Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Rep. Jackie Speier, Chronicle columnist and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, and state Democratic Party Chairman John Burton all pitched calls to Daly City’s mayor in an effort to swing a contract in favor of garbage giant Recology.
The calls started as the Daly City Council was deciding whether to drop longtime garbage hauler Allied Waste Services in favor of Recology.
Recology officials said the calls from some of the biggest Democratic names in Bay Area politics weren’t a case of the company flexing its political muscle.
“Our thought was we could reach out to find people who had worked with us in the past to help let (the council) know who we are,” said Eric Potashner, Recology’s strategic affairs director.
Burton said he had called in his capacity as a longtime customer of Recology’s Sunset Scavengers, and not as a high-ranking Democratic Party official.
Despite Recology’s promise to save the city $3 million over the 15-year life of the contract and to provide almost twice as much recycling — and despite the recommendation of City Manager Pat Martel to switch to Recology — the council voted 4-1 last week to stick with Allied Waste.
[...] during an exchange with a Recology executive at a City Hall hearing last week, Torres made it clear that he had concerns about a string of litigation and whistle-blower complaints that have dogged Recology in recent years.
San Francisco Airport Director John Martin’s decision to suspend pickup privileges of two drivers involved with last week’s taxi demonstration that blocked airport traffic isn’t improving the cabbies’ mood as a holiday truce takes effect.
The cabbies are annoyed that lightly regulated ride-share competitors including Lyft, Sidecar and Uber have been given the green light to pick up airport fares, with no consequences for all the years they were doing so without official permission.
The first and likely most important hire that Oakland Mayor-elect Libby Schaaf will make is the successor to interim City Administrator Henry Gardner, who was brought out of retirement when Fred Blackwell abruptly pulled up stakes to lead the San Francisco Foundation.
[...] when Alameda City Manager (and former Oakland City Attorney) John Russo popped up at Schaaf’s victory celebration, speculation immediately flared up that Russo was a contender.
[...] Schaaf appears to be headed in another direction, after the City Council approved a plan last week to hire a headhunter for a national search.
Democratic political consultant James Carville, summing up the midterm election results at a Ready for Hillary super PAC retreat in New York.
Posted: November 26, 2014, 1:00 pm
A second night of coast-to-coast protests over a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer for fatally shooting a black man found fertile ground — again — in Oakland, where protesters looted businesses, lit fires, attacked police and shut down two freeways. At around 9 p.m., the group entered Interstate 580 near Telegraph Avenue, disrupting traffic before police quickly moved them off. From then on, the evening devolved into lawless rambling by mobs of protesters who lit debris and trash can fires, shattered windows on businesses, including a Mercedes car dealership, and threw bottles and bricks at police. Police and fire crews attempted to avoid direct confrontations as much as possible, but officers detained several protesters and fired flash-bang grenades before 10 p.m. The clashes spread from downtown to beyond 40th Street on Telegraph Avenue, angering and frightening residents with each new burst of commotion. Oakland officials had hoped in vain that there wouldn’t be a repeat of the night before, when protests erupted into looting, fires in the streets and attacks on police soon after the evening announcement that a grand jury in St. Louis County, Mo., had decided not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting Aug. 11 of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was unarmed. I-580 was shut down in both directions off and on for a couple of hours by crowds of chanting demonstrators before they were forced off by lines of officers in riot gear, and after midnight mobs smashed into at least two stores and stole armfuls of goods including coffee, booze and dog food. Oakland police arrested 43 people on suspicion of crimes including assaulting officers, burglary, failure to disperse, resisting arrest, vandalism and public intoxication, said police spokeswoman Officer Johnna Watson. The mayor, police chief and others staged an afternoon press conference to denounce the violence and call for more reasoned expressions of outrage. [...] to Oakland’s violent flash points, San Francisco protest organizers stressed the long-term effort it will take to make societal change.
Posted: November 26, 2014, 7:36 am
The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to give the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission a right of first refusal on providing power to new developments in the city, which is in the midst of a building boom.
The legislation is designed to expand the retail customer base for the cash-strapped public utility, which sells much of its power at a steep discount to government customers.
