We’re taking a short summer break


By Tim Redmond

48hills is taking a short summer vacation break. Since we’re such a small operation, with minimal staff, the only way we (well, I) get any time off with my kids is to put things on hold for two weeks.

We will be back after Aug. 1, with lots of big news – and this fall, a redesign of the site to make it look more like a newspaper, which it is, and less like a blog.

We’ve been at this a little more than six months. I launched the site as a digital daily in December, and the response has been amazing. I am so thrilled with the level of community support we’ve gotten – while I’m working on selling ads and (I hope) getting grants, so far 48hills exists because of you. We are, at this point, entirely funded by donations.

The IRS has approved our 501 c 3 application, so all contributions are tax deductible.

We’ve accomplished a lot in a little time. Since the launch, here are some of the big stories we’ve done:

We did the reporting legwork and broke the story of the sex scandal at St. Francis church (which the Chron’s Matier and Ross picked up with no credit)

We did the interview and investigation that became a statewide story and led to changes in the Victim’s Assistance Comp. rules

We exposed the “handshake deal” that allowed Google buses to avoid parking tickets

We investigated how Airbnb got a pass from the city for so many years

We helped sponsor a major forum on housing issues, leading to this

We investigated the stunning story of a local golf club that still discriminates against women

We broke the story of how much the city is losing in tax deferrals

We broke the news about the “other” Twitter tax break

We did the definitive story on the collapse of a building owned by a friend of the mayor

We offered ways that the tech community can be part of the solution

We exposed how the DA was trying a 14 year old as an adult (on flimsy evidence)

We examined whether San Francisco needs a new jail

We broke the story of the gunshots that killed Alex Nieto

We exposed how the Giants are getting a sweetheart deal on the waterfront

We revealed the inside story of the campaign to build luxury housing at 16th and Mission

We skewered some of the dumbest and most ridiculous ideas of the local tech world

We showed how the city is letting developers off the hook for millions in taxes and fees

We exposed how the city is allowing office space to destroy blue-collar jobs

We were all over the City College story

We explained why the city is in a housing crisis and why building more market-rate housing won’t solve the problem

We exposed the real story behind a chain store moving into the Castro

We showed how the allies of the mayor were trying to oust a good police commissioner

We exposed Uber’s tax-avoidance strategy

And so, so much more.

And all the while, Caitlin Donohue told you the best and most fun things to do every day.

My goal is to turn 48hills into a sustainable digital daily newspaper, and we’re off to a great start. See you in a couple weeks.


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Workers get new contract at AT&T Park

Local 2 leader Mike Casey says the new contract at AT&T Park is a great deal for workers. Photo by Luke Thomas/Fog City Journal

Local 2 leader Mike Casey says the new contract at AT&T Park is a great deal for workers. Photo by Luke Thomas/Fog City Journal


By Tim Redmond

JULY 18, 2014 – In a major victory for local labor, the hotel workers’ union has reached a deal with the concession company at AT&T park, ending a boycott and giving workers significant pay and benefit hikes.

Members of UNITE HERE Local 2 approved the deal by more than 90 percent, union President Mike Casey told me today.

“They’re just delighted. It’s a great contract,” Casey said.

The contract with Centerplate, which contacts with the Giants to serve food and drinks at the ballpark, gives workers raises of up to $1.40 an hour the first year and 40 cents the next. It ties future wages to the pay increases at the city big unionized hotels. Continue reading

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City Beat: Newsom sues SF. Judge smacks down ACCJC. And did the mayor really say “Supervisor Asshole?”

The Gavster, suing his own city (well, former city, he lives in Marin now)

The Gavster, suing his own city (well, former city, he lives in Marin now)

By Tim Redmond

JULY 17, 2014 — Here’s the most interesting thing about the State Lands Commission suing San Francisco: Gavin Newsom is, in essence, suing the city that gave him a political career.

Newsom is one of three officials who sit on the SLC, along with the state controller and the governor’s finance director. And while nobody from the SLC is returning my phone calls, I don’t think the agency can launch this sort of litigation at the staff level.

Which means at some point, unless he was the only “no,” Newsom must have voted to sue the city that he ran as mayor for seven years.

