<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Local News - San Francisco]]>Copyright 2019http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/localen-usThu, 21 Nov 2019 22:26:25 -0800Thu, 21 Nov 2019 22:26:25 -0800NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[Feds Offer $20,000 Reward in Deadly Orinda Shooting]]>565317831Thu, 21 Nov 2019 21:14:52 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/atf-sf-orinda-1121.jpg

Federal agents out of San Francisco late Thursday said they seized a gun connected to multiple shootings in the Bay Area during arrests they made in the deadly Halloween night shooting in Orinda.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms posted a tweet that also said it is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the shooting at an Airbnb rental that left five dead during a party at the Lucille Way home.

It was not immediately clear whether the gun seizure occurred during arrests made last week or if the agency was referring to a new arrest.

Officers from multiple agencies, including the ATF, arrested five people on Oct. 14 during raids in four Bay Area cities.

Four of those people were released from custody Monday after the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office declined to charge them.

Anyone with any information about the crime should contact ATF at 888-ATF-TIPS (888-283-8477) or by visiting www.reportit.com or through the mobile “reportit” app, available both on Google Play and the Apple App Store. All calls will remain confidential.

Photo Credit: ATF-San Francisco]]>
<![CDATA[Sailors Riding Steady Course Toward Olympics]]>565280261Thu, 21 Nov 2019 19:49:08 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/steph+and+maggie+bridge%5B1%5D.jpg

Against the backdrop of one of the world’s most scenic settings — The Golden Gate Bridge — sailors Maggie Shea and Steph Roble were bogged down in some of the worst sailing imaginable.

"This is almost as bad as it gets," Shea laughed, as the 16-foot boat languished in a rare windless morning on the famously windy San Francisco Bay. If not for a photo op, it’s unlikely the two veteran sailors would’ve even ventured out in such lackluster conditions.

"I got nothing," Roble assessed as the boat drifted.

Despite the lack of wind, Shea and Roble have plenty of force in their metaphorical sails as they head into qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The longtime competitors combined efforts years ago to compete in the 49er FX class, a two-person, high-performance sailing dinghy where each sailor has their own trapeze.

"So Steph and I have been sailing against each other — with — and against each other for sixteen years now," said Shea, who grew up sailing her grandfather’s boat on Lake Michigan.

Shea and Roble have already qualified for U.S. Sailing’s 49er FX class for the Olympic Games, but now they face two key trials to qualify themselves as the athletes to sail in it. This month, they compete in the 2019 World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand, before heading to the 2020 World Championships in Melbourne, Australia, where the final U.S. Sailing team roster will be selected.

And so the pair, who Shea describes as once "friend-emies," is traveling around the globe, practicing in numerous locations, such as the San Francisco Bay, to get a feel for the myriad of wind conditions they’d likely face in Enoshima, Japan — site of the 2020 Olympic sailing competition.

"It’s a huge variety," said Shea. "So we need to train in a lot of different places. San Francisco offers a really challenging sea state."

Well, it does on most days. It should be noted the wind that day on the bay did indeed kick up, with the pair of sailors tethering themselves in and leaning out over the bay out as the boat began to slice across the water.

"Now we’re talking," Shea shouted as the craft’s sails pulled taut.

Like Shea, Roble grew up around the sport, sailing scows on the waters of Lake Beulah, Wisconsin.

"I like to say that I started sailing right when I was born," Roble said. "My dad sailed around their lake right when I came home from the hospital with 'It’s a girl on the sail.'"

After competing against each other in high school and college, the two sailors now spend some 300 days a year together, immersed in a thick schedule of travel, practice and competition. They may sometimes bicker over things like dishes left in the sink and your typical get-on-your-nerves small stuff — but that minutiae is quickly swept aside.

"We’ve definitely learned how to be there for each other and how to be there as a team," Shea said. "We just remind ourselves there’s no one I’d rather be sailing with on this journey."

The women are unified in their boat and in their quest for making the Olympic team and sailing away with gold. The ultimate irony of their journey would be to go from competitors to sharing a tier together on the podium.

"Steph and Maggie’s teamwork, it has some history like so many of our sailing community," said U.S. Sailing head coach Luther Carpenter. "Of course at this level we’re looking for the magical compliment in the boat, both physically and how big of a goal it is in their life today."

The goal of Olympic victory looms large for Shea and Roble — it’s the North Star they navigate by — waking moments filled strategizing toward the apex of a sport that almost seems like a birthright.

As the wind finally appeared on that recent day of sailing, filling the boat’s sails, the pair seemed to communicate almost telepathically — maneuvering effortlessly around the craft’s tiny square footage as the San Francisco Bay seemed to reclaim its reputation for wind.

"It just really makes me appreciate how lucky we are to be on this journey together," Roble said as the sails flapped and the boat leaned into a sharp turn.

Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr./NBC Bay Area
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Nov. 2019 Election Results]]>564513741Wed, 06 Nov 2019 11:49:05 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/election-day-add-P1.jpg

Looking for November 5, 2019 election results in your Bay Area county?

We've compiled a list below of links to ballot information and latest election results by county.

Reminder: Polls close at 8 p.m. For results, check the election results links below AFTER 8 p.m. on election day.

You can find information on county administered elections from the California Secretary of State's election website here.

>> Ballot information  (via VotersEdge.org)
>> Latest election results from county website

>> Ballot information  (via VotersEdge.org)
>> Latest election results from county website

>> Ballot information  (via VotersEdge.org)
>> Latest election results from county website

>> Ballot information  (via VotersEdge.org)
>> Latest election results from county website

>> Ballot information  (via VotersEdge.org)
>> Latest election results from county website

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trial of Bay Area Teens for Rome Cop Slaying to Start in February]]>565278701Thu, 21 Nov 2019 08:01:08 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Teens2.jpg

The lawyer of one of the two American teenagers jailed in Rome over the slaying of a Carabinieri police officer says their trial has been fast-tracked and will begin early next year.

Craig Peters, representing Finnegan Lee Elder, said Thursday that the first hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 26.

Earlier this week, prosecutors requested a swift trial, a so-called "immediate trial" procedure.

Elder and his friend Gabriel Natale-Hjorth — both from San Francisco — were jailed in July as authorities investigated their alleged roles in the fatal stabbing of Mario Cerciello Rega.

Italian prosecutors said Elder confessed to knifing the officer during a scuffle, while Natale-Hjorth allegedly assaulted the slain officer’s partner at the end of a chain of events sparked by a drugs deal that went wrong.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: Italian Carabinieri via AP]]>
<![CDATA[Former President Obama Speaks at Salesforce's Dreamforce]]>565269961Thu, 21 Nov 2019 04:08:27 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ObamaFile.jpg

Former President Barack Obama served as keynote speaker at Salesforce's Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.

It was standing room only for the event Thursday, with some attendees spending all night in line to get a spot and hear the words of the former president.

When Obama took the stage for a conversation with Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff, they talked about everything from the state of the tech industry to the current political climate. The two even discussed how to keep America from dividing on partisan lines.

Obama during his keynote discussed what he called the top concerns for this generation: climate change, inequality, and the internet and information age. He also talked about how hard it has become to seperate fact from fiction.

Some attendees said the former president showed off a keen insight into tech companies, and stressed how important it is for a company to publically declare its values.

Obama spoke for an hour at the event before leaving for a fundraiser in the Los Altos Hills.

Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[AIDS Memorial Quilt Returns to San Francisco]]>565267162Thu, 21 Nov 2019 02:27:34 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Aids_Memorial_Quilt_Returns_to_San_Francisco.jpg

The AIDS memorial quilt, which honors the lives of over 100,000 people who died from AIDS, is moving from Atlanta to San Francisco.]]>
<![CDATA[SF Nonprofits Purchase Historic Mission District Building]]>565260711Wed, 20 Nov 2019 20:37:42 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/01032018SanFrancisco_5554516.JPG

San Francisco city officials on Wednesday celebrated the purchase of a historic building in the city's Mission District by several local nonprofit organizations.

The purchase of the historic Centro Social Obrero building at 2929 19th St., by the real estate holding entity 701 Alabama Consortium restores the building to nonprofit ownership.

The organizations involved in the purchase include Jamestown Community Center, the Mission Economic Development Agency and Mission Neighborhood Centers, and the Mission Language and Vocational School Inc.

The Mission Language and Vocational School has operated out of the 12,902 square foot Centro Social Obrero property for the last 40 years. The new purchase will help protect and expand the services MLVS provides to low-income Latino and immigrant families, services such as career counseling, language and vocational training and job placement.

"The acquisition of this property shows us what's possible when we all work together. Our city wouldn't be the same without community resources like the Mission Language and Vocational School, and now these organizations will be able to offer even more services and resources for San Franciscans," Mayor London Breed said in a statement.

In addition to housing the MLVS, the building also houses the Jamestown Community Center, Five Keys Charter School, the Roadmap to Peace Initiative and the Bay Area Community Resource Access Center.

"The effort to preserve this space has been complex, but today's announcement ensures our communities will be able to benefit from these incredible organizations for years to come," Assemblymember David Chiu, D-San Francisco, said.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen, whose district includes the Mission District, said, "By taking complete ownership of this building, the nonprofit organizations that make up the 701 Alabama Consortium are sending a clear message that they are not going anywhere, and will continue investing in the futures of our most vulnerable families in the Mission and throughout the city."

The purchase was made possible thanks to the mayor's Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative, which provided $1 million in early funding as well as technical assistance. In addition, the entity of organizations was able to obtain a loan from the Bank of San Francisco to successfully purchase the $4.75 million property.

"This last year and a half, the community worked hard to save this space and programs and it became very personal to me," said Tracy Brown-Gallardo, the MLVS's board chair.

MLVS was first founded in 1968 and, since then, it has helped thousands of graduates become economically self sufficient through teaching English and employment training.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Drive Behind Occupation of Alcatraz Lingers 50 Years Later]]>565226102Wed, 20 Nov 2019 10:57:04 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_19323004364336a.jpg

On a chilly November night 50 years ago, a 7-year-old Peter Bratt, his four siblings and their single mother left their San Francisco home for the pier. From there, they joined a group of indigenous activists on a small boat, bobbing in fog and rolling over what felt like tidal waves.

They eventually landed at their destination — Alcatraz Island. At first, all the young boy could see was a vast, “magical” playground. He and other children roamed the beaches, literally blazing their own trails. They explored buildings that once housed prisoners, including Native Americans incarcerated there nearly a century earlier.

Despite his age, Bratt quickly comprehended that the adventure was the start of a movement. The adults banded together to take back a body of land that they felt didn’t belong to the U.S. government to begin with.

“I remember seeing these young Indian people from all over the country shouting to the world, ‘Red Power! You’re on Indian land,’” said Bratt, 57, the older brother of actor Benjamin Bratt. “Whoa, that was a game changer. I felt like I was finally home.”

The 19-month occupation of Alcatraz, which started Nov. 20, 1969, is widely seen as a seminal event that reinvigorated tribes to organize in the face of a U.S. government steamrolling over their land, their rights and their identities. Many Native American activists today say they are still struggling to have their voices not only heard but respected. They point to recent examples like their ongoing fight against a proposed oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota that they argued would contaminate water. President Donald Trump’s administration approved a final permit for it early in his term.

Alcatraz was the beginning of something, according to Bratt. His mother, who is indigenous to Peru, was among those keeping the momentum going. Their San Francisco home became a haven for Native American activists who were fighting for issues including sovereignty and treaty recognition. It also provided heroes for younger Natives beyond figures in history books.

“I think movements and events like Alcatraz and the Wounded Knee standoff, I think they gave us new role models and new warriors to look up to,” said Bratt, who visited Alcatraz earlier this month.

The 21-acre (8-hectare) rock in the middle of San Francisco Bay was a military prison before it served as a maximum-security federal penitentiary. Some of its earlier prisoners included 19 Hopi men incarcerated in 1895 after resisting cultural assimilation, according to the National Park Service website.

Occupiers argued they had a right to Alcatraz under an 1868 treaty the U.S. government signed with the Sioux that said abandoned government land would be returned to indigenous people. After the federal prison there closed in 1963, it was declared surplus property, a necessary step in selling it or transferring ownership.

Donations came in from around the world, and the occupiers set up a clinic, a live broadcast and a school system for children on the island.

But the coalition of tribes knew it likely wouldn’t get what it wanted: the deed to Alcatraz, a museum, cultural center and university built there, sustained federal funding and a seat at the table in administering national parks.

Over time, the occupiers dwindled. Students returned to college. One of the main organizers, the late Richard Oakes, left after a few weeks when his daughter was killed in an accidental fall from a stairwell. Infighting among demonstrators created factions, and Alcatraz eventually became more of a place for transients looking for food and shelter. Armed federal officials removed the last of the occupiers in June 1971.

Still, the occupation marked a pivotal moment — the start of Indian activism during the civil rights movement, said John Echohawk, founder of the Native American Rights Fund.

“It really kind of showed what the focus of Native American people was and, basically, our rights as sovereign nations,” he said. “Treaty rights as opposed to civil rights, equal rights that the other minorities were pushing.”

It was to be a continuous push that exists today through protests and court battles centered on treaty rights. Under a list of things to do while on Alcatraz, the occupiers wrote: “Set stage for next action! (Win one battle first ... then move again!!)”

After the occupation, American Indian Movement members asserted treaty rights in the takeover of a U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs building in the nation’s capital, at the site of an 1890 massacre on a South Dakota reservation, and on the road as hundreds of tribes caravanned across the U.S. in what was called the “Trail of Broken Treaties.”

The Alcatraz occupation also helped spur a shift in federal policy toward self-determination, allowing tribes to take over federal programs on their land — and a shift away from policies that sought to rid them of their culture, language and traditions.

Although then-President Richard Nixon increased the budget for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, it’s underfunded today. The agency that oversees schools, police forces and road maintenance on reservations can’t meet the needs of the more than 2 million Native Americans across the country. Its funding also isn’t shielded during government shutdowns, and neither is the Indian Health Service, responsible for primary health care for Native Americans.

Those services are supposed to be guaranteed through various treaties, tribes say.

LaNada War Jack, a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, was in her 20s when she helped plan the Alcatraz takeover. She points to recent decisions by the federal government to relax environmental laws and policies that don’t fully allow Native Americans to oversee public safety on their reservations as signs these battles are ongoing, and much work remains to be done.

“We’re really digressing rapidly, and we need to speak up and say something again and try to get some unity and some support and wake up the people in America,” she said.

Robert Free also participated in the occupation, leading the raising of a teepee that became a demonstrators’ meeting spot. He revisited the island over Veterans Day weekend.

Just like 50 years ago, Peter Bratt helped Free put up a teepee with the help of several Native teens. It will remain there until early January. But Free wants it to be a permanent monument to the beacon it became for subsequent protests.

“The Alcatraz occupation drew people from across the country and inspired people across the north continent and south continent and central America,” said Free, now 70. “All these people came and gave us lost souls direction. We were rediscovering ourselves.”

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: Eric Risberg/AP]]>
<![CDATA[SF Judge Strikes Down Religious Refusal Rule]]>565203202Wed, 20 Nov 2019 01:40:31 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/judge+gavel+generic.jpg

A U.S. judge in San Francisco on Tuesday struck down a new federal rule that would have allowed health care workers ranging from ambulance drivers to receptionists to refuse to provide care for religious reasons.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup said the rule announced by the administration of President Donald Trump in May went beyond the protections given in congressional laws to doctors and nurses who object to providing abortions and other procedures.

Under the new rule, Alsup wrote, "an ambulance driver would be free, on religious or moral grounds, to eject a patient en route to a hospital upon learning that the patient needed an emergency abortion.

Alsup is the third federal judge in the nation to strike down the rule. Similar decisions were issued by judges in New York City and Spokane, Wash., on Nov. 6 and 7.

Alsup ruled in three lawsuits filed by the city of San Francisco, the state of California and Santa Clara County together with a group of doctors and clinics.

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra said, "Today's court ruling blocked the president's heartless, unlawful attempt to restrict the healthcare rights of women, LGBTQ individuals, and countless others."

The rule would have denied federal health, welfare and education funds to state and local governments that didn't certify compliance.

California could have risked losing $77.6 billion and San Francisco and Santa Clara County each $1 billion annually in federal funding, according to a brief they filed.

If not blocked, the measure would have gone into effect on Nov. 22.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Tetra images RF]]>
<![CDATA[SF Approves Emergency Water System Extension for Fires]]>565200732Tue, 19 Nov 2019 22:12:52 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Generic+Fire+Geneirc+Hydrant+NE+Philly.jpg

San Francisco Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously declared a State of Urgency, calling on the city to expand its Emergency Firefighting Water System to ensure the entire city is protected in the event of a major earthquake or fire.

Currently, the water system only covers about one third of the city, leaving neighborhoods in the city's west and south sides vulnerable.

"Recently, we've experienced multiple earthquakes and fires across the Bay Area and we must be ready in every neighborhood when the big one strikes," said Supervisor Gordon Mar, the legislation's author.

"The current pace is not enough and we must expedite the expansion of this life saving infrastructure across the city," he said.

The city's emergency water system was first created after the 1906 earthquake. Comprised of a 135-mile-long network of high-pressure pipelines and two saltwater pumping stations, the network, however, covers mostly the city's northeast side.

Neighborhoods not protected include the Richmond and Sunset districts, the Bayview, Hunters Point, Visitacion Valley, Oceanview, Ingleside and Merced Heights, among others.

The legislation is in response to a Civil Grand Jury report, released back in July, that recommended that the city come up with a plan by the end of 2020 to extend the emergency water system to all neighborhoods before 2043.

In 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey predicted a 72 percent chance of a 6.7-magnitude earthquake striking the Bay Area by 2043.

Separately, on Tuesday, Supervisor Hillary Ronen introduced legislation to create the first ever American Indian Cultural District.

The district would be located within the city's Mission and Mission Dolores neighborhoods and would be bounded by Sanchez Street to the

east, Folsom Street to the west, 14th Street to the north and 17th Street to the south.

The area contains several spaces, program resources and services for Native Americans, including the Native American Health Center at 160 Capp St., the Friendship House Association of American Indians at 56 Julian St., the Indian Education Program at Sanchez Elementary School at 325 Sanchez St. and the International Indian Treaty Council at 2940 16th St.

"Cultural Districts are one of the most important tools we as a city have to proactively strengthen the cultural identities of neighborhoods and communities that face the pressure of gentrification and displacement," she said.

"There are few communities in the country that have experienced displacement as violently and as profoundly as American Indian people, and I am proud to support this community in securing the resources necessary to help protect their cherished cultural assets," she said.

"It's important to remember that San Francisco is an original home of American Indian people. Their village, homes and sacred sites are within the proposed cultural district," Helen Waukazoo, CEO of the Friendship House, said. "In the last half century, with the arrival of American Indians into urban areas, San Francisco's Mission District became a home base for a thriving Native American community. It is fitting that the cultural district be established in an area that carries such a strong historic and current significance to our community."

Photo Credit: NBC10 - George Spencer]]>
<![CDATA[Dreamforce Kicks Off in San Francisco]]>565192782Tue, 19 Nov 2019 20:31:01 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Dreamforce_Kicks_Off_in_San_Francisco.jpg

"Dreamforce" by Salesforce is here. The massive convention that shuts down streets in San Francisco kicked off Tuesday, but with a little drama. Scott Budman reports.]]>
<![CDATA[SFPD Officers File Hunter's Point Shipyard Lawsuit]]>565149732Tue, 19 Nov 2019 06:44:50 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/hunters_point_0913_4213762.JPG

Hundreds of current and former police officers in San Francisco have filed a lawsuit involving the Hunter's Point Shipyard, saying they were exposed to unsafe levels of hazardous materials when they worked in a SFPD building located at the old shipyard.

Almost 400 former and current officers and staff with the department along with around 150 spouses and partners have joined the lawsuit that was filed in federal court in San Francisco against a company called Tetra Tech and two of its subsidiaries. The U.S. Navy hired Tetra Tech to clean up radiation at the old shipyard.

The suit alleges Tetra Tech mishandled the contaminated soil, was fraudulent in its cleanup and falsified records. The officers and others allege that two people died as a result and others have chronic health problems.

A Tetra Tech spokesman told the San Francisco Chronicle that the cleanup "was done properly and to the standards of the contracts with the Navy" and said the allegations in the lawsuit "are without merit."

Earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department sued Tetra Tech, accusing the engineering company of submitting false billing claims to the Navy that were based on falsified soil and building test data in its cleanup. Back then, a Tetra Tech spokesman called the claims misleading and blamed two rogue employees.

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit has been reporting on Hunter's Point and the cleanup for years. For more, click here.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[San Jose, SF Lead US in Percentage of Million-Dollar Homes]]>565125242Mon, 18 Nov 2019 22:49:39 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sj-million-home-1118.jpg

The two cities with the highest percentage of million-dollar homes in the U.S. are in the Bay Area.

According to finance company Lending Tree, San Jose is at the top with 54% of homes in the seven-figure-or-higher range. No. 2 is San Francisco at 42%.

With tech jobs and tech salaries rising, the average home price has been rising in Silicon Valley, to the point where, as of now, the majority of houses in the Capital of Silicon Valley are being valued at a $1 million or more.

Britainy Carriles pretty much sums up what young people feel when they find out they’re living in the city with so many expensive homes.

"Like, the chance of someone my age right now, being married and having their own place is not feasible," Carriles said.

To put the statistic in perspective, only 6% of homes nationwide eclipse the million-dollar mark.

"People want to live in a nice area, they want to be close to their job, they want to have a nice downtown, and they can afford it, working at Facebook or Google or Apple," said Holly Barr, real estate agent with Sereno Group.

But for those who don’t work in tech, such a high percentage of seven-figure houses can be daunting.

"It’s a very difficult time for average people to find houses," said Robert Chapman Wood, professor of strategic management at San Jose State. "Lots of really decent people living in cars and campers."

As for the remainder of million-dollar list, suffice it to say Los Angeles came in a distant third at 19%.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[MAP: Areas Affected by Midweek PG&E Power Shutoffs]]>565109802Mon, 18 Nov 2019 23:39:10 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/PGEShutoffNov20.jpg

PG&E is shutting off power Wednesday to customers in portions of the North Bay and other parts of Northern California due to heightened fire danger.

Here's a map of the areas expected to be impacted by the outages:

Photo Credit: PG&E
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[California Sues E-Cigarette Maker Juul Over Ads, Youth Sales]]>565101002Mon, 18 Nov 2019 10:23:15 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/JuulGeneric1.jpg

California on Monday sued the nation’s biggest e-cigarette maker, alleging that Juul Labs deliberately marketed and sold its flavored nicotine products to teenagers.

The lawsuit from California’s attorney general is the latest legal action against Juul, the multi-billion dollar vaping startup that has been widely blamed for helping spark the teen vaping craze.

California is the second state to sue the company, following a North Carolina lawsuit in May. Illinois, Massachusetts and several other states are also investigating the company.

A Juul spokesman said the company’s intended customers are adult smokers, adding "we do not intend to attract underage users."

Under intense pressure, the company has suspended its U.S. advertising and halted sales of all but two of its flavors, menthol and tobacco. Additionally, the company shuttered its social media accounts, tightened age verification for online sales and replaced its CEO.

San Francisco-based Juul is the best-selling e-cigarette brand in the U.S controlling roughly two-thirds of the retail market.

The lawsuit from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra argues that Juul’s past marketing efforts online and in major U.S. cities used bright colors and youthful models to attract underage users. Federal law bans sales to those under 18.

California officials said they are seeking money to help pay for anti-vaping advertisements.

"Juul ran big tobacco’s playbook and the results were predictable — millions of teens and young Americans now use their product," said Becerra, at a Sacramento press conference announcing the lawsuit. "In California, we will not allow kids to be lured in by deceptive practices."

The lawsuit also alleges that Juul previously:


  • failed to adequately verify customers’ ages and identities on its website
  • shipped products to users who gave fake names, such as "Beer Can"
  • distributed free products at concerts and festivals that did not include a mandatory warning label


The lawsuit came as White House officials said President Donald Trump is backing away from a plan to remove most vaping flavors from the market. The officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly, said Trump is concerned the flavor ban could alienate voters he needs to win re-election.

"We’re not going to wait for the federal government." Becerra said.

Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. In the latest government survey, 1 in 4 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the previous month, despite federal law banning sales to those under 18.

E-cigarettes typically heat a solution that contains nicotine, which makes cigarettes and e-cigarettes addictive.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[PG&E Boss Says It Wasn’t Fully Ready for California Outages]]>565087272Mon, 18 Nov 2019 05:39:45 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BillJohnson.jpg

The head of Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. told angry California lawmakers Monday that the nation’s largest electric utility wasn’t fully prepared for the effects of its unprecedented outages last month even as it plans to shut off power to more than half a million people again this week to prevent wildfires.

Lawmakers wanted answers from Bill Johnson and executives from the state’s other two investor-owned utilities about the shutoffs last month that caused life-saving medication to spoil, businesses to lose money and communications networks to go dark.

PG&E CEO Bill Johnson blamed his company’s poor response to the blackouts affecting millions of people partly on a sense of complacency after a much smaller outage went well earlier this year.

"We weren’t as well prepared as we thought, and we needed to give a little more attention — a lot more attention — to impacts after we shut the power off," Johnson said. "I do think as things went on, we got better at each one of these."

Lawmakers were skeptical, venting residents’ pent-up frustration at the company that is trying to emerge from bankruptcy after its outdated equipment has sparked devastating wildfires in recent years.

Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener said he believed PG&E had "forfeited its right to operate as an investor-owned utility."

State Sen. Bill Dodd told Johnson that an Oct. 9 shutoff was "a big 'screw you' to your customers."

"That has really created among the Legislature and among your customers a real trust issue," Dodd said.

Meanwhile, people in Northern California were bracing for more outages. PG&E has started notifying customers in parts of 22 counties that it may turn off electricity Wednesday because of strong winds that could spark wildfires.

The blackout is expected to affect 660,000 people in the San Francisco suburbs, Sierra Nevada foothills, wine country and elsewhere.

Johnson said PG&E has struggled to respond to the growing threat of wildfires over its coverage area of more than 70,000 square miles. In 2012, he said less than 15% of its power lines traversed areas at high risk for wildfires. Just seven years later, that’s grown to more than 50%.

The state’s two other investor-owned utilities — San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison — also have turned off power this year. But their shutoffs have affected far fewer people and been much shorter.

Caroline Winn, San Diego Gas & Electric chief operating officer, said the company’s power outages have averaged about 24 hours, in part because it has upgraded its equipment to more narrowly tailor shutoffs.

Johnson told lawmakers that PG&E has spent $30 billion over the last 10 years improving its electrical network. He also said the company recently inspected its vast network of power lines and other equipment for repairs and replacement. The company has plans to install "microgrids," or backup power sources, for isolated areas to help keep power running during a shutoff.

"We do not expect an annual repeat of what we went through this October," Johnson said. "That just cannot happen again."

But lawmakers were skeptical. Democratic Sen. Bill Monning noted the company is facing potential damages of up to $30 billion for a series of wildfires in 2017 and 2018, including the most devastating wildfire in state history that destroyed roughly 19,000 buildings and killed 85 people.

Monning said PG&E has not buried its power lines in fire-prone areas to "save money for shareholders." He did note that if the company decided to bury one-quarter of its power lines in wildfire-prone areas, it would cost roughly $15 billion.

"I think you will see us undergrounding considerably more of our system," Johnson said. "Not so much because of the liability, but because it’s the right thing to do given the circumstances."

Preemptive power shutoffs are not new to California, but the scope of those by PG&E this year have been unprecedented. The company has more than 5 million customers in Northern California.

Lawmakers have set a June 30 deadline for PG&E to emerge from bankruptcy or else forfeit participation in a fund designed to help cover damages from future wildfires. But negotiations have bogged down as shareholders and creditors battle in bankruptcy court over the future of the company.

A federal bankruptcy judge has appointed a mediator to try to resolve the case. But Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has threatened to intervene if the company can’t reach an agreement by June 30, including a potential state takeover.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SF Officials Introduce Plan to Install More Bike Racks]]>565086372Mon, 18 Nov 2019 05:15:56 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BikeRack1.jpg

San Francisco District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority announced a plan on Monday morning to introduce more bike racks across the city.

The introduction of the plan started with the installation of a new bike rack in the Castro at the intersection of 16th and Sanchez streets, city officials said.

Officials with Mandelman's office said the city and MTA have teamed up to add 100 new bike racks across the city per month.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Vandal Caught on Camera Defacing SF Ice Cream Shop]]>565079172Sun, 17 Nov 2019 21:54:01 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Vandal_Caught_on_Camera_Defacing_SF_Ice_Cream_Shop.jpg

An ice cream shop owner in San Francisco's Mission district is hoping to track down a vandal who caused thousands of dollars of damage to his storefront. The suspect used some kind of acid to deface the windows and was even bold enough to take pictures of the damage with his cellphone. Sergio Quintana reports.]]>
<![CDATA[SF Leaders Honor Traffic Collision Victims in Memorial Walk]]>565039632Sat, 16 Nov 2019 10:36:13 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/179*120/traffic-beltway.jpg

San Francisco City leaders will join survivors of traffic collisions and loved ones of victims killed in traffic collisions on Sunday for a memorial walk.

The walk is in honor of the city's fifth annual World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims and is being organized by pedestrian advocacy group Walk San Francisco and San Francisco Bay Area families for Safe Streets.

The event is set to start at 3 p.m. with a rally outside City Hall in which speakers like Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Interim Director Tom Maguire, and Supervisors Norman Yee, Rafael Mandelman and Matt Haney will take the stage, among others.

Afterward, at 3:45 p.m., the 1.25-mile memorial walk will commence, taking participants through the city's Tenderloin neighborhood, passing through a handful of fatal crash sites.

The walk will culminate at 4:30 p.m. with a gathering at the Tenderloin Museum at 398 Eddy Street.

Walk San Francisco officials are calling on city leaders to address traffic safety, including finding ways to get drivers to reduce speeds on city streets.

This year alone, 26 people have been killed in traffic-related collisions throughout the city.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Planned Parenthood Gets Millions in Compensatory Damages]]>565042262Sat, 16 Nov 2019 13:25:54 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-630422342.png

A federal judge in San Francisco on Friday awarded Planned Parenthood Federation nearly $2.3 million in compensatory and punitive damages from anti-abortion activists who infiltrated meetings and secretly videotaped interviews.

Activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt created a phony tissue procurement company and used false identities to enter abortion care meetings and Planned Parenthood centers in 2014 and 2015. Daleiden posted excerpts of secretly taped interviews, which Planned Parenthood claims were deceptively edited, online in 2015.

The civil jury award, following a six-week trial, was levied against Daleiden; Merritt; their organization, the Center for Medical Progress; two board members; and the phony company, BioMax.

The jury found in favor of Planned Parenthood on claims of fraud, trespassing, illegal recording, racketeering and breach of contracts in which BioMax and the individuals promised to maintain confidentiality and refrain from fraud at abortion care conferences.

The damages included $870,000 in punitive damages and $469,361 in compensatory damages for Planned Parenthood's costs of changes in security and procedures and other harm. Under the federal anti-racketeering RICO law, compensatory damages will be tripled to $1,405,083, making the total award $2,275,083, according to Planned Parenthood attorney Jeremy Kamras.

Acting Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement, "We are thrilled with today's verdict. David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress intentionally waged a multi-year illegal effort to manufacture a malicious campaign against Planned Parenthood.

"The jury recognized today that those behind the campaign broke the law in order to advance their goals of banning safe, legal abortion in this country, and to prevent Planned Parenthood from serving the patients who depend on us," Johnson said.

Lawyers from the Chicago-based Thomas More Society who defended Daleiden said they plan to appeal. Society Chief Counsel Tom Brejcha said, "This case puts the constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech on trial."

Daleiden and Merritt maintained they were undercover journalists seeking to expose the alleged sale of fetal tissue resulting from abortions.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick ruled before the trial, however, that journalism was not a defense against the claims of illegal acts including fraud, trespass and secret recording.

Orrick also ruled in advance that the defendants could not be held liable for any threats or violence against Planned Parenthood staff by third parties that allegedly resulted from the videos. He ruled the defendants could be held liable only for any costs to Planned Parenthood that they directly caused.

Planned Parenthood noted in its statement that investigations in at least 13 states concluded that it did not engage in wrongdoing.

Planned Parenthood Vice President Helene Krasnoff said of the trial defendants, "This group's false claims completely fell apart upon closer investigation, and they've been exposed as part of an extreme political agenda to outlaw abortion in this country."

Photo Credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fire Damages Building, Injures Two People in Castro District]]>565036782Sat, 16 Nov 2019 13:47:55 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Fire_Burns_in_San_Francisco_s_Castro_District.jpg

A four alarm fire in San Francisco's Castro District damaged a three-story building and injured two people, authorities said.

According to the San Francisco Fire Department, the fire was reported shortly after 4:30 a.m. Saturday on the 456 block of Castro Street in San Francisco on a building that had both commercial and residential unites. The fire spread to at least one more building.

Two people were injured, but only one of them was transported to the hospital due to smoke inhalation.

The Northern California Red Cross said a total of seven adults and two pets will require assistance from Red Cross and city services. They also confirmed that three businesses were affected in the fire, and disaster funds will be available for recovery. 

San Francisco's Mayor London Breed directed the Office of Economic and Workforce Development to activate a Small Business Disaster Relief Fund that will give business owners access to $10,000 in funds for inventory replacement, equipment purchases, security deposits for a new lease, employee salaries and other expenses. 

"Our small business are the anchors of our merchant corridors and it is critical that our merchants receive the support and help necessary to recover and restore services to the community quickly," she said.

The fire was contained at around 10:30 a.m. and authorities advised the public to avoid the area as clean up continued.

"Our thoughts and support are directed to all of those affected by this 4th Alarm fire," the SFFD said.

According to the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the businesses that were impacted by the fire include Body, Q Bar, Osaka Sushi and Café Mystique - all located on the 400 block of Castro Street.

It remains unknown what caused the fire and exactly how many people were displaced. 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. 

Photo Credit: Brian Carmody
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Salesforce's Sustainable Conference Coming to San Francisco]]>565018392Fri, 15 Nov 2019 17:56:01 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/dreamforce.jpg

The area in front of the Moscone Center in San Francisco will be transformed the week of Nov. 18 for Dreamforce – Salesforce’s sustainable five-day conference that’s expected to draw over 170,000 attendees.

Former President Barack Obama will be the keynote speaker of the event. Other notable speakers include Apple CEO Tim Cook, world-renowned author Deepak Chopra and South African TV and radio broadcaster Tumelo Mothotoane.

One thing that won’t be at the conference? Beef.

This year’s event boasts sustainability, and organizers have said that by keeping beef off the menu millions of gallons of water will be conserved.

“If companies are making an effort to go green, that’s a good thing,” one man said.

The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association said, in part, that they’re disappointed and would welcome the opportunity next year to answer questions related to how U.S. cattle producers provide the highest quality and most sustainable beef product in the world.

There are plenty of other options in the city for beef lovers, but some people are concerned about traffic.

“It’s already difficult for people that commute,” said a woman.

But small businesses in the area welcome the influx of people.

“We face all the challenges of a small business in San Francisco, and this is incredible to have Salesforce,” said Tim Mullins who runs Thirsty Bear Brewing Company across the street. “It keeps us going.”

Mullins said Thirsty Bear is bought out next week for private events.

In addition to a beefless menu, Dreamforce will also have reusable water bottles, compostable food packaging and a straw-free event.

“For sure other companies in the tech sector it will certainly influence them to embrace these practices as well,” said San Francisco State marketing professor Sanjit Sangupta.

<![CDATA[Planned Parenthood Awarded $2.3M for Secret Videos]]>565014342Fri, 15 Nov 2019 16:28:07 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/PlannedParenthood2.jpg

A federal jury found Friday that an anti-abortion activist illegally secretly recorded workers at Planned Parenthood clinics and is liable for violating federal and state laws. The jury ordered him, the Center for Medical Progress and other parties to pay nearly $2.3 million in damages.

The jury awarded $1 million in damages, but offenses under the federal Racketeer and Corrupt Organizations Act are considered acts of organized crime and penalties awarded for them are automatically tripled.

After a six-week civil trial, the San Francisco jury found David Daleiden trespassed on private property and committed other crimes in recording the 2015 videos. He and the Center for Medical Progress and various employees were ordered to pay varying amounts.

Daleiden and a co-defendant, Sandra Merritt, are set to go on trial starting Dec. 6 on 14 counts each of invasion of privacy. They have pleaded not guilty and argue they are undercover journalists shielded from prosecution.

Planned Parenthood sued the activists as part of what the group called “a multi-year illegal effort to manufacture a malicious campaign.”

“The jury recognized today that those behind the campaign broke the law in order to advance their goals of banning safe, legal abortion in this country, and to prevent Planned Parenthood from serving the patients who depend on us,” the organization’s acting president and CEO, Alexis McGill Johnson, said in a statement.

Daleiden called said the jury reached the verdict after a “biased judge with close Planned Parenthood ties spent six weeks trying to influence the jury with pre-determined rulings and suppressed the video evidence.”

The judge in the civil trial barred the release of some the videos.

Daleiden and Merritt sneaked into numerous Planned Parenthood meetings and other abortion rights gatherings and shot undercover videos of their attempts to buy fetal material. They published the videos in 2015.

Planned Parenthood argued that the videos were heavily edited to unfairly show workers agreeing to sell fetal material for profit, which the group says it does not do.

The videos led to three congressional inquiries and criminal investigations in at least 15 states.

Planned Parenthood says it doesn’t sell fetal material for profit and charged only modest expenses to cover costs of donating it for medical research. The organization stopped seeking reimbursement for its shipping costs, and it never faced charges.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: Bob Levey/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lilou the Therapy Pig Joins "Wag Brigade" at SFO]]>564969712Fri, 15 Nov 2019 01:24:09 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Lilou_the_Therapy_Pig_Joins__Wag_Brigade__at_SFO.jpg

Lilou is back! The therapy pig is a traveling member of SFO's "wag brigade," a group of therapy animals that prance around the airport to help ease travel anxieties.]]>
<![CDATA[Documents Reveal Sexual Abuse at California Women's Prisons]]>564967082Thu, 14 Nov 2019 21:36:08 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/jail-generic.gif

A state prison inmate incarcerated at the Central California Women’s Facility was awaiting her group therapy session on Aug. 23, 2017. She stepped backward in her cell toward the door, where Correctional Officer Israel Trevino waited with waist restraints.

As he attached the chains, he reached down with both of his hands “to grope and fondle her buttocks,” according to an internal investigation that led to Trevino’s firing.

The inmate, whose name was redacted in reports, angrily asked what he was doing.

“You have a big butt,” Trevino replied.

This wasn’t the only time Trevino sexually abused an inmate in his custody, according to the investigation’s findings.

The former correctional officer, who was responsible for escorting inmates from their cells to their appointments and to the shower, tried to pull up a woman’s shirt and put his hand down her pants on an unspecified date in 2017, investigators for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation found.

That inmate said Trevino squeezed her buttocks over her clothing while escorting her and tried to get her to expose her breasts and vagina.

“Come on, show me something,” he pressured her, according to the records.

Trevino was investigated after an inmate complained about the groping to her prison social worker, who reported the allegation.

Prison officials fired Trevino in 2018 for sexual misconduct. He had worked at the women’s prison for over a decade and had been formally warned for making sexually harassing comments to inmates, according to records from the Office of the Inspector General for California prisons.

Attempts to reach Trevino for comment were unsuccessful.

Prison system spokeswoman Dana Simas responded in a written statement that officials moved to protect incarcerated women when the 2017 allegations surfaced.

“Trevino was barred from entering the secured perimeter of the prison to prevent further inmate contact during the pendency of the investigation,” Simas wrote.

The department fired at least six male correctional officers for sexually abusing women in their custody between 2014 and 2018, according to internal records released to KQED under a new state transparency law and court filings.

Some groped the inmates, others engaged in oral sex or intercourse. The disciplinary records, which are still incomplete, provide a first-ever glimpse into how the prison system deals with sexual exploitation by its officers.

The names of the women involved are redacted in the records, and two named witnesses did not respond to requests for interviews.

While the number of dismissals for sexual misconduct are extremely rare among the roughly 26,000 correctional officers who work at California prisons, inmate advocates say sexual abuse by staff is more rampant than the records show because few officers get reported or investigated.

Amika Mota is trying to change that. She spent most of a nine-year prison sentence for vehicular manslaughter at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, north of Fresno in the Central Valley. She said she and other incarcerated women put up with sexual advances because they depended on correctional officers for access to clean laundry, phone calls, tampons, time out of their cells and other basic needs.

“There’s not a bone in my body that ever felt attracted to any of these officers or felt like any of the words we spoke were true.” Mota said. “It was just this survival technique to play along.”

Officers can also write up inmates, which can result in extending a prison sentence.

One officer in her housing unit, who Mota declined to name, demanded that she write sexually explicit letters to him. She also described an officer who expected to see women without their clothes on.

“He would be really appreciative if during count we were in our bras,” she said.

Mota said she never reported any harassment, fearing retaliation.

She joined the San Francisco Bay Area-based Young Women’s Freedom Center after she was released in 2015. She’s now part of a new movement called Me Too Behind Bars, working to expose sexual abuse of people in prison and jail.

