<p>From the back rooms of City Hall to the crowded and chaotic streets of downtown, the San Francisco City Insider podcast is there, providing insight into the biggest news stories and most pressing issues facing one of the most-interesting cities in the world. Chronicle columnist Heather Knight hosts the podcast, with regular appearances from The San Francisco Chronicle’s City Hall team – Trisha Thadani and Dominic Fracassa. They ask the tough questions of our city’s leaders to find out what’s going right and what needs to change to make life better for everyone who lives and works in the city.</p>
Ella Yitzhaki, a senior at Lowell High, has become an advocate for amending the California constitution to allow 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they'll be 18 by the general election. She talks about the reasons for the change and what it's like being a kid in San Francisco.
Ten months. Nearly 30 visits to the psychiatric ER. And a suicide. Summer’s story reveals the weaknesses in San Francisco’s mental illness and addiction treatment system.
“Off to the Races” Already
(Originally published March 4, 2019.) With the election nine months away, nearly $200,000 has already been poured into the race for the District Five seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Vallie Brown, who was appointed by Mayor London Breed following Breed’s ascension to Room 200, faces stiff competition for her reelection. Tenant Attorney Dean Preston, who narrowly lost to Breed in 2016, is running as a Democratic Socialist. That could be a problem for Brown, who’s associated with the moderate mayor. San Francisco Chronicle City Hall reporter Trisha Thadani sits down with host Heather Knight to talk about what this all means for Mayor Breed, the city and the district.
San Francisco's New Political Spot
Manny Yekutiel looks back on the first year of Manny's, discusses the importance of civic engagement and talks about why he'd never let Donald Trump — or any other Republican — speak there.
Fifth & Mission: Rocks and Hard Places
We're sharing this episode of The Chronicle's Fifth & Mission podcast, in which SF City Insider host Heather Knight joins Kevin Fagan and Demian Bulwa to talk about the infamous boulders on Clinton Park alley, which have become a symbol for San Francisco's inability to provide basic services for its homeless population or to enforce laws when street behavior turns dark and violent.
Total SF: Warriors president Rick Welts interview
Warriors president Rick Welts joins the San Francisco Chronicle's #TotalSF team Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight for a The Big Event/SF City Insider podcast crossover. Welts makes the case to add the Chase Center to the new 49 Mile Scenic Route being created by Knight and Hartlaub, and talks about living in San Francisco, his friendship with NBA legend Bill Russell and submits to Knight's City Insider lightning round.. Produced by Peter Hartlaub.
Taking a Shot at the NRA
Supervisor Catherine Stefani made national news when her resolution calling the National Rifle Association "a domestic terrorist organization" passed the Board of Supervisors unanimously. She talks about her reasons and the fallout.
DA Tuesday: Chesa Boudin
The most progressive candidate in the race for San Francisco district attorney is a public defender who's been visiting his father in prison since he was a baby. He discusses the major changes he'd like to see in our broken criminal justice system.
A Little Dignity for the Homeless
Doniece Sandoval, the founder of Lava Mae, which brings mobile showers and toilets to the streets, discusses City Hall's sluggishness, how parents can explain street misery to their kids, and what average San Franciscans can do to help.
DA Tuesday: Suzy Loftus
The front-runner in the race discusses what she'd do about San Francisco's biggest problems, including untreated mental illness on our streets, drug dealing and car break-ins.
DA Tuesday: Nancy Tung
Why San Francisco's Vision Zero Isn't Working
Janice Li, a Bicycle Coalition staffer and BART director, talks about how San Francisco's program to eliminate traffic deaths is big on marketing and short on actual answers. Plus: What's in store for BART, and Li’s favorite and least favorite stations.
DA Tuesday: Leif Dautch
In the first of four interviews with the candidates for San Francisco district attorney, Leif Dautch talks about how he'd remake the troubled office and his plans for a 150-bed mental health center. Plus: He plays his fiddle, a first for SF City Insider.
An Attack, a Video and the Fallout
The harrowing viral video of an attack on a woman trying to enter her waterfront condo has reignited debate over how San Francisco ought to balance helping those in crisis with ensuring public safety.
S.F.’s First Openly LGBT Fire Chief
Jeanine Nicholson talks about her cancer battle, what San Francisco should do about its homeless epidemic and whether we’re really prepared for a massive earthquake. Plus: Her favorite burrito spot.
