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Bay Area Headlines: Friday, 7/24/20, AM


CA COVID-19 Update / SF Vision Zero Urge Staying Vigilant / SF Panhandle Bike Path On The Way / SF Officials Review Statues And Monuments / SF's Prepares To Teach Kids During Pandemic / CCSF To Offer Degree In Cannabis Studies / New Openings In SF

CA COVID-19 Update

California counties are stepping up enforcement of public health orders as hospitalizations and positive tests for the coronavirus skyrocket in many parts of the state. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Marin and Napa county officials this week approved fines ranging from $25 to $500 for individuals violating public health orders, including failing to wear masks. Supervisors in nearby Sonoma County will consider a similar move.  The virus continues to surge in many parts of California, topping 425,600 total cases. There were 157 deaths on Thursday, the highest reported in a single day. Governor Gavin Newsom called it a “grim milestone.”

SF Vision Zero Urge Staying Vigilant

San Francisco’s infamously congested streets emptied almost overnight when the City’s shelter-in-place order was first issued. With it came a precipitous decline in traffic violence. But leaders of the City’s Vision Zero campaign — a coalition of city officials, advocacy groups and community members seeking to eliminate traffic deaths in San Francisco by 2024 — cautioned against getting too comfortable.

WalkSF’s Executive Director Jodie Medeiros penned a letter to SFMTA leadership and Board of Directors in May warning what could happen without “immediate action” by the agency. She wrote:

“We will soon see a tragic surge in severe and fatal traffic crashes in San Francisco, especially among our most vulnerable. And the City’s Vision Zero goal will slip out of sight.”

SF Panhandle Bike Path On The Way

Speaking of safer streets and improvements for both biking and social distancing, here in San Francisco Panhandle pathways may soon be much more conducive to social distancing, thanks to a long-awaited temporary protected bike lane on Fell Street that’s been green-lit after being held up in the permitting process since May.

The approximately one-mile bike lane will run directly alongside the Panhandle between Baker Street and Shrader Street.  It will reduce the current number of car travel lanes from four to three by shifting the existing paking lane over to occupy the lane closest to the park.  The lane is expected to be operational in August.

SF Officials Review Statues And Monuments

City officials have begun reviewing San Francisco’s statues and monuments to decide on their fates amid renewed calls for racial justice. Authorities are considering whether to keep or remove some 94 memorials and monuments in the civic arts collection, artwork created to honor a person or an event.  The review is being conducted in response to a directive issued by Mayor London Breed last month after the removal of a Christopher Columbus statue and the destruction of several other statues by protesters in Golden Gate Park.

City staff are gathering information about the various installations: The background of the artist, how the artworks were acquired and the ways communities have responded to the monuments.  And the Arts Commission will develop a set of criteria to help officials assess each statue.

City officials will also analyze the costs of removing and storing artworks that are deemed inappropriate. The price tag for the removal and storage of the Columbus statue alone is $110,000. It is currently in temporary storage, which costs about $500 a month.

SF's Prepares To Teach Kids During Pandemic

San Francisco officials are readying an unprecedented educational assistance program for the fall meant to help up to 6,000 children with their distance-learning needs, as parents and students confront the reality of starting the school year without classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting in September, dozens of recreation facilities, libraries and community centers across the city will be transformed into “learning hubs,” spaces where young students who may struggle with remote instruction can go each day to access their digital classwork and the social interactions that virtual schooling cannot provide.

CCSF To Offer Degree In Cannabis Studies

For the older student, in addition to smoking marijuana, college students can now major in it. City College of San Francisco announced on Thursday it is planning to offer a degree in cannabis studies, which it says is the first of its kind in the United States.

CCSF officials said:

“The degree is an introduction to the complex biopsychosocial relationship of humans to cannabis in multiple cultural, institutional and interpersonal contexts.”

New Openings In SF

While there is a lot of talk about a return to shutdowns throughout the city, here are a couple of opportunities for you to stretch your legs: Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden officially reopened Wednesday at a limited capacity. And San Francisco's Ferry Building Marketplace announced Thursday that it is fully open for business.