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

CA's Supreme Court has blocked a local VC's plan to break up the state from the Nov ballot. On Wednesday, the justices ordered the secretary of state not to put the initiative before voters, saying significant questions have been raised about its validity. The plan to break California up into three separate states is the brainchild of Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper, who also made headlines last month for his steadfast support of disgraced blood-testing company Theranos. This has been Draper's third attempt to get a California breakup on the ballot, a quest that has cost him millions. Following the court's decision, Draper said that "the insiders are in cahoots and the establishment doesn’t want to find out how many people don’t like the way California is being governed.” - SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS

Electric scooters might be worse for the environment than we thought. When SF first sought to regulate electric scooter rental companies, the businesses shot back that they were a clean and green way to commute -- a virtuous option being quashed by regulators. But when reporter Nuala Sawyer tried to determine the ecological impact of these scooters based on the vehicles' country of origin and their estimated lifespan, those same companies fell silent, refusing to respond to her queries. Doing her own research, she's determined that the devices go through non-recyclable batteries like mad, and that the cottage industry around picking up and charging scooters actually increases traffic instead of decreasing it. It's an eye-opening look at an emerging issue. - SF WEEKLY

New potential designs have been released for Golden Gate Park's fenced dog run. Long known as a urine-soaked dirt lot populated by dog walkers of the professional and amateur variety, the canine playground inside Golden Gate Park at 39th Avenue and Fulton Street has long been due for a revamp. This week, SF Rec and Parks unveiled two possible options for the remodeled park, both of which include separate play areas for large and small dogs, dog play equipment and obstacles, and refreshed landscaping and paving. The main difference between the two concepts is the amount of space carved out for the small dog play area, 17 percent vs. 23 percent. Park users are encouraged to cast their votes here. - RICHMOND SF BLOG

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eBay is laying off hundreds of Bay Area residents. According to a filing with the California Employment Development Department, the company plans to lay off 300 people in its Bay Area offices, including those in San Jose, San Francisco and Brisbane. The company also made a mass layoff last month in its Portland, Oregon HQ. The company says the cutbacks are part of its global workforce reduction strategy, and according to its Q1 earnings report, profits are down at the company by 60.7 percent over last year. - SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS

The Golden State Warriors have extended coach Steve Kerr's contract. Under Kerr, the Warriors have won three championships in his first four seasons, accumulating a 63-20 playoff record that ranks as the highest winning percentage in NBA history among coaches who have coached a minimum of 25 games. “We’re excited to have Steve under contract and poised to lead our team for the next several years,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said. While the terms of the deal were not released, Kerr just finished the fourth year of a five-year, $25-million deal, so it's likely that the new contract will make Kerr among one of the highest-paid coaches in the league. - ASSOCIATED PRESS

A home invasion robbery has rocked a quiet San Francisco neighborhood. Police say the incident occurred at around 2 a.m. Tuesday on the 900 block of Baker Street, which is between Turk Street and Terra Vista Avenue in the Anza Vista neighborhood. According to the SFPD, as a resident entered the building, two ski-masked suspects attacked him at gunpoint, restrained him with duct tape, and ordered him to open a safe in the residence. When a female resident entered the multi-unit building, the robbers grabbed her, as well. The suspects stole the victims' valuables and fled, police say, and remain at large. - ABC 7

BART's plan to prevent elevator urination appears to be working. According to the transit agency, elevator attendants placed through the community-based organization Hunters Point Family "make sure elevators are clean and usable while also pointing people who need a restroom in the right direction." The program at Civic Center and Powell Street stations, which launched in April, "has been overwhelmingly positive," and BART has moved to fund it through November of 2019. Feedback from riders applauds how much cleaner the elevators are now that people aren't peeing in them, with one rider saying "we would love to see [the program] expanded to our home stations in the Mission." - ABC 7


A scan of my RSS's reader's "Food" folder (yes, I have a food coverage folder) shows that everyone's making fun of an "experiential water bar" opening in Cow Hollow. From bottled water company Hint, the new Union Street venue allows tastings of the company's offerings, making it "everything you and your chia pudding-eating buddies have been waiting for," the Merc reports. Eater SF is ever harsher, suggesting that Hint change its tagline to “drink moneyed white mom lifestyle accoutrements” after seeing that the water bar also offers "branded sunscreen, lip balm, phone chargers, Bluetooth speakers, clothing, and Popsockets." 

If you're feeling the compulsion to eat al fresco, Curbed SF has you covered with a map of SF's 13 best spots to have a picnic. Don't forget, they remind you, that some of the bigger parks tend to have more grills available for public use, and some require permits with large groups. That said, if you witness illicit grilling or an unpermitted gathering, take our advice and just let it slide.

Eight years after its opening on Market Street between Castro and Noe Streets, Bisou Bistronomy has shut its doors, Hoodline reports. The spot closed last month, with the last service a Sunday brunch on Pride weekend. Plans for the space are as yet unclear.


