Bay Briefing: Feeling at home while at school
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Good morning, Bay Area. It’s Friday, July 26, and San Francisco is about to introduce a first-of-its-kind dorm for at-risk students, Sonoma Raceway is going green, and we’re reminiscing about the good ol’ days of the Metreon. Here’s what you need to know to start your day.
‘They’re saving kids’
Life Learning Academy on Treasure Island is going to offer free room and board to up to 24 of its students, but don’t call it a boarding school.
The charter school, which serves the region’s most at-risk high school students, is about to introduce a $3.5 million dorm, offering the first-of-its-kind housing for public high school students who’ve failed in traditional classrooms.
According to Teri Delane, the school’s founding principal and executive director, the need for the dorm is obvious. Many of her students are fed, nurtured, supported and taught at the school during the day, only to return to violent homes and neighborhoods, to empty refrigerators, or even to homeless shelters.
The school expects to spend $800,000 a year to house 24 teens year-round, or $33,333 per student. San Francisco now spends, on average, $374,000 per year to keep a young person in juvenile hall and more than $100,000 for a group home.
California’s way or the highway
California struck a deal with four major automakers to boost their vehicles’ fuel emissions standards, a move negotiated as the state remains embroiled in litigation with the Trump administration over fuel efficiency rules.
The deal would set a goal of improving fuel efficiency for cars and light-duty trucks to more than 50 miles per gallon by model year 2026. Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen signed on to the deal with the California Air Resources Board, promising to implement the targets across their entire fleet, regardless of what the federal government does.
On track to combat climate change
The sight of docile grazing sheep on the hills surrounding Sonoma Raceway may be at odds with cars hurtling at 300 mph on the track, but raceway officials have gotten creative when it comes to embracing eco-friendly practices.
Believe it or not, the sheep are at the front lines of efforts to battle climate change. At Sonoma Raceway, 3,000 of the grazing animals reside on the property year-round and maintain the grounds, eliminating the need for gas-powered machinery. Along with 1,650 solar panels and a multi-tiered recycling effort, the racetrack is looking to minimize its environmental impact in an industry known for its huge carbon footprint.
Though the impact of races, like this weekend’s annual Sonoma Nationals, is hard to measure, Sonoma Raceway officials are working to go as green as possible while keeping their sport alive.
An unfair policy
Columnist Heather Knight has detailed San Francisco Unified School District’s unfair sick leave policy before, but a change could be on the horizon.
Board of Education president Stevon Cook pledged to investigate fixes to the policy, which charges teachers out on extended sick leave for the cost of a substitute, after reading “heartbreaking” stories like Tim Simpson’s.
Simpson, a kindergarten teacher at Claire Lilienthal Elementary School, had to pay for his substitute while he was undergoing open heart surgery. Even after he delayed the surgery until late in the calendar year so it would fall over Thanksgiving and winter break, he still faced financial hardship.
“Nobody should have to go into heart surgery worrying about how they’re going to pay their bills or get cancer treatment worrying about how they’re doing to pay their bills,” Simpson said.
Cook said he didn’t know about the issue before reading Knight’s columns and that he’s already brought it up to the superintendent. He pledged to delve into possible fixes when the board reconvenes next month.
More: Read the stories of the Lowell High physics teacher who underwent a liver transplant and the second-grade teacher at Glen Park Elementary battling cancer who were charged for their own substitutes.
Requiem for Sony Metreon
Today, the Sony Metreon is a routine destination, anchored by a Target and a food court, a mall like a thousand others. But 20 years ago — as hundreds of opening-year images recently uncovered in The Chronicle archive show — the center premiered as the biggest shopping destination of its kind in the world, claiming it was the future of urban entertainment.
Designed as a place “you couldn’t tell where the entertainment ended and the retail began,” maybe the mall was a little too ahead of its time. The Metreon quickly turned from a futuristic beacon to a starting point for stories about the struggling economy. By early 2002, media stories referenced “the troubled Metreon.”
The Metreon didn’t seek to bolster tourism in San Francisco so much as raise the profile of the city surrounding it. In the beginning, that’s exactly what happened. But now, even with the images in front of us, it still seems like a dream.
Around the bay
• Leadership in transit: BART’s board of directors appointed Robert Powers as the agency’s new general manager at a time when the transit system faces a host of major challenges. Also on Thursday, Muni’s $1.6 billion Central Subway project got a new manager — six months before the troubled project is to be completed.
• Assault weapons ban: A federal judge has upheld California’s ban on owning, manufacturing or selling semiautomatic rifles and the “bullet buttons” that convert a conventional rifle into a rapid-fire weapon.
• Weather warning: A heat wave this weekend is expected to push Bay Area temperatures into triple digits in some parts of the region.
• Tough choices: The schedules for the three days of the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival have been released, and it’s time to start planning. Plus: Can you smoke pot legally at Outside Lands? Maybe this year.
• Help wanted: Women, Latinos and Asian Americans are all underrepresented in the applicant pool for the Citizens Redistricting Commission, which will be tasked with redrawing California’s political lines after the 2020 census.
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• Appeals court rules: A federal appeals court in San Francisco substantially narrowed the government’s ability to criminally charge people for crossing the border illegally, a case that could invalidate hundreds of the prosecutions that were at the core of the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families last year.
• Fiscal review: The Peralta Community College District of 50,000 students at four East Bay campuses is at high risk of insolvency after years of mismanagement.
• Next stage: Eight years after former Van Halen front man Sammy Hagar teamed up with celebrity chef Tyler Florence to open El Paseo, the Mill Valley restaurant has been sold to new owners.
• Feline festival: Lil Bub, the internet’s favorite cat, will be in town for Silicat Valley Cat Convention & Festival, San Jose’s annual destination for cat lovers, feline-friendly vendors and celebrity cats. Yes, that’s a real thing.
In case you missed it
Clayton deli owner John Canesa sparked an internet kerfuffle when he expressed support for racist comments made by President Trump, offering a deal to anyone who said “send her back” when ordering at his sandwich shop, Brooklyn Heros.
Canesa’s comments drew a sharp rebuke from Clayton Mayor Tuija Catalano, who said there was no room for “hatred and bigotry” in the Contra Costa County city. But not everyone took offense to the online post, and supporters flocked to the deli. Many said they came out to defend both Canesa and Clayton. Others said they were standing up for free speech and the right to support Trump and conservative values — a relatively rare stance in the deeply blue Bay Area.
“It’s crazy,” said Candy K., a retiree who lives in Clayton. “You don’t get the humor. You have to know the person. It’s a local business. Most of us know him, and we all buy our sandwiches here.”
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