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Private company issuing “parking tickets” at Market St. Safeway

Retailers at the shopping center parking lot at 2020 Market Street that is home to Safeway, Starbucks, and Jamba Juice have hired a private company to issue what appear to be unlawful parking “tickets” on cars parked in the shopping center.

Notices delivered by plainclothes workers monitoring the parking lot come in bright orange envelopes and look very much like SFMTA parking citations. Inside the orange envelope, a “Notice of Unauthorized Parking Charge” in the amount of $63 can be issued to any car whose owner walks off the lot, including customers who have patronized the shopping center’s businesses.
It’s not uncommon for customers to purchase groceries over at Safeway and then continue to shop in the area. In fact, that is exactly what had happened in the case of one person who reported receiving the charge notice.
After purchasing groceries at Safeway and loading them into a car parked in the lot, the individual headed over to Golden Produce to pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables, then came back to find the following ticket on the car. In the “reason for charge” section, it is evidenced that the violator was watched as they walked across Church street.
As stated on the ticket:
The vehicle identified below is parked on private property in breach of posted and established rules and use limitations of this property. As a result of said breach, Parking Control Services hereby demands the follow charge.
The property owners have posted signs around the parking lot, some obscured by trees, that let parkers know that any walk-off will be met with the $63 charge.
The private company that is issuing the notices, Parking Control Services, Inc., settled a lawsuit with the Marin County District Attorney in 2007 when consumers complained that the company was placing parking tickets that looked like government-issued citations on cars parked at free public and private parking lots. Parking Control Services did not respond to our inquiries.

According to an opinion filed by California Attorney General Kamala Harris in 2011, it is unlawful for “private property owners to issue parking citations imposing monetary sanctions to the owners of vehicles parked on their property.”
Absent express statutory authority, a private property owner may not issue a citation to a vehicle owner, and this remains the law even when the owner issues a preprinted ticket claiming otherwise. Moreover, absent legislative authorization and regulation of the practice, allowing private property owners to issue their own parking citations would circumvent many of the consumer-protection purposes embodied in the Vehicle Code statutes governing towing and parking citations.
In the opinion, the Attorney General acknowledges sensitivity to the losses private property owners might face with “improper parking,” but says the state has “chosen to alleviate that harm by authorizing towing as an alternative to suing the vehicle owners for trespass, and has limited the issuance of citations to government employees and agents.”
We contacted San Francisco City Attorney’s office to find out if the practice is lawful in San Francisco and if the City was aware of what was going on or had granted the parking lot owners the “statutory authority” mentioned in the opinion, but have so far not received a response. Supervisor Scott Wiener did not have anything to add, telling us that this wasn’t an issue he was familiar with.
We reached out to Safeway, the largest merchant in the shopping center, to find out if it was aware of what was going on and knew of the 2007 lawsuit against Parking Control Services. Safeway store manager Dave Papalias referred us to Safeway Media Relations. We heard back from Safeway Director of Public and Government Affairs, Keith Turner, who told Hoodline that Safeway reserves the right to tow people in the parking lot, but did not respond to questions about issuing charges to Safeway customers who walk off the lot. Turner did mention that visitors to the Delancey Christmas Tree lot at the southeast corner of the parking lot “may park in the lot to load their tree for free.”
While the owners of the parking lot are within their rights to tow people who improperly park on their lot without being a customer, it seems that they have gone a step further in their parking enforcement in what might be a violation of California law. However, it’s unclear at this time what sort of recourse might be available to recipients of the parking lot citations.
Barring any action from the City Attorney or a private party against the parking lot’s owners, next time you head to park in the shopping center, whether you are a customer or not, you’d better not step off the lot lest you risk that $63 dollar fine.
From Hoodline
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MAYOR LEE LAUNCHES BUSINESS PORTAL TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES SUCCEED

New Comprehensive One-Stop Web Tool Helps Small Businesses Start, Stay & Grow in San Francisco; Uses Technology to Make Government More Efficient, Consolidates Information on 400+ Permits & Licenses & Provides Step-by-Step Starter Guides for Small Businesses

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today launched the San Francisco Business Portal, a new comprehensive web tool that brings together the complex information surrounding business registration, permits, and licenses in a single user-friendly City website.

“Small businesses are the heart and soul of our City’s economy, and helping them succeed is a priority because when they succeed, the City succeeds,” said Mayor Lee. “The San Francisco Business Portal puts our small businesses first by bringing together all the information a small business owner needs to start, stay, and grow in San Francisco. This is the first step in streamlining the City’s permit process and make it easier for small business owners to do business in San Francisco.”

“The Business Portal is the most comprehensive and user-friendly City website ever developed for San Francisco businesses,” said Supervisor Katy Tang, a key supporter of the project. “I look forward to supporting future phases of this program so that government can be more responsive and effective to the needs of residents and entrepreneurs.”

“The Business Portal is an unprecedented resource for our small businesses because it breaks down a complex process in a way anyone can understand,” said Small Business Commission President Stephen Adams. “The small business community asked the City to make the process easier and Mayor Lee has delivered with the Business Portal.”

“The many rules and regulations around business registration and permits can be so confusing, even for an established business,” said Marty Sanchez, an owner of the family-owned local tortilla and salsa manufacturer Casa Sanchez. “The Portal makes it much easier.”

The Business Portal consolidates information on more than 400 permits and licenses available to small businesses. Some examples of forms that are accessible in the Business Portal include the Business Registration form from the Treasurer and Tax Collector required of every business, the Permit to Operate from the Department of Public Health for all restaurants, and the Dog Walking permit from Animal Care and Control for any dog walker with four or more dogs.

The Business Portal also provides step-by-step starter guides for small businesses that want to start in San Francisco. Created by an interagency team in close collaboration with a dozen departments across the City, the Business Portal was designed based on in-depth research with business owners at different stages of the business life cycle.

A joint project of the Department of Technology, Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and Office of Small Business in partnership with the design firm Tomorrow Partners, San Francisco Business Portal advances Mayor Lee’s goal of using technology to make government more responsive and effective to the needs of residents and entrepreneurs.

“Clear, user-friendly and easy to navigate – it helped me find the answers to all my business-related questions,” said Everest Waterproofing and Restoration Inc. President Keith Goldstein. “The whole site is very intuitive.”

The Business Portal is only the first step to improving the small business experience in San Francisco. Future phases will add functionality to the Business Portal and begin to streamline the business permit and license process.

“The Portal is a great resource for deaf business owners now that everything is online,” said Melody Stein, Owner of Mozzeria, a deaf-owned pizzeria with an all deaf staff. “I love how it’s basically a one stop shop for business, from foundation to rooftop and everything in between. It cuts down on the wondering and gives you all the information that you weren’t sure about, or maybe were not even aware of.”

To access the San Francisco Business Portal, go to: businessportal.sfgov.org.

 

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The 19 Worst Decisions You Can Make in San Francisco

You make great decisions all of the time, starting with the fact that you live in San Francisco. But c’mon, admit it: you make some terrible ones as well. Hopefully, none of them are these:

Giving up your rent-controlled apartment
Unless you’re a Twitter millionaire which, ugh, you probably are if you would do something so frivolous.

Not bringing a jacket with you
Yes, even when it’s 90 degrees outside. Even in September. And even when you’re going to The Mission. Have you learned nothing by now?

Assuming the plans you made will actually happen
You need same-day text confirmation — if not same-hour — otherwise you’re totally getting flaked on.

Not leaving 20 minutes to find parking
It will always take at least 20 minutes. Always.

Trying to figure out what kind of poop that is
You lose either way. Also, it’s probably human poop.

Telling your friend in Oakland you’ll go to his party
Don’t get his sad little East Bay hopes up when you know there’s no way you’re taking BART across the bay on a Saturday night. Or ever, if you can help it.

Eating at the Taco Bell on Duboce
Yeah, there tooootally aren’t any legit taquerias just a few blocks away or anything.

Letting your friend tell you about his app idea
Ohmygod NO ONE cares. Unless he’s buying drinks and then, well… nope, sorry, not even then.

Not working at a start-up
You know who’s rich in SF? Start-up people. You know who’s not? The rest of us.

Waiting until after 11pm to go out
Last call in SF is 1:30am.

Hosting a guest
People who come to SF don’t just come for a weekend; they come for weeks. When’s the last time you wanted to see the same person for more than three days in a row?

Having a baby
The public schools are awful and private school costs 25K. For kindergarten. So basically procreating in SF is just your way of taking forever to say goodbye.

Not bringing cash
Unless you love taking one dollar bills and ripping them up into teeny-tiny pieces, which is basically the equivalent of paying ATM fees.

Expecting your bus to be on time
The buses in SF take after the people. Or is it the other way around? Either way, your bus is going to be late. Fact.

Thinking cyclists are going to obey the rules of the road
No, they will not stop at the stop sign. Not even if it’s your turn to go

Being on the road during Critical Mass
Even on a bike. Sorry, dude.

Telling your tourist friends you’ll do touristy stuff with them
Touristy stuff will always include Fisherman’s Wharf and rarely include whiskey. Meet them for dinner and drinks instead.

Driving across the Bay Bridge at 5pm on a Friday
Yes, you really want to get to Tahoe (why else would you be on The Bridge?). Thing is, you can leave at 7pm and make it there at the exact same time.

Telling the police at the Giants riot you need to get by because your Uber is down there!
Actually, never mind. That was totally classic, ridiculous SF.

