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.

At stake if City College closes: a career, job security, a U.S. visa, family pride

Ruth Tam, SF Public Press — Aug 1 2012 - 5:56pm

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.

Oakland Zoo removes Ten Commandments monument before atheist group protest

Ruth Tam, SF Public Press — Jul 27 2012 - 2:33pm

After hearing complaints about the Ten Commandments monument in the publicly owned Oakland Zoo, the president of the zoo, Joel Parrot, denied ownership of the monument and had it removed Wednesday. Though a bit delayed — Atheist Advocates of San Francisco dated the first complaint to 2008 — the zoo’s action came just before a scheduled protest on Sunday by a group of Bay Area atheist organizations.

Geary bus rapid transit project poses design challenges for city transportation planners

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Jul 25 2012 - 3:12pm

Bus rapid transit, which is meant as a cheaper substitute to light rail by using special buses in dedicated traffic lanes, is set to debut on Van Ness Avenue in 2016. However, design challenges and funding are slowing down plans for the Geary route.

S.F. civil grand jury slams restaurant health care surcharges

Barbara Grady, SF Public Press — Jul 19 2012 - 5:49pm

San Francisco’s civil grand jury on Thursday chastised many of the city’s restaurants for profiting from surcharges they add to customers’ bills under the name of paying for health care and recommended that the city ban the practice.

Faces of City College

Ruth Tam, SF Public Press — Jul 19 2012 - 11:13am

After a harsh accreditation review detailing financial and administrative failures, City College of San Francisco has been given a year to prove itself worthy of accreditation or face the risk of closure. Though the school's community has promised to fight the criticisms with change, it could be an uphill battle for all those involved. In the struggle to keep the school’s doors open, it’s been frequently reported that the possible loss of accreditation would affect over 120,000 City College students, faculty and staff.  Here, in their own words, are some of their stories.

S.F. controller’s audit finds meter maids need more ongoing training

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Jul 18 2012 - 5:50pm

Audit also finds that transit agency should seek reimbursement for city events

A city audit released Tuesday said the Municipal Transportation Agency needs to do a better job training parking control officers. The audit, conducted by the city controller’s office, looked at whether parking control officers are adequately trained, how officers are deployed throughout the city and if staffing levels are sufficent.

Ranked-choice voting survives in San Francisco after supervisors’ decision

T.J. Johnston, SF Public Press — Jul 18 2012 - 4:35pm

Ranked-choice voting in San Francisco will continue in its original format and any attempts to change it will have to wait until after the November election. By agreeing to send three proposed alternatives back to the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee on Tuesday, the board assured that all three potential ballot questions posed by supervisors Christina Olague, Mark Farrell and David Chiu wouldn’t make their July 27 deadline for the November ballot.

Most Haight merchants say nothing changed on street after ‘sit-lie’ prohibition

T.J. Johnston, SF Public Press — Jul 16 2012 - 11:36am

A majority of retailers surveyed last November in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood said the enactment of San Francisco’s sit-lie law hasn’t worked as expected: Homeless people still hang out in front of their businesses.  An independent research report commissioned by the city found that 58 percent of the merchants in the district — the focus of a political battle that led to voter approval of the ban in 2010 — say the same number of people or more continue to park themselves on sidewalks. Sixty-one percent said they encountered sidewalk sitters at least three times per week.

Krugman: California represents the worst of current U.S. economic crisis

Shawn Gaynor, SF Public Press — Jul 13 2012 - 12:37pm

The budget pain facing California this year is not California’s fault, said Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who has been among the most outspoken writers critiquing the government’s response to what he calls an economic “depression.” “Gov. Brown faces political constraints that, if anything, are even worse than those faced by President Obama, because of the craziness of California’s constitutional setup,” Krugman said at a recent appearance at the Commonwealth Club of California. He said Proposition 13, the state’s requirement of a legislative supermajority to pass tax increases, was the main culprit.

S.F. mayor says police need $30 million more after years of stalled hiring

Christopher Peak, SF Public Press — Jul 12 2012 - 12:30pm

The San Francisco Police Department appeared to save money over the last three years by paying veteran officers extra to delay their retirement and freezing hiring of new recruits. But the bill for those changes is now coming due. Much of those savings have been wiped out since 2008, after a flood of officers took advantage of the Deferred Retirement Option Program to dip into their pensions early while still earning a salary.