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News, people, culture, events and the trends shaping the Bay area

A woman was killed in a fast-burning San Francisco fire. Firefighters were called to a three-unit structure in SF's Inner Sunset at 9:48 Saturday night, and when they arrived they discovered that a swiftly-moving blaze had taken over 1806, 1808 and 1810 8th Avenue, which is near Noriega Street and about six blocks south of Golden Gate Park. About 100 firefighters battled the 3-alarm fire, which spurred evacuations in the area and left one of the firefighters injured. Killed in the flames was Jessica Castro, described as a "neighborhood fixture" known for her SF-Giants themed outfits. Fifteen people, two of whom are presently out of the country, have been displaced. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. - ABC 7


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A Marin County hiker was airlifted to the hospital following a rattlesnake attack. Like bears, rattlesnakes hibernate in the winter and reemerge when spring arrives. As the weather warms up, hikers say they are seeing more on Bay Area trails - and Sunday, a hiker on Marin's Mount Tamalpais received "multiple bites" from the venomous serpent. The 79-year-old victim was struck at around 2:15 p.m., with the California Highway Patrol sending a helicopter to rescue the man. He was airlifted to John Muir Medical Center, and was reportedly in stable condition as of Sunday evening. - KRON 4

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Record crowds are expected to celebrate the 4/20 'holiday' today. For years, cannabis fans have gathered in Golden Gate Park to celebrate - and smoke - the substance, but with recreational marijuana now legal in California, even more participants are expected on what's known as Hippie Hill. This year, the event is a bit more structured than in the past, as area businesses have raised around $200,000 to help the city pay for 183 portable toilets, 60 private security guards and clean up crews after the event. Dispensary owners, who say that today is their "Black Friday," also expect a boom in business. Those who don't partake should expect heavy traffic on streets near the park, and police say that they are devoting extra officers to the area. - KRON 4

A controversial Bay Area judge has broken his silence. Judge Aaron Persky burst onto the national scene following the trial of rapist Brock Turner. In June of 2016, when the former Stanford student was sentenced to only six months in jail for his crime (he served three months) followed by three years of probation, the case was seen as an example of how leniently men who sexually assault women - especially white men - are treated by the legal system. A move to recall Persky from the bench was mounted, and in June Santa Clara County voters will determine his fate. Persky, who has remained silent since the outcry began, met with the San Jose Mercury News's editorial board to speak out against the recall effort and defend Turner's sentence. “Recall proponents have said something to the extent of, 'We’re putting rape culture on trial.’ So now I am the face of rape culture," Persky said. "So you have to ask yourself, am I really the face of rape culture?” - SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS

Following attention for an incident of alleged racism in 2015, Berkeley's Elmwood Cafè has closed. The restaurant found itself at the center of a media tumult in 2015, when Berkeley comedian W. Kamau Bell said workers racially profiled him and tried to remove him from the premises. Recent news of the arrests of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks brought memories of the Berkeley incident back to Bell, who in a piece on CNN wrote that Elmwood's owner, who had publicly apologized to Bell, instead chose to "Wait for the media backlash to blow over and the return to business as usual while making but not measurably adhering to ANY OF THE CHANGES PROMISED." A "recent wave of negative Yelp reviews accusing the business of racism" resulted, and the restaurant has reportedly closed. Its Facebook page has been removed, its Instagram page set to private, and a sign on the door reads (sic throughout) "Elmwood Cafe Has Closed Our sincere gratitude to all in the community Thank you for your support through the years." - BERKELEYSIDE

San Francisco's mayor has vowed to clear out the Mission's homeless encampments, once and for all. Mayor Mark Farrell promised the aggressive crackdown to the Chronicle this weekend, saying "Enough is enough. We have offered services time and time again and gotten many off the street, but there is a resistant population that remains, and their tents have to go.” The sweep is expected to go down on Monday, a joint effort between the Department of Public Works, the Department of Public Health, and the SFPD. Farrell says that in clean-ups past, campers would be back days later or move just a few blocks away, but this time they would not be allowed to return. “The tents are a public safety hazard for the people living in them, and for the residents of San Francisco,” Farrell said. “And they are gone.” - SF CHRONICLE

