Thousands of tickets handed out to homeless

T.J. Johnston, SF Public Press — Jun 4 2012 - 3:16pm

Ignoring ‘quality of life’ fines can lead to warrants, jail

San Francisco is an expensive place to find an apartment, sure. But it can also be a costly place to live outside. Police served homeless people in the city with almost 40,000 citations over a five-year period, according to records compiled by the city agency that provides homeless services.

Against all odds, former foster kid dons graduation cap

Rosa Ramirez, New America Media — May 31 2012 - 3:40pm

The last time Lerone Matthis was released from the Division of Juvenile Justice in April 2008, he feared he had reached bottom. “I was discouraged by the [diminished] prospects for a meaningful future,” Matthis recalled. He didn’t have a place to rest his head, bathe or change his clothes. He wore the same jeans and white shirt “that was dingy around the neck” because it hadn’t been washed for a month. Since he didn’t have a place to store his clothes, he bought socks from a neighborhood liquor store. He relied on relatives and friends for food and shelter. Other times, the former foster youth simply went hungry.

The unemployed of S.F. speak out

Angela Johnston, KALW News — May 30 2012 - 4:39pm

Close to 100,000 jobless Californians will lose as many as 20 weeks of federal unemployment insurance benefits by the end of May. Improvements in California’s economy and a drop in the unemployment rate will end an extension of federal benefits. At an Employment Development Department on Franklin and Turk, KALW’s Angela Johnston spoke to Little Vila, John Saunders, Maurice Gonzales and Yvette, who wouldn’t give her last name. Here are their thoughts on being unemployed in today’s economy.

To stay in Mission District, Latino businesses split the rent

Rigoberto Hernandez, Mission Local — May 28 2012 - 2:42pm

Stepping inside the storefront at 3270 24th St., it’s not immediately clear what kind of business it is. The space holds two retail outlets, plus a lawyer and an electronics repairman. This may sound like a “man walks into a bar” joke, but it’s not — it’s the business model for many Latino business owners in the Mission.

After a decade-plus of planning, San Francisco finally sets 2016 date for bus rapid transit

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — May 25 2012 - 3:16pm

It took the United States eight years to get a man on the moon, but it’s going to take transit officials almost 12 years to get a new high-speed “bus rapid transit” system onto one of San Francisco’s busiest corridors. The Van Ness Avenue project, which in 2006 was projected to open at the end of this year — in time for the Muni centennial — has been pushed back four more years, largely because transit planners had underestimated the time needed to complete the environmental work and project planning.

Mien farmers cultivate their own garden in East Oakland

Rachael Myrow, KQED News Fix — May 24 2012 - 3:36pm

In the heart of East Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, the Peralta Hacienda Historical Park is an incongruous reminder of California’s Mexican past: 6 acres of open space in a sea of single-family homes. What was once a massive ranchero now features a Victorian house surrounded by carefully tended vegetable gardens. Ben Glickstein is director of outreach here. He says back in 1820, Antonio Peralta had big agricultural dreams for this stretch of land that slopes down to Peralta Creek. "And we’re still using this for agriculture, for food, here in the middle of this pretty urban neighborhood."

Millions for Mission District schools: Where is the money going?

Lisette Mejia, Mission Local — May 23 2012 - 7:03pm

They belong to a club where membership hinges on low reading and math skills, and high dropout rates. They’re some of the worst-performing schools in the state, even the country, and to shape up, the Mission’s six struggling schools took drastic measures to qualify for a share of a $45 million grant — including firing principals and replacing half the staff. In December 2010, Bryant, Everett, Buena Vista Horace Mann, Mission High and John O’Connell began receiving an average of $1.6 million a year for three years from the new federal School Improvement Grant program.

State, tech companies forge alliances to combat sex trafficking

Shoshana Walter, California Watch — May 21 2012 - 2:59pm

Last year, California Attorney General Kamala Harris joined attorneys general across the country in declaring war against Backpage.com, a free classified website run by Village Voice Media. The officials threatened legal action if the site didn’t stop running ads for adult services, some of which have been linked to underage sex trafficking. But while Harris took a confrontational tone with Backpage – which has since balked at shutting down its adult pages – a more cooperative dynamic has emerged this year between the attorney general and online companies.

Little old ladies set up shop selling 'free' food on streets of S.F.

Jonathan Newman, Central City Extra — May 17 2012 - 1:18pm

With the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market gearing up across the street at 8:30 a.m. on a recent Wednesday, six elderly Asian women line up their wares across the front of the Grant Building and entreat pedestrians, calling softly: “Buy. You buy.” Canned Bartlett pears, bagged carrots and onions, boxes of Land O’ Lakes American cheese, packages of whole-wheat bagels, jars of Algood peanut butter, dried beans, sesame crackers and squat cans of evaporated milk were neatly displayed at their feet, along with grape juice and orange juice in plastic liters — clearly food obtained from community agencies’ free distribution programs.

ACLU sues federal immigration agency to halt shackling immigrants in court

Brittney Barsotti, New America Media — May 16 2012 - 2:13pm

Detainees file into San Francisco immigration court linked together like a chain gang, bound at their wrists, waists and ankles. A metal chain or seatbelt-style restraint is wrapped around the detainees’ waists and connected to their wrists with a link to the detainee in front of them. The detainees often must  sit four to a bench and remain bound to each other throughout the court proceedings. While sitting bound, they are limited in movements, and the restraints prevent simple tasks, such as taking notes during the proceeding.  

