A map of San Francisco shows central and southern neighborhoods marked in red. In the early 20th century, San Francisco’s central and southeastern neighborhoods were redlined, meaning designated as high risk, leaving their residents less likely to obtain government-backed mortgage loans than residents of other areas. A recent study suggests their residents now face higher risks from pollution.

State Report Links Redlining and Pollution Threats

San Francisco neighborhoods the federal government targeted with racist lending practices face the greatest health threats from pollution, a recent state study found. The California Environmental Protection Agency analyzed the latest pollution data in historically redlined neighborhoods, where people of color were denied mortgage loans under federal policies, in the report finalized in August.

An aerial shot of 2-4 story apartment buildings in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood.

SF Unequally Distributed Affordable Housing, Audit Finds

San Francisco has not prioritized neighborhoods with little recently built affordable housing when deciding which projects to fund, a public audit released this week found.

About 90% of affordable housing added in the last decade has gone to just four eastern and central neighborhoods.

Three people stand and hold flowers and other harvest from Hummingbird Farm.

Urban Community Farm Adapts as Exceptional Drought Hits Home

Tere Almaguer, an environmental justice organizer with PODER, talked with “Civic” about how the group has adapted to years of inconsistent rainfall. Almaguer said California’s exceptional drought conditions have already had visible effects on the farm, like flowering plants that grew shorter and bloomed later this year than previously. Hummingbird Farm will also be experimenting with an alternative water source: Drawing water from the air.

Sarah Karlinsky. Courtesy of SPUR

To Address Housing Crisis, Expert Says, Consider Housing a Human Right

Rents may be falling, but the Bay Area is still unaffordable and has for years fallen short of its housing construction goals. The construction shortfall is particularly pronounced in subsidized housing. While the pandemic is changing the way people work and socialize and has resulted in economic downturn, acquiring land and building remain expensive. Sarah Karlinsky, senior advisor at the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, a public policy think tank better known as SPUR, has published a report indicating that Bay Area municipalities should be constructing 45,000 units of housing per year.

Rendering of a self-sustaining village. - Courtesy Kuth Ranieri Architects

Imagining an Eco-Friendly Post-Pandemic Downtown

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for space in San Francisco’s office towers seemed insatiable. But with no end to the pandemic in sight and the prospect that many employers will allow their people to continue to work from home after the crisis, it’s possible that at least some of those gleaming office towers will empty out. As they sheltered in place in North Beach, architects Elizabeth Ranieri and Byron Kuth wondered what could be done with all of that vertical real estate. 

They looked at two blocks of buildings bounded by Beale, Main, Market and Mission streets where Pacific Gas and Electric is scheduled to move out of one of the largest buildings. Ranieri said they realized that the entire two blocks could become a self-sustaining village. 

“This is potentially the building stock that’s needed because it’s quite diverse,” she said. “Everything from the 1970’s tower to the historic buildings on Market Street that would be very well suited for repurposing for housing.

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Toxins Measured in Bodies Raise Stakes for Hunters Point Shipyard Cleanup

Researchers are hoping to learn whether and how the health of people who live and work near the old Hunters Point Shipyard, which was used as a toxic and radioactive waste dump, may have been affected by toxic materials. Journalist Chris Roberts reported for the Public Press that nearly all participants in a recent community health biomonitoring survey had elevated levels of toxic heavy metals that are “contaminants of concern” at the shipyard.

March 2020 Election Guide: Prop 13

Facilities Construction at Public Schools — Proposition 13 would authorize a $15 billion state bond measure to provide matching funding to districts for renovation and construction of facilities. $9 billion are slated for K-12 schools, and $6 billion for public higher education institutions. The measure prioritizes districts that have health and safety needs, like lead in their water, or that are too small to raise adequate funds through taxes.