The Veggie Boogie

What You Missed in Dolores Park Yesterday

While many clocked in at the salt mines yesterday, some were wise enough to call out, cut their finest work jeans off at the knee, and peddle over to Dolores.  SFist has a good run-down of the daytime action we missed (spoiler: there was lots of drinking and smoking. Weirdsies!), and the highlight is this mesmerizing carrot dancing itself into gross sweats.

Google Fuss

Activists File Lawsuit to Block Dollar Deal for Tech Shuttles

Alleging the continued violation of the California Vehicle Code and environmental review procedure, a lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court is asking for an injunction to block the deal between the city and corporate shuttle operators that allows the exclusive, private carriers the use of public bus stops at the low, low price of one dollar a stop.  According to a press release:

The Coalition for Fair, Legal and Environmental Transit, SEIU Local 1021, tenant activist Sara Shortt and labor leader Alysabeth Alexander filed suit today in San Francisco Superior Court seeking that the City’s “Commuter Shuttle Pilot Program” be set aside. The suit alleges that the project is in violation of the California Vehicle Code which prohibits any but common carriers (public buses, school buses) to pull into red zones, designated as bus stops. The suit also alleges that City abused its discretion and violated the California Environmental Quality Act by exempting the Shuttle Project from envinronmental review. […]

Alysabeth Alexander is Vice President of Politics for SEIU Local 1021. “Time and time again, we have seen a double standard from Mayor Ed Lee. He has one set of rules for the tech industry and another set of rules for the rest of us. In the last 3 years, the City issued over 13,000 citations to vehicles in red zones, but only 45 were issued to the tech buses.”

In 2006, a similar tactic was successfully employed by motoring enthusiasts to block the city-wide bicycle plan a year after it was similarly passed by the Board of Supervisors without an Environmental Impact Report. The EIR was eventually completed in 2008, certified in 2009, and the injunction was lifted in 2010.  In other words, this issue of Google Buses isn’t going away anytime soon, no matter how much folks may want it.

Of course, the suit probably won’t slow down the shuttles, which have safely ignored existing laws for years with the city’s backroom approval.

The full text of the lawsuit, below:

[Photo: Chris Martin]

Uptown Radio

Tune In As We Interview Supervisor David Campos This Afternoon on BFF.fm

We’ve written about the race to fill Tom Ammiano’s seat in the California State Assembly in the past, in which San Francisco Supervisors David Campos and David Chiu are facing off the the Democratic nomination on June 3rd.  Now we’re bringing the candidates to our weekly radio show on BFF.fm.

This week we’ll be talking to David Campos, a two-term member of the Board of Supervisors representing the Mission, Bernal Heights, and Portola in District 9.  We’ll be discussing city and district issues, his initiatives addressing housing and poverty, the race against Supervisor Chiu for the State Assembly, and what he hopes to accomplish as a member of the Assembly.

The show starts this afternoon at 4:30.  You can stream the interview live directly on BFF.fm, or on Soundtap.  And if you have any questions for the Supervisor, leave them in the comments (or send them to us on Twitter during the show) and we’ll do our best to ask them.

Save Neighborhood Venues!

Viracocha Looks to Go Legit

Despite its outward appearance, Viracocha is much more than a twee antiquary with an absolutely incredible shitter.  Beneath their wooden shop and all-star facility is Viracocha’s basement performance space, and that stage is truly a neighborhood treasure—it’s been host to almost every kind of event, from poetry, music, free university lectures, and all the way to artists like Blek le Rat doing live work.

But that venue closed at the end of December because it was a clear code violation (and lacked the necessary permits to boot).  As the SF Weekly reported:

No matter what you call it, there’s one rule at Viracocha: Keep it quiet. For the past four years, all of these events have technically been illegal, on account of fire codes, that one big staircase, and the lack of ADA compliance. No one’s allowed to talk publicly about the venue or promote its events.

But Viracocha’s venue has always been an open-secret, despite the rules.  Even the SF Fire Department is alleged to take rookies through the space as a “just in case” preparation.  And that’s exactly what got it shut down.

However, just as the owner began attempts to sell the business (and it’s hefty $10k/month lease), he’s filed for an entertainment permit to bring the venue above board—an assuredly necessary step in preserving its value and keeping the strong community Viracocha has built over the last four years.  And should you want to support their efforts, an Entertainment Commission hearing will be May 20th at 5:30pm in City Hall’s room 416.

[Photo: Kate Conger]

Commedia dell'arte

Airbnb Encourages Strange Bedfellows to Share Room Near City Hall

However you feel about Airbnb and it’s role in the fast-growing, short-term boarding racket, the fact that they managed to piss off typical foes like San Francisco Apartment Association executive director Janan New and longtime affordable housing activist Calvin Welch so much that the two would be willing to share the microphone at a rally on the steps of City Hall deserves some recognition.

“The practice is detrimental to our rent controlled housing stock,” said New, which is frankly not something you ever expect to hear from the head of the local landlord lobby.  But here we are!

Welch and New have joined forces opposing efforts from Board of Supervisors’ President David Chiu, who recently introduced legislation to regulate short-term rentals, but not nearly enough for their liking. And with four supervisors or 9,700 signatures, any ragtag team of misfits in San Francisco can get a measure or initiative on the ballot for November.

