On sand pads, city hall, safe sites and why I call SF home
A little over 40 years ago, I moved to San Francisco. Coming from Colorado, I had almost no idea of The City.
I told people I was thinking of coming to LA for a quick lunch. It can’t be that far, can it? There are only a few inches on the map.
I had never heard of, let alone eaten, a dab of sand.
I went to a night game in Candlestick Park in my underwear. Because it was summer, right? Almost frozen.
But I also learned something about San Francisco. It has a long history of welcoming wanderers, dreamers, and those who have headed west and fled the country. How many times have you heard of someone who came for a visit and ended up living here for 30 years?
I found a Russian bakery around the corner from my first apartment and bought a loaf of fresh bread every week. I went to tiny storefront restaurants that had fabulous food. (Some of them had sand spots.)
And, maybe on a walk along the Embarcadero on a sunny day, it crept up on me.
San Francisco. I understand.
I married a girl from Berkeley, there were children and changes of location. But eventually I started doing what anyone who considers themselves to be an indigenous does: Pontificate over the city.
Fortunately for me, and probably unfortunately for others, I had a forum. For over 30 years I was a columnist for The Chronicle, 20 years in sports and 16 more reflecting on the local political scene / town hall.
I retired in December 2016 and moved on. I put on a one-man show – which was not a huge success – wrote a sports column, then took my very astute son’s advice and started a free newsletter.
It was read by a few people, who shared it with other people …
Which led to this. I am delighted and pleasantly surprised to have been invited to write a weekly column for the new and improved San Francisco Examiner.
It should be available online Wednesday and in the newspaper Sunday.
You probably have a good idea of some of the topics the column will cover. You can’t live in San Francisco without facing (often literally) issues like:
Roaming : Now anyone can recite the riddle: “We are spending hundreds of millions of dollars, so why are we making almost no progress? “
We can expect more of the same in January, when the city takes its annual homeless count. In 2019, the number was over 8,000 and the prediction is that, despite the money and effort, it will be as high if not higher.
At the very least, the “Care not Cash” program of then mayor Gavin Newsom was innovative, but the number of homeless people has not declined.
I would suggest housing priorities. First, women and women with children. Second, the acute psychotic (see below). And third, veterans, because we owe them and they will probably have benefits.
I know, that still leaves a considerable number.
But we keep talking about it like it’s complicated. This is not the case. If we don’t want people living on the streets, we have to give them a place to go.
Personally, I am in favor of Supervisor Rafael Mandelman’s “safe sites” program, where the open spaces would house well-spaced tents. For me, it’s better to buy a hotel and pile hundreds of homeless people into a skyscraper.
Conservatory: In the past, no one knew what a guardianship was. Then came Britney Spears. Now EVERYONE thinks they know what guardianship is.
And, they say, that’s why we shouldn’t use it in San Francisco.
Which is exactly wrong.
The Spears case, and the legal turmoil, is about wealthy people who have lost their mental capacities. The worry is that greedy opportunists get guardianship and cheat on the person about their money.
This is not what we have on the streets of San Francisco. We are talking about people with acute mental illnesses, who pose a glaring and distressing threat to themselves and to others.
And this is not a judgment. A bill that State Senator Scott Wiener passed in 2018 indicates that a person is eligible for guardianship if they are placed in emergency psychiatric detention (a 5150) eight times in 12 months.
Eight times. Do you think these people have a good quality of life? If you are wondering, ask family members, who are often worried sick about their loved one and have probably tried several times to get them to a safe facility.
Schools: It’s an ongoing local spectacle to watch and empathize with parents for the first time as they step into the puzzle palace that is the San Francisco Unified School District.
Well-meaning people keep telling me that I don’t understand, that the crazy school selection system is fine. Yet again this year, a family in our building left the state after trying to enroll their kindergarten.
Also, the district is waaaay over its head financially. And prepare for the worst. Already facing a deficit this year, projections for 2022 and 2023 call for deficits in excess of $ 100 million.
And that doesn’t even apply to the Looney School Board. You’ve heard all the stories already, so you don’t have to repeat them. But it is significant that at present, not only does it seem certain that the recall of three board members will qualify for an election, but it looks like they will lose.
Which could be a ray of hope. If Alison Collins, Gabriela López and Faauuga Moliga are removed from their posts – as it should be – the mayor of London Breed will be able to appoint three new members of the board.
This could be a tipping point for the district. A chance to make dramatic and necessary changes.
Other than that, I’m not sweating the little things.
I’m sure there are still a lot of people who are eager to call The City “Frisco” or “San Fran”. Heck, Herb Caen’s “Bagdad by the Bay” might be controversial now.
I keep it simple. I call him home.
Contact CW Nevius at [email protected] Twitter: @cwnevius