Currently, the utilities commission has to vie with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for new customers.
A 2012 SFPUC memo said PG&E was disputing the city’s right to provide power to port properties, including tenants in the Ferry Building, and to Muni bus shelters.
In other action, the board took a step toward equal pay for women, unanimously approving legislation to require certain city contractors to report how much they pay individual employees.
“This is very groundbreaking,” said Avalos, who called for the board to explore expanding the reporting requirement to the dozens of businesses that get tax breaks from the city.
The reports would include information about workers’ sex and race; other details of the reporting requirements would be hashed out by an Equal Pay Advisory Board created by the legislation.
Supervisor David Campos, who authored the legislation, said expanding the scope to cover companies receiving city tax breaks would make “a great deal of sense.”
Posted: November 26, 2014, 3:15 am
AAA of Northern California, which tracks holiday travel, says more Golden State residents will travel for their turkey day feasts than have since 2007.
After years of tightening their belts during the recession and the slow economic recovery, Californians appear ready to let loose and do a little celebrating out of town.
Aside from the typical traffic tie-ups and long lines at check-in counters and security stations, Bay Area travelers face a threatened taxi protest at San Francisco International Airport and delays caused by bad weather in the East.
San Francisco taxi drivers, irritated by the decision to let on-demand ride services such as Uber and Lyft serve SFO, staged a protest last week that snarled traffic outside SFO for two hours and stranded many arriving passengers.
Taxi drivers have threatened more protests, possibly during the holidays, but Airport Director John Martin is optimistic they won’t interfere with Thanksgiving travel.
Most California travelers, not surprisingly, will get to their destinations by car, and lower gas prices will probably play a role in the driving boom this Thanksgiving.
With so many travelers on the roads, the California Highway Patrol is treating the extended holiday as a maximum enforcement period and putting all available officers on duty — from 6 p.m. Wednesday until midnight Sunday.
A winter storm expected to deliver rain or snow across the northeast and Mid-Atlantic states Wednesday could cause flight cancellations or delays at major airports, even though conditions are expected to be warm and clear at Bay Area airports, which have geared up for the Thanksgiving travel crunch.
SFO plans to help harried holiday travelers relax with its winter music festival featuring Bay Area musicians at various locations around the airport.
Mineta San Jose International Airport, which suffered the biggest drops in travel during the recession, is continuing to rebound this holiday season.
Posted: November 26, 2014, 1:15 am
At one end of Annie Street is San Francisco’s newest public space — at the other, visible evidence that the success of such spaces is not assured.
The new plaza is a patch of asphalt at Mission Street, closed to cars but with plenty of room for bicycles to coast through, below a gateway-like frame of salvaged wood adorned with hanging rat tail cactus.
The program is best known for the 50-plus “parklets” that have opened since 2010, slivers that include seating and replace one or two parking spaces.
There are concrete benches that overlap the sidewalk, a low wooden seating platform that doubles as a stage, and a dozen movable chairs.
Verticality is provided by the gateway-like frame of salvaged wood and a trio of tall posts at either end of the small plaza, with succulents up high for a hint of green.
Abad described the design by landscape architecture firm CMG as “a venue for amplifying types of uses that we’ve already seen,” a test and only a test, to be reviewed and tweaked as needed.
Even the concrete seating sits atop a layer of plastic, so it can be removed without harming the surfaces below.
The $118,000 plaza was built and paid for by the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District, which also will provide maintenance and schedule events to activate the space.
The squares of tall greenery beneath a single tree might have been bucolic at the start — they were installed after the 1970s redo of Market Street — but in recent years the only people you’d find there probably were indulging in alcohol, drugs or who knows what else.
Restoration work began on the Monadnock Building next door, and the protective fencing swallowed up the plaza.
The fourth was a little-used flop near the California College of Arts; it’s now being used as a staging area for a nearby housing development.
Posted: November 26, 2014, 12:24 am
The central issue is how the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires government agencies to make reasonable accommodations for the disabled, applies to police conduct toward a mentally ill person who may be violent.
“Police officers deserve clarity concerning their obligations under federal law, and public safety demands it,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera, whose office represents the officers, said Tuesday.