“What does it mean to feel constantly harassed, where they think it’s consensual and we think it’s not but we can’t ever say it?” Mota said.

The state’s inmate population includes nearly 5,000 women, about 4% of the 124,000 prisoners in the system.

State prison officials say they have been trying to improve conditions for female inmates in recent years, including enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for sexual misconduct.

“All sexual violence, staff sexual misconduct, and sexual harassment is strictly prohibited,” prisons spokeswoman Simas wrote in an Oct. 11 email.

The state prison system also investigates and tracks all allegations of sexual assault and harassment by staff, including correctional officers, to comply with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. In 2018, 337 staff-on-inmate incidents were reported in California prisons.

Investigations substantiated just three of those allegations.

Independent probes into the culture in women’s lockups have found that these formally reported allegations likely only capture a fraction of the abuse and harassment of incarcerated women by prison staff.

The Prison Law Office, which monitors conditions for inmates as part of a settlement in a decades-old federal class action lawsuit, has interviewed hundreds of women at the Central Valley prison and documented their complaints for the court.

The firm reported in 2016 that out of a random sample of 80 women, nearly all had experienced sexual abuse or harassment while incarcerated. A second round of interviews turned up similar complaints, often at the hands of the same officers. The firm faulted a culture of bigotry and sexism at the prison.

“It was a constant stream of verbal sexual harassment or misogynist statements,” attorney Corene Kendrick said, “kind of cat-calling at its highest level.”

A lot of women complained the prison officers constantly addressed them as “bitches” or “hos,” Kendrick said. “When they’d make the announcements on the P.A. system, you know, it’d be ‘Hey bitches, time to go to lunch’.”

Sexual abuse of female prisoners isn’t confined to a single facility, records obtained by KQED revealed. Four correctional officers in the state’s other major women’s prison -- in Southern California -- were also fired in recent years for sexual misconduct.

In 2017 alone, three officers at the California Institution for Women in San Bernardino County had sexual contact with inmates in or near their housing units.

Officer Robert Darrow was working an overtime shift in a housing unit on May 12, 2017, when he pulled one of the women responsible for cleaning and mopping the dorm into a broom closet, according to a transcript of a preliminary hearing in a criminal case against him. He closed the door, bent her over, pulled down her sweat pants and sexually assaulted her, an investigator testified.

The encounter lasted only three minutes, according to the testimony, because Darrow heard a noise outside the closet and stopped.

In that same month, Officer Tony Garcia sent all the women in a housing unit to breakfast, but one. The woman performed oral sex on him in her cell and later provided DNA evidence of the encounter to internal affairs investigators.

A third case involved Officer Stephen Merrill entering the cell of two female inmates at 3:30 a.m. on Oct. 30, 2017, and groping them.

An investigation found, “As inmate (REDACTED) stood by the door facing the inside of the cell, she bent over and you inserted your right hand from behind her into her underwear. You grabbed her buttocks.”

The other inmate then faced the inside of the cell and bent over. Merrill reportedly also groped her from behind. The disciplinary decision released by prison officials doesn’t provide further details about the incident.

Under state and federal statutes, inmates cannot consent to sex with prison guards. Sustained findings of sexual misconduct by a correctional officer will result in dismissal, according to prison policies, and can be grounds for criminal prosecution. All three correctional officers at the Southern California women’s prison were fired and charged with felony sex crimes. Attorneys representing them did not return requests for comment.

Merrill and Garcia took plea deals, according to court records. Garcia served two days in jail and was placed on probation. Merrill’s two-year prison sentence was suspended as he completes three years of probation. He was also sentenced to less than a year of county jail time, eligible for work and weekend release.

Prosecutors in the case against Darrow argued he had “a history of being investigated for sexual activity with inmates,” according to a preliminary hearing transcript in the case. But the San Bernardino County district attorney suddenly dropped the charges against him in March of this year. Deputy DA Lisa Mann, who prosecuted the case, declined to answer any questions.

Some officers are never even charged, though.

In Israel Trevino’s case from the Central Valley prison, it took officials eight months to dismiss him for sexually abusing inmates. He was fired in April 2018.

Prison officials never referred Trevino for criminal charges -- due to insufficient evidence for criminal charges, according to a spokeswoman. That’s despite investigators’ findings that he repeatedly groped women in his custody.

“The Central Region Criminal Investigation team, after a full review of the material recommended the case instead be opened as an administrative investigation,” spokeswoman Simas wrote.

The Office of Inspector General for California prisons monitors all investigations of sexual assault and harassment by officers and issues public reports.

In Trevino’s case, the Office of the Inspector General noted several deficiencies in the prison’s investigation. A prison investigator “scheduled case conferences and critical witness interviews for when he knew the OIG would not be available, and only cooperated after the OIG elevated the issue to his supervisor,” according to a 2018 inspector general’s discipline monitoring report.

The office’s case review also faulted the investigation for failing to substantiate that Trevino was dishonest “when he denied that he made inappropriate, derogatory and sexually harassing comments to inmates.”

“We have no authority to tell the department, ‘You have to do what we think you should do,’” explained Inspector General Roy Wesley. “Our power is to write about it and to bring transparency to the public because otherwise nobody knows what happens in these things.”

Inmate advocates would like California to create another oversight body with more teeth.

They also agree with the Prison Law Office’s recommendation that CDCR hire mostly female correctional officers to work inside the women’s housing units.

All of the male officers fired for sexual misconduct inside California women’s prisons in recent years had access to areas of the housing units where women are changing. Federal law mandates that male officers announce their presence upon entering those areas, but otherwise does not restrict their presence.

Attorneys with the Prison Law Office think prison officials could prevent a lot of abuse by cutting off that access.

“Washington Department of Corrections at one of their women’s prisons made it a requirement that only women apply for certain positions working inside the housing units where the women live sleep and bathe,” said Prison Law Office attorney Kendrick.

The California prison system has been moving in that direction, according to spokeswoman Simas. A greater percentage of jobs in housing units are designated for female officers only, and the prison system is pushing to recruit more women.

Currently women make up roughly a third of officers at the two main female prisons in the state.

Mota is still working to turn her experience in prison into an instrument for change.

Thinking about the years she was scrutinized and objectified in prison by officers who considered her “their girl” makes her anxious and shaky.

“It’s not the rules, or the regulations, it’s the culture,” Mota said. “How do you deeply affect this culture that’s existed for so long where it’s ‘normal’ and ‘OK’ to do this?”

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

<![CDATA[Popular SF Cafe Being Evicted After 23 Years in North Beach]]>564957502Thu, 14 Nov 2019 21:10:14 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sf-cafe-1114.jpg

After 23 years in business, the owner of a popular San Francisco cafe says he’s being evicted.

Dozens of supporters rallied outside Caffe Sapore on Lombard Street in the city's North Beach neighborhood, hoping to save it. Supervisor Aaron Peskin and state Sen. Scott Weiner also showed up to lend their support.

The cafe's owner, Elias Bikahi, said he's frustrated that his restaurant is now one of the many small businesses being forced out of the area. He also said the landlord didn't give a specific reason for the eviction.

"It's happening everywhere," he said.

A broker who works with the landlord said the lease extension included a right to terminate.

Bikahi says he is expected to be out by the end of the year.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Much of California Listed as 'Abnormally Dry': Drought Monitor]]>564916942Thu, 14 Nov 2019 07:14:05 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/CaliforniaDroughtNov142019.jpg

California is slipping back into drought.

According to the United States Drought Monitor's weekly report, roughly 81% of the state is currently listed as "abnormally dry." A sliver of land in the southeastern portion of California — about 3.5% of the state — is experiencing "moderate drought" conditions.

Just last week, only about 18% of the state was listed as being "abnormally dry," according to the Drought Monitor. Three months ago, that number was at roughly 6%.

NBC Bay Area Meteorologist Kari Hall said Thursday a storm system could soak parts of the Sierra Nevada and Southern California during the middle portion of next week, but it's not expected to bring rain to the Bay Area.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[California Faces Fraught Path Out of Wildfire, Power Crisis]]>564912442Thu, 14 Nov 2019 05:41:27 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/PGEWorkers.jpg

The utility that serves more than 5 million electrical customers in one of the world’s most technologically advanced areas is now faced again and again with a no-win decision: risk starting catastrophic deadly wildfires, or turn off the lights and immiserate millions of paying customers.

Pacific Gas & Electric is in bankruptcy, facing $30 billion in liabilities, billions more in needed upgrades to its system and an uncertain path to safely providing reliable power to a vast portion of California.

How that came to be is a story not of a single villain but of systemic failure by the utility’s management, the regulators who oversee it and the politicians who let it all happen. It’s a story of climate change, a housing crisis and an aging power system that, like much of the infrastructure in the U.S., has fallen into disrepair.

"There’s a ton of blame to go around here," said Christopher Knittel, director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management.

The problem and its potential solutions have jumped to the top of the California political agenda. But most experts agree: Even under the best scenarios, the fires and widespread power shutoffs will be here for years to come. In the meantime, Californians will pay higher prices for less reliable energy.

"It’s not just going to be a PG&E cost, isolated from impact on the consumer," said Matthew Cordaro, a longtime utility executive and a trustee for the Long Island Power Authority, which sustained significant damage during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. "The consumer’s going to have to pay for it."

The danger from a growing number of people living next to power lines and dry forests as the climate changes wasn’t unknown, but it wasn’t front of mind before electrical systems started a series of fires that swept through Northern California two years ago, leaving a trail of destruction and killing dozens. What seemed unthinkable was repeated just a year later, when PG&E power lines started the Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people.

PG&E operates some 125,000 miles of power lines, enough to wrap around the equator five times. Much of the system traverses remote forests that are dry from years of drought and dense from a lack of logging or natural fires. California has 138 million dead trees, all of them potential fuel for fire.

Meanwhile, a shortage of housing in cities — and stiff resistance to building more — has pushed new construction into forested areas, where there are few barriers to building.

And the climate is warming. While scientists can’t blame climate change alone for any one fire, they say it contributes to drier brush, hotter temperatures and stronger winds, all of which help flames spread farther, faster. Five of the 10 largest fires and seven of the 10 most destructive have happened in the last decade. The deadliest were started by power lines.

More than half of PG&E’s 70,000 square miles of service territory is designated as high risk for fires, according to the company’s wildfire mitigation plan submitted this year to the state’s utility regulator, the California Public Utilities Commission.

Operating in that environment poses challenges for any company, but PG&E has an especially checkered past.

The company neglected to maintain its systems so egregiously that it was found criminally liable for a deadly explosion in its natural gas system that killed eight people and destroyed dozens of homes in San Bruno, California, in 2010. It was fined and placed on probation when a jury found the company cut corners on safety and misled investigators in an attempt to cover it up.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has accused PG&E of prioritizing its shareholders and executives over the maintenance, upgrades and tree trimming that could prevent wildfires and limit the misery from intentional blackouts. The company has reported it still has 2,700 miles of outdated copper wire, which is prone to breakage and arcing, in high-risk fire zones.

"A lot of money went to dividends that should’ve gone to your trees. Get square with the people of California, who depend on you to do the job safely," U.S. District Judge William Alsup told a PG&E lawyer during an April probation hearing, KQED News reported.

PG&E has acknowledged shortcomings in its first big power shutoff and agreed to rebate affected customers, but CEO Bill Johnson has repeatedly said the blackouts protect the public. He’s said it will take a decade to get PG&E’s system to a place where widespread blackouts aren’t necessary.

Company officials say they’ve invested $27 billion in their power system over the past decade.

For all PG&E’s faults, power companies operate in one of the most highly regulated industries in the country, their investments overseen by the CPUC, which failed to foresee the fire risk or adequately force PG&E to prepare for it.

"The PUC is tasked with overseeing PG&E and making sure they’re making decisions in the interest of the public good," said Knittel, of MIT.

California regulators and lawmakers squandered an opportunity to impose sweeping changes on a hobbled PG&E nearly 20 years ago when the utility landed in bankruptcy court the first time, after California’s energy crisis.

Instead, after three years of wrangling, PG&E worked out a plan, much of it in secret, with a former utility industry executive, Michael Peevey, then-president of the CPUC.

Other regulators and consumer activists tried to block that deal, calling it a travesty. But after a few minor concessions, PG&E emerged from bankruptcy protection in April 2004 with a customer-backed $7.2 billion bailout that enabled it to charge abnormally high electricity rates for nearly a decade. The surcharges, designed to help PG&E recoup part of the losses that drove it into bankruptcy, cost customers an average of $1,300 to $1,700 apiece.

Bailout supporters argued customers would be able to count on safe, reliable power.

But it hasn’t turned out that way. Getting to safe, reliable power will still require billions of dollars in system upgrades and extensive tree-trimming to keep branches and trunks from blowing into power lines.

Hardening the grid also involves replacing outdated poles and power lines, and insulating, or in dangerous areas, burying lines, which can easily cost millions of dollars per mile. Weather sensors and cameras help utilities predict and track dangerous weather. Sectionalizing lines, as other California utilities have done, allow more targeted blackouts so millions aren’t left in the dark when winds pick up, as they were three times in October.

Grid hardening can help limit the frequency and the breadth of power shutoffs and wildfires, but the danger can’t be totally eliminated.

"There’s no way to completely protect the electricity grid and control all of its interactions with the environment around it," said Ted Kury, director of energy studies for the Public Utility Research Center at the University of Florida. "Any place you locate power lines there’s going to be a trade-off."

Shareholders and bondholders are competing to control the company once it emerges from bankruptcy, and there are also proposals to redesign its ownership, have cities take a stake, or more broadly overhaul regulations.

Newsom has said the regulator’s problems are in the past after his appointment of a new head of the CPUC. He’s been deeply critical of PG&E, saying the utility "as we know it cannot persist and continue." He’s pushed the company to work through issues and get out of bankruptcy by next summer, even threatening a takeover.

PG&E’s chief executive has resisted the more ambitious restructuring proposals.

"I think the way it is structured now is the best idea for the majority of customers," Johnson told reporters after Newsom called him to the Capitol this month.

Kris Mayes, Arizona’s former top utility regulator who now leads the Utility of the Future Center at Arizona State University, said PG&E should be broken into two or three more manageable entities, and California should shift to "performance-based regulation" that rewards utilities for things like safety, reliability, customer service or the amount of renewable energy. Utilities now are awarded a fixed profit on their investments. The need for long-distance transmission lines could be reduced by conserving energy and generating and storing more of it locally, she said.

"The utilities have been rewarded over decades for building big stuff, including these power lines that are now causing fires," Mayes said.

Whatever route PG&E goes, it still faces extensive debt for its existing infrastructure and stiff liabilities from starting the two deadliest and most destructive wildfires on record in United States history. Those costs, and likely the cost for system upgrades, are likely to be passed to its customers.

"This is an unacceptable situation in California, and no utility should ever put its customers in harm’s way," Mayes said. "It’s just not supposed to happen."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SF Supervisor Demands Action on Drug Use on Federal Property]]>564905492Thu, 14 Nov 2019 00:15:40 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/drug+use+fed+plaza1.jpg

San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney is demanding action from federal and city officials to address the problem of rampant drug sales and use outside the Federal Building in San Francisco.

Haney, who has called the issue a public safety and health crisis, on Wednesday was at City Hall calling for an immediate fix from federal and city leaders. Haney said he expects to have meetings with department heads Wednesday night to see action plans.

“Th federal government has a responsibility to maintain it,” Haney said.

Neighbors have said once the Federal Building closes it’s an “open-air drug market.”

“People overdosing, we’ve seen people die out there, we've seen people be revived,” neighbor Jan Weil said. “There’s an ambulance at least once a night taking someone away. It’s a terrifying experience, people from here have been assaulted.”

Last week Haney demanded action against the growing problem by sending a letter to federal and city officials, and police have since begun moving people along.

“[We're] raising the alarm bells on the level of drug dealing, drug use and some of the associated public safety issues that are down there, and asking for a coordinated response,” said Haney.

But neighbors think that they’re just pushing the problems around the neighborhood.

“They’re arresting them, but they arrest one and two more come the next day,” said Weil. “It’s not solvable just by police. We need public health to get addicts off the streets.”

Weil hopes Haney’s effort to get public health involved will get some people the help they need.

<![CDATA[SF Jury Deliberates Planned Parenthood Case]]>564904502Wed, 13 Nov 2019 22:29:39 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/portada+planned+parenthood.jpg

A federal jury began deliberating Wednesday in the civil trial of a fraud and trespass lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood Federation against anti-abortion activists who infiltrated meetings and secretly videotaped interviews.

Activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, allegedly aided by several colleagues, created a phony tissue procurement company and used false identities to enter abortion care meetings and Planned Parenthood centers in 2014 and 2015 and surreptitiously taped interviews.

Videos that Daleiden then posted online in 2015, which Planned Parenthood claims were deceptively edited, allegedly led to threats and harassment of Planned Parenthood staff.

But U.S. District Judge William Orrick has ruled that the individuals and their organization, The Center for Medical Progress, cannot be held liable for threats and violence by third parties, but rather only for costs to Planned Parenthood that they directly caused.

Planned Parenthood lawyers have asked the jury to award $630,000 for increased security costs plus an additional punitive damages award in an amount to be determined by the jury.

The lawsuit by Planned Parenthood and several local affiliates includes claims of fraud, trespass, breach of confidentiality agreements, illegal recording and racketeering conspiracy.

Daleiden and his colleagues maintain they were undercover journalists, while Planned Parenthood lawyers contend they intended to demonize and destroy the health care organization.

Orrick has ruled, however, that journalism is not a defense to the claims of illegal acts and has instructed the jury to that effect.

The jurors deliberated for several hours Wednesday and will resume Thursday morning. The session will begin with a courtroom playback of the testimony of a Planned Parenthood official, which the jury requested after deliberations began.

<![CDATA[SF Police Say Homicides May Fall to Lowest Level in 17 Years]]>564904182Wed, 13 Nov 2019 22:09:11 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SF+Homicides+.jpg

San Francisco homicides may drop this year to their lowest level in 17 years, according to new numbers released by the Police Department Wednesday.

According to the numbers, as of Nov. 4, 33 homicides have occurred in the city, down from 46 in all of 2018. In 2017, 56 homicides were reported.

The numbers are a stark contrast to 2007, when 99 homicides were reported.

"If we continue this trend for the next month and a half, it will be the lowest we've seen in decades," said Deputy Chief Greg McEachern.

McEachern said he believes the drop is connected to several changes the Police Department has made over the years, stemming from the 2016 U.S. Department of Justice report that made 272 recommendations in key areas.

Those areas included use of force, bias, community policing practices, accountability and recruitment and personnel practices.

"Over the past couple of years, we believe some of the programs we've implemented and some of the engagements we've had with individuals, have helped us decrease crimes and solve some of the crimes," he said.

Since focusing on engaging with communities and community groups, McEachern said officers have been able to get more tips and information on certain crimes. Prior to that, he said, officers had a hard time getting witnesses and victims to come forward.

In addition, the Police Department works with the city's Street Violence Intervention Program, which gets the help of former gang members and community leaders to engage residents in dialogue with police officers and increases transparency.

Police have also stepped up training for homicide investigators, helping the department earn a 100 percent homicide clearance rate in 2018.

That means officers solved the same number of homicides that occurred that year.

Officers have also been able to take more guns off city streets through the department's Crime Gun Investigations Center, which works on identifying the city's most prolific gun offenders.

Another important tool, McEachern said is having officers patrolling neighborhoods on foot.

"They tend to engage the community and it builds trust," he said.

Through the reforms and improvements, McEachern said the department is already seeing the benefit, with not one single officer-involved shooting occurring in the city in nearly 17 months.

"We're very proud," he said. "We're better trained, we're responsive and we're engaged with the community."

Photo Credit: San Francisco Police]]>
<![CDATA[Giants' Kapler, Zaidi Address Past Allegations During Unusual Press Conference]]>564889012Wed, 13 Nov 2019 21:22:07 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/ap_19317819354628_1.jpg

SAN FRANCISCO -- At 12:04 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, Gabe Kapler put on his No. 19 Giants jersey for the first time and pulled a black cap over his head. He turned to Farhan Zaidi, his longtime friend and new boss, and smiled. 

"I always feel much more confident in a jersey and a hat than I do in a blazer, so this is really nice to put this on," Kapler said. 

Kapler, Zaidi and general manager Scott Harris posed for photos and then sat down at a podium for a press conference that was unlike anything anyone could remember. The new Giants brain trust spoke for 58 minutes, and more than half of that time was spent explaining their roles in an assault controversy regarding the Los Angeles Dodgers and taking related questions from reporters who spoke for an incensed fan base. 

The Giants knew the Kapler hire would not be popular, but they were a bit surprised by the level of rage on social media Tuesday night. They knew there were plenty of questions to be answered, but they were a bit taken back by the length of the discussion Wednesday. 

For most of the hour, Kapler and Zaidi took turns addressing the allegations against Dodgers minor leaguers. They promised to be better with the Giants, and they both apologized.

"I think this is the right time to say that I'm sorry that I didn't make all the right moves," Kapler said. "Everything that I did I acted on from a place of goodness and from my heart and wanting to do the right thing, but I was naive, I was in over my skis and trying to do things on my own when it was very clear that I needed counsel and I needed counsel from people like I've met in this community over the last two weeks."

"I think what we've come to understand is that this is not a situation where these incidents and what you do afterwards are just about protecting victims, but really about supporting them," Zaidi said. "I don't think we did enough in that regard and I've had to reflect on that, and I'm truly sorry that I didn't do more."

The Giants took the issues seriously when Kapler became a candidate after getting fired by the Phillies, vetting Kapler and going back over MLB's previous investigation of the Dodgers. The Giants' legal department contacted Major League Baseball in early October. The league's response was that Kapler was not at fault, that he took the advice of legal counsel in Los Angeles. Since the 2015 incident involving a 17-year-old and two Dodgers prospects, MLB has changed its reporting procedures for potential acts of domestic violence and sexual assault. 

Zaidi, the former Dodgers general manager, said he was aware of the incidents at the time. They did not come up when Zaidi interviewed with the Giants last year, but much of the last month was spent revisiting Kapler's role. 

"Gabe never tried to hide anything. The incidents that happened, he reported up the chain of command, within baseball operations. The baseball operations group referred him to legal counsel in L.A. and everything we did from that point forward was done collectively as an organization," Zaidi said in his opening remarks Wednesday. "In those cases, I think it's important to note that, again, as an organization and in concert with the legal counsel, we did approach the victims and ask about reporting these incidents to the police. 

"We respected the victims' wishes with whatever we decided to do in that case. I just feel very strongly about stating that there was never an attempt to cover anything up."

Kapler was the Dodgers' director of player development in 2015 when he received an email from a woman saying her granddaughter had been assaulted in the hotel room of two Dodgers prospects. A week later, the girl told police that she had also been sexually assaulted. Eight months after the first incident, Kapler was made aware of another allegation of sexual assault by a Dodgers prospect. 

Zaidi said Kapler has documentation supporting every move he made during that time and that the MLB investigation corroborated everything Kapler has said about his role. As the Giants conducted their own deep dive over the past month, they became confident that the issues went well beyond Kapler. There was disbelief about advice the advice Dodgers' lawyers gave members of the front office. 

Giants officials walked parallel paths as they interviewed Kapler. They spent weeks vetting him, but also used that time to talk to experts in the field of abuse and sexual assault and learn more about what Kapler, Zaidi and the rest of the Dodgers front office had done wrong. 

Zaidi said he learned he did not ask the right questions four years ago and did not seek advice from leaders in the field, as he should have. He expressed regret at the plan back then, which was to report the incident internally, follow legal advice, and offer the ability to contact the police. 

"In talking to members of the community we realized that was an inadequate response," Zaidi said. "What we've come to realize is not only should we have sought help from people who were experts in the field, but we should not have stopped with the notion of reporting these incidents to police."

Kapler said he spent much of the last month discussing the situation with his mother, who was a civil rights activist. Looking back, he wishes he had done that in 2015. 

"If I could go back and do some of the Dodgers stuff different, I probably would have called my mom and asked her a few more questions about which steps to take," he said. 

There is no way for Kapler and Zaidi to go back and try to fix their mistakes, but both pledged to learn from the experience and overhaul the way they handle education within the Giants organization. Zaidi said MLB's guidelines for education and training do not go far enough and that the Giants would invest significant time and energy in that area going forward. 

The allegations against Dodgers prospects were appalling, but it would be naive to believe the issues were limited to one organization. The Giants have had their own incidents over the years, and Kapler vowed to change the way he has conversations with his players. 

"These are problems in Major League Baseball clubhouses," Kapler said. "Farhan mentioned that he hasn't done enough. I know he's speaking for himself personally, but I certainly haven't done enough and the industry hasn't done enough. It takes people willing to have those first conversations with players about what's important for us and what we're going to stand for in our clubhouse."

Zaidi is in the second year of a five-year contract and Kapler is one day into a three-year deal. The two spoke passionately Wednesday, and they now will have the opportunity to act off the field as they try to build a winning product between the lines. 

If you listened to only the baseball conversation on Wednesday, Kapler came across as energetic, intelligent and open-minded. He talked passionately about how much he likes watching Brandon Belt's long plate appearances and said he can't wait to sit down with all of his pitchers and discuss the ways they like to attack hitters. 

From a baseball perspective, Kapler was a breath of fresh air. But his first day on the job was not about baseball. The Giants could have gone a different direction, but they chose a manager who arrived with baggage. 

At one point during the 58-minute press conference that more closely resembled an interrogation, Zaidi was asked why he made this choice. Why put yourself through all this when there were so many other candidates to replace Bruce Bochy? 

"I felt and we felt like it was our responsibility to select the person who was right for the job," Zaidi said. "You're asking about a certain set of perception issues that were out there. I think for us it was a question of whether we were going to judge someone based on some of those perception issues, or what we knew to be true."

Photo Credit: Alex Pavlovic]]>
<![CDATA[Vehicle Fire on Bay Bridge Snarls Traffic Out of SF]]>564901932Wed, 13 Nov 2019 21:22:30 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bb-vehicle+fire-1113.jpg

A pickup truck caught fire on the Bay Bridge late Wednesday, bringing evening eastbound traffic to a standstill.

The fire was reported just before 8 p.m., according to California Highway Patrol dispatch logs.

Video from a motorist shows the truck fully engulfed in flames. The fire was out by about 8:15 p.m.

No injuries were reported.

The fire blocked at least one eastbound lane of the span, causing traffic to back up for at least 6 miles, almost to the Mission District in San Francisco.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[California Regulators Order Inquiry Into Power Outages]]>564866052Wed, 13 Nov 2019 13:20:59 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/PowerLines7.jpg

California regulators opened a formal investigation Wednesday into pre-emptive power outages that blacked out large parts of the state in October, drawing strong rebukes from public officials and residents who said the shut-offs were too broad and poorly executed.

The unanimous vote by the California Public Utilities Commission followed testimony from a handful of people who pleaded with the regulatory body for leadership at a time of increased danger from fire and other natural disasters.

"Many Californians are debating whether California is still safe. Is this a safe place to live?" said Will Abrams of Santa Rosa, whose house burned down in 2017 in wildfires that roared through Northern California wine country.

The state's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., initiated multiple rounds of shut-offs and plunged nearly 2.5 million people into darkness at one point throughout Northern and Central California. Some of the outages lasted for several days.

PG&E officials insisted on the shut-offs for public safety, but infuriated residents and a parade of public officials, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, said cutting off power should be used only as a last resort and that the company regularly botched communications.

Southern California Edison Co. and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. also shut off power but to far fewer people.

Nevada City Mayor Reinette Senum said Wednesday that her rural community had no working phones or internet. She wants local control over the power grid, which she said could take better care than the for-profit utility.

"Basically, we were sent back into the dark ages," she said.

The outages raised concerns about whether the utilities "properly balanced the need to provide reliable service with public safety and were properly planned and executed," said the order authorizing the investigation.

CPUC President Marybel Batjer requested the investigation, saying that widespread outages "cannot be the new normal for California."

Commissioners said Wednesday that they want to know if utilities took the proper steps and what can be done to improve such shut-offs or lessen their scope in the future.

Abrams not only lost his home in the 2017 wildfires, but his children had to endure smoke from a deadly 2018 wildfire in Paradise. Last month, the family evacuated from another Sonoma County wildfire and were terrified to cross into the San Francisco Bay Area amid smaller grassland fires sparked by PG&E lines falling amid high, hot winds, he said.

"The wonderful thing about regulators is you can cut through the rhetoric," he said.

Commissioners have been stewing over the outages.

Last month, they grilled PG&E officials at an emergency meeting called by Batjer, demanding answers for why the utility was so unprepared for an Oct. 9 shutdown in which counties and customers struggled with a crashing website and overworked call lines to get information.

Batjer said she was "absolutely astounded" by the company's lack of preparation.

When many cell towers were down and internet services out, the utility was telling people to get information from a website, through family or call on a landline.

The outages were astonishing for a state that is one of the world's economic powerhouses. People made frantic dashes for cash and gas as businesses watched their goods spoil. Some elderly and disabled people were trapped in their apartments with elevators out of service.

PG&E initiated five rounds, with the smallest affecting about 30,000 people and the largest affecting nearly 2.5 million. Residents in San Francisco suburbs and in Northern California wine country were without power for days.

Bill Johnson, CEO of Pacific Gas & Electric Corp., said the outages were the right call and kept people safe, although a transmission line in Sonoma County that was not powered off malfunctioned minutes before a wildfire erupted Oct. 23, forcing about 180,000 people to evacuate.

The company is in bankruptcy and faces $30 billion in liabilities after its equipment was found to have started several deadly wildfires in 2017 and 2018, including the year-old Camp Fire that killed 85 in Butte County.

In September, PG&E reached an $11 billion settlement with most of the insurers covering victims of deadly wildfires, but Newsom is stepping up pressure on PG&E to fork over billions more.

If PG&E doesn't make changes, Newsom is threatening to try to turn the utility into a customer-owned cooperative run by the state and local governments. The company so far has defended its proposal as a fair deal for all parties involved in its bankruptcy.

Southern California Edison also initiated five preventive outages but to far fewer customers. The company has announced that its equipment likely caused last year's Woolsey Fire, which killed three people and destroyed hundreds of homes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bankruptcy Judge Extends PG&E Fire Claim Deadline to Dec. 31]]>564864982Wed, 13 Nov 2019 11:02:45 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1177972507.jpg

A federal bankruptcy judge in San Francisco on Tuesday officially approved a new Dec. 31 deadline for fire victims to file claims for harm suffered in the 2017 and 2018 North Bay wildfires allegedly caused by failures of PG&E electrical equipment.

The original deadline was Oct. 21. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali signed the order for the deadline extension after the utility and lawyers for fire victims agreed on the new date.

Montali is overseeing PG&E's Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, in which the utility is seeking a financial reorganization plan in the face of billions of dollars of potential liability for the fires.

Montali on Tuesday also appointed a special claims representative, Michael Kasolas, to identify potential claimants who have not yet filed claims and to assist them in filing.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Remains of US Soldier Killed During Korean War Arrive at SFO]]>564850572Wed, 13 Nov 2019 07:54:15 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/phillip-c.-mendoza.jpg

Army Sgt. 1st Class Phillip C. Mendoza was killed during the Korean War, but his remains never made it home — until now.

Mendoza's remains arrived at San Francisco International Airport Wednesday morning, decades after he was reported missing and more than a year after his remains were turned over by North Korea.

Mendoza, 27, of Anthony, New Mexico, was reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950, while his unit fought enemy forces near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). His remains could not be recovered after the battle.

In July 2018, North Korea turned over 55 boxes believed to contain the remains of American military members who were killed during the war. Those remains were transported to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii to be identified.

Mendoza's remains were positively identified and he was listed as accounted for on Aug. 9, according to DPAA.

"To identify Mendoza’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence," according to DPAA. "Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), Y-chromosome DNA (Y-STR) and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis."

Mendoza served as an artilleryman with Battery D, 15th Anti-Aircraft Artillery, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team, according to DPAA.

He will be buried Friday in Dixon, a city in northern Solano County.

Photo Credit: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency/U.S. Department of Defense]]>
<![CDATA[SF Officials Rally With Chinatown Following Weekend Attack]]>564841212Wed, 13 Nov 2019 02:20:53 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/183*120/GettyImages-9454753381.jpg

San Francisco city leaders joined dozens of Chinatown residents late Tuesday afternoon for a rally in the wake of a violent attack that injured three men in their 60s.

According to police, the incident was initially reported on Saturday around 9:10 p.m. as a robbery at the corner of Clay Street and Walter U Lum Place, near Portsmouth Square.

Upon arrival, officers found three injured men. Two of the victims were taken to a hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening and the third victim was treated and released at the scene, police said.

Video of the attack, recorded by a bystander, shows the suspects attacking the victims and then fleeing in an SUV. Police said the SUV was last seen heading east on Clay Street.

Although no arrests have been made, Police Chief William Scott said the SUV has been described as an early 2000s model Jeep Cherokee type of SUV, dark gray in color. Police are also looking for at least three male suspects.

The video, which has been widely shared on social media, can be found at https://www.facebook.com/Bigray415/videos/10218179199824227/.

During the Tuesday rally, held at Portsmouth Square, dozens of members of the city's Chinese community showed up, many of them seniors holding up signs that read, "Stop Picking on Seniors."

"No one should walk in this city and fear that they might get attacked for whatever reason, especially not our seniors," Mayor London Breed said. "We are one community in San Francisco and it is time that we do better to take care of our seniors. We owe it to them for what they have done to raise us and take care of us."

"This is where all of the seniors, all of the kids, play and socialize," district Supervisor Aaron Peskin said. "We are going to saturate this area with additional law enforcement personnel. We are going to let everyone of my constituents behind me know that they can be safe here anytime, day or night."

Many members of the Chinese community believe the attack is just one of many involving members from outside the Chinese community coming into the community to prey on vulnerable elderly victims.

"We need to come together as a community, as a city and not let racial divides tear us apart," said Cynthia Choi, co-executive director of the group Chinese for Affirmative Action. "This is not a matter of law enforcement, this a matter of all of us coming together for community-based solutions."

According to Scott, in response to a handful of robberies and assaults that have taken place in the neighborhood this year alone, starting last month, police have increased officer foot patrols from four to six during daytime hours and have also added two separate foot patrols for the evening hours. Police have also added four housing officers to conduct separate foot patrols near the Ping Yuen housing projects on Pacific Avenue.

In addition, bilingual officers are stationed at the Portsmouth Square clubhouse both Wednesdays and Fridays from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to communicate with community members.

Police are also working with Chinatown merchants to further identify issues facing the city's Chinese community.

"We're going to do everything that we can do to make sure we do our jobs and bring folks justice," Scott said. "We're going to work relentlessly until we figure this out and solve this crime."

District Attorney-elect Chesa Boudin, who narrowly won last week's election, also came to the rally.

"This is a case where it really highlights the need for more culturally competent services for victims," he said. "We're not doing a good enough job with that today and one of my primary commitments as the next district attorney is to ensure that we expand resources in the language and cultural sensitivity that victims of crimes need."

Photo Credit: Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SF to Help Workers Into Tech Industry Through Apprenticeship]]>564807201Tue, 12 Nov 2019 10:22:54 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/Tech-Getty.jpg

Three hundred new apprenticeships for disadvantaged people trying to break into San Francisco's tech industry will be available over the next two years thanks to an expansion of the city's TechSF Apprenticeship Initiative, which was announced Monday.

The initiative, made possible through a partnership with the city and tech company Twilio, aims to provide a pathway for software engineers to get jobs while removing barriers to the tech industry. The program emphasizes providing opportunities to people of color, women, people with disabilities and veterans.

The office of Mayor London Breed and the city's Office of Economic and Workforce Development announced the expansion Monday.

"TechSF was created to close the skills gap in the tech sector by developing talent right here in San Francisco," Breed said in a statement.

"This partnership with Twilio allows us to provide additional opportunities for San Franciscans and gives people a chance to learn and grow in a career they might not otherwise have access to. With TechSF and our other apprenticeship programs, we can make our city more equitable and ensure that all San Franciscans benefit from economic growth-no matter their background or their zip code," she said.

Through the apprenticeships, participants can get industry-recognized experience in lieu of a computer science degree, while earning a living wage.

According to the mayor's office, more than 90 percent of TechSF apprentices remain with the company where they're placed after their apprenticeships, with many receiving promotions.

TechSF is looking to fill the 300 apprentice spots by 2021.

"TechSF apprenticeships create pathways to success for San Franciscans of all backgrounds, many of whom have not been given a chance to participate in this historically strong economy," said Joaquin Torres, the director of the economic and workforce development office.

"We aim to remove barriers and find talent where other companies may not be looking. Partnering with TechSF's Apprenticeship Initiative is critical for us to identify and harness a pipeline of applicants who not only have the technical skills, but also the diverse professional and life experiences that truly add value to our workforce," Vivek Nair, head of Twilio's Hatch Apprenticeship Program, said.

"It's hard to sell your potential to an industry where you're older than the average engineer, where only three percent of the people look like you, where academic pedigree is often seen as the be-all, end-all for ability," he said.

The initiative's expansion is being announced as part of National Apprenticeship Week.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Infant's Body Found Near San Francisco Golf Course: Police]]>564765551Mon, 11 Nov 2019 23:47:12 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SFPD+Generic.JPG

San Francisco police said a body found over the weekend near the Lincoln park Golf Course are the remains of an infant.

Officers made the discovery around 2:19 p.m. Saturday after responding to a report of a death in the 3400 block of 34th Avenue, police said.

Police have released little information about the death, but said the case is being investigated by the SFPD Homicide Division and the city's medical examiner's office.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Police Department's 24-hour anonymous tip line at 415-575-4444 or can send a text message to TIP411 and begin the message with "SFPD."

Bay City News contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Meet the First Woman to Swim 22 Miles Around San Francisco]]>564776162Mon, 11 Nov 2019 16:38:26 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Swimmer+THUMB.jpg

San Francisco is known for many things — but warm, inviting water isn't one of them.

So when Maryam Sharifzadeh first decided she was going to enter the world of open water swimming, the reality of what she was about to do hit her like a bucket of ice.

"When I got in, I was freezing," she said, tensing up a little just at the thought of it.

Maryam's motivation to brave the frigid water came out of tragedy: the death of her childhood friend Nasim, who was like a sister, in a 2018 charter plane crash.

"I had a lot of grief, and it was a very physical feeling for me, so I knew I had to process it in a very physical way," she said.

Maryam first set out to raise money for Nasim's favorite charity, No Kid Hungry, with a 12-mile swim across Lake Tahoe. (She also supports the charity through her business, Office Yoga.) After training 4 to 5 days a week in the chilly water at San Francisco's Aquatic Park, she completed the Tahoe swim alongside a boat full of friends and family, with Nasim's picture taped to the side of the vessel.

"But when I was done, I felt like I still had more in me," she said.

That's when Maryam made the decision to attempt a marathon swim that's only been completed by one other person: The 22-mile shoreline of San Francisco, from Daly City to Brisbane.

"It's so much more mental than it is physical," she said, "And I was surprised at the mental strength that I had, and that a lot of other marathon swimmers have, to be able to get through something like this."

Maryam's journey around the three sides of San Francisco that are surrounded by water was not a straightforward one. While other swimmers have tried and failed at routes that began in the Bay and ended in the ocean, she followed the advice of Joe Butler, the first person to successfully complete the swim, by starting in the ocean — taking on the coldest, roughest water while she was still fresh and full of energy.

"It was way longer than what I did for Tahoe, the conditions are colder, the water's a lot more difficult to swim in," Maryam said. "And so I had very little expectation of actually completing the swim."

Maryam said she resolved to set small, incremental goals for herself. First, to make it to the Golden Gate Bridge, then the Bay Bridge, and so on. But equally important to the mental battle she fought was the team aboard the boat and kayak that escorted her through the water — helping her avoid ships, marine life, and in one case, discouragement from a big mistake.

"I believe the tides were predicted a couple of hours off," said boat captain Brent McLain.

Swimmers move through the water at about one nautical mile per hour, McLain explained, and the fierce tides at the Golden Gate can move at five times that speed — either drawing a swimmer into the Bay, or expelling her into the ocean.

"In the beginning, she was in the same spot for almost two and a half hours," said kayaker Miguel Melendez. "She didn't know the difference, but I did."

Maryam's team realized as the sun came up that she'd been swimming against the tide, and wasn't making any progress. In the interest of keeping Maryam's spirits high, the team elected not to tell her what was happening. As the tides shifted and they began making slow progress toward the Golden Bridge, they steered her away from breaching whales, foraging sea lions and a fast-approaching container ship, without telling her a thing. Maryam's sole focus had to be on moving forward, except for a brief stop to eat every 30 minutes.

"It's kind of like feeding wildlife off the side of a boat," said Tiffany Fields, who coordinated Maryam's food during the swim.

The World Open Water Swimming Association's guidelines for marathon swims dictate that swimmers can't receive assistance during the journey — from either people or technology. That means there's no wetsuit allowed, no touching the boat, and no touching other people. So during her meal breaks, Maryam's team would throw her packets of baby food — packed with sugar and easy to digest — and then reel in the empty containers with an attached string after she finished.

The breaks had to be kept short, in part because of the cold water.

"My feeds were about 30 seconds to a minute," Maryam said. "Because you just get too cold — you want to keep moving."

