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Flower Moola

Last month Kilroy Realty Corporation, the company developing a large mixed-used complex on top of the current home of the San Francisco Flower Mart at Sixth and Brannon streets, bought 901 16th and 1200 17th Street for $99 million.  Kilroy has launched a “community process,” with an eye towards siting the Mart at the “Corovan” property by next year… District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen is pushing legislation that she hopes will encourage developers to build housing rather than office space in the City’s eastern neighborhoods. The proposal coincides with soaring commercial rents for tech-oriented offices, the most lucrative real estate sector. Under the proposed bill, development of new upper-floor office space would be banned in parts of the Mission District, Potrero Hill and Dogpatch, applying to areas zoned “mixed-use-urban,” which is meant to create a buffer between residential neighborhoods and industrial areas. Developers would be allowed to create ground floor office spaces. The policy was prompted in part by a proposed complex at 2300 Harrison Street, where the property owner wants to add 24 housing units and 27,000 square feet of office space to an existing office building. The six-story addition, built on a surface parking lot, would create a 95,000-square-foot office building with 24 apartments, six affordable. Without the new workspace, the parking lot would accommodate about 80 apartments.

New New School

For more than three years, The New School of San Francisco – a charter public school with nearly 300 kindergarteners through fifth graders – was denied permission by the California Department of Education to give admission preference to students who qualify for Free or Reduced Price Lunch (FRPL). In January the State Board of Education (SBE) approved the request, making New School the City’s only public school which explicitly favors FRPL-qualified students in its selection lottery.  Likewise, the school’s application for renewal and addition of grades six through eight over its next five-year term was unanimously endorsed by SBE, after being unanimously rejected by the San Francisco School Board. Sixth grade will begin next year with 12 more seats than current fifth grade classrooms. Sixth grade spots not filled by returning fifth graders will be populated with FRPL-qualified students. In addition, at least half of incoming kindergarten placements will be reserved for students from low-income families and every open seat in first to fifth grades will be occupied by students who are FRPL-qualified until they comprise half the student population. After that threshold is met, FRPL-qualified students will still be favored as part of sibling preferences and in the overall lottery process. “There was criticism at our SBE hearing, and in subsequent statements by some opposed to our renewal, that the students enrolled at our school do not resemble the overall demographic makeup of students who attend San Francisco public schools,” said Emily Bobel Kilduff, New School’s co-founder. “The hard truth is, there are no public schools in San Francisco whose demographic makeup come meaningfully close to resembling that of the broader system. The reality is that the District’s public school lottery system has long advantaged well-resourced families, and systemic change, like the one we sought for more than three years, is absolutely necessary to improve equity of opportunity for San Francisco families. However, we can’t do it alone and we invite other schools to join us in this effort.”

United Bakers

Tartine Bakery employees are attempting to unionize, a rare move in the restaurant industry. The employees want better pay and a voice in a company they say is becoming increasingly corporate. Though Tartine began as a standalone bakery in the Mission District in 2002, it now has 10 cafes and restaurants across the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and South Korea and recently moved its headquarters to LA. With so much growth, Tartine Bakery barista Pat Thomas said he wishes there was more opportunity for staff. “If you want to pursue baking as a career, you’d like to think Tartine would be the place to end up,” he said. “But a lot of people treat it as a steppingstone, a resume builder, because working there is not sustainable.”

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