An Epidemic of Untreated Mental Illness
San Francisco is compelling far fewer mentally ill people into mandated treatment. Columnist Heather Knight and City Hall reporter Dominic Fracassa discuss the rise in clearly untreated mental illness on the city's sidewalks.
Living on the Cheap in One of the World's Most ...
As his name implies, Broke-Ass Stuart's whole shtick is living a big life with little cash. But that's become harder than ever in San Francisco. The city character explains how he does it and offers tips for others.
Treating San Francisco Homelessness Like a Real...
If San Francisco experienced a major fire or earthquake and thousands of residents were suddenly homeless, would the city form task forces and appoint an expert to study the problem? Kara Zordel, CEO of Community Assessment and Treatment Services, says it's time we treat homelessness like a real emergency too.
Into the Weeds with SF's Cannabis Czar
As director of San Francisco's cannabis office, it's former prosecutor Marisa Rodriguez's job to grow the city's legal pot economy. One of her top priorities? Ensuring victims of the War on Drugs get the first chance to benefit as business-owners now that cannabis is legal in California.
What Does London Lack That SF Has in Abundance?...
In talking to friends and colleagues who’ve done their own recent traveling, it’s clear to columnist Heather Knight that many cities around the world and the U.S. maintain a better quality of life for residents of all income levels, as well as create a better experience for visitors.
Breaking Down the Budget
How does a city with a $12 billion budget still have so many problems? City Hall reporters Dominic Fracassa and Trisha Thadani break down how the $12 billion budget isn't actually as much as it seems.
The Fight Over the Embarcadero Navigation Center
Everyone agrees San Francisco must address its homelessness problem, but the fierce debate over the Embarcadero navigation center highlights how hard that is to do. Trisha Thadani and Dominic Fracassa on the city's struggle.
Poverty and Financial Justice in San Francisco
For the past two years, San Francisco's Financial Justice Project has been working to eliminate government fees and fines that are particularly painful, and in some cases, ruinous, to the city's poorest. Anne Stuhldreher, who leads the project, sat down with Chronicle reporter Dominic Fracassa to talk about her team's accomplishments and how to keep the government from enriching itself on the backs of its most vulnerable. For more on the project: https://sftreasurer.org/financialjustice.
Making Sense of the Affordable Housing Mess
The mayor and a few members of the Board of Supervisors are battling over the best way to build more affordable and teacher housing. Both sides have proposals for the November ballot. We try to untangle the issues.
Taxing Wealthy Companies to Solve SF's Problems
Should San Francisco raise taxes on prosperous companies to help pay for the city's most gripping problems? Between a tax on IPO's, Uber and Lyft and exorbitantly paid CEO's voters will have plenty of options to choose from in November. We break down the three business tax proposals headed to November's ballot, focusing on the most recent one that would raise money for a new mental health care system.
Finding the Tipping Point on Homelessness
Daniel Lurie is the CEO and founder of Tipping Point, an anti-poverty nonprofit in San Francisco. He tells Heather Knight that the solution to homelessness is homes, but also that we can all help the homeless by simply treating them as people.
Total SF Live! with Amanda Guest, Emily Silverm...
A crossover episode of The Big Event and San Francisco City Insider podcasts, recorded live on May 16, 2019, at the Betabrand Podcast Theater in the Mission District. San Francisco Chronicle pop culture critic Peter Hartlaub and San Francisco columnist Heather Knight interview BFF.fm online radio founder Amanda Guest, The Nocturnists podcast host Dr. Emily Silverman and Muni Diaries co-hosts Tara Ramroop and Eugenia Chien. Produced by Peter Hartlaub. Music is "The Tide Will Rise" by the Sunset Shipwrecks on the album "Community."
Opioid Addiction: One Family's Story
When 33-year-old Jeffrey Choate’s parents saw their son, homeless and addicted to heroin and meth, in Heather Knight's San Francisco Chronicle column, they wanted to tell her about how he ended up that way. We also hear from Choate, now in jail.
I Left My Heart - and Wallet, iPhone and Sanity...
Joe D’Allesandro, director of S.F. Travel, took City Hall to task a year ago for doing so little to improve safety and quality-of-life on the city’s streets. Between poop, needles, tent camps and car break-ins, tourists are often shocked and disgusted and vow to never return. And that’s a problem for a city that relies on tourism. We’re talking to him again to see what, if anything, has changed and what tourists are saying now.
