EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 Homeless | Baghdad By The Bay

Posts Tagged 'homeless'

The Emperor Norton Bridge

norton.cartoonNow that we have a new span on the Bay Bridge apparently we have to name it. There are members of the NAACP in Southern California who think we should make an exception to the rule of not naming large structures after living people and name it after Willie Brown.

Don’t get me wrong, while I’m one of the few, I actually like Willie Brown. The man has style. The man has an attitude. He has so much attitude that if he was in favor of it being named after him he would have said something already. I guess that’s all part of being a kid born in Minneola, Texas and moving to San Francisco.

So functionally, by saying nothing I think we can take that as a no vote from Willie Brown. It’s part of the passive-agressive way politicians work in that it’s not always what they say, but what they don’t say. Our Governor, Jerry Brown who apparently didn’t learn the passive-agressive technique has just come right out and said he doesn’t like the idea.

So while the people of Southern California think they know what’s best for San Francisco, we need to come up with a counter attack to put the boobs of silicone valley in their place.

I strongly stand with the members of E Clampus Vitus who want the bridge named after Emperor Joshua Abraham Norton. This is a man who in 1859 proclaimed himself to be the Emperor of the United States of America and Protector Of Mexico. The man made his own money that people actually accepted around San Francisco. This is the type of guy that should have a bridge named after him.

As a matter of fact, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is unofficially named the Emperor Norton Bridge. There’s even a plaque on the San Francisco side stating this. Why can’t the politicians see this? We don’t have people like Emperor Norton anymore in the Bay Area and I think that we need people like that to symbolize the rough and tumble, do it yourself kind of mentality that made San Francisco what it is. Not the Mark Zuckerberg’s or Steve Job’s types who are in Silicon Valley, but the real people that San Francisco had who made a difference. There is no Emperor Norton Hotel, Bar or even Restaurant in San Francisco and if there’s a small chance I missed it then it needs to be more in the forefront than in the background as long as they’re doing a good job of representing him.

We are on the eve of the naming of the bridge so I suggest that you email Governor Brown, Mayor Lee and Mayor Quan and let them know that the bridge deserves a proper name.

SideCar.banner

 

Things you need to know about unemployment.

I really like to devote this space to San Francisco, but there are a few things that come up that make me have to turn away for a moment. Today that’s unemployment. There’s a dirty little secret that the unemployment office doesn’t want you to know and today I’m going to tell you what that is.

As the regulars around here know I’ve been unemployed for quite some time. I was working for a company last year that hired me through the jobsnow program that repaid my employer for my salary because I was an unemployed Dad. The program ended on September 30th, 2010 and wasn’t set for renewal so I once again became unemployed along with a quarter of million other people. I reapplied for unemployment not sure what would happen and it turned out they reopened my previous claim.

I continued looking for work, but I was only able to find 3-4 jobs a week to send my resumes to. I received a letter from EDD shortly after January 1st 2011 telling me that a new claim had been opened for me because I had new wages to base the claim on. It turns out that I started to get about $40 more a week that I was getting before so we were in a bit of a better place.

I continue looking for work and suddenly find that the 3-4 jobs a week had turned in to 5-6 jobs a day. Now I’m starting to get calls back and even an interview or two. Then at the beginning of this month I received a letter from EDD telling me that my benefits have run out. Well that’s happened to lots of people. That’s what all the benefit extensions we’ve been hearing about mean right? WRONG. In my case because I did indeed work last year and became unemployed and the EDD automatically filed a new claim for me based on my new earnings that gave me more money I still didn’t have enough money banked to cover my first 26 weeks of unemployment therefore I have been cut off for the rest of the year from receiving unemployment insurance.

I have filed an appeal, but even in talking to someone at the EDD office they told me that if you run out of money before your initial 26 weeks has finished that you are cut from receiving any more unemployment benefits for that year. I am not someone who is trying to cheat the system. I have been looking for work and there is no where on the EDD website where it says you need to cover your first 26 weeks or you will be dropped for the rest of your benefit year from receiving benefits.

