Special Reports

Chris Castle ties a tow strap to the bumper of Amber Whitson’s Dodge van on a Sunday night to help his friend Ryan Maddry, whose vehicle was red-tagged with a 72-hour notice, giving him a warning to move or be towed. But the “Ole Gal” is in disrepair and barely makes it around the corner. As a last resort, vehicle residents band together and use human force, pushing their vehicles by hand or pulling them with ropes. It is challenging to find new parking places and get resituated every three days.

Driving Home: Surviving the Housing Crisis
Thousands of Bay Area residents are “vehicularly housed,” living in cars, vans, RVs and campers. Photojournalist Yesica Prado displays a unique longstanding connection with this community in this photo essay.


March 2020 Nonpartisan Election Guide
In March 2020, San Francisco voters will weigh a tax on vacant storefronts, restrictions on office development, funding for City College and other issues, including some crucial races at the state level. 

Ride-Hailing’s Dark Data
A months-long investigation by the San Francisco Public Press revealed that the California Public Utilities Commission

2019 Nonpartisan Election Guide
Propositions A to F, Supervisor District 5, School Board, District Attorney, Other Races

Fall 2018 Election
Big Decisions: Schools, Housing, Privacy. The November 2018 election once again put big issues before San Francisco voters, among them a business tax to expand funding for homelessness services and housing; stronger data privacy, and new supervisors and school commissioners.

Special Election, June 2018
New Mayor, New Era. San Francisco voters will choose the city’s fourth mayor in six months, ending a period of upheaval in local politics after the death of Mayor Ed Lee in December.


Renters vs. Veritas
The big landlord says charges are false, and a company spokesman accuses attorneys for tenants of pushing a ‘false narrative.’


Remaking Rent Control
Housing Solutions: Landlords vs. Renters.  Cities would regain power to regulate rental housing if Proposition 10 passes in November 2018, repealing Costa-Hawkins. But would that help or hurt the affordability crisis?


Homelessness Solutions: Part 2
A humanitarian crisis has persisted on our streets for years and seems to have worsened as housing prices and rents have skyrocketed. These stories follow on two recent special reports, from summer and fall of 2017.

Navigating Homelessness: Which Way Home?
San Francisco’s homelessness navigation center system was meant to transition people from the streets to permanent housing in 10 days. Reality quickly crushed that idea.

Sea Level Rise: 2nd in a Series
As developers challenge state environmental rules, local leaders push to build more projects. Second in a series.

Bilingual Schools
Education or deportation? That’s one startling question we are grappling with as San Francisco becomes more of a political outlier in the aftermath of the 2016 elections.


2016 San Francisco Nonpartisan Voter Guide
San Francisco voters decided 25 measures and 11 candidate races in 2016. The Public Press organized the propositions, candidates, and the organizations endorsing them and assembled other election guides to help inform voters.

Campaign Finance: The Rising costs of winning votes

Campaign Finance: The Rising Cost of Winning Votes
2015 was a high-water mark year for spending on San Francisco elections, with nearly $28 million flowing into slick campaigns that flooded the airwaves and filled mailboxes with questionable claims about measures and candidates.


The Cost of Living Here
San Francisco has attracted droves of high-income earners, giving it a larger share of wealthy residents than any other U.S. city. That is making living here increasingly unaffordable for everyone else.

sea level rise SF map

Sea Level Rise: 1st in a Series
In examining approval processes for new buildings on the edge of San Francisco Bay, our team found that some cities are greenlighting waterfront development without planning for the long term or fully accounting for the future cost of reconfiguring large projects to resist flooding. Summer 2015.


Choice Is Resegregating Public Schools
Despite their aspirations and efforts, San Francisco schools are increasingly segregated. Last school year, a single racial group formed a majority at six out of 10 schools. Our investigation tries to find out why. Winter 2015.

Solving Homelessness: Ideas for Ending a Crisis
Attempts to alleviate homelessness with subsidized supportive housing are not keeping pace with growing demand. Reforms could give those waiting for a room an idea of when they might get off the streets or out of a shelter.


Housing Solutions
This experiment with solutions journalism paired reporting with the Hack the Housing Crisis conference to explore innovative ideas for keeping rents down and adding more housing while preserving San Francisco’s diverse communities and cultures.

San Francisco 2015 Nonpartisan Election Guide
All told, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are on the line on the November 2015 ballot. And if this year mirrors previous off-year elections, then a minority of San Franciscans will decide the outcome.

Homelessness and Mental Health
Fall 2014: 10 years on, ‘Housing First’ missed many, while thousands wait in shelters and on street for a chance at recovery.


Public Schools
Reporters examined tax records from PTAs and data from the city’s public schools. While fundraising helped a small number of elementary schools avoid the worst effects of recent budget cuts, belts continued to tighten at schools with more economically disadvantaged students.

Workforce Development
San Francisco spends more than ever on job training, placement subsidies and a slew of supportive services. Is this effectively boosting employment? For many programs it is hard to say, because the system is so fragmented.


Climate Change
Regional efforts are taking aim at limiting greenhouse gas emissions. California’s cap-and-trade market promises major reductions. But loopholes abound.


Minimum Wage
Under San Francisco’s 10-year-old minimum wage law the city recovered back wages for only a fraction of workers cheated by their bosses while technically the city boasted the highest minimum wage is the nation.


Winter 2013 — Thousands of homes in San Francisco are more vulnerable to earthquakes because of delays in mandatory retrofitting. Before this report was published, many landlords and tenants did not know their homes were among those needing upgrades.

Domestic Violence
An investigation into San Francisco’s uneven response to domestic violence exposed holes in the tracking of criminal cases and a declining rate of prosecution for abuse within the home.


Bay Area Smart Growth
Regional planners hope to make more of the Bay Area like San Francisco — walkable, BARTable and energy efficient. But “smart growth” is facing resistance from cities, and financial pressure from the cash-strapped state.

Human Trafficking
State budget cuts and unsteady leadership have hindered local law enforcement agencies and nonprofits trying to stop human trafficking. But signs of better coordinations are emerging.

Healthy SF: Who Pays?
Under the Healthy San Francisco program — the city’s attempt at local universal health care — quality of the care is great. But with uncertain funding and high hidden costs maintaining the program is a challenge.


Better Budget
San Francisco’s budgeting process is broken. In a time of fiscal austerity, many city departments ignore audits that could save millions of dollars. Includes a take on the “participatory budgeting” trend.


Media Meltdown
Half of Bay Area newspaper jobs evaporated in the past decade. What caused the media meltdown? Can tech media startups make up for what’s been lost?

A report on San Francisco municipally owned transit system and its challenges—the quest for on-time service, labor contract negotiations, streetscape development, ridership safety.


Treasure Island
Report on the environmental and logistical challenges of adding thousands of new housing units to transform Treasure Island into an eco-enclave.


Bay Bridge
We partnered with McSweeney’s Panorama newspaper on the Bay Bridge Report, explaining why our signature span could exceed $12 billion.

City Budget Watchdog
City finds millions to rehire laid-off nurses, clerical workers.