S.F. to Appoint Earthquake Retrofit Czar to Push for Mandatory Program Next Year

Noah Arroyo, SF Public Press — Oct 12 2012 - 3:20pm

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee next week plans to appoint an earthquake retrofit czar, whose job is to make sure seismic safety plans from last year don’t languish on the shelf until the next big temblor strikes. City officials hope the new manager will fast-track a proposal to require owners of thousands of buildings to retrofit, and he will be tasked with figuring out a way to assist owners who cannot pay for repairs.

Q&A: The Role That Culture Plays in the Response to Domestic Violence

Ruth Tam, Public Press — Oct 8 2012 - 1:03pm

Orchid Pusey, interim director of the Asian Women's Shelter in San Francisco, says cultural differences can have a big influence on the attitudes and responses to domestic violence. She talked with San Francisco Public Press reporter Ruth Tam about the challenges facing service providers in the city. This story appeared as part of a special report on domestic violence in the Fall 2012 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

Mirkarimi Case Brought Spotlight to Domestic Violence in San Francisco

Christopher Peak, Public Press — Oct 4 2012 - 9:56am

As the city’s Ethics Commission debated whether Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was fit to hold his elected position this past June, the complex game of personality, politics and procedure eclipsed larger policy questions about the city’s approach to handling thousands of cases of domestic violence each year. But advocates for victims said the hearings generated wider awareness of the problem of domestic violence.

District Attorney to Examine Low Prosecution of Domestic Violence Cases in San Francisco

Noah Arroyo, SF Public Press — Oct 3 2012 - 2:37pm

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said he is looking into why office’s prosecutions for domestic violence crimes was the lowest per capita in the Bay Area. His remarks came after a special report in the San Francisco Public Press on the handling of such cases by police and prosecutors.

Countdown to accreditation: City College makes changes despite criticism

Ruth Tam, SF Public Press — Oct 1 2012 - 2:01pm

Once lauded for being the largest community college in the nation, City College of San Francisco has recently come under fire in an accreditation crisis that threatens its future. Ever since the commission placed City College on “show cause” status in July — meaning the college might have to close if it does not improve — tensions between the board of trustees and the community have stalled progress on the ongoing crisis. City College submitted its first accreditation report last week, detailing steps it will take to meet the commission’s standards.

Poor Record Keeping Hinders Analysis of Domestic Violence Policing Practices

Kevin Stark, SF Public Press — Sep 26 2012 - 9:01am

As statistics go from tick marks to laptops, police struggle to make sense of trends

The San Francisco Police Department cannot precisely measure the number of domestic violence cases it handled before 2011, because investigators in the Special Victims Unit hand-tallied monthly records, and used changing and inconsistently understood categories of crimes. This story appeared as part of a special report on domestic violence in the Fall 2012 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

San Francisco Trails Bay Area in Domestic Violence Prosecutions

Christopher Peak, SF Public Press — Sep 24 2012 - 11:48am

Far fewer charged than across the region, even with strongly worded ‘no-drop’ guidelines

Though San Francisco’s so-called “no-drop” policy requires pressing domestic violence charges when evidence is sufficient to convict, the District Attorney’s Office pursued just 28 percent of cases through to trial or plea bargaining over the last 6 years. This story appeared as part of a special report on domestic violence in the Fall 2012 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

Different Person, Different Life: A Survivor’s Account of Domestic Violence in San Francisco

Dan Archer, Public Press — Sep 20 2012 - 1:35pm

An illustrated account of one domestic violence survivor’s story of abuse and rescue in San Francisco, which appears in the Fall 2012 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press. Dan Archer did the illustration and reporting, with reporting and research help by Ruth Tam.

San Francisco’s plastic bag ban expands in October

Haley Zaremba, Public Press — Sep 19 2012 - 4:01pm

San Francisco’s hard-fought ban on plastic bags is scheduled to expand in October, yet despite the political momentum behind the battle against litter and landfill bulk, not all businesses are taking this news well.

Muni to begin replacing aging fleet of buses

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Sep 13 2012 - 11:27am

The city is hoping a combination of new and rehabilitated buses will improve Muni's reliability.  The Municipal Transportation Agency wants to buy 45 low-floor hybrid-diesel buses and upgrade 80 biodiesel buses.

