John Muir has been honored extensively, with his name on many sites and institutions, including 28 schools, a college, a number of mountains, several trails, a glacier, a forest, a beach, a medical center, a highway and Muir Woods National Monument, one of the most visited destinations in the Bay Area. But in the time since the Sierra Club issued a nuanced statement in 2020 acknowledging some racist language in his early writings, some have come to believe that Muir’s legacy should be diminished, despite his contributions to the preservation of wilderness and later writings praising native tribes.
According to a ranking from the nonprofit Trust for Public Land, all San Francisco residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, but residents of neighborhoods where most people identify as people of color have access to 56% less park space per capita than residents in neighborhoods that are predominantly white.
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.
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.
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.
Soup kitchens and homeless service centers are pushing San Francisco officials to shut down a Tenderloin street to through traffic so their clients can maintain social distance from one another as lines wrap around the block and tent dwellers crowd the sidewalks.
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.
Decades of explicitly and implicitly racist policies have left the Bay Area not just unaffordable, but also deeply segregated, panelists told a conference in San Francisco last week.
The documentary “5 Blocks,” by Robert Cortlandt and Dan Goldes, explores the history, economic downturn and efforts to revitalize San Francisco’s mid-Market Street neighborhood, an area whose focal point is just five blocks. Goldes discusses what he learned in his conversations with neighborhood residents from different backgrounds, including an SRO dweller and a tech worker. “I think the thing that I found most striking was that, despite the fact that there is extreme poverty and extreme wealth, side by side, a lot of folks really want the same things … a safer, cleaner neighborhood.” — Dan Goldes, “5 Blocks” filmmaker
An excerpt from the book, “Ten Years That Shook the City: San Francisco 1968-1978” — about how so-called urban renewal displaced African Americans from their enclave in the city.