Still image from “Playing for Keeps.”

Documentary on Importance of Play Features SF Skater, Dancer

A new documentary, “Playing for Keeps,” posits that humans benefit greatly from playing and suffer when we are deprived of play. Isabella Miller, who prior to the coronavirus pandemic would regularly go swing dancing, and David Miles Jr., the proprietor of San Francisco’s Church of 8 Wheels, are featured in the film and joined “Civic” to reflect on how they play and how that has shaped their lives.

Cities’ Uses of Herbicide Differ, Like Conflicting Research on Health Impacts

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the maker of a weedkiller alleging that it causes cancer. Research is mixed on that, as the results of various studies are split on whether glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup, is linked to cancer or other health concerns. In the Bay Area, where many of those lawsuits originated, cities have handled the question of whether to keep using glyphosate in public spaces somewhat differently.

The science on the key ingredient in the top-selling U.S. weedkiller, Bayer's Roundup, is still in fierce dispute as the company settles thousands of lawsuits claiming health impacts for billions of dollars.

Scientists Split Over Herbicide Risk, Leaving Public in Lurch

Identifying clear guidelines for the level of exposure to glyphosate that could cause cancer or other illness is a contentious business. Monsanto owner Bayer denies glyphosate, the active ingredient in weedkiller Roundup, is a carcinogen. The European Union and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency back that view. That’s despite a finding from the World Health Organization in 2015 that glyphosate probably is a human carcinogen.

San Francisco city workers use blowtorches to remove grass and weeds from a median on Broadway at Polk Street on Feb. 3, 2020. City workers rely much less on herbicides than they did just five years ago, as health concerns mount.

As Cancer Concerns Lead Cities to Ban Herbicide, S.F. Scales Back Use of Roundup

When San Franciscans hike up Twin Peaks or stroll through Glen Canyon Park, they could be exposing themselves to an herbicide that some studies have linked to cancer. But thanks to growing concerns about public health and liability, their risks are substantially lower than they were five years ago, when the city used 20 times as much of the chemical.

That chemical is glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s top-selling weedkiller, Roundup. Monsanto owner Bayer agreed in June to a settlement of more than $10 billion with plaintiffs in thousands of pending lawsuits over claims Roundup caused cancer.

As legal victories against the company pile up, Bay Area cities have faced a tough choice — keep using a chemical that evidence increasingly shows is dangerous and exposes them to the legal liability it entails or switch to other, often less effective methods. San Francisco has limited its risk through a strategy known as integrated pest management and its move to scale back dramatically on glyphosate since 2015.

Bond Measure Seeks to Boost S.F. Out of Coronavirus-Induced Slump

At the top of the list of local ballot measures going before voters in November is Proposition A, billed as the “Health and Recovery Bond.” Several initiatives would be funded by this $487.5 million bond, including the development of behavioral health and substance abuse services, expansion of shelters and temporary housing, renovating or developing parks and repairs to infrastructure like roads.

An aerial rendering shows the proposed BUILD development at 700 Innes in Bayview-Hunters Point, with the city's proposed park at 900 Innes at bottom right.

Is This the Bayview’s Big Park Moment?

The Bayview has the city’s attention – for better or for worse, depending on whom you ask. If voters approve a $487 million open-space bond measure in November, it will help fund a park at 900 Innes Ave., the first waterfront land the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks has ever owned. Yet, despite efforts to include the local community in the planning and the benefits, many are skeptical.

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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Crissy Field Rally: Message of Peace Tainted by Violence

Against the backdrop of recent right-wing violence, the organizer of the now-canceled Crissy Field “free speech” rally said he just wanted San Francisco’s moderate “good liberals” to reject the city’s “intolerance” and embrace his message of peace and love. Dubious, officials and counterprotesters sent him a different message.

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S.F. Board Watch: City to Consider Expanding ‘Green Zone’ for Marijuana Dispensaries

The Board of Supervisors this week approved a limit to the number of marijuana dispensaries allowed to open on the southern end of Mission Street in the Excelsior commercial district. Medical cannabis dispensaries would need a special permit to open within 500 feet of an existing dispensary. Supervisor John Avalos said he may later propose expanding that distance to 1,000 feet. Plus: Marsh Theater’s Unwanted Neighbors | City Parks Closure | New Policy on Video Productions