When it comes to good government, dysfunction and disgrace can occasionally inspire some of the brightest ideas for reform. And getting the whole community involved in the cleanup — through the ballot box — can be one way to make those changes happen faster. Though the parallels are not exact, the tiny scandal-ridden city of Bell, near Los Angeles, could hold keys to fixing a culture of corruption that has insinuated itself deep in the heart of San Francisco’s massive and opaque bureaucracy.
Non Plus Ultra, a company providing event space for TechCrunch’s Disrupt, an influential trade show for technology startups that began yesterday and typically draws thousands of attendees, conducted an independent sweep of a homeless tent encampment outside one of its San Francisco locations early this month.
Mayor London Breed has ordered a halt to plans to further reopen the city on Monday, June 29, amid a spike in coronavirus cases.
City workers have moved more than 140 homeless Tenderloin residents into hotel rooms and city-sanctioned tent encampments over the last eight days in response to a legal settlement between San Francisco and the University of California Hastings College of the Law. The agreement requires the city to remove the majority of homeless tents from the neighborhood by late July, with the goal of eventually reducing the tents, which numbered 415 on June 5, according to a city count, to zero. That tent count doesn’t include the more than 20 tents at a city-sanctioned encampment at 180 Jones Street. The plan specifies no timeline for reaching a tent count of zero. As of Thursday afternoon, the homeless outreach team, fire department, public works and police had placed between 149 and 174 people in hotels, said Jeff Kositsky, manager of the Healthy Streets Operations Center, the multi-agency homelessness task force spearheading the operation.
Twenty-nine recreational vehicles leased by San Francisco to house homeless residents during the pandemic were never used for their intended purpose, an endeavor that may have cost the city as much as half a million dollars, a city official confirmed.
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.
One of the key panels maintaining local government accountability will soon get back to work after being sidelined for months if the head of the Board of Supervisors gets his way. The Sunshine Ordinance Task Force has not met since Mayor London Breed suspended most public meetings in mid-March, but board President Norman Yee aims to change that.
Youth aged 16 and 17 could gain the right to vote in municipal elections if existing voters approve a charter amendment in November. City supervisors have introduced that amendment, and if it continues to see widespread support from the board, the measure will go to the ballot.
As we seek out relevant and reliable information on COVID-19, we are also exposed to misinformation, opinion and mixed messages from our leaders. We rely on journalists to give us timely fact-based reporting about all aspects of this developing story — to help us navigate the onslaught and contextualize, not editorialize or spin.
How to best support the thousands of people who are homeless in San Francisco, and prevent the spread of the new coronavirus among them, during this pandemic has been a point of contention for months. San Francisco Public Press reporter Brian Howey has been covering everything from a scuttled initiative to test everyone in the shelter system to how the city would use RVs it had secured for people without housing to self-isolate.
Even as more people than ever are turning to local media for reliable information during the COVID-19 crisis, many local outlets are actually laying off staff because of a collapse in the advertising market.