Some funds restored, temperature lowered at UC protests

Rosemary Macaulay, SF Public Press — Oct 13 2010 - 4:40pm

Students, staff and faculty protested across nine UC campuses last week in defense of public education after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the 2010-2011 state budget, which partially restores the deep budget cuts made to higher education last year. Though less fired up than they had been during the previous year’s demonstrations, the protesters at Berkeley remained far from satisfied.

Muni update: Plan in the works to restore Muni service

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Oct 11 2010 - 1:05pm

A subcommittee of The Muni Restoration Task Force met for the second time on Oct. 8 to discuss how to fully restore the service cuts made in the May and how to increase performance.

John Haley, director of transit operations and management, presented a nine page draft of several proposals to increase reliability and travel time for commuters. The task force looked at solutions that the agency would be able to implement within the next year.

Muni update: Drivers feeling the squeeze

Jerold Chinn and Monica Jensen, SF Public Press — Oct 4 2010 - 6:21pm

SF Public Press multimedia editor Monica Jensen met with Muni operator Emmanuel Andreas, who was featured in a story in the Public Press’ summer print edition, to discuss how Muni’s on-time performance goals affect drivers.

Story in progress: Veteran smart growth group wary of rushing to judgment

Maureen Nandini Mitra, SF Public Press — Sep 27 2010 - 2:27pm

The other day we had a chance to chat over the phone with Jeremy Madsen, executive director of Greenbelt Alliance. This much-respected nonprofit has been advocating smart growth and open spaces in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1958. In 2008 the outfit published Smart Infill, a 80-page report that recommends infill development — building on vacant lots and redeveloping blighted urban areas — as a way of accommodating the Bay Area’s growing population without paving the region’s farms and natural areas.

Unveiling the Presidio’s new green neighborhood

Victoria Schlesinger, SF Public Press/Way Out West — Sep 23 2010 - 4:37pm

The Presidio will open a green chapter in its storied existence this weekend when it invites the public to explore the restored and sustainably upgraded Public Health Service District. The Marine Hospital and a handful of residences near 15th Avenue and Lake Street on the southern edge of the Presidio have been converted into a residential neighborhood after decades of debate about the district’s future.

Prop. 8 backers criticize judge in appeal briefs

Kristine Magnuson, SF Public Press — Sep 22 2010 - 11:37am

The task facing the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is determining who — if anyone — has the standing to appeal last month’s ruling overturning Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in California. Both the original backers of the initiative and Imperial County are seeking that status in briefs filed last week. A three-judge panel of the court will hear arguments in December.

Story in progress: ‘Smart growth’ or bay fill in Redwood City? ABAG has the numbers

Maureen Nandini Mitra, SF Public Press — Sep 20 2010 - 12:50pm

The Bay Area needs more homes for its growing population, but does it make sense to house 30,000 people on unstable land, in earthquake country, that’s also at high risk of inundation by rising sea waters? A massive development proposal on the fringes of the San Francisco Bay, in one of the last potentially developable areas in the region, is raising questions about the definition of smart growth. [The Public Press is developing an in-depth report for the fall print edition and the website. We are raising funds on the journalism micro-funding site Spot.us to pay for the reporting and photography on the story.]

Ban on gays in military heading to key Senate vote

Angela Hart, SF Public Press — Sep 17 2010 - 1:12pm

A recent ruling by a federal court in Southern California — that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding the right of gays to serve in the military — is unconstitutional. The move could pave the way to lifting the ban entirely. Now, nearly five months after the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee voted in favor of repealing the ban on gays in the military, the Senate could be headed for a final vote.

Judge orders release of documents in failed CalPERS real estate investment

Maureen Nandini Mitra, SF Public Press — Sep 15 2010 - 4:13pm

A judge has ordered the California Public Employees' Retirement System to release key documents related to a failed $100 million real estate investment in East Palo Alto. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Charlotte Wollard wrote in her ruling in the lawsuit by the First Amendment Coalition that public interest in the documents "far outweighs any asserted interest in non-disclosure'' given the amount of public money lost.

Is it ‘smart growth’ to build in the San Francisco Bay? Updates from the field

Maureen Nandini Mitra, SF Public Press — Sep 13 2010 - 4:45pm

The Bay Area needs more homes for its growing population, but does it make sense to house 30,000 people on unstable land, in earthquake country, that’s also at high risk of inundation by rising sea waters? A massive development proposal on the fringes of the San Francisco Bay, in one of the last potentially developable areas in the region, is raising questions about the definition of smart growth. [The Public Press is developing an in-depth report for the fall print edition and the website. We are raising funds on the journalism micro-funding site Spot.us to pay for the reporting and photography on the story.]