Some Bay Bridge geese got a police escort Saturday. The group of geese were spotted Saturday messing around on the westbound shoulder of the San Francisco Bay Bridge before Treasure Island. The California Highway Patrol says they cruised carefully next to the two adult geese and multiple goslings for "several miles" before safely escorting them off the structure and "to a safe place more suitable for wildlife." - NBC BAY AREA


A shooting in San Francisco's Bayview District left five people injured and one dead late Friday night. According to the SFPD, it was 11 p.m. near 3rd Street and Quesada Avenue when shots were fired at the group of male victims. One, a 20-year-old man who has yet to be publically identified, was killed. A second, 24-year-old victim was left with life-threatening injuries and four others (aged 26, 23, 31 and 19) were also struck by gunfire, NBC Bay Area reports. All were SF residents, police say. The reason behind the shooting remains under investigation, but no arrests have been made nor is any suspect information available.

A San Francisco system of surveillance cameras is growing, SF Gate reports. Once a pilot program of six privately-owned cameras in the city's popular tourist/shopping zone, the Union Square Business Improvement District has since raised $3 million in grant money to outfit 40 property owners with the devices. "Midway through 2017 the organization had more than 500 police requests for camera footage that resulted in approximately 200 arrests in the Union Square and Tenderloin areas," they say, and Tenderloin Supe/Mayoral candidate Jane Kim says that the system "has been limited to specific incidents and have actually led to arrests in multiple homicides." Now the Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District is considering a similar network, with a plan to share costs for the system currently under discussion.

Ghost Ship landlord Derick Almena will remain in jail as he awaits trial, a judge has ruled. Alemena (age 48) and business partner Max Harris (age 28) face 36 charges of involuntary manslaughter for the lives lost in a December 2, 2016 fire at their Oakland arts collective. In a hearing Friday, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy said that Alemena, who argued that he should be granted release with non-monetary alternatives, must remain in jail on $750,000 bond. Alemena says that during his release, he'd stay with his family in Lake County and wear an ankle monitor. Prosecutors successfully argued, the East Bay Times reports, that Lake County's 3.5 hour distance from the Bay Area would give Alemena a "head start" should he choose to flee. 


Scientific method: Once known as Bill Nye, the Science Guy, the knowledge enthusiast has since mounted a campaign to stop the spread of anti-scientific thought and action. As part of that, he's having a public conversation with KQED Senior Science Editor Kat Snow at 7 p.m. on April 25 at the SFJAZZ Center. Tickets start at $15.

Snap shot: Models will be working the runway at 2225 Jerrold Avenue at 7 p.m. on April 26, when the Academy of Art throws its annual fashion show. The free-to-attend show will feature the creative talent of students studying in the school's Fashion Design, Menswear Design, Knitwear Design, and Textile Design disciplines. RSVP here to make sure you get a seat.

Oh la la: Every Tuesday at 6:45 p.m., the Alliance Française of San Francisco hosts a French film viewing, all with the goal of promoting knowledge and appreciation of the French language and Francophone cultures. This week the selection is 2011 Cannes Jury Prize winner Polisse, a drama about a police department's Child Protection Unit that will be screened with English subtitles. Tickets start at $5.


San Francisco's Planning Department has unveiled a new plan to protect cultural and economic diversity in the Mission District. Called Mission Action Plan 2020, the set of proposals includes new regulations for the number of bars and restaurants in the area, preservation of spaces that allow light manufacturing, and would require special authorization for businesses that replace so-called “legacy businesses,” Mission Local reports. Assuming the plan is approved by the Board of Supervisors, it should go into effect this summer.

