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Special Reports

Every edition of the San Francisco Public Press takes a focused look at the many facets of a single issue. Follow the links below to read our special reports from past issues.

Navigating Homelessness

San Francisco's homelessness navigation center system was meant to transistion people from the streets to permanent housing in 10 days. Reality quickly crushed that idea.

Sea Level Rise, Part 2

As developers challenge state environmental rules, local leaders push to build more projects. Second in a  series.

Bilingual Schools

Education or deportation? That’s one startling question we are grappling with as San Francisco becomes more of a political outlier in the aftermath of the 2016 elections.

2016 Election Guide

San Francisco voters decided 25 measures and 11 candidate races in 2016. The Public Press organized the propositions, candidates, and the organizations endorsing them and assembled other election guides to help inform voters.

The Rising Cost of Winning Votes

2015 was a high-water mark year for spending on San Francisco elections, with nearly $28 million flowing into slick campaigns that flooded the airwaves and filled mailboxes with questionable claims about measures and candidates.

The Cost of Living

San Francisco has attracted droves of high-income earners, giving it a larger share of wealthy residents than any other U.S. city. That is making living here increasingly unaffordable for everyone else.

Sea Level Rise

The Bay Area's waterfront building frenzy includes at least $21B in housing and commercial construction in low-lying areas that climate scientists say could flood by the end of the century. 

School Diversity

Despite their aspirations and efforts, San Francisco schools are increasingly segregated. Last school year, a single racial group formed a majority at six out of 10 schools. Our investigation tries to find out why. 


Attempts to alleviate homelessness with subsidized supportive housing are not keeping pace with growing demand. Reforms could give those waiting for a room an idea of when they might get off the streets or out of a shelter. 

Housing Solutions

This experiment with solutions journalism paired reporting with the Hack the Housing Crisis conference to explore innovative ideas for keeping rents down and adding more housing while preserving San Francisco’s diverse communities and cultures. 

Public School Funding

Reporters examined tax records from PTAs and data from the city’s public schools. While fundraising helped a small number of elementary schools avoid the worst effects of recent budget cuts, belts continued to tighten at schools with more economically disadvantaged students. 

Workforce Development

San Francisco spends more than ever on job training, placement subsidies and a slew of supportive services. Is this effectively boosting employment? For many programs it is hard to say, because the system is so fragmented. 

Climate Change

Regional efforts are taking aim at limiting greenhouse gas emissions. California’s cap-and-trade market promises major reductions. But loopholes abound. 

Minimum Wage

Under San Francisco’s 10-year-old minimum wage law the city recovered back wages for only a fraction of workers cheated by their bosses while technically the city boasted the highest minimum wage is the nation. 


Thousands of homes in San Francisco are more vulnerable to earthquakes because of delays in mandatory retrofitting. Before this report was published, many landlords and tenants did not know their homes were among those needing upgrades. 

Domestic Violence

An investigation into San Francisco’s uneven response to domestic violence exposed holes in the tracking of criminal cases and a declining rate of prosecution for abuse within the home. 

Bay Area Smart Growth

Regional planners hope to make more of the Bay Area like San Francisco — walkable, BARTable and energy efficient. But “smart growth” is facing resistance from cities, and financial pressure from the cash-strapped state. 

Human Trafficking

State budget cuts and unsteady leadership have hindered local law enforcement agencies and nonprofits trying to stop human trafficking. But signs of better coordinations are emerging. 

Healthy SF: Who Pays?

Under the Healthy San Francisco program — the city’s attempt at local universal health care — quality of the care is great. But with uncertain funding and high hidden costs maintaining the program is a challenge. 

Better Budget

San Francisco’s budgeting process is broken. In a time of fiscal austerity, many city departments ignore audits that could save millions of dollars. Includes a take on the “participatory budgeting” trend. 

Media Meltdown

Half of Bay Area newspaper jobs evaporated in the past decade. What caused the media meltdown? Can tech media startups make up for what's been lost?


A report on Muni’s elusive quest for on-time service. 

Treasure Island

Report on the environmental and logistical challenges of adding thousands of new housing units to transform Treasure Island into an eco-enclave. 


This report exposes Macy's illegal practices surrounding the sale of glass filled rubies. 

Bay Bridge

We partnered with McSweeney’s Panorama newspaper on the Bay Bridge Report, explaining why our signature span could exceed $12 billion. 

City Budget Watchdog

City finds millions to rehire laid-off nurses, clerical workers.