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Monday News Roundup: Police Chief Scott Spars with DA Boudin, High Vacancy Rate Revealed

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D.A. Chesa Boudin (left) and Police Chief Bill Scott. Photo by Kevin Hume/SF Examiner

Hey SF,

I’m Natalie, a correspondent for The SF Minute, an email newsletter that helps you stay on top of news here in San Francisco.

Did you feel yesterday’s earthquake? The 3.2-magnitude quake’s epicenter was near San Leandro in the East Bay, and according to the Chronicle, “San Francisco reported feeling sharp jolts” just after 4 p.m. The quake caused some BART delays, but no one was injured.

Let’s get on to the rest of last week’s news…

Police Chief Scott takes on DA Boudin

On Wednesday, Police Chief Bill Scott sent a letter to District Attorney Chesa Boudin declaring his intentions to withdraw from a 2019 agreement that gives the DA’s office the lead in investigating officer shootings, in-custody deaths, and uses of force incidents involving the police.

Scott’s announcement appears to have been prompted by a recent case in which an SFPD officer faces battery and assault charges for “allegedly beating a man with a baton,” the Chronicle writes. During the hearing for that case, an investigator for the DA’s office said she was told not to share certain information with the police. Scott said he had “very serious concerns” about the investigator’s testimony and believed withholding evidence violated the two offices’ agreement.

The judge overseeing the case “said that no significant evidence appeared to be suppressed,” the Chronicle wrote last week. And during a press conference on Thursday, District Attorney Chesa Boudin said: “There is not one iota of evidence of misconduct under my administration.”

Regardless, according to Scott’s letter, he and the DA have five business days to schedule a meeting and potentially salvage their agreement.

For more, check out this SF Standard interview with Boudin on Thursday.

USF Acquires SFAI

The University of San Francisco has plans to acquire the historic San Francisco Art Institute, the Examiner reported on Wednesday, in a deal that includes SFAI’s Chestnut Street campus and famed Diego Rivera mural.

A program called SFAI@USF could launch as soon as this fall.

Previously, the future of the 151-year-old art college (whose alumni list includes photographer Annie Leibovitz and tattoo artist Don Ed Hardy) was uncertain given its financial troubles and decreased enrollment. SFAI stopped accepting new students in the fall of 2020.

“This pending integration is exciting news for our community and for our colleagues and friends at SFAI,” USF President Rev. Paul Fitzgerald said in a statement. “Our shared goal is for undergraduate and graduate art programs at the two institutions to merge, and to create a world-class arts education program.”

Report Reveals SF Vacancies

A new report released last Monday shows that some 40,000 housing units (or, around 10% of the housing stock in San Francisco) are sitting vacant.

Supervisor Dean Preston, who commissioned the report, called the vacancies the “elephant in the housing policy room.”

“So much of the conversation around housing in this city has been dominated by a focus on production,” Preston said. “But what’s missing from a lot of these discussions has been the consideration on how we use the housing that exists.”

One idea is to introduce a residential vacancy tax, something that cities like Vancouver and Oakland have adopted. The report estimated that such a tax could prompt owners in San Francisco to rent out 4,560 empty units within two years.

Here’s What Else Happened Last Week…

  • 🗑 Almost 30% of positions are vacant within Public Works, the San Francisco agency tasked with keeping streets clean and responding to 311 requests, the Chronicle reported on Thursday. “What it says is that we’re not going to be able to respond in a reasonable time,” Supervisor Ahsha Safai said of the nearly 500 open roles. A Public Works spokesperson said hiring was a “high priority” for the department. (Chronicle
  • 🚒 A Thursday morning fire damaged 13 housing units and a taqueria near 16th and Mission Street, displacing 22 people from their homes and causing Taqueria Los Coyotes to close temporarily. (Mission Local
  • 🏠 The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to purchase a 114-unit residential hotel on Turk Street that will be used to provide housing to homeless people. The $34.8 million acquisition is less than one mile away from the Japantown hotel that the city tried buying last year before plans fell through due to neighborhood backlash. (Chronicle
  • 🚕On Tuesday, the driverless company Cruise opened up a public waitlist for San Franciscans who are interested in giving its robotaxi service a go. You can sign up here. (Broke-Ass Stuart
  • 🏙 Slack is ditching 13-floors of office space (around 200,000 square feet) at 45 Fremont Street after its CEO Stewart Butterfield said in December that “trying to lure employees back to the office…[was] probably a doomed approach.” Slack will be “digital-first,” the company said, but keep its headquarters at 500 Howard Street. (SFist / SF Business Times
  • 😔 The SFPD said during a 3-hour virtual town hall meeting last Monday that the man fatally shot by officers at SFO last month told police that his gun was loaded and asked to be shot. (Chronicle / SF Standard
  • 🍿 The 24th San Francisco Independent Film Festival (known as SF IndieFest) started on Thursday and runs through February 13. This year, festival-goers can watch the films at the Mission’s Roxie Theater or stream them online. (Broke-Ass Stuart

That’s what happened last week, so I’ll see you back here next week for another update. And remember, if you want quick, local news bits like this delivered right to you each weekday, click here to sign up for The SF Minute. It’s free!

– Natalie

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Natalie Mead

Natalie Mead

Natalie began her career at a tech company, but she has since seen the light and absconded with enough free t-shirts to last a lifetime. Now, she writes for The SF Minute and a smattering of other local news outlets.

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