Computer system shutdown hurts homeless at city shelters

T.J. Johnston, SF Public Press — Mar 21 2011 - 2:24pm
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 officials say radiation ‘plume’ from Japan won’t increase state’s levels above normal

Alison Hawkes, Way Out West — Mar 17 2011 - 4:58pm
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.

California utilities commission to allow customers to opt-out of smart meters

Alison Hawkes, Way Out West News — Mar 14 2011 - 4:24pm
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.

Not just fun and games, America’s Cup races have environmental toll

Alison Hawkes, Way Out West News — Mar 1 2011 - 11:58am
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.

University of San Francisco aims to move transmitter quickly following KUSF sale

Mineko Brand, SF Public Press — Feb 16 2011 - 6:43pm
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.

Proposal to ban shark fins in California heats up

Jerold Chinn and T.J. Johnston, SF Public Press — Feb 14 2011 - 5:54pm

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.

San Franciscans work to reduce shark slaughter

Erica Gies, Crosscurrents on KALW Public Radio — Feb 14 2011 - 5:48pm
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.

City takes aim at reducing fats, oils and grease clogging sewers

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Feb 4 2011 - 12:58pm

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.

Burning Man organizers eye move to redeveloped mid-Market Street arts district

Hank Drew, SF Public Press — Jan 28 2011 - 8:03am
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.

Free pot for the needy

Stefan Jora and Monica Jensen, SF Public Press — Jan 24 2011 - 12:54pm

SoMa cannabis dispensary serious about philanthropy

How do you define compassion? In the tight-knit medical marijuana community, the word has become a euphemism for small, periodic donations of cannabis-based medicine to patients who cannot afford to buy it at the going rate — now about $10 to $25 a gram.

Upscale medical cannabis club aims to change image of industry

Hank Drew, SF Public Press — Jan 24 2011 - 12:03pm
The San Francisco Patient and Resource Center in the South of Market area resembles an art gallery where customers in sports coats and skirts suck THC vapors from plastic balloons and feast on cannabis-laced caramels. The medical cannabis dispensary at 1256 Mission St. was designed by Larissa Sand of Sand Studios in the South Park neighborhood with the intention of luring new customers in this evolving area, which includes the new Federal Building just two blocks away.

With few restrictions and bundles of cash, cannabis ads help sagging media profits

Anna Rendall, SF Public Press — Jan 17 2011 - 2:18pm

Commercial broadcast stations still reluctant to take pot club advertisements

Medical marijuana advertising is taking off, propping up the fortunes of ailing media companies that have seen income from other business sectors plummet in the recession. Advertisements offering free edibles for new patients and products such as “super silver haze” are helping to keep the San Francisco Bay Guardian, SF Weekly and East Bay Express in business. Similar ads have even started cropping up — tentatively — in more staid publications, such as the San Francisco Chronicle. Ads for pot are growing so fast in part because they face fewer regulations and restrictions than marketing materials for cigarettes and alcohol. The only real regulation is one requiring the ads to warn customers that they need a doctor’s recommendation.

Tracking of medical pot data, key aim of state program, varies greatly by county

Hank Drew, SF Public Press — Jan 17 2011 - 1:13pm

San Francisco hands back applications to cannabis card users

San Francisco is among the most active cities in California in easing access to medical marijuana, having issued more than one-third of the 47,828 cannabis cards in the state. But unlike surrounding counties, San Francisco has a long-standing practice of handing back the paper applications for cards and not recording the names of patients or the doctors who give them the required recommendations.

Book recalls immigrants who passed through Angel Island

Monica Jensen, SF Public Press — Jan 12 2011 - 11:24am
To commemorate the centennial of the Angel Island Immigration Station, authors Erika Lee and Judy Yung shed light on the thousands of immigrants who passed through the “Guardian of the Western Gate” in their recently released book “Angel Island: Gateway to America.” While more than 70 percent of detainees were from China, others came from Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Russia, Mexico and more than 70 other countries, a finding they discovered while examining hundreds of documents that were made public in the National Archives’ collection in San Bruno in the 1990s.

Superfund site in San Francisco proves toxic for Navy, neighbors

Monica Jensen, SF Public Press/Newsdesk.org — Jan 10 2011 - 1:52pm

A Toxic Tour reporting project

A year after the dissolution of the Restoration Advisory Board for Hunters Point Shipyard, the Navy says it will introduce a new community involvement plan that it says emphasizes diversity. The announcement follows the White House’s reconvened interagency effort on environmental justice, which held its first meeting under the Obama administration in September. The group is creating a four-year road map to develop “stronger community relationships” and targets “overburdened communities.” The next meeting is set for April.

Supervisors choose City Administrator Edwin Lee for interim mayor

T.J. Johnston and Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Jan 7 2011 - 8:10pm

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 on Friday for City Administrator Edwin Lee to fulfill the remaining term for outgoing Mayor Gavin Newsom. Lee will become the first Asian American mayor of San Francisco when the vote is ratified at next week’s board meeting on Tuesday. Sheriff Michael Hennesey, who was also considered for the position, was rejected by the board 9-2.

Board struggles to choose an interim mayor

T.J. Johnston, SF Public Press — Jan 5 2011 - 4:10pm
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors spent eight hours debating who to select as interim mayor to finish Gavin Newsom's term and ended up delaying any decision until Friday. Angry lame-duck Supervisor Chris Daly blamed Board President David Chiu for a potential deal to install City Administrator Ed Lee in the post, vowing to "politically haunt you for the biggest fumble in the history of San Francisco politics." He then added: "It's on, like Donkey Kong."

Illegal dumping costing city millions of dollars

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Jan 5 2011 - 1:32pm

The Department of Public Works wants residents to stop dumping unwanted items such as furniture and mattresses on city streets through a campaign launched last month and by the threat of fines of up to $1,000.

The department says illegal dumping is costing the city millions of dollars to clean up the mess left behind by residents and contractors. The city is encouraging residents to take advantage of free services offered by Recology Sunset Scavenger and Golden Gate.

The San Francisco Police Department and the City Attorney's Office are also working to find those responsible for dumping construction materials in the Bayview-Hunter Point area.

Steering city’s homeless focus from sin to sickness

Teresa Gowan, Special to SF Public Press — Jan 3 2011 - 9:21am
In her new book on homelessness in San Francisco, “Hobos, Hustlers and Backsliders,” Teresa Gowan describes how former Mayor Frank Jordan’s framing of the issue in terms of crime and sin evolved into Willie Brown’s conflicted policies, finally emerging as Gavin Newsom’s version of “authoritarian medicalization” policies, most controversially the policy idea that got him elected in 2003, Care Not Cash. This essay condenses some of the discussion of the book (University of Minnesota Press, 2010). San Francisco, a historical stronghold of the labor movement, civil rights activism and other social movement activity, embodies the tension between valuable public space and progressive politics to a high degree, an important reason for the central position of the “homelessness problem” in the city’s electoral politics over the last 25 years.

Homeless advocates say federal government has key to ending problem

T.J. Johnston, SF Public Press — Jan 3 2011 - 9:18am
San Francisco is not alone in its public housing woes and a homeless activist group’s report said it is up to the federal government to lay groundwork for housing to end homelessness. Recent attempts by policymakers to create and preserve housing are just the first steps to housing reform, the Western Regional Advocacy Project wrote in an update of its 2006 report, "Without Housing: Decades of Federal Housing Cutbacks, Massive Homelessness and Policy Failures." The update was released in July.