LED yoga: On Friday, head to the Midway Gallery & Artist Studios (900 Marin Street in SF) for a one-of-kind, one-night-only yoga session held under the magical glow of Christopher Schardt's awe-evoking LED art piece "Constellation." The event runs from 6:30-9:30, and tickets are free with RSVP.

On a boat: Always wanted to be a dragon boater but didn't know how to begin? On Saturday morning, you can take a free dragon boat adventure at Redwood City's Bair Island Aquatic Center. Participants will learn how to paddle the giant racing canoes and "cheer with new friends as you cross the finish line." Sign up to attend here.

Mario Woods day: Fatally shot by SFPD in 2015, the death of Mario Woods cast a harsh light on San Francisco police and spurred a number of high-profile reforms. July 22 is the anniversary of his birthday, as well as the third annual Mario Woods day in the city. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., folks will gather at Martin Luther King Jr. Park (5701 3rd Street in SF) for food, entertainment, kids activities, and an ongoing call for social justice.

UC Berkeley has fired six campus cops for allegedly sleeping in the library instead of working. It's been alleged that the UCPD officers were sleeping and hanging out in a shuttered campus math library during late night shifts, but would claim that they were out patrolling other buildings. The officers have been on paid suspension since October 31 of last year, while the allegations were investigated. On Tuesday, the investigation apparently concluded, but the school is keeping mum on what took so long to substantiate the claims. “Because police officer personnel matters are confidential, we cannot discuss any particulars of any individual case," a spokesperson said. - DAILY CALIFORNIAN


The SFMTA has decided to make a pilot program allowing free median parking along a stretch Dolores Street permanent, the Ex reports. Though informally allowed for years, as the numerous religious venues in the area said they needed the dispensation for their congregants, the so-called "parking for god" will now be formally allowed before 6 p.m. on Sundays. Those who take advantage of the weekend boon needn't be attending services, however, as the now-legit spots are open to everyone.

Muni riders will have a little more breathing room during their rides, as the SFMTA Board Tuesday agreed to extend the expiration time of a Muni transfer from 90 minutes to two hours. "Cash fares are increasing again," an organization called the San Francisco Transit Riders said via press release (I've uploaded it for you here), "and given that it can sometimes take more than 90 minutes for a one-way trip on Muni, we asked SFMTA to consider adding 30 additional minutes to the transfer to ensure riders can get to their final destination without having to pay twice.”

A pedestrian struck by the driver of a Google bus as she crossed the street is suing the search giant, the Merc reports, saying that the company has offered no compensation even though she says she had the right of way. 83-year-old Manning Yeung Tam had the green light and the "walk" signal as she crossed a North Beach intersection, but the driver of a Google bus making a turn struck her, pulling her beneath the vehicle. It took the intervention of several witnesses to save her, police say, as the driver said he hadn't realized he'd hit anyone. When an attorney for Tam approached Google seeking compensation for her medical bills, the company didn't respond, leading to the suit.


Splish splash: You've heard of drive-in movies, but what about dive-in? That's what's going down at the ECCL pool in Emeryville on July 20, starting at 6:30. While floating in the pool, enjoy an evening screening of "The Little Mermaid," with reservations available here.

Pickers' delight: The city of San Mateo’s annual Citywide Yard Sale is all set to go on Saturday, July 21 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. According to their map, a multitude of residents are releasing their unwanted possessions to someone who can make better use of them. Is that person you?

Build for good: From Thursday, July 19th through Saturday, July 21st from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., you can join Habitat for Humanity volunteers to make critical repairs for long-time homeowners in East Palo Alto. Participants should meet at MLK Park in East Palo Alto, and will be put to work rebuilding fences, repairing decks, painting houses, landscaping yards, and installing flooring. No experience is necessary, and you can register by emailing

BART's "Fleet of the Future" is spending a lot of time in the garage. The transit agency's 10 new Bombardier cars, which cost between $1.7 million and $2 million each, have needed 481 fixes since they hit the rails in January. (Fun fact: we were supposed to have 200 of those new cars by now, not 10.) They face "a full gamut of problems," a BART spokesperson says, including issues with their motors, drive trains and brakes as well as malfunctioning doors and improperly flashing signs. However, “It looks worse on paper than it is," he says. - KPIX

It appears that one of the Castro's last bookstores is getting closer to closing. Aardvark Books has been in business for nearly 40 years, but its landlord seems increasingly eager to sell the building in which it resides. Purchased by Aardvark's founder for $300,000 back in 1991, the structure is now leased to Aardvark’s new owner/operator. In September, it hit the market for $2.85 million, with the seller saying that the property "will be delivered vacant at close of escrow and unencumbered by any leasehold interest(s).” That price was just reduced to $2.45 M, suggesting that the seller is readier than ever to send the bookstore packing. - SOCKETSITE