Ben Nisenbaum, a lawyer for Sheehan, said the law must draw distinctions between a mentally ill person who poses a threat to the public — like “a person running down the street with a knife” — and someone confronted by officers while alone in her room, with backup police on their way.
According to the appeals court, Sheehan, then 56, suffered from schizophrenia and had threatened her social worker with a knife before he summoned police to her room in a Mission District group home in August 2008.
[...] the appeals court, in an opinion by Judge Raymond Fisher, said a reasonable jury “could find that Sheehan was in a confined area and not a threat to others,” and that the officers had known that a deadly confrontation was likely when they entered with guns drawn.
In its appeal to the Supreme Court, San Francisco argued that the federal disability law does not require police to consider the mental health needs of “armed and violent suspects who are disabled.”
When mental illness causes “unpredictable, violent behavior as it did in this case,” said Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith, “officers must make split-second decisions that protect the public and themselves.”
Posted: November 25, 2014, 11:13 pm
Two members of the state Assembly want a stroll or a bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to remain free, and they intend to back that up with a law.
On a grassy bluff at Crissy Field, with the bridge in the background, Assemblymen Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, and Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, said they would introduce a bill on Monday that would preclude the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District from charging a toll for people who walk or pedal across the bridge.
[...] a law would undoubtedly calm the uproar from bicyclists and pedestrians following an Oct. 24 vote by the district’s board to study whether it would make sense to charge a toll to those who use the bridge’s sidewalks — which are among the world’s most popular tourist attractions.
The district is considering the tolls as part of a 45-point plan to eliminate a projected $32.9 million budget shortfall over the next five fiscal years.
At a time when the state is working to get more people to walk and bike, he said, it makes no sense to charge people to do the environmentally correct thing.
Levine, citing the Golden Gate Bridge’s world renown, said charging a sidewalk toll would send the wrong message about the Bay Area’s commitment to combatting climate change.
Johnny Szeto, 63, of San Francisco stopped after riding across the bridge and said he hopes the toll plan dies — either from the legislation or a decision by the bridge district board — not so much because of the money but because of the message it sends to both locals and visitors.
Posted: November 25, 2014, 11:01 pm
After 11 months of negotiations, the San Francisco Unified School District and the United Educators of San Francisco have agreed on a tentative contract that would give teachers and teaching assistants a 12 percent raise over three years.
The raises are among the largest recently agreed to for any urban school district in California, according to Superintendent Richard Carranza.
“To ensure our students get the education they need to be successful, we must invest in the people who are charged with teaching and supporting them in the classroom,” Carranza said.
The contract will give educators “a fighting chance to stay, live and work in San Francisco,” said Dennis Kelly, who heads up the teachers union.
The tentative agreement also provides additional compensation for teaching assistants, known as paraprofessionals, most of whom work directly with students with special needs.
In addition to the salary increases, the agreement includes a significant increase in elementary teacher preparation time that includes time for teachers to collaborate and develop personalized instruction for every student.
Prep time for elementary school teachers within the workday will jump from 60 minutes per week to 150 minutes per week.
Kelly said the union set out with three goals: a double-digit salary increase, extra raises for the paraprofessionals, and more preparation time for elementary school teachers.
Sandra Fewer, president of the Board of Education, said she was relieved that (the tentative agreement) was done before the end of the year so that our employees can have a nice holiday.
Posted: November 25, 2014, 10:53 pm
Sorrow and anger over the decision by a grand jury in Missouri not to indict a white police officer in the killing of an unarmed black man sent demonstrators into the streets in the Bay Area, with hundreds of people shutting down Interstate 580 in Oakland for hours.
From Oakland and Berkeley to San Francisco and San Jose, crowds massed to denounce the lack of criminal charges in the shooting in Ferguson, Mo., marching and chanting slogans against what they considered racial injustice.
Civic leaders echoed President Obama’s call for peaceful demonstrations, but the mood of the crowds gave the gatherings the air of a tinderbox.
The most tense and disruptive action unfolded in Oakland, where hundreds of protesters marched downtown, blocking intersections before surging onto I-580 via the Lakeshore Avenue offramp around 8 p.m. There they played cat-and-mouse with police for hours, stopping traffic in both directions before being forced off the freeway by lines of officers in riot gear.