This is the dirty little lie that no one wants you to know. I see the 99ers screaming about how they’ve been collecting benefits for 99 weeks and are now being cut because they’ve run out of extensions. I was 12 weeks into my claim and now I’m cut off for the rest of the year. Luckily things for me are looking up in the economy, but if I get a job that lasts only a few weeks or months I still can’t get unemployment again because what I earn won’t go on record until next year.

Luckily I have a good chance coming up with a very stable company that should work in my favor if I can get it. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

[ad#AdBrite]

Work is Coming Back to San Francisco!

I have to say that the past couple of years have been rough. Jobs have been disappearing left and right and it’s hard for me to name a time when I can remember working a 40 hour week. Most of the jobs I’ve had in the last 4 years have been 40 hours a week when I started, but quickly moved down to 20-30 sometimes 15 hours a week.

The bosses at those jobs used to use the trick of telling me I sucked at what I was doing in order to fire me so they wouldn’t have to pay into unemployment, but I won out every time and those companies have all gone out of business.

In the last couple of years I would search for jobs daily and if I was lucky I would find three, maybe four jobs a week. Over the last month though I am beginning to find 30-40 jobs a week and I’m actually getting calls for interviews. I’ve got three interviews scheduled this week plus freelance work that’s come out of nowhere to add more change in my pocket.

I even had an interview today and they actually said that if I was hired they would include health benefits. Now how weird is that for a company in San Francisco? This wasn’t a health insurance plan that was a company of five doctors that you got to choose from, but an actually real big overpriced health insurance company that my prospective employers actually pays part of the premium like they’re supposed to, not tell the government they are, but charge it all to the employee like many have done to me in the past.

Now that fact that I’ve sent out my resume to 120-160 jobs in the last month and I’m still not employed may seem like something wrong with me, but there are lots of people who don’t have jobs and as my wife said to me today, Well, if you don’t get it, that at least means there will be less people in the pool for other jobs you find. I hadn’t thought about that, but I think she’s right.

There are lots of people who have been down and out in San Francisco over the lack of jobs, but now that our new Mayor Ed Lee is extending local tax breaks to businesses [which there are hardly any cities that charge a payroll tax on businesses] it looks like things are turning up for us. San Francisco is a damn expensive place to live in not just with housing, but also with the fact that a trip to the store revealed Oscar Mayer bacon is selling for $8.99 a pound. I don’t want to sound like an old curmudgeon, but I remember 15 years ago when that was $1.99 a pound. Of course back then I was eating rib eye steaks and filet mignon for around $4.99 and I didn’t have to go to Costco to get it.

Good times are ahead for us and don’t let them get you down.

Mid-Market: It’s Freaky to Walk Around

Everyone is talking about the possibility of Twitter and other tech company moving to the mid-market area. I had the chance to walk around the area today to get a feel for what it would be like if I had to work there. It wasn’t a pretty sight and now I’m going to tell you all about it.

As some of you may remember I have a friend that lives in the Tenderloin just a couple of blocks from where I was today. For people like him Mid-Market works because the first thing I noticed was all the Dollar Stores. If you’re single and on a limited budget Dollar Stores are the way to go. You don’t need the jumbo Costco sized items because they usually go bad before you’ve finished them [except bacon bits which I feel you can never have too much of]. Being able to get smaller food items like cooking supplies cheap is good. So that’s about where anything good I have to say about this area ends.

After noticing all the dollar stores, I started to realize that with very few exceptions I was probably one of the only sane people on the streets. I saw people who looked normal and then they’d start screaming at the top of their lungs and banging on anything that was around. I wouldn’t call them much of a threat to anyone except themselves, but there were a few tourists who for some reason thought it would be a good idea to come up here and found out the hard way they were wrong.

Then as I made my way to Civic Center Plaza I noticed that there at least 40 people sitting around on the granite slabs and almost everyone of them either had a cane or a wheelchair. These were not elderly people either. They were around my ages and in many cases younger. These could have been props if they were asking for money, but they weren’t asking for anything. They were just sitting around talking about nothing much and they just looked like a slab of granite in the sun what about the only thing any of them had to look forward to other than making it through another day.