Mayor London Breed has chosen a new D5 Supervisor. When Breed ascended to mayor, she left a vacancy in her District 5 seat -- but Monday she replaced herself with Vallie Brown, one of her former legislative aides. A community activist, Brown was also aide to D5 Supe Ross Mirkarimi, and most recently worked in the city's Office of Economic and Workforce Development. She will serve until the next scheduled election in November 2019. - SF EXAMINER

A movie starring Ali Wong and Keanu Reeves is currently filming in San Francisco. A Netflix rom-com entitled "Always Be My Maybe," the film also stars Daniel Dae Kim and Randall Park. According to early reports, Wong and Park play estranged childhood sweethearts who reconnect when Wong’s character — a celebrity chef opening a restaurant in San Francisco — runs into Park’s character, a happily struggling musician still living at home working for his dad. The SF shoot, which is expected to run through June 26, includes locations like the Fairmont Hotel, Golden Gate Park, the Contemporary Jewish Museum,  Chinatown, the Palace of Fine Arts, UN Plaza, as well as spots in the Haight, the Richmond, and along the Embarcadero. - SF CHRONICLE


Google employees who spoke critically of former employee James Damore's arguments that women are less biologically suited to work in the tech sector are being threatened, they say, after documents Damore submitted in court named them but redacted the names of staffers sympathetic to his cause. Damore is now suing Google, claiming that the company discriminates against men, conservatives and white people, using “illegal hiring quotas.”  To support his case, his legal filings include screenshots from internal Google forums. Judge Brian Walsh noted that only the names of those who supported Damore were concealed, and granted Google a protective order to prevent future identifications of employees, the Merc reports.

BART has announced a vacancy on their Police Citizen Review Board, and is seeking applicants to fill it. Board members are expected to work to increase the public's confidence in BART's Policing services by recommending and monitoring the implementation of changes to police policies, procedures and practices, as well as reviewing citizen allegations of on-duty police misconduct. You can apply for the vacant slot here.

A SoMa gas station's security robot is now the focus of a livestream, Curbed SF reports. YouTube user Brian King set up a stream of the Shell station on Eighth and Harrison Streets on Friday, "to capture any challenges the robot might face," he says. At publication time, the bot was posing for photographs for a patron, but doing little else. You can watch the gripping saga here.


Beer tour: On July 18 from 6:30-10:30 p.m., hop on the Drink SF Beer shuttle and get a tour of local makers -- all part of the San Francisco Brewers Guild's monthly Meet the Brewers nights. This month, you'll be checking out Ferment.Drink.RepeatLaughing Monk Brewing Co.Seven Stills Brewery & Distillery and Barebottle Brewing Co. You can hop on and off the bus, which will be operating on a continuous loop, at any stop. The bus is free to ride, beer purchases are on you.

1998 revisited: Iconic SF restaurant Le Colonial is turning the clock back 20 years on July 19, and from 5-11 p.m. will be celebrating two decades in the business with a throwback party including "special dishes and wine from 1998 (with the same price)." Tickets are available here, with a donation to Tenderloin non-profit Safe and Sound requested.

Celebrating art books: The SF Art Book Fair kicks off Friday from 6-10 p.m. with an opening night preview party that includes live music and refreshments at 1275 Minnesota Street. The event continues Saturday and Sunday with numerous talks, readings, and discussions. Admission is free. .

The SFPD says they've nabbed a serial rapist who masqueraded as a ride-hail driver. 37-year-old San Mateo resident Orlando Vilchez Lazo was arrested last week after police say they linked him to several rapes dating back as far back as 2013. Lazo would allegedly wait outside bars posing as a driver from a ride-hail service, pick up women who believed he was the ride they'd ordered, and rape them. Police say they believe more of Lazo's victims are out there, and urge them to come forward to help bring him to justice. In a statement, Lyft confirmed that Lazo had been a driver for the platform, but "as we were made aware of these horrific and deeply disturbing allegations, we immediately deactivated him." - CNN

Mayor London Breed took department heads to task during an unannounced tour of the Tenderloin. Typically, when an SF Mayor plans a public visit to an area, the area is "meticulously cleaned." On Friday afternoon, however, Breed invited SF city department heads to walk the streets of the Tenderloin just hours before the event, ensuring they'd all be seeing the oft-troubled area in its natural state. As Breed walked down the street, she saw a man prepping a needle to inject drugs, for example, and asked department heads questions like "for the people you can’t help, what’s the problem?” In an interview, Breed said "I will say there is more feces on the sidewalks than I’ve ever seen growing up here," and hastened to add that she believed the waste was human. "We have to make sure people who live here, [and] sadly, people who are homeless here, that they are also held accountable for taking care of our streets," she says. - SF CHRONICLE

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