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Women's comedy groups offer another outlet for humor in San Francisco

Ambika Kandasamy, SF Public Press — Nov 22 2010 - 5:16pm

For the women running the Monday Night Foreplays comedy group, their short skits are an effort to fill a large void that exists in the female sketch comedy scene.

The group’s creators, Ruth Grossinger and Kate Jones, said that women are in the minority in leading sketch comedy groups in the city.

“In San Francisco, there are a lot of sketch comedy groups, but there aren’t a lot of just female-based groups,” said Jones. “The voice for female sketch comedy, not just in the city, but across the board, could definitely be expanded on.”

State audit: local agencies not providing efficient bilingual services

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Nov 19 2010 - 3:08pm

A state audit released Thursday revealed that many local agencies are not providing proper bilingual service called for in the Dymally-Alatorre Bilingual Services Act, passed 37 years ago. The audit says agencies need to improve services by providing more staff who are bilingual and translated written materials.

Muni: In elusive quest for 85% on-time performance, computers are displacing eyes on the street

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Nov 18 2010 - 12:11pm

Transit agency says tech will help it turn corner, but money remains tight

Multimillion-dollar vehicle-monitoring technology installed at Muni headquarters is at the heart of a new initiative aimed at solving the transit system’s never-ending performance problems.

By investing $13.6 million in the NextMuni satellite tracking system and a new 24-hour vehicle monitoring center, San Francisco transit officials promise major improvements in keeping the city’s more than 1,000 buses and trains running on schedule. Already this year, Muni Metro trains in the Market Street tunnel are speeding up, they said.

But Muni managers are still struggling with the question of how to get the most out of this new technology to increase performance at a time when budget pressures make it increasingly difficult to do that.

Muni planners say speed to come from untangling messy streetscape

Angela Hart, SF Public Press — Nov 18 2010 - 11:55am

Transit planner calls the city's streets and tunnels 'a nightmare'

San Francisco transit planners say a recipe of small fixes could amount to big changes in the nation’s fifth-largest urban transit system. But without new sources of money, many of these ideas, some of which would change the way the city’s streets are configured, will remain on the drawing board.

The system is chronically slow and crowded in part because its diverse fleet of bus and rail lines operates on a rollercoaster terrain in a fully built-out urban grid. Street fairs and demonstrations, ball games and construction routinely clog major arteries, making schedules seem academic.

The Municipal Transportation Agency launched its Transit Effectiveness Project in 2006, to reconfigure the city’s streets and tunnels — where physical constraints notoriously slow basic public transit to what one Muni planner called “a nightmare.”

Finding the slow buses

Eric Fischer, SF Public Press — Nov 18 2010 - 11:53am

This map shows which San Francisco transit routes have the highest ridership and which adhere most closely to their schedules. Color indicates on-time performance; thickness of the lines indicates ridership.

The 1-California and 30-Stockton, traversing San Francisco’s northern flank, are high-ridership lines (green), with 80 percent or better schedule adherence.

The J-Church, K-Ingleside, T-Third, L-Taraval, and N-Judah Muni Metro lines, and the 14-Mission and 38-Geary bus lines, also have high reliability, with 70 percent or better schedule adherence (yellow).

Reporters’ Notebook: En route: 28-19th Avenue often off schedule

Monica Jensen, Jerold Chinn and Sarah Fidelibus, SF Public Press — Nov 18 2010 - 11:50am

Reporter Jerold Chinn, Multimedia Editor Monica Jensen and Social Media Editor Sarah Fidelibus rode one of the Muni bus lines that has the most trouble keeping on schedule — the 28-19th Avenue.

They documented the problems the bus faced while traveling on a recent Wednesday afternoon along the route from Fort Mason to Daly City. The bus travels for much of its route along 19th Avenue, or Highway 1, which leads to the Golden Gate Bridge to the north and Interstate 280 to the south.

Drivers take the heat for discontent of Muni riders

Sarah Fidelibus, SF Public Press — Nov 18 2010 - 11:48am

Operators face long hours, crowded streets and a sometimes hostile ridership

Proposition G, the initiative that voters overwhelmingly approved to change pay and work rules for Muni operators, focused attention on the system’s drivers, painting them as a reason that San Francisco’s Muni transit system is notoriously slow and unreliable.
And the drivers did little to help their cause on the public relations front — rejecting cuts that other city workers agreed to, boycotting the annual Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest and threatening to strike if the measure passed.
But on the job, drivers work in a high-stress environment, with long hours and, for many drivers, few breaks.

Supervisors announce open house for mayor’s office

T.J. Johnston, SF Public Press — Nov 17 2010 - 8:52pm

Supervisors approved the selection and nomination process for Mayor Gavin Newsom’s successor and decided to hold a series of public meetings to solicit input.

Mayor shakes up Treasure Island development board, ousts only resident

Alison Hawkes, SF Public Press/Way Out West News — Nov 16 2010 - 12:48pm

Mayor Gavin Newsom’s decision to replace three or possibly four members of the Treasure Island Development Authority board of directors has sparked protests from some residents of the island and a few San Francisco supervisors. The critics point out that one of the ousted board members is the only member who lives on either Treasure Island or Yerba Buena Island and represents the interests of island residents — though the mayor vows to find a replacement.

Small loans having big impact on local businesses

Li Miao Lovett, SF Public Press/National Radio Project — Nov 15 2010 - 1:28pm

Financial crisis leading to an increased demand on microlenders for start-up capital

In the community acupuncture room at Bu Tong Clinic, patients wait in silence away from the bustle of traffic and hawkers on Mission Street. The clinic owner, Julie Baumhofer, has seen her clientele grow as word about her low-fee acupuncture treatment continues to spread.