Daisy Barringer, Thrillist

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A 330-sq-ft former earthquake cottage in Telegraph Hill sells for $765K

When the refugee camps began closing a year after the big 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fires, anyone with a mule and a piece of land could take a U.S. Army-built earthquake shack and make it a home. These tiny cottages were dragged all over the city, but many of them ended up in Bernal Heights and the Sunset—outlying neighborhoods with plenty of room.

But, according to Socketsite, at least one ended up in densely populated Telegraph Hill, where land was already selling at a premium a century ago. Obviously, that trend has only continued and the 330-square-foot former shack at 1448 Kearny Street has recently sold for $765K—or over $2,000 a square foot.

Admittedly, the artist owner of the home has done as much as could be done to make the small single-family feel bigger, from white-washing the fir floors to raising the ceiling to adding a loft bedroom to making room for a walk-in closet. (Check out the gallery above for some impressive before and afters.) But even so, that price per square foot is pretty astounding considering that the average price per square foot in the neighborhood is about half that.

However, it is rare to find a condo in the neighborhood south of $1 million, and single-family homes in Telegraph Hill are practically nonexistent. So, even with the small footprint and no real room to expand, the sellers seemed to have no problem finding a buyer. It was listed in late September at $679K and closed less than a month later for nearly 100K over asking, netting the new owners a pricey piece of San Francisco history and honorary membership into the Tiny House Movement.

Emily Landis, SF Gate

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Charles Schwab Files Libel, Defamation Lawsuits against Beverly Hills Law Firm for Bogus Websites

Law Firm Steiner & Libo, Partner Leonard Steiner, Plaintiff Nicholas Behunin Sued by Charles Schwab Family For Libel

San Francisco-The Los Angeles law firm Steiner & Libo and one of its clients is being sued for defamation and libel for creating bogus websites as part of a plot to extract money from the family of respected investment advisor Charles R. Schwab, according to lawsuits filed today in Superior Court.

Legal complaints from Charles R. Schwab and his son Michael Schwab were filed against Steiner & Libo, partner Leonard Steiner, and plaintiff Nicholas Behunin of Los Angeles, Calif.

The lawsuits claims the law firm and its client knowingly made false claims on defamatory websites to purposely harm the reputation of the Schwab family in retaliation for not settling a lawsuit, which itself was an effort to shakedown the family.

The Charles R. Schwab lawsuit alleges the sites were “a tool for the extortion of Schwab” by creating the false impression that Mr. Schwab, his son, and family did business with a brutal dictator.

The defamatory sites state that Mr. Schwab sought to do business with the family of the late Indonesian dictator Suharto and his son Tommy Suharto, a convicted murderer. The sites advertise that Mr. Schwab can provide advice to investors on “how to profit from a brutal dictator” and methods to “launder money overseas.”

The Schwab lawsuits unequivocally state that neither Mr. Schwab nor his son Michael ever met President Suharto or Tommy Suharto or had any business dealings with them.

“The only reason to create these fraudulent websites was to besmirch the good name and reputation of Charles R. Schwab and his son Michael. Not one claim on the landing page of the site is true or correct and the guilty parties were aware of that prior to making the defamatory statements,” said attorney Robert R. Moore of the law firm of Allen Matkins, representing Charles R. Schwab.

The lawsuit claims “In sum, (Leonard) Steiner (Steiner & Libo and Nicholas Behunin) used the Websites as a tool for the extortion of Schwab.  The Website’s clear objective was, and is, to publicly embarrass and shame Schwab and then to leverage that public embarrassment into litigation advantage in Behunin’s lawsuit against Schwab.”

“The Defendants agreed to a scheme that included providing false and defamatory information to third parties who would post articles or blogs on the internet repeating the false and defamatory statements provided to them by Defendants…creating the impression that the false statements on the websites had been independently corroborated by the third-party posters,” according the lawsuit by Michael Schwab filed by his attorney David H. Schwartz.

Schwartz pointed to a false and defamatory story by HuffingtonPost.com blogger Bruce Fein entitled “Does This Schwab Charity Satisfy the IRS Perfume Test?<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-fein/does-this-schwab-charity-_b_5978502.html>” which is based on the libelous and defamatory statements from the bogus websites.

The Schwab’s attorneys said the bogus websites were posted after they refused to pay $25 million to Nicholas Behunin, who, through his attorney Leonard Steiner, threatened to sue unless the payment was made.   When no payment was made, Behunin sued the Schwabs on May 28, 2014, to recover his purported ownership interest in a real estate development venture with Michael Schwab. (The case is Sealutions LLC et al. case number BC546925, in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles).

“The only purpose and intent of this scheme was to force a settlement through the implicit threat that Defendants would continue to disseminate such false and defamatory statements to the public unless and until Plaintiff and/or his father agreed to a settlement of the pending action,” according to the suit by Michael Schwab.

The Schwab legal filings claim that they initially contacted attorney Steiner in early October to inquire if he or his client was responsible for the websites. Steiner told them he had no knowledge of the sites, according the lawsuits.  The websites were registered anonymously. After further investigation, the Schwab’s attorneys found the sites were registered to Levick Strategic Communications public relations.  Later, after notifying attorney Steiner again, he still denied knowledge of them. After that contact with Steiner, the Schwab lawsuit says, the website was changed to include the name of Steiner & Libo law firm. In the past few days, the firm removed its name and now the site lists its owner as: N. Behunin.

Charles R. SchwabCharles R. Schwab

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Koret Foundation Criticized for Sexism in Lawsuit Against Susan Koret

Koret Foundation Should Apologize for Statements Against Immigrant and Domestic Workers

Partner of the San Francisco law firm Greene, Radovsky, Maloney, Share & Hennigh

Partner of the San Francisco law firm Greene, Radovsky, Maloney, Share & Hennigh

 

Anita Friedman, JFCS

Anita Friedman, JFCS

 

San Francisco—A diverse group of immigrant, domestic worker, labor and Jewish advocates demanded the Koret Foundation apologize for and withdraw negative comments directed against Susan Koret, the widow of Koret Foundation founder Joseph Koret, who sued for the Foundation for misdirecting and misusing monies from her husband’s fortune that were meant for the poor.

“The comments by the Koret Foundation and its spokesperson denigrate not only Ms. Koret, but they demean people of color, women, and those workers who tirelessly give their lives to improving the lives of others,” said Alysabeth Alexander.

At issue was a statement by official Koret Foundation spokesman Nathan Ballard who told the media, in response to Ms. Koret’s lawsuit, that “Susan was a housekeeper to Joe Koret and his first wife, Stephanie, and was only married to him for a brief period.” Mr. Ballard is also the spokesman for the Golden State Warriors NBA basketball team.

The group said Ballard’s “denigration of Susan Koret’s background as a housekeeper in an attempt to discredit her is both sexist and classist and should have no place in the public discourse in San Francisco. His statement and language is purposely designed to demean and denigrate women, immigrants, and domestic workers and is unacceptable under any circumstance.”

The group also wrote the Foundation in its letter, saying “While we cannot speak to Ms. Koret’s service on your Board of Directors, we can say that some of the Koret Foundation’s contributions to conservative, right-wing causes that were highlighted in recent news articles are anathema to those of us who work every day to lift up low-wage workers, immigrants, women, and communities of color.”

The letter was sent to the entire Koret Foundation board, including real estate investor Tad Taube; Richard L. Greene of Greene Radovsky Maloney Share & Hennigh; Anita Friedman, the executive director of director of Jewish Family and Children’s Services in San Francisco; Richard Atkinson, former president of the University of California; Michael J. Boskin, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution; and Abraham D. Sofaer, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

The Koret Board is expected to attend  the opening next week in Warsaw, Poland, of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. There may be protests in Warsaw against the Koret Foundation because of  the alleged misdirection of Koret funds to the museum by Taube and the Koret Board and their alleged discrimination against Mrs. Koret.

The full text of the letter is below:

 

Open Letter to the Koret Foundation Board of Directors

October 17, 2014

It is with great concern we write to you regarding comments made by your spokesperson, Nathan Ballard, in the San Francisco Chronicle on October 8th about Susan Koret.

“Susan was a housekeeper to Joe Koret and his first wife, Stephanie, and was only married to him for a brief period. Susan is an incompetent director who lacks even a basic understanding of the foundation and its operations.”

Mr. Ballard’s denigration of Susan Koret’s background as a housekeeper in an attempt to discredit her is both sexist and classist and should have no place in the public discourse in San Francisco. His statement and language is purposely designed to demean and denigrate women, immigrants, and domestic workers and is unacceptable under any circumstance.

From reports, we understand that Susan Koret is an immigrant from Korea who began her career as a housekeeper. While we can’t speak to her personal experience or to the legal dispute at the Koret Foundation, we know that the contributions of millions of immigrant women–a great many of whom are domestic workers–should never be slighted.

Domestic workers care for our children, our parents, our elderly, and our communities. Many of us in San Francisco have fought to get the importance of domestic work recognized, so that the workers can enjoy many of the same right that the rest of us take for granted. With a significant legislative victory this year in Sacramento, now is not the time to go backwards.

We know that millions of immigrant women work tirelessly to improve the lives of their families and communities. This experience provides a critical perspective that is often-times missing when important decisions are made.

While we cannot speak to Ms. Koret’s service on your Board of Directors, we can say that some of the Koret Foundation’s contributions to conservative, right-wing causes that were highlighted in recent news articles are anathema to those of us who work every day to lift up low-wage workers, immigrants, women, and communities of color.

We demand that the Board of Directors and Nathan Ballard immediately apologize for and withdraw the negative comments directed against Ms. Koret that demean all people of color, women, and those workers who tirelessly give their lives to improving the lives of others.

