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Shelter In Place Order Extended

Shelter In Place Order Extended

As the case count of coronavirus infections rises across the country, officials in San Francisco opted to extend their shelter in place order. Previously, an order issued March 16 expired on April 7. However, with the evolving threat prompting health officials to revise projections, so too do city officials.

Therefore, the updated shelter in place order extends out to May 3. That deadline also faces additional scrutiny down the line as officials continue to monitor the health crisis. Additionally, the revised shelter in place order adds to it new restrictions for Bay Area residents.

First, public public spaces are closing. Among them, picnic areas, playgrounds, and dog parks become inaccessible. Furthermore, the order restricts funerals to a max of 10 individuals.

Also, restaurants and other businesses considered essential must adapt to the growing threat. As such, city officials require them to establish and implement a strategy to guarantee operations include social distancing. They must do so by April 3.

Construction also comes to a halt, with the sole exception of affordable housing development.

New Shelter In Place Guidelines Still Offer Fresh Air

These new restrictions follow weeks of ill-advised public gatherings. In the wake of the initial announcement, people continued to enjoy public outdoor spaces with little regard for social distancing measures. Images of crowds prompted the more stringent version of the order.

Though, residents may still leave home for walks, in addition to essential trips. The closure of public spaces seeks to eliminate excessive contact among the public. Walks in residential neighborhoods remain a safe way to enjoy the outdoors, so long as walkers practice social distancing.

At present, San Francisco counts more than 400 cases of covid-19, and 7 deaths. The greater Bay Area accounts for 2,550 cases of the state’s total 8,769. The country’s number of diagnosed cases tops 200,000.

Health officials expect the apex to come sometime in April.

Self-Driving Cars Make A SF Comeback

Self-Driving Cars Make A SF Comeback

Photo by Dllu used under CC-BY-SA-4.0 license

After a 2-year hiatus following a fatal crash, Uber’s self-driving cars return to San Francisco streets to continue testing.

Beginning Tuesday, a pair of Volvo XC90s outfitted with Uber’s self-driving system roam around the city’s west side. For now, they remain restricted to the Richmond District, an area with fewer pedestrians.

However, despite their technology, backup drivers monitor the vehicles as they operate in self-drive mode. That requirement carries over from the previous bout of testing. Despite the precaution, one of the cars still managed to strike and kill a pedestrian on March 18 of 2018.

Self-Driving Cars Display Unsafe Behavior

Prior to the fatal crash, a pair of incidents yielded concern and outrage from the public and government officials. In one, taxi dashcam footage caught one of their self-driving cars running a red light in San Francisco. Subsequent probing revealed the traffic light violation was the fault of Uber’s software.

In another, a Volvo SUV with self-driving tech got into a crash, tipping the vehicle onto its side.

San Francisco officials lambasted the company for failing to obtain permits. Uber claimed they weren’t required to.

Then, in March of 2018, one of their self-driving cars failed to recognize a pedestrian crossing a street in Tempe, Arizona. The backup driver watched a television clip on their phone as the car slammed into 48-year-old Elaine Herzberg, killing her.

Uber scaled back operations, firing all 100 operators hired to monitor self-driving cars.

Though, later that same year, they returned to testing in Pittsburg with authorization from Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation.

Now, with an official permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Uber returns to testing in their home city, albeit considerably more limited. In addition to Pittsburg and San Francisco, Uber presently tests in Dallas and Washington DC.

FBI Agent Shoots Musician Without Cause

FBI Agent Shoots Musician Without Cause

Earlier this month, an off-duty plain-clothes FBI agent fired his weapon on a street musician after attempting to bust him for selling cannabis. Now, the victim, 24-year-old Tad Crane, speaks out against the officer’s action in an interview with the San Francisco Examiner.

The incident took place on February 8. It began when the as of yet unnamed FBI agent approached Crane on the street while he played guitar. Crane and a friend were smoking weed, and his friend portioned some out for another man. As he did so, the FBI agent in street clothes ordered them against the wall.

Crane said the agent failed to present any identification verifying his claim of authority. Crane saw no badge, and only heard the agent call himself “police.” As the agent searched the man who received weed from Crane’s friend, he pulled his phone out to make a call.