The clinic wouldn’t have happened without a microlender.

“If they didn’t do what they do, I wouldn’t be here now,” she says. “You don’t have to be born rich and know the right people, and you can be a business owner.”

Internet Access as the Next Civil Rights Battle?

Christi Morales, SF Public Press — Nov 10 2010 - 7:13pm

Advocates argue for ‘open Internet,’ some fear minority redlining

The ongoing, often arcane, battle over whether telecommunications companies may slow certain online services and charge fees to speed up others has morphed into a civil rights controversy.

Many of the country’s leading civil rights organizations are siding with the phone and cable companies in their bid to prevent federal regulations over their broadband, or high-speed, Internet services. At stake: whether to preserve “network neutrality” — the longstanding principle that all consumers can access whatever websites or applications they want on the Internet, at the same speed and without limitations imposed by Internet service providers.

Choose your own Pier 70

Matt Baume and Susie Cagle, SF Public Press — Nov 10 2010 - 4:36pm

You have 85 acres on the waterfront and two billion dollars ... what would you build?

A once-bustling industrial site that has fallen into decay on San Francisco’s waterfront, Pier 70 is facing a dramatic transformation. And in the next year, the Port of San Francisco will ask the public for feedback on as-yet unwritten development plans.

The Port has been keen to redevelop the site for years. Though the agency has been consulting neighbors at every step, most San Franciscans would be hard pressed to find it on a map. (It’s just north of Warm Water Cove, at the eastern end of 20th Street.)

Regents push risk

Peter Byrne, Spot Us — Nov 10 2010 - 2:00pm

Investigation shows some officials profited while UC investments performed poorly

Last fall, amid an unprecedented state budget crisis, the University of California Board of Regents took extraordinary measures to cut costs and generate revenue. Lecturers were furloughed, classes eliminated. The regents — the governing body for the vast public university system — also reduced admission slots for in-state students while increasing the cost for out-of-state students. And to the consternation of tens of thousands of students, the regents raised undergraduate tuition by a whopping 32 percent, with more hikes to come.

Huge development on fringe of Bay sparks debate over ‘smart growth’

Maureen Nandini Mitra, SF Public Press — Nov 10 2010 - 1:11pm

New community of up to 12,000 homes, offices and schools would be built on site of Cargill Saltworks in Redwood City.

A wide dirt road cuts through the middle of the large, multi-hued salt harvesting ponds that stretch as far as the eye can see. Except for a few heavy trucks that trundle past, and a couple of ramshackle buildings, not much sign of human activity is visible on this stark, sweeping landscape in Redwood City, on the southern fringe of the San Francisco Bay.

State Sen. Yee announces possible run for mayor next November

Jerold Chinn and T.J. Johnston, SF Public Press — Nov 10 2010 - 12:52pm

State Sen. Leland Yee said Wednesday he was forming an exploratory committee for a November 2011 run for San Francisco mayor. Other declared candidates for the race include City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Supervisor Bevan Dufty.

SFMTA faces parking citation shortfall; Muni Metro delays addressed

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Nov 8 2010 - 11:39am

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is facing a $5.8 million deficit for the first budget quarter of 2011. The move of parking control officers to patrol special events and construction projects from regular duties is the main cause of loss in revenue for the agency. Also, officials addressed recent Muni Metro delays in the past two months, causing frustration with Muni riders.

Success of SF sidewalk sitting ban a surprise to some at Democratic election-night event

Kayla Kuhn, Todd Andersen and Akina Chargualaf, SF Public Press — Nov 4 2010 - 11:02am

As the election results were streaming in projected on a large screen behind performers at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco Tuesday night, the disappointment with the passing of Proposition L was palpable. Proposition L, the highly scrutinized sit-lie ordinance backed by Democratic Mayor Gavin Newsom, will restrict people from sitting or lying on sidewalks from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., with certain exceptions. “That law passed? That sounds crazy,” said Harrison Gough, a 23-year-old businessman who joined the crowd at the event, sponsored by the San Francisco Democrats and the San Francisco Labor Council, for the camaraderie, the booze and free appetizers.

On poison pills slipped into San Francisco’s ballot propositions

Kayla Kuhn, SF Public Press — Nov 2 2010 - 2:20pm

So-called poison pills are written into two measures on the current ballot to nullify an opposing proposition in the event that both are voted in. Also known as wrecking measures, they are created by a legislator who disagrees with another proposition and wants to undermine it. Ballot propositions cannot be amended. This year there are two dueling pairs: Proposition K would nullify J, and Proposition M would nullify L.

State Department courts tech entrepreneurs to aid in development, diplomacy

Rosemary Macaulay, SF Public Press — Oct 19 2010 - 5:51pm

The Bay Area's innovators and social entrepreneurs have been invited by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to contribute their ideas for furthering diplomacy and development using new technology. Clinton said the State Department is embracing technological advances pioneered in the Bay Area to aid communication across the globe.

Muni update: Debating Prop. G, looking beyond driver pay to fix transit

Monica Jensen, SF Public Press — Oct 19 2010 - 1:21pm

As the Nov. 2 election draws near, Proposition G has come to the forefront as one of the city's most hotly debated measures.

The measure would force the city's transportation operators' union into collective bargaining and backers say it would "Fix Muni." But opponents say that Muni’s problems don't start and end with drivers.