The protesters cheered exuberantly as they took their position on the freeway, blocking westbound lanes and chanting, “Shut it down, shut it down!”
The Starbucks store on Ninth Street was trashed and looted, then thieves smashed into the nearby Smart & Final and ran away with booze bottles, 12-packs of beer and bags of dog food.
“It’s a sad time in America when white officers can shoot and kill young black men without consequence, without accountability,” said Dawn Fortune, a minister with Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fremont, who was among the Oakland demonstrators.
Several trash cans and piles of debris were set on fire, and as protesters were forced from I-580 by police, some threw objects at officers.
Officials said Wilson had stopped Brown because he matched the description of a suspect in a store robbery that had just happened.
Prosecutor McCulloch said the evidence showed that Wilson was defending himself, and that the case was complicated by witnesses who gave conflicting accounts or changed their stories over time.
Immediately after the shooting, anger in Ferguson erupted into days of riots and forceful crackdowns by police, and demonstrations in the Bay Area and the rest of the nation denouncing police brutality quickly followed.
Marches in Oakland and Berkeley triggered clashes with police as several protesters vandalized stores and battled officers.
In advance of the grand jury’s decision, protesters had laid plans for demonstrations in Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento and several other California cities — as did police to counter them.
Posted: November 25, 2014, 9:35 pm
Ed Lee may be known as San Francisco’s tech mayor, but this holiday season he wants residents to do something decidedly old school: shop at neighborhood businesses. While shopping on retail websites continues to grow at a double-digit pace, according to a recent online shopping report from IBM, Lee not surprisingly wants to see more of those dollars flowing to neighborhood businesses. The mayor, after all, has had to deal with criticism from Union Square merchants fed up with construction on the Central Subway, which has shut down a central stretch of Stockton Street and taken away a lane of traffic on Geary Street for months. If the dust and noise weren’t enough, in July a subway construction crew hit a water main, flooding the basements of luxury retailers like Chanel, Bulgari and Jimmy Choo. On Tuesday, Lee is kicking off a program encouraging residents to do all of their shopping and dining within the city’s nearly 47 square miles, particularly smaller neighborhood stores like those along Irving Street in the Outer Sunset. Stockton Street, recently a swath of dust, barriers and construction equipment, is now covered with green artificial turf for a “Winter Walk.”
Posted: November 25, 2014, 2:00 pm
Hundreds of protesters marched onto Interstate 580 in Oakland’s Grand Lake area just after 8 p.m. Monday, blocking lanes in both directions off and on for hours before finally being forced off by lines of police in riot gear.
Police said the first incursion onto the freeway happened when more than 500 people ran up an on-ramp near the Trader Joe’s store on Lakeshore Avenue.
Officers repeatedly ordered demonstrators to disperse, with mixed results as crowds ebbed and flowed onto the road from the Lakeshore and Grand Avenue freeway ramps.
The demonstrators marched to I-580 from Oakland’s downtown after the announcement that a grand jury in Missouri had decided not to indict a police officer in the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.
Protesters cheered exuberantly as they took the freeway, chanting, “Shut it down, shut it down!” Shanna Serrano, 24, of San Jose, said the purpose of blocking the road was to “shut it down, gain that attention for Michael Brown.”
Posted: November 25, 2014, 8:03 am
Having long since conquered SoMa and spread into Mid-Market, San Francisco’s high-octane technology boom is changing the face of another territory: the Financial District.
Nondescript office towers that have traditionally provided 9-to-5 shelter to the city’s bankers, lawyers and insurance executives are increasingly filling up with app developers, coders and social media managers.
Since 2010, the amount of space that tech companies occupy in San Francisco towers over 12 stories has jumped from 3.5 million square feet to 7.2 million square feet, according to the commercial real estate brokerage CBRE.
Of the eight office buildings under construction in the city, 100 percent of the space has been pre-leased to technology companies.
The tech invasion is accelerating the cultural shift in downtown San Francisco away from a formal suit-and-tie business environment, said Meade Boutwell, senior vice president at CBRE.
