Psychology studies suggest rising wealth means more jerks in S.F.
If it seems that San Franciscans are getting more entitled and self-absorbed, a series of psychology studies performed at UC Berkeley indicates there could be a scientific reason: the city’s increasing wealth.
Paul Piff, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Social Behavior at UC Irvine (he moved from UC Berkeley just a few weeks ago), has spent the past decade conducting about 50 studies on how wealthy people and poorer people behave in the same situations.
Rich people are more likely to behave unethically even if they get very little benefit.
Piff speculated that wealthier people don’t have the same sensitivity to others as poor people do because they don’t need to rely on their neighbors and the wider community as much.
[...] in terms of wealth, our city is extremely fertile ground for study.
The median home price in San Francisco in the fourth quarter of 2014 was $1.13 million, according to Paragon Real Estate.
All this wealth has proved great for the city’s tax coffers, but it’s also resulted in some complaints — namely that people are ruder, more interested in their smartphones than talking to real people, less interested in charity or politics, and more selfish when behind the wheel.
To find out what some wealthy people thought about Piff’s studies, the local BMW showroom — where else? — on Howard Street seemed like the perfect place.
Michael Goff, the founder of a tech startup in Mountain View, speculated that “type A, aggressive” personalities succeed in business and can afford luxury cars.
The native of Italy has lived in San Francisco for 15 years and said he has noticed the city move away from its hippie, free-love roots and toward being a crowded, aggressive, New York-like place.
There is a certain amount of arrogance that comes with wealth and does translate to people feeling entitled at times and act not as nicely,” he continued before quipping, “Of course, I’m different.
Supervisor David Campos, who represents the Mission, has talked a lot about San Francisco’s growing income inequality and what he views as a “Tale of Two Cities.”
Reid Condit, a 74-year-old resident of high-rise public housing in the Tenderloin — not a guy who’ll be shopping for a BMW anytime soon — said it’s been frustrating getting help fixing the building’s often broken elevators, especially in such a rich city.
Back on Howard Street in SoMa, several men worked on Mercedes, BMWs and other German cars at Metric Motors.
Tom Cebollero, 48, drives a BMW and bought the independent auto shop eight years ago after getting sick of his job in corporate finance.
Posted: January 26, 2015, 3:45 am
Daily aikido routine provides strength, confidence after stroke
Neighbors watched as Tim Sum showed off his steel samurai sword by slowly raising it over his head outside his apartment.
Speed and focus are skills he works on with an unrelenting determination.
Sum, 70, practices a Japanese martial art known as aikido at Washington Square, near where he lives.
Most mornings he is surrounded by groups of tai chi practitioners and tourists, few of whom talk to him as he runs through defensive techniques by swinging a sword in calculated movements.
For Sum, the tool he uses make no difference.
[...] Sum got a late start in this lifetime — most people start when they’re young, but his experience was different.
The right side of his face had gone numb, and he seemed confused.
Determined not just to survive but recover, Sum began practicing martial arts in Washington Square, where he serendipitously ran into Warren, a black belt in aikido.
When you study martial arts, it eliminates all fear.
To see a multimedia production of this piece, go to http://blog.sfgate.com/cityexposed.
Posted: January 26, 2015, 12:37 am
[...] the rent limits must stay in place for a tenant who came to the residence as a child and stayed there when his parents left, a state appeals court says.
The ruling upheld a decision by the city’s rent board that kept the tenant’s monthly payment at $1,681.75, instead of the $3,295 that the landlord wanted to charge.
The owners scored a victory in 1995 when the Legislature passed a “vacancy decontrol” law that removed rent limits when the first occupants moved out and new residents came in.
[...] the appeals court said the 1995 state law, which allowed landlords to raise rents for an entirely new set of tenants, allowed cities like San Francisco to maintain rent control for “all original lawful occupants whether or not parties to the lease.”
Past appellate rulings, the court noted, have kept rent control in place for a San Francisco man’s sister and a Berkeley man’s roommates, all of whom had occupied the residence with the landlord’s knowledge and consent.
Posted: January 25, 2015, 11:26 pm
A new law may be reversing a rise in the percent of kindergarteners exempt from vaccinations in Marin County, county officials said. Between 2002 and 2012 the percentage of kindergarteners exempt from vaccinations jumped from 3.7 percent to 7.8 percent. A law that went into effect last year requires parents who don't want their children to be vaccinated to have a conversation about immunization with a healthcare provider. By the end of the year, the percent of kindergarteners who did not get vaccinations dropped to 6.5 percent.
Posted: January 25, 2015, 4:11 pm
A big black SUV drove up on Green Street in North Beach the other afternoon and stopped in front of Sotto Mare,, a noted Italian restaurant.