Utopianism behind them, co-ops seek new strength helping low-wage workers

Mineko Brand, SF Public Press — Sep 9 2010 - 10:00am

Worker-owned cooperatives are growing as an alternative business model that puts the people who do the work in control. And they are getting a lot more organized than in the recent past, turning local networks into regional and national organizations. With the Bay Area still grappling with high unemployment rates and a weak economy, co-op advocates say they have a solution that is gaining momentum. Membership in the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives has grown 25 percent a year for the past two years, said Melissa Hoover, executive director of the San Francisco-based group.

Boxer: Nation needs more green jobs

Alison Hawkes, SF Public Press/Way Out West — Sep 1 2010 - 2:07pm

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has come out swinging on environmental causes, linking the nation’s longer term economic prospects to growth in the green energy industry. She railed against corporations for sending jobs overseas, vowing to eliminate their tax breaks and reward those who build an environmentally benign economy at home. She is running a high-profile race against GOP opponent Carly Fiorina.

Berkeley scientists’ next green energy alternative: stomach bug to biofuel

Ambika Kandasamy, SF Public Press — Aug 31 2010 - 9:43am

A team of local biotech researchers may have found a way to avoid using essential food crops for fuel by genetically modifying harmless strains of a bacteria most people associate with human food poisoning. The result is an extremely expensive fuel — hardly competitive with fossil fuels at $25 per gallon — but marks the beginning of a new look at green energy.

In second week of school, nearly 50 district staff still without jobs

Rosemary Macaulay, SF Public Press — Aug 25 2010 - 2:01pm

Even as classes began last week for San Francisco’s 55,000 public school students, nearly 50 teachers and other staff remained out of a job as the school district struggled to find openings to rehire them after a summer of budget cutting. Previously laid-off staff continued to get recall notices, with the most recent rehires announced Thursday. The majority of recalls were made in the last month. Still, eight teachers and 40 paraprofessionals remained laid off.

Ask an environmentalist: Driving vs. flying? Clothes compost? Wind-powered Safeway? Ozone anxiety?

Jon Mooallem, SF Public Press — Aug 24 2010 - 4:40pm

Which has a bigger carbon footprint, flying or driving from SF to LA? Can I compost my old clothing? Can a Safeway really be wind-powered? What’s the deal with the ozone layer? Writer Jon Mooallem digs into quandaries both weighty and lightheaded.

Arts groups make the case for greater slice of public funds

Gianmaria Franchini, SF Public Press — Aug 21 2010 - 4:39pm

Nonprofit art organizations are big business in San Francisco, employing 28,000 people and providing tens of millions in state and local revenues. And they want politicians to pay attention. “There is nothing more important we can do than advancing art in America,” said Randy Cohen, vice president of local arts advancement at Americans for the Arts. He said the arts have a large impact on job creation and state and local government revenue.

Green hip-hop group pruned by budget cuts

Ambika Kandasamy, SF Public Press — Aug 20 2010 - 1:50pm

A local organization that promotes environmental consciousness through hip-hop culture is going on hiatus this fall after losing major funding from the city of San Francisco. Grind for the Grind hosted its first — and final — “eco-music festival” of the year in Oakland last weekend. The event, FreshFest, brought local hip-hop musicians, artists and sustainable food producers together for a day of solar-powered live jamming, healthy eats and green-themed crafts. After losing its San Francisco grant, the festival was free to move from Yerba Buena Gardens, where it had been for two years, to Oakland’s Mosswood Park. But there still wasn’t enough money to put on the usual four summer festivals.

Test results of city sludge don’t satisfy critics

Alison Hawkes, SF Public Press/Way Out West — Aug 18 2010 - 12:58pm

When activists dumped processed sewage compost on the steps of San Francisco City Hall in March, the stunt was meant to draw national attention toward a supposed hypocrisy afoot in the greenest city in America. The city immediately stopped the giveaway of sewage sludge, a mixture of treated sewage and yard wastes, and ordered a series of expensive tests to prove its safety. The Public Utilities Commission said the compost was no worse than commercial fertilizers. But opponents say the fight is far from over.

San Francisco left seeks to channel spirit of ’75

Mineko Brand, SF Public Press — Aug 17 2010 - 3:34pm

It could have been the plot of a science fiction novel, or perhaps “Rip Van Winkle.” Thirty-five years after its first meeting, the Community Congress awakens in 2010 to find its city and the world transformed — and perhaps a new reason for being. Many things in San Francisco have changed since the first such gathering in 1975. The first Community Congress was held that June and is credited for several major political changes to the city, including rent control and district elections.

Environmental groups concerned about Treasure Island traffic

Victoria Schlesinger, SF Public Press/Way Out West — Aug 16 2010 - 4:54pm

After a string of environmental groups and Treasure Island redevelopment critics requested more time to analyze the San Francisco project’s complex and lengthy draft environmental impact review last week, the Planning Commission granted them an additional two weeks. The public now has until Sept. 10 to submit written comments about the 2,000-plus-page report, first released in mid-July, which discusses environmental concerns ranging from transportation and greenhouse gas emissions to accommodating sea level rise and girding for earthquakes.