Deloitte, a large consulting company, became the anchor tenant, and CNA Insurance also leased space.
[...] a tech co-working group, WeWork, is negotiating a 100,000-square-foot lease in the building, according to real estate brokers familiar with the negotiations.
Instead of adapting to traditional office layouts — with private offices, drop ceilings and big, formal conference rooms — tech companies are remaking these spaces.
While getting a space near the windows in buildings like 535 Mission St. has always been the payoff for successfully climbing the corporate ladder, Trulia doesn’t have any private offices.
The space designer, Rapt Studio, planned for multiple lounges and libraries on each floor, where workers can huddle or get away from their desks.
“Our CEO has always been in a cubicle — and not just in a cubicle but the same size cubicle as all the other employees,” said Elizabeth Brown, Trulia’s vice president of human resources.
“Our employees have shared that they want to be in the city, and having an urban campus that is located close to public transit and local amenities is a key part of our real estate strategy in San Francisco,” said Ford Fish, senior vice president of real estate for Salesforce.
With average office rents up to $65 a square foot, more than double what they were in 2010, typical law firms are scrambling to save money by squeezing into smaller, more efficient spaces.
Posted: November 25, 2014, 5:41 am
The first of the new Metro light-rail cars manufactured by Siemens will begin arriving at the end of 2016, but it will take years for most of the new-and-improved cars to arrive.
[...] Muni and its passengers will have to make do with the 17-year-old fleet of Breda cars, which are prone to failures of doors, steps and propulsion systems.
With that in mind, Supervisor Scott Wiener convened a meeting of the Land Use and Economic Development Committee and summoned the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s transit director, John Haley, to explain how the agency will keep Muni Metro on track.
The agency is also trying to improve communications with passengers and to help operators stick to schedules by posting large clocks at key points and having driver changes take place where supervisors are present.
The legislation is designed to grow the PUC’s retail customer base by giving it first crack at providing power to new developments while also helping San Francisco reach its ambitious goal of having all electricity in the city come from renewable sources by the end of 2020.
The public utility already provides greenhouse-gas-free energy generated from solar panels or hydropower from Hetch Hetchy for city-owned sites like San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco General Hospital and City Hall.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which sells most of its power at a heavily discounted rate for civic uses, also needs to bring in more revenue to keep up with aging infrastructure demands.
On Monday, an official from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, which is heavily funded by PG&E, opposed the measure, as did the Building Owners and Managers Association, which works on issues for the commercial real estate industry.
Posted: November 25, 2014, 2:45 am
A small plane that went down outside of Gilroy this month, killing two people, struck power lines before it crashed, federal officials said Monday.
Despite the crash into rugged terrain, the aircraft remained mostly intact, investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report.
“The separated propeller assembly revealed that one of its blades had multiple S-type bending and a small portion of that blade’s tip was missing,” investigators wrote, indicating the plane had struck power lines.
Investigators determined the plane struck wires that were 300 feet above a 1,500-foot-wide canyon.
Posted: November 25, 2014, 1:35 am
Olympic insiders dish on S.F.’s bid for 2024 Games
“There’s a tremendous perception that the Games have been away from the world’s biggest (financial) market and biggest sports market for far too long,” said a former IOC staff member.
San Francisco’s quirky politics may make organizers nervous.
Joke if you will about the proposed pop-up stadium on what is now a landfill in Brisbane, but there is a case to be made that a temporary facility is a sensible option.
The good: IOC members are naturally inclined to the charm and character of San Francisco.
The other cities aren’t only making their cases personally, they already have 2024 Bid Committee websites up and running.
The modern model for the Olympic Games is to use the event to revitalize a neighborhood or location that needs help.
Ever since Barcelona, virtually every host city has needed a hefty dose of public money, federal or state, to accomplish the revitalization.
[...] to really transform an area, government money will be needed.
San Francisco already has a public transportation system, with more options to come.
[...] as we all know, despite having an extensive subway system, everybody drives in L.A.
Probst is chairman of the board of EA Sports, took the Olympic post in 2008 and was elected to a second term in 2012.
C’mon, he’s our guy.
[...] it’s always better to end on a positive note.
Posted: November 25, 2014, 12:08 am