Sincerely,

National Domestic Worker Alliance

Alysabeth Alexander, Vice-President of Politics, SEIU Local 1021*

Juanita Flores, Co-Director, Mujeres Unidas y Activas

Katie Joaquin, Campaign Director, CA Domestic Workers Coalition

Hene Kelly, Jewish Labor Committee*

Andrea Lee, Co-Director, Mujeres Unidas y Activas

Shaw San Liu, Tenant and Workers Organizing Center, Chinese Progressive Association*

Kay Vasilyeva, Former Board Member, SF Women’s Political Committee*

*organization listed for identification purposes only — does not imply organizational endorsement

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Judge tosses S.F. law meant to shield evicted tenants

San Francisco apartment owners scored a major victory Tuesday when a federal judge declared unconstitutional the city’s attempt to shield evicted tenants from soaring rents by substantially increasing the relocation fees the tenants must be paid by landlords who decide to get out of the rental business.

The law, which took effect in June, requires property owners to pay displaced tenants the difference for two years between the current rent and the amount needed to rent a comparable unit in the city at market rates — more than $100,000 in most cases. That violates property rights, said U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, because it requires owners to pay for conditions they didn’t cause — the skyrocketing prices of rental housing, and the gap between market rates and maximum charges under the city’s rent-control law.

The ordinance “seeks to force the property owner to pay for a broad public problem not of the owner’s making,” said Breyer, who held a one-day trial in the case this month. “A property owner did not cause the high market rent to which a tenant who chooses to stay in San Francisco might be exposed, nor cause the lower rent-controlled rate the tenant previously enjoyed.”

He said the city’s claim of a causal link between a landlord’s actions and the relocation fees was further weakened by the fact that the ordinance did not require tenants to spend the fees on replacement housing in San Francisco, or anywhere else.

Breyer stayed his ruling until Friday to give the city time to ask a federal appeals court to intervene. Gabriel Zitrin, spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, said Herrera was “very disappointed” by the ruling and would decide whether to appeal in the next few days.

Previous ordinance

An earlier city ordinance, enacted in 2005 and upheld by the courts, required landlords to pay displaced tenants $4,500 plus inflation adjustments, an amount that Breyer said was roughly equal to the expenses they face in moving out. But tenant advocates said it came nowhere near the actual costs of finding new housing.
The author of the new ordinance, Supervisor David Campos, urged Herrera to continue defending it.

“When you stand up against powerful special interests like San Francisco did, by demanding fair payments to tenants evicted under the Ellis Act, you can expect those interests to fight back,” Campos said in a statement. “That’s what we’re seeing right now. This is not a permanent setback.”

Dean Preston, executive director of Tenants Together, a statewide advocacy organization that filed arguments in support of the ordinance, criticized the ruling. He said the Ellis Act, a state law allowing property owners to evict all their tenants without cause when they leave the rental business, contemplated that local governments could pass laws to reduce the impact on tenants.

“There’s no reason why the city can’t tie that (landlord’s decision) to the cost of displacement,” Preston said.
But J. David Breemer of the Pacific Legal Foundation, a lawyer for landlords who challenged the ordinance, called the ruling “a great win for property rights.”

‘Pay a ransom’

Campos’ measure “requires property owners to pay a ransom simply to stop being landlords and use their own property,” Breemer said. “Property owners didn’t cause the affordable housing crisis. The public should address it, not put it on the backs of property owners.”

The lead plaintiffs, husband and wife Daniel and Maria Levin, bought a two-unit North Beach building in 2008 with a single downstairs tenant. The Levins, who lived upstairs, filed an Ellis Act eviction in December, saying they wanted to use the lower unit for family members. The eviction was still pending when the new ordinance took effect, requiring the couple to pay their tenant nearly $118,000, the difference between the current rent and two years’ payments on a comparable unit elsewhere.

Breyer said the ordinance was unprecedented and violated a constitutional principle: When the government confiscates private property, by condemning land or exacting a fee for owners’ use of their property, the price must be at least “roughly proportional” to the impact of the owners’ actions.

Judge’s assessment

“The ordinance requires an enormous payout untethered in both nature and amount to the social harm actually caused by the property owner’s action,” the judge said. He said Ellis Act evictions — just over 200 in a recent 12-month period, in a city with more than 230,000 rental units — have little impact on the housing crisis or on tenants’ relocation costs.

“San Francisco’s housing shortage and the high market rates that result are significant problems of public concern, and the city (supervisors’) attempts to ameliorate them are laudable,” Breyer said. “But there are outer limits to how this may be done.”

By Bob Egelko, SF Chronicle

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San Francisco Bay Guardian Closed by San Francisco Media Company

Employees of San Francisco Print Media Company, the parent company of the Examiner, SF Weekly, and San Francisco Bay Guardian were this morning informed that the latter paper will be shuttered after 48 years.

The paper was founded by husband and wife Jean Dibble and Bruce Brugmann — whose visage, urging locals to “Read my paper, dammit” — grew ubiquitous over the years. Its founding mission was to “print the news and raise hell,” and, as an independent paper, it ostensibly did just that for 46 years. In 2012 Brugmann and Dibble sold the Guardian to the  San Francisco Media Company, which subsequently acquired theWeekly last year. After decades of lawsuits and acrimony, the dueling San Francisco weeklies were situated next door to one another, within the same office suite.

That situation changed today, however.

“Unfortunately, the economic reality is such that the Bay Guardian is not a viable business and has not been for many years,” wrote SFMC publisher Glenn Zuehls in the interoffice communique “When SFMC took over the publication, the company believed the publication’s finances could rise out of the red and benefit from joining forces with the Examiner and the Weekly. We have tried hard to make that happen over the past few years. … Since then, I have come to realize that this isn’t possible and that the obstacles for a profitable Bay Guardian are too great to overcome. The amount of money that the Bay Guardian loses each week is causing damage to the heart of the company and cannot justify its continued publication. The success of this company, providing the highest quality journalism for our readers along with superior results for our advertisers, is my sole priority.”

Zuehls characterized the decision as the most difficult of his career.

Guardian editor Steven T. Jones describes himself and the staff as “in shock. We’re still trying to stay cool. We’re still trying to absorb this.”

The paper’s curtailment is effective immediately. The edition hitting the streets tomorrow figures to be its last.

“We are in discussions of the possibility of buying the paper,” Jones says. “We’ll turn to our community and try to see if this is possible.”

Zuehls tells SF Weekly that a sale is possible: “Anybody can come and ask.” Exactly what one obtains in buying the Guardian is a matter to still be negotiated.

“I hope the passion of the Guardian lives on. Everyone in San Francisco can learn from that passion,” Zuehls continues. But “it has lost revenue since day one and the trend is losing more.”

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Koret Foundation Sued by Widow Who Claims Board Members Uses Charity as “Personal Piggy Bank”

Jewish  Family and Children's Services

Anita Friedman Jewish Family and Children’s Services

President of Koret Foundation

Tad Taube, President of Koret Foundation

Partner of the San Francisco law firm Greene, Radovsky, Maloney, Share & Hennigh

Richard L. Greene, Partner of the San Francisco law firm Greene, Radovsky, Maloney, Share & Hennigh

Board Member and Silicon Valley Real Estate Investor Tad Taube, San Francisco Attorney Richard L. Greene, JFCS Director Anita Friedman, Other Board Members Shun the Poor, Bay Area, Jewish Causes—in Favor of Spending Foundation Resources on Conservative and Pet Projects at Half-Billion Dollar Charity

 

San Francisco—The Jewish community from San Francisco to Poland was rocked this week when the widow of Koret Foundation founder Joseph Koret filed a lawsuit against the Koret Foundation and its Board of Directors for conflicts of interest and self-dealing.  The lawsuit says the Koret Board is illegally funding pet projects that include right-wing conservative causes in the United States to wrongly spending $10 million to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

The lawsuit said the wrongdoing is being orchestrated by Koret Foundation President Tad Taube, a native of Poland and well-known right wing conservative Republican.  The suit also lays blame on Taube’s personal attorney and Board member Richard L. Greene of Greene Radovsky Maloney Share & Hennigh LLP and Anita Friedman, the executive director of director of Jewish Family and Children’s Services in San Francisco as well as board member Richard Atkinson, former president of the University of California; board member Michael J. Boskin, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution; and board member Abraham D. Sofaer, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

The suit filed October 7, 2014 in San Francisco Superior Court by Mrs. Koret alleges that under Taube’s direction the board has ignored the priorities established by her late husband to help the poor and assist Jewish causes in the Bay Area and Israel.

Instead, her suit claims, the Koret board is using foundation funds to promote programs closely affiliated with individual board members and is purposely confusing the public by putting signage that prominently features Taube’s name alongside the Koret Foundation name on buildings and grants for which the Koret Foundation is the principal funder.

“Defendants’ duty of loyalty to the Foundation has been corrupted by these directors’ close affiliations with many of the Foundation’s recent grants, resulting in tens of millions of dollars distributed due to self-interest,” according to the lawsuit.

The suit demands the removal of the Koret board members and calls for their replacement with the appointment of an independent board with a majority of Jewish directors.

“Taube says publicly that giving to the poor is “a bottomless pit.” Instead he has led the Koret Foundation by focusing its giving to organizations identified with him, creating a corporate culture of directors who rubber stamp his decisions as long as their favored organizations are also supported.  “In elevating their own and affiliated interests while ostensibly making decisions for the Koret Foundation, defendants are breaching duties of loyalty that require them to serve faithfully the interests of the Koret Foundation” the lawsuit claims.