In an effort to offset San Francisco's carbon footprint, the city is planting 2000 more trees over the next two years. The effort will cost about $4 million, UPI reports, and is "expected to be worked into the upcoming budget." The ultimate goal is to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050, so in addition to the tree effort "the city plans to make 80 percent of all travel in the city by a sustainable mode of transit." The strategy behind the latter project has yet to be revealed.

A huge new development is up for approval next week. Socketsite reports that the proposed building at 1140 Harrison Street will include "a mix of 131 studios, 90 one-bedrooms and 150 two or three-bedroom apartments," to rise up to seven stories. Included in the space will be a gym, dog spa, bike lounge, and lobbies as well as 6,600 square feet of ground floor commercial space. If it receives Planning Department approval, the structure will break ground this year and finish construction in mid-2021.


Cal day: On April 21, UC Berkeley throws open its doors to the public, offering over 400 free lectures, performances, tours, concerts, and more. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can even create a schedule for yourself here.

You spin me right round: April 21 is also Record Store Day, with vinyl purveyors the world over offering special events and sales. "This is a day for the people who make up the world of the record store, " organizers say, "the staff, the customers, and the artists—to come together and celebrate the unique culture of a record store and the special role these independently owned stores play in their communities." You can find out what your local shop is up to here.

Vertigo on the go: Director Alfred Hitchcock loved San Francisco, and some of his most iconic shots are set in the city. San Francisco City Guides has the scoop on where the auteur made his mark, via their free Alfred Hitchcock's San Francisco walking tour on April 22 at 11 a.m. Participants should meet at the fountain in Huntington Park, off Sacramento Street between Taylor and Mason, then expect to cover several blocks through Nob Hill and Union Square.

The Bay Area's notoriously nasty commutes might cause gas to hit $4 per gallon. While AAA reports that the national gas price is $2.73 as of Thursday morning, that average is far higher in California, with Gas Buddy noting a state average of $3.56. But in the Bay Area, $3.56 might soon look like a bargain, as analysts say that in a few weeks prices could reach $4 a gallon. The reason, says a AAA spokesperson, is higher demand, as "Bay Area commuters are driving longer distances oftentimes because of work." Also a factor is the cars those commuters drive, as "consumers are starting to choose bigger vehicles again," many of which burn fuel at a higher rate than a compact car. - NBC BAY AREA

A Western Addition mansion will become a new restaurant and hotel. Once known as San Francisco's priciest Airbnb (at a cool $10,000 a night), the historic Payne Mansion at 1409 Sutter Street has been up for sale for "the past few years" with an asking price of $13.5 million, the SF Business Times reports. But now it's been purchased by the father-and-son hospitality team Bernard and Jonathan Rosenson, who operate multiple other hotels and restaurants across California. The duo has renamed the space "the Mansion on Sutter," and its restaurant "1881" (the year the structure was built). It's currently being renovated, with a grand opening planned for July. - SF CHRONICLE

A local magazine is predicting that Mark Leno has already lost the race for SF mayor. There was a time when former state Senator Mark Leno seemed certain to become San Francisco's next mayor, the top contender in the 2019 race for Room 200. The political picture changed with Ed Lee's untimely death, however, and former interim Mayor London Breed rose as a player to be reckoned with in this June's election. Though a recent poll still places Leno at the top of the charts, San Francisco Magazine asks in a piece published Wednesday "Why does it feel like Mark Leno’s already lost the mayoral race?" His identity as a gay man hasn't been enough to rally voters, they write, and "his insistence on civility and decorum may end up being a liability in an election season dominated by disgust, fear, and anger." Do you agree with their assessment? - SAN FRANCISCO MAGAZINE

