Don’t be a Stanford asshole

David Talbot talks about different world visions for young educated workers from The Farm.

From Ken Kesey to class warfare: A strange trip between SF and Palo Alto

From Ken Kesey to class warfare: A strange trip between SF and Palo Alto

JANUARY 26, 2015 — Editor’s note: Early Sunday morning, I made my way down to the second block of Townsend Street to join in a 24-hour event put on by Pando Daily called “don’t be awful.” The webcast was set up in the Braintree office, a classic wood-and-stone Soma tech nest with open spaces, a big kitchen, lots of takeout food, and a keg of beer.

I talked about community, about what it means for a bunch of better-paid people to move into a place where low-income people already live – and why it’s not okay for the newcomers to force out the longtime residents.

And then I laid out some of my rules for Not Being Awful, starting with: Don’t ever move into an apartment, TIC, condo, or house that has been cleared by an eviction. Don’t assume that because you have more money that you have to right to take someone else’s home away. Don’t treat an existing community like your personal playground.

Afterward, one of the event organizers thanked me for coming, even though, she said, “I disagree with almost everything you said.” Seriously? So it’s okay to evict poor people to make room for new rich people? Is that what the SF Chron talked about today with a story called “psychology studies suggest rising wealth means more jerks in SF?

Then I got an email from David Talbot, the founder of Salon, the author of Season of the Witch, a longtime SF writer and activist, with a copy of a speech he just delivered at Stanford. It sums thing up pretty nicely. I’ve posted the entire thing below (Tim Redmond)

By David Talbot

I would like to come here today with wondrous tales of San Francisco’s future. I would like to tell you that the liberation battles of the 1960s and ‘70s that made San Francisco the soaring capital of the human spirit were not only won – as I wrote about in “Season of the Witch” – but continue to triumph. But, instead, I come not to praise this heroic past, but to bury it. And to bring you grim tidings of the future from the City of Love. Continue reading

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The Uber model runs into the DMV

A state agency is the latest to say: Get permission first. But sharing economy companies aren’t interested in that.


By Tim Redmond

JANUARY 26, 2015 – About ten years ago, my brother and I were at a meeting of the planning board of a small Upstate New York town where my family has owned a little piece of property since the 1920s. We were there about a water tower a developer was trying to build; another story entirely.

But what fascinated us was the parade of people who appeared before the board to ask permission for something they’d already done.

My brother’s a contractor; he goes before planning boards all the time. I’m a reporter in San Francisco, and I’ve been watching city planning for more than 30 years. We were both boggled.

In nearly every permit case we watched, over the course of about four meetings stretching over almost a year, the applicant had already built the project – without approval, typically in violation of the zoning laws. It typically went like this:

Applicant: “Yeah, I need a permit for a dock I built.”

Board chair: “Did you get a permit before you built it?”

Applicant: “No, because it doesn’t conform.” Continue reading

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What’s up with Flower Mart? Depends on whom you ask

There are differing stories, but the tenants are finally getting a say in their future

TODCO's  Flower Mart Master Plan shows flower stall on the ground floor -- an entirely new (and positive) development

The Flower Mart Master Plan shows flower stall on the ground floor — an entirely new (and positive) development

By Zelda Bronstein

JANUARY 23, 2015 — What’s up with the fight over the future of the San Francisco Flower Mart?

The answer depends on whom you’re talking to.

On Tuesday, January 20, TODCO Executive Director John Elberling, addressing a SPUR lunchtime crowd about the TODCO Group’s Central SoMa Community Plan, said that “everybody’s on board” with current plans to incorporate a new mart into a high-rise tech office project.

That surprised me. During Q & A, I asked: “Everybody’s on board?….Isn’t there a ballot initiative?”

Elberling replied that negotiations were underway, that there might be a public announcement later in the week, and that at the moment, he couldn’t say anything further. Continue reading

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PARTY RADAR: Hella Gay, Sexitude, Sleater-Kinney, Tony Humphries, Derrick May, more

The week’s choice nightlife and dance floor affairs, Jan. 21-27, 2015

Party Radar: SF Bay Area Nightlife January 21-27, 2015

Hella Gay is hella fun.

By Marke B. 

PARTY RADAR Forgive me for this quickie — I’ve been a wee bit distracted this week. But that means that I am ready to party. Yes, I will probably be at all 28 hours of this one party right here, after I funk the funk out at this other party right here.

And then I will go to all these other parties below and then I will basically die RIP. But first I will dance with you! And we will do weird things in the back room, possibly. Let’s go!