“Alleviating suffering and misfortune were my husband’s top priorities,” said Mrs. Koret. “Joe and Stephanie’s money shouldn’t be used for Tad Taube’s pet projects in Poland or to help conservative economic and policy think tanks–not when so many in the Bay Area go to bed hungry every night and Jewish causes need support.”

Supporting her lawsuit is Joe and Stephanie Koret’s closest surviving family member, nephew Merv Brown of Walnut Creek, who worked with the Korets for decades.  He said about the suit:

“With all respect to Mr. Taube, if he wants to spend money on Poland, he should use his own money–not my uncle’s and my aunt’s–to assist his homeland. I am proud to stand with Susan Koret to support and endorse the directions and wishes of my family that their fortune be spent as Uncle Joe wished: to help the poor and Jews in Israel and the Bay Area.”

The San Jose Mercury News reported that: “Mrs. Koret is doing a favor for the entire Bay Area community with her lawsuit,” said longtime friend Julie Goodman. “She has a lot of courage. No one else has had the guts to take on Mr. Taube, who has used his power, plus his and the Koret Foundation’s money, to bully a lot of people and organizations into subservience.”

Mrs. Koret’s lawsuit alleges that others, including “philanthropic civic leaders and former and current staff members will support Mrs. Koret in her efforts to restore the Koret Foundation’s purpose and dignity free of the control of Mr. Taube.”

The lawsuit claims that, at Taube’s direction, the Koret Foundation has donated approximately $9 million to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, a pet project of Taube, who was born in Poland.  “

While the Polish Museum commemorates significant Jewish history, the diversion of Koret funds to Poland is not in keeping with my husband’s charitable mission…and in effect drains funds that could benefit the needy in communities in the Bay Area and Israel,” the lawsuit states.

Sam Singer of Singer Associates, Inc., who is acting as a spokesman for Mrs. Koret in the lawsuit, said the lawsuit will attempt to claw back the $9 million in money from Taube that was given to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and return it to the Koret Foundation. The Museum of the History of Polish Jews is scheduled to open Oct. 28 in Warsaw. The Museum is reported facing financial difficulties, according to Polish media reports.

Mrs. Koret noted her husband was a native of Odessa, Russia, who immigrated to America, struggled growing up poor in the U.S., and then struck it rich later in life in clothing and real estate. He was deeply committed to humanitarian causes such as alleviating hunger,  and would “be deeply angered and offended by Tad Taube and the board’s strong support of conservative  causes and grants that divert money needed for the local community and Jewish causes.”

The lawsuit asks the court to prevent the spending down of the Foundation’s assets by Taube and the board members with whom he has surrounded himself and allow the appointment of a new, independent board to carry out its mission and save the Foundation.

Mrs. Koret was named a lifetime director and chairwoman of the Foundation prior to her husband’s death in 1982. She was entrusted by her late husband to carry out the family legacy of caring for the poor and supporting Jewish and community causes through the Koret Foundation, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also recites that the board has rejected a series of Asian and African-American candidates for board membership, including their rejection last month of former Mayor Willie Brown as president of the Foundation.

Mrs. Koret said she has been marginalized as Taube, a Silicon Valley real estate investor, and his hand-picked supporters on the board steer donations toward causes in which they have affiliations.

Mrs. Koret said she filed the suit as a last resort after her efforts to diversify the board, get independent legal advice, confirm the perpetual nature of the Foundation and redirect funds back to her late husband’s mission were rebuffed.  She fears the Koret Foundation is facing destruction of its mission and eventual collapse unless changes are made.

She said in the last 12 months, Taube has undertaken three major real estate transactions:  the sale of the Foundation’s largest real estate asset; marketing of another Foundation property; and refinancing a significant loan on a third Foundation property. The collective value of the real estate involved in these transactions is several hundred million dollars, according to the lawsuit.

“Over Mrs. Koret’s objections, defendants approved engaging a broker associated with defendant Taube’s real estate businesses to sell, market and refinance the Foundation’s properties and split its commission with Taube Investments, without disclosing the percentage commission split.  This conduct violates state and federal law and is breach of fiduciary duty,” the lawsuit states.

The Foundation’s general counsel and Taube attorney Richard L. Greene, over Mrs. Koret’s objection, failed to advise that an independent appraisal or broker was needed to market the Foundation property and refinance the loan, even though the same broker associated with Taube’s businesses was engaged for both these real estate transactions, according to the suit.

“Greene’s conduct … may expose the Foundation to claims of self-dealing, is contrary to California professional rules for attorneys in avoiding conflicts of interest, and causes economic injury to the Foundation,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit alleges that Taube is a shameless self-promoter who has personally selected board members to rubber stamp his decisions in exchange for support of their own pet projects. Additionally, the suit says Taube established his own foundation, called Taube Philanthropies, but uses money and staff from the Koret Foundation to pay for and enhance joint projects of Taube Philanthropies and the Koret Foundation.   A review of the Koret Foundation’s public filings shows reported annual salaries and compensation of officers exceeded $1.9 million in 2011, while Taube Philanthropies showed no such expenses for the same period, according to the lawsuit.

Mrs. Koret’s lawsuit charges that out of the $64 million gifted by the Koret Foundation between 2010 and 2012, nearly 60 percent was spent on causes outside the stated mission of her husband, the late Joseph Koret.

The lawsuit claims conflicts of interest, self-dealing, and breaches of duty abound on the board:

  • The Koret Foundation’s Executive Director Jeffrey Farber provides no independent management, reaps a large salary and perks at the Foundation, has little involvement in grant-making and does only what Taube asks him to do.  Farber is also a member of the Taube Philanthropies board, creating a serious conflict of loyalty and duty.   His wife works for Koret Board member Anita Friedman at Jewish Family and Children’s Services, yet another conflict.

Koret Board Member Anita Friedman, director of Jewish Family and Children’s Services, JFCS, sits on the Taube Philanthropies board as a director. Friedman makes up to $380,000 per year as executive director of JFCS, which is a major recipient of Koret funds. During September’s Koret Foundation meeting, she oversaw and participated in a vote granting $1.2 million to the Shalom Hartman Institute, where she also sits on the board.

While JFCS and Shalom Hartman are worthwhile causes, Friedman has failed to recuse herself in any discussions of massive grants to entities where she is on the board or employed. Friedman sees no conflict in directing millions in additional funds to entities where she has other interests and has no inclination to resign her JFCS position. Friedman has voted against every initiative by Mrs. Koret over the past two years seeking to bring independence, balance and transparency to the Koret board.

  • Michael J. Boskin is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, which has received millions from the Koret Foundation over the years. Earlier this month, the board approved another $280,000 grant to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research where Boskin is also a Senior Fellow and former director. Since 1992, Koret has approved grants totaling $4.5 million to support SIEPR, and millions to Hoover through Stanford.

 

  • Abraham Sofaer is another interlocking director on the board of Taube Philanthropies, and is also a Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Hoover Institution, based at Stanford University.  From 2010-2012, the Koret Foundation’s funding to Hoover and Stanford of nearly $4 million was about equal to its total support of all social welfare causes in the Bay Area combined.

 

In the lawsuit, Taube, a member of the Board of Overseers and the Executive Committee of the Hoover Institution, is alleged to have misused Foundation money to pay consultants to write editorials opposing Obama administration policies and to attend trips in support of Hoover.

The lawsuit also alleges that Taube:

  • Reduced funds targeted for Koret Foundation grantees and increased funds to organizations that are his personal favorites.

 

  • Used Koret funds to pay millions of dollars to entities affiliated with him or his close associates to manage the Foundation’s real estate holdings.

 

  • Without board approval, commissioned and installed a life-size mural depicting himself and now hung inside the Koret Foundation’s new headquarters in San Francisco at a cost to the Foundation of $80,000.

 

  • Paid more than $75,000 in Foundation money for promotional materials about himself, including booklets and newspaper advertisements.

 

  • Subsidized the operating costs of Taube Philanthropies by using Koret staff and resources for joint grant projects, and used Koret Foundation resources for travel, marketing and personal expenses.

 

  • Terminated a $35,000 contract of an independent publisher of a book about the life of Joseph and Stephanie Koret, the founder’s first wife. Taube was reportedly angry that the book was not about him or his contributions.

 

  • Along with counsel and board member Richard L. Greene, discriminated against and ridiculed Mrs. Koret and prevented her from speaking with Foundation staff.

Mrs. Koret in her lawsuit pledges to maintain the priorities of her husband by broadening the Koret board to include community leaders while maintaining a majority of Jewish directors.  She is committed to maintaining support for the anchor institutions in the Bay Area that Koret has supported over many years and to prevent any continued diversion of funds to out of mission organization and countries.

 

Jewish  Family and Children's Services

SUED: Anita Friedman, Jewish Family and Children’s Services

Partner of the San Francisco law firm Greene, Radovsky, Maloney, Share & Hennigh

SUED: Richard L. Greene, Partner of the San Francisco law firm Greene, Radovsky, Maloney, Share & Hennigh

President of Koret Foundation

SUED: Tad Taube, President of Koret Foundation

 

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Castro’s Slurp Soft Opening Tonight

 
 
 

After announcing a change in formats back in September, Slurp Noodle Bar (469 Castro St.) will have a soft opening tonight. Formerly Fork Cafe, the new concept will serve pan-Asian noodles. General Manager Keith Hak told us that they “wanted to do something completely different from what used to be served at Fork Cafe.” They want to open a restaurant where you could get noodles from a variety of different regions. Slurp will serve Ramen, Pho and Laksa (Malaysian), just to name a few. Aside from noodles Slurp will also serve crispy vegetarian egg rolls, pork belly steamed  buns, salads and items from the wok.