The car windows rolled down and two people inside peered out with expectant smiles on their faces, as if they were about to discover something.
Fiorucci is an example of an endangered species: a San Franciscan who was born in Europe.
[...] there were pockets of Italian Americans in other areas of the city, including parts of the Mission and the Excelsior districts.
[...] not a single member of the board of supervisors has an Italian name.
[...] when they talk politics these days, Nancy Pelosi is only Italian on the radar — and she is a national figure.
Italian Americans founded the San Francisco opera, A.P. Giannini was the man behind the Bank of America, the three DiMaggio brothers, Pelosi, Francis Ford Coppola, the Alioto families.
The crab for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner had to come from Alioto-Lazio, the foccacia from the Liguria bakery, the ravioli from Lucca, the coppa from Molinari on Columbus Avenue, the St. Honore cake from Victoria Pastry.
Every family had an Auntie Beppa, the hostess of the family dinner, who would instruct the second and third generations exactly where to shop and what to buy.
Little Italy in New York City, which had a population of more than 800,000 Italians, is “a shadow” of what it was, according to John Maggio, who is the writer and producer of a two-part series called The Italian Americans,’’ which will be broadcast Feb. 17 and 24 on PBS.
The series and an accompanying book talks about the huge impact the roughly 4 million Italian immigrants had on this country.
Maggio and Maria Laurino, who wrote the book, have a huge cast of characters, painters, singers, garbage collectors, movie stars, baseball heroes, gangsters, bankers — and, most of all, the family just down the street.
Posted: January 25, 2015, 1:00 pm
A four-vehicle accident in Napa injured eight people, including one who had to be extricated and air-lifted to a trauma center, on Saturday afternoon, authorities said.
The crash, which took place at Streblow Road and Highway 221 just before 1 p.m., resulted in injuries both major and minor, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Napa County Fire Department.
Multiple agencies, including the Napa City Fire Department, Napa State Hospital, American Medical Response, the California Highway Patrol and the Napa County Sheriff’s Office, responded to the accident.
Posted: January 25, 2015, 4:03 am
The plan being spearheaded by the San Francisco mayor’s point man on homelessness is to create a one-stop homeless aid center in the heart of the Mission District that’s unlike any seen in America.
Usually, when an encampment is broken up, aid workers offer shelter beds and other assistance as the angry campers start heading for the hills.
Some take the offers, but many wind up doing what happened in December when San Jose officials busted up the huge Jungle encampment — about half spread out like melted Jell-O into new camps.
Cleanup efforts are also thwarted when campers who do land in housing feel alienated or guilty because they abandoned their street community — and they go back to it.
[...] are neighborhoods aching to get rid of homeless camps that have been burgeoning as tech-driven housing costs and gentrification shove them into new urban nooks and crannies.
“I don’t know how it would ever be possible to help me, and I don’t really trust the system much, but hey — if they can get me and my friends into some kind of center like they’re talking about, we might give it a try,” Gember, 33, said as he tied off the entrance to his tent on San Bruno Avenue to go forage for food.
Once in the center, the goal is to move people within three to 10 days to permanent rooms, rehabilitation centers, bus rides home or anything else that can lead to stable lives — and will stick.
From creating thousands of counseling-enriched supportive housing units to the periodic Project Homeless Connect daylong, one-stop help fairs, the city has long gone the extra yard to help its street people.
The always nettling challenge has been to deal with acutely troubled people who resent the constraints of shelters, distrust government and are afraid to leave their survival routines in the street — and legally can’t be forced to take help.
Bending over backward to convince an indigent to take offered assistance seems counterintuitive, but studies show that moving a chronically homeless person out of the gutter actually saves cities money.
According to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the United Way, someone living hard-core on the street costs more than $60,000 a year in police busts, emergency ambulance rides and the like, compared with about $20,000 in a government-funded supportive housing unit with counselors on-site to provide help.
Several city agencies, including the Police Department and the Human Services Agency, will participate, along with nonprofits such as the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center and the Homeless Youth Alliance.
The units will not just be lumped into huge complexes, but spread throughout other developments and smaller residence hotels away from traditionally troubled areas such as the Tenderloin — and they will come with added counseling, a crucial element for helping people stay inside.
The new units are also to be partly funded by private donations, and the nonprofit HomeBase is conducting an exhaustive study to locate available spots for the city to lease.
Street counselors have long said that if you can deal with whole communities instead of individuals, the whole process of getting to a stable life moves more quickly — and Dufty found this out firsthand in 2013 when the then-biggest encampment in the city, a sprawling mound of tents and trash at the Interstate 280 on-ramp alongside the Caltrain station, was broken up.
All 30 campers were put up in a church auditorium for almost a week instead of just being offered housing vouchers or shelter beds, and within days all but five had been moved into permanent spots.
