There won’t be any excuse not to walk off your Thanksgiving dinner.
Forecasters are calling for mild, sunny days in the Bay Area through the holiday Thursday, with temperatures approaching the 70s both along the coast and inland — perfect for getting outside.
Mornings will be a bit cool, with lows dipping into the 30s inland, forecasters say, but temperatures will heat up in the afternoons.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District declared a Spare the Air day for Tuesday, meaning indoor and outdoor wood or fire-log banning is banned.
The clear skies follow a series of weather systems that brought the first significant rain to the region since Halloween.
Posted: November 24, 2014, 8:30 pm
The Facebook campus in Menlo Park feels more like a town square — or at least an amusement park version of one — than an office.
Facebook’s two main eating areas — known to employees as Epic and Living the Dream — feature salad bars, make-your-own sandwiches, and smoothies, among other offerings.
The ones shopping for official Facebook gear are probably tourists — and “Like” sign T-shirts bought elsewhere are knock-offs.
John Tenanes, director of global facilities for Facebook, said the company’s headquarters is designed to suggest a “Main Street feel,” similar to downtown Palo Alto.
“The Main Street is infused with amenities and is meant to encourage social interactions and collaboration among employees,” Tenanes said in an e-mail.
The place has some Disney qualities, which makes sense considering that Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg sits on the board there.
A yellow brick road leads to an outpost of Mission District stalwart Philz Coffee.
Beside the path, a pair of witch’s legs jut out from beneath a miniature cottage.
There are ample places to play pingpong and an arcade for people who prefer games like pinball and “Dance Dance Revolution.”
Across from the wall is a mural depicting a blue Facebook hoodie unzipping to reveal a factory scene inspired by the social network.
The spaces have the trappings of a typical tech company: open layouts, standing desks and small areas for impromptu meetings.
“The unfinished look of the buildings’ interiors promotes our belief that we are still only '1 percent finished’ with our goal of making the world more open and connected,” Tenanes said.
Posted: November 24, 2014, 7:19 pm
District Attorney George Gascón’s deputies appear to have stepped over the line when they hosted an after-hours re-election fundraiser for the boss the other evening at Ted’s Sports Bar & Grill across from the Hall of Justice. Seventeen prosecutors — mostly misdemeanor deputies — lent their names to the party invitation that was circulated to the rest of the office. Some of the eager deputies made a direct appeal for contributions from the 50 or so fellow prosecutors and office employees who attended the Nov. 13 gathering, an apparent violation of city and state political conduct rules. issued a 10-page memo with updated rules governing political activity, and he warned that “city officers and employees may not solicit political contributions from other city officers and employees, even while off duty.” No sooner did we point out the the rules to Gascón’s office than his political team shot off an e-mail thanking everyone who had cut a check, but telling them that “in an abundance of caution, we are returning your contribution to assure compliance with the California Good Government Code.”
Posted: November 24, 2014, 6:44 pm
If the competition to design a park for 13 uniquely visible acres within the Presidio has taught us one thing, it’s that oversized gimmicks are not what anyone wants between Crissy Field and the historic Main Post.
Choosing favorites after that gets murky, but one team seems to have the best grasp on how new parkland forming a bluff along the bay could serve as a compelling but appropriate addition to the landscape.
Each of the five concepts presented in September has attractive aspects, such as the proposal from the team headed by the Netherlands’ West 8; it calls for enormous circular walkways and associated spaces sliding diagonally from the Main Post to Crissy Field.
The team led by the firm Snøhetta, already busy with the new arena for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and the expansion of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, includes noted Oakland landscape architect Walter Hood.
The attraction of the design concept from Corner’s firm is the way in which it knits itself into the setting, while adding new experiences to the mix.
The Parade Ground would be extended north across Lincoln Boulevard and fan out above the tunnels to form a scalloped procession of cliffs with a walkway connecting three overlooks.
The base and the artificial cliff would be connected by a series of walkways leading through gardens to a diagonal path up the newly created bluff.
[...] not just any observation post: two buildings shaped like potato chips and tilting upward like butterfly wings, roofs covered with sod.
Compare this to the simple oval lawns framed by plantings that dot the proposal from a team led by the landscape architecture firm Olin, otherwise the weakest scheme of the five.
Theatricality of this sort isn’t unique to the Corner proposal — it’s a staple of such competitions, where each team pulls out the stops to make design juries swoon.