Nearly as important as a steady supply of sugar, she said, was the emotional support that's allowed and regulated by the association's rules: a "support swimmer" who can jump into the water for an hour at a time.

"You can't swim in front of the person. So you're not pacing them to swim faster, you can only swim next to them," said Vanessa Brown, who swam with Maryam for three stretches of one hour each.

The last of those stretches came right before Maryam reached the finish line — the invisible San Mateo County line, somewhere in the middle of the water. Brown had to get back on the boat before her time expired, as the team struggled with GPS and nautical charts to find exactly where the finish was.

"She got to get back on the boat, and I didn't," Maryam said. "Which was really hard at the very end when I just wanted to be done."

In fact, McLain said marathon swims often end abruptly in just these situations.

"I've done a lot of swims where the people make it within 100 yards of completing it, and they get a mouth full of water and they just don't want to do it anymore," he said.

Ultimately, the team made Maryam swim several hundred extra yards into San Mateo County, to be doubly sure they'd crossed the finish line before delivering the good news:

"You did it!" Melendez exclaimed from his kayak.

After nine hours and eleven minutes of nearly continuous swimming, video from the boat captured Maryam's celebration: a floating victory dance in the middle of the Bay, with all the screaming and splashing you might expect from someone who never thought she'd see this moment.

"I think I tapped into a deep well within myself that I didn't even know I had," Maryam said.

Exhausted and shivering, Maryam thanked the crew aboard the boat, but also silently thanked her other teammate: Nasim — whom she says was there the whole time, in her heart.

"I thank her continuously for being there and helping me get across," Maryam said. "Because I don't think I could've done it without her."

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<![CDATA[Youth Soccer Team Kicks Off SF's Renovated Fields ]]>564759462Mon, 11 Nov 2019 11:21:01 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/SF-Soccer-Field.jpg

A youth soccer team took the first kick at the reopening Friday of the Silver Terrace Playground athletic field in San Francisco's Bayview District.

The 145,000-square-foot athletic field, which has a soccer pitch and two baseball diamonds, was renovated over the past three months by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

The $4.8 million in upgrades replaced the field's synthetic turf and added new soccer goals, benches, trash cans, backstops, gates and a drinking fountain with a water bottle filler, according to city officials.

The overhaul also included accessibility improvements to the Silver Avenue entrance and park restroom.

Bayview United, an SF Rec and Park youth soccer team, held a ceremonial first kick on the new playing field on Friday.

"The community has been the driving force behind this renovation," said San Francisco Recreation and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg in a news release on Friday.

"Silver Terrace is an important hub for young athletes and their fans, as well as a beloved neighborhood gathering space."

In 2006, Silver Terrace was the second field to be renovated under the Playfields Initiative, a $52 million public-private partnership between the City Fields Foundation and SF Rec and Park.

City Fields Foundation was established by Bob, Bill and John Fisher to help San Francisco upgrade its run-down athletic fields and provide more play space for the city's 800,000 children and adults.

In six years, the initiative renovated 12 athletic fields in six parks with synthetic turf and night lights and reorganized the city's antiquated field permit system. The efforts added more than 66,000 hours of annual playtime to San Francisco's parks and put the city on track to eliminate the deficit of athletic fields for local kids.

Photo Credit: San Francisco Recreation and Park Department
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<![CDATA[SFMTA, Bay Wheels Reach Agreement for Stationless Bikes]]>564757632Mon, 11 Nov 2019 10:27:23 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/170*120/GettyImages-168420218.jpg

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on Friday announced an agreement with the bike-sharing program Bay Wheels to provide 4,000 stationless e-bikes throughout the city.

The rollout of the e-bikes, operated by Lyft, will begin in December and go through April 2020.

The e-bikes will work as hybrids that can be docked at stations but will also be able to be locked to bike racks around the city.

There are currently 4,500 bikes operating in the city under SFMTA's contract with Bay Wheels, so the new agreement will increase that number to 8,500.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Police Seek Suspects Involved in Chinatown Violent Attack]]>564755072Mon, 11 Nov 2019 10:37:02 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/183*120/GettyImages-945475338.jpg

Concern is spreading through San Francisco's Chinatown after video of a disturbing attack surfaced on social media.

The incident in which three men were injured, happened Saturday near Portsmouth Square at around 9 p.m. Police was called to the scene after reports of robbery but upon arrival, officers found three men who had been badly beaten.

The video shows one of the suspected attackers violently hitting a man. Shortly after, another man is hit and abruptly falls to the floor.

Following the attack, the suspects drive off in a dark-colored SUV. According to witnesses, four people were inside the SUV.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin says officers have several very good leads, including information from a potentially related violent purse snatching outside a bakery on Jackson Street the night before.

"This appears to be the same vehicle that was involved in a robbery on Friday evening, November the 8th," he said.

Portsmouth Square is a popular hangout place for Chinatown residents, and its affectionately called the "living room" because people gather there daily.

Peskin said the area is largely occupied by senior citizens.

The men who were injured in the attack were treated by medics. One had minor injuries and two others were transported to a local hospital and have already been released.

Photo Credit: Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[San Francisco Hosting Parade, Ceremony to Honor Veterans]]>564725851Sun, 10 Nov 2019 10:53:20 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-873102302.jpg

San Francisco will honor Veterans Day with events on Sunday and Monday.

The San Francisco Mayor's Salute to Veterans Parade starts at 11 a.m. Sunday at Fisherman's Wharf on Jefferson Street and will proceed west to the reviewing stand on Jefferson at Leavenworth Street.

This is the 100th parade, which is organized annually by local members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

"The first was held in 1919 to honor the San Franciscans of the 363rd Infantry Regiment of the 91st Division, when they returned from France after the end of World War I," according to the VFW.

A Veterans Day ceremony will be held from 11 a.m. to noon Monday at the Korean War Memorial at Lincoln Boulevard and Sheridan Avenue in the Presidio, with the Korean War Memorial Foundation as one of the hosts.

Photo Credit: NurPhoto via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Suzy Loftus Concedes SF District Attorney Race]]>564712882Sun, 10 Nov 2019 00:09:24 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SF+DA+race1.jpg

Interim district attorney and candidate Suzy Loftus tweeted Saturday what appeared to be a concession to opponent Chesa Boudin in San Francisco’s close district attorney race.

"I didn't win the race, but we won the support of so many San Franciscans who are demanding that our city work together to build safety. Congratulations to Chesa Boudin. I will work to ensure a smooth and immediate transition," Loftus said in a tweet.

Boudin also took to twitter Saturday afternoon with a post that simply said, “San Francisco. We did it.”

According to the San Francisco County website Loftus came in at 31.13% with 59,454 votes. Boudin hit 35.56% with 67,919 votes.

San Francisco’s race for district attorney had been too close to call for several days after Tuesday’s ballots were cast in the city’s new ranked-choice voting system.

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<![CDATA[San Francisco Construction Worker Falls 40 Feet]]>564711702Sat, 09 Nov 2019 21:07:30 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Fallen+Construction+Worker.jpg

A construction worker is in the hospital after falling 40 feet at a construction site in San Francisco, fire officials confirmed.

He was part of a crew assembling a large crane at a project on 11th Street between Market and Mission streets. The worker was on an elevated platform when a pin came loose and sent both to the ground.

The worker is in serious condition at a local trauma center but is expected to survive. 

Inspectors with California Division of Occupational Safety and Health are investigating.

<![CDATA[Spare the Air Alerts Called for Saturday and Sunday]]>564707052Sat, 09 Nov 2019 12:18:47 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/HazyBayArea.jpg

A high-pressure system trapping smoke over the Bay Area spurred the air district to issue the winter season's first Spare the Air alerts for Saturday and Sunday.

Burning wood, manufactured fire logs or any other solid fuel, both indoors and outdoors, is banned this weekend, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said.

"Smoke from the 1.4 million fireplaces throughout the region can cause significant smoke buildup, similar to wildfire smoke, especially in inland valleys," said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the air district.

Cold temperatures, combined with calm winds can trap smoke and increase fine particulate pollution buildup inside and outside residences.

Natural gas, propane or electric fireplaces are allowed during Winter Spare the Air Alerts.

Exemptions to the wood-burning ban are available for homes without permanently installed heating, where wood stoves or fireplaces are the only source of heat.

Anyone whose sole source of heat is a wood-burning device must use an EPA-certified or pellet-fueled device that is registered with the Air District to qualify for an exemption. An open-hearth fireplace no longer qualifies for an exemption.

In San Francisco, the National Park Service also prohibits recreational beach fires at Ocean Beach in Golden Gate National Recreation Area through the end of February.

First-time violators of the wood-burning rule are encouraged to take a wood smoke awareness course. Those violators who choose not to take the course will receive a $100 ticket.

Second violations are subject to a $500 ticket, with the ticket amount increasing for any subsequent violations.

Bay Area residents can find out if a Winter Spare the Air Alert is in effect by:

  • Signing up for text alerts. To sign up, text the word "START" to the number 817-57
  • Calling 1-877-4NO-BURN
  • Visiting www.sparetheair.org or www.baaqmd.gov
  • Signing up for automatic e-mail AirAlerts at www.sparetheair.org
  • Signing up for automatic phone alerts at www.sparetheair.org
  • Downloading the Spare the Air iPhone or Android app

Photo Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[47% Drop in SFPD Use of Force Incidents Since 2016: Data]]>564706262Sat, 09 Nov 2019 10:54:53 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SFPDGeneric4.jpg

Use of force by San Francisco Police Department officers has dropped over the last three years by 47 percent, according to new data released by the department on Friday.

The third quarter Use of Force, Arrest and Police Encounters Report showed overall use of force has dropped in the city by nearly half since the police department first started reporting such data in July 2016, as required by an ordinance passed by supervisors that same year.

According to the report, in this year's third quarter, police counted 500 use of force instances. That translates to a 24 percent decrease in use of force compared to 2018's third quarter report.

Police Chief William Scott credited the drop in numbers to an ongoing effort by police to deter violent crime.

"We know that our focus on de-escalation and proportionality is creating more positive outcomes," he said.

"San Francisco continues to see a decline in violent crimes, thanks to our continued collaboration with the public. From our foot beats to our station staff, we are committed to working with our communities to increase trust and build an even safer San Francisco," he said.

The report additionally showed that the drop in use of force was generally uniform across all demographic groups, including age, race and gender.

It also showed that no use of force incidents resulted in death in 2019's third quarter. The last officer-involved shooting in San Francisco resulting in death happened in June 2018.

On the flip side, the report showed that assaults against officers increased by 7 percent compared to the third quarter in 2018.

According to SFPD's Assistant Chief Mike Redmond, the drop in use of force numbers can also be credited to the department's ongoing Crisis Intervention Team training and the newly implemented Critical Mindset Coordinated Response training. Both trainings teach officers crisis response strategies.

"All of it has to do with training and preparing the officers to be able to respond in a real time situation," Redmond said.

"Part of this training, it's really out of the classroom. It's very scenario based training," he said. "They're not sitting in the classroom getting talked to. They're in the scenarios that they see everyday out in the streets."

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Vehicle Strikes Man Riding Electric Bike in San Francisco]]>564698741Fri, 08 Nov 2019 22:23:41 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bike+accident1.JPG

A man is in critical condition Friday after being struck by a vehicle while riding an electric bicycle in San Francisco.

At about 6:20 p.m. officers responded to the intersection of Fulton Street and Webster Street where a sedan had struck the cyclist, a man in his 20s who suffered head trauma. It is not known if the man was wearing a helmet, authorities said.

The driver of the sedan, who had two passengers, is cooperating with police.

One block of Fulton Street remains closed for investigation, police said.

<![CDATA[Boudin Takes Narrow Lead in SF District Attorney Race]]>564697691Fri, 08 Nov 2019 21:47:32 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SF+DA+race.jpg

In a surprising turn of events, the latest results from Tuesday's election show Chesa Boudin taking a slight lead over Suzy Loftus in the race for San Francisco District Attorney.

The latest numbers, released Friday, showed Boudin narrowly leading with 78,809 votes to Interim District Attorney Loftus' 78,653 votes. The two candidates are only separated by 156 votes.

As of Friday, Chesa is in the lead with 50.05 percent of the votes. Just as of Thursday, however, Loftus led the race with a 50.33 percent lead.

Boudin responded to the latest numbers on Twitter, saying, "San Francisco!! We are all feeling the momentum for change in this city!"

Candidates Nancy Tung and Leif Dautch have already been eliminated due to ranked-choice voting.

In the race for District 5 supervisor, Friday's election results showed newcomer Dean Preston maintaining a very slight lead over Supervisor Vallie Brown.

Preston currently has 10,651 votes, just 35 votes more than Brown's 10,616 votes. The numbers leave Preston with 50.08 percent of the vote, while Brown has 49.92 percent.

Meanwhile Proposition D, the only citywide ballot measure that seems to be in question, appears to be passing narrowly.

Currently, 67.58 percent of the voters voted in favor of the proposition, while 32.42 percent voted to oppose it.

The measure, which would impose a 3.25 percent tax to single rides or a 1.5 percent rate to shared rides for companies like Uber and Lyft, needs two-thirds majority approval to pass.

According to officials with the city's Department of Elections, the department still has to process 15,500 ballots. That number includes about 1,500 vote-by-mail ballots and about 14,000 provisional and conditional voter registration ballots.

<![CDATA[Mural of Activist Greta Thunberg Going Up in San Francisco]]>564697321Sat, 09 Nov 2019 12:57:36 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/greta-mural-AP_19312752092180.jpg

Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg is staring down at pedestrians in the heart of San Francisco where an artist is painting a massive mural of the Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

Argentine muralist Andres Iglesias, who signs his art with the pseudonym Cobre, is set to finish the artwork of the Swedish 16-year-old in Union Square by next week, SFGate reported Friday.

Iglesias told SFGate that he's donating his time to complete the work and that he hopes the mural helps people realize "we have to take care of the world."

He had also painted a mural of Robin Williams in downtown San Francisco that has since been demolished.

Cobre said he was searching for a building for a new mural when environmental nonprofit oneatmosphere.org approached him about the project.

Paul Scott, the nonprofit's executive director, said he believed the artist would be perfect to create the first of what his group hopes will be a series of works honoring climate-change activists.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: Ben Margot/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Home Prices Continue to Slide: Study]]>564685281Sat, 09 Nov 2019 10:46:54 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/for+sale+generic+resized.jpg

A strong economy, low unemployment, and a booming stock market.

So this next statement may surprise you: There is new evidence that the demand for Bay Area homes is cooling and prices keep falling.

If you're in the market to buy a home in the Bay Area, here's some good news from data analytics company CoreLogic. According to the company's latest research, home prices in most Bay Area counties are falling.

The median sales price for new homes dropped 7.1% In addition, previously sold homes saw a price drop of 4.7% compared to last year.

"I think the immediate trigger a year ago was the run up in mortgage rates," said Dr. Frank Nothaft, a chief economist at CoreLogic. "Mortgage rates got posted about 5% a year ago and that put up a chill on all potential buyers in the market place. When mortgage rates go up, that means the monthly mortgage payment is just taking that much bigger of a bite from family income."

San Jose-based realtor Holly Barr said she has seen prices sliding for more than a year now.

"If you look at the trend over the last two years, it's definitely come down," Barr said.

In her market of Willow Glen, Holly's gotten less "all cash" buyers and seen clients' homes sit on the market for an average of 25 days before a sale. A couple years ago your home would likely sell in less than 10 days and you would get several hundred-thousand dollars over asking price.

"If it's in a beautiful neighborhood, all fixed up, highly desirable property, you will get multiple offers," Barr said. "It may not be the numbers we saw two years ago, probably won't go crazy over asking, but you'll maybe get two or three right around the asking price."

In September this year, CoreLogic reports the median sale price for all homes in the Bay Area was about $778,000 -- down from $815,000 last year.

Another study may offer another reason why prices are sliding. A San Francisco city survey reports that 35% of residents want to leave the city in the next three years.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Judge Delays Decision About Possible Resentencing for Mayor Breed's Brother]]>564669142Fri, 08 Nov 2019 12:04:42 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1218LondonBreed_5375514.JPEG

A San Francisco judge on Friday delayed a hearing for the possible resentencing of Mayor London Breed's brother until January. Breed's brother is serving a 44-year sentence for manslaughter, robbery and other crimes. Sharon Katsuda reports.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[35% of SF Residents Foresee Possibly Leaving: Survey]]>564656411Fri, 08 Nov 2019 06:43:40 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SFSkyline2.jpg

Roughly one out of three San Francisco residents polled in a city survey said they were "somewhat likely" or "very likely" to leave the city within the next three years.

The 2019 city survey reported that 35% of respondents were foreseeing possibly packing up and leaving. On the other side, 64% of respondents were "not likely at all" or "not too likely" to leave, according to the survey.

Younger respondents — those under the age of 35 — and newer residents — those who have lived in the city for five years or fewer — reported more so than older residents and those who have been living in the city for a longer period of time that they were "somewhat likely" or "very likely" to leave.

Renters were about twice as likely to foresee leaving compared to homeowners, according to the survey.

Residents' stances about moving out have remained "relatively consistent" for the last 14 years, according to the survey.

Photo Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[71% of CA Voters Support Tax on Plastics Manufacturers]]>564648761Thu, 07 Nov 2019 23:58:50 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-101659408.jpg

A new survey of California voters found that 71% support key policies of a 2020 ballot initiative to tax plastic manufacturers, officials with San Francisco-based Recology said Thursday.

The "California Recycling and Plastics Pollution Reduction Act of 2020" would assess a fee of up to 1 cent per plastic package. The fee could be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

Caryl Hart and Linda Escalante, two commissioners with the California Coastal Commission, and Recology's president and CEO Mike Sangiacomo filed the initiative with the state attorney general's office.

Money from the fee would go toward environmental restoration and improving recycling infrastructure.

Eric Potashner, vice president of strategic affairs at Recology, said the company needs at least one optical scanner and machine learning technology so its machines can do a better job of separating recycling from landfill materials.

The measure would also ban the distribution of Styrofoam by food vendors and require all packaging be compostable, reusable or recyclable by 2030. It would also give CalRecycle the ability to reduce plastic packaging

and single-use plastic products through regulations.

CalRecycle administers and oversees California's state-managed recycling programs and non-hazardous waste handling.

The survey also found that 51% strongly favor the initiative while 20% somewhat favor it, and 24% oppose it.

The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 3.5%. Researchers used a 95% confidence interval.

The survey was conducted between June 6 and June 13, 2019.

Voters were asked, "Do you favor or oppose a proposal to reduce the use of packaging that cannot be recycled and generate funding for maintaining and expanding recycling, composting and beach clean-ups by charging manufacturers 1 cent for every item they sell in California with disposable packaging that cannot be recycled?"

Potashner said Recology can find a home for recycling rigid plastics such as detergent bottles. But film plastics such as plastic bags are not recyclable with current technology. So they end up in the landfill or some firms burn the film plastic.

Plastics harm marine wildlife and more recently it's become clear that people are ingesting microplastics.

"We're ingesting a lot of microplastics," Potashner said.

Microplastics are also showing up in snow and rainwater in the Rocky Mountains.

Not all is lost though. Potashner said 85% to 90% of what ends up in Recology's blue recycling bins is recyclable. About half of what is not is film plastic.

Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[NRA Drops lawsuit Over San Francisco's 'Terrorist' Label]]>564646911Sat, 09 Nov 2019 10:30:52 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/nRA3.jpg

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) The National Rifle Association has withdrawn its lawsuit against San Francisco over the city's resolution labeling the gun-rights group a "terrorist organization."

Lawyers for the NRA filed a notice of dismissal Thursday in U.S. District Court of Northern California.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement that he's pleased the organization "backed down on its frivolous lawsuit" to silence the politically liberal city.

The NRA's lawyer, William A. Brewer III, said in a statement that the group had achieved its goals.

The resolution contends the lobby uses its power to incite gun owners to acts of violence. It was nonbinding and did not require the city to investigate vendors' ties to the NRA as the organization claimed.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Loftus Maintains Narrow Lead Over Boudin in SF DA Race]]>564646391Thu, 07 Nov 2019 21:11:39 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Voters_Cast_Ballots_in_Closely_Watched_Races_in_NYC_NJ.jpg

Although the race for San Francisco District Attorney remains close, new election numbers released Thursday show Interim District Attorney Suzy Loftus maintaining a slight lead over challenger Chesa Boudin.

The latest voting results show Loftus narrowly leading with 67,916 votes to 67,037 for Boudin; a 50.33 to 49.67 percent margin.

Candidates Nancy Tung and Leif Dautch have already been eliminated due to ranked-choice voting.

In another close race, Thursday's election results showed Dean Preston slightly ahead of Supervisor Vallie Brown for the District 5 Supervisor race.

The latest results show Preston had 9,221 votes, ahead of Brown's 9,186, which translates to a 50.10 percent lead over Brown's 49.90 percent.

Thursday's results also showed Proposition D, a ballot measure that would impose a tax on rides in San Francisco from companies like Lyft and Uber, remains too close to call.

Currently, 67.31 percent of the voters voted in favor of the tax, while 32.69 percent voted to oppose it. The measure, which would add a 3.25 percent tax to single rides or a 1.5 percent rate to shared rides, needs two-thirds majority approval to pass.

Election officials said on Thursday that about 38,000 ballots still need to be processed, including 25,000 vote-by-mail ballots and 13,000 provisional and conditional voter registration ballots.

<![CDATA[Saudi Recruitment of Twitter Workers Reflects Insider Risks]]>564639521Thu, 07 Nov 2019 18:46:39 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/twitter-spies-1107.jpg

Allegations that two former Twitter employees spied on users for the Saudi government have spotlighted the threat posed by insiders who exploit their access to the mountains of sensitive data held by tech companies.

The Twitter case adds an alarming international dimension to the longstanding problem of rogue employees who steal information or snoop on others.

"It's stupid to think foreign intelligence services would spend tens of millions trying to hack a company like Twitter when they can pay less than $100,000 to bribe employees," cybersecurity expert Robert Graham of Errata Security said Thursday.

Detecting insider access isn't easy, despite the availability of tools to do so, experts say. Yet the wealth of data that these companies have turned them into lucrative targets.

Companies that provide email, social media, search and other services have troves of personal data, including users' location, hobbies, political views and connections to other users. Many services also have users' private emails and other conversations.

While activists fearing repercussions might use a pseudonym in public posts, that's ultimately tied to a real account. An employee can look up the email address or phone number used to sign up and the locations used to access the app.

The coordinated spying effort unveiled Wednesday included the user data of over 6,000 Twitter users, including at least 33 usernames for which Saudi Arabian law enforcement had submitted emergency disclosure requests to Twitter, investigators said.

Most big tech platforms already take measures to prevent employees from abusing their position to spy on a crush they saw on Tinder.

Detecting well-instructed moles working for foreign governments is a "whole different kind of problem" because they may be cannier about what data they access and how to justify it, said John Scott-Railton, a researcher with the internet watchdog Citizen Lab.

He said companies can erode collaboration and trust if they put up too many silos, but they become a target if they put up too few.

Wednesday's federal complaint in San Francisco alleged that the Twitter employees were able to access the private data, including a user's email account, despite holding jobs that didn't require access to Twitter users' private information. That violated company policy, according to the complaint.

Ahmad Abouammo and Ali Alzabarah were charged with acting as agents of Saudi Arabia without registering with the U.S. government. Prosecutors say they were rewarded by Saudi royal officials with a designer watch and tens of thousands of dollars funneled into secret bank accounts.

Twitter said in a statement that it "limits access to sensitive account information to a limited group of trained and vetted employees," but declined to elaborate on how the breach described by prosecutors happened. A year ago, after reports first surfaced of Twitter insiders targeting Saudi dissidents on the platform, the company said that "no other personnel have the ability to access this information, regardless of where they operate."

It's not clear how Twitter's security practices compare to other tech giants or if they have improved since 2015, when Abouammo and Alzabarah stopped working at the San Francisco company.

Google, Facebook and Apple didn't respond to email and phone requests for comment Thursday on how they prevent rogue employees from accessing users' email and other online services. Microsoft, which owns LinkedIn, declined comment.

"We should not assume that the Saudi government is the only government that has thought about doing this," said Suzanne Spaulding, a former undersecretary for cybersecurity at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Spaulding said tech companies that are holding so much private data need to do a better job of segregating that data and limiting who can see it. "These are people who didn't need access to this information to do their job," she said of the indicted former Twitter employees.

Jake Williams, president of Rendition Infosec and a former U.S. government hacker, said no one should be surprised when a foreign intelligence service infiltrates a big tech company. He said better auditing inside company networks can detect the espionage.

"Too often, logging is written purely for the purposes of troubleshooting outages and service issues, not tracking insiders," he said.

But Tarik Saleh, a security engineer at DomainTools, said it takes resources for companies to look for anomalies in employees' access to data. While artificial intelligence systems in recent years have had moderate success in automatically scanning for unusual activity, "once you're in the weeds, it's extremely difficult," he said. "Very few organizations can do it right, even sophisticated ones like the NSA or the CIA."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

<![CDATA[Former Wells Fargo Teller Alleges Manager Drugged, Raped Her]]>564632711Thu, 07 Nov 2019 16:10:11 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/9-13-2013-wells-fargo-generic.jpg

A former bank teller is suing Wells Fargo and the man who managed a San Francisco branch where she worked, alleging that he took the then-20-year-old woman out for drinks, then drugged and raped her in 2018.

The plaintiff had been working for Wells Fargo for about a year when she got promoted and transferred to a branch managed by Antonio Perez.

According to a civil complaint filed in Contra Costa County, Perez allegedly invited her out for drinks on or around June 2, 2018.

Despite her underage status, the lawsuit alleges Perez and another Wells Fargo manager got her into a bar and then a nightclub where Perez bought her drinks and ultimately slipped her the common date rape drug GHB.

She later vomited and lost consciousness, waking up in Perez's car while he was forcing himself on her, then lost consciousness again and awoke to find that she was being raped in his Pittsburg home, according to the lawsuit. She allegedly said "no," but was physically unable to resist due to the drugs in her system.

The victim went to a hospital the following day, where a rape kit was administered and doctors verified the presence of GHB in her system. She was also told later by an assistant manager at Wells Fargo that Perez may have drugged and raped at least one other employee prior to her assault, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiff's attorneys say the rape has had a significant impact on her career. She experienced suicidal ideation afterward, and never wanted to set foot inside the bank again. Her medical care providers also advised her not to return to the job.

When she applied for help through the bank's disability program, however, she was allegedly told that there was no reason she could not return to the job since Perez had been placed on leave.

The plaintiff's attorneys have argued that Perez's actions constituted sexual harassment based on the victim's sex, and that his conduct was severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

They accuse Wells Fargo of failing to take reasonable steps to prevent the harassment and assault from occurring. They're also suing for battery, sexual battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages as well as legal and court costs and any other relief the court finds to be appropriate.

When asked to comment on the case, Wells Fargo provided a statement indicating that they could not comment due to pending litigation.

<![CDATA['Groundmaking' Ceremony Held for Presidio Tunnel Tops Project]]>564615661Thu, 07 Nov 2019 10:53:15 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GroundmakingPresidioTunnelTops.jpg

Officials on Thursday held a "groundmaking" ceremony for a park that will eventually connect the Presidio of San Francisco with Crissy Field.

The Presidio Tunnel Tops park will be built on top of tunnels that allow Highway 101 motorists to travel through the area.

When it's complete in the fall of 2021, the park will feature playgrounds, fire pits, room to fly kites, and sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Angel Island and other prominent spots in and around San Francisco.

Thursday's ceremony was called a "groundmaking" due to the amount of soil that has to be brought in to make the project happen.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[1 Hospitalized Following San Francisco Shooting: Police]]>564614131Thu, 07 Nov 2019 10:19:43 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sfpd-generic-san-francisco-police.jpg

A person is hospitalized with non life-threatening injuries following a shooting in San Francisco, police said.

The shooting was reported after 10 a.m. Thursday in the area of Market Street and Golden Gate Avenue. Police said Golden Gate Avenue is closed between Market and 6th streets.

Witnesses said they heard about four gunshots.

Police are searching for a suspect.

No other information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[PG&E Swings to a Loss as Fire Costs Mount]]>564610951Thu, 07 Nov 2019 09:19:02 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/PGETruck1.jpg

Pacific Gas & Electric reported substantial losses for the third quarter on Thursday, driven by catastrophic wildfires that have been blamed on the utility’s outdated transmission lines. The company estimated those costs, which include the 2017 and 2018 fires, more rigorous inspection of its electrical equipment and customer billing credits due to blackouts, will be in excess of $6 billion this year.

Additionally, PG&E logged a $2.5 billion settlement with insurance companies for the 2017 and 2018 wildfires, bringing its total charges for the fires during those years to $20 billion, according to a filing with regulators.

PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January to deal with an estimated $30 billion in potential liabilities from wildfires that its equipment ignited and likely ignited in 2017 and 2018, including a wildfire last November that essentially wiped out the Northern California town of Paradise, killing dozens.

The company is also facing criticism for intentional blackouts that have left millions without power as it tries to limit wildfires during dry, windy conditions.

California officials and residents have expressed growing anger over the blackouts, which have left those without power struggling with to keep cellphones charged, find gas and withdraw cash. Businesses and schools were closed for days.

Some accused the company of instituting the blackouts to save money, but PG&E CEO Bill Johnson has said that the blackouts were "well planned and executed" and done "solely in the interest of public safety."

California governor Gavin Newsom last week threatened a possible takeover of the troubled utility unless it can emerge from bankruptcy ahead of next year’s wildfire season with a plan focused on safety. The company has said it prefers to work its way out of bankruptcy protection, but will need the help of government, insurance companies and investors.

Newsom called Johnson into a closed-door meeting Tuesday.

San Francisco, where PG&E was founded more than a century ago, began examining options for taking over pieces of the utility after it filed for bankruptcy protection in January.

Since then, PG&E’s shareholders and creditors have battled for control of the company, putting forth competing plans in bankruptcy court that would maintain PG&E’s long-running setup as a for-profit company.

If the state were to take over Pacific Gas & Electric Corp., it would present both advantages and risks.

The utility would no longer be required to pay out dividends or have at its core the duty to drive profits higher for shareholders. That would free up capital to improve infrastructure.

However, a state takeover could carry with it significant risk.

Fifteen of the 20 most destructive California wildfires have occurred in the past 20 years. During that same period, 10 of the state’s 20 deadliest wildfires have broken out, including four in just the past two years. Sixteen of the state’s 20 largest wildfires have erupted since 1998.

The toll of increasingly common wildfires are playing out at the publicly traded PG&E right now.

The state’s largest utility on Thursday swung to a loss of $1.62 billion, after a profit of $564 million in the same period last year.

That’s a per-share loss of $3.06, or $1.11 when one-time costs are removed. Revenue was $4.43 billion.

Shares in PG&E fell more than 10% to $6.12 per share. Exactly one year ago they were trading at $48 per share, a day before the Camp Fire erupted in the Sierra Nevada foothills, killing 85 people and incinerating about 19,000 homes.

PG&E serves about 16 million people in 70,000 square miles in northern and central areas of the state.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Federal Ban on Flavored Vape Products Is Imminent: Report]]>564604212Thu, 07 Nov 2019 06:37:53 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Federal_Ban_on_Flavored_Vape_Products_Is_Imminent__Repo.jpg

San Francisco voters this week overwhelmingly showed support for the city's ban on vaping products, but it looks like a federal ban could happen even sooner. Sharon Katsuda reports.]]>
<![CDATA[Parents Outraged at Apparent SF Middle School 'Fight Club']]>564596681Thu, 07 Nov 2019 17:51:02 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/generic+school+students.jpg

Parents at a middle school in San Francisco were outraged Wednesday after videos surfaced on social media showing students participating in what is believed to be a "fight club."

The organized fights are being set up by students at Everett Middle School, a relative of one of the students told NBC Bay Area sister station Telemundo 48. Clips of the fights surfaced on Instagram.

The relative called it a "fight club," and she said she met with the school's principal, Lindsay Dowdle, on Tuesday to show her the videos.

The San Francisco Unified School District released a statement Wednesday, saying in part, "The school is aware of these incidents. The families of the students involved were contacted, and the students have received disciplinary action."

<![CDATA[Controversial Chant Leads to SF Election Night Drama]]>564587841Wed, 06 Nov 2019 23:40:33 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/11062019Elections_9466095.JPG

The battle for San Francisco district attorney is still too close to call, but there is a new twist surrounding the race and it has nothing to do with the candidates.

As of late Wednesday, returns showed the top two candidates are interim District Attorney Suzy Loftus and Deputy Public Defender Chesa Boudin.

The race was already tight and contentious, but a chant led by city leaders at an election party has pitted a city leader against the head of the police officers association.

While onstage at an election night party for Boudin, San Francisco Supervisor Sandra Fewer is captured on video leading a vulgar chant against the city's police officers association. Boudin said he wasn't involved.

"I understand where the frustration comes from, I didn't appreciate the POA's role in this case. I think it was really misleading and dishonest," Boudin said.

During the race, the San Francisco Police Officers Association released attack ads and fliers against Boudin.

The POA on Wednesday delivered Fewer a letter, along with two boxes of soap "so she can clean up her language."

In the letter, POA President Tony Montoya called for an apology for the chant, which he calls an "unhinged attack" on police. Fewer responded with an apology for officers, but not to the POA's leadership. She calls their campaign ads "an example of the organization tone deaf and poisonous rhetoric attempting to influence city elections."

Fresh off her victory, Mayor London Breed weighed in calling for unity.

"I don't think it helps our city to be divisive and to create an atmosphere that is divisive when we should be working together," Breed said. "I don't think it helps our city to be divisive and to create an atmosphere that is divisive when we should be working together."

Amid the drama, the race for DA is still too close to call and ballots are still being processed.

"We expect to get through the vote by mail ballot processing for this election mostly by this Friday," San Francisco Director of Elections John Artz said.

Loftus was not available for an interview Wednesday, but her campaign provided a statement saying she looks forward to seeing the final results acknowledging as that the race is too close to call.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[SF Union Square Holiday Ice Rink Opens Wednesday]]>564547351Wed, 06 Nov 2019 04:41:08 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sf_ice_rink_1107_4867545.JPG

The holiday ice rink at Union Square in San Francisco opens Wednesday morning, organizers said.

Safeway is sponsoring the rink, which is in its 12th season, and the season gets underway at 9:30 a.m. with a dance by the cast of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child."

Following the dance, performances and remarks by others, school children will go on the ice for the season's first skate.

The rink is open daily from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and is located at 333 Post St.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[SF Voters Appear to Uphold City's Vaping Ban]]>564545551Wed, 06 Nov 2019 00:59:48 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Generic+Vaping+Generic+Young+Woman.jpg

San Franciscans appear to have overwhelmingly defeated Proposition C in Tuesday's election, meaning a citywide ban on electronic cigarette sales could go into effect next year, according to preliminary election results.

Early results show that more than 80% voted against Prop C. The proposition requires majority approval to pass.

Prop C was placed on the ballot by San Francisco-based e-cigarette maker Juul Labs earlier this year after the city's Board of Supervisors passed legislation banning the citywide sale of electronic cigarettes pending a review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who actively supported the No on Prop. C campaign, said in a statement Tuesday night, "Juul is Big Tobacco, and it's using a classic ploy from the Big Tobacco playbook to try and hook another generation of kids on nicotine. Voters saw right through Juul's deception.

"San Francisco already has the toughest e-cigarette regulations in the nation. By law, e-cigarettes must undergo FDA review to ensure they are safe for public health. Complete FDA review and you can sell your product here. If you don't, you can't. It's that simple," Herrera said.

"Juul spent millions trying to mislead San Franciscans and rewrite the rules to benefit itself before realizing that was a fool's errand. It could have put that time and effort into completing the required FDA review," he said. "Perhaps FDA review is a test that Juul is afraid it can't pass."

Although Juul initially backed the Yes on Prop C campaign, in late September the company announced it would step away from actively supporting Prop C. The company said it would instead focus on working cooperatively with regulators, policymakers and stakeholders to combat underage use while providing an alternative for adult cigarette smokers.

If the measure is certified as defeated, the ban on e-cigarette sales would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mayor Breed Re-Elected, DA Race Too Close to Call]]>564545361Wed, 06 Nov 2019 21:04:25 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/london-breed-1105.jpg

San Francisco Mayor London Breed has been re-elected after early returns in her bid for re-election Tuesday night with more than 69% of the vote, according to the Department of Elections.

Although Breed won the mayoral election last year following the sudden death of Mayor Ed Lee, she was elected only to serve until the end of Lee's term. When certified as the winner this time, Breed will begin serving her first full term as mayor on Jan. 1, 2020.

Breed took the stage at Swedish American Hall on Market Street to thank the gathering for supporting Proposition A, her affordable housing measure, and during her speech she said, "I would also like to thank you for honoring me with four more years as your mayor."

Breed's nearest challenger was Ellen Zhou, with over 16% of the vote.

Elsewhere on the San Francisco ballot, the race for district attorney was far too close to call early Wednesday, with current DA Suzy Loftus ahead of Chesa Boudin by just 240 points. 

In the latest update posted after midnight, Boudin had more than 2,000 raw votes than Loftus, but after multiple rounds of ranked-choice voting that eliminated candidates Nancy Tung and Leif Dautch, Loftus had 47,234 votes to 46,994 for Boudin, a 50.13% to 49.87% margin.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Decision 2019: The Race for San Francisco District Attorney]]>564535582Tue, 05 Nov 2019 18:31:01 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-620878106.jpg

It's an off year, so there aren't many contested races for Election Day in the Bay Area. But in San Francisco, four candidates are running for district attorney. Mark Matthews reports.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Air Advisory Extended as Wildfire Smoke Drifts to Bay Area]]>564510621Tue, 05 Nov 2019 10:04:04 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SmokeBayArea.jpg

An air quality advisory due to smoke from the Ranch Fire in Tehama County has been extended through Wednesday.

Northerly winds near the blaze, burning south of Redding, will allow for some smoke to drift to the Bay Area, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Although the smoke is expected to cause hazy skies and potentially elevated hourly air quality readings for fine particulates on Tuesday and Wednesday, it's not expected to exceed the federal health standard.

If the smell of smoke is present, Bay Area residents should avoid exposure. If possible, residents should stay inside with windows and doors closed until smoke levels subside, the air district said.

It is also recommended that Bay Area residents set air conditioning units and car vent systems to re-circulate to prevent outside air from moving inside.

Real-time air quality readings are available here.

Photo Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Accused Fatally Striking Partner With Truck in SF]]>564509561Tue, 05 Nov 2019 09:43:10 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0611SFPD_7544004.JPG

A woman accused of fatally striking her partner with a truck and then leaving the scene last month has been charged with murder, police said Monday.

The fatal collision happened on Oct. 26 in the 1000 block of Gilman Avenue in the city's Bayview District.

Officers responded to a report of a person down in a parking lot and upon arrival, they found a man suffering from apparent injuries.

He was taken from the scene to the hospital, but died a short while later, police said. The city's medical examiner's office later identified him as 41-year-old Robert Walsh.

After investigating Walsh's death and determining that he had been struck by a truck, officers were able to identify a suspect driver as 42-year-old Berneca Morton, police said.

Morton has been booked into jail on suspicion of homicide, felony hit-and-run and corporal injury of a spouse or cohabitee, according to police.

Morton, who is being held without bail, is set to appear in court on Tuesday.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[SERIES: Who Owns Silicon Valley?]]>564523961Thu, 21 Nov 2019 16:17:42 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/199*120/WOSV_header_image2.jpg

These stories are part of a multi-newsroom investigative project involving Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, The Mercury News, KQED and Telemundo 48 Área de la Bahía.

Part 1: Who Owns Silicon Valley?

Stanford University, Apple, Google, Cisco, Intel and several real estate companies are among Silicon Valley’s top property owners according to an analysis of Santa Clara County assessor records for 2018. Click here to see the full story.

Part 2: Who Owns Silicon Valley: Stanford?

From Hewlett-Packard computers to Google search engines, Stanford University is credited with some of Silicon Valley’s biggest innovations. But is the university also partly to blame for the region’s biggest problem – the housing crisis? Click here to see the full story.

Part 3: Tale of Two Tech Titans and Their Response to Silicon Valley Housing Crisis

With the proposed development of downtown San Jose, one giant tech company takes a different approach compared to the recent development of the “Spaceship” campus down the road. Click here to see the full story.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[San Francisco’s Mayor Eyes Housing Bond, DA’s Race on Ballot]]>564347941Tue, 05 Nov 2019 21:30:45 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/LondonBreed1.jpg

After a bruising fight last year to become San Francisco's mayor, London Breed faces token opposition on Tuesday’s ballot as she struggles to find solutions to the city’s homelessness crisis, drug epidemic and a housing shortfall that have put the politically liberal city in the national spotlight.

The former president of the Board of Supervisors and San Francisco native narrowly won a special June 2018 election to fill the seat left vacant by the sudden death of Mayor Ed Lee. She is the first African American woman elected as mayor of San Francisco, which has a population of 890,000.

She faces a daunting list of ills to fix.

While sprawling tent encampments are largely gone, homelessness surged 17% over two years, led by an increase in the number of people living in vehicles. The median sale price of a home is at least $1.4 million, and traffic remains a nightmare. Office workers zip by on sleek scooters while the impoverished sleep in doorways.

