“It was back-of-house space: parked cars and military vehicles,” said Michael Boland, chief planner for the Presidio Trust, which manages nearly all of the 1,491-acre enclave at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Construction crews are building a new tunnel-encased roadway not far from where volunteers next month will plant seedlings along a newly formed streambed, replacing what once was a parking lot near the YMCA.
Since the Army in 1994 handed management of the Presidio’s inland acreage to the Trust, there’s been an effort to protect and extend what remained of the pre-military ecology.
“The Army inadvertently preserved the best cross-section of San Francisco’s native biodiversity,” Boland told the audience, with 21 “special status species” that include five endangered plants.
[...] the planner makes no pretense that there’s a self-sustaining Eden waiting to be revealed, or that the clock can be turned back.
Native-plant buffs resent the more sculpted landscape, while longtime neighbors are furious to see pines or eucalyptus replaced by seasonal wildflowers and the like.
Fans of military history have challenged plans to add new buildings for a hotel along the Main Post’s Parade Ground — the grandiose name for what was a 7-acre parking lot until 2012.
If the undulating green landscape served only one audience — be it leaf-peepers or power-walkers, family members paying their respects in the National Cemetery or foodies up at Commissary restaurant ordering the $28 plate of ham-wrapped trout — the Presidio wouldn’t be so contentious.
Posted: January 27, 2015, 11:32 pm
For years, Queen's Louisiana Po-Boy Cafe, at the southern end of a commercial strip on San Bruno Avenue, was a destination in darkness.
“Really dark and gloomy” was how Queen’s owner, Danielle Reese, described nighttime in that stretch of San Francisco’s Portola neighborhood.
[...] a clear, white light from a new streetlamp illuminates the front of Reese’s restaurant after dark, a sign of things to come as San Francisco prepares to replace 18,500 old, high-pressure sodium streetlights with more efficient ones that use light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.
The $11 million upgrade program, which covers less than half of the streetlights across the city, isn’t designed just to improve lighting, conserve energy and reduce maintenance costs.
The new streetlights are supposed to consume about half as much energy as the ones they replace, last four to five times longer and cut the amount of glare radiating into the night sky, reducing light pollution.
Beyond cost savings, the new lights will be connected wirelessly to a computer network, allowing them to be monitored and controlled remotely.
Most of the rest are owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., a private utility, with still others owned by the Port of San Francisco and the state transportation department, Caltrans.
Testimony at the hearing also indicated that PG&E, which is responsible for about 19,000 San Francisco streetlights, took longer to replace burned-out bulbs and accounted for a majority of complaints.
[...] the utility has made progress, with 93 percent of its streetlight outages repaired within five days in 2014, PG&E spokesman Jason King said.
The city put up some of the new streetlights in select areas starting with parts of the Tenderloin in 2009 to try and increase public safety in a neighborhood where drug dealing and street crime are common.
The agency ran a five-month pilot project in April to test wireless control systems for the lights.
In Chattanooga, Tenn., that city’s LED streetlight network allows for lights to be turned on, dimmed or flashed in patterns to signal an emergency or the location of a 911 call.
Police can use laptop computers in their patrol cars to control individual lights or groups of them.
Copenhagen envisions incorporating even more sensors into its sophisticated system to alert authorities to suspicious activity on street corners, raising concerns from privacy advocates.
In San Francisco, streetlight poles are now used for mounting devices such as ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection system; automated water meter routers; antennas for the city’s “smart” parking meter system, SFPark; and other devices.
“They should light it up more,” said Edward Sanchez, 56, a resident of a Tenderloin single-room occupancy hotel, as he stood on the corner of Leavenworth Street and Golden Gate Avenue, where one side of the intersection has LED streetlights and the other has the older, yellowish orbs.
Reese, the sandwich shop owner, said she was “extremely happy” with the new fixtures.
Posted: January 27, 2015, 11:25 pm
S.F. loves a parade,
Jan. 25, Bay Area, C4
The photo of the Carnaval celebration with a story on memorable San Francisco parades should have been credited to Chronicle photographer Lea Suzuki; it was taken in 2014.
Hoping design will pay off in
creativity, Jan. 26, Business, D1
The Office Space feature on Braintree should have been clearer in listing the firms behind the design of the company’s new space. Rapt Studio was responsible for the office design.
