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Muni chief optimistic despite projected budget shortfall

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Nov 14 2011 - 6:40pm

Muni is projecting close to an $80 million budget deficit by 2013-2014. The agency released its preliminary budget report Monday. Despite the shortfall, Muni wants to change the minds of riders and drivers who are skeptical that the service can be reliable and on time. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees Muni, has drafted goals for the next six years that Muni chief Ed Reiskin calls  “ambitious.”

Seniors selling what they get from food banks

Juan Gomez, Mission Local — Nov 14 2011 - 12:37pm

Visit the farmers market in downtown San Francisco on Sundays, and you may see, past the stands of organic lettuce and fresh flowers, a few elderly women hunched over a random assortment of condiments and canned goods. As security approaches, they quickly scatter, only to set up shop on the opposite corner a few moments later. According to several food pantries, elderly recipients of free food disbursements are turning around and selling the donations at various locations throughout San Francisco. 

Ins and outs of standing in line in the Mission

Heather Smith, Mission Local — Nov 10 2011 - 3:18pm

Living in a popular neighborhood, in the middle of a popular city, is a lifestyle choice that can make a person sneaky. For those who don’t like to wait, it is possible to live in a shadow Mission, getting an It's-It from the freezer of a convenience store instead of standing for half an hour in line at the Bi-Rite Creamery, and visiting certain spots only during the brief hours when they’re not busy — Tartine before 8 a.m., bars on Sunday through Wednesday, Papalote only at 2 in the afternoon, Valencia Pizza & Pasta when you need a table for six on a Friday night. Brunch never ever ever. Or only if you make sure to eat brunch first.

Lee and Gascón continue as mayor and D.A.; Mirkarimi new sheriff in town

T.J. Johnston, SF Public Press — Nov 9 2011 - 7:24pm

Incumbent Ed Lee was elected as San Francisco’s mayor following Tuesday’s ballot, in the first truly competitive race for the office using ranked-choice voting, according to unofficial results announced late Wednesday. George Gascón, who like Lee was appointed to his position during the previous administration, was sent back to the office for a full term, while Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi became the first sheriff elected in 31 years, preliminary results show.

Effort to recall Oakland mayor faces uphill battle

Jennifer Inez Ward, Oakland Local — Nov 9 2011 - 12:36pm

Mayor Jean Quan is facing the toughest fight in her tenure as CEO of Oakland – a recall effort. But whether the recall movement will gain traction and usher Quan out of office is far from clear. Although the recall effort has received extensive media coverage, and there were plenty of folks marching with "Recall Quan" signs at the city's hugely popular general strike Nov. 2,  the quest to replace the mayor will be a long process that could carry on well into mid-2012.

Election day threat to ranked-choice voting in San Francisco

T.J. Johnston, SF Public Press — Nov 8 2011 - 6:43pm

On the same day that San Francisco voters were deciding who would be the next mayor, the method used to elect that person was under attack. At a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Supervisor Mark Farrell introduced a charter amendment for the June 2012 ballot that would eliminate ranked-choice voting as a way of elevating candidates to city offices."Ranked-choice voting is an experiment whose unintended consequences continue to pile up election after election,” Farrell said.

Ocean Beach Master Plan envisions big changes for Great Highway

Jon Brooks, KQED News — Nov 8 2011 - 12:00pm

Have you heard about the Ocean Beach Master Plan? The San Francisco Planning + Urban Research Association (SPUR) is facilitating a coordinated effort among multiple agencies to create a "sustainable long-range plan" for San Francisco's shoreline. Why do we need a plan? Because erosion of the beach and anticipated rising sea levels may necessitate major changes in the infrastructure that serves the area.

Voters' guide to S.F. mayoral candidates

Josh Wilson, — Nov 7 2011 - 2:02pm

The 2011 Nonpartisan Voter Guide  is a succinct, printable listing of S.F. mayoral candidate positions and quotes on more than two-dozen key policy issues and ballot initiatives, including pensions, taxes, transportation and homelessness. The research and survey were conducted by University of California’s Hastings College of the Law and the San Francisco Public Press. The voter guide was produced by

Get drivers out of their cars and onto transit: mayoral candidate Leland Yee on Muni

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Nov 4 2011 - 12:45pm
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Can S.F.’s next mayor save Muni? - Part 8

State Senator Leland Yee is running for San Francisco mayor and said his main goal for Muni is to get drivers out of cars and onto buses and trains. He wants to add 100,00 new riders by 2020. Yee said in order to do this, Muni needs to update its technology for with more real-time data and focus on how the transit agency is spending its budget. He said the agency should be focused on fixing broken Muni vehicles.

City must hit the reset button on transit: mayoral candidate Phil Ting on Muni

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Nov 3 2011 - 12:22pm
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Can S.F.’s next mayor save Muni? - Part 7

Assessor-Recorder and San Francisco mayoral candidate Phil Ting wants Muni riders to join him in “resetting” Muni. He is behind the online community known as Reset SF, where residents get a chance to share their ideas with Ting on improving city government transparency. One of the central topics of Reset SF is Muni and how to improve service and reliability.

