City Construction Course Offers Job Placements, but Excludes Many Who Could Use a Hand Up

Chorel Centers, San Francisco Public Press — Dec 17 2013 - 5:05pm

Rigorous screening limits candidates, who are groomed for union apprenticeships

San Francisco offers a free 18-week training course through City College that takes low-skill, out-of-work city residents and sets them on the path to construction trade careers. But while the instructors try hard to be inclusive, some city residents who need the program do not satisfy the minimum qualifications, including a high school equivalency degree. For those who matriculate, unions are able to find job placements for 85 percent of graduates, with the help massive construction boom that has raised demand for trade laborers to levels not seen in a decade.

SAN FRANCISCO’S WORKFORCE REBOOT is the cover story in the fall 2013 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press. Check back for updates on other stories.

Summer Youth Employment Stretches San Francisco Job Statistics

Kevin Forestieri and Noah Arroyo, San Francisco Public Press — Dec 13 2013 - 12:51pm

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has repeatedly proclaimed that a city-sponsored youth employment program “created” more than 5,000 jobs last year. This year the same program, Summer Jobs+, placed more than 6,800 young people in new positions. As the city prepares to issue its scorecard for 2013, we can expect more claims of jobs created, including “permanent” ones.

SAN FRANCISCO’S WORKFORCE REBOOT is the cover story in the fall 2013 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press. Check back for updates on other stories.

Big Businesses Use State Tax Fund to Train Their Own Staff

Alex Kekauoha, San Francisco Public Press — Dec 12 2013 - 1:11pm

Some subsidies, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, are awarded to multinational corporations valued in the billions

State subsidies for vocational training might provide a windfall to large corporations already able to offer similar instruction, if a planned expansion of a program funded through a tax on all businesses in California moves forward. State officials say they aim the vocational training funding at big businesses in key industries that are in danger of relocating to other states. But while tens of thousands of smaller companies pay into the program via the Employment Training Tax, it is hard for most to qualify for grants. Many do not even know the program exists.

SAN FRANCISCO’S WORKFORCE REBOOT is the cover story in the fall 2013 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press. Check back for updates on other stories.

S.F. Board Watch: Supervisors Approve Plan to Protect Tenants Against Displacement

Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press — Dec 11 2013 - 1:13pm

The first substantive plan to protect tenants against displacement passed in San Francisco Tuesday. Supervisor John Avalos secured unanimously approval for the new rules, but some of his colleagues expressed misgivings about rushing into changes that could lead to unintended consequences for landlords.

Online Payment Firm Acteva Acknowledges Multimillion-Dollar Debt to Charities, Blames Cash-Flow Problem

Alex Kekauoha, San Francisco Public Press — Dec 9 2013 - 3:25pm

The top executive of Acteva, a San Francisco-based payment processing company, says he has a plan to dig out of $4 million to $5 million in debt and repay online donations owed to nonprofit organizations across the country. Still, some creditors — including a community college, an environmental group, an agricultural cooperative and a regional journalism organization — say they are owed tens of thousands of dollars each, and question whether the business will ever refund the money. Some are now taking legal action.

Employers Scramble to Claim New Tax Breaks After State Kills ‘Wasteful’ Enterprise Zones

Miguel Sola Torá, San Francisco Public Press — Dec 2 2013 - 6:08pm

Among the companies benefiting were two Sacramento strip clubs and some of the nation’s largest corporations, including Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Yum! Brands, FedEx, Starbucks and Wells Fargo

Large businesses in California “enterprise zones” reaped billions of dollars in tax breaks in recent years, but tax privacy laws made it impossible to tell whether the program actually encouraged companies to hire new workers in economically disadvantaged parts of the state. So the Legislature overhauled the $750 million program — but instead of killing it outrightstate put aside an equivalent amount for an even more elaborate array of tax credits. San Francisco officials said that a local, parallel tax break program will continue.

SAN FRANCISCO’S WORKFORCE REBOOT is the cover story in the fall 2013 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press. Check back for updates on other stories.