Keith took some photos of the food today and posted them on Facebook. It all looks really fresh and delicious. So let’s hope this new concept works out. Stop by tonight if  you’re looking for something different to eat.

 
 
Slurp Noodle Bar
469 Castro St.
Sun-Thurs 11am-10pm
Fri-Sat 11am-11pm
 
From the Castro Bubble

 

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South Bay Congressman stands up for Martins Beach

There is news today that Congressman Mike Honda has added his voice to the incredibly important issue of protecting access to Martins Beach in San Mateo County.(http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2014/09/11/silicon-valley-congressman-rejects-vc-vinod.html )

The long time Congressman has not only urged the Governor to support SB 968, sponsored by Senator Jerry Hill and Senator Mark Stone, but he has also taken the dramatic step of filling out the California Coastal Commission’s survey (http://www.coastal.ca.gov/) to establish and document its history of public use.

A recent profile on the Congressman (http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/Election-upset-seen-as-unlikely-against-veteran-5711840.php) has shown his love of fishing and the coast. But his release points out the long history of advocacy for open space

Congressman Honda has been a supporter of open spaces throughout his political career. He was instrumental in the planning and funding of the Mt. Umunhum reclamation project, including securing appropriations funding for the program. For over a decade, he worked to get the Army Corps of Engineers to fulfill its obligation to clean up Mt. Umunhum. After much time and effort, he secured $3.2 Million for the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District’s Almaden Air Force Station Environmental Assessment and Remediation project, which expedited the cleanup of the site to alleviate health and environmental impacts.

Congressman Honda also worked hard in the appropriations committee to secure $18.315 Million for the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration project. This project has begun to restore the health of the San Francisco Bay by creating the largest restored wetlands on the West Coast, providing extensive habitat for federally endangered species and migratory birds.

The Congressman states “protecting our open spaces and California’s sacred wilderness is more than sound policy—it’s our obligation…equal access to our state’s treasured assets is a core value—and one that should be afforded to all regardless of income.”

This record of service is impressive on its own, but when put against his opponents Mike Honda looks like John Muir:

Open space advocates say Honda’s stellar record stands in stark contrast to Khanna’s lack of record when it comes to working on behalf of regional open spaces. While serving on the San Mateo County Parks and Recreation Commission, one of his only stints in public service, Khanna missed 10 out of 23 meetings.

Lennie Roberts, a long time champion of open space and legislative advocate for Committee for Green Foothills, praised Honda’s work on behalf of area open space and added that she wished his opponent exhibited the same commitment to service, referring to Khanna’s poor attendance and lackluster effort on behalf of Measure A, a 2006 funding measure to benefit City and County parks in San Mateo County. 

In fact longtime San Mateo County environmental advocate Lennie Roberts said, “Congressman Honda is well known for his longstanding support of parks and open space preservation and access, and his record of unwavering service speaks for itself,” Roberts said. “If Ro Khanna had demonstrated even a small commitment to parks while serving on the San Mateo County Parks and Recreation Commission, perhaps we would have more funding for our needy parks.  Mr. Khanna missed nearly as many meetings of the Commission as he attended, missed the crucial vote to recommend placing the revenue measure on the ballot, and failed to step up and support our campaign to secure funding for City and County parks in San Mateo County. Frankly, it was disappointing.”

This does not surprise considering his continued embrace of republicans in general and the homophobic, tea party embracing Ernie Konnyu. http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=173174 and http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=173155, it seems this challenger is not who he pretends to be at all.

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WTF? 372-Sq-Ft Micro-Pad with No Kitchen Wants $2,900/Month

If you weren’t already sure that the San Francisco rental market had gone completely bonkers, this rental listing may convince you. It’s a Western Addition apartment that is being called a junior one bedroom. In reality, everything is compressed into one miniature 372-square-foot space, and there’s no actual kitchen, just a mini-fridge, microwave, and countertop within spitting distance of the bed alcove. It looks more appropriate as an Airbnb rental than a full-time living space and has, in fact, been rented out over Airbnb for the past few months. As of this morning, the flat was listed for a whopping$3,175/month, but the owner seems to have undergone at least a mild realty check since then. Now the place could be yours for $2,900/month furnished—or $2,700/month if you’re bringing your own tiny couch, TV, and bed.

00606_2yBYd9LkMN2_600x450

There are some perks with that rent: Laundry is free and utilities are included. Parking might be an option, although extra costs aren’t discussed in the listing. And apparently the biggest perk of all is thatthe apartment has its own front door to the street, so you don’t have to deal with shared hallways. We didn’t even know that was considered a bonus until now.

Our only evidence of the original price survives in this screenshot:

screen-shot-jr-1br

 

Tracy Elsen, Curbed

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LatinSF Initiative Launched

San Francisco Expands International Efforts to Create Greater Economic Ties with New Initiative to Strengthen Relationship between Latin America & United States; First Partnership Started with Mexico-Based Technology Acceleration Program

 Mayor Edwin M. Lee today officially launched the LatinSF economic development initiative at Silicon Valley Day in Mexico City as part of his official trade mission to Latin America. Modeled after the groundbreaking China-San Francisco economic development initiative ChinaSF, LatinSF is a new economic development initiative to promote business and trade between San Francisco and Latin America by attracting Latin American companies to San Francisco and helping San Francisco firms expand in the Latin American markets. The new initiative will support and boost San Francisco’s economy by creating a comprehensive international business recruitment, expansion and retention strategy.

“We can never take our economic recovery and expansion for granted and LatinSF is another way in which we are diversifying our economy, attracting new companies and jobs to our City and creating opportunities for San Francisco-based businesses around the world,” said Mayor Lee. “San Francisco has much to offer companies from Latin America, including a highly educated workforce, access to the largest venture capital community in the United States, and international connectivity to China, Asia and beyond. With the launch of LatinSF and the continued success of ChinaSF, San Francisco has secured its reputation as a global gateway.”

LatinSF will promote San Francisco as the center for Latin American entrepreneurs who wish to tackle the U.S. and global markets. Similarly, there are many opportunities in the technology, life sciences, cleantech and professional services sectors for San Francisco companies seeking to expand in the dynamic Latin American market.

“Following the success of ChinaSF, the San Francisco Center for Economic Development is proud to once again partner with the City of San Francisco to run the new LatinSF initiative,” said San Francisco Center for Economic Development (SFCED) Executive Director Dennis Conaghan. “The demand for assistance for Latin American companies has been steadily growing, and we believe that the timing is perfect to reach out to the region. San Francisco has a global brand as a city that welcomes innovative entrepreneurs and we look forward to extending that welcome to Latin American companies.”

Mayor Lee’s two-day visit to Mexico City is his first official trade mission to Latin America. The visit underscores the importance of the relationship between San Francisco, Mexico and the rest of Latin America. While in Mexico, the Mayor is meeting with government and business leaders to promote San Francisco as a center for innovation and entrepreneurship. The visit focuses on attracting Mexican companies to San Francisco, expanding bilateral economic cooperation and developing key partnerships to strengthen the business relationship between San Francisco and Mexico.

During the visit, Mayor Lee solidified the first LatinSF partnership with Startup Mexico, a government-backed entrepreneurial campus and incubation/acceleration program for Latin American technology firms, to ensure a steady flow of companies from the region to San Francisco.

“LatinSF is an excellent partner for Startup Mexico and we are looking forward to working with them to assist Latin American technology companies to access the amazing opportunities that San Francisco has to offer innovative entrepreneurs,” said Startup Mexico Director Marcus Dantus.

As well as a business attraction and retention efforts, LatinSF will support the growing Latin American technology eco-system in San Francisco by partnering with organizations such as the Latino Startup Alliance, the Chile-California Council and BayBrazil, a networking organization with more than 4,000 local members.

“We are very excited about partnering with LatinSF on events and incoming trade missions,” said Bay Brazil Director Margarise Correa. “Brazilians have a great interest in the San Francisco market, and LatinSF is well placed to capitalize on that.”

Many Latin American technology companies have already established offices in San Francisco, including Globant, an Argentinian company that recently became the first Latin American software company to launch a public offering on the NYSE. The company employs more than 100 people in San Francisco. Over the past three years, government trade offices from Mexico, Brazil and Colombia have all opened in San Francisco.

LatinSF has already garnered support for its efforts and counts the Mita Institute and Tech Accelerator (MITA), a business accelerator, venture fund and tech forum dedicated to building the innovation economy in Mexico, and AeroMexico among its early sponsors.

“We are excited to partner with LatinSF to build deeper synergies between the innovation economies of San Francisco and Mexico,” said MITA General Partner and Fund Manager Robin Reyes. “We believe San Francisco offers a singular ecosystem of needed mentorship, capital and business development opportunities to Mexico’s growing number of tech companies. As a dominant connector in linking these two regions, we are proud to be a supporter of LatinSF.”

About LatinSF

LatinSF is a dynamic new economic development initiative that will promote business and trade between San Francisco and the Latin American region. Created as a public-private partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) and the San Francisco Center for Economic Development (SFCED), the goal of LatinSF is to create a welcome environment for established Latin American companies to expand and startups to locate in San Francisco.  LatinSF will also support San Francisco-based companies that are seeking to expand their businesses in the Latin American region. For more information, go to: sfced.org/latinsf.

About Silicon Valley Day

Silicon Valley Day is an event organized by San Francisco technology companies to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and the Silicon Valley culture in Latin America. The event has been held twice in Sao Paolo, Brazil with attendances of almost 800 people. The event includes panels featuring San Francisco and Mexico based founders and executives who will share their business experiences. The Silicon Valley Day 2014 event is made ​​possible by Zendesk, Prezi, possible and 99designs. For more information, go to: siliconvalleyday.com.mx.

