by nearly half. Black children are grossly over-represented in San Francisco’s foster care and juvenile justice systems, and unemployment among blacks in San Francisco still remains higher than in other groups.
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.
An expected flood of new state money for San Francisco schools next fall was intended to offset educational inequities affecting students from low-income and immigrant families. But many school officials say other, more pressing needs will make it hard to target the extra dollars to schools or programs serving disadvantaged communities. They say most of the funds are needed to fill structural deficits, pay for existing districtwide programs and boost teacher pay across the board. School officials say it is not likely that the district will make drastic changes in programs for disadvantaged students the first-year rollout of California’s new Local Control Funding Formula.
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.
PTA fundraising at public elementary schools in San Francisco is wildly uneven, with only a small number of schools raising enough money in recent years to avoid the worst effects of state budget cuts. Based on Public Press research and conversations with experts in the field, here are some options for addressing uneven access to funding for San Francisco’s public elementary schools.
Concerned about equity, 3 elementary school PTAs pool money for daytime enrichment
The tiny Albany Unified School District in the East Bay was, until 2011, like many others in the state: Schools with the best parent fundraising were able to reap all the benefits for their own kids. Superintendent Marla Stephenson said the disparities had been immediately apparent when she began working for the district in 2008. Three years later she led the switch to a single annual campaign for all three schools — one that could provide an example for San Francisco and other districts struggling with inequities made worse by parent fundraising.