"There's still a lot of anxiety," said Corey Cook, a political science professor and a vice provost at Saint Mary’s College. "The city is in a deep conversation about whether and how to make San Francisco a vibrant, diverse, equitable, livable city."

President Donald Trump dumped on San Francisco in September, accusing officials of allowing used needles and waste from homeless people to go through storm drains and into the Pacific Ocean. City officials denied the allegation.

Closer to home, opponents of a proposed homeless shelter along the city’s waterfront angrily shouted down the mayor at a heated hearing in April.

Breed said she gets their frustration.

"They were upset. They were concerned. They didn’t feel safe for various reasons, so I understand that," the mayor said. "I also understand that as a city we have to address homelessness and these people aren’t just going to disappear."

The mayor, who was raised by her grandmother in public housing, is striving to make a notoriously inequitable city into one where everyone has a shot at quality housing, great education and well-paying jobs.

"I want to see a better city, a better city where the investments and policy changes actually have a significant impact," Breed, 45, said in an interview with The Associated Press.

She wants to build more units faster and in taller buildings and is frustrated by critics on the Board of Supervisors and elsewhere who see her position as a giveaway to market-rate developers.

Last year, Breed won by just over 2,500 votes out of more than 200,000 ballots cast.

The race was divisive, with critics painting Breed as the pick of the business and political establishment and her challengers, former state Sen. Mark Leno and then-Supervisor Jane Kim, as fresh faces capable of taking the city in a more politically liberal direction.

This time, Breed faces five little-known candidates without much money. Her closest competitor in fundraising is Ellen Lee Zhou, who has raised about $80,000 to Breed’s $600,000. Zhou faults Breed for not doing more to combat crime, help the homeless and clean up city streets.

But the lack of serious opposition suggests voters want to give her time, political experts say.

"While to some extent this is a reelection, she’s not really had much more than a year on the job, so you have to give her the space and the opportunity to try to address some of these issues," Cook said.

Breed is campaigning for Proposition A, which would allow the city to sell $600 million in bonds for affordable housing. She also backs Proposition E, which would speed up the construction of housing on public land, especially for teachers, who are increasingly unable to live in the city in which they teach.

Like most of the city's elected leaders, Breed opposes Proposition C, which was put on the ballot by electronic cigarette maker Juul Labs to overturn a citywide ban on all e-cigarette sales. San Francisco-based Juul Labs spent about $12 million supporting the measure before suspending the campaign in September.

Juul joins R.J. Reynolds and the soda beverage industry in spending heavily in recent years to overturn restrictions imposed by the health-conscious city.

Breed is also deeply invested in two other high-profile races where her appointees face serious opposition. In a race for a seat on the 11-member Board of Supervisors, her appointee Vallie Brown faces a challenge from tenant rights activist Dean Preston.

In the race for district attorney, her pick Suzy Loftus faces three contenders, including Chesa Boudin, a lawyer with the public defender’s office who is strongly opposed by the San Francisco police union.

Breed was accused of cronyism when she tapped Loftus to fill the remaining term of George Gascón, who resigned as district attorney three weeks before the November election, to run for office in Los Angeles.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California accused Breed of undermining the democratic process.

Jon Golinger, a political strategist who ran Kim’s campaign for mayor last year, said it’s fair for Breed to get more time as mayor. But the winners of these two races may tip where voters are at when it comes to their mayor, he said.

"Are the voters selecting her for a full term and saying, 'We want to give you the support to do the job?'" he said. "Or are they saying, 'While we’re not going to kick you out, we do want a heavy counterweight?'"

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Deadly Shooting in Orinda May Be Linked to 2015 SF Slayings]]>564489891Wed, 06 Nov 2019 03:32:00 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Memorials_Created_to_Honor_Victims_of_Orinda_Shooting.jpg

Authorities in Orinda are looking into the possibility a deadly Halloween night shooting during a house party at an Airbnb rental was linked to a quadruple fatal shooting in San Francisco in 2015.

A victim in the Orinda shooting, Tiyon Farley, 22, of Antioch, is the younger brother of Lee Farley Jr., the man charged in the killings of four young men in San Francisco's Hayes Valley on Jan. 9, 2015, San Francisco police sources told NBC Bay Area.

Another Orinda victim, Ramon Hill Jr., also was being investigated as a possible suspect in the 2015 homicides. Both Tiyon Farley and Hill allegedly were members of the "Page Street Mob gang, police sources said.

San Francisco police are assisting in the Orinda investigation as to the possibility it was a retaliatory attack, sources said.

In all, five people died in Thursday night's shooting at a home in the 100 block of Lucille Way in Orinda. No suspects have been arrested or identified, police said.

In the Hayes Valley shooting four years ago, the four young men were killed while they sat double-parked in a stolen car in what was likely a gang-related attack, police said.

The San Francisco Medical Examiner identified the victims in that 2015 shooting as: Yalani Chinyamurindi, 19; Harith Atchan, 21; and Manuel O’Neal, 22, all of San Francisco; and David Saucier, 20, of Antioch.

In the wake of the Orinda shooting, city leaders there were set to discuss the city's policies on short-term rentals during their regular City Council meeting Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, an attorney for the owners of the home where the shooting took place released a statement late Tuesday:

"The owners of 114 Lucille Way, Orinda are deeply concerned about the tragedy that occurred last Thursday night in Orinda and at the house they own. They are shocked at what occurred, and share the same sorrow that the Orinda community feels. The owners will not be conducting any future short-term rentals at their property, they have cancelled all their November Airbnb bookings, and they will not be renewing their short-term rental registration when it comes up for renewal in mid-November."

<![CDATA[Judge Demands PG&E Explain Kincade Fire's Origin]]>564475551Mon, 04 Nov 2019 19:27:36 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/pgeGettyImages-1178415587.jpg

The federal judge overseeing PG&E’s probation for federal safety law violations on Monday ordered the bankrupt utility to explain how a previously inspected jumper cable on a transmission tower could have failed in high wind, apparently sparking the 78,000-acre Kincade wildfire.

U.S. Judge William Alsup gave the company until Nov. 29 to answer questions “all of which are intended to gather information to assess its compliance with conditions of probation.”

The company’s probation stems from its conviction of federal pipeline safety violations arising out of the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion that left eight people dead.

The judge also asked that the company detail the equipment failure and tree damage it found to its system during the two power shutoffs late last month, including the one it started on the night the Kincade Fire broke out on Oct. 23.

The company had shut off distribution lines nearby but said forecast winds were not strong enough to shut down transmission lines based on the company’s protocols.

Alsup asked the company to detail under what conditions a cable could separate, triggering lightning-like bursts of energy known as arcing.

“If a jumper cable separates and falls away from an energized transmission line, will any arcing or sparking plausibly occur, even briefly, between the energized line as it falls away?” the judge asked. “If a jumper cable becomes disconnected from an energized line, what other scenarios could plausibly produce sparking or arcing?”

He asked what could cause the jumper to separate from the line and for the utility to specify who inspected the tower last and how the check was performed. CEO Bill Johnson has said the tower was twice inspected this year, and the jumper that failed had been found to be in good condition.

“Should we now be worried that other jumper cables inspected in the same manner have potential failures that have gone undetected?” the judge asked. “How many structures have been lost and how many lives have been lost by wildfires arguably caused by PG&E distribution lines in 2019?”

The judge suggested the number so far will be lower than before due to planned power shutoffs, “but the Court (and the public) would appreciate a more precise answer.”

Photo Credit: PHILIP PACHECO/AFP via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Vigil Held at SF Church For Missing Pair on Small Plane]]>564330861Mon, 04 Nov 2019 07:18:55 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/missing-pair-plane-1103.jpg

The Third Baptist Church in San Francisco hosted a special vigil Sunday for a member of its congregation who's been missing for several days.

Justin Winfrey and his friend Kayla Rodriguez were supposed to be flying back to the Bay Area from Mendocino County several days ago, but they never made it.

A search has since been organized to try to find the pair.

Rodriguez's father said by phone he and several others were out searching Sunday as they have been for several days.

People came together to pray and comfort each other at Sunday evening's vigil. For many, it was a somber event because it's been nearly a week and a half since friends Winfrey and Rodriguez had been seen.

The pair took off from an airport near Willits in Mendocino County aboard Winfrey's red single-engine plane. The plane disappeared from radar shortly after takeoff.

Friends and family were able to charter a helicopter to search along the Mendocino County coast over the weekend.

Many at the vigil were still holding on to the possibility they will soon be found.

"Praying that wherever he is, wherever they are, they're not suffering, that God is holding them in his hands," said Carol Ogilvie, Winfrey's godmother.

Sheila Brown, who works with Rodriguez, added: "Everyone is still looking and hoping that we find Kayla and Justin. Even a lot of our co-workers are out looking as well."

Brown and Rodriguez are nurses at California Pacific Medical Center's Mission-Bernal campus.

Winfrey recently got his pilot license and often takes friends on adventures with him.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and the San Francisco Police Department have investigators assigned to the ongoing search.

Anyone who has seen the pair or any sign of the aircraft should contact authorities with information.

<![CDATA[Horseback Riding Returns to Golden Gate Park]]>564285481Sat, 02 Nov 2019 09:55:00 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Horseback_Riding_Returns_to_Golden_Gate_Park.jpg

For the first time in nearly two decades, people visiting San Francisco's Golden Gate Park will have the chance to regularly ride horses, the city's Recreation and Park Department announced this week.

Horseback riding at the park will begin at Chaparral Ranch, located in the Bercut Equitation Field, and also include trail riding, children's pony rides, horse camp and riding lessons.

As part of the agreement with Chaparral Ranch, students at San Francisco Unified School District schools will be offered free visits. The ranch will also be open to local organizations, offering therapeutic riding programs for disabled and disadvantaged youth.

"Horses play a big part in Golden Gate Park's history and we're thrilled to have them back as our park turns 150," department general manager Phil Ginsburg said in a statement. "Chaparral Ranch's staff and horses are beloved by our Camp Mather families, and we are looking forward to a new generation of city kids falling in love with riding, nature and our equestrian trails."

Although Saturday marks Chaparral Ranch's grand opening at the park, it has provided trail rides for San Francisco families at Camp Mather, a Recreation and Park Department-run camp located in the High Sierra, for the past two years.

Regular horseback riding hasn't been available at the park since 2001, despite a brief pilot program back in 2017.

The new program will be available for six months. Afterward, department officials will review the program and possibly extend it.

Visitors can book rides and lessons at www.chaparralcorporation.com. The ranch is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

<![CDATA[Police in SF Seek Robbers Who Left Victim Critically Injured]]>564269091Fri, 01 Nov 2019 20:45:35 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Generic+Police+Car+Police+Tape.jpg

A man suffered life-threatening injuries during a robbery followed by a shooting on Halloween night in San Francisco's Hunters Point neighborhood, police said.

The shooting happened just after 10 p.m. near the corner of Navy Road and Griffith Street, police said.

Two men allegedly tried to rob the 20-year-old male victim of his property, but when he resisted one of the suspects shot him. The victim was taken to a hospital for his injuries, police said.

Officers were unable to locate the suspects and a description was not immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Horseback Riding Returns to Golden Gate Park]]>564256732Sat, 02 Nov 2019 12:39:42 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Horseback_Riding_Returns_to_Golden_Gate_Park.jpg

Public horseback riding returns to Golden Gate Park after a long absence. Christie Smith reports.]]>
<![CDATA[Eastbound Bay Bridge Reopens After Car-to-Car Shooting]]>564222721Fri, 01 Nov 2019 06:29:54 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BayBridgeInvestigation.png

All lanes reopened about 8:20 a.m. Friday on the eastbound side of the Bay Bridge near the toll plaza after an earlier car shooting, the California Highway Patrol said.

The shooting was reported about 6:45 a.m. after a CHP officer, on the westbound side of the toll plaza, heard gunshots. The officer saw a man in a compact silver SUV shooting at another vehicle, according to the CHP.

There were no injuries, but the victim's vehicle was damaged.

All eastbound lanes were initially closed for the investigation but have reopened, according to the CHP.

<![CDATA[Person Spotted Riding Apparent E-Scooter on Bay Bridge]]>564178142Thu, 31 Oct 2019 11:42:53 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Person_Spotted_Riding_E-Scooter_on_Bay_Bridge.jpg

Commuters leaving San Francisco Wednesday evening came across an unusual sight: someone riding what appeared to be an e-scooter across the lower deck of the Bay Bridge. (Video credit: Grace Vorreuter)]]>
<![CDATA[SF U.S. Judge Questions Healthcare Religious Refusal Rule]]>564152921Thu, 31 Oct 2019 02:35:09 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/021319+court+gavel+generic.jpg

A U.S. judge in San Francisco on Wednesday questioned the legal scope of a new federal rule that would greatly expand the rights of many types of workers to refuse to aid in providing health care on religious grounds.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup appeared to agree at least partially with arguments by the state of California, San Francisco and Santa Clara County that the administrative rule goes too far beyond religious freedom protections granted by Congress to doctors and nurses in existing laws.

"Your interpretation cannot add or subtract to what Congress has told us is in the law," Alsup told a U.S. Justice Department lawyer representing the Department of Health and Human Services.

The rule announced by the administration of President Donald Trump in May would allow workers who assist in federally funded health care to refuse to provide care or services on religious or moral grounds. Implementation of the rule has been delayed until Nov. 22.

The state and two local governments, joined by a group of medical providers, say the measure could apply to front office staff, call operators, ambulance drivers and janitors. Women seeking contraceptive care or abortions and LGBTQ people seeking care would most harmed by the rule, the plaintiffs say.

Workers would not be required to tell their supervisors they refused to help, and hospitals would not be allowed ask prospective employees about religious objections during job interviews.

Alsup asked Justice Department attorney Benjamin Takemoto, "Is it really true that you think that if an ambulance driver doing through Central Park finds out that a women needs an emergency procedure related to abortion, the driver can stop and say, 'Get out of my ambulance'?"

Takemoto said the hypothetical example was a "very speculative situation" and said the answer would depend on "the facts and circumstances of each case."

"I don't see anything in these statutes that could possibly justify an ambulance driver refusing emergency service," Alsup commented.

The state and local governments have asked Alsup to strike down the rule, and the Justice Department has asked him to dismiss the three lawsuits filed by California, San Francisco and Santa Clara County together with a group of doctors and clinics.

Alsup took the motions under submission after a four-hour hearing and said he will try to issue a ruling before Nov. 22.

The rule would deny federal health, welfare and education funds to state and local governments that don't comply. The state could risk losing $77.6 billion and San Francisco and Santa Clara County each $1 billion annually in federal funding, according to a brief they filed.

In addition to arguing the rule exceeds the protections authorized by Congress, the lawsuits claim the measure violates laws banning unreasonable barriers to patient care, violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on establishment of religion and intrudes on Congress's constitutional power to determine federal spending.

Justice Department lawyers have argued in filings that the rule carries out Congress's intent to protect the rights of conscience, and that "it is completely routine and unobjectionable for the federal government to encourage favored conduct through conditions on federal funding."

Three similar lawsuits, including one filed by 19 states led by the New York, are pending in federal court in New York City. A U.S. judge in Manhattan heard arguments on similar motions in those cases on Oct. 18.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Shake Shack Announces Upcoming Opening at Westfield Center]]>564147361Wed, 30 Oct 2019 21:36:01 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/coachellaC19_Shake-Shack_Shake+Burger.jpg

Popular East Coast burger chain Shake Shack has announced another upcoming Bay Area opening for 2020, this time in San Francisco’s Westfield Center at Fifth and Market streets, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

This announcement comes after a slew of upcoming and recent openings from the restaurant known for crinkle-cut fries and seasonal shakes. In August, Shake Shack announced plans to open a store on the ground-level of Uptown Station in Oakland. The burger chain recently opened locations in December in Palo Alto, Larkspur in March and another location in San Francisco’s Cow Hollow is set to open pending city review.

According to the Chronicle, it is not yet known which part of Westfield Center the restaurant will be in.

<![CDATA[Report: Many of U.S.'s Most Costly Commutes are in Bay Area]]>564083931Tue, 29 Oct 2019 23:00:22 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Traffic+Generic2.jpg

The Bay Area is home to four of the nation's 10 most costly commutes, according to a recent report from LendingTree, an online lending company.

The report, dubbed "Where Commutes Cost the Most," looks at 100 large U.S. cities and how they compare in terms of median full-time earnings, average working hours and average commute times.

Fremont tops the list, with workers there forking out a daily commute cost of $49, which translates into an annual cost of $12,801.

The data, based on 2017 numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, shows that Fremont workers' median earnings were $82,106, they worked an average of nearly 39 hours per week and endured an average one-way commute of nearly 35 minutes.

"Everyone knows time equals money and this is especially true in high-earning areas with lengthy commutes," LendingTree spokeswoman Megan Greuling said in an email.

Coming in second with a $45 daily commute cost is San Francisco, where workers earned a median wage of $80,812, worked an average of just over 40 hours per week and slogged through an average one-way commute of almost 34 minutes, according to the report.

That translates to a yearly commute cost $11,719.

San Jose holds the ninth spot on the list with an estimated commute cost of $32 -- based on median earnings of $61,999, an average work week of 38.3 hours and a average one-way commute of 31.3 minutes, the report says.

Oakland workers, with a daily commute cost of $33, median earnings of $56,307, an average work week of 38.7 hours and a average one-way commute of nearly 34 minutes, hold the 10th spot in the report.

New York came in fifth with a daily commute cost of $37, Washington, D.C., was sixth with a daily commute cost of $36 and Irvine in Southern California took the 4th spot with a $38 daily cost, according to the report.

The report did not take into effect the cost of gas, parking or vehicle maintenance or the cost of public transportation.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SF Voters to Decide on Affordable Housing for Teachers]]>564076751Tue, 29 Oct 2019 21:56:55 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Generic+classroom+IMG_8350-266.jpg

Every school day, Kimberly Rosario wakes up to drive from her home in Sacramento to San Francisco's Mission High.

"The magic wakeup time is 3:30 in the morning, on the road by 3:50 in the morning, arriving to school no later than 5:30 in the morning and then trying to get that rest before school starts," Rosario said.

The geometry teacher and Bay Area native says she makes about $70,000 a year and would make less in Sacramento.

"I left the Bay Area because the cost of living was increasing," Rosario said. "But if the cost of living was affordable for teachers, that would help a ton."

There are two propositions on the Nov. 5 ballot that could help.

Proposition A, an affordable housing bond, and Proposition E, which would allow the city to rezone areas for affordable housing and housing for teachers.

Anabel Ibanez, political director for the teachers union, supports both.

"The affordability crisis is a big issue," Ibanez said. "We believe it's in the right direction. It will provide housing to those educators who really need them."

Critics say lawmakers can already allow housing on public areas on a case-by-case basis. Even Rosario says even if Prop. E passes, it will be too late for her. But she cares too much about her students to leave just yet.

<![CDATA[Smoke Prompts Spare the Air Alert Across the Bay Area]]>563975771Mon, 28 Oct 2019 16:53:31 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KincadeFireSmoke.jpg

A Spare the Air Alert for smoke throughout the entire Bay Area region has been issued for Monday, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said.

"Currently, smoke from the Kincade Fire and other local fires is mostly being pushed over the Pacific Ocean due to strong winds or is aloft over the region - localized impacts closest to the fire continue," the air district said in a statement, noting that winds are expected to shift to the northwest starting Monday afternoon.

When the winds shift, smoke is expected to impact the entire Bay Area, especially the North Bay, San Francisco and the East Bay, according to the air district

"Air quality is expected to be unhealthy Monday due to smoke from the Kincade Fire and potentially other local fires," said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air District. "It is critical that residents follow evacuation orders and instructions from local health officials to protect their health."

People who smell smoke are encouraged to stay indoors and close all doors and windows. It is also recommended that people set their air conditioning units and car ventilation systems to recirculate mode in order to avoid the smoky air. 

For real-time air quality readings from the air district, click here.

Photo Credit: PHILIP PACHECO/AFP via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Another Round of PG&E Shutoffs Take Hold Across Bay Area]]>563938891Mon, 28 Oct 2019 00:39:45 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/179*120/GettyImages-1175098436.jpg

Hundreds of thousands of PG&E customers are without power in the utility's latest round of outages prompted by what officials forecasted to be the strongest wind event to hit Northern California in years.

This latest round of blackouts began Saturday and impacts up to 940,000 customers across 36 counties. The outages also come as firefighters continue to battle the devastating Kincade Fire, which has triggered what officials consider to be the largest evacuation in Sonoma County's history.

In the Bay Area, all counties except San Francisco are exeriencing some outages. The blackouts were expected to last through Monday, but PG&E has since warned several areas could be without power until Wednesday morning. Nearly 400,000 customers in the Bay Area are impacted in this latest round of power shutoffs.

The outages rolled out in the following counties in phases and began Saturday afternoon:

First Phase - 4 p.m. Saturday: Amador, Butte, El Dorado, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Joquin, Sierra, Shasta, Tehama and Yuba.

Second Phase - 5 p.m. Saturday: Colusa, Marin, Mendocino (south), Napa, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo

Third Phase midnight Sunday: Alpine, Calaveras, Mariposa and Tuolumne

Fourth Phase - 8 p.m. Saturday: Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Stanislaus.

Fifth Phase 8 p.m. Saturday: Humboldt, Mendocino (north), Siskiyou and Trinity

Sixth Phase 9 p.m. Sunday: Kern

Meanwhile, PG&E forecasted another wind event that could mean a second major electrical shutoff this week, lasting Tuesday night through Thursday morning, the utility announced Sunday.

The new event could extend to portions of 32 counties in the PG&E service area, covering the Northern and Southern Sierra, North Bay, Bay Area and Santa Cruz mountains, North Coast and Kern County.

Counties that fall under the new PSPS area include, Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Glenn, Humboldt, Kern, Lake, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yolo, and Yuba.

Twice over the past two weeks, PG&E has cut power to large areas of northern and central California to reduce the risk of its equipment sparking fires. Nearly 2 million people lost electricity earlier this month, and then as many as a half-million earlier this week.

Here's a breakdown of how many PG&E customers in the Bay Area are impacted by countyin the current shutoff:

  • Alameda: 57,002 (Albany, Berkeley, Canyon, Castro Valley, Dublin, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Oakland, Piedmont, Pleasanton, San Leandro, Sunol)
  • Contra Costa: 48,058 (Alamo, Antioch, Brentwood, Byron, Canyon, Clayton, Concord, Crockett, Danville, Diablo, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, Knightsen, Lafayette, Martinez, Moraga, Orinda, Pinole, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Port Costa, Richmond, Rodeo, San Pablo, San Ramon, Walnut Creek)
  • Marin: 118,535 (Belvedere, Bolinas, Corte Madera, Dillon Beach, Fairfax, Fallon, Forest Knolls, Greenbrae, Inverness, Kentfield, Lagunitas, Larkspur, Marshall, Mill Valley, Muir Beach, Nicasio, Novato, Olema, Point Reyes Station, Ross, San Anselmo, San Geronimo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Stinson Beach, Tiburon, Tomales, Woodacre)
  • Napa: 17,878 (Angwin, Calistoga, Deer Park, Lake Berryessa, Oakville, Pope Valley, Rutherford, St Helena, Yountville)
  • San Mateo: 57,218 (Belmont, Burlingame, Daly City, El Granada, Emerald Hills, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, La Honda, Loma Mar, Montara, Moss Beach, Pacifica, Pescadero, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Gregorio, San Mateo, South San Francisco, Woodside, Unincorporated Communities in Southwest San Mateo County)
  • Santa Clara: 27,094 (Coyote, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Redwood Estates, San Jose, San Martin)
  • Santa Cruz: 44,942 (Aptos, Ben Lomond, Brookdale, Capitola, Corralitos, Felton, Freedom, La Selva Beach, Mount Hermon, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Soquel)
  • Solano: 25,524 (Fairfield, Suisun City, Vacaville, Vallejo)
  • Sonoma: 95,647 (Annapolis, Bodega, Bodega Bay, Camp Meeker, Cazadero, Cloverdale, Cotati, Duncans Mills, Forestville, Freestone, Geyserville, Glen Ellen, Graton, Guerneville, Healdsburg, Jenner, Kenwood, Larkfield, Monte Rio, Occidental, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rio Nido, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Stewarts Point, Valley Ford, Villa Grande, Windsor)

The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AFP via Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[List: Bay Area Schools Close Due to Blackouts and Fire]]>563932601Wed, 30 Oct 2019 01:14:41 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Classroom-Generic-Getty.jpg

Thousands of customers across California are experiencing planned power safety shutoffs as PG&E cuts power due to high fire danger, and thousands more have been evacuated in the North Bay as the Kincade Fire rages. Due to these events, many evacuation centers have opened and schools have closed.

For list of evacuation centers click here.

Here's a list of Bay Area schools that will be closed Wednesday and beyond:

Marin County

 All public schools closed through Wednesday:

  • Bolinas-Stinson Union School District - All schools closed through Wednesday.
  • Dominican University of California - Closed Wednesday.
  • Kentfield School District - All schools closed through Wednesday.
  • Lagunitas School District - All schools closed through Wednesday.
  • Larkspur-Corte Madera School District - All schools closed through Wednesday.
  • Marin Community College District - All schools closed through Wednesday.
  • Marin County Office of Education District - All schools closed through Wednesday.
  • Mill Valley School District - All schools closed through Wednesday.
  • Miller Creek Elementary School District - All schools closed through Wednesday.
  • Nicasio School District - All schools closed through Wednesday.
  • Novato Unified School District - All schools closed through Wednesday.
  • Reed Union School District - All schools closed through Wednesday.
  • Ross School District - All schools closed through Wednesday.
  • Ross Valley Charter - Closed through Wednesday.
  • Ross Valley School District - All schools closed through Wednesday.
  • Rurals District - All schools closed through Wednesday.
  • San Rafael City School - Closed through Wednesday.
  • Shoreline Unified School District - All schools closed through Wednesday.
  • Tamalpais Union High School District - All schools closed through Wednesday.
Private schools
  • Brandeis Marin School - Closed Wednesday.
  • Branson School - Closed Wednesday.
  • Marin Academy - Closed Wednesday.
  • Marin Country Day School - Closed Wednesday.
  • Marin Horizon School - Closed Wednesday.
  • Marin Primary & Middle School - Closed Wednesday.
  • Marin Waldorf School - Closed Wednesday.
  • Montessori de Terra Linda - Closed Wednesday.
  • Mount Tamalpais School - Closed Wednesday.
  • North Bay Christian Academy - Closed Wednesday.
  • Saint Raphael School - Closed Wednesday.


Napa County

  • Calistoga Unified School District - All schools closed through Wednesday.

Sonoma County

  • Alexander Valley School District – Alexander Valley School closed through Friday.
  • Bellevue Union School District – All schools closed through Friday.
  • Bennett Valley School District – All schools closed through Friday.
  • Cinnabar School District 0 Closed through Friday.
  • Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified – All schools closed through Friday.
  • Cloverdale Unified School District – All schools closed through Friday.
  • Credo Charter School – Closed through Friday.
  • Dunham School District - Closed through Friday.
  • Forestville School District – All schools closed through Friday.
  • Fort Ross School District - Closed Wednesday.
  • Geyserville Unified School District – Schools closed through Friday.
  • Gravenstein Union School District - Closed through Friday.
  • Guerneville School District - Closed through Friday.
  • Harmony School District – All schools closed through Friday.
  • Healdsburg School District – Closing schools through Friday. 
  • Horicon School District - Closed through Friday.
  • Kashia School District - Closed Wednesday.
  • Kenwood School District - Closed Wednesday.
  • Kid Street Charter School – Closed through Friday.
  • Liberty School District - Closed through Friday.
  • Live Oak Charter School - Closed through Friday.
  • Mark West Unions School District – All schools closed through Friday.
  • Monte Rio Union School District – All schools closed through Friday.
  • Montgomery School District - Closed Wednesday.
  • Oak Grove Union School District – All schools closed through Friday.
  • Old Adobe Union School District – All schools closed through Friday.
  • Pathways Charter - Closed through Friday.
  • Petaluma City Schools - Closed through Friday. 
  • Piner-Olivet Union School District – All schools closed through Friday.
  • Pivot Charter School North Bay - Closed through Friday.
  • Reach Charter - Closed through Friday.
  • Rincon Valley Unified School District – Schools closed through Friday.
  • River Montessori Charter - Closed through Friday.
  • Roseland School District – All schools closed through Friday.
  • Santa Rosa City Schools – All schools closed through Friday.
  • Santa Rosa Junior College - All schools closed Tuesday. 
  • Sebastopol Independent Charter School – Closed through Friday.
  • Sebastopol Union School District – All schools closed through Friday.
  • Sonoma State University - Closed through Friday.
  • Sonoma Valley Unified School District - Closed through Friday.
  • Twin Hills Union School District – All schools closed through Friday.
  • Two Rock Union School District - Closed Wednesday.
  • Village Charter School – Closed through Friday.
  • Waugh School District - Closed through Friday.
  • West Sonoma City Union High School District – All schools closed through Friday.
  • Wilmar Union School District - Closed through Friday.
  • Windsor Unified School District – All schools closed through Friday.
  • Woodland Star Charter - Closed through Friday.
  • Wright School District – All schools closed through Friday.
  • Village Charter School - Closed through Friday.

Alameda County

Oakland Unified School District:

  • Grass Valley Elementary - Closed Wednesday.
  • Howard Elementary - Closed Wednesday.
  • Joaquin Miller Elementary - Closed Wednesday.
  • Montera Middle School - Closed Wednesday.
  • Rudsdale Continuation High School (King Estates Campus) - Closed Wednesday.
  • Sojourner Truth High - Closed Wednesday.
  • Skyline High - Closed Wednesday.
  • Bay Area Technology School (King Estates Campus)

Contra Costa County

No closures reported

Santa Clara County

No closures reported

San Mateo County

No closures reported

This is a developing situation, please check back for updates.

Credo Charter School

Kid Street Charter School

Pathways Charter

Reach Charter

River Montessori Charter

Sebastopol Independent Charter

Village Charter

Woodland Star Charter

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend Blackouts: PG&E Rolls Out More Outages in Bay Area]]>563894461Sun, 27 Oct 2019 01:11:27 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/183*120/GettyImages-1180254643.jpg

PG&E will begin rolling out another round of outages Saturday expected to impact 940,000 customers. This latest round of blackouts are due to an extreme wind event forecasted to hit Northern California, according to the utility.

"This will be the strongest event of the year," Scott Strenfel, PG&E principal meteorologist said.

As of late Friday night, 150,000 are without power in Contra Costa County. Fire officials are on alert as fire conditions are similar to those in Sonoma County, where the Kincade Fire has forced the largest evacuation in the county's history.

Parts of Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Pleasant Hill, Moraga, Pinole and Martinez are without power. Outages could remain in effect until Wednesday morning.

The shutoffs could last through Monday, according to the utility. Customers in portions of 36 counties could lose power at some point.

All Bay Area counties except San Francisco are expected to have some outages over the next three days and nearly 400,000 customers in the Bay Area could lose power, PG&E said.

The outages rolled out in the following counties in phases and began Saturday afternoon:

First Phase - 4 p.m. Saturday: Amador, Butte, El Dorado, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Joquin, Sierra, Shasta, Tehama and Yuba.

Second Phase - 5 p.m. Saturday: Colusa, Marin, Mendocino (south), Napa, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo

Third Phase midnight Sunday: Alpine, Calaveras, Mariposa and Tuolumne

Fourth Phase - 8 p.m. Saturday: Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Stanislaus.

Fifth Phase 8 p.m. Saturday: Humboldt, Mendocino (north), Siskiyou and Trinity

Sixth Phase 9 p.m. Sunday: Kern

Twice over the past two weeks, PG&E has cut power to large areas of northern and central California to reduce the risk of its equipment sparking fires. Nearly 2 million people lost electricity earlier this month, and then as many as a half-million earlier this week.

PG&E officials said forecasted high winds and dry air could be one of the most powerful wind events in Northern California in decades, with widespread winds of up to 60 mph and gusts reaching up to 70 mph in higher elevations.

Here's a breakdown of how many PG&E customers in the Bay Area are impacted by county:

  • Alameda: 57,002 (Albany, Berkeley, Canyon, Castro Valley, Dublin, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Oakland, Piedmont, Pleasanton, San Leandro, Sunol)
  • Contra Costa: 48,058 (Alamo, Antioch, Brentwood, Byron, Canyon, Clayton, Concord, Crockett, Danville, Diablo, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, Knightsen, Lafayette, Martinez, Moraga, Orinda, Pinole, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Port Costa, Richmond, Rodeo, San Pablo, San Ramon, Walnut Creek)
  • Marin: 118,535 (Belvedere, Bolinas, Corte Madera, Dillon Beach, Fairfax, Fallon, Forest Knolls, Greenbrae, Inverness, Kentfield, Lagunitas, Larkspur, Marshall, Mill Valley, Muir Beach, Nicasio, Novato, Olema, Point Reyes Station, Ross, San Anselmo, San Geronimo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Stinson Beach, Tiburon, Tomales, Woodacre)
  • Napa: 17,878 (Angwin, Calistoga, Deer Park, Lake Berryessa, Oakville, Pope Valley, Rutherford, St Helena, Yountville)
  • San Mateo: 57,218 (Belmont, Burlingame, Daly City, El Granada, Emerald Hills, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, La Honda, Loma Mar, Montara, Moss Beach, Pacifica, Pescadero, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Gregorio, San Mateo, South San Francisco, Woodside, Unincorporated Communities in Southwest San Mateo County)
  • Santa Clara: 27,094 (Coyote, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Redwood Estates, San Jose, San Martin)
  • Santa Cruz: 44,942 (Aptos, Ben Lomond, Brookdale, Capitola, Corralitos, Felton, Freedom, La Selva Beach, Mount Hermon, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Soquel)
  • Solano: 25,524 (Fairfield, Suisun City, Vacaville, Vallejo)
  • Sonoma: 95,647 (Annapolis, Bodega, Bodega Bay, Camp Meeker, Cazadero, Cloverdale, Cotati, Duncans Mills, Forestville, Freestone, Geyserville, Glen Ellen, Graton, Guerneville, Healdsburg, Jenner, Kenwood, Larkfield, Monte Rio, Occidental, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rio Nido, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Stewarts Point, Valley Ford, Villa Grande, Windsor)

The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: MediaNews Group via Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[PG&E Warns of More Possible Outages This Weekend in Bay Area]]>563819791Sat, 26 Oct 2019 08:28:59 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/PGECaldecott.jpg

An extreme wind event forecasted this weekend may trigger another round of PG&E outages that may impact approximately 850,000 customers across the utility's service areas.

PG&E officials said in a statement on Friday that forecasted high winds and dry air could be one of the most powerful wind events in Northern California in decades, with widespread winds of up to 60 mph and gusts reaching up to 70 mph in higher elevations.

The expected shutoffs will begin Saturday evening and last through Monday. Customers in portions of 36 counties could lose power at some point.

All Bay Area counties except San Francisco are expected to have some outages over the next three days and nearly 400,000 customers in the Bay Area could lose power.

Here's a breakdown of how many customers will be impacted by county:

  • Alameda: 57,360 (Albany, Berkeley, Canyon, Castro Valley, Dublin, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Oakland, Piedmont, Pleasanton, San Leandro, Sunol)
  • Contra Costa: 48,824 (Alamo, Antioch, Brentwood, Byron, Canyon, Clayton, Concord, Crockett, Danville, Diablo, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, Knightsen, Lafayette, Martinez, Moraga, Orinda, Pinole, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Port Costa, Richmond, Rodeo, San Pablo, San Ramon, Walnut Creek)
  • Marin: 86,813 (Belvedere, Bolinas, Corte Madera, Dillon Beach, Fairfax, Fallon, Forest Knolls, Greenbrae, Inverness, Kentfield, Lagunitas, Larkspur, Marshall, Mill Valley, Muir Beach, Nicasio, Novato, Olema, Point Reyes Station, Ross, San Anselmo, San Geronimo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Stinson Beach, Tiburon, Tomales, Woodacre)
  • Napa: 11,294 (Angwin, Calistoga, Deer Park, Lake Berryessa, Oakville, Pope Valley, Rutherford, St Helena, Yountville)
  • San Mateo: 64,932 (Belmont, Burlingame, Daly City, El Granada, Emerald Hills, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, La Honda, Loma Mar, Montara, Moss Beach, Pacifica, Pescadero, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Gregorio, San Mateo, South San Francisco, Woodside, Unincorporated Communities in Southwest San Mateo County)
  • Santa Clara: 27,093 (Coyote, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Redwood Estates, San Jose, San Martin)
  • Santa Cruz: 44,945 (Aptos, Ben Lomond, Brookdale, Capitola, Corralitos, Felton, Freedom, La Selva Beach, Mount Hermon, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Soquel)
  • Solano: 10,232 (Fairfield, Suisun City, Vacaville, Vallejo)
  • Sonoma: 92,877 (Annapolis, Bodega, Bodega Bay, Camp Meeker, Cazadero, Cloverdale, Cotati, Duncans Mills, Forestville, Freestone, Geyserville, Glen Ellen, Graton, Guerneville, Healdsburg, Jenner, Kenwood, Larkfield, Monte Rio, Occidental, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rio Nido, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Stewarts Point, Valley Ford, Villa Grande, Windsor)

PG&E CEO Bill Johnson in a media briefing late Thursday said the possible next round of outages will likely impact the North Bay, Peninsula, East Bay, Sierra Foothills, Central Coast and Humboldt County. PG&E officials said there is "growing confidence" the outages would take place Saturday and could last through Monday.

"We don't know yet exactly the footprint in those areas. What we know now are the general weather conditions -- widespread weather conditions," Johnson said.

The National Weather Service on Friday upgraded a Fire Weather Watch in the Bay Area to a Red Flag Warning. Timeline of the Red Flag Warning below.

Meanwhile, PG&E crews on Thursday began restoring power to 179,000 customers across 17 counties after it shut off power due to dangerous fire weather.

The utility issued "all clears" earlier in the day in most impacted counties to allow crews to inspect equipment and lines before restoring power. PG&E expects all customers to be restored by Friday night or sooner, pending any damage found on the system.

PG&E late Thursday said 56,000 customers in the impacted areas were still without power.

The utility cut power to more than 2 million people across the Bay Area in rolling blackouts from Oct. 9-12, paralyzing parts of the region in what was the largest deliberate blackout in state history. Schools and universities canceled classes and many businesses were forced to close.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday addressed the outages and had some choice words about the utility.

"It is infuriating beyond words to live in a state as innovative and extraordinarily entreupeneural and capable as the state of California to be living in an environment where we are seeing this kind of disruption and these kinds of blackouts," Newsom said. "It's about decades of mismanagment. It's about focusing on shareholders and dividends over you and members of the public. It's a story about greed. And they need to be held accountable."

PG&E said the shutdowns are not about money.

The only goal "is to prevent a catastrophic wildfire," PG&E Bill Johnson said earlier in the week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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<![CDATA[The New Warriors Ground: A Tour of the Chase Center]]>563813711Thu, 24 Oct 2019 16:14:52 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ChaseCenter+THUMB.jpg

It's a new season in a new home for the Golden State Warriors, moving across the Bay to the 18,064-seat Chase Center — a venue whose designers say they wanted to build a better fan experience from the ground up.

With test patterns displayed on all of its massive walls of LEDs — including the largest center-hung scoreboard in the NBA — the Chase Center smelled more of new carpet and upholstery than the beer and burger aromas more often associated with live sports. Touring the building as workers put the finishing touches on its many bars and clubs, Warriors Senior Vice President John Beaven, who oversees ticket sales, explained some of the design decisions that went into what's now San Francisco's largest indoor entertainment venue.

The Plaza & Lobby

"This entire district will slowly come to life over the course of the first year," Beaven explained, strolling across the sunny plaza that leads to the Chase Center's west entrance. The arena is flanked by glass buildings where stores and restaurants are slated to open during the course of the basketball season. To the left of the main entrance, a 10,000-square-foot Warriors team store will be open 365 days a year.

Towering above the plaza's realistic artificial turf, an 85-foot LED wall will show movies and playoff games to the public as they pass by or gather on amphitheater-style seats. The colossal, gently curved Samsung display is a familiar sight to those who've traveled to Las Vegas or New York, but it's the first outdoor LED wall of any kind in San Francisco.

The Chase Center's lobby is built to feel spacious, with a wide-open box office that resembles an airline ticket counter. Designers wanted a "high-end hotel concierge" feel, rather than a fortress of bulletproof glass.

Inside the lobby, where sunlight streams in through windows three stories tall, art hangs from the ceiling and walls, and a box office that resembles an airline ticket counter replaces the usual windows of bulletproof glass.

"We really wanted to take the approach of a high-end hotel concierge type feel, where you feel welcome," Beaven said. "It sets the tone."

The Budweiser Legends Club

The Warriors boast that the Chase Center has a bar or club to accommodate every fan in the building — and some of those spots come with a view of the court. One such club is the Budweiser Legends Club, which looks out into the arena bowl from the top of the lower level.

"Fans in this space will actually be able to grab a drink, and they can just hang out here, or they can go back to their seats," Beaven said.

The arena bowl at the Chase Center is surrounded by bars, clubs and eateries with a view of the action. The Budweiser Legends Club features a full bar and table seating, so fans can grab a drink without missing a thing.