Posted: January 27, 2015, 11:17 pm
A former Oakland Raiders cheerleader frustrated over a proposed $1.25 million settlement over alleged wage violations filed her own class-action lawsuit and added another allegation, saying cheerleaders were denied promised media opportunities.
The suit also says cheerleaders were forced to “ignore lingering and painful injuries during rehearsals and games for fear of being 'benched’ or fined.”
Sanchez’s attorney, Drexel Bradshaw, said his client was promised “opportunities for exposure” in the media but the team denied those opportunities when it didn’t suit the Raiders or the NFL.
The $1.25 million settlement covers 90 women who worked as cheerleaders during any of the four NFL seasons from 2010 through 2013.
The lawsuits say the cheerleaders’ salary of $125 per home game, or $1,250 per season including the preseason, worked out to less than $5 an hour.
Posted: January 27, 2015, 9:27 pm
A Santa Clara County resident with a confirmed case of measles visited three retail chains in Gilroy and Milpitas early this month, county health officials said in an advisory.
“These cases raise the possibility that some Santa Clara County residents may have been exposed to measles since the patients visited public locations while infectious,” the health department said.
The risk of infection after a brief interaction is low, officials said, but people who visited the businesses at the same time should check their immunization history and monitor themselves for illness.
State public health officials said that, as of Monday, 50 of the 73 cases trace back to Disneyland visits in December.
After a few days, those symptoms are followed by a red rash that usually starts on the face before spreading downward to cover the rest of the body.
Posted: January 27, 2015, 7:32 pm
More SFO flights canceled over East Coast blizzard
At least 36 departing and 49 arriving flights were canceled, according to an Officials urged passengers to check with their airlines for the latest information.
The storm was directly impacting airports in Boston, New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. Some airlines were allowing customers to change reservations without penalty.
Posted: January 27, 2015, 2:39 pm
The developer of a Rincon Hill luxury high-rise complex near the entrance to the Bay Bridge may have ended up with nearly $1 million in bond money that the city planned to spend on park and pedestrian improvements South of Market, according to public officials. In a mystery that shines the spotlight on San Francisco’s complex world of impact fees — where builders agree to pay money to offset a development’s effect on everything from schools to traffic to housing costs — city staff members are baffled as to how $925,666 vanished from the South of Market Community Stabilization Fund. Last month, while performing a routine accounting of the South of Market Community Stabilization Fund, staff members from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development noticed the money was missing. The agency contacted the Association of Bay Area Governments, which acted as trustee for the fund along with Union Bank, and learned that the money had been given to Rincon Developers LLC, which is controlled by develper Urban West, as a reimbursement for traffic improvements the developer had made. [...] a Jan. 21 memo from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development argues that the money from the fund can only be approved by city public finance officials, who knew nothing of the transaction. The memo said the committee in charge of spending the stabilization money was actively studying projects to spend the $925,666 on, including a crosswalk and traffic light on Folsom Street and the renovation of South Park. “Why was Urban West provided a preferential disbursements of funds given the ongoing discussions at the CAC (community advisory committee) to find alternative projects?” the memo stated. The legislation imposed an impact fee of $14 per square foot on residential development in the Rincon Hill Area Plan to provide community stabilization benefits in SoMa, including affordable housing and economic development. “I’m outraged that this money that was supposed to be going to neighborhood improvements was given back to a developer without so much as a courtesy phone call,” Temprano said. “We have had numerous conversations with the city attorney and mayor’s office to clarify what had occurred and sort out what happened with respect to the contract,” said Rapport.
Posted: January 27, 2015, 5:15 am
Traffic on the eastbound Bay Bridge was snarled Monday evening after a California Highway Patrol vehicle caught fire on the eastbound off-ramp to Treasure Island, injuring the officer, officials said.
The officer driving the car, who was not identified, called in the fire around 7:30 p.m. after he noticed smoke in the vehicle just west of Treasure Island.
The officer was taken to a hospital after he suffered minor injuries from flying debris, the CHP said.
Posted: January 27, 2015, 5:06 am
Chief Deputy Kathy Gorwood, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, said she could not comment on the death until all investigations were complete, but confirmed an inmate died about 10:30 a.m.
Because the jail is in San Bruno, the San Mateo County district attorney’s office, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office and the San Mateo County coroner will be investigating the death.
The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department will also be conducting two investigations, one by criminal investigators and one by internal affairs, Gorwood said.
