How BART lost $70 million in federal grants

Nathanael Johnson, KALW Public Radio — Feb 22 2010 - 3:40pm

When the federal government announced that BART would not be getting $70 million for extending its rail service to Oakland International Airport, it seemed puzzling. Wasn't this just the kind of project that the stimulus funds were meant to help? It turns out that the project was derailed by not following the Civil Rights Act. Project boosters and foes tell what happened in this report from KALW-FM.

Newspapers are art

John C. Liau, SF Public Press — Feb 22 2010 - 1:25pm

For Artopia competitor Phillip Hua, a digital media instructor at the Academy of Art, his piece, “Re: action,” is a mixed-media work using everyday objects such as newspapers (The Wall Street Journal), plastic and aluminum. His creation tells the story of the environment and its relationship to the economy, and how everything is related and degrades over time. The quality of the other finalists’ art “is great here, I do feel a little intimidated but it’s been fun.”

Environmentalists, preservationists face off in Parkmerced

Alison Hawkes, KALW Public Radio — Feb 18 2010 - 6:08pm

KALW Public Radio reporter Alison Hawkes took a closer look at Parkmerced, where owners are pitching a 30-year plan to transform the site into a low-carbon community. For developers, it’s a test to see if “green” can stand for both environmental sustainability and the color of money. Hawkes found the drive for a clean new future is clashing with the past.

East Bay children’s theater company makes debut in San Francisco

Ambika Kandasamy, SF Public Press — Feb 17 2010 - 5:59pm

In its second, and final weekend, the Active Arts children’s theater company is staging its first San Francisco production with “Ramona Quimby” at the Zeum Theater.

Welcome to the neighborhood: North Beach (photo essay)

John C. Liau, SF Public Press — Feb 15 2010 - 12:33pm

North Beach was once an actual beach before landfill covered the northeastern side of San Francisco. Today, this “little Italy” sits adjacent to Fisherman’s Wharf and at times seems about to be swallowed up by Chinatown. Open spaces are at a premium in North Beach, as apartments, cafes and restaurants are stacked on top and around each other. But, if you look closely enough, you’ll see how people find creative ways to relax and use this confined space

In crackdown, SF abandoned building fee hiked ninefold

Angela Hart, SF Public Press — Feb 12 2010 - 5:38pm

In a shift that suggests a new zero-tolerance stance on blight, San Francisco officials said Friday they would raise the annual fee to “register” more than 200 abandoned buildings to $6,885 each, the maximum allowable under a recent city ordinance. “We’re going for the full amount,” said William Strawn, a spokesman for the Department of Building Inspection. “We have to make people aware that this is a new law and we’re going to enforce it.”

Welcome to the neighborhood: Sunset and Richmond districts (photo essay)

Vivian Morales, Feb 9 2010 - 12:34am

The Richmond and Sunset districts are the largest neighborhoods in San Francisco. They sit side by side and mirror each other through Golden Gate Park, butting up against the city’s beachfront. Hidden within a vast grid of residential space are areas where one can only trek to or be aware of if driven to. Or if a Muni line transects it.

Mid-Market: The shape it’s in. Who owns it. What’s next.

Marjorie Beggs, Jonathan Newman and Geoff Link, Central City Extra — Feb 8 2010 - 3:17pm

We call it the plywood parade — the relentless march up Market Street from Fifth to Eighth of boarded-up or erratically open storefronts, emptying offices in the upper stories and crumbling facades. Some 31 percent of the storefronts on this stretch of Market Street are vacant. Both local government and businesses are trying to restore this faded area of Market Street into a vibrant commercial center. The three mid-Market blocks mostly look like hell.

City to carve out more contracts for ‘micro’ businesses

Monica Jensen, SF Public Press — Feb 3 2010 - 6:13pm

In a bid to make it easier for local businesses to grow in a down economy, San Francisco supervisors want to give more small, city-based firms a competitive edge in city contracts.

Census methods could provide lift to hidden homeless

T.J. Johnston, SF Public Press — Feb 1 2010 - 4:43pm

The 2010 Census may address an old problem in dealing with San Francisco’s homeless population by getting an accurate head count. The city’s homeless figures have ranged between about 6,500 and 8,600 people in the last decade, but the real number is anybody’s guess. The sketchy knowledge of who is living on the street has been a big impediment to perennial attempts to solve the crisis.