Though it's not right on the floor, the club somehow feels close to the action — a feature Beaven attributes to careful design of the Chase Center's sight lines.

"We really wanted that intimate feel," Beaven said. "So this building is not configured to be an NHL building, because that would impact your basketball sight lines."

Bringing seats closer to the court than they could be if the Warriors left room for a professional hockey rink, Beaven said the building will also be great for concerts — once the massive LED scoreboard retracts into the rafters.

"It's the largest center-hung (scoreboard) in the NBA," Beaven said proudly of the glowing behemoth that comprises 9,699 square feet of LEDs — a square footage nearly equal to that of the Warriors team store.

"There'll be opportunities to run highlights, we'll do some unique things when players are checking in and out of the game," he said.

Beaven said multimedia will be an integral part of the Chase Center fan experience, and the scoreboard will be at the center of that.

Luxury Suites

Though Oracle's name is no longer on the Warriors' building, it did retain naming rights to the Oracle Suite Level — a ring of luxury boxes twice the size of those at the team's former venue in Oakland. Beaven said the suites, leased out on an annual basis, are aimed squarely at corporations.

"The great thing with live sports is it's one of the last opportunities to really pull people together and enjoy in real time," Beaven said. "So it is a tremendous business tool."

The Chase Center's luxury suites are twice the size of those in Oracle Arena. The Warriors designed the suites as a business tool for corporations looking to bring clients and partners together around live sports.

The suites each feature 12 plush leather seats on a balcony that's cantilevered out over the lower level — a move designed to bring suite guests closer to the action than the luxury boxes at Oracle Arena. From Golden State Warriors logo embossed on the headrests to the basketball-textured leather covers on the food and drink menus, attention to detail is the name of the game when it comes to the Warriors' highest-paying customers.

The seats in the Chase Center's luxury suites are cantilevered out over the lower level, bringing them closer to the court. Giving the venue an intimate feel was a key factor in architectural decisions like this one.

The Upper Level

There's nothing made to feel cheap about the "cheap seats" at the Chase Center. Never mind the parade of San Francisco eateries like Nate's BBQ and Tony G's Pizza that have booths along the extra-wide concourse — the view is enough to make a trip up to the top deck worthwhile.

"We've got a direct line of sight to the Bay," Beaven said, gesturing across the water to the Bay Bridge and the Port of Oakland in the distance. "I think this is gonna be something where fans just come and congregate."

The Chase Center's wide concourses offer sweeping views of the city and the Bay. Here on the upper level, grab a hot dog while gazing across the water to the Port of Oakland. Below, the silver "Seeing Spheres" sculpture is quickly becoming an Instagram magnet.

Along with a self-serve soda machine that pours soft drinks into eco-friendly reusable cups, the upstairs concourse provides a view of the Chase Center's new Seeing Spheres sculpture — a cluster of giant silver orbs with mirrored surfaces that allow visitors to step inside an infinite reflection — and take selfies there.

The Modelo Cantina

Though the Chase Center's designers strove to give every seat a great view, there's one spot where the view isn't the main attraction. Way up in the rafters, the Modelo Cantina may have the farthest seats from the court, but it might just come with the best perks.

"Any fan in the building will have access to this space," Beaven said, although the Cantina also has its own ticketed seating section.

Way up in the nosebleeds, the Modelo Cantina serves a buffet dinner and a complement of cocktails to any fan with a ticket. From here, you can see the gantry where touring concerts will hang lighting and sound equipment. The scoreboard disappears into the ceiling when not in use.

The Modelo Cantina serves a dinner buffet and a full cocktail bar, with seating at long tables facing the court. It will be open during basketball games, and for some concerts that are held in-the-round.

Peering down into the arena bowl from the edge of the Cantina's semicircular balcony, Beaven said with a smile, "We're pretty confident, based on early reaction, that our fans are gonna love this place."

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<![CDATA[Bar Owner Discovers 141-Year-Old Emperor Norton Bond]]>563861581Sat, 26 Oct 2019 11:00:17 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1025-NortonNote.jpg

A San Francisco bar owner who ponied up a thousand bucks to buy a purported promissory note issued by San Francisco’s most eccentric character, Emperor Joshua Norton in 1878 — learned the unofficial currency is the genuine article and worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $15,000.

Kevin DeMattia, co-owner of the Emperor Norton’s Boozeland in the city’s gritty Tenderloin, bought the note from an Oregon man who contacted the Norton-themed bar via Facebook and offered to sell it.

“I decided to buy it sight unseen and sans authentication,” laughed DeMattia who collects Norton memorabilia to display in the bar.

The currency, which the self-proclaimed emperor printed and issued by the thousands during his reign as the city’s most eclectic citizen in the 1800s, has become the holy grail for Norton collectors — with genuine, hand-signed and dated notes fetching more than $10,000.

“They were printed by the thousands, but then the great fire came through and burned everything, so they went from everyone had one to no one had one,” DeMattia said. “Now it’s one of the rarest currencies.”

In an effort to prove the note’s legitimacy, DeMattia showed the paper, dated February 18th, 1878 — to vintage currency expert Don Kagin who runs a numismatics firm in Tiburon. Kagin examined the vintage paper, the ink and consulted a log of known Norton notes before declaring it the real thing.

“I think this note is genuine,” said Kagin carefully lifting the paper to examine it against the light. “Everything I can see by it — the handwriting, the date, the numbers all correspond with others that we have seen.”

Kagin said the note, hand-numbered 2573, is the fortieth of known notes that survived Norton’s time. The note promises to repay the recipient 50 cents in 1880 — with interest of five cents. Norton himself died on January 8th, 1880 escaping the note’s due date. The promissory bonds, which he had printed by San Francisco printers were often honored by the restaurants, shopkeepers and individuals he encountered during his daily excursions through the city.

“In the 1870s the emperor becomes a tourist attraction,” said John Lumea, founder of the Emperor’s Bridge Campaign devoted to honoring Norton’s memory. “So people were sort of looking for him in the streets and when they did, they would sort of buy these bonds at 50 cents apiece and they would keep them as keepsakes.”

Norton was a once-illustrious San Francisco businessman who lost his fortune investing in rice futures and re-emerged as Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, donning a military uniform and crafting proclamations which local newspapers reprinted. A popular, but albeit broke figure of his time, Norton relied on the kindness of the city’s citizens.

“This is a particularly fascinating story of a man who came out here to California,” Kagin said. “Made a lot of money, lost a lot of money.”

Kagin described DeMattia’s note, which first arrived in an ornate frame, as in extremely fine shape — which meant it could potentially command up to $15,000 on the collector’s market. But DeMattia said he was more in awe of the note itself than its potential for a lucrative payday. He planned to hang a copy of the bond in the bar, and hang on to the original.

“To have the actual note that was in his room with him while he signed and carried it in his pocket and gave it to someone, DeMattia said, “that’s beautiful.”

Emperor Norton’s Boozeland in San Francisco’s Tenderloin will host a viewing party for the note at 4 p.m. Sunday. Artist Jeremy Fish will also unveil his own version of the Norton’s currency.

Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr.]]>
<![CDATA[PG&E Shutoffs: 'All Clears' Given in Most Counties]]>563813521Thu, 24 Oct 2019 15:14:07 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/apagon+california.jpg

PG&E crews are working Thursday to restore power to 179,000 customers across 17 counties after it shut off power due to dangerous fire weather.

The utility issued "all clears" earlier in the day in most impacted counties to allow crews to inspect equipment and lines before restoring power. PG&E expects all customers to be restored by Friday night or sooner, pending any damage found on the system.

PG&E late Thursday said 56,000 customers in the impacted areas were still without power.

This latest round of outages started Wednesday afternoon in the Sierra foothills and in the North Bay. A section of the Peninsula went dark early Thursday morning, according to PG&E.

In the Bay Area, the shutoffs affected tens of thousands of customers in portions of Napa, San Mateo and Sonoma counties, according to PG&E. Here's a breakdown of the impact:

  • Napa County: 7,085 customers in Angwin, Calistoga, Deer Park, Lake Berryessa, Oakville, Pope Valley, Rutherford, St. Helena.
  • San Mateo County: 1,005 customers in La Honda, San Gregorio, Woodside, unincorporated San Mateo County.
  • Sonoma County: 27,837 customers in Annapolis, Boyes Hot Springs, Cloverdale, Fulton, Geyserville, Glen Ellen, Guerneville, Healdsburg, Kenwood, Larkfield, Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Windsor, Stewarts Point..

PG&E cut power to more than 2 million people across the Bay Area in rolling blackouts from Oct. 9-12, paralyzing parts of the region in what was the largest deliberate blackout in state history. Schools and universities canceled classes and many businesses were forced to close.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday addressed the outages and had some choice words about the utility.

"It is infuriating beyond words to live in a state as innovative and extraordinarily entreupeneural and capable as the state of California to be living in an environment where we are seeing this kind of disruption and these kinds of blackouts," Newsom said. "It's about decades of mismanagment. It's about focusing on shareholders and dividends over you and members of the public. It's a story about greed. And they need to be held accountable."

PG&E said the shutdowns are not about money.

The only goal "is to prevent a catastrophic wildfire," PG&E Bill Johnson said earlier in the week.

Photo Credit: PG&E
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<![CDATA[SF Interim DA Ends Program Allowing Lighter DUI Sentences ]]>563759321Thu, 24 Oct 2019 20:29:56 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sf+police+commission.jpg

San Francisco's Interim District Attorney Suzy Loftus, who took office Saturday, announced Wednesday that she's ending a pilot program that allowed first time DUI offenders to avoid criminal conviction.

By diverting first time DUI cases and allowing offenders to avoid criminal convictions, offenders essentially avoided stiffer penalties for future offenses, prosecutors said.

Since the pilot program first took effect back in June, the number of DUI cases that went to trial increased by 10 percent.

"Traffic safety is so important for all of us, particularly given that so many of us have lost a loved one due to someone driving under the influence," Loftus said in a statement. "These deaths are preventable, and prevention starts with people knowing there is accountability when it comes to drinking and driving."

DUIs have the lowest recidivism rates in the criminal justice system, and Loftus is hoping convictions and programs can serve to change behavior.

So far this year, 24 people have died on city streets as a result of traffic collisions.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Sailor Returns From Incredible First-Ever Journey]]>563647471Wed, 23 Oct 2019 18:17:15 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sailor-rosato-1023.jpg

A heady breeze whipped up roiling swells just outside the Golden Gate Bridge as sailor Randall Reeves pointed his 45 aluminum boat Moli toward the famous structure, bringing home his successful quest to become the first sailor to make a solo expedition around the Americas and Antarctica continents in one season. The homecoming took place 380 days after he set out.

Reeves’ radio crackled with congratulations from the dozen sailboats gathered to accompany him back into the bay. The flotilla made a victory lap past Cavallo Point where friends waved from shore, and into the Sausalito Yacht Club where his wife Joanna Bloor waited on the dock along with a crowd of admirers.

“It’s terrifying what he’s done,” Bloor said before his boat touched down. “I couldn’t do it, but I’m glad he did because that’s what life’s about.”

Reeves' trek covered 39,000 miles, past Cape Horn twice and through the treacherous icy Northwest Passage where he ended up towing another boat that was stuck in the ice. During one stretch of his journey he spent over 200 days alone with just his craft and scant sightings of land.

As Moli glided into the Sausalito dock, Reeves raised his arms to spark the cheering crowd, and leaned over the boat’s railing to plant a kiss on Bloor. Leaves departed on his trek Sept. 30, 2018 on a day so windless that he had to wait in Drake’s Bay several days until it was windy enough to continue.

Reeves might’ve viewed that inauspicious start as a sign of rough sailing ahead, but the seas continued to call for him as he pressed on.

“It was kind of bold and crazy to just even think up the idea,” Reeves said in a rare moment off his boat. “But then to plan it out which took three years, and pursue — ahhh it’s just been great.”

It was Reeves’ second attempt at the feat. The year before in the middle of the Atlantic, his craft got walloped in a pair of harrowing storms that broke out a window and filled the boat with water — shorting out the boat’s electronic systems. He ended-up aborting the trek and limped home.

“It was really, really difficult to get knocked down and have to start over,” Reeves recalled. “I mean I sailed all around the world to get home to start over again.”

But Reeves never considered throwing in the towel, and regrouped to make his second attempt. He sustained himself on canned food, Clif bars, dried pasta and beans. It wasn’t hard to imagine what Reeves listed at the top of his to-do list when he got home.

“I think the thing I look forward to the most once I get home is just a meal I don’t cook,” Reeves said. “I am so tired of cooking my own food three times a day.”

Reeves accomplishment was the talk of the sailing world — only one person had ever even attempted what Reeves called the Figure 8 Voyage for the shape of its winding trajectory through the continents. Not only did Reeves complete the journey, he also blogged and posted video from along his route.

“To pull it all off in one year with the aplomb that he’s made,” said sailor Tony Gooch who once owned Moli, “he’s really raised the bar for the next round of achievement, whatever it’s going to be.”

Reeves said for the time-being he’s happy to spend some home time with his wife and experience winter, since the timing of his journey around Antarctica and the Arctic constantly put him in Summer conditions.

“I understand I have a very long honey-do list,” Reeves laughed, “which has been adding up for about 24 months — so I’m looking forward to attacking that to-do list.”

After nearly two years away from home during the two attempts, Reeves doesn’t have any plans for another long sojourn — though he did drop a hint that it might not be not a permanent condition.

“The boat sails like this to dangerous places since it was built,” Reeves said. “So it’s not content to sit around very long.”

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[SF Supervisor Wants to Fix Tenderloin's Trash Problem]]>563740531Wed, 23 Oct 2019 15:47:36 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/10232019SFTrash_9269356.JPG

A San Francisco supervisor says he wants a plan to more effectively handle trash and waste left in his challenging district.

Supervisor Matt Haney stumbled on a big pile of trash and tweeted out photos of it, sharing his frustration with the situation. He wants more from the city, more cleaning and more trash cans. But some shop owners say that's not exactly what they want.

"I want my neighborhood to be nice and clean," said Tamim Najjar, who runs Servewell Market in the city's Tenderloin District.

Najjar spends more time than he wants outside his store cleaning up trash. He said people have turned the area into a dumping ground.

Najjar does not want trash cans out front because he said people do not bother to put things in the can.

Haney said he is working with Recology, which handles bins. He thinks more needs to be done, including more city cans that are functioning and not broken.

The Department of Public Works said it has put quite a bit of resources into cleaning the neighborhood and have partnerships that work.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[SF Blocks Plan to Let Employers Reject Contraceptive Care]]>563686721Wed, 23 Oct 2019 00:36:07 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-629403209.jpg

A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Tuesday upheld a preliminary injunction that blocks a policy by President Donald Trump's administration that would allow employers to refuse to provide contraceptive health care on religious grounds.

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that when a full trial is held, 14 states led by California were likely to win their claim that the opt-out plan for employee health insurance coverage violates the Affordable Care Act.

The court upheld a preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam of Oakland.

The injunction applies in 14 states and the District of Columbia.

Another federal appeals court, the 3rd Circuit, has upheld a nationwide preliminary injunction issued by a federal judge in Philadelphia. The U.S. Justice Department has appealed that ruling to the

Supreme Court.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement, "Once again, our courts have blocked the Trump Administration's unlawful attempt to trample on women's rights."

Photo Credit: Universal Images Group via Getty]]>
<![CDATA[BART Reopens Transbay Tube After Reported Debris Fire]]>563665001Tue, 22 Oct 2019 17:37:28 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bart-tube-1022.jpg

The BART Transbay Tube was shut down for about an hour late Tuesday due to a reported debris fire, according to BART.

At about 5 p.m., the San Francisco Fire Department asked BART to cut off power to the Transbay Tube after sparks were seen coming from the entrance of the Oakland side of the tube, BART said.

About 30 minutes later, BART said the eastbound tracks were reopened, and it began single tracking trains through the tube. 

At about 5:55 p.m., both directions of the Transbay Tube were reopened, BART said, but the shutdown caused major delays systemwide.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Woman Pleads Not Guilty for Fatal Stabbing of Boyfriend]]>563652791Tue, 22 Oct 2019 13:56:54 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/gavel+getty+images+joe+raedle.jpg

A 30-year-old woman pleaded not guilty Monday to murder charges for the fatal stabbing of her live-in boyfriend in South San Francisco earlier this month, San Mateo County prosecutors said.

Victoria Soledad Garcia is accused of killing 35-year-old Christhian Alderete, her boyfriend of five years, at about 3 p.m. on Oct. 7 at their home at a trailer park in the 1700 block of El Camino Real, according to the district attorney's office.

Prosecutors said the stabbing occurred after an argument over a woman who contacted Alderete through Facebook. Soledad Garcia allegedly grabbed a large kitchen knife and stabbed Alderete in the upper chest, severing an artery.

Alderete bled to death at the entrance to their home, and Soledad Garcia was arrested and booked into jail.

She entered the not guilty plea Monday at her arraignment in San Mateo County Superior Court. She remains in custody on no-bail status and will return to court for a preliminary hearing on Feb. 4.

Photo Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Uber App Connects Riders to Public Transit Options]]>563542971Mon, 21 Oct 2019 04:46:18 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/UberApp2.jpg

People trying to get around the Bay Area using public transportation can turn to the Uber app.

Instead of selecting UberX or UberPool, Uber users can choose the transit feature, which presents them with a list of public transportation options, including BART, bus, train and ferry service, available in their area. The feature tells users how long their public transit trip will take and how much it will cost.

Uber's public transit service has already rolled out in cities such as Denver, Boston, London and Sydney.

Despite possibly losing riders to public transportation, Uber still plans to roll out the service in additional cities by the end of the year.

Uber has every reason to want to be a good neighbor. Ride-sharing companies have been accused of adding to the congestion on Bay Area roadways.

Photo Credit: Olly Curtis/Future via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hillary, Chelsea Clinton Make Book Tour Stop in SF]]>563526672Sun, 20 Oct 2019 21:03:22 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/hillary-clinton11.jpg

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea were in San Francisco Sunday promoting their book, a collection of essays about strong women. Christie Smith reports.]]>
<![CDATA[Mayoral Candidate Bashes Breed in Controversial SF Billboard]]>563521661Sun, 20 Oct 2019 22:27:00 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sf-billboard-1020.jpg

A controversial billboard in San Francisco's South of Market district is drawing attention to one of Mayor London Breed's long-shot challengers.

The cartoon depiction of the mayor is being called sexist and racist. But the candidate who sponsored it, Ellen Zhou, isn't backing down.

Zhou said she has no problem with the way the city's first African-American female mayor is depicted in the billboard at the corner of Dore and Howard streets.

In the animated artwork, Breed has her bare feet up on a desk, counting money as she's thinking of homeless people. In another section of the poster, a child looks to be getting kidnapped, highlighted by the phrase "Stop slavery and human trafficking in San Francisco."

When asked about the prospect that the billboard is saying Breed is directly responsible for human trafficking in the city, Zhou said, "The mayor is responsible for the entire city."

A member of Breed's re-election campaign released a statement about the poster Sunday, saying: "This blatantly racist and sexist ad has no place in our political discourse or our city. Race-baiting like this is divisive, dangerous and shameful, and must be rejected."

The leader of the city's chapter of the NAACP has also denounced the public advertisement.

The city's Asian American political leaders also are denouncing the billboard and have scheduled a news conference for Monday.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Loaded Handgun, Drugs, Cash Found in Traffic Stop in SF]]>563508881Sun, 20 Oct 2019 13:31:28 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SFPD18.JPG

An early morning traffic stop Sunday in San Francisco's Tenderloin district led to the arrest of a 30-year-old man found with drugs, a loaded .45 caliber handgun and cash.

The stop for running a red light was made just before 1 a.m. at Golden Gate Avenue and Larkin Street, police said on social media, describing the "tense moments" of the encounter.

"The driver, Brazil Harris, a convicted felon, opened the glove box and grabbed a loaded .45 handgun," the SFPD Tenderloin Station said on its Twitter account.

A search turned up 275 MDMA tablets and an undisclosed amount of cash, police said.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Expect Delays Sunday Due to Single-Tracking on BART SF Line]]>563499741Sun, 20 Oct 2019 08:38:28 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bart_grant_0620_7654129.JPG

BART riders in San Francisco should expect delays of 15 to 20 minutes Sunday as the transit system single-tracks between the Embarcadero and 24th Street Mission stations to upgrade the electrical traction power system in downtown San Francisco.

Delays could increase to 30 minutes starting at 6:30 p.m., the agency said.

"During this single tracking we will only have one platform open at Montgomery, Powell, Civic and 16th Street stations," the district said in an advisory.

Work and single-tracking delays will continue on every Sunday in November and December, BART said.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[UC Berkeley Alum Receives Prestigious Award]]>563484162Sat, 19 Oct 2019 23:37:34 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/UC_Berkeley_Alum_Receives_Prestigious_Award.jpg

A remarkable UC Berkeley alum got a big honor Saturday night. Kevin Chou received the Asian Pacific Fund's "Philanthropy Leadership Award" in San Francisco for donating the highest amount of anyone under 40 -- $25 million. NBC Bay Area's Raj Mathai was the emcee for the annual gala.]]>
<![CDATA[SF Swears in New Interim District Attorney Suzy Loftus]]>563470511Sat, 19 Oct 2019 18:33:43 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Suzy+Loftus+Sworn+In1.jpg

Suzy Loftus was officially sworn in as interim San Francisco District Attorney on Saturday in a controversial move weeks before an election to succeed outgoing District Attorney George Gascon.

Mayor London Breed announced earlier this month that she would appoint Loftus to replace Gascon, who stepped down while considering a run for Los Angeles District Attorney.

Breed swore Loftus in during a ceremony Saturday morning at the district attorney's office.

Loftus is a candidate in the upcoming election on Nov. 5. She is a former prosecutor and was president of the city's police commission.

Her opponents and protesters have criticized the interim appointment, accusing Breed of trying to tilt the election to Loftus.

Loftus is running against Chesa Boudin, an attorney in the San Francisco's Public Defender's Office, and prosecutors Nancy Tung and Leif Dautch, who have both worked in the state Attorney General's Office.

<![CDATA[SF Has Few Options for Housing Inmates After Closing Jail]]>563456841Sat, 19 Oct 2019 10:22:17 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/jail+0814.jpg

San Francisco would be left with few options to relocate inmates housed at the Hall of Justice's seventh-floor jail once the building closes in 2021, city officials concluded at a hearing Friday.

The hearing at the supervisors' Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee meeting about closing the jail, also known as County Jail 4, comes just a day after Mayor London Breed unveiled a plan to relocate several city offices, courtrooms, and inmates from the Hall of Justice's 850 Bryant St. location to a new consolidated "Justice Campus" within the next two years.

The proposed facility would focus on services and the rehabilitation and treatment of inmates, including a mix of mental health beds, substance abuse treatment beds, reentry transitional housing for people exiting the criminal justice system, and jail beds. The new site would also house the Superior Court, the Sheriff's Department, Adult Probation, the Public Defender's Office and the District Attorney's Office.

Organizers with the No New Jail Coalition, however, are urging supervisors to close the jail by July 2020 and avoid building a new facility by reducing the jail's population and releasing people pretrial.

"Putting someone in jail is the worst thing you can do for the individual and the community," organizer Olivia Park said during a rally outside of City Hall ahead of the hearing.

Regarding Breed's plan to create a new campus, Park said, "That's not really reform, that's putting a Band-Aid on things."

During the hearing, Sheriff Vicki Hennessy said, "I think it is important to understand how we're going to close County Jail 4. I still don't understand how we're going to do it in terms of getting it closed without having some place to put people."

Hennessy advocated creating a new facility at the proposed justice campus. The only other options would be to move inmates to the city's San Bruno Jail, which needs renovations that wouldn't be finished until 2024, or possibly moving them to either the shuttered Glenn E. Dyer Detention Facility in Oakland or the Alameda County Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

"County Jail 4 is not a jail that should still be open. I feel like a failure in my administration that we haven't been able to get beyond this and find a way to have a place for people who don't have to stay in the conditions that they don't have to stay in jail for," she said. "We don't have a lot of options."

"I'm concerned about setting a closure date for 2021," Supervisor Matt Haney said. "I'm also concerned about the lack of planning. I was hoping we could get more details about what exactly is going to happen now and what are the immediate next steps from the city in collaboration with the sheriff and we don't have the answers yet and it seems that the sheriff doesn't have those answers yet and that's concerning."

The Hall of Justice, built in 1958, is not up to current seismic codes, and has faced numerous recent problems, including sewage leaks and rodent infestations.

A report released Thursday by the city's Budget and Legislative Analyst found that as of July 31, 2019, County Jail 4 held a total of 313 inmates.

<![CDATA[SF Grapples With How to Fight Firestorm After Next Big Quake]]>563452431Sat, 19 Oct 2019 09:34:41 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Loma_Prieta__Neighbors_in_SF_s_Marina_District_Stepped_Up.jpg

San Francisco’s Marina was ravaged by fire during the Loma Prieta earthquake, centered 60 miles away.

Thirty years later, experts say, as much as a third of the city is still largely unprotected against the massive fires they fear will be sparked by the Big One.

“The way the situation is now, we are going to have some major conflagrations in the city,” said Charles Scawthorn, an engineer and earthquake fire modeling expert, who predicts as many as 100 separate fires across the city, fueled by broken natural gas lines.

“I don’t mean a few buildings -- I don’t even mean a few blocks – I’m talking about tens, to hundreds of city blocks.”

The city is not totally defenseless – in fact, San Francisco has more in place than any city in the U.S. to battle quake sparked fires, according to Scawthorn.

The first line of defense is the 1,500 hydrants of its auxiliary water supply system, a high pressure network of 135 miles of underground, quake resistant pipes fed by two saltwater pump stations and three fireboats.

The system of color-coded hydrants can provide 90,000 gallons of saltwater a minute – the equivalent of 60 fire engines – and a third more than the total combined pumping power of all of the city’s 44 fire engines.

But that pioneering system, built following the 1906 quake and fire that destroyed 28,000 buildings in three days, was not fully expanded as the city grew.

So today, as much as 30 percent of the land area is largely defenseless against widespread fire, including the outer Sunset, outer Richmond and the southern parts of the city, including the Crocker Amazon and Excelsior districts.

“Almost no other city in the world has so many layers of protection as San Francisco, and yet, it’s not enough,” Scawthorn warned.

But rather than spend $600 million and build on the current system, the city wants to spend $190 million and install new pipes to deliver both drinking and quake firefighting water to the Richmond and Sunset areas, fed by fresh water from the Sunset Reservoir and possibly non-drinkable water from Lake Merced.

But critics doubt that will be enough to fight all the fires, and say that water delivery system is also at risk of failing in a quake. They say a far better approach is to rely on the saltwater that surrounds the city on three sides.

“To predicate your ability to put out post- earthquake fires using your drinking water is insane,” said Tom Doudier, a retired assistant deputy fire chief who served 32 years with the city.

And that $190 million drinking water proposal doesn’t even cover the southern areas, according to a report issued in July by the civil grand jury.

“Unfortunately,” the panel said, “many other city neighborhoods along its southern part, from Park Merced in the west to Visitacion Valley in the east, will be no closer” to being protected “even if [the city drinking water] plan moves forward.”

In her reply to the grand jury’s report, Mayor London Breed said the decision to go with a less expensive drinking water plan comes as the city must weigh other priorities, like rising sea levels, aging infrastructure and chronic homelessness.

“All of these challenges represent meaningful threats” the mayor said in September, adding that the goal now is to find “areas of greatest need” and “make progress on all fronts simultaneously.”

But Frank Blackburn, who has been instrumental in building the city’s quake firefighting system, says the top priority must be getting a system that can tap inexhaustible water from the Bay.

He says the city already has a plan on paper to expand the high-pressure network, it just needs the commitment to set aside the money, which could be as much as $600 million.

“They talk about it, but nothing gets done,” he said, adding that building on the current system will be the most effective way to protect the entire city. “Putting off the earthquake risk is a recipe for disaster itself,” he warned.

But Joanne Hayes-White, who served as the city’s fire chief for 15 years before stepping down in May, said she sees relying on drinking water as the most practical approach.

“I think any system that gets out there sooner, the better,” she said. “But I don’t want to panic people; we have good plans in place.”

The plans rely not just on high pressure water but a network of cisterns that store water that can be pumped out by fire engines. The most optimistic projection, meanwhile, is that the drinking water system for the Richmond and Sunset would be built by 2049.

<![CDATA[The Loma Prieta Earthquake and the Freeway Wars]]>563403681Fri, 18 Oct 2019 19:49:54 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1018LomaPrietafreeway_9205043.JPG

Then-San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos was a declared foe of the the city’s Embarcadero and Central Freeways long before the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake struck them each a debilitating blow.

He was among the legions who felt the imposing structure along the Embarcadero walled off the city’s residents from their waterfront, casting shadows onto adjoining businesses and turning the area into what he described as a ‘slum.’

“The Ferry Building was shuttered,”Agnos remembered of the era. “It was an empty abandoned building.”

When the October 17th, 1989 Loma Prieta quake damaged the two freeways, Agnos saw his opportunity. He consulted with engineers who couldn’t assure him 100% the freeway would be safe in another major event if it was repaired. Even as he pressed ahead with plans to tear down the Embarcadero there was resistance; Chinatown business owners feared the loss of the freeway would impact business. They marshaled a petition and collected 20,000 signatures in support of saving the structure and threatened to go to the ballot if Agnos went ahead.

He did. And fast. It was gone before anyone could stop him.

“I wanted this to happen as soon as possible,” Agnos said this week. “So we moved the date as quick as we could to start the demolition.”

The devastating earthquake rumbled right into the longstanding debate over neighborhood freeways — evidenced by the brewing anti-freeway movement which had began chipping away at plans to layout ten freeways crisscrossing the city, including one that would connect the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge via the Embarcadero.

“In San Francisco you had a number of places where freeways were begun and then stopped in their tracks and they had stub ends,” said Benjamin Grant of the civic planning organization SPUR. “And then you have what can only be termed an act of God in 1989.”

Agnos struck the first blow to the Embarcadero Freeway, sitting behind the wheel of heavy machinery in a photo op at the kick-off for the demolition. It didn’t take long for the cascading concrete and rebar to reveal the future.

“The minute the roadway came down,” said Flicka McGurrin, owner of Pier 23 Cafe on the Embarcadero, “there was all of a sudden all this beauty available to us.”

But the battle over the Central Freeway which wound through Hayes Valley and the Western Addition was more difficult. Agnos had lost his re-election campaign — many believe he was the victim of a galvanized effort by Central Freeway supporters to oust him from office.

As a sign of just how thin the battle-lines were drawn, San Francisco voters later passed a ballot measure to save the freeway. And then in a subsequent election voted to tear it down.

“So we intend to retrospectively think of the story as the earthquake damages freeways and we thought great we’ll tear them down and heal the fabric of the city,” Grant said. “But the reality was actually much more complex.”

The paths of the two former freeways have since been transformed into popular areas — deemed jewels of the city. The Embarcadero is now a grand boulevard where colorful vintage streetcars traverse along the waterfront as visitors bike, jog and wander the edge of the Bay taking in the epic views.

The Central Freeway was replaced with Octavia Boulevard, a European-like street which features hip restaurants, shops and a park that hosts rotating art sculptures. Although some Chinatown business owners still bemoan the loss of the freeway, Agnos believes the devastating earthquake paved the way for some of the city’s boldest accomplishments.

“The earthquake was the single event that gave us an opportunity to make a decision about freeways in this city,” Agnos said.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[San Francisco Police Officers Accused of Assault]]>563416321Fri, 18 Oct 2019 16:34:37 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sfpd-generic-san-francisco-police.jpg

A big claim from a prominent Bay Area attorney. He says San Francisco police officers attempted to murder his client during an unprovoked confrontation near Fisherman's Wharf.

And now he wants San Francisco's brand new district attorney to do something about it. NBC Bay Area's Christie Smith has the full story in the video report above.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[California Regulator Slams PG&E Over Electricity Shut-Off]]>563366702Fri, 18 Oct 2019 23:29:05 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/PowerShutoff.jpg

California’s top regulator excoriated top executives of the state’s largest utility even as Pacific Gas & Electric repeatedly said they know they failed to meet public expectations when it cut the power to more than 2 million people last week.

Marybel Batjer, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, called the emergency meeting Friday and ordered the executives to attend and explain themselves. She said she was “absolutely astounded” by what she thought were simple preparedness steps the utility could have taken.

“You guys failed on so many levels on pretty simple stuff,” Batjer said.

San Francisco-based PG&E announced around 2 p.m. on Oct. 8 that they would be shutting off power at midnight to more than 700,000 customer accounts in parts of northern and central California, saying that high wind forecasts could damage equipment and spark wildfires. The drastic measure caused long lines at supermarkets and hardware stores as people rushed to buy ice, coolers, flashlights and batteries.

After the power was cut Oct. 9, cars backed up at traffic lights that had gone dark. Schools and universities canceled classes. Many businesses closed, only accepted cash or had to guide customers with flashlights. Customers complained of overloaded call centers and a website that kept crashing.

Power was fully restored on Oct. 12.

At the meeting Friday, PG&E executives swore they only had the public’s safety in mind when they cut off the power and promised to do better.

Andy Vesey, a PG&E executive, added that they did not think broadly enough and underestimated the needs of their customers and local governments.

“We have to develop a mindset, or culture, of anticipation,” he said.

Bill Johnson, CEO of Pacific Gas & Electric Corp, said the utility will get better with each new pre-emptive outage as it works to upgrade its equipment so blackouts affect fewer people.

Batjer demanded the executives initiate a series of corrective actions, including a goal of restoring power within 12 hours, not the utility’s current 48-hour goal.

Berkeley resident Marg Hall said he plans to speak during the public comment portion of Friday’s meeting. The disability rights advocate said the outages are more than an inconvenience for some people with disabilities and the elderly.

“Friends, that even if their power wasn’t shut off, suffered health consequences from the stress of knowing that they were going to be abandoned,” she said.

Wildfires in California are often caused by downed power lines and other utility equipment. A fire last year sparked by PG&E’s equipment mostly destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has blasted the utility for what he called decades of mismanagement, underinvestment and lousy communication. Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins asked a committee Thursday to “begin investigating and reviewing options to address the serious deficiencies” with PG&E’s current process.

On Friday, Newsom appointed Caroline Thomas Jacobs as the first director of the state’s new Wildfire Safety Division, which was created earlier this year and tasked with approving utilities’ wildfire mitigation plans and connecting them with independent experts to assess the safety of electrical equipment.

PG&E said Monday its systems were damaged in more than 100 places — spots that could have been a potential source of ignition for a wildfire.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: Jeff Chiu/AP]]>
<![CDATA[SF Nonprofit Helps Artists With Developmental Disabilities]]>563326752Sat, 19 Oct 2019 10:48:54 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/CREATIVITY-EXPLORED-11.jpg

Nestled within San Francisco's Mission District is a space designed for artists with developmental disabilities to create art to their heart's content –  without any limitations. 

Inside Creativity Explored you'll find vibrant colors and expressive shapes created by the dozens of artists that fill the space day after day. But this isn't just an art studio, it's a place where the artists are attached to. A place where they are empowered to express themselves.  

"I’ve been coming to Creativity Explored for six years and I still intend to keep coming for as long as I can because I don't want to leave this place," artist Isaac Haney-Owens said. "I don't want to lose this part of my life because being an artist is my identity, and I want to keep that alive for as long as possible.”

Creativity Explored was first founded in 1983 by Florence and Elias Katz, and was designed to provide artists with developmental disabilities the resources to not only create, but also a space for them to share and sell their art with the community.

"There is a real desire in many of them to express who they are," said Michael Napper, an art instructor at Creativity Explored. "Oftentimes their disabilities may prevent them from expressing in more traditional ways, so art is a way of finding that avenue."

For many of the artists in residence, making a living from their art was not something they ever thought they would achieve. In fact, with Creativity Explored, artists receive 50% of the sale price of their work. Many of the artists – who are low-income – have earned up to $15,000 a year.


"I'm glad this program is here because it's helping artists with disabilities show their true talents," Haney-Owens said. "Don't just think of them as someone with a disability. Think of them as more than that because they have talent. You just have to give them right tool."

The nonprofit, which houses a studio and a gallery at their location on 16th Street, welcomes visitors to see the art work and meet the artists.

Creativity Explored's latest gallery installment, "Fragments + Resistance" will be on display until Nov. 7.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[SF Mayor Breed Joins Students in Earthquake Safety Drill]]>563364432Fri, 18 Oct 2019 03:30:56 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/People_Practice_Quake_Preparedness_During_ShakeOut.jpg

Hundreds of San Francisco elementary school students strengthened their earthquake preparedness skills Wednesday morning during The Great California ShakeOut earthquake drill on the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Several city officials joined the school children at Rosa Parks Elementary School, located 1501 O'Farrell St., for the safety drill.

During the drill, children practiced going underneath their desks during a potential earthquake, covering their heads and holding on. Then, when they were given the all-clear sign by their teachers, they safely lined-up and headed outside.

The young students were also encouraged to prepare safety kits, equipped with batteries, flashlights, water and first aid kits.

Mayor London Breed, a graduate of Rosa Parks Elementary School, said to the students, "When I was your age, I was here and this is where I first learned about what to do if there was an earthquake, or any other event.

"We know that it's not a matter of if an earthquake is going to happen in San Francisco, it's a matter of when. And so, you all are the ambassadors to make sure that your families know what to do," she said.

When the 1989 Loma Prieta 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck the Bay Area, it killed more than 60 people and caused widespread damage throughout the region, totaling more than $5 billion in damages.

A 2014 prediction by the U.S. Geological Survey reported a 72 percent chance of a 6.7-magnitude earthquake striking the Bay Area by 2043.

"We've come a long way in terms of the work, the infrastructure. We have not only pushed forward policies that deal with soft story buildings; we know what happened in the Marina and so many of those buildings fell and we are implementing changes," Breed said. "We are doing so many amazing things, so when the next earthquake hits, we're going to be better off than we were in 1989."

"We want to make sure the students know what to do, but then we also want to make sure that the students take the message home. It's important to known that you drop, you cover and you hold-on at home, but then it's also about being prepared at home," said San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Vincent Matthews. "Our students are ambassadors for knowing exactly what to do if an earthquake hits."

Also on the Loma Prieta 30th anniversary, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the launch of the nation's first statewide Earthquake Early Warning System.

The new system uses ground motion sensors throughout the state to detect quakes before they're felt on the surface. The system then notifies Californians via a mobile app in advance, so they can be ready to drop, cover and hold on.

"Nothing can replace families having a plan for earthquakes and other emergencies," Newsom said in a statement. "And we know the big one might be around the corner. I encourage every Californian to download this app to ensure your family is ready."

To download the Earthquake Early Warning System app, Californians can visit https://myshake.berkeley.edu/.

<![CDATA[SF Professor to Give Free Lecture Solar System's Top Sights ]]>563361412Fri, 18 Oct 2019 02:11:11 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/sfsu.jpg

Astronomer Andrew Fraknoi on Friday evening will hold a lecture at San Francisco State University on the top tourist destinations of the solar system.

Fraknoi is a professor emeritus at Foothill College and will give the lecture on "Where Will Your Great Grand-daughter Go For Her Honeymoon: The Top Tourist Sights of the Solar System."

The free, non-technical lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. in Jack Adams Hall in the Cesar Chavez Student Center. It's open to the public and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Fraknoi's lecture is part of the 130th anniversary of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, which is being celebrated at the university from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday.

<![CDATA[30 Years After Loma Prieta SF Tests Emergency System]]>563355322Thu, 17 Oct 2019 23:42:03 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/30_Years_After_Loma_Prieta_SF_Tests_Emergency_System.jpg

Lessons learned from Loma Prieta are driving San Francisco response plans 30 years later as the city tests out a new system. Jean Elle reports.]]>
<![CDATA[Loma Prieta: Neighbors in SF's Marina District Stepped Up]]>563342172Thu, 17 Oct 2019 18:37:02 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Loma_Prieta__Neighbors_in_SF_s_Marina_District_Stepped_Up.jpg

Thirty years ago Thursday, at 5:04 p.m., the Loma Prieta earthquake struck, and the hardest hit area in San Francisco was the Marina District. Massive fires broke out when gas lines exploded. Homes and buildings collapsed, covering sidewalks. Neighbors leaned on each other and stepped up to save their neighborhood.]]>
<![CDATA[SF Tribute to Maya Angelou Delayed After Artist Rejected]]>563334511Fri, 18 Oct 2019 14:11:07 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1017AngelouRendering_9192097.JPG

A planned tribute to Maya Angelou in San Francisco is delayed.

The city wants to put a monument of Angelou in front of the Main Public Library on Larkin Street. A Berkeley artist was selected only to be rejected. Now she feels her time was wasted, saying the expectations were too vague.

Artist Lava Thomas spent months planning and designing the 9-foot bronze monument. It is shaped like a book, featuring a portrait of Angelou and the quote "If one has courage nothing can dim the light that shines from within."

Last year, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance asking the arts commission to erect a piece of art at the city's main library, paying tribute to the author, poet and civil rights activist.

A panel selected Thomas and she was honored.

"There aren't very many public monuments even created by women, let alone monuments to women," Thomas said.

But the feeling didn't last long. The arts commission rejected her piece, apparently because it's not a traditional sculpture.