A 12-year-old kid has determined that a well-known Oakland landmark is bad for the environment. The "Painted Rock" at Marjorie Saunders Park has been emblazoned with messages for over 50 years, traditionally decorated with shout-outs and well wishes. It took 12-year-old Cameron Cox to determine that that tradition is toxic, as when it rains the water running off the rock contains "harmfully high levels of levels of acetone, butanone, benzene and other volatile compounds." In times of heavier precipitation, that water then enters Sausal Creek, which feeds into the San Francisco Bay. “It’s disgusting, because one gallon of paint can contaminate up to one million gallons of water, and that can cause cancer for the people who eat the fish that are caught in the bay,” Cox says. City officials are now considering steps to change the painting practice, with one proposing "chalk, or a biodegradable, environmentally-friendly alternative." - EAST BAY EXPRESS

Demonstrators are protesting at SFO after a peace activist was held at the airport. Filipino peace activist Jerome Aba had been invited to the U.S. by several church institutions, with the plan that he would speak on the human rights situation in the Philippines at several ecumenical events. However, when he arrived at SFO this week he was reportedly denied access to the country over "an unspecified problem with his visa." According to a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, they do "not consider country of origin or human rights activism to be determining factors for admissibility," but they declined to comment on Aba's case, even though he's said to have meetings scheduled with religious and government officials, including members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Protesters gathered at SFO to fight for his entry to the country, and "are also launching a phone barrage to the Customs and Border Protection Agency for those outside of the San Francisco/Bay Area." - ABC 7


People who've been boycotting Oakland’s Boot & Shoe Service over sexual misconduct allegations against its owner might be able to return, as he's reportedly sold it to a former staffer and her spouse. Eater SF reports that owner Charlie Hallowell, who's allegedly sexually harassed a slew of employees, sold the venue to former employee Jen Cremer and her husband Richard Clark. Cremer's a former assistant general manager at Pizzaiolo, Clark's a former associate general manager of Tartine Manufactory, so it's safe to describe the pair as "industry veterans." They'll take the place over within the next two months.

Beloved Mission restaurant Boogaloo’s is back, baby. Shuttered following a fire two years ago, the spot reopened Wednesday, SF Weekly reports. Back are brunch faves including their huevos rancheros, Nicky’s polenta, and the temple o’ spuds. Eater SF has a shot of the new menu, and says operating hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

It's official: SF's first Shake Shack will be in the shuttered Real Foods Co space at the corner of Fillmore and Filbert, Socketsite reports. That is, if the city approves: the formal application to convert the space at 3060 Fillmore "into a full service restaurant 'd.b.a. Shake Shack'" has just been filed. With over 160 locations worldwide, the company will have to manage the city's chain retail restrictions, making this the first step in what's sure to be a very long road.


Love your mother: Saturday, April 21 is Earth Day, which means celebrations and events across the Bay Area. Funcheap SF has a great list of local and sustainable activities, including clean-up events, city-specific celebrations, and festivals.

Skating party: If the weather is fair, Midnight Rollers' Friday Night Skate party is on. A weekly event, skaters take off from the Ferry Building at 9 p.m., heading toward Pier 39 and beyond as "tourists stand mesmerized." You're asked to wear helmets and protective gear, to observe the rules of the road, and to avoid drinking booze during the event. 

Cry, little sister: Sure, you loved The Lost Boys, but did you love it enough to drive up to Petaluma to hear star Kiefer Sutherland's country croonings? That's what the city's Mystic Theatre is hoping on Sunday, April 22. The Flatliner apparently released his first C&W record in 2016, and is touring in its continued support. Tickets start at $28 and are available here.

A controversial statewide housing bill has reached the end of the road. Proposed by SF Supervisor turned California State Senator Scott Wiener, SB827 would have removed cities' ability to zone themselves and forced them to allow the construction of apartment and condominium buildings of roughly four to five stories within a half mile of public transit lines. Opposed by environmentalists and local leaders, it's been described as the most hotly contested bill of this legislative year. And now it's dead, crushed in its first committee meeting. “Unless something significant changes, SB 827 won’t move forward,” Wiener says, but plans to introduce a new version of the proposal next year. - SF BUSINESS TIMES

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