Reopening is the word of the day after its leader admits ‘mistakes were made.’

SF school board members, district superintendent Vincent Matthews, and district staff in the eighth hour of a recent nine-hour meeting. (SFGovTV)

It’s often said that San Francisco is a one-party town. The SF school board is doing its best to change that, resurrecting an American party from the 19th century: the Know Nothings.

This is not a whole-cloth resurrection. The Know Nothing party traded in nativist xenophobia, which the current school board does not reflect. We’ll give them that much.

But the body overseeing schools deserves the comparison because its members have shown a willingness to ignore scientific consensus, data, and expertise, while shutting out voices that are inconvenient to their agenda. Meanwhile, many students are suffering social isolation, learning loss…


Electrification, disaster, the combustion engine, and dirty politics have all chipped away at SF’s iconic transports. But it’ll take more than a virus to finish them off.

Don’t look now, something might be gaining on you. A California Street cable car at its old Presidio Avenue terminus, circa 1950, a few years before officials drastically reduced the city’s network. An old rival, the electric street car, is to the left. (All images courtesy Friends of the Cable Car Museum)

Climb halfway to the stars? Forget about it. San Francisco’s iconic cable cars haven’t gone anywhere for nearly a year. They’ve been shut down, put to sleep in their barn, since March 2020’s shelter-in-place order.

It might be a lot longer until we see them out there again. Those who tuned into this week’s San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency meeting heard top officials say that bringing them back would take resources away from other services, like those critical to get kids to school and help San Franciscans who live in hilly neighborhoods. …


A group of parents have done what the school district hasn’t: Craft a plan for their elementary schoolers to return outdoors.

Class in session? The lower courtyard at Jefferson Elementary in the Sunset district. A group of Jefferson parents has drafted a plan to let the younger grades return to all-outdoor school. District officials are starting to take notice. (Photo by the author)

It’s usually between 55 and 70 degrees. It rarely rains. We boast of having tons of green space within walking distance. So why can’t San Francisco hold school outside?

That’s a question on the minds of a growing number of parents increasingly frustrated — even desperate — at the prospect of many more months of distance learning for their kids.

Even as teachers and school officials negotiate a return to school, all while keeping a close eye on local COVID case rates, it’s likely many kids won’t be learning in person this semester. …


Running a store in San Francisco increasingly requires extra security, which means extra money, which most businesses can’t spare these days.

A robbery at gunpoint on February 3 was the last straw for the b8ta shop at Hayes and Laguna. For safety’s sake, the company will shut down the location indefinitely.

Vibhu Norby is the CEO of a tech-centric company, and he’s not shy about sharing his concerns about San Francisco.

You think you’ve heard this story before, what with all the tech and venture folks slagging on the city as they decamp for, say, Austin, Texas, or Miami. But this is different. Norby’s employees can’t just work from anywhere, but now they can’t work in SF either — for their safety.

Norby is head of b8ta, which has big venture backing and 20 retail shops across the country. There were three in San Francisco, but within the span of…


GET OUT NOW!

From the eerie quiet of Fisherman’s Wharf to upscaled piers around the Ferry Building, you’ll find old city whispers, new designs, and unexpected views. Bring layers, of course.

The fishing vessel Anna Marie, docked behind Scoma’s at Pier 47, awaits those who take time to explore piers not numbered “39” along the waterfront. (All photos by the author)

Typically the only way to lure me to Fisherman’s Wharf is a ferry ticket to Alcatraz. But these days, the wharf has a new appeal: It’s empty. Many of the knickknack stores, wax-museum “experiences,” and junk-food emporiums are shut down. The sidewalks, save for a few homeless folks and the occasional Lycra-clad jogger, have plenty of elbow room.

Don’t get me wrong. I want the tourists and “Alcatraz Swim Team” T-shirts to come back. …


Like so much about surviving COVID, it’s all about the federal money. As long as emergency funds keep flowing, officials want the hotel rooms open.

Photo: Franco Folini/Creative Commons

Homeless people sheltering in San Francisco hotels got a reprieve earlier this month. Plans to start moving some of them out before the end of the year have been pushed back to March.

But the progressive-led Board of Supervisors, which has clashed with Mayor London Breed’s homelessness team over COVID strategy, voted on Tuesday to keep about 2,000 people in their rooms until they either have a permanent place to live — a difficult proposition to do quickly — or until the federal government stops reimbursing the city.

Authored by Supervisor Matt Haney (District 6), the emergency ordinance expires in…


As COVID surges and hotel shelters wind down, will Breed snub the supervisors again?

Earlier this week, city workers clear tents a few feet away from the Haight-Ashbury’s sanctioned “safe sleeping” tent site, which was meant to reduce encampments on neighborhood sidewalks. (Photo: Kristi Coale)

As the pandemic surge overwhelming the nation also threatens San Francisco, city supervisors are pushing back hard against plans to move homeless people out of the hotel rooms where they’ve been sheltering for months.

Those exit plans, reported by The Frisc in August, call for the more than 2,300 occupants to move from hotel rooms into permanent housing by next June, with the first group of 500 to exit on December 21.

But a phalanx of supervisors, who have repeatedly crossed swords with Mayor London Breed and her team over the hotels, say they have no faith that the temporary…


GET OUT NOW!

Jump on the ferry and spend the day in the middle of the bay. Then plan again — you’ll need to go back to see and do it all.

Not exactly liberty: A bell on the dock where a million immigrants disembarked, often to be detained for months at Angel Island’s immigration station. (Photos by the author except where indicated)

The 2020 tensions of life on land — fires, toxic politics, pandemic rules, and paranoia — have turned my mind lately to the open water and my face to the Pacific winds blowing through the Golden Gate.

The last two explorations posted in our Get Out Now series were aqua-centric: in clear sight of, or even traveling over, the vast waters that surround us. This edition is no different.

To clear your head and fill your lungs, jump on the ferry and get over to Angel Island State Park. Now’s the time. …


CONVERSATION

Verbal and physical abuse, shunning, spitting: “You’d never think that’s how people would treat each other.”

Russell Jeung, who chairs SF State’s Asian American Studies department, helped launch the Stop AAPI Hate site where people can report anti-Asian incidents. (Photo courtesy of Russell Jeung.)

As the world followed the spread of the coronavirus in early 2020, other reports began to spread as well: harassment, attacks, and other incidents directed against Asian people. San Francisco wasn’t immune from fear of the virus after the first outbreak in Wuhan, China. In a show of solidarity, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Chinatown and encouraged others to do the same.

Around the same time Pelosi was linking arms with Chinatown leaders, San Francisco State University professor Russell Jeung, who grew up in the Richmond district, was flying east to speak at the Yale Divinity School in New Haven…


In Cole Valley, Belvedere Street residents are donating their street-party funds and have raised nearly $40,000 so far.

Happier times: A Belvedere Street garage, transformed into a Halloween graveyard at the 2007 street party. (Jerome Decq/Creative Commons)

Who says we can’t have some sweet news these days?

Three years ago, the real-estate firm Zillow said SF tied for the top U.S. city where kids could score massive amounts of tooth-rotting candy on Halloween.

The reason for the accolade: San Francisco is chock-full of single-family homes with rich residents doling out full-size Whatchamacallits. It was enough to make a YIMBY dentist’s head explode.

With COVID, three years ago feels like three decades. The city’s health department is now strongly suggesting that San Franciscans keep the wrappers on typical festivities. …

Alex Lash

Editor in chief and founder of The Frisc. Former national biotech editor of Xconomy, San Franciscan, slightly rumpled dad, and the original Lefty Malo.

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