Community divided on changing liquor license ban in Mission

Hélène Goupil, Mission Local — May 14 2012 - 4:51pm

At a recent meeting, it became clear that the Mission District is split on possible changes to the neighborhood’s liquor  license moratorium. Supervisor David Campos promised to hold other public meetings before he agrees to any amendments, he said. “The question that I have is are we OK with the way it is?” Campos asked a crowd of approximately 30 people recently gathered to discuss possible changes to an 18-year-old liquor license ban.

Express bus eyed for Caltrain to mid-Market run

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — May 14 2012 - 2:23pm

Muni officials want to start an express bus route to speed workers from the downtown San Francisco Caltrain to a revitalized mid-Market jobs hub. The rush-hour service would cater to what the city anticipates will be a growing technology business cluster near the new headquarters of social media giant Twitter.

S.F. mayor signs civil rights ordinance into law

Elliot Owen, New American Media — May 10 2012 - 3:48pm

San Francisco civil rights advocates concerned about what they call domestic spying on the city’s Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities are celebrating new legislation signed into law by Mayor Ed Lee. The Safe San Francisco Civil Rights Ordinance requires San Francisco Police Department officers working with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force to be bound by local and state laws strictly governing intelligence gathering of First Amendment protected activities like religious worship.

S.F. program tries to bridge gap between school and community

Lisette Mejia, Mission Local — May 9 2012 - 5:33pm

Vanessa Marrero prepared for an important job one Tuesday in January. In leopard kitten heels and a beige trench coat, she grabbed a folder and hopped into a waiting car outside of John O’Connell High School. She was heading to a student’s home in the Bayview to talk to his mom. As a community school coordinator, Marrero had Carlos’ records in hand. Half an hour later, inside a small apartment furnished with a light lime-green couch, two school certificates tacked to a wall and family pictures in heart-shaped frames, Marrero began the conversation with Carlos’ mom, Angela, in Spanish. He isn’t in trouble, she reassured Angela. No, this was going be a different kind of visit.

Chinatown death triggers worries about isolated seniors

Summer Chiang, New America Media — May 7 2012 - 4:30pm

A tragedy happened in San Francisco’s Chinatown in mid-April. Yee-Shui Mar, 91, fell from a window in her apartment building. The Chinese-language newspaper Sing Tao Daily reported that Mar, who was from Taishan City in Guangdong province, lived alone. She had a married daughter and grandchildren living elsewhere.  

Neighbors hope to quash plans to open Chase bank branch on Valencia St.

Rigoberto Hernandez, Mission Local — May 3 2012 - 4:45pm

Chase Bank’s plans to open a branch on Valencia Street this fall will face an appeal by neighbors who are organizing to derail the project. Chase might be one of the last banks to benefit from what District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar calls a loophole in the planning code, which allows banks to open without neighbors’ input. Last month, the San Francisco Planning Commission voted 6-1 in support of an amendment that would close that loophole.

Mission businesses band together after vandalism

Hélène Goupil and Rigoberto Hernandez, Mission Local — May 2 2012 - 2:16pm

Although many businesses targeted by vandals on Monday night were still making repairs on Tuesday, most opened for business. Many of the employees Mission Local interviewed said the violence had brought neighborhood businesses closer. “I think that many of the small businesses are in better dialogue with each other now,” said Bar Tartine’s general manager, Vinny Eng, adding that this gives neighboring businesses an opportunity to talk about how they could be more supportive of each other.

24th St. BART plaza will expand

Noah Arroyo, Mission Local — Apr 30 2012 - 5:23pm

Remodeling 24th St. BART plaza will add 1,200 square feet to the plaza on the southwest corner, according to planners who met with the community last Wednesday. “These plazas are important public open spaces … they are gateways to the neighborhood for residents and myriad visitors,” said BART Board Vice President Tom Radulovich. “Everyone I talk to about them agrees they are not working now the way they should.”

S.F. Bayview's food renaissance: Third St. welcomes Radio Africa restaurant

Rachael Myrow, KQED News Fix — Apr 26 2012 - 1:58pm

Radio Africa Kitchen is one of a growing list of city-supported food businesses on Third Street in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood. It's all part of a calculated redevelopment strategy to drive foodies to this long-neglected corner of Southeast San Francisco. Yes, there is plenty of the mouthwatering barbecue and soul food you'd expect to find, but Bayview has a lot more to offer now, including at least three places to get a latte. (Is it just me, or is that a key indicator of foodie culture?)

Candlestick Point park slated to close, despite promise of developer funds

Christine Sculati, Bay Nature — Apr 25 2012 - 3:59pm

As California’s first urban state park, Candlestick Point State Recreation Area in southeast San Francisco offers city dwellers a rare slice of nature. Flanked by a sea of asphalt and a hulking stadium, parts of it are not all that pretty. Even with the shortcomings, Candlestick brings panoramic views of San Bruno Mountain, the East Bay hills and San Francisco Bay, and a tranquil open space to the low-income, ethnically diverse community of Bayview-Hunters Point.