"It was my understanding that we had full reign to interpret what a monument could be, a contemporary monument," Thomas said.

Thomas called the rejection "unbelievable."

"It's ridiculous to waste my time when I'm not given explicit instructions," Thomas said.

Supervisor Catherine Stefani sponsored the ordinance. She provided the following statement Thursday:

“I was incredibly proud to author and pass the ordinance in 2018 that directed the Arts Commission to erect a statue of Maya Angelou at the Main Library. The legislation I wrote was clear that the Maya Angelou statue be a ‘significant figurative representation of Maya Angelou.’

It was my legislative intent as I carried the legislation across the finish line to elevate women in monuments in the same way that men have historically been elevated. It is incredibly important to me that we get this first representation right. If the RFP was not clear on this point, that was not fair to the artists.

The only fair way to move forward is to give all the artists a chance to meet the legislative intent by issuing a new RFP with clear criteria.”

The city will essentially be starting this process over and accepting new proposals. Thomas said she will not be re-submitting.

Photo Credit: SF City]]>
<![CDATA[CCSF Campus Cleared After Reported Bomb Threat: Police]]>563325941Thu, 17 Oct 2019 15:53:16 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1017-citycollegesf.jpg

Three buildings at City College of San Francisco were evacuated Thursday afternoon because of a reported bomb threat then later cleared after a search found no threat, according to the San Francisco Police Department.

At 2:37 p.m., police responded to the Ocean Campus at 50 Phelan Ave. and asked the public to avoid the area.

The threat involved three buildings: the science hall, a multi-use building and the creative arts building, police said.

Officers were taking appropriate measures and assisting with evacuations, police said. They conducted a search of the three buildings and found no threat.

No further details were immediately available.

Photo Credit: @BrainiacSports / Twitter]]>
<![CDATA[Loma Prieta: Looking Back on the Earthquake 30 Years Later]]>563222951Thu, 17 Oct 2019 12:34:30 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/CypressFreewayCollapse.jpg

Thirty years ago Thursday, the Loma Prieta earthquake rocked the Bay Area and beyond, shaking buildings from their foundations, flattening a stretch of freeway in Oakland and dislodging a section of the Bay Bridge.

The 6.9 magnitude earthquake, which struck at 5:04 p.m. on Oct. 17, 1989, left 63 people dead, injured more than 3,700 others and caused billions of dollars' worth in damage.

Baseball fans across the Bay Area were gearing up to watch Game 3 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics when the quake struck on the San Andreas Fault near Loma Prieta peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

"When I went outside as this thing was happening, you could actually see the wave that was coming from the south going north. It made every car jump in the air," San Francisco resident Dr. Steven Brattesani said in a recent Bay Area Revelations episode chronicling the earthquake's widespread devastation. "I mean, I've never seen concrete and asphalt do that before."

The epicenter was located roughly nine miles northeast of Santa Cruz and 60 miles south-southeast of San Francisco, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Shaking was said to have lasted for about 15 to 20 seconds, and people as far away as San Diego and western Nevada reportedly felt it, according to the California Department of Conservation.

"The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake ended decades of tranquility in the San Francisco Bay region," Robert Page with the USGS said in a statement. "It was a wakeup call to prepare for the potentially even more devastating shocks that are inevitable in the future."

The quake damaged an estimated 18,300 houses, according to the conservation department. Another 963 were destroyed. The shaking also damaged nearly 2,600 businesses and wiped out 147. 

Tremors caused a portion of the upper deck of the Bay Bridge to collapse onto the lower deck, leaving the vital transportation artery unusable for about one month. The upper deck of the nearby Cypress Freeway in Oakland also came crashing down in an instant, crushing cars on the freeway's lower level. Forty-two people were killed.

"I'm looking over and I remember seeing a woman in a brand new BMW. She was in that car, and there was a gardener guy [in] a little Toyota pickup or whatever. And then, 'Wham!' It was lights out," Tim Petersen, a 24-year-old firefighter at the time of the earthquake, recalled in an interview with Bay Area Revelations. "Everything went black."

Petersen, pinned in his flattened pickup truck, suffering from two broken ankles, broken ribs on his left side and an injured shoulder, managed to survive thanks to Oakland firefighters who spent six hours pulling him to safety.

"I was getting ready to just see what it's like to die," Petersen said. "It's going to be over real soon, and I was waiting. And it never happened."

Over in San Francisco, the soft soil of the Marina District gave way. Homes toppled, gas lines ruptured and blazes ignited.

"It was mayhem," Brattesani said. "Buildings were in the street. All the corner buildings were literally from four stories to one story."

Brick buildings in downtown Santa Cruz crumpled.

"Streets were just a tumble of bricks and building parts," Ceil Cirillo, former Santa Cruz redevelopment director, said.

Thirty years to the day Loma Prieta hit, people across the state on Thursday practiced their earthquake preparedness during the "Great California ShakeOut." The earthquake drill, which reminded people to drop, cover and hold, took place at 10:17 a.m., coinciding with the Loma Prieta anniversary.

"The Loma Prieta earthquake was a tragedy that caused immense suffering for thousands of California residents," California Earthquake Authority CEO Glenn Pomeroy said in a statement. "Anniversaries for big earthquakes often serve as painful reminders of why we need to know how to Drop, Cover, and Hold On when the ground shakes, and know how to financially recover from damage that may be expensive to repair."

Earlier this week, multiple earthquakes registering above magnitude 3.0 rattled the Bay Area and surrounding regions. A 4.7 magnitude quake hit near Salinas and Hollister Tuesday afternoon. The night before, a 4.5 magnitude quake centered near Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill jolted many people from their sleep.

If you'd like to learn more about the Loma Prieta earthquake, you can watch the full Bay Area Revelations episode here. It includes interviews with survivors, first responders and unsung heroes who experienced one of the strongest earthquakes to rattle the region in decades.

Photo Credit: Jim Sugar/Corbis via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SF Mayor Announces Support for Mental Health Plan on Ballot]]>563268832Wed, 16 Oct 2019 21:42:28 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BreedFile.JPG

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced on Tuesday that she's backing a comprehensive health care plan for homeless people suffering from mental illness that will be placed on the March 2020 ballot.

The plan, called UrgentCareSF, is being run by the San Francisco Department of Public Health and seeks to provide immediate treatment for mental health and substance abuse disorders for some 4,000 homeless San Franciscans ready to receive treatment.

The program has already been launched and is currently serving some 230 patients, according to Breed.

The mayor said that while she's already introduced legislative framework for the Board of Supervisors to approve UrgentCareSF, she's also submitted a ballot initiative just in case it doesn't move forward in City Hall. The ballot initiative could be withdrawn at anytime within the next six weeks.

UrgentCareSF is set to be on the same ballot as a separate mental health treatment plan backed by Supervisors Hilary Ronen and Matt Haney called Mental Health SF.

Ronen and Haney's plan, first announced back in May, would not only provide treatment, it would also create a new office of insurance accountability to fight for patients to receive mental health care and recoup funds for emergency city services.

Mental Health SF would also create a clinically trained street crisis team who would focus on people suffering from a mental health crisis on the streets.

In addition, a 24-hour drop-in center would have access to psychiatrists and medication for anyone who needs it, regardless of their insurance, and also be equipped with a sobering center for people suffering from drug or alcohol withdrawal.

In addition to providing health care, Breed's plan will also provide housing options for people exiting treatment services in order to support them in their recovery.

Supervisors are scheduled to hold a public hearing on Mental Health SF at a Rules Committee meeting on Oct. 30.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2 Random Attempted Assaults Have Neighbors on Edge in SF]]>563268711Wed, 16 Oct 2019 22:31:16 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sf-attacks-1016.jpg

A San Francisco neighborhood is on edge this week after two random attempted assaults, one of which was caught on security video.

The footage from a home's Ring security camera shows a vehicle stop in the middle of the street. Then a group of men, some wearing Halloween masks, jump out and chase the victim down with a baseball bat.

One man says, while he was walking home, a group of men pulled up next to him Monday night on 26th street and asked him if he was Sammy. He told them he wasn't, and the car pulled to the corner, blocking his path. Several men then got out of the car and started chasing him. One had a baseball bat.

That incident happened on Jersey Street in San Francisco's Noe Valley. The man can be heard yelling for help as he runs away.

Another man, Matt Borg, said the same group tried to assault him minutes earlier just a few blocks away as he walked down 26th street.

"Three men exited the car, one man in a mask, white, spooky with an aluminum bat over his head, chasing after me," said Borg, who took off running while calling 911. "I thought there was a real possibility I was gonna be killed. One bad swing with a bat."

Borg said the men drove off but circled back as he was talking to a dispatcher. He ran again and screamed.

Patti Cole said she and her family heard the scream and looked outside but didn't see the emergency.

"I don't normally feel unsafe walking around, but I probably will now," Cole said.

Neighbors and Borg are feeling uneasy.

"All I know is there was intent to injure," Borg said.

Borg said as he ran away, he hit his lock button on his phone several times and that sounded an alarm and called 911. So as he ran away, he was telling a dispatcher exactly what was happening and where.

Police responded to both incidents and are investigating.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Loma Prieta Quake: A's-Giants Series Becomes Afterthought]]>563257712Wed, 16 Oct 2019 18:20:18 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Loma_Prieta_Quake__A_s-Giants_Series_Becomes_Afterthought.jpg

It's a day we remember like it was yesterday. But it was actually 30 years ago. The October 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake disrupted a magical night at Candlestick Park as our own A's and Giants faced off in the World Series for the first time. Then the earth and Candlestick shook. Terry McSweeney was there and recalls the details.]]>
<![CDATA[Loma Prieta Quake: SF Shakes 70 Miles From Epicenter]]>563252502Wed, 16 Oct 2019 17:14:02 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/Loma_Prieta_Quake__SF_Shakes_70_Miles_From_Epicenter.jpg

Why did San Francisco shake so much during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that was centered more than 70 miles to the south? Chief Meteorologist Jeff Ranieri explains.]]>
<![CDATA[Sutter Health, California Settle Massive Antitrust Case]]>563244171Wed, 16 Oct 2019 14:59:34 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Sutter_Health_Computer_Network_Outage.jpg

One of California's largest hospital systems has reached an agreement to settle a massive class-action lawsuit over allegations that it abused its market power and has been overcharging patients for medical bills.

Wednesday's announcement of an agreement offered no details but came just in time to avoid a trial, with attorneys preparing to give opening statements Thursday.

The antitrust lawsuit against Sutter Health, which operates 24 hospitals with 5,500 doctors across Northern California, was first brought by employers and unions in 2014 and later joined by California's attorney general, Xavier Becerra, who filed a similar lawsuit last year after a six-year investigation.

Jennifer Molina, a spokeswoman for Becerra, confirmed the settlement but said she could not comment further until the court approves the agreement.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo set a timeline February or March for the next round of hearings to approve the settlement, a court spokesman said.

Sutter Health spokeswoman Amy Thoma Tan also confirmed "the parties have reached a settlement agreement to resolve the case" but gave no other details.

In a 49-page complaint, Becerra alleged that Sutter has pursued numerous anticompetitive practices as it snuffed out competition and became the largest hospital system in Northern California. The lawsuit points to research showing that health care costs in Northern California are higher than elsewhere in the state and said Sutter was largely to blame for the higher costs.

At issue are several of Sutter Health's contracting policies that Becerra says have allowed the company to "thoroughly immunize itself from price competition."

One way insurance companies keep costs down is to steer patients to cheaper health care providers through a variety of incentives. Becerra says Sutter Health bans insurance companies from using these incentives, making it harder for patients to use their lower-priced competitors.

Becerra also says Sutter has an "all or nothing" approach to negotiating with insurance companies, requiring them to include all the company's hospitals in their provider networks even if it doesn't make financial sense to do so.

The complaint noted that Sutter's assets rose to $15.6 billion in 2016 from $6.4 billion in 2005.

Sutter Health, a Sacramento-based nonprofit, denies the claims, saying it faces fierce competition across the San Francisco Bay Area and the Sacramento Valley and insurance companies are to blame for pushing up costs.

Becerra's office sought injunctive relief to halt Sutter's alleged anti-competitive behavior, not monetary damages. But the private litigation brought by a class of about 1,400 self-funded employers sought damages that could exceed $1 billion.

News of the settlement was applauded by health care consumer advocacy coalition Health Access California.

"While we are eager to see the details of the settlement, the landmark lawsuit itself sends a strong signal to hospital chains across the nation," the coalition's executive director Anthony Wright, said in a statement. "All health care providers will think twice, knowing that adopting Sutter Health's predatory tactics may come with the possibility of legal action."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

<![CDATA[SF Fireboats: The Boat That Saved the Neighborhood]]>563142561Tue, 15 Oct 2019 12:52:58 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/FireBoat+THUMB.jpg

It was 5:04 p.m. on October 17, 1989, when a powerful magnitude 6.9 earthquake shook the soft soil of San Francisco's Marina District, crumpling the neighborhood's old wooden buildings like paper, and sending a cascade of splintered wood and glass into the streets.

Neighbors who were there at the time recall that something else went flying into the air in those moments: natural gas. The shaking had twisted and snapped underground gas lines, and as the smell of sulfur began to blanket the neighborhood, fire broke out at the corner of Beach and Divisadero streets and rapidly began to spread.

The fire department responded, but soon discovered another problem: The earthquake hadn't just broken gas lines. It had also broken the water pipes feeding the neighborhood's fire hydrants. As fire engines ferried in water from blocks away, and volunteers scooped up what water they could carry in paint buckets to throw on the fire, dispatchers summoned up a rarely-used resource: San Francisco's lone fireboat, the Phoenix.

The wheelhouse of the fireboat Phoenix still glistens with polish on its vintage woodwork and brass helm. Built in 1954, the boat remains in service, with updated engines and electronics.

"It's basically an auxiliary water supply, a floating hydrant if you will," explained fireboat pilot Jeffrey Amdahl.

Narrowly making it over a sandbar at the entrance to the yacht harbor as the tide receded, the Phoenix docked at the Marina Green and firefighters pulled hoses onto the shore. A crowd of volunteers helped them connect the hoses together and pull them two blocks down the street toward the flames. Powering up the boat's 37-year-old V12 diesel pump engine, firefighters began attacking the flames with saltwater pulled straight from the Bay.

"It basically saved the Marina District," Amdahl said.

Built in San Francisco, the Phoenix is now the city's smallest fireboat. Its bow includes a manually-operated water cannon and cast iron hose couplings branded "SFFD" in raised letters.

That day changed the course of history for the San Francisco Fire Department. Despite having two completely separate water systems, each with its own reservoirs and fire hydrants, the department learned that metal pipes are no match for the force of a major earthquake — especially in the many parts of the city's waterfront that are built on soft landfill and prone to liquefaction.

"In 1987, they were wondering why we still had fireboats, so they talked about decommissioning them at the time," Amdahl said. But after 1989, "Everybody realized, yes, we do need fireboats, and we need more than just one."

With contributions from Marina District property owners and a large anonymous donation, the department purchased a second fireboat that had been recently retired by the city of Vancouver, British Columbia. The Guardian went into service alongside the Phoenix just a year after the big earthquake. Both boats were built in the 1950s.

The engine room of the fireboat Phoenix includes this control panel complete with vintage brass gauges. The boat's third engine, used only for pumping water, is still an original 1952 Cummins V12 — one of the last of its kind still in service.

"You just don't see boats that old on the water," said fireboat engineer Mike Shaw. Pointing out the refinished wood and polished brass in the wheelhouse of the Phoenix, he added, "It is in phenomenal (condition)."

Despite having outfitted the old boats with new engines and hydraulic water cannons, the fire department began making plans to build a modern fireboat. Those plans were finally realized when an $8 million federal grant became available.

The wheelhouse of the new fireboat St. Francis is spacious and provides operators with a 360-degree view of the water. There are steering stations on both sides, and radar for navigating at night and in bad weather.

"I've been on boats all my life since 1979, and I'd never designed and built one," Amdahl said. "So, I was on the team to design this one and build it."

Admahl had spent much of his career on tugboats prior to joining the fire department, and brought what he'd learned to the table. It's no wonder, then, that the new fireboat St. Francis has a spacious wheelhouse like those on commercial tugs, with a 360-degree view of the water and steering stations on both sides. The new boat was christened on October 17, 2016, the earthquake's anniversary, in a ceremony with Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Thirty years after the Loma Prieta earthquake, the city's three fireboats are much busier than they once were, and so is the crew at Fire Station 35 that operates them. Firefighters at that station have to receive additional training to perform surf rescues, which have become another major function of the boats. The St. Francis keeps a small motorized rescue skiff ready to lower into the water at a moment's notice, and there's always SCUBA gear on board.

The stern of the St. Francis includes a ramp for quickly deploying a rescue skiff into the water. The ramp and winch save valuable time compared to a crane, which was used to launch skiffs from the older fireboats.

The boat's design also allows it to fight the types of fires that are unique to a city with an aging waterfront.

"It's all wood. Most of these structures are still wood," said Fire Department Lt. Kaeo Nacua. "This waterfront is old."

The St. Francis is built with two of its hydraulic water cannons positioned near the surface of the water and designed to shoot upward, to attack a fire burning underneath a pier.

"You need a massive amount of water underneath there," Nacua said, adding that dousing the flames from a boat can save firefighters from having to risk their lives inside a pier warehouse that's in danger of collapsing.

The view from the bow of the fireboat St. Francis as it passes under the Bay Bridge. Four of the newest fireboat's water cannons can be remotely controlled from a panel inside the wheelhouse.

As the waterfront becomes more crowded with the opening of the Chase Center and the new housing developments that surround it, Nacua said he hopes the fire department continues to pour resources into its fireboat program. The city is currently constructing a new 2-story floating firehouse that will replace the crumbling pier behind the historic Station 35.

San Francisco's historic Fire Station 35 is home to the fire department's last spiral staircase, and a wealth of memorabilia including a placard from the Dennis T. Sullivan, San Francisco's first fireboat, named after the fire chief who was killed in the 1906 earthquake.

A "fire houseboat" will rise up and down with the tides, allowing easier access to the fireboats during an emergency, and will also be more likely to survive a major earthquake — the emergency in which the boats could be needed the most.

"Our main mission is to be the hydrant system for the city," Amdahl said. "We're here for the earthquake."

The St. Francis can pump 18,000 gallons of water per minute into firehoses and onboard water cannons — enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in about 30 minutes. The giant pipes that pull water out of the Bay run directly through the engine room.

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<![CDATA[SFMTA to Vote on Prohibiting Private Vehicles on Market St.]]>563150911Tue, 15 Oct 2019 11:07:15 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/MarketStreetSanFrancisco.jpg

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's Board of Directors will vote on Tuesday on the city's Better Market Street Project, which would prohibit most vehicles from driving on Market Street in the city's downtown area.

According to the plan, the more than 2-mile stretch of Market Street from 10th Street to Steuart Street would only be used by buses, taxis, bicycles, and commercial vehicles, as well as emergency vehicles like police cars and fire trucks.

The plan would also make room for commercial loading zones along Market Street and place peak-hour loading restrictions to reduce interactions between bikes and commercial and transit vehicles.

Additionally, the Better Market Street plan would create a bus-only lane as well as a separate taxi-only lane. Safety improvements for pedestrians and bicycles would also be included.

Although all private vehicles would be prohibited from turning onto or using Market Street, all traffic would still be able to cross Market Street at most intersections.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition will hold a rally outside of San Francisco City Hall on Tuesday at 12:15 p.m., just before the SFTMA's board meeting. Afterward, coalition members are expected to show up to the 1 p.m. meeting to show their support for the project.

If approved, the project would be rolled out in several phases, with the first phase, featuring quick-build enhancements, private vehicle restrictions and Muni-only lane extensions, starting as early as the beginning of 2020.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Police Search for Man Who Stole $20K Dali Painting in SF]]>563112351Mon, 14 Oct 2019 20:59:35 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SF-ART-1014.jpg

A $20,000 piece of Salvador Dali art was stolen from a gallery in San Francisco, and gallery officials are hoping security video will help lead police to the thief.

The piece called "The Burning Giraffe" was supposed to be locked to an easel at the Dennis Rae Fine Arts Gallery. The gallery's director said a man walked away with the large framed piece Sunday, carrying it right down the street.

Security video shows a man walking down Geary Boulevard toward Union Square Sunday afternoon, carrying a large frame.

"He just grabbed it and walked off," gallery Director Angela Kellett said. "We don't know where the secure device is."

Kellett said she's not sure how the man walked out with it in hand without anyone noticing.

"It's a copper plate first etched by Picasso, a collaborative work," she said. Security cameras captured the thief walking down Geary then disappearing down Powell Street. Kellett is hoping the Dali turns up, and the gallery can continue operating with an open-door policy.

"That's why this makes us sad because we don't want to become where we are fearing this kind of thing," she said. "We want everyone to feel welcome."

Kellett says at this point it will be hard to sell the piece because collectors know it's stolen.

The gallery is asking anyone who knows the suspect or has seen "The Burning Giraffe" to call police.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[5 Injured After Truck Collides With Cable Car in SF]]>563110461Mon, 14 Oct 2019 20:23:33 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/cable-car-ax-1014.jpg

Five people were hospitalized following a collision involving a cable car Monday afternoon in San Francisco's Nob Hill neighborhood, fire officials said.

The collision occurred at 3:24 p.m. at Washington and Jones streets, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages cable car operations.

SFMTA spokeswoman Erica Kato said there were reports of minor injuries. The cable car was on an inbound route, Kato said.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[SF Police Investigating Homicide in the Tenderloin]]>563107561Mon, 14 Oct 2019 19:30:49 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sfpd-generic-san-francisco-police.jpg

San Francisco police said officers in the Tenderloin neighborhood are investigating a homicide that occurred Monday afternoon.

The homicide happened near Jones and McAllister streets, police said around 3:55 p.m.

Police haven't released further information.

Anyone with information about the homicide is being asked to contact the San Francisco Police Department's tip line at (415) 575-4444. Tipsters have the option of remaining anonymous.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Alcatraz Canoe Journey to Commemorate Native Occupation]]>563066451Mon, 14 Oct 2019 08:03:28 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Alcatraz34.jpg

The Native American occupation of Alcatraz Island 50 years ago will be commemorated on Monday at a canoe journey around the famous island.

The Alcatraz Canoe Journey will start at 6 a.m. Monday, celebrated as Indigenous Peoples' Day, at San Francisco Aquatic Park.

Canoes representing tribes from around the West Coast will participate.

Participants are coming from as far away as Hawaii and British Columbia, organizers said.

"Canoe Journey is Indian Country's fastest growing tradition," said activist and event organizer Eloy Martinez, who was an early participant in the 1969 occupation. "We expect hand-carved dugout canoes, tule canoes-all kinds of traditional canoes. The canoes will leave from Aquatic Park, navigate the often-dangerous water around Alcatraz, and return to shore for a day full of songs, stories and dances by participating canoe families and other Native communities."

The canoe event is the first of its kind in the Bay Area and is inspired by the Tribal Canoe Journey held in the Pacific Northwest.

Organizers hope the event inspires a new generation of leaders as well as educating the public about the Alcatraz occupation "and the enduring importance of First Peoples in the context of global environmental crisis."

The Alcatraz Canoe Journey sets out at 6 a.m. from Aquatic Park in San Francisco. Cultural protocol will begin at 7 a.m. and conclude at 1 p.m. This event is free, open to the public and inclusive.

A four-part speaker series, "Alcatraz: An Unfinished Occupation," is scheduled in conjunction with the canoe journey, under the sponsorship of the California Historical Society, the Exploratorium, the Natural History Museum, the Presidio Trust, the San Francisco Museum Modern of Art and the San Francisco Public Library.

Locations and dates of the speaker series are available at https://www.canoejourney2019.com/talks.

Photo Credit: Eric Risberg/AP]]>
<![CDATA[5 Injured in Three-Vehicle Crash in San Francisco]]>563033161Sun, 13 Oct 2019 22:42:25 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/ambulance-highway-night-shutterstock_40380955.jpg

Five people were injured - one of them with life-threatening injuries - in a three-vehicle collision at the intersection of Divisadero and Hayes Streets Sunday night, San Francisco police said.

The accident occurred shortly before 8 p.m., police said. The Jaws of Life metal-cutting tool was needed to free some of the victims.

All five victims were taken to local hospitals for treatment.

It wasn't immediately known what caused the accident, police said.

Further details were not immediately available.

<![CDATA[Columbus Statue in SF's Little Italy Defaced by Vandals]]>563025681Mon, 14 Oct 2019 17:54:14 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/columbus+statue-1013.jpg

As thousands of people enjoyed Italian Heritage Day celebrations in San Francisco's Little Italy, public works crews were scraping red paint off the city's statue of Christopher Columbus just a few blocks away.

The inscription painted at the base of the statue, near Coit Tower, was especially disturbing: "Destroy all monuments of genocide and kill all colonizers."

Visitors to the area, some of whom were there to watch the Blue Angels air show, were a little shocked to see the bronze statue vandalized.

"I think it's horrible," said Jodi Silverman of Boston. "I think that people, yes they have freedom of speech, but they shouldn't deface property."

Crews spent most of the day power washing and scraping the statue. One of the first things they removed was the message scrawled on the base.

People were puzzled but not quite shocked.

"There are people in the city that are probably upset about it. It's gonna be hard to get it off there," Santa Rosa resident Travis Troxell said. "But honestly, they don't teach you in school, but Christopher Columbus did a bunch of stuff that wasn't the greatest."

It's likely no coincidence the statue was defaced on Columbus Day weekend. What is now called Italian Heritage Day was being celebrated just a few blocks away.

Organizers of the event issued a statement that said in part: "We are proud of more than 150 years of Italian-American history in the Bay Area and choose to focus on bringing people together."

The San Francisco Police Department is investigating the incident, including scouring security video footage from cameras in the area.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Crash Ignites Brush Fire That Shuts Down NB 101 in Brisbane]]>563015361Sun, 13 Oct 2019 16:32:13 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/breaking.png

Three lanes of northbound Highway 101 in Brisbane were blocked late Sunday after a fiery solo vehicle crash caused flames to spread to nearby brush, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP issued a Sig-alert just before 5 p.m. as the three right lanes of Highway 101 near Candelstick Point were blocked by the crash and fire.

At least one person was injured in the incident and taken to a hospital, the CHP said.

<![CDATA[Newsom Vetoes Paid Reservation System for Lombard Street]]>562995171Sun, 13 Oct 2019 21:25:11 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/176*120/street11.jpg

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Saturday that the state will not implement a paid reservation system for Lombard Street in San Francisco.

On Saturday, Newsom said he is "acutely aware of the need to address congestion and safety around Lombard Street," but he believes the issue can be addressed differently.

Earlier this year, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority considered charging $5 to $10 for a trip down the iconic street.

In his statement, Newsom said "the pricing program proposed in this bill creates social equity issues. Access to this iconic attraction should be available to all, regardless of their ability to pay."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Protest Blocks Turkish Airlines Ticket Counter at SFO ]]>562946061Sun, 13 Oct 2019 07:13:24 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/062816+turkish+airlines+miami+international+airport.jpg

About 100 people turned out to protest at the Turkish Airlines ticket counter at San Francisco International Airport, an airport manager confirmed.

The protest, which blocked the Turkish Airlines ticket counter in the international terminal, was in response to Turkey's recent military invasion of northern Syria. Ticket holders were diverted around protesters and no flights were delayed.

The government of Turkey owns 49% of the airline.

"We don't have a Turkish Consulate in the Bay Area, so this is the closest we could get to actually finding a way to impact Turkey," said protester Sabrina Melendez of Richmond.

A Tweet from Occupy Oakland said that the ticketing counter was completely shut down.

The demonstration is the first organized effort in the Bay Area to call attention to new violence in Northern Syria. Protesters called out two people -- the president of Turkey for ordering this week's military assault, and U.S. President Donald Trump for ordering American troops in the region to stand aside.

The demonstrators were trying to disrupt the Turkish Airlines 6 p.m. flight heading to Istanbul. Protesters in the group held up signs with messages like "solitary with Rojava" and "veterans for Rojava," a reference to the region in northern Syria controlled by the Kurds.

"The government that's developed a certain degree of autonomy there have been the best allies that the United States and all Western Countries have had against Islamic Fundamentalism, Isis," said demonstrator Mike Isreal.

Along with capturing Isis fighters the Kurds have also been securing them in prisons and camps there. They said Turkish artillery targeted one of those prisons this weekend and at least five Isis militants escaped. Prison officials told NBC's Richard Engle that they believe Turkey is trying to free Isis fighters.

Saturday night there were also reports that multiple artillery rounds exploded near U.S. special forces in the region. 

This week Trump ordered them to stand down as Turkey launched its operation. Since then he's issued warnings.

"If Turkey does something that they shouldn't be doing, we will put on sanctions the likes of which very few countries have ever seen before," Trump said.

He has not offered any additional specifics. 

In the meantime, women and children are trying to escape the violence, and people in the Bay Area with family there are shocked the the U.S. government would allow this to happen.

"United States, they betrayed the Kurdish before, but not like this time," said protester Raman Osman. "Because you are still fighting alongside, and you're just fighting Isis, but Isis is still there."

The group of protesters is hoping to draw more attention to their cause. They're planning a second demonstration Sunday at noon at San Francisco's Union Square.

Photo Credit: NBC 6
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[SF Provides Housing for Low Income Transgender Residents]]>562933061Sat, 12 Oct 2019 12:41:53 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Anti_Transgender_Policy_Protest_Takes_Place_in_the_Castro.jpg

Low-income transgender and gender non-conforming San Franciscans could be eligible for housing subsidies under a new city program, Mayor London Breed announced Thursday.

The Our Trans Home SF program will begin providing the subsidies through a two-year pilot program starting next month.

The mayor's office estimates that about 55 San Francisco households will receive the subsidies, providing $560,000 in direct financial assistance annually, in an effort to help curb homelessness in the city.

"The ongoing housing crisis in our City continues to impact our most marginalized communities, including members of our trans community who are eighteen times more likely to experience homelessness," Breed said in a statement.

"Meanwhile, the community continues to be under constant attack by the Federal Administration which is attempting to legalize discrimination and erase transgender people," she said. "The Our Trans Home SF program is a vital step forward in ensuring our trans community is housed, safe, and can thrive in San Francisco. As we work to end homelessness in our City, we must also work to keep people housed and this program will help us do just that."

San Francisco-based organizations St. James Infirmary and Larkin Street Youth Services have both been selected by the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development to be the main providers of the program.

"We are grateful to Mayor Breed and the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development for their steadfast commitment to support trans led programs and their partnership to help end trans homelessness," Clair Farley, the director of the Office of Transgender Initiatives said. "The innovative Our Trans Home SF housing program will bring us closer to our goal and ensure that our trans community has a safe place to call home."

<![CDATA[SF's Fleet Week Wows Fans as it Continues into the Weekend]]>562868111Fri, 11 Oct 2019 22:54:35 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/blue+angels8.jpg

The world-famous Blue Angles roared back into San Francisco Friday, giving hundreds of fans a thrill as fleet week continues in the city.

“It’s really important to see what the country can do for us with all the service branches,” said Kathy Moscato of Martinez.

The crowd took in a four-hour long display of might including ships over the bay and a cavalcade of planes. For veterans like Frank Archibald, who served in Vietnam, it was a day of pride.

“We’re proud of our military, it keeps the country as we know it,” Archibald said. “Anyone tries to take it away, we’re there. I like that.”

Among the weekend’s upcoming activities are shows featuring ships and planes. The shows, which start at noon both Saturday and Sunday, are at the Arena Green.

On Friday, security was present but not overt.

“Security and safety is always paramount to everything we do, so we rely on our partners like the police department to have our backs,” said U.S. Marine First Lt. Samuel Woo.

<![CDATA[Ukrainian-Born Man Charged With Campaign Finance Violations]]>562789641Thu, 10 Oct 2019 21:19:44 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/court-gavel-generic-san-die1.jpg

A Ukrainian-born California businessman who has been indicted in New York on charges of violating campaign finance law was arrested in San Francisco Thursday and appeared briefly in federal court in the city.

Andrey Kukushkin, 46, is one of four people named in a grand jury indictment announced Thursday by U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman of the Southern District of New York.

The others, all Florida residents, include two associates of presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Ukrainian-born Lev Parnas, 47, and Belarus-born Igor Fruman, 54, and a fourth defendant, David Correia, who was born in the United States. The four men are all U.S. citizens.

The indictment was unsealed after Parnas and Fruman were arrested Wednesday night as they prepared to board a flight to Europe at Dulles International Airport in Virginia. Berman said they had one-way tickets.

Kukushkin was arrested in San Francisco Thursday morning, according to William Sweeney, assistant chief of the FBI's New York field office. He made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Jacqueline Scott Corley in San Francisco and was ordered to be held in custody until a detention hearing on Friday, according to court records.

He is expected to be transferred to New York at a later date to face the charges there.

All four defendants are accused of conspiring in a scheme to disguise contributions of $10,000 each to two Nevada state office candidates from an unnamed Russian businessman who wanted to obtain licenses for marijuana businesses. Federal law prohibits campaign contributions from foreign nationals.

Parnas and Fruman, but not Kukushkin, are also charged in the indictment with an additional conspiracy to make disguised contributions to an unnamed member of Congress to promote the interests of at least one Ukrainian government official.

In one incident cited in the indictment, the two men allegedly sought the congressman's assistance in advocating for the removal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. The ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, was recalled by the State Department on May 20.

The House intelligence, foreign affairs and oversight committees on Thursday issued subpoenas to Parnas and Fruman for documents related to their activities in Ukraine, for use in Congress's inquiry into the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump.

In a previous letter to the Intelligence Committee, John Dowd, a civil lawyer for Parnas and Fruman, said the two men have been represented by Giuliani in connection with their personal and business affairs, and also said they have assisted Giuliani in his representation of Trump. The indictment does not mention Giuliani.

<![CDATA[CPUC President Calls PG&E's Shutoffs 'Unacceptable']]>562769311Thu, 10 Oct 2019 16:35:34 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/PGELogo.JPG

The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday blasted PG&E amid the utility's Public Safety Power Shutoff, which has affected more than 700,000 customers throughout the state since Wednesday.

During the commission's regular meeting at its San Francisco office, CPUC President Marybel Batjer called the way PG&E has been managing the PSPS "unacceptable."

"I understand the impact these events have on every Californian and deeply share the public's concern regarding this current PSPS process," Batjer said.

"The management and response of the company PG&E to the events, to the PSPS, have been absolutely unacceptable. The impact to the communities, the individual people, to the commerce of our state, the safety of our people, has been less than exemplary. This cannot be the new normal. We can't accept it as the new normal and we won't."

PG&E's shutoffs began Wednesday, prompted by windy and dry weather in Northern California, impacting residents in 34 counties throughout the state.

According to the CPUC's deputy executive director of safety and enforcement policy Elizaveta Malashenko, she and other state officials have been posted at PG&E's Wildfire Safety Operations Center in San Francisco, closely monitoring the situation.

"Our concern is for public safety and do everything we can to minimize the impacts of these very serious events," Malashenko said.

"Some of the issues that have come up are the coordination between PG&E and counties and local government. There have been a lot of challenges in how that's been working. We've been doing what we can to monitor what's happening, suggest recommendations on how to adjust the process as the events unfold, and also assisting with the dissemination of information," she said.

In particular, she said, the CPUC has been working with PG&E to make sure that vulnerable customers, like the disabled and elderly, have been properly notified about the shutoff via telephone or physical visits to their residences.

"An emergent issue that we've also been monitoring very closely was the loss of the website's capabilities," she said, referring to problems many customers faced Tuesday and Wednesday as they tried to find information on the company's website.

"This was a major concern for everyone engaged in this event," Malashenko said.

She said that PG&E had 45 helicopters on hand watching for overhead conditions and more than 6,000 crewmembers ready to restore power when the dry and windy weather conditions died down.

Cal Fire has also been monitoring the situation and had already responded to over 200 ignitions throughout the state within the last two days, she said.

"We've done a phenomenal job of putting out those fires and keeping the communities out of harm's way," Malashenko said.

Ultimately, she said, "It's a PG&E event so they are the ones who have the responsibility of communicating with the counties. So we can offer suggestions and fill in some of the gaps."

Following the meeting, Mindy Spatt, spokesowman for The Utility Reform Network, which advocates for utilities customers, said that organization members were "up in arms" over the shutoffs.

"They feel the message they're getting from PG&E is that PG&E remains unable to trim trees or inspect its lines, so this is the only option to prevent PG&E from starting more fires. This is obviously not a good solution," Spatt said.

"Yes, consumers would rather have their power shut off than have their homes and businesses burn down, but they would really rather have is a utility that can operate safely and it's clear that we don't have that," she said.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Historic Power Shutoffs Continue in the Bay Area]]>562676321Thu, 10 Oct 2019 18:38:55 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/199*120/outtage_map.jpg

PG&E late Thursday afternoon started restoring power to several areas impacted by proactive outages amid high fire danger.

While many of the hundreds of thousands of customers across Northern and Central California were still in the dark, the utility gave its crews an all clear to start safety inspections on equipment after weather conditions improved. Officials said restorations efforts would begin in many areas impacted by outages.

PG&E's utility's public safety power shutoffs — prompted by dry, gusty weather — left roughly 278,000 customers across the Bay Area to carry out their daily tasks without electricity.

PG&E on Thursday afternoon said improving weather conditions allowed crews an "all clear" to perform safety inspections and that restoration efforts would begin in many areas impacted by outages.

"We faced a choice here between hardship on everyone or safety, and we chose safety," PG&E CEO and President Bill Johnson said. "I do apologize for the hardship this has caused, but I think we made the right call on safety."

Officials late Thursday afternoon reported power was restored to most of San Jose and Morgan Hill areas impacted. Several East Bay cities, including Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda also reported PG&E crews were in the process of restoring power to the areas.

At the start, the shutoffs were expected to impact roughly 800,000 customers in parts of eight Bay Area counties and across much of Northern and Central California, according to the utility. 

Some 126,000 customers throughout the region have had their power restored, the utility reported Thursday. PG&E said about 600,000 customers are still without power.

It is not known when the rest of the impacted customers spread out across Northern and Central California will have their power restored. PG&E has warned that they might have to do without power for days after the winds subside because "every inch" of the power system must be inspected by helicopters and thousands of groundworkers and declared safe before the grid is reactivated.

PG&E said it planned to turn off power in three phases. The first went into effect around 12 a.m. Wednesday, impacting roughly 513,000 customers across Northern California, including areas of Marin, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties.

The second phase, which originally was scheduled to begin around 12 p.m. Wednesday, was delayed due to changes in the weather forecast. Early Thursday morning, PG&E cut power to about 234,000 customers in 10 phase two counties, including Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

A third phase of shutoffs is being considered for about 4,000 customers in Kern County.

The shutoffs mark the most sweeping effort in state history to prevent wildfires caused by windblown power lines. The move comes after two years of catastrophic fires sent PG&E into bankruptcy and forced it to take more aggressive steps to prevent blazes.

Deliberate outages like these could become the new normal in an era in which scientists say climate change is leading to fiercer blazes and longer fire seasons.

The planned outages have prompted many schools and colleges in the Bay Area to cancel classes. See a full list of school closures here.

There were concerns that the power outages would force Caltrans to close the Caldecott and Tom Lantos (Devil's Slide) Tunnels, but both will remain open. Crews brought in temporary generators to power the Caldecott Tunnel and rerouted power to keep the Tom Lantos Tunnels open.

In anticipation of the shutoffs, Sonoma County and Santa Clara County declared a local emergency in response. 

The city of Morgan Hill enforced a curfew Wednesday night through Thursday morning in areas impacted by the shutoff.

"This curfew is for the safety of the community to reduce the opportunity of crime," the city of Morgan Hill said in a Facebook post. 

The county-by-county breakdown below shows how many Bay Area customers are expected to be impacted by the shutoffs:

  • Alameda County: 32,680 customers in Oakland, Castro Valley, Fremont, Union City, Berkeley, Hayward, San Leandro, Sunol, Pleasanton, Livermore.
  • Contra Costa County: 51,310 customers in San Ramon, Orinda, Lafayette, Moraga, Pinole, Richmond, Kensington, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Berkeley, Canyon, San Pablo, Pittsburg, Rodeo, Concord, Albany, Antioch, Martinez.
  • Marin County: 9,855 customers in Bolinas, Fairfax, Mill Valley, Muir Beach, Olema, Sausalito, Stinson Beach.
  • Napa County: 32,124 customers in Napa, Saint Helena, Calistoga, Angwin, Pope Valley, Rutherford, Oakville, Deer Park, Lake Berryessa, Yountville, American Canyon.
  • San Mateo County: 14,766 customers in Half Moon Bay, El Granada, Woodside, Moss Beach, Montara, Portola Valley, Pescadero, La Honda, Redwood City, San Gregorio, Loma Mar, San Mateo, Menlo Park, Emerald Hills, Pacifica, Princeton, Davenport, Palo Alto.
  • Santa Clara County: 38,250 customers in San Jose, Morgan Hill, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Redwood Estates, Milpitas, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Coyote, Gilroy, Mount Hamilton, Palo Alto, Holy City.
  • Solano County: 32,863 customers in Fairfield, Vacaville, Suisun City, Vallejo, Dixon.
  • Sonoma County: 66,289 customers in Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Petaluma, Healdsburg, Cloverdale, Glen Ellen, Penngrove, Geyserville, Kenwood, Rohnert Park, Windsor, Annapolis, Stewarts Point, Cotati, Cazadero, Guerneville, Larkfield, El Verano, Boyes Hot Springs, Fulton, Bodega Bay.