When he fumbled his phone, Crane questioned his authority. The agent then pulled his gun. Crane says he stepped towards the agent with his shirt raised, indicating he was unarmed. “I set my guitar down and said ‘dude, take your BB gun to your momma’s house,’” Crane said of his response. “I started putting him in his place really hard for pulling a gun on some kids on Haight Street.”

That’s when the FBI agent stumbled backwards and began firing. He shot Crane twice. After paramedics rushed him to the hospital, Crane remained handcuffed to his bed for several days after the incident, under arrest for possession of psychedelic drugs for sale. However, authorities since released him, likely following scrutiny of the agent’s actions.

“He had plenty of time to think about putting the gun back in his pocket and walking away from the situation,” said Crane.

Now, he calls for criminal charges to be brought against the FBI agent in connection with the shooting.

The FBI says it is investigating the matter, though they have not released any information, including the agent’s name.

Landlord Selling Off Rent-Controlled Units

Landlord Selling Off Rent-Controlled Units

Veritas Investments, the largest landlord in all of San Francisco, plans to sell a third of its portfolio. The 76 units listed at market price are all rent-controlled.

A law enacted last year, championed by Sandra Lee Fewer on the Board of Supervisors, requires all of all property sales a 30-day window for nonprofits to purchase. As a first right of refusal, the law takes aim at the rapidly exploding cost of housing in the city by giving nonprofits a leg up.

Veritas listed their 76 rent-controlled units on the market the moment the 30-day window closed. As a result, city officials and affordable housing advocates derided the corporate landlord.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen recognized the legal adherence to the 30-day rule, however, noted a clever gaming of the system. The landlord timed their announcement to coincide the 30-day window with the holiday season. Therefore, few nonprofits would manage to express interest during a time when most employees take time off.

“When you put 2,000 units up for sale in the middle of December, you are trying to evade city laws and get top dollar and ruin people’s lives,” she said at a rally Monday.

That event, organized by fellow Supervisor Dean Preston, took place outside City Hall. During the rally, Preston called for a 60-day pause on the sale of the rent-controlled units.

However, Veritas shows no interest in such a pause. Instead, they plan to proceed with the sale, likely netting them millions.

Furthermore, the corporate landlord filed legal action against a nonprofit for the dissemination of privileged information. That information? The addresses to the units for sale. The nonprofit in the suit, Housing Rights Committee, posted the addresses on Facebook in an effort to warn the tenants of an impending sale.

Chesa Boudin Sworn In As New DA

Chesa Boudin Sworn In As New DA

After winning his election last November, Chesa Boudin took office as San Francisco’s new District Attorney. Addressing attendees of the ceremony Wednesday, Boudin promised a number of progressive reforms.

His campaign faced intense opposition. More traditional, establishment voices took umbrage with his leftist ideas. Among them, the police union spent considerable funds running ads opposing Boudin’s candidacy.

Furthermore, Mayor London Breed even appointed his opponent, Suzy Loftus, as interim district attorney.

In spite of these obstacles, Boudin managed a win with a platform of progressive policies.

Chesa Boudin Plans to Reform Criminal Justice

Nearly a thousand attended the event held at Herbst Theatre. After being sworn in, Boudin addressed the crowd with an inaugural speech.

In it, he reiterated his commitment to redirecting the aims of his office away from punishment and towards restorative justice. “Join this movement,” he said. “Join us in rejecting the notion: That to be free we must cage others.”

Chesa Boudin’s policies include eliminating cash bail, a practice criticized for holding in jail underprivileged individuals with minor offenses awaiting trial. He also intends to abandon “tough on crime” sentencing enhancements. Additionally, he will stop filing cases resulting from searches conducted during a “stop and frisk”.

“Stop and frisk — whether done while walking down the street or while driving a car — is a civil rights violation,” he said.

Earlier this week, he also unveiled the names of criminal justice experts recruited to serve as advisors.

On the opposition of Mayor Breed, Chesa Boudin called it “water under the bridge”. He expressed a willingness and necessity of working together with both Mayor Breed and law enforcement to conduct the functions of his office.

