Wednesday News and Election Roundup
San Francisco Unofficial Election Results and News from the Bay
District 3 Supervisor
Aaron Peskin appears to have come out ahead of Julie Christensen in the San Francisco race for District 3 supervisor in Tuesday’s election, according to complete unofficial election results.
Peskin was previously elected as District 3 supervisor in 2000 and served two terms. He was twice elected as president of the Board of Supervisors. He received about 53 percent of the vote, with Christensen receiving about 43 percent. Wilma Pang finished third with nearly 4 percent.
District 3 includes San Francisco’s North Beach and Chinatown neighborhoods. The term of office for the person elected to fill this vacancy will be one year, which is the remainder of the current four-year term. Mayor Ed Lee appointed Christensen after former Supervisor David Chiu won a seat in the state Assembly last year.
Peskin’s platform included an emphasis on affordable housing. He said he hoped to increase private developers of market-rate housing and offices’ obligation to contribute to affordable housing in the city.
San Francisco supervisors Eric Mar, Norman Yee, David Campos, John Avalos and Jane Kim expressed support for Peskin leading up to the election. Kim said on Twitter that she volunteered during her lunch break Tuesday by calling voters and encouraging them to vote for Peskin. Supervisor Campos said via Twitter at about 11:35 p.m., “Celebrating w @AaronPeskin, our newest member of the Board of Supes. Welcome aboard Aaron!”
San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, plagued by scandals from the start of his term, appears to have been defeated by former Chief Deputy and one-time interim sheriff Vicki Hennessy, according to complete unofficial election results Tuesday.
Hennessy, who will be San Francisco’s first elected female sheriff, received about 61 percent of the vote, compared to nearly 33 percent for Mirkarimi. Another challenger, former sheriff’s Lt. John Robinson, finished with about 6 percent.Hennessy joined the sheriff’s department in 1975 and moved up the ranks to chief deputy in 1997. In 2008, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed her as the director of the city’s Department of Emergency Management.
Mirkarimi, who previously served for seven years on the Board of Supervisors, has faced a series of problems since taking office as sheriff in 2012, starting with domestic violence allegations stemming from an incident in which he grabbed his wife’s arm during an argument just days before being sworn in.
Mayor Ed Lee suspended Mirkarimi on official misconduct charges as a result of the allegations and appointed Hennessy as interim sheriff. Mirkarimi eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment in March 2012 and was sentenced to probation and ordered to undergo counseling.He was reinstated as sheriff that October when the 11-member Board of Supervisors did not reach the nine votes necessary under the city charter to remove him from office on the official misconduct charges.
The sheriff’s department during Mirkarimi’s term has also drawn scrutiny and criticism, most notably following the fatal shooting in July of Kate Steinle, a woman walking on the city’s waterfront with her family. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant who had previously been deported five times and has seven prior felony convictions, was arrested and charged with killing Steinle. The case spurred a national debate on San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy and how the sheriff’s department should cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Earlier this year, the FBI launched an investigation into allegations that San Francisco sheriff’s deputies forced county jail inmates to fight “gladiator-style” while deputies placed bets on the outcomes. The department was also criticized in 2013 after deputies failed to find a missing San Francisco General Hospital patient who was found dead more than two weeks later on a hospital stairwell.
Mirkarimi during the campaign touted his progressive credentials, including the introduction of several policies seeking to reduce San Francisco’s inmate population and recidivism rate, including being the first sheriff in the nation to integrate the Affordable Care Act into inmate discharge planning.
Hennessy, who kept a low profile in the sheriff’s race, said on her campaign website that San Francisco “deserves experienced law enforcement leadership that serves with integrity.”
Mayor Ed Lee appears to have won re-election after defeating a diverse group of candidates Tuesday, according to complete unofficial election results. Lee, the 43rd mayor of San Francisco, received nearly 57 percent of the vote.
No other experienced politicians were on the ballot, but a few challengers combined to get more than a third of the votes cast in the election.The runner-up was musician and educator Francisco Herrera at nearly 15 percent. Amy Weiss, an activist and educator, finished with nearly 12 percent, while blogger Stuart Schuffman garnered more than 9 percent.
The trio had encouraged voters to pick them as a unified bloc with their three ranked-choice options on the ballot as part of the “Vote 1-2-3 to replace Ed Lee” campaign. On the campaign’s website, the trio said Lee “has allowed corporate interests to radically change our urban landscape and lifestyle.”
Lee, the city’s first Asian-American mayor, said in his candidate statement that since he was elected in 2011, the city’s unemployment rate has fallen significantly and there has been significant job growth and innovation.
“Now, with a better economy, my priority is to ensure everyone is able to share in this growing prosperity,” Lee wrote in the candidate statement.
San Francisco voters on Tuesday rejected tighter restrictions on short-term housing rentals, as well as a moratorium on building market-rate housing in the Mission District, according to complete unofficial election results.
