Carla Mays, the CEO of consulting firm Smart Cohort, is no stranger to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. In fact, she was in Seattle earlier this year as part of the meetings held in the lead-up to November’s main conference in San Francisco.
A beloved rainforest in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park has reopened after a three-month closure.
The California Academy of Sciences temporarily closed the doors to its Osher Rainforest exhibit for infrastructure maintenance earlier in the fall. During that time, the 1,600 animals who call the facility home were removed from the glass dome, which originally opened in 2008, while a large net covered the 100,000-gallon tank housing tropical fish to protect it from falling debris.
After enduring 15 years of high heat, humidity and simulated rainfall, the curators stated in a blog post that the exhibit needed a thorough cleaning.
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“Roughly 90% of the rainforest’s exhibits were hollowed out, bleached, sanitized, and given new substrate,” Kelsey Paulling, an Academy biologist, said in a statement.
The exhibition reopened Saturday, Nov. 18. A week prior, mist machines simulating raindrops were activated, restoring the dome to its usual balmy conditions. The return of the animals was staggered, beginning with ants and butterflies. Biologists introduced new butterfly pupae, including tiny paper kites, green birdwings and owl butterflies, to join the 500 previously residing in the rainforest dome.
This was followed by the reintroduction of frogs, lizards, snakes and, finally, the invertebrates, including massive orb weaver spiders.
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While most of the enhancements may not be apparent to the average visitor, some notable improvements include the rebuilding of stairs, patching water leaks and thorough cleaning of the 90-foot structure.
The temporary removal of live animals and fauna facilitated structural repairs by Academy staff without disrupting their habitat. Among the diverse creatures inhabiting the dome are 250 free-flying birds, along with nearly 100 exotic reptiles and amphibians.
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California Academy of Sciences: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Ticket pricing based on reservation time. 55 Music Concourse Drive, S.F. 415-379-8000. www.calacademy.org
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San Francisco business owner seriously injured in attack outside shop
SAN FRANCISCO – A San Francisco business owner is suffering from serious injuries after being attacked outside his shop in SOMA.
The brazen encounter is caught on camera.
Mark Sackett owns the building at the corner of Howard and Moss, built in the 1920s, where the San Francisco Examiner was once printed.
He has a collection of printing presses.
Today, the historic building is home to The Box SF, which includes an antique store and an event venue.
But the neighborhood comes with its share of problems.
“We’re dealing with crap every day,” Sackett said.
Sackett’s surveillance camera captured a man wearing a pink hoodie, who had just left his soup container in front of the business.
“I says, ‘hey man. If you’re going to leave, do you mind just tossing that in the garbage can?” Sackett asked. “And he just turns, and he’s like ‘f. you.”
The man in pink then went right for Sackett.
“And then he throws the soup towards me,” Sackett said, but after being stabbed about two years ago nearby, he wasn’t taking any chances. “I’m not waiting for somebody to punch me or cut me with a knife again. I’ve been through that already down here.”
Sackett sprang into action and tried to push the guy away.
But the 66-year-old had a boot on his leg for a broken foot.
“We both go down,” Sackett recalled.
The soup slinger got right back up and started swinging.
Sackett’s friend stepped in and they both wrestled the guy to the ground and held him there until police arrived.
“And they said, ‘we think he’s really high or drunk, we don’t know which.”
But Sackett said police did not arrest the man, instead police called his significant other to take him home.
“I’m like, that’s it?” Sackett said.
He knows the recurring crime which has his employees keeping pepper spray handy isn’t going away.
According to San Francisco Police, between the SOMA and Tenderloin districts from May 29 to December 4, officers made nearly 1,700 arrests through the Drug Market Agency Coordination Center, and took 110 kilograms off the streets, including nearly 60 kilograms of fentanyl.
“We have got to get the drugs off the street and the drug dealers off the street,” Sackett said. “I think that’s paramount above everything else.”
As far as his injuries are concerned, x-rays reveal two of the steel rods in his foot broke in half during the sidewalk attack, which will require surgery to fix. He also had cuts, bruises, and a lump on the back of his head.
San Francisco Approves Zoning Reforms to Avoid ‘Builder’s Remedy’
An audit from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) reveals that the approval process for new housing projects in San Francisco takes longer than anywhere else in the state. Writing in Reason, Christian Britschgi notes that “The very predictable result is that the Golden State’s fourth-largest city is also one of the nation’s most expensive, with median one-bedroom rents above $2,000 and a median home value of $1.4 million.” If the city doesn’t comply with state housing mandates, it could lose its power to regulate zoning locally.