Suddenly I hear a group of black guys in front of me start cheering, “You go girl!” and the usual cat calls, so me being male turned around to see a woman who thought it was a good idea in the middle of Civic Center Plaza to drop her pants and start peeing. I suppose if seeing a girl peeing is the high point of your day, what exactly does that say about the quality of your life? The stench of barf, urine and excrement is very present here even though the place looks relatively clean.

If you can stomach the smell and want to find food there are a few places, but not many. Mostly fast food places some of which I remember eating at and they didn’t stand up to the same places in other parts of town. There are a few diner style restaurants, but they all served pretty much the same thing. Eggs at Breakfast and burgers for lunch. If you look real hard you might find some teriyaki, but you’d really have to look hard. There’s actually more places to eat a block away on Mission street, but I was walking Market because I hadn’t had a chance to walk this part in several years.

Yes, there is the Main Library which I’ve talked about before and that’s nice, but I don’t think too many techies will be taking their lunch break to go to the library [which oddly enough does have a decent cafe downstairs].

Twitter has been offered a sweet offer from the city to stay here and take up residence in Mid-Market that the city is hoping to bring up that area. So far it looks like that will be a long time coming for this part of the city.

[gmap width=”650px” height=”200px” type=”satellite” visible=”true” static=”true” zoom=”16″ lat=”37.7797232″ lon=”-122.4131994″]

[ad#AdBrite]

Sometimes you gotta leave the city…

And you’ll get a few surprises when you do. My wife and I were trying to figure out what to do last Friday because our daughter was off from school for a furlough day and needed something to get some of the energy out of her.After jokingly saying let’s go to San Jose because I hate when she asks, “What do you want to do” and no matter what I offer she always comes up with something different.

So I waited and she comes in and says what about San Mateo? San Mateo? Why San Mateo? Well it turns out that there’s a huge toy store there called Talbots Toyland that she’s heard a lot about. I figured it’s close enough and I haven’t been outside the city [which means farther south than Serramonte] in quite awhile.

Now I know I’m supposed to be writing about all things San Francisco, but when we got there I saw something I didn’t see in San Francisco, well there were a few things:

  1. It’s clean, almost Singapore-like clean.
  2. No homeless people.
  3. No one has an accent. This is something people who hate the Marina say it’s because they’re “too white” but they aren’t “too white” there were asians, latinos and african americans, just no accents or ebonics.
  4. You can understand people who ask to take your order in a restaurant. See above
  5. Parking Downtown: It’s there and it’s 50¢ per hour!

As we were walking around the downtown area we noticed that there was a Draeger’s market across the street so we decided to take a peek. Not really a cheap grocery store, but the quality of the food was good and they actually had products I had never heard of, like Yunnan Palace Bamboo Rice which is green. They even had an escalator going up to the second floor where they had home and kitchen wares.

As for Talbots Toyland, they had everything. They had a room just for model train people and slot car enthusiasts. I didn’t even know they still made slot cars. They had another room of just dolls and another just for biking supplies. They had a stuffed giraffe toy that was easily 15 ft tall and we were wondering what kind of house you would have to have to have that. Obviously a big one.

There are some downsides though. If you like to drink more than beer and wine you’ll have a problem. There were only two bars we saw downtown [mind you this wasn’t an exhaustive check out, only a couple of hours] and Draeger’s only carries wine and beer. Your selection of foods are a little thin downtown in that there’s four pizza places in one block, Two taquerias in the next and a couple of Chinese and Japanese restaurants in the third. Their traffic signs also could use a bit of work, when we were leaving there was a sign that pointed to us to get over to the left for San Francisco which when we did missed the on ramp to San Francisco because that was on the right. We then proceeded to make a U-turn and what looked like pretty much the only street you COULD make a U-turn on and as we’re driving back the on ramp that pointed to 101 South turned out to be the onramp for 101 North. We still made it home in under 30 minutes.

It was a nice place to visit, but I like the fact that San Francisco keeps you on your toes. Which is probably part of the reason people on the Peninsula don’t like San Francisco. As we were walking down the streets we could have been in Burlingame or Millbrae, everything looked the same. No big chain stores though. I’m sure there’s a few there, there has to be and I didn’t see a single SamTrans bus, but did get shaken as the Cal-Train passed by.