The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Interactive Map: Areas Affected by PG&E's Power Shutoffs]]>562637661Wed, 09 Oct 2019 09:39:07 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/211*120/1009-2019-GoogleMap.jpg

PG&E proactively turned off power to hundreds of thousands of customers in parts of several Bay Area counties and across much of Northern and Central California due to high fire danger.

Use the interactive map below to see if your area will be impacted.

Full coverage on the historic power outage here.

Other power shutoff resources:

Photo Credit: Google
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Inmates, Deputies Exposed to Fentynal at SF County Jail]]>562601132Wed, 09 Oct 2019 00:05:24 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/opioidAP_19255806002365.jpg

Several San Francisco deputies and county jail inmates were in the hospital Tuesday night after being exposed to fentanyl at the County Jail. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 100 times more potent than morphine.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[List: Bay Area School Closures Due to PG&E Power Shutoffs]]>562572421Thu, 10 Oct 2019 20:55:48 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/Bedford+High+School+Generic+School+Hallway.JPG

Hundreds of thousands of PG&E customers across Northern and Central California have had their power turned off due to high fire danger.

An up-to-date map of current outages can be found here.

Full coverage on the power shutoffs can be found here.

Here's a list of Bay Area schools that plan to cancel classes during the power outages:

South Bay

  • Alum Rock Union School District schools will be closed Wednesday and Thursday.

North Bay

Napa County

  • Napa Valley Unified schools closed Wednesday and Thursday
  • St. Helena Unified closed Wednesday
  • Howell Mountain ESD closed Wednesday and Thursday
  • Napa County Office of Educaton: after school and preschool programs on NVUSD campuses will be closed. The St. Helena Child Development Center will be closed.

Sonoma County

  • Alexander Valley School closed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
  • Kawana Springs Elementary closed Wednesday
  • Bennett Valley Union School District closed Wednesday
  • Cloverdale Unified School District closed Wednesday
  • Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District closed Wednesday
  • Kashia School District closed Wednesday
  • Geyserville Unified School District closed Wednesday and Friday
  • Mark West Union School District closed Wednesday with a projected closure on Thursday
  • Old Adobe Union School District: Only Sonoma Mountain and Old Adobe charter schools closed Wednesday
  • Kenilworth Junior High closed Wednesday
  • Piner-Olivet Union School District closed Wednesday
  • Rincon Valley School District closed Wednesday

The following schools in the Santa Rosa City Schools district will be closed Wednesday:

  • Maria Carrillo High
  • Rincon Valley Middle
  • Santa Rosa Middle
  • Hidden Valley Elementary
  • Proctor Terrace Elementary
  • Santa Rosa Accelerated Charter School
  • Lewis Education Center
  • Sonoma Valley Unidied School District closed Wednesday through Friday
  • Sonoma County Office of Education: Skkylane campus, El Colegio preschool, and Transition classes closed Wednesday
  • Waugh School District closed Wednesday with non-student days on Thursday, Friday. Teachers still running conferences
  • West Side Union School District closed Wednesday and Friday
  • Windsor Unified School District closed Wednesday
  • All after-school programs at those schools, such as athletics and childcare, are also canceled
  • Sonoma Valley Transition Program will be closed Friday.

East Bay

Castro Valley Unified said schools will be canceled Friday if power remains off at the at the following campuses: Jensen Ranch, Palomares, and Proctor Elementary Schools and Canyon Middle School. But, if power is restored before morning classes will resume.

Oakland Unified School District said all schools will be in session Friday.



  • UC Berkeley has canceled classes Wednesday. The campus will remain open, though services will be limited.
  • Mills College has canceled classes Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Santa Rosa Junior College has canceled classes during the outages.
  • Sonoma State University will cancel classes during the outages.
  • UC Santa Cruz has canceled classes Thursday.

Photo Credit: NBC
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[SF Measure Aims to Overturn E-Cigarette Ban]]>562487291Tue, 08 Oct 2019 10:42:06 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Generic+Vaping+Generic+Young+Woman.jpg

A San Francisco ballot measure aiming to overturn a ban on e-cigarettes has the "world watching," political experts say, as the vaping industry has come under fire recently for reports of illnesses and deaths connected to its products.

San Francisco’s Proposition C would, among other things, allow the sale of vaping products not approved by the government and require more licensing to sell them.

Vaping giant Juul, which is owned by cigarette maker Altria, sponsored the measure at the outset but recently cut its funding in support of Prop. C.

The American Medical Association has come out against the measure. There have been numerous reports of people sickened or even killed by vaping products.

"For three years, e-cigarette companies have had the ability to go to the Food and Drug Administration to get their authorization, and they have all refused," said Matt Dorsey of the No on C campaign. "This is no joke; this is an epidemic, and that is what the U.S. Surgeon General said.

Supporters say Prop. C would restrict marketing of vaping products to teenagers and require more education for teens.

Wilson Chu, with the Chinese American Democratic Club of San Francisco, supports Prop. C.

"In the end, you’ve got the lesser of two evils," Chu said. "I think it’s unwise to kill off an innovative product before a formal investigation is completed."

Marcus Eagan says he tried using Juul to quit cigarettes. He’s back with tobacco because his Juul made him sick, he said.

"Three months in, and I had a nodule on my throat, and you can still hear some of the remnants," Eagan said. "It’s a little scratchy."

Prop. C opponents say vaping is being restricted or banned in an increasing number of states and countries, all of which will be watching for the results in San Francisco come Nov. 5.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[PG&E Power Shutoffs: What to Do During an Outage]]>562537871Wed, 09 Oct 2019 03:18:00 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/PowerOutageFileImage.jpg

PG&E is proactively shutting off power in parts of several counties due to high fire danger.

The utility recommends customers take the following steps during a public safety power shutoff:

  • Unplug or turn off your appliances, equipment and electronics to avoid damage caused by surges when the power comes back on.
  • Leave one lamp on so you know when the power has been restored. Once the power is back on, you should turn on your appliances one at a time.
  • Think about putting your cold and frozen food into coolers. A refrigerator typically keeps food cold for roughly four hours if it's kept closed, according to PG&E. A full freezer will keep its temperature for approximately 48 hours as long as it remains closed.
  • If you use generators, camping stoves or charcoal grills, be sure to only use them outdoors.
  • Do not use gas stoves for heat.
  • Keep an eye on your neighbors.

Photo Credit: Bill Greene/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Passengers on Flight From SFO May Have Been Exposed to Hepatitis A]]>562531141Tue, 08 Oct 2019 08:10:17 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/HepatitisA.jpg

Health officials in North Carolina say more than a dozen people may have been exposed to hepatitis A on a recent flight.

News outlets report the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it was notified on Oct. 1 that a flight attendant had a confirmed case.

The Mecklenburg County Health Department says it contacted 18 Charlotte-area passengers who were on the American Airlines flight Sept. 21 from San Francisco to Charlotte. Spokeswoman Rebecca Carter says those passengers have since been vaccinated.

American Airlines released a statement saying it’s in close contact with the CDC and public health officials and will coordinate with them on any required health and safety related measures.

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by contaminated food or water.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Prop D: San Francisco Rideshare Tax on November Ballot]]>562143771Mon, 07 Oct 2019 17:40:37 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SF+Traffic.jpg

This November, San Franciscans will vote on Proposition D, a ballot measure that would tax rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber for rides – companies that one official says contribute to more than half of San Francisco’s traffic congestion.

In San Francisco, rideshare companies make 170,000 trips per day. City leaders hope those rides will soon mean more revenue for the city.

The proposed tax would be 3.25% for most rides, and 1.5% for carpool rides. So, for a non-carpool ride of $10, the tax would be about 32 cents, according to Supervisor Aaron Peskin, the proposition's author.

Both Uber and Lyft support the proposition. Uber released a written statement that said that the company is "pleased to reach an agreement that will bring dedicated transportation funding to San Francisco."

Peskin said the money from the tax will go back to the streets. Peskin said the tax, if the measure is passed, would generate a little more than $30 million per year and would be used for transportation and pedestrian safety improvements.

To get to the ballot, the California Legislature had to modify state law, so currently, San Francisco is the only city in the state that can put a rideshare tax on the ballot.

The pedestrian rights group Walk San Francisco said that if Prop D is passed, half the money will go to Muni and the other half will go to pedestrian safety projects.

"Money like this is a great way to take back from the challenges that cars are causing and put it into the good of what we need to get people out of their cars," said Jodi Medeiros of Walk San Francisco.

Because Prop D is a dedicated tax and doesn’t go to the general fund, it requires two-thirds passage.

<![CDATA[New Voting System Gives SF Voters More Options This November]]>562153671Mon, 07 Oct 2019 17:41:47 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/2019-10-07-san-francisco-new-ballot.jpg

In a move aimed at making the voting process more democratic, San Francisco will give voters new options this election season both in new equipment and in the voting process.

The city has 630 new vote counting machines, new touchscreen accessible voting screens, as well as changes to the ballot itself. Instead of connecting arrows, like on old ballots, the new ballots have a grid of ovals to fill in. But the biggest impact on voters is the new ranked-choice voting method ballot.

"We've got a new voting system coming to San Francisco starting with the 2019 election," said Elections Director John Arntz.

In the past, voters could rank their top three candidates in a race, but this November voters will be able to rank up to 10, depending on how many are running. According to election advocates, the new system expands voter options and eliminates the need for runoff elections, which historically have drawn fewer voters. Instead, the new system will count voters' rankings until one candidate has at least 50.1% of the vote.

"The aim of this is to give voters more choice on the ballot," said Pedro Hernandez of the group Fair Vote. "Some voters may have more than three preferences and we want to give them the option to be able to rank more candidates if they like."

Hernandez said that the new version will change how some candidates campaign.

"I would not be surprised to see candidates being more cordial to each other, and also reaching out beyond their base to get that second and third choice support," Hernandez said.

Arntz said the new system will also take a picture of each ballot and post it anonymously to the internet, giving voters a ringside seat for a democratic process in action.

<![CDATA[Warriors Hosting Open Practice for $5 at Chase Center Monday]]>562461371Mon, 07 Oct 2019 14:13:26 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/chasecenterusa.jpg

Golden State Warriors fans have the opportunity Monday evening to watch the team practice at its new Chase Center arena in San Francisco.

During the open practice, people can see the Warriors participate in drills and other activities, and team general manager Bob Myers will sit down for a question-and-answer session with Warriors radio commentator Tim Roye at the end of the practice.

Tickets to the open practice are just $5 and are available at www.warriors.com.

The Warriors, who played at Oracle Arena in Oakland until this upcoming season, had their first preseason game on Saturday and host the regular season home opener on Oct. 24 against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Photo Credit: NBC Sports Bay Area staff]]>
<![CDATA[Non-Emergency Mental Health Phone Line Launches Statewide]]>562455481Mon, 07 Oct 2019 13:28:39 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Cell+Phone+Generic.jpg

A Bay Area mental health call line is now available to all Californians thanks to millions of dollars in state funding that was announced by a pair of San Francisco legislators Monday.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, announced the $10.8 million infusion that will fund the call line, dubbed the Warm Line, for three years.

It's the first such call line in California, according to organizers.

"We know about the mental health challenges that we have in California and we see the most extreme situations in our streets," Wiener said. "But of course we know that so many Californians may not quite be in crisis but they are maybe just about in crisis or they are at risk of going into crisis."

"They feel alone and isolated and they don't necessarily want to go to the emergency room or they maybe don't have the resources to seek out mental health care or counseling but they need support," Wiener said.

The non-emergency Warm Line -- which launched statewide Monday and is expected to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week by the end of the year -- provides emotional support and mental health care referrals to anyone in the state via phone or text.

"It's a very simple concept to say, 'You're not alone,'" Ting said. "You can use it anytime you want for any reason you want."

The line is staffed by "peer counselors" who undergo up to two weeks of training and who have themselves experienced mental or emotional health issues.

The Warm Line has been serving an average of 2,000 people per month in the Bay Area since 2014, according to its website. The new funding will expand the service statewide in order to provide support to all California residents.

At a Monday morning news conference held at the headquarters of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco, which runs the line, Warm Line manager Sarah Jean Flynn said callers come from a wide range of backgrounds but all need the support and counseling that many people find difficult to access due to a lack of resources or insurance coverage.

"Over and over again we hear the same thing," Flynn said. "The Warm Line was there when nobody else was."

To talk to a Warm Line counselor, people can call or text (855) 845-7415 from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fire in San Francisco Leaves 3 People, 1 Firefighter Hurt]]>562439821Mon, 07 Oct 2019 11:23:13 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ExcelsiorDire.jpg

Three people were taken to a trauma center and a firefighter suffered injuries after a fire broke out in San Francisco's Excelsior District Monday morning, according to the fire department. 

The blaze burned two homes along the 200 block of Vienna Street, San Francisco Fire Department Lt. Jonathan Baxter said.

One of the three people taken to the trauma center suffered moderate fire burns, Baxter said. The other two people suffered smoke inhalation.

The injured firefighter was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and burns. He is expected to be OK.

Firefighters were able to rescue one dog from the fire, but a second dog — a 7-month-old pup named Star — remained missing as of Monday afternoon. A search dog was brought in to look for Star, who may be trapped inside the burned area.

Photo Credit: San Francisco Fire Department]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Gas Prices on the Rise]]>562411651Mon, 07 Oct 2019 04:17:14 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GasPumpGeneric1.jpg

Gas prices are pushing past $4 per gallon across the Bay Area.

Prices almost everywhere else across the nation are dropping, but that's not the case locally.

As of Monday morning, the average price in the San Jose area was $4.15 for regular gasoline. That's 12 cents higher than last week, 58 cents higher than last month and 36 cents higher than last year.

Analysts with gasbuddy.com and AAA blame refinery issues in California and the September attack on a Saudi Arabian oil facility for making the market unstable.

The California Energy Commission is wrapping up a five-month study to answer Gov. Gavin Newsom's question about whether market manipulation is impacting prices as well. The report is due by the end of the month.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[United Flight Out of SFO Makes Emergency Landing in Maine]]>562389381Sun, 06 Oct 2019 22:27:19 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/464651541-united-airlines-generic.jpg

A United Airlines flight out of San Francisco on its way to Amsterdam was diverted to Bangor, Maine, where it made an emergency landing late Sunday after experiencing pressurization issues, according to online flight tracker FlightAware.

The flight departed San Francisco International Airport at 2:54 p.m. Sunday and was due to land in Amsterdam at 10:20 a.m. local time Monday, FlightAware shows. But the Boeing 787-9 began experiencing pressurization trouble over Canada and was forced to divert to Bangor International Airport.

The plane touched down in Bangor at 1:23 a.m. Monday local time and was rescheduled to depart Bangor for Amsterdam at 8:15 a.m. Eastern time, according to the United Airlines website.

No known injuries were reported.

It was not immediately clear how many people were on the flight.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[BART Powell Station in SF Reopened After Suspicious Package]]>562378201Sun, 06 Oct 2019 19:25:40 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bart_generic_0529_7375713.JPG

The Powell Street BART station was shut down late Sunday due to a suspicious package investigation, according to BART officials.

Police responded to the station a little after 7 p.m., and trains out of the station were holding, BART said.

The issue was resolved at about 8:15 p.m., BART said.

Initially, the police activity caused a major delay on the San Francisco line in the SFO/Millbrae and East Bay directions.

Mutual aid was being provided by MUNI bus lines 5, 6, 7, 9, 21, 31 and F.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Mural Portraying Iran Female Prisoners to be Unveiled in SF]]>562346311Sun, 06 Oct 2019 09:38:02 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/186*120/Clarion-Alley-Mural.JPG

A mural portraying seven female political prisoners in Iran will be unveiled Sunday afternoon in San Francisco's Mission District.

The mural in Clarion Alley features portraits of women who have been imprisoned for speaking out on a range of issues, including civil and child rights, and environmental activism, according to a release from organizers.

It is part of "In Honor of Iran's Prisoners of Conscience," a month-long project to remember hundreds of men and women who have been taken as political prisoners in Iran, organizers said.

The mural is being painted by Clarion Alley Mural Project and is sponsored by United for Iran, a nonprofit working for civil liberties in Iran.

Organizers said the women portrayed in the new mural are: Nasrin Sotoudeh, a lawyer and human rights activist sentenced to 33 years in 2018; Athena Daemi, known for her child rights activism, and sentenced to seven

years in 2014; Niloufar Bayani, an environmental activist arrested in 2018 with 55 others by Iranian security forces; Sepideh Gholian, a social and civil activist arrested and sexually assaulted in 2018 during a protest with labor activists; Zeinab Jalalian, an activist arrested in 2008 and sentenced to death, but then reduced to life in prison; Shokufe Yadollahi, one of the Gonabadi Dervishes, was arrested in 2018 along with hundreds of Dervishes, including her three children; and Azita Rafizadeh, a professor at the Baha'i

University of Iran arrested with her husband for teaching Baha'i students who were unable to study at Iranian universities.

The mural unveiling will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. in Clarion Alley, a narrow street between 17th and 18th streets, and Mission and Valencia streets in San Francisco.

More information is available at https://www.facebook.com/events/427532667968891/

Photo Credit: Clarion Alley Mural Project Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors Play First Game at Brand-New Chase Center]]>562309242Sat, 05 Oct 2019 19:56:25 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Warriors_Play_First_Game_at_Brand-New_Chase_Center.jpg

It's game time for the Warriors -- and it's the first match up at their new home at the Chase Center in San Francisco. Sergio Quintana reports.]]>
<![CDATA[Washington HS Alumni File Lawsuit Over Controversial Mural]]>562283641Sat, 05 Oct 2019 12:00:59 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/George_Washington_Mural_Causes_Controversy_in_SF_School.jpg

An alumni association filed a lawsuit on Friday challenging the San Francisco Unified School District's Board of Education over the board's decision to cover up a controversial mural.

Back in August, the board voted 4-3 for the resolution to cover the decades-old mural inside George Washington High School with panels.

The decision came after an outcry from community activists, who called the 1936 mural by Victor Arnautoff, titled "Life of Washington," offensive for its depiction of Native Americans and African Americans.

According to the George Washington High School Alumni Association, which filed the lawsuit, the board first needs to conduct an environmental review, which they said is required by state law, before covering the mural.

Association President John Rothmann said in a statement, "We are dedicated to the proposition that the Arnautoff murals should be preserved as a magnificent work of public art for future generations and used, as the artist intended, as a way of teaching history."

The 600-member association is asking with the suit that the board rescind its vote to remove the mural from public view and conduct the environmental review.

"Unless it does so, we will ask the court to issue an order to set aside the Board's unstudied action that would cause egregious loss to current and future students at George Washington High School and damage the public's interest in protecting public art," said Lope Yap Jr., the association's vice president.

<![CDATA[Golden State Warriors to Honor Team Legends at Ceremony]]>562282761Sat, 05 Oct 2019 16:02:08 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Chase+Center.jpg

Medallions on a Walk of Fame honoring all-time greats of the Golden State Warriors will be unveiled by the team Saturday before its debut game at the new Chase Center in San Francisco.

The unveiling ceremony commemorating Alvin Attles, Rick Barry, Wilt Chamberlain, Tom Meschery, Chris Mullin and Nate Thurmond will be at 3:45 p.m. at the Thrive City Esplanade on the west plaza ramp outside of the Flagship Warriors Shop.

Attles and Barry are scheduled to attend the ceremony, along with Marci Thurmond, wife of the late Nate Thurmond; LaMont Lewis, nephew of Wilt Chamberlain; Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts, on

behalf of Tom Meschery; and Warriors Director of Team Operations Eric Housen, on behalf of Chris Mullin.

<![CDATA[Walnut Creek Woman Sentenced for Mail Theft]]>562280791Sat, 05 Oct 2019 10:59:18 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sj-mail-0822.jpg

A Walnut Creek woman was sentenced on Wednesday to more than two years in prison for breaking into mailboxes in a San Francisco apartment complex and stealing financial information from residents, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Jesslyn Felix, 35, was sentenced to 28 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Maxine Cesney. Her co-defendant, 35-year-old Tyler Goforth, received a 27-month sentence in August.

They were both indicted in federal court on Jan. 15 and pleaded guilty to the charges in May.

According to prosecutors, Felix and Goforth broke into the mailboxes at the Beacon condominium complex in South of Market more than a dozen times between August 2017 and February 2018.

They forced open the mailboxes and stole credit and debit cards, checks, gift cards, bank statements and photo identifications from more than 80 residents. They used the stolen goods to access the victims' money, prosecutors said.

In addition to the prison sentence, Felix was sentenced to three years of probation following her release.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors Season Kicks Off With New Chase Center GM Kim Stone]]>562240741Fri, 04 Oct 2019 20:52:27 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Kim+Stone.jpg

On Saturday history will be made when the Warriors play their first game ever at the Chase Center in San Francisco – and holding her breath will be the new waterfront arena’s General Manager Kim Stone.

Stone, who previously managed American Airlines Arena for Florida’s Miami Heat, said she always wanted an opportunity to call the Bay Area home, ever since she was a college student and visited her father in the East Bay. That opportunity came when, she said, Warriors President Rick Welts reached out.

“I want to go to the Russian River, I want to go hiking in Yosemite and I want to sit on the couch and eat popcorn with my son watching movies,” Stone said.

None of which is likely to happen soon, as she has a $1 billion arena to run. “This is the best arena in the NBA,” she said. “There was no expense spared.”

As the general manager of Chase Center, Stone has been quietly working behind the scenes for the last four months to get the arena ready for its big debut.

“I want this to be a community gathering spot,” she said.

Creating that “destination experience” meant leaving Florida and the Miami Heat where Stone spent 23 years working her way up from part-time stats crew to team executive vice president and general manager of American Airlines Arena, and most recently as head of business development.

“It was a job I could have easily retired in, but for me that’s not what life is about,” said Stone. “I wanted a second chapter in life.”

Stone has settled in San Francisco with her wife and their 8-year-old son, who’s happy to play tour guide.

“My son is a huge fan of the zoo. He has taken me there and has toured me through the San Francisco zoo,” she said.

<![CDATA[Bay Area Home Prices See Gradual Drop]]>562226991Fri, 04 Oct 2019 17:59:31 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*160/1558094639-HOME_PRICES_16061639.JPG

In a favorable new trend for homebuyers, Bay Area home prices have seen a drop, according to the latest numbers from real estate database company Zillow.

In many cases prices have dropped after the selling price has been listed, with sellers reducing after a low response rate from buyers.

“You won’t see a lot of multiple offers, overbidding,” said real estate agent Sophia Delacotte.

Phil and Nancy Carlson recently sold their Campbell home, and shortly after listing it they dropped the price.

“Yes, the house that we just sold, we did lower the price,” Phil Carlson said. “Not a great deal, but we lowered it after three weeks.”

According to Zillow, 16% of listings in the South Bay and 12% in San Francisco dropped the price in the last 12 months.

“Job employment is good in Silicon Valley, people have a decent income,” said Dellacotte. “But people are done, I believe, buying at crazy prices.”

The number of IPOs has dropped recently, and buyers are becoming more cautious.

“I think it’ll be fine,” Carlson said. “It seems to be slowing more gradually than, say, 2008.”

The good news for home sellers is that the jobless rate fell to its lowest level in 50 years, according to new numbers released today, which means that people will still be able to buy houses.

<![CDATA[New Security Measures at Popular SF Music Festival]]>562221431Fri, 04 Oct 2019 17:23:39 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Hardly+Strictly.jpg

San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival hasn’t historically had strict security rules, but in light of the recent string of deadly mass shootings, the popular event will be enforcing new rules this year.

Music fans will see more police officers, K-9 units, tactical units and security guards both inside and outside of Golden Gate Park, the event venue. For the first time in 19 years, all side paths will be closed with fences. There will be only four main entrances to the venue, but a number of marked emergency exits will be available.

“The world has changed in the 19 years that we’ve been doing this and we had fans and other people who work on the festival who were concerned about their personal safety, and for good reason, I think,” said Mick Hellman of the Hellman Foundation which puts on the free music festival each year.

Security guards will be at the entrances, checking attendees and their bags – which now must be clear. No large backpacks or coolers will be allowed.

“I think after Gilroy, the shooting at Gilroy, it’s a good idea,” said attendee Ralph Kacy. “It’s not that big of a hassle and we ran out and bought some clear backpacks at the last minute.”

The event began Friday and ends Sunday. Attendees do not have to pay to get in.

<![CDATA[Startups at TechCrunch Disrupt Take Aim at Old Industries]]>562220111Fri, 04 Oct 2019 17:44:44 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Disrupt2019+THUMB.jpg

The name says it all: TechCrunch Disrupt is a conference for entrepreneurs looking to bring disruptive change to an industry, using all the tools of Silicon Valley.

In past years, the San Francisco edition of the Disrupt conference has seen a flurry of activity around nascent fields of technology: virtual and augmented reality, robotics, and the smart home. But this year, on the show's opening day, many entrepreneurs seemed more focused on mature industries: those that, in one way or another, have been left behind by the furious pace of innovation that has taken hold in the age of apps.

As always, the conference program featured celebrity appearances, including one by actor Will Smith and director Ang Lee, who spoke about the bleeding edge of filmmaking: realistic digital humans and blisteringly high frame rates used in the 3D action thriller "Gemini Man." Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry took the stage late Wednesday afternoon to talk about his foray into venture capital investing.

But for many, the real stars of Disrupt are the unknowns: small teams of scrappy entrepreneurs, from countries all over the world, pitching out-of-the-box solutions that could change industries and make a few shrewd investors rich in the process.

"This is the highest honor for an entrepreneur," said Sean Rones, founder of LifeCouple, an app selected to compete in the Startup Battlefield pitch contest.

Rones said his app aims to "disrupt divorce" by taking the pulse of a relationship through survey questions, preventing some quarrels before they happen, and helping to peacefully end the ones that do pop up.

Other apps target the tradition-steeped business of agriculture. BeeApp brings the world of beekeeping into a new era, trading pen and paper for a smartphone app that helps track the health and location of commercial beehives.

Olho Do Dono, last year's Startup Battlefield winner for Latin America, disrupts the laborious (and sometimes dangerous) process of herding cattle to a corral to weigh them. It uses a portable 3D camera to estimate the animals' weight in the fields where they graze. Founder Pedro Mannato claims a machine learning algorithm trained on more than 20,000 cattle helps the app be more than 98 percent accurate.

Strawberries are among California's most valuable crops, and now a startup called Traptic is marketing a robot that can handle some of the back-breaking work of picking them.

"We use color to determine ripeness, so a berry that's entirely red is ripe, a berry that's partially green or partially white is unripe," CEO Lewis Anderson said.

Using computer vision and a very delicate robot gripper, he said, the robot can pick the most obviously-ripe berries, leaving the more difficult choices for the human farm workers who follow behind it. The company claims the robot will help address a worsening shortage of farm labor that leads 20 percent of California's strawberries to go unpicked.

Still, other startups aim to address the everyday gripes of consumers — like the perennial problem of making phone calls in noisy places. A bustling conference floor is the perfect place to show off Accudio's noise-canceling earbuds, which not only eliminate noise from music, but from your voice as you speak to someone on the phone.

The earbuds also take a stab at another common tech conference problem: the language barrier. Like Google's Pixel Buds, they can translate spoken words among numerous languages on the fly when used with an internet-connected smartphone. But while Pixel Buds have a cable connecting the left and right earphones, Accudio's are wire-free — meaning two people can each take one earbud and have a nearly-natural spoken conversation.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[San Francisco Mayor Appoints Interim District Attorney]]>562189761Fri, 04 Oct 2019 17:26:37 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SuzyLoftus.png

Mayor London Breed on Friday announced she is appointing Suzy Loftus to be the interim district attorney for the city and county of San Francisco.

The announcement comes one day after District Attorney George Gascon informed his staff he will resign his post before his term is up at the end of the year.

The briefing was scheduled to take place at Portsmouth Square, but protesters shut down the conference. Protesters say the choice to appoint Loftus is too cozy with police and the mayor was forced to move the announcement to the Far East Café in Chinatown.

"It just wouldn’t be San Francisco without a nice protest," said mayor Breed.

Gascon sent a letter to his staff, saying in part he has "decided it’s time for me to move on to a new opportunity." The letter goes on to say he and his wife will return to Los Angeles to rejoin family there and "explore a run for District Attorney."

The letter says he tendered his resignation to Mayor Breed, effective Oct. 18 at 6 p.m.

Gascon, 65, is the former San Francisco police chief and a former assistant chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. He served as chief in Mesa, Arizona, from 2006 to 2009.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Police Arrest Burglary Suspect Found Asleep in SF Home]]>562192951Fri, 04 Oct 2019 11:03:52 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SFPolice.jpg

A woman in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood came home Thursday morning to find a stranger sleeping in her son's bed, police said.

Officers initially responded to the home in the 2000 block of Powell Street around 9 a.m., according to police.

The 40-year-old resident called police after she arrived at the house and found an unknown woman sleeping in the bed.

Officers were able to detain the sleeping suspect, described as a 31-year-old woman and arrested her on suspicion of burglary, police said.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Crusading Tech Mogul Aims to Prove CEOs Can Be Activists Too]]>562173871Fri, 04 Oct 2019 06:42:35 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/MarcBenioff.jpg

Salesforce founder Marc Benioff oversees a $130 billion software empire from a 62-story skyscraper that towers above everything else in San Francisco. But he sits uneasily in his lofty perch because of a worsening economic divide on the streets down below, where the lavish pay doled out to tech workers like his are pricing many people out of affordable housing.

So he's urging fellow CEOs to help fix a "train wreck" of inequality his industry helped create. He wants them to take a stand on homelessness, along with other polarizing issues such as gay rights, climate change and gun control, to fill what he considers a leadership void that is paralyzing government in times of crisis.

Benioff blames much of society's current troubles on "CEOs who have been asleep at the wheel."

In a forthcoming book, "Trailblazer," due out Oct. 15, Benioff calls on activist CEOs to lead a revolution that puts the welfare of people and the planet ahead of profits.

"We are at a point where CEOs recognize that they just can't be for their shareholders," Benioff said in an interview. "They have to be for all their stakeholders, whether it's for their schools, whether it's for the environment, whether it's for the fundamental equality for every human being."

But skeptics wonder if his brash call for action is just another exercise in self-promotional showmanship he honed under his former boss, Oracle's flamboyant founder, Larry Ellison.

Another nagging question: Should a billionaire who rode technology to wealth and fame be trusted to help fix the problems his industry has exacerbated?

Critics contend that's a bad idea, particularly as CEOs become ever more isolated economically from the rest of society. Even at a booming tech company such as Salesforce, a worker making the average annual income of $152,000 would need nearly two centuries to match Benioff's $28.4 million pay package last year.

With a fortune estimated at $6 billion, Benioff lives in a mansion looking out on the Golden Gate Bridge and owns a five-acre compound on Hawaii's Big Island, where he says he can clear his mind while swimming with dolphins and whales. He bought Time magazine last year for $190 million and has his name on children's hospitals, a legacy of the more than $300 million that Benioff and his wife, Lynne, have donated to those institutions.

Relying on the privileged classes to set the social agenda during divisive times harkens back to the colonialism that the U.S. revolted against in 1776, warned Chiara Cordelli, a political science professor at the University of Chicago.

"Even if they are very well intentioned, they are so powerful it becomes a question of whether they should have this kind of voice," Cordelli said. "The more they do the work of government by themselves, the more reasons we will have to wonder whether we should trust government."

Benioff also has alienated other prominent tech executives with his sometimes-blunt criticism directed at tech companies that focus on consumer services, a mass market that is far outside of Salesforce's realm.

Salesforce's niche is making software that manages customer relationships for businesses and government agencies. Consequently, the company is insulated from the intense scrutiny facing the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple over addictive products that peer into people's lives while promoting lies, prejudice and violence.

Benioff's fans insist he genuinely wants to steer CEOs in a new direction.

"Marc's heart leads his head," said California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who befriended Benioff about 15 years ago while Newsom was San Francisco's mayor. "You could almost anticipate he'll be the first on an issue."

And people tend to follow Benioff, as though he's a rock star, said Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, a rock star himself.

"He has this very organic magnetism," said Ulrich, who has been friends with Benioff since they met at a dinner party about a decade ago. "I think a lot of tech CEOs almost look to him as a spiritual leader."


Like a lot of Silicon Valley billionaires, Benioff, 55, started out as a prototypical geek.

He began taking apart and reassembling his family's telephone when he was 4 and spent most of his teenage years learning to program computers. He earned more than $5,000 from video games he created while in high school.

Unlike many other programming prodigies, though, Benioff finished college, earning a bachelor's degree in business from the University of Southern California. He's also deeply rooted in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, where his family has lived since his paternal great-grandfather immigrated in the late 19th century from Kiev, then part of Russia.

He credits his father, Russell, who owned a chain of dress shops, for teaching him about the value of hard work. He credits his maternal grandfather, Marvin Lewis, who served on San Francisco's board of supervisors, for teaching him about civic service. As a successful lawyer, Lewis was wealthy enough to pass out $20 bills to needy strangers.

After making his first few million dollars as a rising star at the software company Oracle, Benioff felt unfulfilled and took a sabbatical, with Ellison's blessing. That led him on a spiritual journey to India, retracing a path taken by Steve Jobs, whom he had befriended in 1984 while working as an intern at Apple. Benioff left with his friend, venture capitalist Arjun Gupta, in 1996 and met a guru. Mata Amritanandamayi, known as the "hugging saint," urged the two men to always remember to do something for others.

"From that very early stage, he was very spiritual and his leadership was very oriented toward values," Gupta said. "And he was already thinking about how business cannot just be business, but business can be a platform for good."

Benioff's experience in India left a deep impression. So much so that when he started Salesforce in 1999, he took the then-unheard of step of earmarking 1% of the company's products, stock and labor for charity. Salesforce says it has donated more than $285 million and 4 million hours of employee time to 42,000 nonprofits and schools. About 8,500 other companies, including Google, have adopted similar philanthropic arms since then.

It wasn't until 2015, though, that Benioff stepped beyond philanthropy into social activism. He led a charge against then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence over a law that allowed businesses to cite religion as a legal defense against LGBT discrimination claims. As other companies and groups joined Benioff's threats to curb operations and travel in the state, Pence and Indiana's legislature softened the law.

"I had a lot of fear before I took that action in Indiana," Benioff said. "CEOs can get frozen in fear. We are no different from anybody else. But you have to find the courage of your convictions."

Since then, Benioff has spoken out against Georgia and North Carolina for passing laws that would allow LGBT discrimination. PayPal CEO Dan Schulman followed suit and canceled plans for an operations center in North Carolina.

Benioff has also been outspoken on the need for a national privacy law to prevent technology from digging deeper into people's lives. He has been especially critical of Facebook, which he has derided as a pox on society akin to cancer-causing cigarettes,

And last year, he feuded publicly with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey over a payroll tax on San Francisco companies to raise money for homeless programs. Benioff campaigned for the tax, even though Salesforce is San Francisco's biggest employer. Dorsey opposed it, along with San Francisco Mayor London Breed.


Besides seeking higher taxes, Benioff recently decided to stop selling its software to retailers that sell military-style rifles in their stores.

All of this is costing Salesforce money and lowering profits — a financial sacrifice that Benioff shouldn't be making as CEO, said Justin Danhof of the Free Enterprise Project, a shareholder activist group with a conservative bent.

"He is using the economic power of Salesforce to advance his cultural position and advance his world view with impunity," Danhof said. "If you are looking at it as an investor, he is literally giving away money to advance his social agenda."

Danhof derided Benioff as "a social engineer acting as a CEO."

Even Bill Gates questions whether corporate leaders ought to be more than stewards of capitalism. Gates, who stepped down as Microsoft CEO nearly 20 years ago to concentrate on giving away a fortune now worth $105 billion, said such activism could make the workplace uncomfortable for those who disagree.

"Being an activist CEO, that may have limits because you may want to employ people from multiple political parties," Gates said in an interview.

Yet there are signs that the job of CEOs is extending beyond its traditional focus on increasing corporate profits and stock prices.

The Business Roundtable, a group representing corporate America's CEOs, recently released principles emphasizing the need to start thinking about society at large. After a wave of mass shootings, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon took a stand for stricter gun control by curbing ammunition sales in his stores. And 145 CEOs, including the leaders of Twitter and Yelp, called on Congress to pass tougher background checks on gun purchases and enable courts to remove firearms from people flagged as potential threats.

Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman credits Benioff, whom he views as a "Papa Bear," for encouraging him to take a stand. "He has been a leading voice in the idea that CEOs don't have to play neutral," Stoppelman said.

Benioff's willingness to step out on a limb is one of the reasons Newsom asked Benioff to be his daughter's godfather.

"You want to give a damn," Newsom said. "You want to walk down paths others aren't willing to walk and, you know, you want to be of consequence in life."

Although Benioff named a co-CEO last year to free up time to do even more outside Salesforce, Benioff insists on pushing for change as a CEO activist rather than running for political office.

"It's a huge platform to inspire people to do the right thing," Benioff said. "That is all we can do, while also enjoying every moment of life."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch]]>
<![CDATA[Couple Among 4 Killed in Wrong-Way Crash in San Francisco]]>562166371Fri, 04 Oct 2019 04:53:40 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Deadly101CrashSF.jpg

A husband and wife from Chicago were among the four people killed in a wrong-way crash on Highway 101 in San Francisco early Thursday morning.

Judson Bergman, 62, and Mary Miller, 57, were riding in a taxi around 12:30 a.m. when it was struck head-on by a sedan driven by an "impaired" Peninsula woman, officials said.

Bergman was the chairman and CEO of Envestnet, Inc., a Chicago-based financial services company.

"On behalf of our Board of Directors, management team and employees, we extend our deepest sympathies to Jud and Mary's family," Envestnet, Inc. said in a statement. "As Envestnet's founder, Jud was a remarkable leader whose vision, brilliance and drive built the foundation for Envestnet's success."

Miller was the founder of Hanover Hill Wealth Advisors in Chicago, according to a report.

Berkant Ahmed, 42, of San Mateo, was driving the cab, according to the San Francisco Medical Examiner. The wrong-way driver was identified as Emilie Ross, 34, of Hillsborough.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Former Vineyard Owner Gets 5 Months in College Bribery Case]]>562163251Fri, 04 Oct 2019 09:55:45 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AgustinHuneeus.jpg

The former owner of a California wine business has been sentenced to five months in prison for his role in the college admissions scheme.

Fifty-three-year-old Agustin Huneeus, of San Francisco, was sentenced in Boston's federal court Friday after pleading guilty to a single count of fraud and conspiracy.

Authorities say Huneeus paid $50,000 to rig his daughter's SAT exam in 2018 and agreed to pay $250,000 to bribe her way into the University of Southern California as a fake athlete. He was arrested before completing the deal and his daughter was not admitted.

Prosecutors recommended 15 months in prison and a $95,000 fine. His lawyers said he deserved two months and a fine.

Huneeus previously said he was ashamed and saw that his actions represent "the worst sort of entitlement."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SF First Responders Gear Up for Busy Weekend]]>562156841Fri, 04 Oct 2019 02:15:52 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/100118+ambulance+generic+daytime.jpg

San Francisco's first responders will be on alert through this weekend and next, as the city gears up for the start of Fleet Week, kicking off on Sunday and lasting through next weekend.

During a news conference outside the city's Department of Emergency Management, department officials were joined by Police Chief William Scott, Sheriff Vicki Hennessy and Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson.

With the start of Fleet Week happening this weekend, as well as other major events like the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, the Castro Street Fair, and a Golden State Warriors pre-season game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Chase Center, the city's emergency departments are expecting a busy two days.

They're also expecting the following weekend to be busy, when Fleet Week will culminate with air shows and the two-day Italian Heritage Parade will take place on Sunday.

"Fleet Week brings huge crowds to San Francisco," said SFDEM executive director Mary Ellen Carroll. "Our main goal is to make sure everyone has a safe time and that all of our residents and visitors enjoy the festivities in a safe manner."

The city's emergency management office is recommending that residents and visitors sign up for free emergency alert texts to learn about any emergency information.

To sign up for the alerts, text "FleetWeekSF" to 888777.

"I always find it so exciting to have Fleet Week in San Francisco," said Hennessy, whose uncle was a Blue Angel in the 1940s.

"So I want people to enjoy San Francisco Fleet Week and I want people to be safe," she said.

The sheriff's department will be working with San Francisco police to ensure a quick response in case of any emergency events.

"We want everybody to have a great time, but there are a few things that we can all do to help have a great time and stay safe," Scott said.

He's recommending that people visiting the city this week and next allow for extra travel time and, if driving, to make sure they don't leave valuables in their car that could potentially attract burglars.

Additionally, visitors are encouraged to take public transportation to the festivities and, if traveling with kids or elderly, groups should come up with a reunification plan just in case they get lost or separated.

Lastly he said, "If you see something, say something," reminding people to call 911 in emergency situations and 311 in non-emergency situations.

"We've been planning for this for months, along with our city and our federal partners. So we want everyone to have a great Fleet Week and be safe," Scott said.