Likewise, Mayor Breed expressed an appreciation for Boudin’s cooperation. She noted his recognition of the balance between accountability and fairness.

“We can hold people accountable and we can make sure there is fairness in our criminal justice system,” she said. “I am looking forward over the next four years of working with him to do just that.”

1976 Cold Case Jane Doe Identified

1976 Cold Case Jane Doe Identified

San Francisco investigators have identified the remains of a 43-year-old cold case. Utilizing modern DNA analysis, police confirmed the body as 14-year-old Judy Gifford. The development comes as a result of cross-checking unidentified bodies with missing persons reports.

In 1976, Donald McIsaac, then 17, found the body in a shallow grave while digging for turtle eggs. He reported to police that he discovered a human hand rising from the earth. Upon examination, San Francisco police determined the remains as a young woman aged 14 to 20. They also deduced she had been in the shallow grave for up to 6 weeks.

Judy went unidentified largely because, at the time of her disappearance, it was believed she moved to New Jersey where her aunt, Ogee Gifford, lived. Not until years later did her half brother, William Shin, learn from Ogee that Judy never moved. Some decades after that, in 2017, William decided to file the missing persons report.

Cold Case Investigators

When shuffling through cold case files, San Francisco investigators matched the timeline between Shin’s report and Judy’s remains. Additionally, a gold chain found on the body bore a resemblance to a chain viewed in a photo of Judy. To confirm the match, they reached out for DNA samples from both William Shin and Ogee Gifford.

The DNA comparison proved the remains to be that of Judy Gifford.

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Ogee Gifford, now 87, received the news from police that the remains were of her niece. She expressed she was glad with the development, but declined further comment.

Judy lived in Park Merced with her father, step-mother, and a pair of half-siblings, William, and a younger sister. She moved in with them in the summer of the year she disappeared.

Her case remains open.

Any information regarding Judy Gifford’s death should be forwarded to the San Francisco PD’s tip line at 415-575-4444, or text TIP411 with “SFPD” at the beginning of the message.

Man Tosses Firebomb At San Francisco Police

Man Tosses Firebomb At San Francisco Police

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – During a riot in San Francisco’s Mission District last month, a man threw a firebomb at a San Francisco police officer. Consequently, the officer was injured in the process. As a result, the 30-year-old man was arrested.

According to authorities, suspect Nilman-Vincent Vanewyk had been arrested several times before. Previous charges include assault with a deadly weapon upon a peace officer. As well as knowingly exploding or igniting a destructive device. And, unlawful possession of an explosive.

Furthermore, as reported by investigators, officers from the Mission Station were patrolling the 22nd and Bartlett Streets area on October 22. Around 10:51 p.m., they saw a man in the middle of the street igniting an illegal firework.   

Therefore, the officers got out of their vehicle and arrested the man. However, as they were doing so, two large crowds began throwing glass bottles at them. Next, an inflammable device was tossed from the crowd and landed less than one foot away from the officers. Then, it exploded into flames. Thus, the officer was transported to a nearby hospital where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Apart from this, authorities obtained video footage of the incident and were able to pick out the suspect. Following the surveillance, on Friday, November 8, an officer, off-duty saw the suspect in the 1600 block of Post Street. He then radioed on-duty officers who arrived and arrested Vanewyk on the spot.

Although an arrest has been made, San Francisco police are still investigating the matter. However, anyone with information is encouraged to call the SFPD 24-hour tip line at 1-415-575-4444. Or, text TIP411 beginning the message with SFPD. It should be noted that you may refrain from revealing your identity as well.

Woman Arrested for Fatally Stabbing Boyfriend

Woman Arrested for Fatally Stabbing Boyfriend

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A woman has been taken into custody after fatally stabbing her boyfriend. According to police, the woman and her boyfriend lived together in the South San Francisco area. The incident occurred earlier in the week.

Furthermore, the woman has been identified as 30-year-old Victoria Soledad Garcia. According to authorities, police were called to the 1700 block of El Camino Real after receiving reports of a man bleeding. Once police arrived to the home at 3:22 p.m. on Monday, Soledad Garcia was arrested.