A similar effort involving Pathways to Housing in Philadelphia has moved 450 severely mentally ill homeless people inside over six years, and the one-stop Connections Housing center in San Diego reduced homelessness downtown by more than half after it opened in 2013.
“It’s actually a brilliant idea to bring in a displaced community of people,” Chris Simiriglia, Pathways’ executive director, said of San Francisco’s plan.
Ray Bramson, homeless services manager for San Jose, likes the concept of one-stop help complexes such as the Navigation Center, although he warns it can be hard maintaining funding and that getting all the agencies to coordinate can be “like herding cats.”
Posted: January 25, 2015, 2:53 am
Thousands of people calling for an end to abortion filled San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza on Saturday for the annual West Coast March for Life.
To keep the event peaceful, the Walk for Life organizers publicized a code of conduct for participants, advising them to never speak to, look at, stare at, threaten or get close to protesters.
To maintain the peaceful and prayerful attitude of the Walk, please do not bring any graphic images of abortions to the Walk.
The event also drew about 100 abortion rights supporters.
Organized by Stop Patriarchy, they gathered at Powell and Market streets at 1 p.m., waving signs and shouting as the antiabortion contingent made its way from Civic Center Plaza to Justin Herman Plaza on the Embarcadero.
The pro-choice protesters carried signs reading “Abortion on demand and without apology” and “Stop the war on women.”
About 100 antiabortion activists skipped the 12:30 p.m. Civic Center rally and instead squared off against the pro-choice crowd at the Powell and Market location, the sides kept 10 feet apart by metal barriers and police officers.
Despite the vitriolic clash of words between the two sides of the abortion debate, the annual marches have been largely peaceful.
Posted: January 25, 2015, 1:26 am
When 14 protesters against police violence shut down most of BART for three hours on Nov. 28 — the shopping day known as Black Friday — transit system managers estimated the fare revenue loss at nearly $70,000 and asked Alameda County prosecutors to seek reimbursement as part of their criminal charges.
Facing continued political opposition, the system’s governing board is considering going further and withdrawing any demand for restitution.
At Thursday night’s meeting of BART’s Board of Directors, which was packed with protesters, one member, Rebecca Saltzman, presented a motion to seek dismissal of criminal trespassing charges against the Nov. 28 demonstrators.
[...] of the vote, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley will decide whether to prosecute the demonstrators, who could still face jail sentences.
[...] because California law allows crime victims to decide whether to seek reimbursement for their economic losses, a majority vote by the BART board would override Crunican’s decision to ask for any type of restitution.
The protesters, denouncing the decisions not to prosecute in the killings of black men by white police officers in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y., chained themselves to BART trains and fixtures at the West Oakland BART Station, which links the East Bay with San Francisco.
The demand for monetary restitution quickly became the chief target of the protesters and their supporters, who circulated petitions and spoke out at Thursday night’s meeting, despite Crunican’s change of position.
“A society that places a value on public demonstrations, of which civil disobedience will be a part, should be cautious about going down that road” of requiring protesters to pay financial costs, Simon said.
Posted: January 24, 2015, 11:53 pm
More than three years have passed since the aged Transbay Terminal was demolished, but only this winter has its successor begun to appear above ground level.
[...] there’s a steel frame roughly 200 feet long tucked between Mission and Howard streets, braced by “basket columns” that eventually will define its undulating shape.
Megaproject moderne| Size: 3 stories, with 5.4-acre park planned for roof|Date built: 2011-
Posted: January 24, 2015, 10:50 pm
How a cache of rare wine stolen from the world-famous French Laundry in Yountville on Christmas Day wound up in a wine cellar 3,000 miles away in Greensboro, N.C., is the mystery of the moment in Wine Country.
No arrests have been made, the investigation is ongoing, and sheriff’s officials said they are working with state and federal authorities to follow leads.
The 76 bottles that were stolen included many high-end selections that sell for thousands of dollars, such as Burgundy’s Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Napa’s Screaming Eagle.
While the global market for high-end wines has been growing in recent years, especially in Asia and South America, it would have been “very difficult” for the burglars to sell the stolen French Laundry wine through a reputable dealer, said David Parker, owner and CEO of Napa’s Benchmark Wine Group, which buys and sells premium wines for restaurants and collectors.
Labels such as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti often feature individual serial numbers, and most collectors who deal with rare, high-end wines were given the missing bottles’ numbers.
“When that particular theft took place, we along with many others received an e-mail alert with the numbers that were on the labels, which the restaurant had wisely taken down,” said Simon Lambert, a senior consultant with the Chicago Wine Co., one of the nation’s leading fine wine retailers and auction houses.
Lambert said his company, if approached with such a haul of expensive wine, would not make a deal until it had inspected the wine, checked serial numbers, and asked pertinent questions about the provenance of those bottles.