Of course, we know that Newsom was a pal of the developers who want to turn the waterfront into Miami Beach for the Rich because he was all over their ads. But this goes to another level.

Louise Renne, the former city attorney, told me that she thinks the position the SLC is taking in its complaint is “shocking.” Continue reading

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The End of the Death Penalty in California?

Not a liberal -- but he may have just ended the death penalty in CA

Not a liberal — but he may have just ended the death penalty in CA

By Tim Redmond

JULY 17, 2014 – A conservative federal judge from Southern California may have done what progressives have been trying to do for years: end the death penalty in California.

The July 16th order by Judge Cormac J. Carney, in the case of Jones v. Chappell, is an astonishing document. It takes no position on the morality of the death penalty, or whether it’s inherently cruel for the state to take a life. But it repeatedly spanks the State of California for turning the process of executions into such an unpredictable fiasco that inmates – and the families of victims – have no idea whether, or when, a condemned man will die.

“Arbitrary factors, instead of legitimate ones … determine whether an individual will actually be executed,” the judge wrote. And that has resulted in a system that serves no penological purpose.”

And while supporters of the death penalty say (as Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, did on Forum this morning) that the problems Carney identified can be fixed with state Legislation (if only the damn liberals would allow it), he’s wrong. Continue reading

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City Hall Gives Money to Evil Landlord’s Pet Charity

Urban Green has been evicting tenants -- and is linked to a nonprofit that's supposed to help tenants

Urban Green has threatened to evict a 98-year-old tenant — and is linked to a nonprofit that’s supposed to help seniors and low-income people

By the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project

Urban Green, the real estate investment firm, has received a lot of bad press lately. By sending an eviction notice to 98-year-old Mary Phillips and displacing hundreds of tenants throughout the city, the company seems to exemplify a cold-hearted speculative industry that runs roughshod over the city.

Fortunately, there is a network of altruistic nonprofits fighting to keep long-term San Franciscans in good housing.


Not so fast. It turns out that one local nonprofit, Rebuilding Together SF, actually enjoys Urban Green’s support and has flattered one of its principals, Kevin M Skiles, by putting him on the board. To complete the developer-nonprofit-politician circle, in 2012 the Mayor’s Office of Housing awarded Rebuilding Together SF $100,000 while Skiles was Board president. Continue reading

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Airbnb rebrands neoliberal bullshit as genitalia-shaped bullshit


By Julia Carrie Wong

JULY 16, 2014 — Corporate branding is always bullshit, but tech industry branding is a special breed of bullshit, if for no other reason than its pretentions to being something more than straight-up bullshit. Silicon Valley branding reads like the product of a mind caught between the revolutionary fervor of an alternative summer break spent digging a well in Guatemala and the WASPy reticence instilled while spending every other summer learning the value of a dollar by caddying for dad’s business partners. Everyone wants to turn a profit, but no one wants to admit it. The result is cutthroat capitalists who think they are changing the world.

48hillsjuliawongToday, Airbnb, one of San Francisco’s biggest “sharing economy” successes, launched a major rebranding effort, that includes a new website, redesigned rental listings, and a new logo. The theme of Airbnb’s new image is “belonging”; the tagline is “belong anywhere.” In a largely nonsensical blog post, CEO Brian Chesky explains that he and his co-founders Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia “did some soul-searching over the last year” to arrive at the idea of the “Bélo: the universal symbol of belonging.”

Unfortunately for Airbnb, the “Bélo” looks markedly vaginal, and the entire tech community rushed to twitter to make jokes to that effect. Continue reading

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Let’s not elect our elected officials. That’s what the supes said today

Sup. John Avalos could only get five votes for a basic good-government proposal

Sup. John Avalos could only get five votes for a basic good-government proposal

By Tim Redmond

JULY 15, 2014 – The supervisors rejected a plan today that would have allowed voters to fill vacancies on the Board of Supervisors and in the Mayor’s Office.

The “Let’s Elect our Elected Officials” measure went down by one vote, 5-6. The narrowest possible majority decided that it’s better to allow the mayor to appoint supervisors and supervisors to appoint a mayor. Continue reading

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