Board of Supervisors Cripples Transit Agency Plan for More Parking Meters

Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press — Nov 27 2013 - 1:57pm

Drivers will soon be able to use their credit cards to pay for parking at all 25,000 meters throughout San Francisco, but efforts to greatly expand metered parking are on hold. On Tuesday the Board of Supervisors approved a $51.2 million contract to replace the city’s aging coin-operated meters with machines that accept credit cards. But the supervisors rejected transit agency’s request for 10,000 new meters that it could install wherever it chose.

In other news: Mayor Ed Lee responds to concerns about Ellis Act evictions and affordable housing, and Supervisor David Chiu wants to legalize existing in-law units.

S.F. Board Watch: Supervisors Question High Cost of Jailhouse Calls

Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press — Nov 20 2013 - 5:55pm

The cost of a call from jail could come down, if the Board of Supervisors has its way. At San Francisco’s jails, inmates must pay an initial fee of between $1.25 and $3.95 for each phone call and are charged between 10 and 69 cents a minute, depending on whether it is local or out-of-state. Under a contract with an outside company, the Sheriff’s Department receives 65 percent of the money, for a fund to provide inmate services and supplies. The contract  is expected to generate more than $3 million in revenue over its four-year term, but the supervisors are talking about renegotiating.

In other news: Concerns over sex offenders at Bayview Homeless Shelter, city money to stop nonprofit displacement and the soda tax expected to appear on next year’s November ballot.

Twitter, Other Tech Companies Get S.F. Tax Breaks but Show Little Progress Hiring in Neighborhood

Yoona Ha, San Francisco Public Press — Nov 11 2013 - 1:51pm

The largest of the firms settling in mid-Market signed extensive community agreements, but critics call them toothless

Last year, 14 San Francisco technology companies received $1.9 million in tax breaks for setting up shop in the mid-Market Street area. Supporters said it was a good investment, bringing economic development and jobs to an economically depressed strip in the core of the city. The zone is certainly coming back to life, and the companies that benefited now employ more than 2,700 workers. But it is less clear that the deal resulted in entry-level jobs for residents of the hardscrabble neighborhood — one of the goals most sought by skeptics of the tax break. The largest six of the companies promised a list of community benefits that included an effort to identify qualified job seekers in the Tenderloin and mid-Market area. But the agreements are vaguely worded, the companies have been slow to report their progress to the city, and most were unresponsive to direct questions about employment practices.

This story is part of a special report on workforce development in the San Francisco Public Press fall print edition.

S.F. Board Watch: City to Consider Expanding ‘Green Zone’ for Marijuana Dispensaries

Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press — Nov 7 2013 - 6:54pm

The Board of Supervisors this week approved a limit to the number of marijuana dispensaries allowed to open on the southern end of Mission Street in the Excelsior commercial district. Medical cannabis dispensaries would need a special permit to open within 500 feet of an existing dispensary. Supervisor John Avalos said he may later propose expanding that distance to 1,000 feet. Plus: Marsh Theater’s Unwanted Neighbors | City Parks Closure | New Policy on Video Productions

Plans to Relax California Climate Regulations Upset Some Environmentalists

Barbara Grady and Lisa Weinzimer, San Francisco Public Press — Oct 31 2013 - 12:38pm

California regulators are weighing plans to make it easier and less expensive for oil refineries and other big industries to comply with the state’s new cap-and-trade system for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and environmentalists are alarmed. At a hearing last week in Sacramento, the California Air Resources Board heard staff proposals to amend the year-old cap-and-trade program to extend “transition assistance” to industry through 2018. The change, coming on the heels of lobbying from industry, would give businesses possibly hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free allowances to pollute, and alter the economics of the emerging auction market for carbon.

S.F. BOARD WATCH: The Rent Is Too Damn High, and Other Viral Themes

Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press — Oct 30 2013 - 3:11pm

San Francisco supervisors are proposing legal changes in response to the escalating costs of residential and commercial properties. “There is truly a tale of two cities, and many of the people in this city are being displaced,” Supervisor David Campos said. “I don’t know that anyone has a panacea, if there is one, to deal with this crisis. That’s why I think it’s important for us to try different strategies.”