 

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Earthquake Safety: Stand In A Doorway?

I don’t like earthquakes, yet I live in quake country. It’s a paradox.

To mitigate my worry, I err on the side of preparedness. But this post is not to lecture you about creating an earthquake kit (although it’s not hard to do). It’s to let you know what to do the moment the shaking starts.

And it’s to tell you what not to do.

Folks, when the shaking starts, do not head to the nearest doorway. I cannot stress this enough: Do not stand in a doorway.

I always thought the doorway was safe, too — until I heard years ago that this is a myth. The idea of the safety of the doorway goes back to the 19th century. Back then in California, lots of homes were built of adobe. The only wood in the house was the wood-framed door. In a major quake, the adobe crumbled. The only thing left standing? The wood framing of the door.

If you are presently living in a 19th century adobe home, you may stand in your doorway.

So, most of you will not stand in a doorway.

Instead, here’s what you do:

1. Drop, cover and hold on.

In an earthquake, things fall over, move around and generally fling off shelves. These moving or falling objects can hurt you. Standing in a doorway does not protect you. In addition to stuff flying around, the door will swing back and forth, perhaps violently. The door may strike you, or your fingers may be pinched badly, if you have them jammed in the frame to brace yourself. The door could also fall down, as you see in the photo above.

Instead, if you are dropped, covered and holding on, those things flying around are less likely to hurt you. You drop to your knees, so the quake can’t knock you down. You cover under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture to protect yourself from falling objects. You hold on, so your protection moves with you.

2. If you’re inside, stay inside.

This is a hard one. But you don’t want to go outside in the middle of the shaking — because even more stuff is likely falling over outside, like bricks, power lines, all kinds of stuff that can really hurt you.

3. If you’re in bed, stay in bed (unless you have a heavy light fixture or other heavy object over your bed). Protect yourself with your pillow.

4. If you’re outside, try to move to the open. Move away from buildings and power lines.

5. If you’re in your car, stop as quickly and safely as you can and stay in your vehicle. Do not stop under or on bridges, overpasses or trees.

There’s much more I could say. But I’ll leave it with this: Look around in your home and at work. Think where you could duck, cover and hold on.

I compiled this post from my own earthquake obsessions, verified by information from ready.gov(brought to you by FEMA). If you visit the site, scroll down to the helpful tabs that say “before, during, after” to learn more about being — well — ready. California’s Department of Conservation also has a good fact sheet on being prepared. The United States Geological Survey has a fun read about earthquake facts and earthquake fantasy.

 

California Report, by 

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Go Topless Day, a Blatant Publicity Stunt By a UFO Cult, In Dolores Park Sunday

It’s a yearly tradition like champagne on New Year’s Eve and vomit on New Year’s Day: This Sunday is “Go Topless Day,” to be celebrated locally at Dolores Park.

This is the point in the article we inform you that this display of bare female breasts is the most blatant of blatant publicity stunts for the nutty UFO cult calling itself the Raelians, the adherents of the charismatic French crackpot Rael, Claude Vorilhan.

This is what we wrote before, here and here. But everyone, and we do mean everyone, loves boobs. So this event elicits gawkers and unquestioning media coverage year in and year out.

Rael, to put it mildly, is a pip. In 2002, he claimed his group cloned a baby. This was never proven; would-be purchasers of the Brooklyn Bridge were likely miffed as well. He has, for decades, wheedled the public for funds, ostensibly to erect an intergalactic embassy in Jerusalem with which to serve our alien creators.

He also claims to be a top-notch race car driver, and, like a less buffoonish and more dangerous cult leader, is also a singer-songwriter. As we noted earlier, his tune Toutes Les Femmes (All the Women) is particularly apropos for Go Topless Day.

So, enjoy the view on Sunday. But, remember, it’s all in the name of spreading the word that humans are the spawn of extraterrestrials who have tasked Rael with disseminating their message.

And boobs.

 

From SF Weekly,  Joe Eskenazi

 

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Ro Khanna Campaign Silent Following Homophobic Rant by Republican Supporter Ernie Konnyu: Editorial

 

Ro Khanna Campaign Silent

Ro Khanna Campaign Silent

Congressional candidate Ro Khanna should  immediately take action and publically denounce the support of homophobic former Congressman Ernie Konnyu, Khanna’s highest-profile Republican endorser.

Konnyu, a one-term Silicon Valley Congressman who was voted out of office following a sexual harassment scandal, made news last week for orchestrating Tea Party support for Khanna, who is hoping to unseat longtime U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose.

But this week Konnyu took his right-wing vitriol a step further, using Facebook to publically attack the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce PAC for supporting openly gay Campbell Mayor Evan Low in his State Assembly race against former Saratoga mayor Chuck Page.

Konnyu waged his attack last Friday on a Facebook comment by former Chamber CEO Jim Cunneen, calling it “sick” that the Chamber PAC would support “a liberal so left that he wants to change the law to allow blood donations by gays. This, even though the current law forbids it since such blood has a risk of transferring the deadly AIDS virus. Yes! Gay pride is worth more with Evan Low than our citizens’ lives.”

Despite Cunneen’s efforts to prevent Konnyu from doing more damage by “counting to 10 before posting on Facebook,” Konnyu instead redirected his attack on Cunneen. “I am wiser, more experienced, and a lot older than you,” he said.

The San Jose Inside blog broke the story Wednesday but so far we’ve heard nothing from the Khanna campaign. By contrast, following last week’s news about the Tea Party’s support, Khanna’s campaign immediately responded with a “with friends like these…” shake of the head.

Konnyu is becoming a tremendous liability for Khanna, and we’re shocked that Khanna hasn’t denounced Konnyu’s misguided statements and support.

Let’s face it; Khanna doesn’t have a shot at defeating Honda, a seven-term incumbent with a proven track record of fighting for civil rights and same-sex equality.  However, that’s no excuse not to stand up and speak out against this kind of discrimination and homophobia – in his district and on his endorsement list.

 

 

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Splunk Technology Co. To Occupy 270 Brannan St.–Groundbreaking Draws Mayor Lee, SKS Partners, Mitsui Fudosan America

001 (1) 

Mayor Ed Lee today joined SKS Partners, Mitsui Fudosan America and more than 50 dignitaries at a ceremony today to officially break ground on 270 Brannan St. – the new 213,000 gross sq. ft. office building located in the heart of San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood.  The space is already 100 percent leased to machine data player Splunk, which has another leased office building within the block of the new development.

“Our City’s South of Market neighborhood is going through an exciting renaissance, transforming an underutilized warehouse district into a growing, modern mixed-use area with office space, housing and small businesses,” said Mayor Lee. “I am thrilled to break ground on the 270 Brannan St. office building with SKS Partners and Mitsui Fudosan America who are committed to working with the community to ensure this neighborhood thrives economically yet maintains its historic presence.”

The building is being developed as a joint venture between San Francisco’s SKS Partners and Mitsui Fudosan America. The building was designed by prominent local architect, Peter Pfau, and Charles Pankow Builders is the general contractor.

Splunk, the big data technology company, will occupy the building when it opens in Dec. 2015.

“270 Brannan is the realization of the City’s 2008 Eastern Neighborhoods plan, creating a new office building for the growing economy that respects the historical context of the South Beach neighborhood,” said Dan Kingsley and Paul Stein, the Managing Partners at SKS.

City planners have praised the design of 270 Brannan St. for incorporating the character and history of the neighborhood while meeting the needs of its tenants.

The building will include a 5,000 sq. ft. internal atrium which will connect the building’s five-story front section and seven-story rear section. The building is targeting LEED Platinum Certification by the US Green Building Council and has many environmentally-friendly features such as roof-top solar panels.  It also includes spaces for 52 bikes along with adjacent showers and lockers in its basement. Automobile parking is limited to 12 spots in the building’s underground garage.

The building’s design will feature a pattern of alternating aluminum curtain wall windows and terracotta cladding on its Brannan Street façade, consistent with the surrounding South End Historic District. The rear façade, which fronts on DeBoom Street, will feature terracotta cladding on the lower floors with a floor-to-ceiling glass curtain wall on the top two floors.

“This groundbreaking is happening during a truly important time for environmental responsibility, both locally and globally. We are making real and lasting investments to improve our city, while protecting our environment and creating new jobs,” said Yukio Yoshida, President of Mitsui Fudosan America. “This building is believed to be one of the first to feature more bike parking spaces than car parking stalls in the history of San Francisco real estate developments and that, in and of itself, is a huge indication that we are opening a new chapter in San Francisco’s history of progress.”

The new 270 Brannan St. is scheduled to open in December 2015.

For more information, visit www.270brannan.com

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The Gorilla Foundation Announces New Focus, Key Hires and Important Organizational Changes

KoKo gorilla

Koko gorilla

San Francisco–The Gorilla Foundation announced a series of important changes today, including anticipated new management positions, potential new Board members and a certain new focus, all designed to strengthen one of the world’s leading organizations for great ape understanding, care and conservation. “We have come to a crossroads in our Foundation’s history, and we have recognized the need to do more for the cause of the great apes through building global empathy for their preservation and care”

These improvements, made after an extensive internal review with the help of the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board, Governing Board and outside consultants, seek to balance the vital goals of caring for and protecting the gorillas (Koko and Ndume) while refocusing and reinvigorating the organization’s core mission of learning about gorillas through direct communication, and applying that knowledge to advance great ape conservation and prevent their extinction through education, compassionate care and empathy worldwide.