The urge to indulge in eye-catching excess was encouraged by the competition guidelines, which describe the setting as “a transitional zone” but also something that, when complete, “should be at the top of the list of San Francisco attractions for first-time visitors.”
The new landscape should be imaginative but not outlandish, emphasizing views while offering protection from the wind as well as spaces for rest, refreshment, and quick shots of culture or fun.
A sense of enhanced nature should take precedence, as was the case at Crissy Field — which before it debuted in 2001 with a marsh and rippled dunes spent decades as a motley military backwater covered by asphalt.
If his team gets the nod, it would help to have local designers added — if only to prevent a final design that’s more about trends than the particularities of place.
Posted: November 24, 2014, 5:28 pm
The four-block stretch of Market Street from Seventh to 11th streets — home to some of the hottest tech companies in the Bay Area — was rated the dirtiest commercial corridor in the 2014 Street and Sidewalk Maintenance Standards report.
Ten inspectors canvassed 366 sites along 184 routes to come up with the ratings, judging each spot for litter, grime, dumped trash and bad smells.
While tech tax breaks have brought a wealth of new money and business to the strip, the payoffs have yet to make it down to the street level of the long-bedraggled boulevard.
Starting at 4:30 a.m., the Department of Public Works sends out a steady stream of street sweepers, green machines and alley crews to pick up and scrub the pavement.
[...] Mid-Market avoided snagging the honors for smelliest street only because there’s a worse one right nearby — the four-block stretch of Taylor Street between Market and O’Farrell Street.
Overall, however, when it came to feces, condoms and hypodermic needles, only 58 percent of residential sidewalks and 55 percent of commercial sidewalks passed the city’s zero tolerance policy.
District Attorney George Gascón’s deputies appear to have stepped over the line when they hosted an after-hours re-election fundraiser for the boss the other evening at Ted’s Sports Bar & Grill across from the Hall of Justice.
Some of the eager deputies made a direct appeal for contributions from the 50 or so fellow prosecutors and office employees who attended the Nov. 13 gathering, an apparent violation of city and state political conduct rules.
In September, City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued a 10-page memo with updated rules governing political activity, and he warned that “city officers and employees may not solicit political contributions from other city officers and employees, even while off duty.”
No sooner did we point out the the rules to Gascón’s office than his political team shot off an e-mail thanking everyone who had cut a check, but telling them that “in an abundance of caution, we are returning your contribution to assure compliance with the California Good Government Code.”
Posted: November 24, 2014, 1:00 pm
The death toll from last week’s purge of San Francisco’s Mountain Lake included hundreds of carp, including two koi, plus two catfish and lots of bass, but no native fish, Presidio Trust officials said Friday.
Workers also collected two catfish and many bass after they pumped 47 gallons of a poisonous rotenone solution into the lake Nov. 12 in an attempt to liquidate the many species introduced or dumped from aquariums over the years.
The $12 million restoration project marks the first time anyone has tried to restore an ancient lake ecosystem in an urban area to the way it was before Europeans arrived in America.
Ecologists will test the waters again in May, and if all is clear they will reintroduce three-spined sticklebacks, Western pond turtles and chorus frogs, which historically lived in the lake but were killed or driven off by invasive species.
Posted: November 24, 2014, 6:43 am
The planned rally and march, which will include a noon walkout, comes five days after students took over Wheeler Hall in what was called a “symbolic reclamation of higher education.”
[...] UC Berkeley police have said officers would take action only in the event of “significant property damage or violence.”
On Wednesday, 21-year-old UC Berkeley student Jeff Noven was arrested on suspicion of vandalism and inciting a riot outside the UCSF Mission Bay campus in San Francisco, where the regents met earlier in the day to discuss the tuition increase.
Monday’s march will include stops at Berkeley High School and Berkeley City College, and the protests will continue until administrators withdraw plans to increase fees, she said.
The tuition increases would eventually harm UC’s bottom line because the added costs would serve as a disincentive to out-of-state students, who pay higher fees than in-state students, she said.
Posted: November 24, 2014, 5:40 am
Most city spigots, which, since the 1930s, have gushed water from Yosemite’s pristine Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, will start delivering the Sierra supply blended with a splash of local groundwater — by many measures, a far inferior source.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission recently began digging in and around Golden Gate Park in hopes of drawing underground flows into the mix within the next two years.
