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San Francisco crowd sets self-driving car on fire

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San Francisco crowd sets self-driving car on fire


First, a man rams a skateboard into the passenger window of a white vehicle. He exits the frame, then returns and slams his drink container into the windshield. Bystanders can be seen cheering the people vandalizing the car, as others record on their phones. Soon the car is engulfed in flames.

Scenes of chaos from San Francisco’s Chinatown spread across social media Sunday after a mob vandalized and set fire to a Waymo self-driving car using a firework on Saturday evening. Waymo, owned by Google parent company Alphabet, has been offering Californians a 24/7 taxi service in driverless cars since last summer.

“Waymo Vehicle surrounded and then graffiti’d,” the San Francisco Fire Department said on social media hours later. “Windows were broken, and firework lit on fire inside the vehicle which ultimately caught the entire vehicle on fire.”

Photos uploaded by the fire department, which later reminded people that using fireworks is banned in San Francisco, showed the vehicle in flames and later its charred remains.

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Police are investigating, and no arrests had been made as of Monday afternoon, San Francisco Police Department spokesperson Paulina Henderson told The Washington Post.

Officers responded to the fire at about 8:50 p.m. local time, the police statement said. When the officers arrived, the unoccupied car was “engulfed in flames,” according to the statement, which added that there were no reports of injuries.

Aaron Peskin, president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, told NBC News that the incident was “terrible” and “extremely dangerous.”

“Buildings could have been lit on fire, people could have been hurt and most importantly, this was the day of the Chinese Lunar New Year,” Peskin said. “This is one of the most important days for families, there were thousands and thousands of tourists here, partaking in the events.”

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A Waymo spokesperson told Reuters that the passenger-less car was moving along a street in Chinatown when people surrounded it. Later someone threw a firework inside, setting the fire, the company said.

“The vehicle was not transporting any riders and no injuries have been reported,” the company said.

Although cars without drivers have become a common sight on San Francisco’s winding and sloping streets, there are long-standing tensions between the city’s residents and the cars.

Still, rarely have driverless cars been set on fire.

A Waymo vehicle struck a cyclist last week in the Potrero Hill neighborhood, resulting in minor injuries, the Verge reported. The Waymo passenger was unhurt, and the cyclist left the scene on their own.

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Driverless cars have caused major concerns in San Francisco by disrupting first responders on multiple occasions, including driving into scenes cordoned off by caution tape and striking a firetruck responding to an emergency, The Post previously reported.

Last year, a robotaxi operated by Cruise — a Waymo rival — rolled over a pedestrian and dragged her about 20 feet, after which the California Department of Motor Vehicles suspended its operations. Days later, the company said it would suspend all driverless operations in the country to examine its process and earn back public trust.

In four videos uploaded by witness Michael Vandi, who heads Addy AI, an AI company, a man who is using his jacket to cover his face can be seen scribbling on the back of the car with what appears to be a sharpie. Others in the crowd appear unmasked. An unidentified voice encourages others to light the vehicle on fire.

The atmosphere directly outside Hua Long Trading, a shop selling cigarettes, snacks and other daily items on Jackson Street, appears charged.

Once the car is set on fire, however, people appear to back away from the vehicle. The Post could not access footage of the moment when the firecracker was thrown inside the car.

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Vandi told Reuters in a direct message on X, formerly Twitter, that people were celebrating the Lunar New Year on Saturday evening by setting off fireworks. He said he saw a person jump onto the hood of the vehicle and break its windshield, and another later jumped onto the hood as the crowd clapped. Vandi could not be reached for comment Monday morning.

“That was when it went WILD,” he wrote. “There were 2 groups of people. Folks who encourage it – and others who were just shocked & started filming. No one stood up – i mean there wasn’t anything you could do to stand up to dozens of people.”





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San Francisco, CA

SF supervisors grill health dept. on 400 mental health treatment beds promised in 2021

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SF supervisors grill health dept. on 400 mental health treatment beds promised in 2021


SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — The San Francisco Board of Supervisors budget and finance committee on Wednesday questioned the health department on the effectiveness of their planned treatment bed expansion plan.

For two hours, San Francisco supervisors questioned the city’s public health department for two hours mostly asking where the treatment beds were.

“It sounds like for most of the beds for people with severe behavioral health needs – those are ‘as needed’ beds and we have no idea. In school they talk about butts in seats. We have no idea based on the numbers we are looking at today, how many San Franciscans with several health needs are in those ‘as needed’ beds?,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman during the budget and finance committee on Wednesday.

In 2021, San Francisco announced a plan to add 400 new treatment beds for mental health and addiction treatment. On Wednesday, the city’s health department said they expansion has led to a total of 2,550 treatment beds, but Supervisor Mandelman said their numbers may not be accurate.

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“They had a plan to add 400 additional beds. They believed and they are telling us that they are close to having added those beds but they have some key foot notes that are concerning to us. One is 15-20% of those beds may be unavailable because of staffing challenges,” said Supervisor Mandelman.