News of the recovery was applauded in the wine industry, and Lambert suggested there may have been some good fortune behind the turn of events that led investigators to the North Carolina cellar.
Some wine thieves sell on the black market, he said, so the bottles become like a rare stolen painting that “ends up in someone’s private house, never to be seen again.”
Posted: January 24, 2015, 9:57 pm
The supplier of steel rods that cracked on the Bay Bridge in 2013, a construction failure that cost toll payers $45 million, never told Caltrans that nearly identical rods it made for a Washington state bridge had suffered a similar fate in 2009, The Chronicle has learned.
Less than six months after the ill-fated batch of rods arrived in California in 2008, six high-strength rods that Dyson Corp. of Ohio shipped to rebuild the Hood Canal pontoon bridge — which connects the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas in the western part of the state — failed within days of being installed, according to a review recently made public by California bridge officials.
The rods in Washington state were virtually the same as 96 rods that Bay Bridge officials had purchased for seismic-stability structures on the new eastern span, the review found.
Unlike in California, Washington officials never conducted the kind of microscopic examination needed to establish why the Hood Canal rods cracked.
When California officials did so after the failure of the Bay Bridge rods, they discovered the cause was the same in both cases — corrosive hydrogen had invaded the extra-hard steel.
Like Washington, California had a policy against building bridges with such rods, because their high strength, combined with the zinc coating used to protect them, heightened their vulnerability to cracking.
Washington officials also needed the high-strength rods to rebuild the floating span, but it was not clear why they ended up being coated with zinc, contrary to state policy.
The Bay Bridge failure required Caltrans to engineer a $25 million work-around for the seismic-stabilizing structures and to spend $20 million on tests to assess the reliability of the span’s 2,200 remaining high-strength rods and bolts.
Experts said the traditional system for procuring bridge parts does not require suppliers to notify customers of failures.
“In commercial aircraft and air frames (structural skeletons), they would have immediately communicated to all other groups about a problem,” said Bob Bea, a UC Berkeley civil engineering professor emeritus who analyzes the causes of industrial accidents.
[...] Carmen Vertullo, who teaches courses to rod and bolt suppliers about hydrogen failures for the Fastener Training Institute in Long Beach, said the blame lies with transportation officials in California and Washington, not with the company.
An official with the agency that oversaw the Bay Bridge project, Metropolitan Transportation Commission Deputy Director Andrew Fremier, said Dyson had supplied rods and bolts that largely met contract specifications.
Posted: January 24, 2015, 9:55 pm
Bay Area to see weekend of near-record temperatures and big surf
Near-record heat is expected to cook the Bay Area this weekend, with parts of Wine Country, the South Bay and Santa Cruz County pushing 80 degrees on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
The unseasonable weather will be accompanied by high surf along the coast, and forecasters are warning those lured to the beach to watch out for sneaker waves and rip currents.
Kurtis Alexabder is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.
Posted: January 24, 2015, 4:11 pm
Put your money on Jeb Bush as Republican nominee for president. Mitt Romney may get in the race, but he is used goods. [...] if Romney couldn’t beat President Obama when he was up against the ropes, how’s he going to knock out a fighter like Hillary Rodham Clinton? For all the punditry about the Latino vote, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will never go head to head against state Attorney General Kamala Harris in any race, including the 2016 contest for the U.S. Senate. [...] there are other races down the line, including the governorship and possibly the state’s other Senate seat, should Dianne Feinstein retire in 2018. President Obama’s State of the Union address came off like a worn repeat of his one-hit record. “One State” was a big hit in July 2004 when the newly minted Sen. Obama made his national debut at the Democratic convention. [...] it’s an easily forgettable tune sung by an oldies performer, albeit one experiencing a bit of rebirth in popularity. Even his health care plan is starting to catch on, leaving little for the Republicans and Democrats to fight over. The most notable part of the night was the uncomfortable look on House Speaker John Boehner’s overly tanned face. Later that evening, I took a walk down Golden Gate Avenue, starting around Leavenworth and working my way to Market Street. Movie time: “American Sniper” is obviously a box office hit — at the midnight show at the Century theater in the Westfield San Francisco Centre, the line was out the door and down the stairs. People in the audience, however, were on the edge of their seats until the credits rolled, when they burst into applause.
Posted: January 24, 2015, 1:00 pm
Cerberus Capital Management is in talks to acquire Digital First Media, the company that owns the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune, according to a Bloomberg report.
Digital First is the third-largest U.S. newspaper group, with 76 daily and 160 weekly papers in 15 states.
The group holds a majority stake in YP Holdings, a yellow pages publisher and online advertising company.
Posted: January 24, 2015, 5:18 am