SF: Sunset District Resident Indicted on Charges of Four Bank Robberies

A San Francisco man was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on charges of robbing four banks in the city in May and October.

Richard Laurence Stewart, 52, was arrested on Oct. 18 after an investigation by San Francisco police and the FBI led to a search of his Sunset District apartment, where authorities allegedly found a straw hat, a cowboy hat, a wig, a fake beard and a demand note similar to those reportedly
used in the robberies.

Stewart was previously charged in a criminal complaint filed on Oct. 19 with one count of robbery. The indictment replaces that complaint.The indictment accuses Stewart of attempting to take money from a Chase Bank branch on May 12; robbing a Bank of America branch of $7,100 on May 13; taking $316 from a U.S. Bank branch on Oct. 14; and robbing a California Bank & Trust branch of $6,760 on Oct. 16. An affidavit filed with the earlier complaint by FBI Agent Adrienne Sparrow alleged that witnesses said the perpetrator sometimes carried a demand note saying “This is a robbery” and wore various costume items including hats, a wig, a fake beard and a mustache. Sparrow said in the affidavit that Stewart was eventually identified as a suspect after a bank teller saw the perpetrator leave in a taxi parked across the street after the May 13 robbery of the Bank of America branch at 2310 Fillmore Street. A telephone request for the taxi was later linked to Stewart, according to the affidavit.

Following his arrest, Stewart made an initial appearance before a federal magistrate in San Francisco on Oct. 20. He is being held without bail for the time being. He is due to be arraigned on the indictment and to have a detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Laurel Beeler on Nov. 3. If Stewart is convicted in a not-yet-scheduled trial, each bank robbery count carries a possible maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

SF: Nevada to Pay $400K Settlement to Cover Costs of ‘Dumping Patients’

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously gave its initial approval Tuesday of a $400,000 settlement from the State of Nevada following the City Attorney’s 2013 class-action lawsuit against Nevada over ‘patient dumping’ allegations.

The lawsuit came about after reports by The Sacramento Bee newspaper, which was followed by an investigation by the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office. The investigations found that Nevada improperly bused needy psychiatric patients to San Francisco and other California counties between
2008 and 2013. San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said Tuesday that this
settlement ends San Francisco’s litigation with Nevada over psychiatric patient transportation practices.

In August 2013, Herrera wrote in a letter to Nevada state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto that his office found nearly 500 patients had been bused from a Nevada hospital to various California cities since April 2008, including San Francisco. The investigation found that at least 24 patients came to San
Francisco from Nevada’s state-run psychiatric facility, Rawson-Neal Hospital in Las Vegas, and that there had been no prior arrangements for patients’ care, housing or medical treatment. Of those 24 patients, 20 required emergency medical care within a short time after their arrival and San Francisco spent nearly $500,000 on medical care and housing for those patients, all of whom were homeless and
suffering from mental illnesses, according to Herrera.The hospital discharged and then unsafely transported the patients via Greyhound bus to San Francisco, according to Herrera’s investigation.

In his 2013 letter to Masto, Herrera wrote that the busing practices were “inhumane and unacceptable,” noting that they were allegedly transported without escorts, without adequate medication or food and without arrangements for someone to receive them at their destination. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval issued a statement shortly after Herrera’s announcement of his investigation, saying that “disciplinary
actions have been taken and a corrective plan of action was put in place” at the hospital. Sandoval said the changes would “provide additional oversight to ensure that discharge and transportation policies are followed correctly.”

In addition to the $400,000 settlement to recoup the city’s lost funds, a number of other agreements were reached to deter such actions from happening again and to help make sure Nevada’s most vulnerable receive care and dignity. Nevada has agreed to only provide travel assistance to California
for patients who meet appropriate criteria and ensure that the patients are returning to a home address or to a medical facility or program, and that they will be received or accompanied by a responsible individual, according to the City Attorney’s Office. Nevada, through the end of next year, will also provide San Francisco with a semi-annual report about these patients, their dates of discharge, destination city, and name of individuals at any medical facility that has agreed to receive the patient. Both parties have also established mutual obligations to improve communications regarding patient needs between health care agencies in the two states.

“I’m pleased we reached an agreement that will assure the well-being of psychiatric patients when they’re transported, and that also offers a model for how jurisdictions can work together to better protect our patients and taxpayers,” Herrera said. Nevada’s Board of Examiners approved the agreement on Oct. 13 and the settlement now requires approval by the San Francisco Superior Court, according to the City Attorney’s Office.

SF: Supervisor Campos Rallies with Mission Moratorium Supporters

San Francisco Supervisor David Campos and proponents of Proposition I, which aims to suspend market-rate development in the Mission District for 18 months, held a rally outside San Francisco City Hall Tuesday, just a week ahead of the Nov. 3 elections.