S.F. BOARD WATCH: Jack Spade Inspires Higher Threshold for Chain Store Ban

Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press — Oct 29 2013 - 10:48am

The restrictions on formula retail that apply to sections of San Francisco could soon be modified to expand the definition of what constitutes a chain store.  Plus: Dogs in the park  |  Sleeping in the park

S.F. BOARD WATCH: Supervisors Grapple With Half-Billion Dollar Price of New Jail

Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press — Oct 23 2013 - 4:24pm

San Francisco supervisors are still debating whether to commit the hundreds of millions of dollars it would take to build a replacement for the jail at 850 Bryant St., despite warnings that it could collapse during the next major earthquake. At least one supervisor, though, has come around to supporting it.

S.F. BOARD WATCH: City Workers to Contribute to Health Care Premiums

Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press — Oct 22 2013 - 1:12pm

Thousands of San Francisco employees will be required to pay a portion of their health care premiums under a new agreement the Board of Supervisors is expected to approve today. The changes will affect more than 6,000 workers who will begin paying 10 percent of their insurance premiums starting in January.

Also: Final Decision Expected for Potrero Ave. Apartments  |  Restricted Formula Retail on Third Street  |  City Partners With Kiva

S.F. BOARD WATCH: Neighbors Say Planning Department Pushing Through Potrero Hill Apartments

Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press — Oct 14 2013 - 5:14pm

A proposed six-story apartment building in Potrero Hill will irreparably change the face of the neighborhood by towering over nearby buildings and blocking sunlight, says a group of residents. They are accusing the Planning Department of pushing through the project and ignoring the environmental impact from construction.

HELP WANTED: City Hall Focuses on Hot Job Sectors, but Struggles to Track Workforce Training Budget

Noah Arroyo, San Francisco Public Press — Oct 8 2013 - 4:00pm

Behind the ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ mantra — Auditor says S.F.’s fractured workforce development system needs new strategy

Six years ago, San Francisco politicians called for better coordination of job training and placement services across the city. A new report reveals that since then, spending has more than doubled while control and evaluation of the sprawling system remain as elusive as ever.

At least 14 local agencies now independently operate an array of workforce development initiatives at an estimated combined cost of $70 million, the city’s budget and legislative analyst found. Without a common citywide strategy, no one has been able to measure accurately how many or what kinds of jobs are being filled, or how much is spent to prepare unemployed San Franciscans for new careers.

Mayor Ed Lee, whose approach to workforce development has focused on meeting the labor needs of some of the fastest-growing local industries, has ordered his own review this fall to map out all employment programs across the city.

SAN FRANCISCO’S WORKFORCE REBOOT is the cover story in the fall 2013 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press. Check back for updates on other stories in the package.

How ‘Healthy San Francisco’ Matters – and Doesn’t – in Obamacare

Angela Hart, KQED — Oct 7 2013 - 10:14pm

Government shutdown temporarily aside, effective Jan. 1, 2014, most people need to carry health insurance or pay a fine. It’s called the “individual mandate.” If you’re signed up with Healthy San Francisco, there’s one very important thing you need to know: Healthy San Francisco is not health insurance. So, it’s not going to get you off the hook for that individual mandate.

Alumni, Veterans Struggle to Preserve City College of San Francisco (Video)

Michael Stoll, San Francisco Public Press — Aug 12 2013 - 11:33am

Students, faculty and alumni at City College of San Francisco are grappling with the school’s loss of accreditation and its struggle to retrieve its status before it expires in the summer of 2014. Watch the video of a panel discussion that included a faculty union representative, alumni, journalists and veterans, voicing their perspectives on the effects of the school’s closure, and how it might be rescued. The panel’s host was the new Veterans Community Media Center  in San Francisco.

Less Than Expected: Minimum Wage Violations in San Francisco (Video)

Tearsa Joy Hammock, San Francisco Public Press — Aug 7 2013 - 11:44am

Mauricio Lozano, a Salvadoran immigrant, was paid below minimum wage to work at a North Beach pizzeria. With the help of local nonprofit organization, Young Workers United, and the San Francisco City Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, Lozano won his case, recovering his rightfully earned wages.