The GrowSF Report: Four alarm fire in Hayes Valley
PLUS: A record-breaking 300 people donated $300k to Dump Dean!
What You Need To Know
Here’s what happened around the city for the week of July 31, 2023:
- Four alarm fire in Hayes Valley
- A record-breaking 300 people donated $300k to Dump Dean
- SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin caught lying about autonomous cars again
- Liberty Mutual stops offering business owner insurance in California
- Car driven off Sanchez Stairs - the latest on the case
- World’s first room temperature superconductor discovered?
Four alarm fire in Hayes Valley: City Hall was warned of dangers
A four alarm fire consumed 24 homes under construction in Hayes Valley, writes George Kelly for The Standard. The building, dubbed “300 Octavia” would have filled a very narrow strip of land that was made available after the demolition of the central freeway about a decade after it was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Over 140 firefighters fought the blaze, which started around 5am on August 1, 2023.
Commentators were quick to point blame — shoddy construction! homeless encampments! wire splicing! open-flame cooking! — but the fire marshal has yet to release any official word on the cause of the blaze. However, this location is known by neighbors and the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association (HVNA) as the site of frequent fires and encampments. In fact, HVNA even warned Supervisor Dean Preston and City Hall about the dangerous conditions last January, but these warnings were ignored.
The letter listed three fires near the site of Tuesday morning's blaze:
April 25: A tent encampment went up in flames in the median of Octavia Boulevard and Hickory Street.
April 24: A construction site was set on fire near an encampment at Octavia and Hickory.
March 31: A car was set aflame near a tent encampment and construction site at Octavia and Hickory, a block from Tuesday's fire.
Luckily, no one was injured, but neighbors were displaced and their belongings and homes suffered from water and smoke damage. We are disappointed in Supervisor Dean Preston and other city leaders for not taking the safety concerns seriously.
A record-breaking 300 people donated $300k to Dump Dean
Thanks to you, we just made history! A record-breaking 300 individual people donated $300,000 to Dump Dean Preston! This sets a new record for grassroots political action committee fundraising in the city — and we’re still 15 months away from the election!
SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin caught lying about autonomous cars again
For the second time in as many months, SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin was caught lying about the safety of autonomous vehicles. We last reported about SFMTA lying to California State regulators in the July 1 edition of the GrowSF Report. At that time, SFMTA dramatically overstated (lied about) the number of collisions autonomous vehicles were involved in, and who was at fault.
This time, Director Tumlin appeared on a podcast for urban mobility advocates and again lied about safety practices & safety record of autonomous vehicles, as well as how SFMTA and Waymo & Cruise have (or haven’t) worked together.
We've been informed that some of the statements made by Jeff Tumlin in this episode were not factual and misrepresented some practices of AV companies, including prior engagement with SFMTA.
Our elected officials must not lie to the public. Once could be a mistake, but twice is suspicious. A third time, if it comes, should be treated with utmost seriousness.
Liberty Mutual stops offering business owner insurance in California
Liberty Mutual, the fifth largest insurer in the world, recently announced that they would no longer be offering business owner insurance policies in California, and that current policies would be discontinued from December onwards. Liberty Mutual was also the fifth largest property and casualty insurer in California, behind State Farm, Farmers, Berkshire Hathaway and Allstate.
Between the growing incidence of larger disasters like fires, as well as unabated property crime within urban areas, insuring homes and businesses in California is becoming a losing proposition, which is why Liberty Mutual decided to pull out. State Farm, Allstate and other insurers have halted new home-coverage policies for similar reasons. Dealing with the fires, a consequence of climate change, may be beyond the purview of our local government, but we can (and should!) do something about crime, break-ins and theft.
Car driven off Sanchez Stairs - the latest on the case
Although SFPD caught two suspects in connection with the carjacking that led to the stolen car being driven off of the Sanchez Street stairs, DA Brooke Jenkins announced the suspects had been released, causing a firestorm online. But despite what the media reported, DA Jenkins hasn’t dropped charges. Suspects can only be held for up to 48 hours without charges, so she did as required by law: release the suspects, pending charges, while she builds the case.