Dieting Drunk

"A Mean Nut" Turning Cafe Que Tal Into "Healthy Tacos & Wine Bar"

Last summer, we were bummed to hear that the undeniably chill Cafe Que Tal was forced to close by their landlord jacking the rent by 200% with two weeks notice.  Now the same landlord is turning the beloved coffee shop into a “healthy tacos and wine bar” spot. (Which makes perfect sense because nothing quite compliments being healthy like getting shitfaced on wine.)

According to Tablehopper, the boring tacos/wine bingeing gimmick is from Luisa Hanson, a landowner dubbed “ruthlessly nutty” and “a mean nut” (she’s a nut!) by the many restaurant and bar tenants she’s preyed on over the years.

Much like Que Tal’s situation, when San Francisco was going through its last dive bar purge in 2007, Hanson had a dragged out fight with now-closed John Barleycorn Pub.  The Guardian summed up her sleaze at the time:

Unfortunately for the Barleycorn, its lease is up, and it’s part of a building that was recently purchased by Luisa Hanson, a controversial local entrepreneur who owns several other properties in the area, including Luisa’s on Union Street and Delaney’s in the Marina. Hanson refuses to renew the Barleycorn’s lease, and it’s rumored she plans to turn the building into a new restaurant. […]

But the notoriously elusive Hanson — who’s obtained licenses for more than 22 businesses in the past two decades, most of which closed within two years or never opened at all — wouldn’t discuss the future of the ‘Corn, much less consider their [patron’s] pleas.

She then tried to reopen the space as Duffy’s Irish Pub, but it ultimately became Contraband Coffee.

So here we go again: another half-assed attempt at foodie relevance from a serial failure.  Only this time, the predatory shit is dumped in our backyard.

[Photo: WBTC]

It Lives!

La Rondalla Actually Opens

We never thought it would actually happen but, here we are: La Rondalla has made good on their latest “coming soon” claim.  Their front door is wide open (although no one was inside), and the place is decked out in “Grand Opening” regalia.

As previously reported, they definitely did dial down the kitsch (it’s mostly Corona promotional hand-outs), but considering the jury-rigged, college dorm-quality bedsheet banner flopping down their wall, we imagine the place will be livened up in no time.

Naturally, we’re intent on slamming our faces with enchiladas as soon as possible.  We’ll let you know how it goes.

Wheel Rights

Have You Registered Your Bike Serial Number?

If you’ve lost a few bikes to the city over the years, you can probably be excused for your fatalism.  Chained together outside an RV parked on Shotwell next to the FoodsCo the other day were three Bay Area Bike Share bikes, all of which are reportedly equipped with GPS transponders.  If they can’t keep those bikes secure or recover them when stolen (and let’s face it, they’re not even particularly nice bikes) then what hope do you have?  

Unfortunately, even if you keep your ride locked up indoors or thoroughly secure it on the street, at best you can only hope to slow down a dedicated thief.  If your bicycle is stolen in San Francisco, you may be able to improve your otherwise dismal chances of ever getting it back by registering it with SAFE Bikes.  A project of local non-profit Safety Awareness for Everyone in partnership with the San Francisco Police Department, simply fill out the web form to add your bike to the local database.

According to Bob Mionske, a lawyer who specializes in cycling-related cases, while 48 percent of stolen bikes are recovered, only five percent are returned to their owners.  And that’s presumably just the bike thefts that are even reported, many of which aren’t. SAFE Bikes won’t necessarily help keep your bike from getting nabbed, but if the police do find it, the chances you’ll be reunited may be somewhat increased.

Even if you don’t have much faith in the SFPD, it’s a good exercise in taking care of your bike in case the worst does happen.  That includes taking photos, writing down the serial number and keeping documentation like purchase and repair receipts to prove it’s yours.  You should probably consider also sending the info to the National Bike Registry, because once a bike is stolen from the streets of San Francisco it might be shipped to another market for resale, and there’s no guarantee the police in Los Angeles, Portland or even Oakland are going to check San Francisco’s list.

Besides, you’re also going to need all that information handy anyway when you file your police report, which is often a necessary step if you want to collect on a bike lock or renter’s insurance policy.  So while it’s boring and possibly futile, consider it anyway!  Theoretically, anything that increases the risks associated with bike theft will decrease its current popularity, helping everyone hold on to their sweet rides.

Alternatively, you can try meditating for years to cultivate a sense of bemused detachment to the phenomenal world of “things” like bikes.  Might help cut down on the vain outrage inspired by loss and a sense of vulnerability!  Definitely won’t help get your bike back, though.

[Photo Diane Yee]

The Rig Economy

Bike Messengers Given New Life by Lazy Yuppies

They heyday of delivering documents from business to business around San Francisco may be over, with Ellen Huet at the Chronicle reporting only around 250 bike messengers are prowling downtown these days (half the number from the dot-boom).  But as app developers continue to develop ideas inspired by the concerns of people with high incomes and poor work-life balance, TCB Courier has managed to successfully pivot by providing hot meals and other deliveries.

They have even developed their own technology for assigning orders in the process and poaching riders getting paid nearly minimum wage by better-funded competitors like Postmates.  Of course, maybe they’ll all be replaced by autonomous drones soon enough.

[Photo Richard Masoner]