The move is designed to increase and diversify the city’s water reserves as California faces its worst drought in a generation.
“We don’t think people will notice a difference with what they’re drinking,” said Jeff Gilman, the water agency’s groundwater project manager.
In nine blind trials that the agency conducted with the public, people showed only a slight preference for Hetch Hetchy water over the new blend, while 20 percent expressed no preference at all.
A panel of food writers from The Chronicle found only subtle differences between the two supplies.
Wine writer Jon Bonné noted a “mineral presence” in the blended water, which he said did not diminish the taste and was potentially a positive.
The groundwater, which will be drawn from a basin that extends beneath western San Francisco down the Peninsula, is rich in calcium, magnesium, sodium and other stuff that commonly spills into underground flows.
Tests of the basin last year found nitrates in the water at levels that exceeded state standards.
The nitrates, a nitrogen-oxygen compound that can make people sick when consumed in high doses, come from fertilizers and leaky sewage pipes that infiltrate the soil.
City water officials say the nitrates will be diluted to safe levels as the groundwater is mixed with the Hetch Hetchy supply.
Sodium hydroxide will be added to the groundwater, to raise its PH and reduce its natural acidity.
Fluoride is also added to the current supply as a public health measure.
City water officials say reintroducing the groundwater — a project expected to cost $66 million — is one of the best ways to boost supplies during times of severe drought or crisis, such as an earthquake severing links to Hetch Hetchy.
David Sedlak, an environmental engineering professor at UC Berkeley and co-director of the Berkeley Water Center, said the city’s plan makes sense.
Posted: November 24, 2014, 4:55 am
The black youth told his mom he wanted to be a police officer.
“Communities that have a higher degree of trust in the police department have a lower degree of crime,” Whent says.
[...] even as Oakland strives to do better by its residents, Harris and the 34 other recruits from the 170th Oakland police academy face a daunting task.
In 2009, four Oakland police officers were killed in a single day, the deadliest day for California law enforcement since 1970.
Nearly half of all the young black men and women in Oakland’s roughest neighborhoods are unemployed, and most come from homes with a household income of less than $30,000 a year.
The City Council in 2010 voted to lay off 80 police officers, leaving the police force desperately undermanned even as new recruits join the ranks.
The first day of police training didn’t start with a long, hard jog or a brutal introduction to the violent realities of crime.
“What we noticed is that a lot of recruits were from all over and didn’t have a sense of Oakland,” Oakland police Lt. LeRonne Armstrong told the cadets as their white bus lurched away from City Hall on a sunny day in spring.
The bus rumbled from West Oakland to Rockridge and then to Montclair and the East Oakland police substation, and Armstrong pointed out the landmarks: the West Oakland Acorn project tower known for heroin, the turf of the Ghost Town gang and the best taco trucks for a 908A, police code for a meal break.
The Ghost Town gang, and their rival CVG, were in the middle of a fight and a member of the Acorn gang had been shot dead.
In a few days, Armstrong said, police would talk to the families about cleaning up the memorial because memorials often attract retaliatory violence.
The statement also carried a message about being a police officer:
Later, when the cadets visited the Eastmont police substation in East Oakland for a bathroom break, a few cadets gathered around a memorial for the four Oakland police officers gunned down on March 21, 2009, the darkest day in OPD history.
By the end of their six-month training program, Harris and the other recruits had not only learned about how and when to use force.
“We realized that we needed to set the context before they started learning anything about being a police officer,” said Assistant Chief Paul Figueroa, who helped develop the police academy curriculum.
Police departments across the country want their officers to be part of the community, but in Oakland, with its history of racism, police brutality and low morale, that goal has proved more elusive.
In the late 1990s a squad of four officers in West Oakland gave themselves a nickname — The Riders — and started running roughshod over the mostly black residents in that part of the city.
The Riders eventually faced criminal charges of planting drugs on people, beating people and pointing their guns at anyone they didn’t like.
Officers today still have to read out to dispatchers their starting mileage whenever they transport a suspect in their car, and fill out reams of paperwork whenever they stop a car to ensure they aren’t stopping a disproportional number of black men.
[...] in 2011, Oakland police trying to stop Occupy protests arrested journalists, and shot an Army veteran with a bean bag before throwing a flash bang grenade at a group of people trying to rescue him.