In addition to police and sheriff's deputies, both firefighters and the U.S. Coast Guard will be ready to handle emergency situations both on land and on sea.

The two agencies said they'll be participating together in onboard ship training, along with the U.S. Navy, as well emergency situation training and K-9 training.

The Coast Guard will also be patrolling the Bay this week and next week, making sure that boaters stay safe.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Up to a Million People to Attend Fleet Week in San Francisco]]>562122411Thu, 03 Oct 2019 23:35:57 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/San_Francisco_Fleet_Week_Events.jpg

Get ready for a busy week in San Francisco as Fleet Week begins Sunday, and city leaders are taking extra precautions to keep everyone safe.

As many as 1 million people will head to the city over the nine-day event to get an up close look at the U.S. military.

It's free to the public and includes activities such as touring Navy and Coast Guard ships and watching the incredible acrobatic flying of the Blue Angels.

San Francisco police have been asking all who attend do to their part to stay safe. Those who plan to attend Fleet Week events can sign up for safety alerts from the city.

As San Francisco prepares for Fleet Week, the city's Department of Emergency Management has tips for residents to keep themselves safe next week:

  • Register for emergency text alerts related to Fleet Week by texting FleetWeekSF to 888-777. For all other City emergency alerts, text your zip code to 888-777 to receive emergency notifications impacting your neighborhood.
  • If you see something, say something: call 911 or notify a police officer if there is one nearby.
  • Allow extra travel time and use public transit to get your destination, due to anticipated crowds and traffic.
  • Park Smart, if you must drive. Large public events often attract people looking to commit crimes of opportunity. Don’t’ leave valuables visible in parked cars. Keep an eye on your smart phones and cameras.
  • Make a reunification plan. Sometimes kids and adults get separated from their families or groups. Pick a meeting spot and make sure everyone in their group knows where to go to “meet up” if you get separated.


Those who plan on being on the water can use these tips to stay safe:


  • It is a requirement to have enough life jackets or personal flotation devices on a boat for every person onboard – remember, a life jacket is like a seatbelt, it cannot save you if you are not wearing one.
  • Have a working VHF marine radio to stay informed and to call for help in case of an emergency. Hand-held models are available for kayakers, paddle boarders and kite surfers. Cell phones are also an effective secondary means of communication, but are not as reliable out on the water.
  • Anyone planning to go out on the water with a vessel for hire should ask to see the operator’s U.S. Coast Guard issued Merchant Mariner Credential and proof of inspection. Without them, the vessel may not have proper training and safety equipment.
  • Keep the vessel stable by properly balancing the weight. Having more weight lower in a vessel also increases stability, especially in the high winds and choppy waters that are common in Northern California.


For more information about all the events during Fleet Week, go to the official website.

<![CDATA[SF District Attorney Gascon to Resign Before End of Term]]>562120051Thu, 03 Oct 2019 21:14:37 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/gascon4.jpg

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon announced to his staff Thursday he will resign his post before his term is up at the end of the year, officials with the DA's office confirmed.

Gascon sent a letter to his staff, saying in part he has "decided it’s time for me to move on to a new opportunity." The letter goes on to say he and his wife will return to Los Angeles to rejoin family there and "explore a run for District Attorney."

The letter says he tendered his resignation to Mayor London Breed, effective Oct. 18 at 6 p.m.

Breed released the following statement later Thursday: "People depend on the District Attorney to keep our residents and communities safe each and every day. We can't afford to have an absence of leadership in the DA's Office because victims of crime need to be represented and people who commit crimes in our city need to be held accountable."

Gascon, 65, is the former San Francisco police chief and a former assistant chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. He served as chief in Mesa, Arizona, from 2006 to 2009.

Cristine DeBerry, Gascon's chief of staff, will take over as interim DA, according to the letter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Joe Biden in the Bay Area for Fundraising Events]]>562066861Thu, 03 Oct 2019 17:17:09 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BidenFile.jpg

Democratic presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden will be fundraising in the Bay Area on Thursday.

Biden is expected to attend a fundraising luncheon at Evvia Estiatorio in downtown Palo Alto. Tickets are going for at least $1,500 per person.

From Palo Alto, Biden will head to San Francisco for an afternoon reception and fundraising dinner. Both events are hosted by Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Biden was in Reno, Nevada, Wednesday night, fighting back against President Donald Trump's attacks on him amid the impeachment inquiry.

"Now, let me make something clear to Mr. Trump and his hatchet men and the special interests funding his attacks against me: I'm not going anywhere," Biden said. "You're not going to destroy me and you're not going to destroy my family. I don't care how much money you spend, Mr. President, or how dirty the attacks get."

In the Democratic race for president, a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California shows Biden in a three-way tie for first place with Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. All three are ahead of Sen. Kamala Harris in her home state.

Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Study Shows High Concentration of Microplastics in SF Bay]]>562052861Thu, 03 Oct 2019 23:43:20 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sanfranAP_19174008541565.jpg

Every year, seven trillion pieces of microplastics flow through the San Francisco Bay, according to a new study by the San Francisco Estuary Institute and UC Davis.

Researchers in the three-year study said that these tiny particles, which are often microscopic, come from things like baby wipes flushed down toilets and synthetic fibers in clothing that contaminate waters when the clothing is washed. The study also found that a large portion of microplastics come from storm drains where particles from tire wear wash into the Bay.

All of the fish in the study tested positive for having consumed fibers, which are not necessarily made of plastic, but may be. Researchers said that even the fibers that are not plastic are from products produced by humans.

“While toxicological evaluation was not a part of this study, these results indicate that microplastics are entering Bay food webs,” the report stated. The report said that microplastics transfer up food chains, but more testing needs to be done to evaluate the effects that this may have on the environment.

The San Francisco Bay is more polluted than most other bodies of water because its narrow opening traps particles, according to the report.

Photo Credit: Lorin Eleni Gill/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[4 Dead in Wrong-Way Crash on Highway 101 in San Francisco]]>562050761Thu, 03 Oct 2019 23:09:13 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Deadly101CrashSF.jpg

A wrong-way driver slammed into a taxi carrying three people on northbound Highway 101 in San Francisco early Thursday morning, leaving all four people dead, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The grisly wreck happened just north of Candlestick Point near Paul Avenue, the CHP said. Just before 12:30 a.m., the CHP received "multiple calls" regarding a possible wrong-way driver. Minutes later, a CHP unit came across the head-on collision.

The CHP said an "impaired" 34-year-old Peninsula woman behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Cabrio was driving southbound in the northbound lanes when she crashed into a Ford Escape taxi carrying a driver and two passengers. Authorities did not immediately elaborate on the wrong-way driver's impairment.

All four people were pronounced dead at the scene, according to CHP Officer Bert Diaz.

The three occupants of the taxi were identified as Berkant Ahmed, 42, of San Mateo, who was driving the cab; Mary Miller, 57, of Chicago; and Judson Bergman, 62, of Chicago, according to the San Francisco coroner's office.

The wrong-way driver was identified as Emilie Ross, 34, of Hillsborough.

It appears one taxi passenger was ejected during the crash, according to Diaz. The CHP is trying to determine if the people in the taxi were using seat belts.

All northbound lanes of the highway were shut down after the crash. Two lanes reopened just before 5 a.m. The remaining lanes reopened around 7 a.m.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[SF Launches App to Help Domestic Violence Survivors]]>562039721Wed, 02 Oct 2019 21:10:34 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/cell-GettyImages-536989145.jpg

As Domestic Violence Awareness Month gets underway, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Wednesday a new up-to-date way for the city to connect survivors of domestic violence with service providers.

Through a new mobile phone application called the Honest Assessment Response Tool, San Francisco police officers will be able to identify survivors who are at a higher risk for being seriously injured due to domestic violence.

The survivors would then be encouraged to immediately speak to an advocate with La Casa de las Madres, an organization that provides support for survivors.

"When it comes to helping survivors of domestic violence, a quick response and access to services is critical," Breed said in a statement.

"This assessment will help our police officers more quickly connect survivors with advocates who can help them develop a safety plan, or get them into shelter. Getting that immediate assistance can make the difference for someone who is in an unsafe situation, and we're excited to see how this pilot helps San Franciscans," she said.

Police Chief William Scott said, "The implementation of this app will help bolster the success of this pilot program by automating the process for officers in the field to quickly link domestic violence survivors with advocates. We will continue to work closely with survivor advocates to improve our response and delivery of services."

The new app is part of the city's Bayview Domestic Violence Lethality Assessment Pilot Program, created in 2017 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women.

The program is based out of the city's Bayview neighborhood, which has one of the highest numbers of domestic violence calls to police, the Mayor's office said.

Data from the app could be used to track gaps in service, trends and areas for interventions. The app's pilot phase begins in October and ends Jan. 1, 2020. Afterward, police will evaluate its efficiency for a more widespread deployment.

"Early intervention is the key to ending domestic violence," Kathy Black, executive director of La Casa de las Madres, said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[EPA Issues Violation Notice to San Francisco]]>562026671Wed, 02 Oct 2019 23:44:36 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sf-water-facility-0919.jpg

The Trump administration is ratcheting up its feud with California.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday sent a notice that San Francisco is violating the federal Clean Water Act.

Last month, President Trump warned of a potential violation notice, saying the city was allowing needles and human waste to go through storm drains to the ocean -- an allegation denied by city officials.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler also sent Gov. Gavin Newsom a letter last week alleging waste left by the homeless in San Francisco and other cities was being improperly handled.

Mayor London Breed says the violation notice contains "mischaracterizations, inaccuracies and falsehoods" and says the city's sewer system is one of the most effective in the country.

California has filed dozens of lawsuits against Trump administration policies.

Breed issued the following statement Wednesday in response to the notice:

“The Environmental Protection Agency has been systematically dismantled and politicized under this current administration. The notice of violation issued today contained a series of mischaracterizations, inaccuracies and falsehoods, and is the latest example of the Trump administration’s attack on our city and our state. San Francisco has a combined sewer system, one of the best and most effective in the country, that ensures that all debris that flow into storm drains are filtered out at the city’s wastewater treatment plants. No debris flow out into the Bay or the Ocean. In fact, the EPA recently awarded San Francisco the largest, merit-based award it has under its competitive loan program for water infrastructure.

"The notice of violation flies in the face of years of good faith discussions convened between the City and the EPA. Like other cities across the country, San Francisco has been grappling with issues related to aging infrastructure. We have been working with the EPA to confront these challenges, many of which are currently being addressed by the Sewer System Improvement Program, a multibillion dollar effort that represents one of the largest infrastructure projects of its kind in the country.

"President Trump’s sudden concern for California’s environment is ironic considering he is undercutting the state’s ambitious vehicle emission standards and climate change plans. While the federal administration wastes its energy on political fights, San Francisco will continue to be a national leader in pushing environmental initiatives like achieving 100% renewable energy, electrifying our transportation sector, and keeping our bay and ocean clean, while also delivering safe, reliable public services to our residents.”

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[SFMTA Remembers Cable Car Operator Killed in 2015 Collision]]>561982491Wed, 02 Oct 2019 08:55:59 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/185*120/52272018.jpg

One of San Francisco's iconic cable cars was dedicated on Tuesday to an operator who was killed after being hit by a drunk motorcyclist while working in 2015.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors voted to dedicate Cable Car No. 17 to Reynaldo Morante, who died of a brain injury months after he was hit.

A plaque will be added to the car reading: "Cable Car #17 is dedicated in memory of Reynaldo V. Morante who lost his life on January 12, 2016 from injuries he sustained from the accident on June 11, 2015 while serving the people of San Francisco. Reynaldo is remembered as a dedicated Operator with a contagious smile."

Morante was stepping off the cable car near Francisco and Taylor streets when he was struck. The motorcyclist, William Makepeace, later pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence.

Cable Car No. 17 is a part of the city's history. It was first built in 1893 and rebuilt in 1956.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[San Francisco Creates 'Office of Racial Equity']]>561958701Wed, 02 Oct 2019 21:17:36 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BreedFile.JPG

San Francisco's Office of Racial Equity was officially created on Tuesday, according to an announcement from Mayor London Breed.

Breed signed legislation to create the new city department in August after it was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors in July.

The agency will be under the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Commission and has a budget of $1 million over the next two years.

"We know that in the past our city has enacted policies that disproportionately harm communities of color," Breed said in a statement.

"With this new Office of Racial Equity, we will work to right those past wrongs and ensure that our city's policies going forward are equitable and just," she said.

Department staff will analyze the city's policies for impact on racial inequality and establish plans to address disparity.

It will create a Racial Equity Framework outlining the city's goals and strategy and submit it to the Board of Supervisors by the end of June, according to the mayor's office.

The city of Oakland created a similar Department of Race & Equity in 2016. Since then, the department published an influential equity indicators report and created a new equity program for cannabis business licenses.

San Francisco Supervisor Vallie Brown in a statement called the city's new department "a powerful tool to begin to break down years and years of structural and institutional racism in San Francisco."

"We need better policies and funding to combat deep racial disparities in housing, healthcare, education, transportation, and employment," she said.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NRA and San Francisco Spar Over 'Terrorist' Resolution]]>561940561Tue, 01 Oct 2019 21:08:37 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/NRA-AP_19274744252281.jpg

San Francisco’s mayor has told department heads they cannot investigate the possible ties of city contractors to the National Rifle Association, prompting the gun-rights group to declare victory in its ongoing fight with the city.

Mayor London Breed issued the advisory on Sept. 23, a few weeks after the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution labeling the NRA a “domestic terrorist organization” and calling on the city to take steps to assess possible ties between its contractors and the organization.

In a memo co-written by the city attorney, Breed wrote that the board can only enact new contracting requirements by ordinance. Resolutions have no legal weight.

William A. Brewer III, counsel to the NRA, said Tuesday the memo is a “clear concession” to a lawsuit filed in federal court against the city in response to the resolution. He called the memo a positive development but said the NRA will not withdraw its lawsuit until the resolution is formally revoked.

“San Francisco publicly, officially maligned law-abiding NRA members as terrorists and publicly, officially vowed to blacklist them from government work,” he said.

City officials, however, say the organization is misinterpreting what the resolution does and is inaccurate in describing the memo as any kind of retreat.

John Cote, spokesman for the city attorney’s office, said the resolution was never intended to change any laws.

“If the NRA thinks this is a win, it’s only because their lawsuit completely distorts what the resolution actually does,” he said.

The resolution approved by the Board of Supervisors contends that the gun-rights lobby uses its wealth and organizational strength to incite gun owners “to acts of violence.” It also states that San Francisco “should take every reasonable step” to assess ties between its contractors and the NRA.

The NRA sued San Francisco in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California , saying that officials are violating the group’s free speech rights for political reasons and that the city is seeking to blacklist anyone associated with the NRA.

Supervisor Catherine Stefani drafted the resolution after a shooter opened fire at a popular garlic festival in Gilroy, killing three people and wounding more before taking his own life.

She said Tuesday that the resolution did not direct the city to assess contracting practices.

“We made our point: the NRA is a terrorist organization. I will keep fighting them using every tool at my disposal,” Stefani said.

The memo by the mayor states that until the board approves an ordinance, “no department will take steps to assess the relationships between city contractors and the NRA,” or will departments restrict a contractor from doing business with the NRA.

The mayor also said she takes seriously the board’s statements on the impact of gun violence and the role of the NRA’s leadership, and will work with supervisors to address the “epidemic of gun violence.”

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: Josh Edelson/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[SF Supervisors Announce Deal for Mental Health Treatment ]]>561928881Tue, 01 Oct 2019 18:22:03 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/doctor-health-generic-1200-03.jpg

San Francisco Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Matt Haney announced on Tuesday several compromises to an extensive overhaul of the city's mental health treatment they have proposed to enact through an upcoming ballot measure.

The supervisors said the compromises to the proposal, dubbed Mental Health SF, came after weeks of meeting with Mayor London Breed over concerns that she had about the proposal and the city's Department of Public Health.

The supervisors had intended to put the measure on the November ballot but delayed it until March to address the concerns.

"We heard from DPH and the Mayor and incorporated their feedback and suggestions," Haney said in a statement. "Unfortunately, we were never able to share these amendments directly because they abruptly ended our meetings last week."

Breed's office did not respond to a request for comment on whether the mayor supported the legislation with the announced changes.

The supervisors had proposed a comprehensive program for mental health care citywide that would include a 24-hour drop-in center with access to psychiatrists and medication for anyone who needs it, regardless of their insurance.

But the compromises refocus the effort back to people in crisis who lack insurance.

Under one of the compromises announced on Tuesday, officials with Ronen and Haney's offices said that short-term emergency services would be available for people unable to access mental health care through their insurance provider who are in danger of an immediate crisis.

But the program would seek to have insurance companies provide care, or reimburse the city for its expense. It would create a new office of insurance accountability to fight for patients to receive mental health care and recoup funds for emergency city services.

It would also create a clinically trained street crisis team who would focus on people suffering from a mental health crisis on the streets. Its drop-in center would include a sobering center for people suffering from drug or alcohol withdrawal.

The supervisors also said that the program will be launched only when funding is created either by the voters or through additional revenue for the city.

When they announced the plan in May, they proposed an Excessive CEO Salary Tax, which would tax companies 1 percent if their CEOs make 100 times more than their employees. They estimated such a tax could raise $80 million per year.

"Not a day goes by that I don't hear from constituents who are desperately concerned about what is happening on the streets of San Francisco," Ronen said. "Solving our mental health crisis has got to be City Hall's number one focus, and it is going to take major systemic change to get it done."

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on Mental Health SF at a rules committee meeting on Oct. 30.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rocks in SF's Mission Spark 'Hostile Architecture' Debate]]>561918751Tue, 01 Oct 2019 17:48:04 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sf-rocks-1001.jpg

It started with the boulders on Clinton Park, and now some in San Francisco are targeting other areas with what some see as "hostile architecture" meant to keep the homeless away.

In the Mission district, another debate surfaced over rocks cemented into the sidewalk on Valencia Street. The rocks are much smaller than the boulders on Clinton Park, but they're also much more permanent.

Resident and activist Michael Petrelis sees the rocks as "hostile architecture."

"When it prevents someone from gathering or sitting or lying on the sidewalk, then that is anti-homeless architecture," Petrelis said.

Two women who run a community center in the area say there's no need to fight to get the rocks removed because they were installed a quarter-century ago, and they're due to be removed anyway.

"These have been here for 25 years because they were put in as decorations," said Maria Cristina Gutierrez, executive director of Companeros del Barrio.

The rocks are expected to come out in February.

"It’s a plan we had for a long time," said Malba Maldonado, executive director of La Raza Community Resource Center.

Some neighbors see nothing wrong with the rocks.

"It looks like its decorative to me," Joe Tobie said. "Ridiculous. Has nothing to do with homelessness."

The boulders on Clinton Park are gone, but it's unclear if neighbors will try something more permanent. Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents the Mission, told NBC Bay Area city leaders need to better respond to the drug addiction and find permanent solutions.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[UK's Red Arrows Fly Over Golden Gate, San Francisco Bay]]>561892362Tue, 01 Oct 2019 11:10:17 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/RedArrowsSF.jpg

The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, referred to as the Red Arrows, flew above the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay Tuesday morning. The aerial artists from the United Kingdom were in the Bay Area as part of their tour across North America.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[GOP Attorney Sues California for Alleged Voter Violations]]>561890261Tue, 01 Oct 2019 17:29:37 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/HarmeetDhillon.jpg

A Republican lawyer who has waged lawsuits on behalf of the Trump administration is suing California and its Department of Motor Vehicles, saying the agency is failing to verify citizenship for voter registration.

A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by attorney Harmeet Dhillon comes after a state audit found the California DMV's "motor voter" program that started in 2018 was riddled with technical problems that led to discrepancies in voter registrations.

The lawsuit alleges that California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and the director of California's DMV, Steve Gordon, have violated the National Voter Registration Act and that Padilla has "forsaken his duty to ensure that non-citizens" are kept off voter rolls.

Dhillon, a Republican National Committee member, filed the lawsuit on behalf of three California residents, all Republican voters.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SF to Launch Program to Combat Opioid Overdose Deaths]]>561887621Tue, 01 Oct 2019 09:54:24 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/opioidAP_19255806002365.jpg

With overdoses related to fentanyl on the rise in San Francisco, the city will begin implementing a new program at Single Room Occupancy hotels aimed at curbing those overdoses and related deaths.

Mayor London Breed announced the new SRO program on Monday, which will be carried out by the Department of Public Health, the Harm Reduction Coalition and the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

"We must do more to fight the serious danger that fentanyl presents to our community, and this new program will help us meet people where they are and provide SRO residents with the training and medication to prevent overdose deaths," Breed said in a statement.

"This effort builds on San Francisco's long history of implementing innovative solutions, working with the community, and emphasizing harm reduction to save lives," she said.

According to data from the health department, fentanyl deaths in San Francisco have been on the rise since 2014. Fentanyl deaths jumped from 36 in 2017 to 89 in 2018.

Fentanyl is now the leading cause of opioid overdose death, above heroin and prescription opioids.

"We knew fentanyl was coming and have been monitoring it closely," Dr. Grant Colfax, the city's director of public health said. "Now it's here. We will continue to expand our aggressive work to prevent overdoses and increase access to treatment."

The new program will focus on SRO residents and could possibly result in naloxone-rescue boxes throughout SRO buildings.

About 30 percent of overdose deaths happen at SROs, the mayor's office said. The program is scheduled to begin later this year.

The program is based on the Tenant Overdose Response Organizers program in Vancouver, Canada.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Second Bay Crossing Is High Priority: BART GM]]>561865241Tue, 01 Oct 2019 22:34:13 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/2015-generic-bart.jpg

BART's general manager says a second crossing across the San Francisco Bay is the most important transportation project for the Bay Area over the next several decades, according to the Bay Area News Group.

The second transbay rail crossing would possibly be shared by Caltrain, Altamont Corridor Express, high speed rail and/or Capitol Corridor on their own set of tracks parallel to BART. BART trains run on a wider gauge.

To pay for the second crossing and other broader improvements to Bay Area transportation, organizations like the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Bay Area Council are trying to put together a ballot measure — possibly for November 2020 — that would raise $100 billion in taxes over the next several decades. BART General Manager Robert Powers supports the effort.

If the measure were to pass, BART would use the money to pay for discounted fares for low income riders, new ticket gates to prevent fare evaders and the new rail crossing.

CORRECTION (Oct. 2, 2019, 8:34 a.m.): A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the second crossing would be a bridge.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Juul Labs Ceases Funding Campaign Against SF Vaping Ban]]>561839281Mon, 30 Sep 2019 22:51:36 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/JuulGeneric.jpg

Juul Labs said Monday it has pulled funding from a campaign for San Francisco's Proposition C, which is aimed at eliminating the city's ban on vaping.

The San Francisco-based company has been reviewing its policies under new CEO K.C. Crosthwaite, who said it will work with regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders to earn back trust since the e-cigarette industry came under fire for recent public health debacles, including nine reported deaths.

"That includes inviting an open dialogue, listening to others and being responsive to their concerns," Crosthwaite said in a statement. "This decision does not change the fact that as a San Francisco-founded and headquartered company we remain committed to the city. San Francisco is not only the home of our company’s founding but is also the home of many of our talented employees."

San Francisco passed a measure in June suspending the sale of e-cigarettes. Proposition C would permit sales to adults.

Last week, the nation's largest e-cigarette maker will stop advertising its devices in the U.S. as mysterious breathing illnesses and an explosion in teen vaping have triggered efforts to crack down on the largely unregulated industry.

Juul Labs, which had already spent millions on Prop. C, added that it remains committed to its goal of improving the lives of the world’s 1 billion smokers while keeping its products out of the hands of youth through strong regulation.

E-cigarettes have been largely unregulated since arriving in the U.S. in 2007. The Food and Drug Administration has set next May as a deadline for manufacturers to submit their products for review.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[More Than 30 Detained During Whole Foods, Amazon Protest]]>561794201Mon, 30 Sep 2019 10:49:55 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/09302019WholeFoodsProtest_8952836.JPG

More than 30 animal rights activists were taken into custody on Monday outside a Whole Foods Market store in San Francisco's Noe Valley neighborhood after the activists occupied the store for more than three hours.

The activists, members of the group Direct Action Everywhere, allege animal cruelty happening at several farms supplying goods to Amazon-owned Whole Foods, some located in the North Bay, and are calling on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to put a stop to the alleged violations.

Starting around 8 a.m., dozens of activists rallied at the store's parking lot, located at 3950 24th St., with several chaining themselves to the store and blocking the entrance. Others climbed the roof and hoisted up a giant post of Bezos' head.

A separate, smaller rally occurred at the Amazon office at 545 Sansome St. At least four were cited by police there, according to Direct Action Everywhere.

During the Whole Foods protest, officers used bolt cutters to cut the chains the activists used to tie themselves to the store's door. It was not immediately clear if the more than 30 activists taken into custody were being arrested, or if they'd be cited and released.

The protest remained peaceful as other activists sang, chanted and played guitars.

According to Direct Action Everywhere, its investigations have found cruel conditions at farms where products marketed as "free range" and "humane" come from.

"We've found repeated evidence of criminal animal cruelty," organizer Cassie King said. "They've done nothing in response to the animal abuse."

King said the group is calling on Bezos to support the rights of animals and to disavow felony charges that six activists are facing for trying to rescue animals from Amazon-linked farms.

In a statement, Whole Foods said, "Direct Action Everywhere's repeated targeting of Whole Foods Market stores jeopardizes the safety of our customers and team members, including today at our Noe Valley store.

"Whole Foods Market caters to customers with a wide variety of diets, and we're proud to provide transparency in animal welfare and growing practices through third-party certifiers like Global Animal Partnership," the statement said. "We respect everyone's right to voice their opinion, but our responsibility is to provide a safe environment for our customers and our team members."

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Sunday Power Outages in SF Affect More Than 13,000 Customers]]>561787061Mon, 30 Sep 2019 09:17:43 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/PGELogo.JPG

Approximately 113 PG&E customers in the Pacific Heights area of San Francisco were still without electric power as of about 9 p.m., more than two hours after their power went out, a PG&E spokesman said Sunday night.

That outage was reported at 6:43 p.m., said PG&E spokesman J.D. Guidi said. The cause of that outage had not been determined Sunday night, and there was no estimated time for when those customers would have power again, Guidi said.

This relatively small outage was preceded Sunday by a much larger one affecting some 13,000 PG&E customers in the city, which Guidi said was caused by an equipment failure at a PG&E substation. The last of those customers had their power restored at 1:09 p.m. Sunday.

The East Bay dealt with a major power outage Sunday, too, with more than 33,000 PG&E customers from Oakland north to San Pablo was completely restored by 11 a.m. after an outage that started at 7:35 a.m.

By far the hardest hit city was Berkeley, Guidi said, where the downtown BART station was forced to close and traffic signals went dark.

Other cities hit by the East Bay outage were Richmond, Albany, El Cerrito, and Kensington.

The East Bay outage was caused by an equipment failure at the PG&E substation on Schmidt Lane in El Cerrito and the cause is under investigation.

BART had reported major delays during the outage and its downtown Berkeley station reopened after a generator was brought in, but elevators and escalators are not currently working at the station, the transit district said via Twitter.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Golden Gate Transit District Approves Fare Discount Program]]>561785851Mon, 30 Sep 2019 09:00:53 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bus31.JPG

A "means-based" fare program that would provide a discount for low-income riders on Golden Gate Transit regional bus routes and regular Golden Gate Ferry service could be in place by early next year, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District said.

The program was approved Friday by the district's board.

"Transit affordability is a major challenge for Bay Area residents, especially for those with long regional commutes to and from work," said Ron Downing, planning director for the bridge district. "We're pleased to be able to offer even more affordable transit options for people most impacted by the rising costs of getting around the Bay Area."

The lower fares will be available to eligible passengers only through the Clipper Card program.

Golden Gate Transit operates extensive routes in San Francisco and Marin counties, and also reaches into Sonoma County and to the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station.

In May 2018, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission approved a pilot regional means-based fare program to allow for greater mobility for low-income people on participating transit systems in the Bay Area.

People with income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (approximately $70,000 per year for a family of four in the Bay Area) will be eligible. The pilot program will last 12 to 18 months, depending on how quickly the available MTC funds (which partially offset the cost of the pilot program) are spent, the district said.

Participating agencies were allowed to choose either a 20 percent or 50 percent discount off their current adult cash fares, and the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District opted for a 50 percent discount. That figure aligns with the 50 percent discount currently offered to seniors, persons with disabilities and youth customers, regardless ofincome.

The discounts, the MTC says, are expected to cost between $500,000 and $1 million a year for the district's bus and ferry services. Of this amount, regional funding of between $300,000 and $500,000 would be available to offset a portion of the lost revenue, the district says.

For the full staff report, go to http://goldengate.org/board/2019/agendas/documents/2019-0926-FinanceComm-No6-AppActsMeansBasedFarePrg.pdf

Photo Credit: Bob Redell]]>
<![CDATA[Car Bursts Into Flames on Upper Deck of Bay Bridge]]>561777321Mon, 30 Sep 2019 07:20:53 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BayBridgeCarFire.jpg

A car caught fire on the upper deck of the Bay Bridge during the Monday morning commute.

No injuries were reported, according to the San Francisco Fire Department.

The car burned near the Fremont Street off-ramp, the California Highway Patrol said.

Three westbound lanes were initially blocked, according to the CHP. Two lanes have reopened, but the far right lane remains blocked.

Photo Credit: Dan Jackson via Twitter]]>
<![CDATA[Leaders to Spotlight HIV Response Ahead of AIDS Conference]]>561764191Mon, 30 Sep 2019 04:32:57 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AIDSRibbon2.jpg

The 23rd International AIDS Conference doesn't take place in the Bay Area until 2020, but local community leaders will hold a news conference Monday to talk about the importance of the event.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf are expected to attend Monday's news conference, which kicks off at 10 a.m.

The 2020 AIDS conference will be held in San Francisco and Oakland between July 6 and July 10. More than 20,000 people from 170 countries are expected to attend.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health says the number of people diagnosed with HIV has dropped over the years — about 60% over the past 10 years — thanks to public awareness, research and getting medicine to those living with the disease.

Nearly 16,000 people are living with HIV in San Francisco, according to the health department. About 200 people were newly diagnosed in 2018.

Across California, 126,000 people are living with HIV.

Photo Credit: Visual China Group via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Boulders on SF Sidewalk Now in the Street]]>561736931Sun, 29 Sep 2019 21:36:10 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sf-boulders-0929.jpg

Several boulders that were placed on a San Francisco sidewalk along Clinton Park earlier this month are now in the street.

Tensions are mounting over the large rocks as some people see them as a sign of hate toward homeless people. But the neighbors responsible for having the boulders moved in say they’ve had it with crime along their street.

The boulders along Clinton Park were moved in about three weeks ago, but initially it was a mystery how they got there. And someone keeps moving them out into the street.

The city, which three times previously sent crews to move them back onto the sidewalk, said it's not going to move the rocks back again. Instead, crews placed orange traffic cones around the large rocks.

The neighbors group believes the boulders can help keep crime at bay. So, they pooled their money together to put about 20 large rocks along the sidewalk, where they said people have been selling drugs and leaving human waste outside their homes. The city was’t doing anything about it, residents said.

"It makes me kinda sad," resident Alissa Moe said. "I haven’t noticed people hanging out on the street the last couple of days."

To city officials, the whole thing is still a mystery, especially how the boulders were moved in.

"We really don’t know how the boulders got here," said Rachel Gordon of the city's Public Works Department. "It’s possible they could be deemed illegal dumping; they could be there without a permit. There are definitely scenarios we’re looking at."

Not all the residents along the street are happy with the result.

"Oh, they’re to make everything look nicer. No. It’s to try and keep vagrants away," neighbor Alan Walton said. "If they’re gonna do it, be truthful about it."

People living on the street did say it has been a little quieter at night since the big stones moved in. But the city said it will continue to look into the legality of the boulders.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Senator Kamala Harris Visits Bay Area]]>561645901Sat, 28 Sep 2019 22:48:41 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Kamala9.jpg

Senator and presidential hopeful Kamala Harris visited San Francisco Saturday, making stops in Chinatown and the Manilla Town Heritage Museum.

Her visit came just days after her colleagues in the US House of Representatives launched an impeachment inquiry against President Trump, and as new polling data shows some of her support amongst California voters seems to be sagging.

This week, the UC Berkeley Institute of Intergovernmental Studies released numbers on likely California primary voters which showed Harris running in fourth place. The data showed Senator Elizabeth Warren in first place, former Vice President Joe Biden in second place and Senator Bernie Sanders in third place.

Harris will be in Oakland on Sunday to open up her West Coast presidential campaign headquarters.

Photo Credit: Al Drago/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sunset District Building Preserved for Affordable Housing]]>561640081Sat, 28 Sep 2019 11:45:53 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1153778137+%281%29.jpg

In an effort to preserve affordable housing for longtime San Francisco residents, Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Gordon Mar on Friday celebrated the acquisition and preservation of a six-unit building in the city's Outer Sunset neighborhood.

The building at 3544 Taraval St. was recently acquired by the city's Small Sites Program, making it just one of a handful of properties acquired by the program in the city's Westside.

The move will help ensure that the six multi-generational families that live in the six two-bedroom units can stay in the area, without fearing displacement.

"As we work to build more affordable housing, we need to also preserve the affordable housing we already have," Breed said in a statement.

Under the program, she said, "six longtime Outer Sunset families will be able to stay in their neighborhood -- without worrying about rising rent."

Mar called the move "a significant turning point" for his supervisiorial district, District 4, which has the lowest number of homes acquired under the program.

"As we work on new construction projects like the Francis Scott Key Educator Housing, we also need to preserve and protect existing affordable housing and longtime residents -- our senior, immigrant, and working class neighbors -- so they keep the Sunset a place where complete communities thrive," he said.

The apartments at 3544 Taraval St. serve low- to moderate-income households with an average income of 62 percent of the area's median.

The property was acquired by the city's Small Sites Program after Mar identified the site and engaged it with the Mission Economic Development Agency, which then moved to acquire it this month.

The acquisition was financed with a $2.48 million loan from the San Francisco Accelerator Fund.

Rehabilitation of the building is projected to cost $400,000, consisting of unit upgrades, seismic strengthening, fire system installation, exterior renovations, water heater replacements, electrical system upgrades and refurbishing of kitchens and bathrooms.

"As retired seniors with limited income here for 28 years, we couldn't sleep since this building went up for sale, worried a developer would evict us older tenants," said building resident Ming Yong Lee. "We are thankful for Supervisor Mar and Mayor Breed for choosing our building so we can continue living in the Sunset, where it is safe, where we can shop at Chinese businesses, and where there are places to walk and senior services nearby."

<![CDATA[Jill Biden Visits San Francisco]]>561604412Fri, 27 Sep 2019 22:59:52 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Jill_Biden_Visits_San_Francisco.jpg

Jill Biden visited a fundraising event for her husband, presidential hopeful Joe Biden, in San Francisco Friday night. She did not answer questions about the impeachment inquiry on President Trump, but some attendees said they didn't think she needed to. Jean Elle reports.]]>
<![CDATA[University of California Files Supreme Court Brief on DACA ]]>561583061Fri, 27 Sep 2019 17:38:54 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/Tlmd-save-daca.jpg

The University of California filed a brief on Friday in United States Supreme Court in San Francisco challenging the administration of President Donald Trump's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The filing follows a 2017 suit by University of California President Janet Napolitano against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after President Donald Trump's repeal of the DACA program, alleging the repeal of the program violated students' rights.

U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup then granted an injunction in January 2018 that required the DHS to continue processing DACA renewal applications as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed the case.

The latest filing comes as the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on the case on Nov. 12.

Napolitano said Friday that the University of California would continue to "fight to protect the nearly 700,000 Dreamers here in the U.S. and in our community who are DACA recipients.

"UC DACA students are studying to be the next generation of teachers, doctors, engineers and other professions that make life better for everyone. They are young people who simply want to continue to live, learn and contribute to the country they consider home," she said.

"The Trump Administration acted illegally by ending the DACA program without offering any valid justification for doing so. Five federal courts have considered this issue and found that the administration's decision was arbitrary and capricious, and therefore unlawful," she said.

Napolitano added the University of California would continue to provide a "safe and supportive environment" for DACA students.

<![CDATA[Golden Gate Transit Drivers Taking Absences Since Last Week]]>561514181Fri, 27 Sep 2019 02:30:38 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bus31.JPG

Golden Gate Transit has canceled "a higher than usual" number of bus trips because drivers are taking unscheduled absences, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District said Thursday.

On its website, the district said Golden Gate Transit has been negotiating a new contract with bus operators for many months in good faith.

"Our current need to cancel multiple trips daily stems from ongoing unannounced labor unrest led by our bus drivers' union, in which a very high number of drivers are taking unscheduled absences," the district said.

"We are hopeful the current spate of high absenteeism will diminish soon, but we are unable to predict how long the labor actions will last," the district said.

The district said it is canceling as few trips as possible and notifying customers with as much advance notice as it can provide.

District spokeswoman Priya Clemens said the job action began on Sept. 19 when 24 percent of the drivers took absences. There are 779 bus trips on a weekday and the district is losing 15 trips a day now, Clemens said.

The Amalgamated Transit Union that represents Golden Gate Transit employees is asking for higher wages and an increase in pension contributions. Their contract expired in October, and the union is seeking another three-year contract, Clemens said.

The San Rafael-based union did not return a call for comment Thursday afternoon.

Information about Golden Gate Transit trip cancellations is available on Twitter at @GoldenGateBus. Riders also can track their bus in real-time on their mobile device via Transit App on the district's website www.goldengate.org.

Photo Credit: Bob Redell]]>
<![CDATA[BART Moving Again After Multiple Delays]]>561502561Thu, 26 Sep 2019 22:16:37 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Demoras_en_extension_del_BART_a_San_Jose.jpg

BART officials have announced via Twitter that all trains are once again moving after a series of delays throughout Thursday afternoon.

Trains at the Daly City station were delayed due to a small grass fire in that area. The delay impacted the San Francisco line in all directions.

The other delays were due to a train with mechanical problems and BART police activity in response to someone making threats at the Embarcadero station, BART officials Tweeted.

At 6 p.m. BART officials Tweeted that all trains were once again moving, but that the platforms were crowded because the delays occurred at the height of the evening commute.

<![CDATA[Bay Area Home Sales Slip to 9-Year-Low]]>561501141Thu, 26 Sep 2019 21:34:05 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/0903homeforsale900xx417-278-8-0.jpg

Home sales in the Bay Area hit a nine-year low during the month of August, according to new data released Thursday by financial services firm CoreLogic.

The data show that last month, 7,247 homes were sold in the Bay Area, the lowest for that month since August 2010 when just 6,698 homes were sold in the region.

"Although Bay Area home sales in August fell nearly six percent from a year earlier, the recent drop in mortgage rates likely helped temper that decline," Andrew LePage, an analyst with CoreLogic, said in a statement.

The data also showed that for the past 13 consecutive months, sales have fallen on a year-over-year basis.

"Some buyers no doubt remain parked on the sidelines, concerned about the possibility of buying near a price peak, and affordability remains a huge hurdle for many," LePage said.

The median price for homes sold in the Bay Area last month was $810,000, which is down 0.7 percent from July 2019 when the price was $816,000 and down 2.4 percent from $830,000 in August 2018, according to the data.

"Last month's 2.4 percent annual decline in the median reflects both lower home prices in some areas as well as a shift toward a lower share of sales occurring in some of the region's more expensive areas," he said.

According to last month's data, Contra Costa County had the highest number of homes sold with 1,529.

<![CDATA[DoorDash Data Breach Hits 4.9 Million Customers, Drivers]]>561461001Thu, 26 Sep 2019 13:19:44 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1053231272.jpg

DoorDash is delivering bad news to millions of its customers and drivers: their data may have been accessed by hackers.

In a blog post made Thursday on its website, San Francisco-based DoorDash said an "unauthorized third party" gained access to data for about 4.9 million users earlier this year.

"Earlier this month, we became aware of unusual activity involving a third-party service provider," DoorDash said. "We took immediate steps to block further access by the unauthorized third party and to enhance security across our platform. We are reaching out directly to affected users."

DoorDash did not immediately respond to an email inquiry from NBC Bay Area on Thursday afternoon.

According to the post, only users who signed up for DoorDash on or before April 5, 2018 are impacted. Anyone who signed up later than that should not be affected, DoorDash said.

DoorDash operates a popular food-delivery app, using an Uber-like model connecting drivers and cyclists with hungry customers. Car and bicycle owners can sign up to be delivery drivers, or "Dashers," and receive payment for picking food up at restaurants and bringing it to diners' doorsteps.

The DoorDash post said hackers infiltrated its system on May 4, and accessed information including customer names, emails, addresses, phone numbers, and encrypted passwords. DoorDash said the passwords could not be deciphered, but it advised customers to change their passwords just in case.

The company said hackers also accessed the last four digits of some payment cards and bank account numbers, but not full numbers or the three-digit CVV required to authorize payment. DoorDash said full account information was not exposed.

Drivers are affected, too. DoorDash said about 100,000 of its Dashers' drivers license numbers were exposed.

While the company reaches out to affected users, it has listed detailed information about the data breach in its blog post. Concerned customers and drivers can also call 855–646–4683 to learn more.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>