Continue reading

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Could Richmond be a model for police reform?

Officer Brandon Ruffin chats with a group of locals barbecuing in the Veteran’s Memorial Hall parking lot. (Photo by Martin Totland, courtesy of Richmond Confidential)

Officer Brandon Ruffin chats with a group of locals barbecuing in the Veteran’s Memorial Hall parking lot. (Photo by Martin Totland, courtesy of Richmond Confidential)

By Brett Murphy

Ed. Note: In the past decade, the police department in Richmond, Calif. has undergone a dramatic transformation. Spearheaded by an openly-gay and white chief in charge of policing this largely African American and Latino city, the changes are now bearing fruit, with crime down and trust between officers and the residents they are meant to protect on the rise. As departments nationwide look for ways to improve community ties in the wake of police killings in Ferguson and New York, Richmond stands as a promising template. 

JANUARY 22, 2015 — Richmond’s police department is undergoing something of a renaissance these days, thanks in part to decades of reform that have moved the department from its longstanding enforcement-driven model to one that focuses more on building trust with the public.

That transformation was thrust into the spotlight in December when an image of Chris Magnus, Richmond’s white, openly gay police chief, went viral, stirring a national response. In the image, Magnus is seen holding a “#BlackLivesMatter” sign while in full uniform at a demonstration against police brutality. The demonstration followed the acquittal of a white police officer in the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Magnus’ nine-year tenure is marked with like gestures: an extended hand to residents, viewed as enlightened by some and controversial by others.

“But the biggest challenge,” Magnus says, “has been changing the perception black community members [have toward police], those who had experienced a legacy of mistrust.” Continue reading

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Democratic Party in SF faces a question: Should Airbnb pay its back taxes?

Obama wants to end tax breaks for big corporations; will his party in SF go along?

A community protest against Airbnb, which hasn't paid some $25 million in back taxes

A community protest against Airbnb, which hasn’t paid some $25 million in back taxes

By Tim Redmond

JANUARY 22, 2015 – The San Francisco Democratic Party has moved to the right in the past couple of years, but an unusual alliance is now pushing a measure to force Airbnb to pay its back taxes – and it may leave some committee members in an embarrassing spot.

The Democratic County Central Committee measure is sponsored by Sup. David Campos, state Sen. Mark Leno, and DCCC member Megan Levitan. It’s safe to say that Campos and Levitan are often on different sides on the panel.

It’s also likely that U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has a lot of problems with Airbnb, will direct her proxy to vote for the resolution.

And Leno’s role puts him at odds with Assemblymember David Chiu, who sponsored the legislation that allows Airbnb to operate legally in the city and who strongly opposed an attempt by Campos to require the company to fork over some $25 million it owes in back taxes.

Now, at a time when President Obama is calling for higher taxes on the rich to help the middle class, how many members of the city’s Democratic Party are going to vote to let a big, wealthy company skip out on its local tax bill? Continue reading

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Why the Bay Guardian shut down

It wasn’t just the Internet or social media — a big chain that owned SF Weekly tried to kill its competitor and wound up damaging both papers beyond repair



By Tim Redmond

JANUARY 20, 2015 – Since there’s a final commemorative edition of the Bay Guardian coming out, and since there’s a lot of confusion about what happened to the paper, I’m going to take a second to give my perspective.

The tech revolution that C.W. Nevius talks about was, of course, a factor: When the Internet became the place to go for classified ads and personal/relationship seekers, alt-weeklies, which lived off those markets, were hurt.

Daily newspapers all over were hurt, too, but the dailies by then were all owned by huge corporations that could afford major losses while they figured out what to do. (Some of them still haven’t figured it out.) I personally think the model of the one giant monopoly daily in big cities is going to die fairly soon; I think we will see a proliferation of digital dailies. This one is a nonprofit; others will find other models.

Digital publications haven’t been able to attract the ad revenue that weeklies and big dailies used to get. On the other hand, delivery is much cheaper – no need to own a press or pay a press bill. No need for newsracks or distributors.

With a fraction of the revenue the Bay Guardian had in its prime, 48hills will be able to hire a similar-sized news staff and do a serious job covering the city. We’re not there yet, but we’ll get there.

But the death of the Guardian wasn’t caused by the failure of the staff to tweet enough – or just by the Internet. There are alt-weeklies all over the country that are surviving and thriving in this new era. The East Bay Express is one of them. Yeah, we made business mistakes; so does every other small business. But they weren’t fatal. Continue reading

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