[...] perhaps the department’s most trying time came after the 2009 police officer killings.
Some residents of East Oakland celebrated as if the murders were a victory over an occupying force.
Here was the West Oakland kid who had watched friends from school get bored and hang out in apartments drinking and smoking pot.
Here was the kid who became a volunteer cadet, marched in flag ceremonies, sat in on roll calls, rode shotgun on patrol to see for himself what the job would be like.
Posted: November 24, 2014, 3:54 am
Chronicle food writers critique San Francisco’s new tap water
In a tasting that could have evoked the joie de vivre of a Napa Valley showroom if it weren’t for the stiff office chairs at the water department and the inherent blandness of the fare, five Chronicle food writers — amid boozy gurgles and talk of soft finishes — were introduced to what will soon be San Francisco’s new tap water.
The panel, which included wine critic Jon Bonné, was charged with distinguishing between the city’s present water supply and the upcoming supply.
[...] in the next year or two, that supply will be blended with a small amount of local — and less pristine — groundwater before it hits the taps.
“I feel like I’m chasing ghosts,” said writer Jonathan Kauffman, as he stared down four pours of water on the 13th floor of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s downtown headquarters last week.
The samples, whose identities were withheld from tasters, included (1) the city’s current water supply; (2) the forthcoming supply with a 13.5 percent groundwater blend; (3) bottled Arrowhead water; and (4) an unspecified duplicate of one of the first three samples.
“If I was just drinking this one on its own, (it’d be) fine,” Fritsche said while noting that the sample (the bottled water) paled in comparison with the others.
The tasting didn’t have the rigor of a scientific trial, but was sufficient to draw a few conclusions, such as which water sample was least pleasing.
The group praised both the current Hetchy Hetchy water and the blend, with preferences ultimately split between the two — or no distinct preference stated for either.
In the groundwater blend, Bonné observed a “slight bit of dissolved minerals” during the blind tasting.
Much to the delight of the folks at the water agency, he concluded that he liked the flavor of the new formula.
Posted: November 24, 2014, 3:38 am
Outraged protesters carrying signs reading “No honor in racism” and “I’m not your mascot” gathered near Levi’s Stadium on Sunday leading up to the San Francisco 49ers game against Washington.
The rally is the latest action by American Indian groups pressuring the National Football League to end the use of the Redskins’ team name and imagery, which they say is offensive and racist.
When we are marginalized into cartoon images, we are not seen as human, and we are not going to stand for that,” said 35-year-old Morning Star Gali of Burney (Shasta County), who was one of some 300 people protesting at the stadium Sunday chanting, “Change the name.
Protesters assembled a block away from the stadium at the entrance to the Santa Clara Convention Center, where they danced in traditional regalia to the sound of drums.
The rally, organized by several American Indian groups, began with an 8 a.m. prayer at Ulistac Natural Area in Santa Clara, where some participants burned sage before picking up drums, bullhorns and protest signs on their trek toward the 1:25 p.m. game at Levi’s Stadium.
Washington fan Richard Hale of Auburn was one of the few people wearing a maroon Redskins jacket among the throngs of 49ers fans walking by the protest while heading into the game.
The protest is the latest action where American Indian groups and supporters have crashed Washington road games.
In June, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the Washington Redskins’ trademark registration, citing the team’s disparaging name.
Posted: November 24, 2014, 1:35 am
The intersection of Golden Gate Avenue and Jones Street is usually infested with drug dealers and addicts.
[...] when social worker Regina Santa Maria of St. Anthony Dining Room showed up in a turkey costume, all nefarious doings disappeared.
Across the street were two robed friars from St. Boniface Church standing next to a man dressed in a plush pony costume.
“Nothing makes total sense, and that’s the way we wanted it,” Karl Robillard, senior manager of communications at St. Anthony’s, said as he watched the turkey, friars and the horse in action on the first 4 Corner Friday in the Tenderloin.
The organizers choose corners known for drug dealing and violence, and they have a personal stake in seeing the effort succeed — they live and work there, too.
[...] the lead organizers from St. Anthony’s, St. Boniface Church, the Gubbio Project, the 100 block of Golden Gate safety committee and De Marillac Academy decided to try something different.
“What we noticed was when you take over one corner, people move to the other corner,” said Lydia Branston, security manager at St. Anthony’s.