Proposition I, known as the Mission Moratorium, if passed, would require the city to stop issuing permits on certain types of housing and business development projects in the city’s Mission District neighborhood for a year and a half, with the possibility of the Board of Supervisor’s approving a one-year extension.While the proposed moratorium is in place, the city would be required to develop a Neighborhood Stabilization Plan, which would propose legislation, programs, funding and zoning controls that would ensure at least 50 percent of all new housing in the neighborhood is affordable to low- to middle-income households and to the residents of the Mission District. The stabilization plan would have to be developed by January 31, 2017.

The measure was put on the ballot in response to ongoing displacement of long-term residents, who are largely low-income and Hispanic. Campos said Tuesday that it’s not just Latino families being pushed out of the neighborhood. “Artists are being pushed out of the Mission, teachers are being pushed out of the Mission,” Campos said. Proponents of Proposition I held signs Tuesday that read “No Mas Condo Lujosos” or “No More Luxury Condos” and told stories of friends and families who have been pushed out of the neighborhood and the city.

San Francisco’s Mission District is roughly bounded to the west by Guerrero Street, to the south by Cesar Chavez Street, to the east by Potrero Avenue, and to the north by U.S. Route 101. Other neighborhoods would not be subject to suspension should the measure pass on Nov. 3.The Mission Moratorium would not apply to permits being issued for housing developments in which all units are affordable to low- and middle-income households. City Controller Ben Rosenfield said that the moratorium, if passed, would cause the city to see a short-term loss in tax revenue. Rosenfield said there are roughly 24 development projects in the Mission area at various stages of the planning and permitting process, that include up to 1,220 units of housing within the area.The Committee to Save the Mission, the San Francisco Labor Coalition and the Coalition for San Francisco neighborhoods maintains that the moratorium is needed as a result of an overbuilding of luxury housing that the average San Franciscan cannot afford. Those groups say that luxury housing is displacing small business, artists, and long-time residents, especially the Mission’s Latino population.

In June, following hours of emotional public comment, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted down similar Mission Moratorium legislation, introduced by Campos. San Francisco supervisors Scott Wiener and Mark Farrell oppose Proposition I, saying that construction of affordable units will also be paused during the proposed moratorium, thus exacerbating the housing crisis.The supervisors also said that under current city law, developers are forced to fund and build affordable housing, along with their market-rate developments, but that if market-rate housing stops being built, so too will private funding for affordable housing.

Farrell and Wiener, as well as Mayor Ed Lee, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Supervisor Katy Tang and Board of Equalization Member Fiona Ma argue that almost every new development in San Francisco is required to include affordable homes or else developers must contribute to affordable housing under Proposition K, passed in 2014. Therefore, they maintain that the creation of new market-rate homes not only helps ease the housing crisis, but also funds the construction of affordable homes at no taxpayer expense. The Residential Builders Association argues that workers in the construction industry who are building developments in the Mission, including many Mission residents, will lose their high-wage jobs if the moratorium passes.

In favor of the moratorium, the Cultural Action Network has said that the city’s world famous culture is being driven out, along with its long-time residents.

SF: City’s Last Gun Shop to Close as Board of Supervisors Unanimously Pass Gun Safety Policies

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to pass a package of gun safety policies that has already prompted San Francisco’s last remaining gun shop to shutter its doors this week.

The package of gun safety policies, authored by Supervisor Mark Farrell, would require the videotaping of all gun and ammunition sales and require the regular electronic transmission of ammunition sales data to the San Francisco Police Department. High Bridge Arms, the last remaining gun store in San Francisco, plans to permanently close its doors at the end of October. The business, located at 3185 Mission St. has remained in its current location since the mid-1950s when Olympic shooter and gunsmith Bob Chew opened the shop. Changing ownership in 1988, High Bridge Arms began exporting firearms to several different countries. The gun shop announced via Facebook that they have decided to close shop “for many reasons.”

Farrell said today that the he is “unapologetic” about prioritizing the public safety of residents and said that the gun store’s decision to close will allow a new business to move into the location. “If the last remaining gun store chooses to shut down as a result of my legislation, so be it – I would much rather see a preschool, coffee shop or other neighborhood serving business that contributes to the vitality
of our City in its place,” Farrell said. Farrell’s gun safety policies aim to ensure that dealers’ operations are not detrimental to public safety and aims to prevent and detect illegal trafficking of firearms and ammunition by dealers and their employees. Farrell said the policies also aim to prevent the loss and theft of firearms and ammunition from dealers as well as prevent and detect the sale of firearms and ammunition by dealers to persons who are prohibited by law from possessing these items. The Board of Supervisors will submit a final vote on the legislation next week and after Mayor Ed Lee signs it, the policies are expected to be in effect by the end of December.