Change starts at neighborhood corner store

Marta Franco, Mission Local — Nov 3 2011 - 11:15am

Cookies, sandwiches, salads: Every afternoon, neighbors and visitors stop at Tony’s Market at 24th and Hampshire to buy  food or pick up lunch at Pal’s Takeaway, inside the store. Only a few years ago, Kassa Mehari, the store’s owner, sold mostly liquor. But three years ago, as the street was developing, Mehari decided it was time for the store to change. 

Activists say ditch banks, go to credit unions on Nov. 5

Niema Jordan, Oakland Local — Nov 2 2011 - 2:20pm

Did you know that this Saturday, Nov. 5, is Bank Transfer Day? If you've seen the Facebook event, which has more that 58,000 RSVPs, or the Twitter page, then you've seen the red, white and blue mask, and have probably read the following: "Together we can ensure that these banking institutions will ALWAYS remember the 5th of November!! If the 99% removes our funds from the major banking institutions to non-profit credit unions on or by this date, we will send a clear message to the 1% that conscious consumers won't support companies with unethical business practices."

Central Subway costs have gotten out of control: mayoral candidate Dennis Herrera on Muni

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Nov 2 2011 - 10:38am
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Can S.F.’s next mayor save Muni? - Part 6

One of the leading voices against the Central Subway project has been City Attorney and San Francisco mayoral candidate Dennis Herrera. Herrera said that he supported the project at the initial cost of $650 million, but now cost projections have reached $1.6 billion.

Giving transit workers a boost will help improve the system: mayoral candidate Bevan Dufty on Muni

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Nov 1 2011 - 11:39am
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Can S.F.’s next mayor save Muni? - Part 5

Former supervisor and San Francisco mayoral candidate Bevan Dufty is standing up for the Muni operators. Dufty said he knows what Muni drivers go through each and every day and he wants to help them if he comes mayor. His plan is to offer life coaches to Muni operators and other city employees working on the front lines.

Ranked-choice voting explained

Matthew Green, KQED News — Oct 31 2011 - 2:45pm

In November, San Franciscans choose their next mayor through an electoral process called ranked-choice voting. Also known as "instant runoff voting," voters will pick three candidates (instead of one), and rank them in order of preference, eliminating the need for a separate runoff election. It’s the first time San Francisco will use this system to decide a competitive mayor’s race, and many are waiting to see how well it all works out.

Boost the vehicle license fee to help fund S.F. public transit: mayoral candidate David Chiu on Muni

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Oct 31 2011 - 11:55am
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Can S.F.’s next mayor save Muni? - Part 4

San Francisco mayoral candidate David Chiu said that if he becomes mayor, he will work to get the state to boost the vehicle license fee in order to help cash-strapped Muni. In 2003, when Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor, the first thing he did was slash the vehicle license fee. Chui, who does not own a car and uses a bike and Muni to get around town, won one of three endorsements handed out by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

Q&A: Candidates for San Francisco district attorney

Rina Palta, KALW News and SF Public Press — Oct 28 2011 - 2:07pm

Fifth and final interview is with Vu Trinh

One of the more important and most overlooked races in San Francisco is the campaign to be the city’s next district attorney. When Kamala Harris left the post for state office last year, outgoing Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed then-Police Chief George Gascon to take her place. Now, Gascon is running for a full four-year term, but faces stiff competition from four other candidates. Previously, we spoke with Bill Fazio, David Onek, Sharmin Bock and George Gascon. Today, in our final interview, we speak with Vu Trinh, a longtime public defender and current member of the Board of Legal Specialization.

Make S.F.'s transit system 'magnificent' to lure drivers from their cars: mayoral candidate Terry Baum on Muni

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Oct 28 2011 - 12:38pm
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Can S.F.’s next mayor save Muni? - Part 3

San Francisco mayoral candidate Terry Baum said that if she becomes mayor, she would make Muni “magnificent.” She said wants to change the mentality of people who drive cars to give public transportation a chance. Her plan is to transform the Muni subway stations into a museum with mosaics and murals. She said Muni has to be fun and a place where people want to be at. She wants Muni to be the focus of positive energy for riders.

Construction begins on largest restoration in San Pablo Bay refuge

Juliet Grable, Bay Nature — Oct 27 2011 - 7:11pm

At first glance, Cullinan Ranch isn't much to look at. Bound by Dutchman Slough to the north and Highway 37 to the south, the Solano County property consists of 1,500 acres of low-lying fields, dotted with clumps of cattails and coyote brush. Only some earth-moving equipment parked on the site hints that this former farmland is about to become the largest restored marsh in the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

S.F. needs to improve transit service outside downtown: mayoral candidate John Avalos on Muni

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Oct 27 2011 - 6:12pm
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Can S.F.’s next mayor save Muni? - Part 2

San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos, who is seeking the mayor’s job, says Muni has an infrastructure problem within the transit system. He has said that  Muni is too centered in the downtown area. He wants all residents in the city to have better access to Muni and wants to stop the practice of switchbacks, where Muni buses or trains change direction during mid-route.