MORE: SF to implement state’s CARE Court program to treat severe mental health disorders

The public health department said the staffing shortage is part of a nationwide staffing crisis for mental health professionals.

“In terms of the intersection between impact of staffing on ‘as needed’ beds – we don’t know that. Meaning we apply for a placement. The facility accepts or doesn’t accept and we don’t track if they are not accepting,” said Hillary Kunins, director of San Francisco’s Behavioral Health Services during the meeting.

When it comes to getting treatment beds San Francisco competes with other counties for access.

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“Particularly for the highest levels of beds the competition is fierce. We have never replaced the state mental health hospitals that have been closed. There are these private facilities that are sort of providing but there are not nearly enough beds for the needs of all the counties, and San Francisco has a lot of need,” said Supervisor Mandelman.

The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center has 136 beds. The city funds 65 of those beds. They are urging the public health department to pay for more treatment beds within the city.

MORE: Why accessing drug addiction treatment is so hard in San Francisco

“We have basically 50 to 60 beds open that the city can purchase today,” said Adrian Maldonado, director of the Salvation Army’s detox facility, called the Harbor Light Center.

Luz Pena: “You are saying they are empty?”

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Adrian Maldonado: “They are empty. If they chose to do thatm we can then fill up harbor light. If people stop using dope, they are not in crisis in the street. They don’t go to the emergency room. They don’t have the police coming to arrest them.”

Supervisor Mandelman wants the city to change its plan for treatment beds

“I think we need to own more of those buildings ourselves and if we have excess we share them with other counties,” said Supervisor Mandelman.

MORE: Will Prop. 1 help solve CA homelessness? Experts weigh in on $6B bond for mental health facilities

The need for treatment beds in San Francisco is climbing and according to experts mental illness among the unhoused population across California is as high as 80%.

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“I talk to my colleagues across the country and we are seeing really substantial demand for resources that include medical but go well beyond medical particularly those who are experiencing homelessness. Those who are experiencing behavioral issues and even more so perhaps when they overlap,” said Dr. Christopher Colwell, chief of Emergency Medicine at Zuckerberg SF General Hospital.

After Wednesday ‘s committee meeting, supervisors are planning to request a follow up with the department of public health for more clarity.

We asked the San Francisco Public Health Department how many beds are “empty.” In an email, they said:

“To view bed capacity and availability for someone seeking substance use or mental health treatment, please visit at: https://findtreatment-sf.org/.

The majority of beds are utilized. However, Behavioral Health staffing challenges are a federal, state, and local issue and we know that staffing has intermittent impacts on service availability. However, we have seen increases in clients served in our bed expansion in a number of areas including substance use disorder residential, substance use disorder residential step-down, and in withdrawal management, psychiatric respite, drug sobering programs and facilities.”

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In their presentation, the health department broke down the bed expansion:

Additional bed expansion projects in progress include:

– Additional Enhanced Dual Diagnosis (18 beds)

– Transition-Age Youth Residential (10 beds)

– Crisis Diversion (16 beds)

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– Dual Diagnosis Women’s Therapeutic Residence for Justice-Involved

– Women (33 beds)

– SUD Stabilization (20 beds)

– Other projects pending approval of Behavioral Health Bridge Housing spending plan”

If you’re on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live

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Copyright © 2024 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.



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San Francisco, CA

San Francisco to consider offering free drug recovery books at libraries

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San Francisco to consider offering free drug recovery books at libraries


San Francisco is planning to offer free drug recovery books at public libraries as part of an initiative to combat the city’s drug overdose crisis.

Driving the news: A pilot program has already distributed over 3,200 addiction recovery books in the city’s main library and two branches.

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  • San Francisco City Supervisor Matt Dorsey has introduced legislation to expand the pilot program to all 28 public libraries in the city.
  • If approved, San Francisco would be the first city in the nation to provide universal access to free drug recovery books.
  • The initiative aims to provide resources for individuals struggling with addiction and substance abuse disorder in San Francisco.
  • The proposed legislation suggests offering a range of recovery books in all available languages without the requirement of a library card.





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San Francisco, CA

San Francisco rain brings flash flooding to city after downpours

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San Francisco rain brings flash flooding to city after downpours


“When you get into that area, that’s kind of tucked in the southern portion of the low pressure, that does wind up typically being a convective environment,” Murdock said, outpointing the chilly low-pressure systems swinging down from the Gulf of Alaska and atmospheric river-driven subtropical plumes as sources of precipitation.

“It’s not abnormal for us to see this, it’s just been kind of a long time since we’ve had a consistent setup like this.”

Murdock said thunderstorms intensified over the ocean before hitting land, with warming daytime temperatures and ocean environment generating extra lift and churning that strengthened the convection.

Elsewhere in the Bay Area, Oakland got between a half and three-quarters of an inch of rain, while parts of Marin County also topped three-quarters of an inch and San Jose saw about a quarter to a third of an inch.

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Scattered showers across the region Wednesday are expected to yield to partly cloudy skies with light southwest winds and highs in the upper 50s. The next chance for rain could come early next week.



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