The individual who was allegedly carjacked is refusing to cooperate with the police, which is complicating the case. The DA’s office has stated that they are continuing to investigate to build a solid case for prosecution.
World’s first room temperature superconductor discovered?
This didn’t happen in SF, but it’s big enough news that we have to cover it.
A small team from Korea University (Sukbae Lee, Jihoon Kim, Hyun-Tak Kim, Sungyeon Im, SooMin An, Keun Ho Auh, and Young-Wan Kwon) released a bombshell research paper claiming the creation of the world’s first room-temperature ambient-pressure superconductor (RTAPS). Here’s a video of the possible superconductor partially levitating in a magnetic field, courtesy of the New York Times.
This publication set off a flurry of replication attempts in labs around the world, with the first possible replication coming from an Indian lab, though the highest quality replications so far have come from China: one from Southeast University in China (see video) which showed low temperature superconductivity and possible room temperature, and the first published replication showing levitation from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) in Wuhan.
Published yesterday morning, the first replication in the USA was done by Andrew McCalip in a private lab at Varda Space in Los Angeles (do check out his video!). And, finally, published just hours ago, another Chinese lab shows the highest quality replication yet in this video of full levitation of their superconductor.
RTAPS will revolutionize the world of electronics — eliminating losses in power lines, eliminating waste heat from electronics, improving batteries and electric generators, and possibly enabling fusion to name a few. Read this Twitter thread for a deep dive into the possible applications.
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Your Action Plan
Now that you know what’s happening, help us shape what happens next:
Back to School: Coffee & Donuts with the School Board
Join the Westside Family Democratic Club for conversation, coffee, & donuts with SF School Board Members Jenny Lam, Lainie Motamedi, and Lisa Weissman-Ward. Co-hosted by GrowSF.
Learn from our school board leaders about their priorities this year, followed by a short Q&A focused on how we can all collaborate to strengthen our public schools.
WHEN: Sunday, August 20, 2023, 10:00 AM 11:30 AM
WHERE: Rossi Playground - Edward St Annex, 61 Edwards Street
GrowSF August Happy Hour
Join GrowSF for a drink!
WHEN: Tuesday, August 8, 6-8pm
WHERE: Orbit Room, 1900 Market St
The Spirit of San Francisco
There’s a lot to love about our city and the Bay Area. Here’s what makes it great. Brought to you by The Bold Italic.
What we’re doing this week
The music festival with all our favorite artists is finally back in Golden Gate Park. We’re going to be there with a bunch of stories for you, from performances to hot fashion, good eats and better drinking.
WHEN: Aug. 11-13 with layers of daily performance times
WHERE: Golden Gate Park
What we’re writing about
The X is dead — Long live the X?
Overnight, a gigantic X effigy sprung up across the street of journalist Christopher Beale’s apartment, bathing his living room in pulsing white light, like a disco or fire alarm, or both. On Monday, crews removed the short-lived tribute to Elon Musk’s social network, but not before making Beale famous. A short video of the installation garnered Beale nearly 40 million views, on X, of course.
Noodle in a Haystack: Ramen-inspired tasting menu from self-taught chefs
We were already curious but skeptical about the pricey ($185 extended menu, $130 weeknight menu) cult ramen pop-up, opened by husband-wife duo Yoko and Clint Tan in spring 2022 as their first brick-and-mortar. It looks abandoned: an unmarked corner space with covered-up windows and a 10-seat counter in the Inner Richmond, next to an Eastern European grocer and longtimer My Tofu House.
What we’re celebrating
A 4-day carnival is coming to downtown SF
With our downtown neighborhoods struggling with crime and open-air drug use, we’re excited to see this four-day carnival in August complete with a Ferris wheel, a 100-foot super slide and spinning teacups in the city’s Civic Center neighborhood, writes David Sjostedt for SF Standard.
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