Gorwood said no San Francisco sheriff’s deputy has been placed on administrative leave in connection to the death.
Posted: January 27, 2015, 4:34 am
Video shows plane using parachute to ditch into ocean near Maui
The pilot of a small plane that took off from a Tracy airfield successfully used a parachute to ditch the plane into the ocean off the coast of Hawaii, a dramatic and rare move that was captured on video by the U.S. Coast Guard.
[...] Morton contacted the Hawaii National Guard, reporting that he had only three hours of fuel left and planned to deploy the plane’s bright orange-striped parachute short of the islands, officials said.
The four-seat, single-engine plane is unique in that pilots can pull a handle to activate a parachute that brings the aircraft to the ground — or, in this case, the open sea.
The video shows the plane’s propeller coming to a stop, the parachute deploying and the aircraft pointing nose-down for a moment before it levels out and lands flat and right-side-up in the water.
Morton immediately gets out, deploys a life raft and gets in it before the plane dips into the choppy sea.
The Coast Guard diverted the cruise ship Veendam, which was heading to Lahaina, Maui, to the plane’s location.
The video was shot by the crew of a Coast Guard C-130 Hercules airplane, which maintained communications with the pilot during the ditching.
The investigation into the mishap is centering on whether there was a valve malfunction that prevented the pilot from accessing the additional fuel, officials said.
Posted: January 27, 2015, 3:20 am
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, in a major pivot on the issue of competing with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to provide cleaner power to city customers, directed officials Monday to develop a city-run renewable energy program by the end of the year.
Mayoral appointees on the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission halted the implementation of the program after Lee said it didn’t create enough local jobs, wasn’t green enough and would funnel millions in public funds to an out-of-state oil company.
“If San Francisco is going to do a clean energy program, let’s do a real one,” Lee said in a statement announcing his directive to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to come up with a renewable energy option.
San Francisco’s clean energy program should not contract with an oil company with a dubious record of protecting the environment and human rights:
Lee also wants the program to include a detailed plan for local job creation and building publicly owned power generation facilities, like solar installations on city-owned land.
Supervisor John Avalos, a political progressive and Lee rival who has been leading the charge for a city-run renewable energy program for the last several years, views Lee’s proposal as an attempt to co-opt the issue.
[...] customers are automatically enrolled in the “light green” version, with about 50 percent of the power coming from renewable energy sources like wind and solar at a cost competitive with PG&E. Those who choose can sign up and pay a premium for the “dark green” program: 100 percent renewable energy.
Findings released in November from a study commissioned by the city’s Local Agency Formation Commission, a division of the Board of Supervisors, indicated that the SFPUC could purchase renewable energy itself and there was no need to resurrect the Shell contract.
The report, by energy consultants EnerNex, also found that a renewable energy program in San Francisco could create more that 8,100 construction jobs by building $2.4 billion worth of proposed solar, wind and geothermal projects,
Posted: January 27, 2015, 3:20 am
S.F. police commander shipped to Siberia of city departments
Usually, when a longtime city worker is transferred to a post at the airport, it means they did something wrong and will never be heard from again.
Police Chief Greg Suhr said that is absolutely not the case with Cmdr. Mikail Ali, who has been transferred from running the traffic division to, yup, the airport.
Suhr said Ali did “a great job” overseeing the department’s response to Vision Zero, the citywide plan to reduce traffic fatalities to zero by 2024 and pointed to the slight dip in pedestrian fatalities from 2013 to 2014.
Nicole Schneider, director of Walk San Francisco, said some of Ali’s comments came across as blaming people for their own deaths and abdicating the city’s responsibility for making the streets safer and enforcing traffic rules.
“We know that individuals have a really important part to play, but we also need to create an environment that is safe for individuals,” she said.
Suhr said he was aware of the advocates’ complaints about Ali’s choice of words, but said that had nothing to do with his transfer.
Cmdr. Ann Mannix, who previously served as captain of the Northern Station and headed the Tactical Company, will replace Ali.
On Thursday, they’ll leave the kids behind to head to the Tenderloin and count homeless people.
In all seriousness, Farrell and his wife will be just two of the myriad volunteers fanning out across the city to participate in San Francisco’s biennial homeless count.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires cities to count homeless people every other year in an effort to understand the scope of homelessness across the country.