Proposition F, a ballot measure that would have placed stricter limitations on the short-term rental of residential units in the city, needed a simple majority to pass but had only about 45 percent approval. San Francisco-based short-term rental company Airbnb fiercely opposed the ballot measure, spending an estimated $8 million campaigning against it. Airbnb spokesman Christopher Nulty released a statement from the company about the result, calling it “a decisive victory for the middle class.”
“Voters stood up for working class families’ right to share their homes and opposed an extreme, hotel industry-backed measure,” the statement said.
Proposition I, known as the Mission District Housing Moratorium, received nearly 43 percent of the vote, short of the majority approval needed to pass. The measure aimed to impose an 18-month suspension of city permits on market-rate housing developments, as well as demolition of certain properties, and to create a neighborhood stabilization plan in an effort to limit the ongoing displacement of long-term residents from the Mission District.
Two other housing measures on the ballot appear to have passed. Proposition A, a $310 million affordable housing bond, received more than 73 percent of the vote, above the two-thirds majority needed to pass, while Proposition D, a measure allowing the Mission Rock mixed-use development near AT&T Park to move forward, also received about 73 percent of the vote.
Proposition D, which just needed a simple majority, proposes increasing building height limits on parts of the Mission Rock property and makes it city policy to support the development as long as it includes 33 percent affordable housing and eight acres of parks and open space.
Unsafe Levels of Domoic Acid Found in Locally Caught Dungeness Crab
State officials issued a health advisory Tuesday against eating Dungeness and rock crab caught along the California coast from Santa Barbara to the Oregon border due to dangerous levels of a naturally occurring toxin.
According to the California Department of Public Health, recent tests have persistently shown high levels of domoic acid in crab meat and viscera, more commonly known as crab butter. The accumulation of domoic acid in seafood is a natural phenomena caused by the presence of Pseudo-nitzschia, a single-celled plant, according to state health officials. Conditions affecting the growth of Pseudo-nitzschia are unpredictable, and that makes it difficult to know when levels of domoic acid in locally caught crab will subside.
Health officials will continue to monitor domoic acid in Dungeness and rock crab until levels subside below 20 parts per million in the meat and 30 parts per million in the viscera, they said.
Symptoms of domoic acid poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and dizziness. Symptoms can appear within 30 minutes to 24 hours after consuming toxic seafood, and persist for several days. Severe cases of domoic acid poisoning can sometimes involve trouble breathing, confusion, disorientation, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short-term memory, coma or even death.
So far – however – no cases of domoic acid poisoning have been reported, according to state health officials. For more information call the California Department of Public Health’s shellfish information line at (800) 553-4133.
Implosion of Largest Pier on Old Bay Bridge Postponed At Least A Week
Caltrans officials said Tuesday that the implosion of the largest pier of the old eastern span of the Bay Bridge has been postponed for at least a week because of safety considerations.
The implosion of Pier E3 had been scheduled to happen this Saturday but Brian Maroney, Caltrans’ chief Bay Bridge engineer, said it’s been pushed back to either Nov. 14 or 15 because certain project materials were unsatisfactory and quality controls didn’t meet specifications. Speaking at a news conference near the Bay Bridge, Maroney said the most likely time for the implosion is around 1 p.m. on Nov. 14, which is a Saturday, but it could take place at 6:45 a.m. that day or sometime the next day.
He said a major factor in determining the time is minimizing impacts on mammals such as seals, sea lions and porpoises and monitors will be watching them closely to help pick the safest time.
California Highway Patrol Capt. Christopher Sherry said officers will set up rolling traffic breaks on both directions of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge and set up a 1,500-foot perimeter 15 minutes before the implosion, which will only take six seconds and occur mostly underwater.
Sherry said traffic can continue to enter the bridge on both directions during the implosion and afterward he hopes that traffic will return to normal “within a matter of minutes.” BART officials said trains will be temporarily held outside the Transbay Tube, which will result in slight delays. Sherry said the bicycle path alongside the new eastern span will be closed starting at 6 p.m. on Nov. 13 until after the implosion.
Maroney said the impact of the implosion won’t directly impact motorists on the new eastern span but he said, “I’m worried about traffic behavior because drivers will hear a series of booms and they may swerve.”
There won’t be one big blast but instead will be 600 different charges that will be set off micro-seconds apart to try to minimize the impact to fish and mammals. Caltrans chose November for the implosion because that’s when there is the least impact on fish and mammals because many species, such as salmon, herring and nesting birds, aren’t around.
Maroney said the implosion will be “an incredible milestone” in the demolition of the old eastern span, which began in September 2013 after the new eastern span was opened to traffic and is scheduled to be completed in 2018. Caltrans must still remove 21 smaller piers, Maroney said. Larry Goldzband, the executive director for the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, said, “The implosion is not perfect and species will be killed” but he said the implosion will cause less environmental damage than other methods of demolishing the pier. Goldzband said the alternative of mechanically removing the pier would take up to four years and require building a dam around it, which he said would significantly disrupt area wildlife and be difficult to manage and mitigate.
Maroney said the public won’t have access to viewpoints on the
eastern side of Yerba Buena Island and said the best way to watch the
implosion will be on Caltrans’ website.