“We have come to a crossroads in our Foundation’s history, and we have recognized the need to do more for the cause of the great apes through building global empathy for their preservation and care,” said Dr. Penny Patterson, the lead researcher behind the Foundation’s groundbreaking “Project Koko,” which is to date the longest running interspecies communication project in history and the only one involving gorillas.

“Koko and her family have taught us so much over many decades and now, more than ever, we feel it is incumbent on this organization to share what we’ve learned with people across the globe, as a way to help put an end to poaching and build compassion for enhancing the care of gorillas and other great apes everywhere,” she said.

The Gorilla Foundation was founded in 1976 by Dr. Patterson, Ron Cohn and philanthropist Barbara Hiller to expand the groundbreaking and unique work of “Project Koko,” the first-ever project to study the linguistic capabilities of gorillas through sign language. Today, after decades of research and learning, Koko is able to use more than 1,000 signs, understands as many words of spoken English, and demonstrates the amazing ability to communicate her thoughts and express her feelings through sign language.

With the goal of protecting and honoring this legacy for generations to come, the Foundation’s leadership today announced, in addition to organizational changes, a series of goals and programs that are designed to make better use of what Koko and her family have taught us over the years. These include:

RESEARCH:

1. Gorilla Emotional Awareness Study (GEARS) will provide an analysis of Koko’s awareness of her emotions (introspection) and the emotions of others (empathy), in research made possible by her unique communication abilities.

2. Digital Data Archival of Project Koko for Future Crowd-Sourced Research will involve a partnership with a major university to digitize and preserve four decades of unique Gorilla Foundation data and archive it in a form that will facilitate analysis and collaboration.

EDUCATION:

3. Koko Signing App will allow the public to learn to sign with Koko and to understand her in videos designed to advance the public’s knowledge about gorillas and learn about their need for compassionate conservation.

4. Project Koko Interactive Database will be made available to scientific colleagues and great ape facilities so that they can make use of our direct experience and data, gained through years of communicating with gorillas.

CONSERVATION:

5. Publication of new book (with video), Michael’s Dream, about the remarkable life of Koko’s gorilla friend Michael, who, on several occasions, communicated (in sign language) his memory of witnessing his gorilla mother being killed by poachers in Africa. This was documented on video.

6. Wide Distribution of Koko’s Kitten & Michael’s Dream Books and Educational Curricula throughout Africa, to strengthen compassionate conservation values and support the preservation of endangered gorillas In their homelands. This builds on our successful distribution of Koko’s Kitten (and curriculum) to over 100,000 students in Cameroon.

CARE AND WELLNESS:

7. Enhancement of Koko & Ndume’s facilities to enrich their lives, expand their options for exploration and privacy, and create capacity for a larger gorilla family.

8. Gorilla Interspecies Communication Work/Play-Station will provide the gorillas with the use of interactive computer technology (including “tough tablets”) to allow them to have fun, express their preferences and have more control over their environment.

ORGANIZATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE:

9. Expanding the Foundation’s Board of Directors to include more experts in our highly specialized field, as well as strategically selected business, finance and fundraising experts.

10. Developing a new executive team for leadership, fundraising and building strategic alliances.

These changes are being made as part of a focused process with three primary goals: 1) to ensure the care and protection of Koko and Ndume now and into the future and 2) to better apply the lessons learned by the Foundation to protect and enhance the lives of gorillas and other great apes worldwide, and 3) to allow our enlightening dialogues with Koko, Ndume and other gorillas to continue.

The Foundation’s leadership is tremendously appreciative of the contributions of its Board of Directors, Advisory Board, and its many consultants and colleagues, who were integral to the development of this new vision.

For more information about the Gorilla Foundation, visit www.koko.org.

 

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Animal rights activists smash Star Grocery windows

The window that was vandalized at Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

The window that was vandalized at Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Two FBI agents visited Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue on Monday to investigate a broken window the government believes was smashed by animal rights activists.

The large plate glass window of the market, which has been run by the Pappas family since 1922, was smashed around 2 a.m. on Sunday, July 27, according to Nick Pappas, the store’s owner. He wasn’t aware of the animal rights connection until the FBI contacted him a few days later, he said.

“They told us we were attacked,” said Pappas. “We didn’t know. We thought it was vandalism, a couple of broken windows.”

The FBI apparently had been monitoring the website of “Bite Back” an animal liberation organization based in Florida. The site posted pictures of the broken windows of Star Market in its “Direct Action” section. The magazine received news about the windows from someone who calls himself “veganarchist lone wolf.”

“On the night of June 26th two windows were smashed at Star Meats in Berkeley CA, a butcher shop that boasts about its organic and locally sourced meat,” according to the article. “Cage free, organic, murder is murder and death is death. This is a continuation of last years actions in which windows were smashed out of Waylands Meat Market in Oakland and windows smashed in an East Oakland Burger King.”

 

From Nosh

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Passengers Move Car Blocking Muni

by DEVIN HOLT, Bold Italic
movecar980

Photo by Kim Lianthamani

Today in things to make you smile: SF Weekly is reporting that a group of passengers moved some fool’s car that was blocking the Muni last night. It happened at Carl and Arguello, right on the border between Cole Valley and the Inner Sunset. An N Judah driver pulled up to make the sharp turn on that corner and discovered an Infiniti parked in the red zone with its trunk blocking the train’s path. Instead of slamming the accelerator and smashing the car into a heap of metallic memory (which is what I would have done) the driver parked the train and opened the doors so anyone who wanted to could start walking. But some folks wanted to do more than the Muni-just-kicked-us-out-again shuffle.

Passengers quoted in the SF Weekly story (one of whom took the photo above) said it took 10 or 15 men about a half-dozen tries to move the car off the tracks. They described it as “a real community moment,” complete with high fives and a feeling of shared accomplishment. Muni passengers 1, anonymous bad parkers 0.

I just happen to live nearby and ride the N Judah with a regularity that would make Metamucil jealous. I’ve seen cars block the train several times — it’s a busy area with three difficult turns between the UCSF stop and the 9th/Irving corridor — and I’ve often fantasized about forcibly removing them. But I’ve never actually done it. So now this small group of civic doers can consider themselves my personal heroes.

My other N Judah fantasy is to block the street with a group of stranded passengers who have watched three “out of service” trains go by in the last half hour. Any takers?

 

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Third Highest Winner At Twin Pine Casino Slot Machines

The second largest jackpot ever at Twin Pine Casino & Hotel was won on August 3rd, 2014. The lucky patron hit a slot machine jackpot of $3,060,857. The winning pull was on an IGT progressive “Mega Bucks” machine. This is coming off of a July win, which was the 3rd highest jackpot payout month at Twin Pine Casino & Hotel. This is also the second time that a “Mega Bucks” machine at Twin Pine has created an instant Millionaire. Back in December of 2012, a lucky guest hit a staggering 8.4 million dollar jackpot. In the last 5 years alone, there have been 3 winners of up to $8 Million and 3 of up to $600,000K with lots of other big winners in between. They call Twin Pine Casino the Home of the Big Jackpots.

The lucky winner was from the East Bay. He and his wife had only been here for a short time when fortune came calling. The gentleman repeatedly asked staff “is all of this real?” He is a regular patron at Twin Pine Casino & Hotel and knew that the Home of the Big Jackpots would someday call his name. With a big smile he said, “my daughter is going to college and I will be paying her tuition”.

Twin Pine Casino & Hotel is owned and operated by the Middletown Rancheria of
Pomo Indians of California, located in Middletown, California.

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Crowdfunding Campaign Is Launched to Keep the Music Playing at the Castro Theatre

David Hegarty, long-time Castro Theatre organist, and his nonprofit foundation SFCODA
turn to Indiegogo for further funding of the groundbreaking CASTRO SYMPHONIC THEATRE ORGAN
 
In keeping with the long tradition of organ music at the Castro Theatre dating from 1922, and the evolving functionality of the venue—now including the performing arts, an instrument of momentous artistic merit has been designed to replace the soon-to-be-removed Wurlitzer that was installed over 30 years ago by a private owner.
An equivalent theatre pipe organ has been donated by another nonprofit theatre foundation, and additional classical pipes will be added. The remaining portions of the instrument will take advantage of cutting-edge twenty-first-century digital technology resulting in a greatly expanded theatre organ—equivalent to the famous San Francisco Fox Theatre Wurlitzer, combined with a magnificent classical/symphonic organ, capable of every style of organ and orchestral music.
This will be the largest pipe/digital hybrid organ in the world. The stunning seven-manual console is already being built, and SFCODA is launching an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the next phase of its construction—an intermediate goal of $60,000. Total cost of the project is approximately $700,000.
Major sponsorships by individuals and corporate foundations will be rewarded with significant name recognition at a venue that serves over 150,000 patrons every year.
To learn more about the project, visit the SFCODA website: www.sfcoda.org
To contribute to this project, the Indiegogo campaign can be accessed here:
Or Google: Indiegogo Castro
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Saturday, July 26 Grand Opening of SF’s New Independent Living Resource Center Marks Anniversary of the Signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Blind Bay Area Architect Christopher Downey Designed Cutting Edge Facility

 It’s the blind leading the blind. When the Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco (www.ilrcsf.org) opens its new state-of-the-art facility this Saturday, July 26  – the 24th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act – this often negative cliché will become a high compliment, especially to the facility’s architect, Christopher Downey of the Bay Area: one of the world’s very-few, working, blind architects.

“Both the visually impaired and the sighted rely on information and architectural cues to navigate the built environment,” says Downey, who lost his sight in 2008 following surgery to remove a tumor that was pressing on his optic nerve. “I draw upon my experience as an architect to help design teams and client organizations to create enriching environments for the visually impaired and, not coincidentally, the sighted as well.”