Posted: November 24, 2014, 12:52 am
Thankful for November, always a month to remember
Time to get the raincoat out of the back of the closet, dig out the umbrella.
Two days after the fall election, Santa Claus was all over the television.
[...] here’s a toast with pumpkin latte to November, the 11th and least appreciated month of the year.
The sun goes down early in November, but the sunsets can be beautiful because the sun is moving south and the shadows are longer and there are more clouds than in summer.
Up the wet streets and through the little urban forest that led to the local hill, always a favorite walk on a sunny day.
[...] it was different: the pine and fir trees were dark and gray, and bent in the light wind.
There is nothing that makes the city feel more like the country than the wind in the trees.
There is a famous view from the top of the hill, but the city had disappeared, as if the rain had pulled a veil over San Francisco.
[...] best of all, the small rains had made tiny shoots of grass spring up between the dead, brown grass of the summer.
Mike Garofalo, who lives in the Sacramento Valley town of Red Bluff, wrote a verse about it:
If you were taking photos of November in the city, you would see tall buildings reflected in the puddles on Market Street.
The sun returned on the weekend and the November rains have swept the sky clean, so that the hills show their new light coat of green, and the bay mountains — Tamalpais, Diablo, Hamilton — stand out against what Henry David Thoreau called “the thinnest yellow light of November.”
Posted: November 23, 2014, 1:00 pm
The idea was to sell thousands of seats from the soon-to-be-demolished stadium as keepsakes for fans, with the city’s Recreation and Park Department getting 70 percent of the take. To make sure Montana’s business didn’t put a damper on the city’s sales before the holidays, the contract specified that he couldn’t start his sales until Jan. 2. [...] they went up early and big on the Internet with “Candlestick Park Seats for Sale,” featuring pictures of Joe signing stacks of seat backs. Robert Hemphill, whose Cotati company is partnering with Montana on the autographed seat sales, said they were just getting up and running when he got an e-mail from Montana last week telling him to hold off until after New Year’s — though he said the reason was never explained to him. There are even three colors of seat backs to choose from — red, orange and brown (actually, faded orange) — and each one comes with a certificate of authenticity. The Niners and Giants have helped San Francisco sell 10,000 pairs of seats as collector’s items in the past year. Not only did her Democratic caucus block her closest friend and fellow Californian, Palo Alto Rep. Anna Eshoo, from leapfrogging over senior Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey to be the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, but Pelosi took flak for trying to strong-arm the deal. At issue was her refusal to allow a proxy vote from Rep. Tammy Duckworth — a double amputee Iraq War veteran whose pregnancy prevented her from traveling to Washington from her home state of Illinois. “Our party should be the party that stands up for women,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, was quoted by Roll Call as saying at the caucus’ closed-door meeting. After reeling off several clips in which Pelosi promoted herself as a champion of women and voting rights — and one in which she called out the media for questions about whether she should step aside for younger leadership — Stewart said the trailblazing San Francisco Democrat had shown that “a woman leader can be every bit as politically craven as her counterparts.” Like workers in state courts across California, Alameda County’s judiciary has put up with a lot of cuts in recent years — but officials draw the line at limiting employee hydration. Alameda County’s Superior Court system is spending more than $4,000 a month to keep judges, jurors and staff supplied with bottled water. State administrative guidelines generally prohibit courts from buying bottled H2O except in limited cases — for example, if there’s a problem with a courthouse’s piped water. The bottle buy was one of a handful of questionable spending practices uncovered by a recent state audit.
Posted: November 23, 2014, 1:00 pm
A 12-year-old San Francisco girl who had been missing for almost two weeks was found Saturday on a Muni bus by her parents, police said.
Howell said the family believes she was making her way home when they rushed to greet her.
Police were investigating the possibility that Imani had been a human sex trafficking victim.
“We really don’t know what happened yet, but we just know that she’s home safe right now,” Howell said late Saturday.
Imani was evaluated by a doctor, and found to be in good health with no visible injuries, her father said.
Police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said that investigators were interviewing Imani and that the investigation is still ongoing.
When he wasn’t praying for his daughter’s safe return or plastering the neighborhood with flyers of her face, Howell said he had been spending the past weeks researching how to help victims of sex trafficking cope upon their return.
Posted: November 23, 2014, 6:58 am