All in all, I think I like San Francisco better, but it’s nice to get away once in awhile.

1906 Earthquake Shacks

Recently, I’ve been giving it to my friends back east or in Europe who are complaining about the snow that while it’s a chilly 45°-55° here in San Francisco we still have sun [usually]. Their usual response is, “I’ll take the snow over earthquakes any day.”

I’ve heard lots of people say that in the past and in reality we haven’t had a quake that’s done any damage in San Francisco since 1989. 21 years and no big quakes. We’ve had a few little ones here and there, but those just give you a little startle.

Now the 1906 quake is one I’m glad I missed. It was rated at between 7.8-9.0 magnitude and left over half of San Francisco homeless. Worse thing is that it wasn’t the earthquake that did the most damage, but the fires that started afterwards that caused the most damage. The quake itself ruptured the San Andrea fault for 290 miles. By comparison, the 1989 Loma Prieta ruptured only 25 miles. Damage by todays standards from the 1906 quake would have put the total loss at over $8 Billion dollars.

So what exactly did the city do to help out the homeless people? They built refugee camps with housing like the one in the picture. This house is an actual 1906 earthquake shack that has been restored. Quite unlike most other museums [this one is at the Randall Museum] you can walk inside of it.

What we have here was a very quickly put together 10’x10′ one room house with no running water or toilet. The walls were built of 1/2″ x 4″ wood planks that are probably much better quality than we have today, but still, there’s no insulation, no caulking to block out drafts. It must have been pretty miserable to live in, but a lot better than living outside in the fog. Back then you could purchase one for $50 on a rent to lease option. Rental was between $2-$15. This one had a sign that said $2/month rent so I can only assume that the $15/month were a bit bigger. Some of these are still being found today. I was at recovery challenge out by the beach that Woody LaBounty of the Western Neighborhoods Project put together. Apparently, someone had one in their backyard and if Woody and his people could come and get it, they could restore it.

[mappress mapid=”10″]The only other one I’ve seen is at the San Francisco Zoo which you can also walk into, but that one is unfurnished. You can tell when you first walk in that life was simpler back then what with your house consisting of a bed, a table, a pot-bellied stove and a sewing machine. At least that’s what this one was furnished with. Most of these houses were set up in Golden Gate Park at the time as it was probably the most stable land in San Francisco to hold them. If you want to feel a little bit happier about where you live come check this out. Oh and by the way, the Randall Museum is free.

Keeping your head above water in SF.

Brother can you spare $100,000

As you’ve probably figured out, I love San Francisco a lot. Even though this is one of the top 5 most expensive cities to live in in the world. Becoming a parent wasn’t something I had planned on, but I’m glad I did it. I would assume most people don’t plan on becoming parents especially in this economy, but they do.

There are a lot of things they tell you about when you’re going to become a parent, but unfortunately, there’s a lot more that they don’t. For instance. Wife has the baby takes care of baby until maternity leave is up then goes back to work right? Not exactly. When your wife goes back to work that means that you have to pay someone to take care of the baby unless you have family members to do it for you [we don’t]. So now unless your wife is making more than $20/hour her after taxes paycheck is just handed over to the day care group. Does this sound right?

You can also add to the fact that San Francisco which I’m sure other cities share this has a large number of employers who don’t offer health insurance. I’m lucky in that my employer does offer it, but won’t pay anything into it. I don’t think this is legal, but hell, I’m getting health insurance for us at a less than what it would cost us on our own to get. Unfortunately, at the end of the month my take home pay to keep the three of us fed and healthy is equal to less than my mother’s monthly social security check. Something is not right here. In a city as great as San Francisco the middle class shouldn’t be forced into poverty just because they had a child. The only thing going for us is that we own our house. If we didn’t we’d be on the streets. 

Mayor Newsom is helping out by providing health care services which we would qualify for, but the services offered are a bit questionable as they’re clinics not true health care facilities. Something needs to be done, but at this point I’m not sure what. Richard Branson just started following me on Twitter so maybe he’ll make me his new charity. 🙂