Downey, 51, starts each day rowing with the East Bay Rowing Club on the Oakland Estuary before commuting on public transit to his office in San Francisco. He has been featured in local, national and international media stories and speaks regularly about architecture and visual impairment including his inspirational TED Talks. He also teaches accessibility and universal design at UC Berkeley and serves on the Board of Directors for the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco.  Downey consults on design for the blind and visually impaired, encompassing specialized centers as well as facilities serving the broader public. His work ranges from a new Department of Veterans Affairs blind rehabilitation center, to renovations of housing for the blind in New York City, and to the new Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco.

“With over 98,000 people with disabilities in the City of San Francisco, we know that our goal of expanding access for all was ambitious, especially given the current real estate climate, but that didn’t stop us, and Chris was integral to helping us realize our dream,” says Jessie Lorenz, Executive Director of the Independent Living Resource Center, noting that fully 25% of their clients are current conflict vets with disabilities.  “We exist to ensure that people with disabilities are full social and economic partners, both within their families and in a fully accessible community. What a perfect way to mark almost a quarter century of the ADA and the lives this law has improved.”

According to Lorenz, the Independent Living Resource Center’s new facility at 825 Howard Street is “truly a community center.” It is a purpose-built, ground floor, fully accessible location in the heart of San Francisco’s South of Market district. An integral part of its neighborhood, the new center is a welcoming place with street appeal where people with disabilities feel comfortable dropping in, participating in workshops, and seeking support and information as they establish or maintain their independence.

“Our new home was designed and built to anticipate disability as the rule, not the exception,” Lorenz emphasizes. “It has an open floor plan guided by a forward-thinking green design that is made expressly for enhancing community for people of all abilities. We endeavored to create space to allow for dynamic interaction and group presentations. The lobby will be for waiting, greeting, and exhibiting veteran and community artwork. The built environment will showcase the best principles of accessible design, responding to the growing needs of a technologically savvy disabled community.”

Additionally, Schindler Elevator Corporation, a pioneer in building mobility, has partnered with the Independent Living Resource Center to pilot the next generation of features for PORT Technology, an innovative destination-dispatching system that revolutionized the way people move through buildings.

Founded in 1977, the Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco exists to ensure that people with disabilities are full social and economic partners, both within their families and in a fully accessible community. ILRCSF core values are: Choice: the right of individuals and families to make informed decisions about their own lives. Persons with disabilities are experts on their own needs. Consumer leadership creates an accessible community. Full access to and inclusion in the community for all people with disabilities means the same range of choices as the general community. Universal usability means that services, housing and consumer products are designed to be used by all members of the community.

“Establishing a more accessible and visible office will position us as a model community-based center for independent living in an urban area,” Lorenz sums up. “We hope to move from a model of solely offering support and services to individuals with disabilities, to becoming an incubator and community center where the Independent Living Movement can build the next generation of leaders who will be empowered and engaged citizens who are fully integrated in their communities.”

This Saturday’s grand opening events features a free lunch catered by Buca di Bepo and guided tours from 10am – 12noon; 2pm – 3pm. The facility’s official dedication will take place at 1pm

 

 

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Old days in S.F. not so good

John Martini is an eminent local historian. He can see the past with a professional eye.

He writes about swimming at Sutro Baths, a Sunday outing in the park in Victorian times, how the Golden Gate looked before the bridge, the life of the soldiers at the Presidio long ago.

So, I asked him once, “Would you like to live in the past?”

“No,” he said. “No. But I would like to take a vacation there.”

He said he’d like to perhaps spend two weeks in San Francisco at the turn of the last century. “I’d head for my great-grandfather’s bar in North Beach,” Martini said. “He was a partner in a grocery store with a bar in the back on Broadway. His name was Giuseppe Martini, and he was born in Lucca, Italy.

“I’d sit back and watch the scene, be a fly on the wall. I don’t know what I would say to him, though. You can’t affect the future by going into the past.”

Martini smiled at the thought of seeing his own ancestor as a young man. Time travel is always intriguing.

One of the problems, though, is that a trip back in time might be a shock. The Good Old Days weren’t so good. “Living in the past in San Francisco would be great if you were white and male,” Martini said. “It would be a lot different if you were Chinese, or Mexican, or one of the tiny number of black people who lived here.”

Women couldn’t vote, much less become U.S. senators or corporate executives. Their lives were constricted in a hundred ways. Prostitution was open in San Francisco, and tolerated. It was one of the rackets operated under a corrupt city government.

The smartest man in the city was political boss Abe Ruef, a native San Franciscan who was one of the most promising young men ever to graduate from UC Berkeley. The big corporations bribed him, and he paid off the mayor and the supervisors.

If you think the streets are dirty now, think about old San Francisco, say just before the 1906 earthquake, when the streets were littered with the droppings of thousands of horses that pulled the freight wagons and delivery trucks.

Garbage was routinely dumped in the bay, and so was sewage. McCovey Cove at the site of the present ballpark was an open sewer. Despite its healthful climate, San Francisco was famously unhealthy. In 1900, there was even an outbreak of bubonic plague in the city, but the news was suppressed. It was bad for business.

Health insurance? Unemployment insurance? There wasn’t any.

People worked harder and were paid less than they are now. There was a huge income disparity between the rich and poor – and serious trouble was always on the horizon.

There were violent strikes and riots: Five people were killed in a 1901 teamsters strike; 31 were killed and over 1,100 injured during a streetcar strike in 1907; and in 1916, a terrorist bomb set off during the city’s largest parade left 10 dead and 40 injured. The district attorney framed two labor leaders for the bombing and they served time in San Quentin.

San Francisco was not the tolerant place it became later. It had an ugly edge.

You can still find people of a certain age in Chinatown who will tell you about being beaten up for crossing Broadway into North Beach. It took riots and sit-ins to get the city’s large hotels and auto dealers to share good jobs with minority workers – and that was in the ’60s, not long before the Summer of Love.

The city’s gay community operated in the shadows; police raids on gay bars were common. There was a certain agreed-upon standard in San Francisco, and the cops enforced it.

And yet San Francisco was always The City, even in its ugly moods. It always had something special. It attracted people like Mark Twain and George Sterling, the poet who saw stars at the end of the streets, and William Saroyan, who thought every block had a story. It has changed beyond belief and sometimes for the better.

The old San Francisco would be a great place to visit, but I don’t think most of us would want to live there. For people of this generation, these are the good old days.

Carl Nolte is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. His column appears every Sunday. E-mail: cnolte@sfchronicle.com

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Project Open Hand Expands Services, Launches Food = Medicine Pilot Study

projectopen3By Kevin Winge

For nearly 30 years, Project Open Hand has been here for our community.

In the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic, founder Ruth Brinker prepared healthy dinners for seven men who were dying of AIDS. On the day of the Loma Prieta earthquake, Project Open Hand began serving clients in Alameda County. In 1998, when the Salvation Army lost its contract to provide meals to seniors because it didn’t comply with San Francisco’s domestic partners law, Project Open Hand stepped up. When women with breast cancer told us that they needed nutritious meals, we started serving them as well.

Since 1985, Project Open Hand has prepared and delivered more than 16 million life-sustaining meals to sick and elderly neighbors. We continue to provide our signature “meals with love” to people with HIV, breast cancer and seniors. And now, once again, we are stepping up to do more.

This summer, we’re expanding our grocery and meal services to serve people living with acute symptoms of more than ten additional disease diagnoses, including diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and hepatitis C, among others. With this expansion, we are using the skills we gained through almost 30 years of helping our clients survive and thrive and leveraging our core strength: providing the healthiest meals possible for people in the Bay Area with the greatest medical need for good nutrition.

Like all nonprofit organizations, Project Open Hand doesn’t exist in a bubble. External forces—like the economy, politics, medical advances and changes in our healthcare system—all impact our work. As an example, with new medical innovations, people with HIV are living longer and managing the disease instead of dying from it. We no longer need to provide meals for those who are in good health, and we want to provide meals for those most in need. This changing landscape means that some of the clients we currently serve, those who are healthier, may no longer qualify for services.

projectopen2For clients who are no longer eligible, we will refer and transition them to other food resources in our community, including our Senior Lunch Program located in 12 sites across San Francisco. And for those HIV+ clients who need us and are still struggling with the severe symptoms of this disease, we remain committed and continue to stand by their sides.

To support our expansion, we are working hard to demonstrate the value of our nutrition services, so we can continue to attract new partners and funding. To that end, we recently launched our Food = Medicine Pilot Study in collaboration with researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) AIDS Research Institute.

Approximately 60 study participants with HIV and/or diabetes will have 100% of their nutritional needs met by Project Open Hand. In addition to nutritious meals, participants will receive intensive case management and enhanced nutritional counseling and education. The UCSF research team will monitor participants’ physical and mental health, frequency of doctor and emergency room visits, adherence to therapy and medical costs. If successful, this study will demonstrate what Project Open Hand has known anecdotally for three decades, that Food = Medicine.

By demonstrating the healthcare benefits of our nutrition services, the pilot study will enable Project Open Hand to seize new funding opportunities, continue to expand our services, and explore the opportunities for reimbursement under the Affordable Care Act—but most of all, serve our clients better.

projectopenProject Open Hand will be here for as long as there is a need for our life-sustaining nutrition. As we have done since Ruth Brinker prepared and delivered those very first meals, we will continue to depend on the community to realize our vision: “No one who is sick or elderly in our community will go without nutritious meals with love.”

Kevin Winge is the Executive Director of Project Open Hand.

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