Paramedics performed every life saving measure, however with no success, he died at the scene. While the victim’s name has not been released, according to reports he was 35 years old.

Moreover, investigators concluded that Soledad Garcia was the one who stabbed her boyfriend. As a result of the stabbing, he died almost immediately. As stated by police officials, Soledad Garcia has been retained and was taken into San Mateo County Jail. The woman was apprehended on suspicion of murder, stated police.

In addition, authorities are encouraging anyone with pertinent information relating to the fatal stabbing to call the South San Francisco police station at (650) 877-8900. However, if you would like to leave your tip anonymously, you can do so by calling (650) 952-2244 or by emailing tips@ssf.net.

Drunk Driver Collision Leaves Boy with Serious Injuries

Drunk Driver Collision Leaves Boy with Serious Injuries

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A 12-year-old boy incurred serious, life-threatening injuries on Tuesday afternoon after he was hit in a collision in San Francisco. This is according to San Francisco Police.

It was at 4:44 p.m. exactly when officials sent police officers to Golden Gate Avenue and Leavenworth Street to investigate the accident.

According to San Francisco Police Department spokesperson Officer Robert Rueca, the 29-year-old male driver allegedly was driving under the influence. Consequently, police promptly arrested for this offense. It remains an active investigation and further charges are pending, Rueca indicated.

After arriving on the scene, police discovered that a car had collided with a 12-year-old boy. Officer Joseph Tomlinson reported emergency officials transported the boy to a local hospital. Doctors determined the boys injuries to be life-threatening.

The man responsible for the collision stayed at the accident site and fully cooperated with the police.

The collision occurred in the Tenderloin area of San Francisco, which also happens to be District 6. This location falls under the jurisdiction of Supervisor Matt Haney. He tweeted about the incident calling it a “terrible, terrifying crash.” Fortunately, he relayed the message that the boy’s condition had transitioned from critical to stable.

Recent Push to Solve Problem

Haney recently put forth a resolution to the local board of supervisors, at the behest of a pedestrian advocacy group, Walk SF, to deem a state of emergency for the rise in traffic-related pedestrian deaths. This request hasn’t become official yet, however, Walk SF says many of the Supervisors signed up as sponsors.

As of July, Walk San Francisco had recorded 15 fatal car related incidents involving pedestrians and cyclists in the year 2019 to date. Officials noted that on average 30 people per year die in the city due to these types of accidents.

San Francisco Most Affected by Ride-Sharing Traffic

San Francisco Most Affected by Ride-Sharing Traffic

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – In a research report that was released on Monday by transportation consultancy Fehr and Peers, ride-sharing companies finally accepted the fact that they contribute significantly to an increase in city-traffic gridlock.

The report, which was actually funded by Uber and Lyft, compared VMT (vehicle miles traveled) by private cars versus TNCs (Transportation Network Company), or ride sharing vehicles. The comparison looked at the cities of Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Basically, the report showed that TNCs, or ride sharing vehicles, ranged from 1-3 percent at the metro level. However, at the city center level their vehicles accounted for 2-13 percent. Essentially, Uber and Lyft are responsible for as much as 13.4 percent of all vehicle miles in the county of San Francisco. This was easily the highest in the counties of the cities studied. TNCs also represented a significant amount of VMTs in the urban areas of Boston (8 percent) and Washington D.C. (7.2 percent).

The ride-sharing company’s admittance of increasing congestion is an about face from their previous position that ride-sharing cuts down traffic. In the case of both Lyft and Uber, they immediately published blog posts to explain and defend themselves from this analysis.

Lyft and Uber’s Response

“The research shows that despite tremendous growth over the past decade, TNC use still pales in comparison to all other traffic,” Chris Pangilinan, Uber’s head of global policy for public transportation said via a blog post.

He also suggested that though TNCs are adding to an increase in congestion, that is was nothing compared to private cars and commercial vehicles.

Peter Day, head of policy research analytics at Lyft noted that, “Research has also found that the peak activity of rideshare trips take place outside of commute hours, such as nights and weekends.” He also mentioned in his blog post that ride-sharing eliminates a lot of impaired driving.

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