Without long-term support, human trafficking survivors at risk of re-exploitation

Ambika Kandasamy, SF Public Press — Aug 30 2012 - 9:31am

Some who flee captive labor conditions end up with low-wage jobs, insecure housing

People trafficked into the country receive temporary government and nonprofit social service benefits after rescue or flight from captivity: shelter, health care, counseling, employment and legal help. But once these benefits term out, counter-trafficking specialists worry that victims, who generally have little work experience and weak social and family networks, could fall back into labor conditions as exploitative as the ones they fled. As a victim of international labor trafficking, Lili Samad received government help to stay in the U.S. But she is among hundreds of trafficking survivors each year who end up, months after getting help trying to build a new life, living in marginal housing and working in low-wage jobs.

San Francisco police chief to be nation’s highest paid, for overseeing 14th-largest force

Christopher Peak, SF Public Press — Aug 22 2012 - 2:44pm

By the end of September, when he receives a scheduled raise, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr will be the highest paid police chief in any major American city. A review of the police departments in the 60 largest cities in California and 24 of the largest police forces across the country found that Suhr’s annual salary of over $307,450 will push Suhr’s pay just beyond that of the Los Angeles chief.

Immigrants, a foster kid and a displaced worker rise to leadership at City College

Ruth Tam, SF Public Press — Aug 13 2012 - 3:04pm

After a harsh accreditation review detailing financial and administrative failures last month, City College of San Francisco has been given a year to prove itself worthy of accreditation or face the risk of closure. In the struggle to keep the school’s doors open, the possible loss of accreditation would affect more than 120,000 City College students, faculty and staff. Here, in their own words, are some of their stories.

Muni's all-door boarding plan sees modest improvements in waiting times

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Aug 13 2012 - 11:05am

Muni's all-door boarding policy that went into effect July 1 appears to be working – although riders on at least one line are complaining about everyone not lining up at the front. A transit agency report found that passengers spent less time waiting at bus stops for riders to board while use of  the back door became more frequent.

Muni train switchbacks insult San Francisco riders, says watchdog panel

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Aug 10 2012 - 11:41am

Hate it when you’re late to work because the Muni driver tells you to get off the train? You’re not the only one. San Francisco’s civil grand jury — a kind of officially sanctioned panel of city residents who report on what doesn’t work in county government — recommended on Thursday that Muni officials do away with the practice of switchbacks. That’s when riders are forced off a Muni train before it makes its usual final stop, and heads in the opposite direction to make up for lost time elsewhere. Muni downplayed the report. “We recognize that anytime you do a switchback, it has an inconvenience to the riders,” Haley said. “So we do everything we can to minimize that,” said John Haley, Muni’s director of operations.

Community college chancellor's advice for City College met with lukewarm reception

Ruth Tam, SF Public Press — Aug 9 2012 - 12:18pm

The chancellor of the California community college system came to town to offer some advice on tackling City College of San Francisco’s problems, but found few takers for his counsel.

Poll: Air pollution takes heaviest toll on black, Latino communities

T.J. Johnston, SF Public Press — Aug 8 2012 - 3:14pm

Monday night’s large crude-oil fire at the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, which produced a towering column of acrid black smoke and aroused widespread panic in the area, served as a dramatic backdrop to new research showing that minorities and low-income people believe they bear the brunt of health problems related to air pollution.

Plan to shrink minimum S.F. apartment size hits political snag

Chase Niesner, SF Public Press — Aug 6 2012 - 3:32pm

A developer-backed proposal to shrink the minimum living space of a San Francisco apartment to 150 square feet faces a delay of at least a month, while the supervisor who floated the plan scrambles to shore up support from wary colleagues. Supervisor Scott Wiener last week delayed a vote on the legislation until at least September. Supporters of the plan say they are scrambling to line up the necessary votes on the Board of Supervisors. Wiener’s proposal first appeared before the board in June. It would redefine “efficiency” apartments, reducing the minimum allowable living space to 150 square feet from the current 220 square feet, not including the kitchen, bathroom and closet.