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The Grow SF Report, Vol. 31
The latest updates on SF government progress, policies, and priorities
What You Need To Know
Here’s what happened around the city this week:
Injustice for a Victim and a Victim’s Advocate
Heather Knight asks an important question in her San Francisco Chronicle column this week: How can 16 days in jail provide any justice for killing someone? A man sped through city streets at 80 miles per hour, ran a red light, and then plowed into 26-year-old cyclist Kate Slattery without stopping. The suspect only spent 16 days in jail. His final sentence was just three years probation, after a deal with the district attorney’s office.
Just when you think the case couldn't be more shocking or tragic, a longtime victim advocate in the district attorney’s office was fired after speaking his truth in open court.
It was Giles Feinberg’s job to advocate for victims and he spoke out at the recent sentencing hearing. “He seemed to blame the incredibly slow pace of San Francisco’s criminal justice system and the many different prosecutors assigned to the case over the years for the light sentence,” Knight reported.
Kate Slattery was killed five years ago. Except for just 16 days in jail, the suspect has been free on bail ever since. There’s been three district attorneys in that time. The case was only recently resolved with a deal by Chesa Boudin’s office that gave the suspect three years probation going forward.
“As you walk free among society, know that the time thrown at this case, the five years, afforded you this moment,” Feinberg told the suspect at the recent sentencing hearing. “If this case happened anywhere else in the state of California or the Bay Area, for that matter, you likely would be midterm on a prison sentence.”
Soon after those remarks, Feinberg was fired by Boudin.
More Walgreens Closures in San Francisco’s Shoplifting Saga
Walgreens announced five more stores will join the 17 it has already closed in San Francisco this year because “retail theft across our San Francisco stores has continued to increase in the past few months to five times our chain average.”
The latest list of closures includes the infamous 300 Gough Street location. That’s where an especially brazen heist was caught on video that went viral — a man filled a garbage bag full of loot and rode down the aisle on a bicycle and out the door.
Our shoplifting woes have become national news and Supervisor Ahsha Safai told the New York Times that City Hall “needs to act with a sense of urgency to reduce and deter the number of incidents of commercial retail theft.”
Prosecution rates for shoplifting fell from 70 to 44 percent between 2019 and 2020, and Walgreens blames the San Francisco closures on “organized” shoplifting that has gotten out of control.
Not everyone, however, believes retail crime in San Francisco rises to the level seen in viral videos. A recent OpEd in the San Francisco Chronicle by a Chicago resident claimed that we’re experiencing a “shoplifting panic.” He said corporate greed is the real reason for store closures since Walgreens had long planned to eliminate 200 stores nationwide to maximize profit.
Yet the New York Times reported extensively on “San Francisco’s shoplifting surge.” And Target says it's also a target of crime. The retailer announced earlier this year that San Francisco stores would only remain open until 6pm because of an “alarming rise” in shoplifting.
Here/Say Media profiled a former Target security guard who quit his job because he didn’t feel safe. Rafael Gutierrez said he witnessed bold and shameless shoplifting every day. People filled laundry baskets and garbage bags with items. They emptied shelves and walked out with impunity. Some encounters turned violent, like when he had to dodge wine bottles being smashed on the floor.
While retail crime affects the inventory and bottom line of businesses, the residents of San Francisco are also victims. Some neighborhoods lose their only pharmacy when a Walgreens closes, which puts a burden on many seniors and families with children.
“Under the ordinance, dubbed ‘cars to casas,’ groups looking to build housing on ‘car-centric’ properties would no longer have to obtain a conditional use authorization from the city Planning Commission — a process that can take 10 to 18 months.
In addition, the legislation, which will be introduced at the Board of Supervisors next week, would relax density limits so that builders could squeeze more apartments into a building envelope. The bill would also allow up to four units to be built on car-centric properties in neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed three bills into law that ease alcohol restrictions in California, including the sale of takeout cocktails and allowing businesses to sell alcohol in outdoor areas like parklets. Cheers!
Your Action Plan
Now that you know what’s happening, help us shape what happens next:
Follow the Money
San Francisco’s public school district faces a massive budget crisis, which could lead to a state takeover. Join the SF Parent Coalition for a Q&A on the budget crisis with former School Board Commissioner Rachel Norton.
Wednesday October 20
RSVP for Zoom webinar
Get a Flu Shot
The San Francisco Department of Public Health strongly recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older get their yearly flu vaccine. With COVID-19 and the upcoming flu season overlapping, health officials say it's more important than ever to get vaccinated against influenza this year.
Schedule a shot with your Doctor, local pharmacy, or check out this site for more info.
Fun in SF
Check out some of our favorite fun activities happening in SF right now:
Mission Bit Gala
Mission Bit is an incredible organization that teaches kids in SF high schools how to code, for free! Their annual gala is on November 4th in City Hall. Click here to buy tickets. Do you want to get more involved with Mission Bit? Click here to donate or volunteer.
Love the Grow SF Report? Share it
Help Grow SF grow! Share our newsletter with your friends. The bigger we are, the better San Francisco will be.
Yes, there is good stuff on Twitter. Here’s some of it:
The SFUSD budget is already in a bad situation, with the state threatening to take it over. Now, a recent analysis shows enrollment has dropped 4.7%, which will result in even less money for the struggling district.
Where are the most car-free households in SF? No surprise they are almost entirely on the east side of the city.
Update: SF COVID-19 Vaccinations
With the delta variant spreading, it’s important that everyone who is eligible get vaccinated.
Delta variant update
If you received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine and are worried about the Delta variant, San Francisco’s Department of Public Health Adult Immunization & Travel Clinic (AITC) and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (ZSFG) are offering supplemental mRNA shots.
A recent study shows that if you got the J&J vaccine, a booster dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine could produce a stronger immune response than a second dose of J&J's vaccine.