Thursday Morning News Roundup
News from San Francisco
Human Remains Found While Gardening in Alamo Square
An Alamo Square resident discovered human remains in the garden last month, according to police in San Francisco.
The bones were found in the 1300 block of McAllister Street on Nov. 23 by a resident who was gardening at the time of the grisly discovery. Investigators with the medical examiner’s office later determined that the bones were human remains, police said.
Cadaver dogs brought in from the Marin County Sheriff’s Department later searched the garden, indicating that more human remains may be present, according to police. A small area where the dogs alerted has been excavated, but no additional remains were located. The case remains under investigation.
MUNI Scrambling to Repair Aging Buses After Fires in Overhead Connectors
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority officials are scrambling to repair dozens of aging buses after two fires last week caused by faulty connections with overhead electrical wires.
The fires, which occurred in the connector linking the electric buses to overhead wires, happened on Tuesday and Thursday last week, one on Ocean Avenue in front of City College and the second at Union and Mason streets, according to John Haley, director of transit for the SFMTA. In both cases, the drivers noticed the problem and got passengers off safely, Haley said.
The fires both occurred in 15-year-old trolley coaches with an average of around 500,000 miles on them, Haley said. Following the first fire, which occurred in a 60-foot long bus,
the agency pulled all 33 such coaches and began inspecting and repairing the overhead connectors. All of the 60-foot buses were back in service within four days, Haley said. Officials had already launched a similar inspection and repair process on the approximately 160 40-foot buses that use a similar connector system when the second fire broke out on a smaller bus on Thursday, Haley
As of Wednesday morning, the agency had repaired all but about 65 buses, and was working to return the rest to service as quickly as possible. Efforts have been hampered, however, by a lack of parts and materials, since the bus model the city uses is not very common and the manufacturer is no longer in business.
The agency has brought in other kinds of buses, including diesels and diesel hybrids, to fill in the gaps while the repairs are completed. While there were some gaps in service on Monday and Tuesday, Haley said Wednesday there should be no missing runs. “I’m hoping from a passenger standpoint it should be seamless, except they might be seeing a bus instead of a trolley coach on some routes,” Haley said.
Ultimately, the problematic buses need to be replaced. “They’re past their useful life,” Haley said.
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved the $244.6 million purchase of 265 buses from New Flyer of America Inc., as part of a contract totaling $412.2 million. However, the delivery of those buses and others previously ordered will take several years, Haley said.
Police Union Calls for Tasers in Response to Mario Woods Shooting
Two weeks after a fatal officer-involved shooting that led to a public outcry, the San Francisco Police Officers Association is urging the city to issue stun guns to officers.
Martin Halloran, the president of the police union, Wednesday called on the San Francisco Police Commission and the Police Department to move ahead with the issuance of Tasers to officers.
Halloran said Tasers could have saved the life of 26-year-old San Francisco resident Mario Woods, who was shot dead by five police officers in the city’s Bayview District on Dec. 2.
Videos that circulated widely on social media appear to show Woods, who was thought to be a suspect in an earlier stabbing, limping away from officers at the time he was shot.
The incident has triggered a public debate about police use of force policies and prompted police Chief Greg Suhr to renew efforts to arm officers with stun guns.
“Let’s move on this, let’s move on it now,” Halloran said. He said the chief’s office and the Police Commission are looking at the entire use of force policy and that the police union will be meeting
with them next week to discuss those policies. The San Francisco Police Department has tried multiple times in recent years to win approval for the use of Tasers, but has run into community opposition from civil rights and homeless advocates, among others, who argued they were too dangerous and often used unnecessarily. Suhr shelved the most recent effort in 2013, saying the restrictions that were proposed for the less-lethal weapons would have prevented their use in most situations.
Apart from Tasers, Halloran said, the department could also consider deploying pepper spray balls or stinger balls to bring people into compliance.
While Suhr also has championed the use of shields, Halloran said he worried they may not work when officers are trying to take on a person with a sharp object “without endangering my members.” The department also introduced a new policy earlier this month that requires officers to alert their supervisors if they draw their firearms.
Halloran said that policy, which considers drawing a weapon as a reportable use of force, was already in the works prior to Woods’ death, and was developed in response to a federal court ruling. Halloran said, “the 9th Circuit court has ruled on that under Green vs. City and County of San Francisco,” and the department must adhere to what the courts rule on.
Halloran noted, however, that the departmental bulletin outlining the policy “did not give complete directions to the members.”
Rain Expected for Several Straight Days Starting Friday
Wet weather is coming to the Bay Area starting Friday and it
should last through much of next week, a National Weather Service forecaster
The rain will start at about noon Friday and continue into Saturday, with heavy rain at times across the Bay Area through next Wednesday, forecaster Steve Anderson said. The surf and winds will not be as high as during a storm that hit the region this past Sunday, Anderson said.
“It’s mostly going to be a rain event,” Anderson said.Weather service officials expect two to four inches of rain in the North Bay, one to two inches in San Francisco and about an inch in both the East and South Bays, according to Anderson. The above normal rainfall will be near the Oregon border, where 10 to 12 inches is expected, he said.
He said the storm is not going to be an El Nino event but rather another winter storm.
In the Bay Area, rain is forecast to fall at least once in each 24-hour period, Anderson said. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials are predicting extreme high tides, called King tides, in Marin County from Monday through Wednesday before Christmas. High tides, but not King tides, are forecast for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the day after Christmas, NOAA officials said. Marin County sheriff’s officials said the high tides and King tides will likely flood roads, and the flooding could mean those traveling have to take a different route.
Caltrans told sheriff’s officials that the potential for flooding will last until Dec. 28.
Sheriff’s officials are reminding drivers to avoid driving through ponded water and to allow extra time for travel during peak commuter times and on holiday travel days.