In January 2013, counters found 6,436 homeless people living on San Francisco’s streets and in its jails, hospitals and shelters.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to approve a nearly $3 million settlement payment Tuesday to the family of a woman whose body was found in a San Francisco General Hospital stairwell 17 days after she disappeared from her hospital room in 2013.
San Francisco and University of California officials reached a deal with the family of Lynne Spalding last month to pay a combined $3 million to her two adult children, Liam Ford and Simone Ford.
The family’s claim blamed the hospital and the Sheriff’s Department, which provides security at San Francisco General, for multiple failures related to her care and the abortive search after she vanished Sept. 21.
Posted: January 27, 2015, 1:49 am
For Lady, a pit bull mix identified as a bad seed, and Angel, an aging corgi mix with health problems, animal rights activists in Contra Costa County provided a ticket out of town — and a second chance at life.
On Sunday evening, Stefani Buzzard and Beth Bennett, volunteers with Citizens for No Kill Contra Costa County, picked up the dogs at foster homes in Concord and Discovery Bay.
The Contra Costa animal shelter’s mission is to provide sanctuary for stray, lost and abandoned animals and find homes through adoption whenever possible, but critics say it could be doing far more to fulfill its duties.
The cross-country rescue was a first for the group, but it represents a determination to sway local lawmakers to adopt alternatives to destroying shelter animals.
[...] it believes public shelters should do a lot more to help animals, from enlisting programs to trap, neuter and release feral cats to creating partnerships with nationwide programs such as Pets for Vets, a program that matches returning veterans with service animals.
The burgeoning group, with about 20 active members, is not a rescue organization but includes animal activists who are rescue volunteers, behaviorists, kennel owners, pet owners and animal lovers, said Linda Meza, who joined the group in 2013.
Whether county officials recognize it or not, the group is doing them a favor by lobbying and educating them to the modern-day version of what a full-service shelter program looks like.
[...] the most important change in the approach to shelter animals is the notion that human compassion for another living being trumps the notion that animal management and control are the chief reasons for the department’s existence.
Bay Area residents have shown time and again that human compassion for life, all life, will always take precedence over institutionalized policies, and in the modern era, the care and treatment of stray animals is no different.
Posted: January 27, 2015, 12:43 am
San Francisco’s homeless programs scored big in the annual disbursement of federal funds to efforts around the nation aimed at helping people get off the street, and officials say the extra cash will be used to bolster supportive housing significantly.
The city received $25.6 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, $3 million more than it got last year.
[...] though most of the money will be used to continue existing initiatives for homeless housing and counseling, nearly $2.3 million will go toward new supportive housing projects.
San Francisco’s take provides just 15 percent of the city’s total funding for homeless programs — but it’s an important factor, officials said.
“We couldn’t do the work we do in CHEFS (a culinary training program) or in supportive housing without this money,” said Ken Reggio, executive director of Episcopal Community Services, which received about $2 million in the funding package.
Trent Rhorer, executive director of the city’s Human Services Agency, said the money will help fund 1,618 units of supportive housing, which are considered crucial for lifting people from the street and keeping them stable.
Among other Bay Area locations where homeless programs got significant federal funding were Alameda County, with $27 million, and Santa Clara County, with $16 million.
Posted: January 27, 2015, 12:38 am
A Catholic priest, new to San Francisco and no stranger to controversy, has banned girls from acting as altar servers at Mass, a decision that sets his parish apart from all others in the archdiocese.
The Rev. Joseph Illo, pastor at Star of the Sea Church since August, said he believes there is an “intrinsic connection” between the priesthood and serving at the altar — and because women can’t be priests, it makes sense to have only altar boys.
[...] the decision has rankled some people at the church and its school, where some, but not all, parents and students disagreed with the move, said parent Nancy Bye, who serves as liaison between the school and the parish.
Illo said he wants to get an altar boy program up and running for all Masses, as part of a larger father and sons program at the church.
An altar boy program would be a male bonding experience, one that helps them socialize and develop their leadership potential, Illo said.
Females were authorized by canon law to be altar servers about 20 years ago — or “not that long ago” in the 2,000-year tradition of the Holy Eucharist, Illo said.
In 2008, as a Modesto priest, he said that voting for Barack Obama, who supports abortion rights, required a trip to the confessional.
“Voting for a candidate who promises 'abortion rights,’ even if he promises every other good thing, is voting for abortion,” Illo wrote in a letter to parishioners.
Posted: January 27, 2015, 12:00 am