Inside San Francisco - February 13th, 2020

Inside San Francisco (Feb 13th, 2020)

High-Speed Rail / Bernie goes after PG&E / Ghost Kitchens / Why do people leave SF?

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1. The cost estimate for finishing a high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles has increased yet again – this time by $1.3 billion. The overall cost to complete the project has fluctuated over the years – it now sits at $80.3 billion. However, the California High-Speed Rail Authority says it is still on pace to lay the first track in the project along California's Central Valley by 2022, a deadline set by the federal government. The Bay Area is set to be connected to the Central Valley by high-speed rail by 2031, with the full SF-to-LA line expected to start running in 2033. In 2008, the state estimated that the high-speed rail line would be able to make the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two hours and 40 minutes. — KPIX

2. Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign has released a three-minute campaign ad taking aim at Pacific Gas & Electric. The ad features environmental activists and residents who've been affected by fires in Northern California criticizing PG&E for high costs, a lack of communication, and maintenance issues, which caused fires. They argue that Sen. Sanders' Green New Deal would help prevent future wildfires and give control of the troubled utility to residents. PG&E plans to borrow money and sell stock to pay a $13.5 billion settlement to wildfire victims, but Gov. Gavin Newsom has been dissatisfied with PG&E's restructuring plans and has threatened a takeover of the utility. As of this writing, PG&E has not responded to the Sanders campaign ad. — YOUTUBE / BERNIE SANDERS

3. BART's weekend and night ridership have dropped by nearly 10 million people since 2015, according to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle. Ridership during the day, especially during peak commute times, has remained steady. A recent BART survey found that 29 percent of residents say they take the public transportation system less often on weekends than they did just last year. The top reasons behind the decreased ridership, according to commuters, are sparse service on weekends, crime, and homelessness. — KTVU

4. Blogger Ryan Kulp moved away from San Francisco in 2016 and wondered if his reasons for moving were the same as others – he decided to do a deep data dive to find out. He scrubbed Medium, Wordpress.com, Quora, and personal blogs for every time someone said they were moving out of San Francisco. He found 137 individual posts (organized in a handy spreadsheet) that detailed the author's reason for ditching SF. His findings? According to the raw data, personal finances and the high cost of living appear to be the number one reason people move away. Of course, he also suspects politics and social issues play a part in these decisions, though the writers (overwhelmingly on Medium) were hesitant to list things like homelessness, sanitation, or "Trump" in their blog posts. — RYAN KULP

5. Writer Joe Kukura stopped by one of San Francisco's many "ghost kitchens," places made to look like real restaurants on delivery apps, but which are, in reality, single kitchens operating as many as 20 different brands. The ghost kitchen Kukura visited is at a "mildly converted warehouse" at 60 Morris Street in SoMa, which he described as a "dirty and depressing complete dump." The kitchen operates "restaurants" like Red Corn Taqueria, Burger Bytes, and Fork & Ladle, specifically for delivery on apps like Grubhub and Postmates. The Wall Street Journal also stopped by the location in November shortly after it opened, revealing it to be the work of CloudKitchens, a startup founded by former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. — BROKE-A*S STUART

6. Bay Area Chinese restaurants say their businesses have seen at least 50 percent fewer patrons in recent weeks, owing to the coronavirus health crisis. According to industry experts, racist sentiment surrounding Chinese people (under a misguided assumption that they are likely to carry the virus) and a significant drop in tourism from China are the primary culprits. Similar drops in business have been reported among Chinatown neighborhoods and American Chinese restaurants around the U.S. — EATER SF

7. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is releasing a book this year, described as "part political awakening and part memoir." The book will be published by the former Super Bowl starter's own publishing house, Kaepernick Publishing, with an audiobook released through a partnership with Audible. Kaepernick says the memoir will "tell the story of my evolution, and the events that led me to protest systemic oppression, in hopes that it will inspire others to rise in action." — HYPEBEAST

8. McClatchy Co., the owner of the Sacramento Bee and dozens of other newspapers nationwide, has filed for bankruptcy. If a bankruptcy court accepts McClatchy's plan, more than 7 million shares of stock would be canceled and the company would be operated by Chatham Asset Management LLC, a hedge fund that also owns the National Enquirer. The Sacramento Bee and other newspapers will continue to operate as usual as it seeks bankruptcy protection. McClatchy says at fault is the company's 75-year-old pension plan, "with 10 pensioners for every single active employee." — THE WRAP

9. District Attorney Chesa Boudin has proposed a $1.5 million fund that would fix broken windows for car burglary victims. Boudin says the fund would only be used for those whose insurance does not cover the broken windows. The money will be spent on locally-owned glass businesses "so that money that is being spent by the city goes right back into jobs here in San Francisco." — KRON

10. Supervisor Rafael Mandelman has introduced legislation that would end a ban dating back to the 1980s on gay bathhouses. In 1984, the city sued bathhouse operators, claiming they were a threat to public health. A judge at the time allowed certain operations to remain open if "monitors" could ensure that those inside were practicing safe sex. Those who ignored the regulations were closed down. Mandelman wants the city to end the ban and provide condoms and educational materials on safe sex at the locations. — ADVOCATE

Jonathan Harris is a writer for Inside.com. Previously, he wrote for The Huffington Post, TakePart.com, and the YouTube channel What’s Trending. Follow him on Twitter @countrycaravan.

Edited by Sheena Vasani, staff writer at Inside.

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