An article from CBS Bay Area notes that the city’s Board of Supervisors approved Mayor London Breed’s proposed Constraints Reduction Ordinance on Tuesday, putting the city in compliance with state requirements. “The state threatened to take punitive actions, like the withdrawal of state funding for affordable housing and transportation projects, if changes are not made by Dec. 28,” the article adds. “The mayor’s ordinance, written with Supervisors Joel Engardio and Matt Dorsey, abides by the recommendations sent by the state following an in-depth review. It includes reducing permit approval times by 50% for most housing projects, streamlining paperwork, removing developer fees on some projects, removing barriers for office-to-residential conversions and reforming some zoning codes.”
SF Businesses Decry City for ‘Callous and Calculated’ APEC Plans
But she wasn’t prepared for the impact it would have on her SoMa-based business, largely because of a lack of communication. Mays, who also lives in an apartment building within the event’s security zone, said the extensive fencing and limited mobility made her neighborhood less like home and more like a prison.
She ended up moving herself and her business to a hotel during APEC, but she noted that many of her disabled and elderly neighbors weren’t so lucky.
“When I came back to my house, people were shellshocked,” Mays said. “They had essentially been caged in their houses for a week.”
Mays is just one of the scores of residents and small business owners across San Francisco who took Mayor London Breed and city officials to task for their handling of APEC the gathering of world leaders that overtook much of Downtown San Francisco last month, saying that they were blindsided by the security zone and the total lack of foot traffic in the area.
Dozens of SoMa small business owners, residents and community organizers spoke out about APEC’s immediate financial impact at the Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance Committee on Wednesday. The board previously approved a resolution to provide $10 million for community members affected by APEC, but that nonbinding resolution serves as a little more than a suggestion.
The hearing was called by San Francisco Supervisor Matt Dorsey, whose district includes much of the area cordoned off by the security zone.
Business owners in the area stayed open—and, in some cases, prepared additional resources and staffing to take advantage of a potential influx in customers.
But APEC wasn’t a typical conference: With a pervasive security detail and unscalable fencing towering over much of SoMa, streets that are packed during traditional conferences were largely empty. Scott Rowitz, the executive director of the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District, pointed out that foot traffic in the district during the week of APEC was down 33.8% year-over-year, according to cellphone data from Placer.ai.
He attributed much of that to the protracted security zone setup and the presence of the Secret Service during APEC.
While Rowitz did emphasize the benefits for San Francisco’s reputation on the global stage—and the around $52 million in economic impact that the conference brought in—public commenters at the hearing were less generous in their sentiments toward city leaders.
“The brutal truth of the matter is that the city should have been more supportive and protective of its small businesses before campaigning to host APEC, before signing on and while working with the Secret Service,” said Manuel Ramirez, the owner of Korean fried chicken restaurant Bonchon inside the Metreon. He laid out what he described were the “death-blow level losses” his business sustained over the course of APEC: An 88% drop in business for the week.
What’s more, Ramirez said that many restaurants were swayed by officials to stay open that week with the promise of an increase in business so that San Francisco would “look like a vibrant city.”
“They saw us as acceptable collateral damage, the sacrificial lambs for putting San Francisco on the world stage,” he said. “For that callous and calculated mindset, someone needs to be held accountable.”
Business owners repeatedly detailed how the security presence for APEC made it impossible for them to operate and encouraged the public to perceive the area as a place to avoid that week.
David Cohen, CEO of the Grove, said that his restaurant was affected disproportionately by the security and protest zones, accruing a $50,000 loss in revenue as a direct result.
“This loss was a direct cause of the security zone in APEC,” Cohen said. “No other factors contributed to it.”
Paige Scott, the manager of Yerba Buena’s Ice Skating and Bowling Center, said that the center lost around $30,000 due to closing during APEC—and is now getting bombarded by people seeking refunds for events that were canceled as a result of the summit.
Other business owners and activists criticized law enforcement for the aggressive security measures put in place. Scott, for example, said that she wasn’t allowed to bring ice skates into the perimeter, while Bocado owner Manny Ramirez said police did not let him into his own restaurant building. Activists, including prominent Filipino activist Brandon Lee, said demonstrators were allegedly assaulted by police during APEC demonstrations.
Raquel Redondiez, the project manager of SOMA Pilipinas, urged the city to immediately disperse the $10 million fund to those impacted.
“As soon as the perimeters went up, it became clear that what was promised in terms of a boon to small businesses would not happen,” she said.
Supervisor Connie Chan drew a comparison to city leaders’ handling of APEC, which she said hurt the most vulnerable communities, to recent budget cuts made amid the city’s growing deficit.
“It is the city’s responsibility to step up to the plate [so] that we have winners all around,” she said.
Kevin Truong contributed to this report.
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