A possible path to bikes on the Bay Bridge

Gianmaria Franchini, SF Public Press — Jan 28 2010 - 1:03pm

While the Bay Area Toll Authority met on Wednesday morning to vote on Bay Area bridge toll increases, dozens of bicycle activists demonstrated support for the building of a bicycle and pedestrian pathway addition to the Bay Bridge’s western span. They are pressing bridge officials to pave the way for a cross-bay bike lane. But construction of the pathway, which could double as a maintenance and safety shoulder, remains hung up in a bureaucratic no-man’s land: it has garnered some public support, but it is not clear who has legislative power to funnel toll revenue to new projects.

Gay teen shelter closure helps span city budget gap

Monica Jensen, SF Public Press — Jan 27 2010 - 2:47pm

The Ark House, a faith-based shelter for black gay, lesbian and bisexual teens, may shut its doors March 1 if the Department of Health’s proposed cuts are approved. The program’s closure, which is expected to save the city more than $400,000 a year, is one of a handful the city hopes to enact in the middle of its fiscal year to balance the budget. The projected deficit for the year starting in July is $522.2 million.

In Prop 8 marriage trial, who exactly is an expert?

Kristine Magnuson, SF Public Press — Jan 26 2010 - 5:08pm

A Southern California political scientist had a rocky time during cross-examination Monday and Tuesday at federal court in the trial to overturn Proposition 8, the measure passed by voters in 2008 that limits marriage to a man and woman. Defenders of the ban on gay marriage opened their segment of the trial Monday with testimony by Kenneth Miller, a professor at Claremont McKenna College. He had testified early Monday that the gay and lesbian community has numerous allies and a great deal of power and influence. The pro-Proposition 8 legal team is taking issue with the challengers’ view that gays and lesbians are a persecuted and powerless group. At issue is whether the ban on marriage is unconstitutional discrimination.

Welcome to the Neighborhood: Bayview-Hunters Point India Basin and Mission Bay

Monica Jensen, SF Public Press — Jan 25 2010 - 11:06am

In 2008, an art collaboration between professional artists and youth from Literacy for Environmental Justice, headed by Wendy Testu, began in Bayview-Hunters Point. Using scavenged material, the group transformed refuse into art pieces — a mixed media collage, a visual listening pod, an “insert here” project, screenprint design and photomontage.

‘Big Year’ promotes saving local endangered species (Photo Gallery)

Monica Jensen, SF Public Press — Jan 20 2010 - 6:00pm

In an effort to educate visitors to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area about the 33 endangered species that inhabit it, Bay Area conservationists and local residents gathered Jan. 9 for the 2010 Endangered Species Big Year.

Lawyer leads fight to save species on city-owned golf course

Angela Hart, SF Public Press — Jan 19 2010 - 2:33am

Environmental lawyer Brent Plater has single-handedly brought the fight to close the Sharp Park Golf Course to the attention of San Francisco city leaders, who are on the verge of making the city-owned course in Pacifica a high-profile example of local leadership to save endangered species on public lands.

A leader in several groups such as Wild Equity and the Sierra Club, Plater also is the mastermind behind the Big Year contest to discover more rare plants and animals on public land as a way of saving and expanding sensitive endangered species’ habitats.

Earthquake readiness tips for 2010

Ambika Kandasamy and Lizzy Tomei, The Public Press — Dec 30 2009 - 5:00pm

Local experts released a report in 2009 identifying thousands of residential buildings in the city that a major quake could render unlivable — and that was just based on a partial survey. And with seismologists saying that there’s a 63 percent chance the Bay Area will suffer a powerful earthquake within the next 30 years, there is a need to act soon to remedy the problem.

Bay Area green firms band together to lobby Washington

Victoria Schlesinger, SF Public Press — Dec 28 2009 - 3:41pm

Green and socially responsible business are flexing their collective lobbying muscles to have their concerns heard in Washington, with firms from the Bay Area leading the way.

Kwanzaa celebration focuses on youth

Gianmaria Franchini, SF Public Press — Dec 28 2009 - 1:52pm

A local Kwanzaa celebration at the African American Art and Culture Complex will highlight Nia, the fifth of the holiday’s seven principles.

Three quick, cheap kids’ holiday hits

Gianmaria Franchini, SF Public Press — Dec 25 2009 - 11:00am

For better or worse, the holidays are a time to spend with the family. Here are three activities to take the edge off.