Mid-Market: Vision and Reality
We're sharing this episode of the Chronicle's flagship Fifth & Mission podcast about the expiring “Twitter tax break,” created by San Francisco in 2011 to draw companies to the downtrodden Mid-Market neighborhood. Reporters Trisha Thadani, J.K. Dineen and Roland Li discuss its impact and effects, both good and bad. Subscribe to Fifth & Mission wherever you get San Francisco City Insider.
San Francisco’s Deadly Streets - And What Could...
Five years ago, city officials vowed to eliminate all traffic deaths in 10 years in a safe streets program dubbed Vision Zero. Halfway through those 10 years, San Francisco is making no progress in eliminating traffic fatalities. Already this year, 12 people have died in traffic including seven pedestrians, a bicyclist, a skateboarder and three people in cars. Jodie Medeiros, director of the pedestrian advocacy nonprofit Walk San Francisco, talks about why San Francisco can’t seem to get a handle on making its streets safe - and what changes are needed to make Vision Zero a reality.
Homeless Navigation Centers: Now What?
The city's plan to build a homeless shelter on the Embarcadero faces a legal challenge. Jeff Kositsky, director of San Francisco’s homelessness department, talks about the need to balance an emphasis on short-term shelters with permanent housing.
Fixing SF's Behavioral Health System Is Difficu...
Something isn’t working within San Francisco’s behavioral health care system, but city officials don't exactly know how to fix it yet. City Hall reporter Trisha Thadani breaks down why it's so complicated, and what San Francisco is doing to add more coordination, focus and accountability to the system.
Tribute to the Richmond District
A tribute to the Richmond District, recorded at the historic Balboa Theatre, before a #TotalSF screening of "So I Married an Axe Murderer."
America’s Most Woke Library
A chat with Michael Lambert, San Francisco’s new city librarian. The title sounds pretty old-school, but the city’s libraries are anything but. They’re about to become fine free. They host drag queen storytimes. They were among the first to add social workers to the staff since libraries are also makeshift homeless shelters. And last year San Francisco was named the nation’s best library system.
The Queen of Car Break-ins
Shirin Oloumi is known as the Queen of Car Break-ins. She doesn't break into cars. She prosecutes the people who do. Every car break-in that leads to an arrest in San Francisco crosses her desk, and she not only makes the charging decisions about them but appears in court to argue to Superior Court judges that the city’s property crime epidemic needs to be taken more seriously.
Why S.F. General's bills are so damn high
Now that San Francisco General Hospital’s sketchy billing practice—in which privately insured patients are personally on the hook for their bills—have been revealed, there’s a central question: Why are the bills so high? From $34,000 bumps and bruises to $92,000 appendectomies, these amounts are outrageous because of the ever-inflated hospital “chargemaster.” That’s the list of rates, which is approved each year, no questions asked, by the mayor and the Board of Supervisors, who admit they had no idea what they were voting on. City Hall reporter Trisha Thadani interviews columnist Heather Knight about the latest in the billing scandal.
Inside San Francisco’s Mental Health Crisis
Rachel Rodriguez, a social worker in San Francisco General Hospital’s psychiatric emergency room, is incensed at the way some people are painting the move toward conserving more mentally ill people. She’s in favor of the changes and explains why — and why the current system is so broken.
“Difficult” Supervisor Hillary Ronen
From her insistence she wasn’t elected president of the Board of Supervisors because of sexist ideas about her being “difficult” to her drive to build more homeless navigation centers and shelters in her district despite neighbors’ resistance, Ronen isn’t afraid to say what she thinks. She’s the firebrand of the board — and she loves that reputation.
A State Solution for SF General’s Brutal Billin...
Assemblyman David Chiu has heard the stories - of regular San Franciscans going to S.F. General with appendicitis, broken bones and migraines and getting stuck with a bill for tens of thousands of dollars. Even though they have private insurance. Chiu is teaming with State Sen. Scott Wiener to propose a state ban on all balance billing and cap what hospitals can charge for services at either 150 percent of Medicare’s rates or the average cost of insurance contracts. It would be a big hit to the city’s trauma center’s bottom line, but Chiu says it’s not fair to expect privately insured patients to shoulder such huge burdens.
Seeking Small Miracles for the Homeless
Miracle Messages uses social media to try to connect homeless people in San Francisco with long-lost love ones in hopes of getting them back home with someone who cares about them. They’ve matched nearly 200 pairs, but founder Kevin Adler says the city could do more to help. Heather Knight interviews Adler and joins him downtown as he and his fellow "ambassadors" talk to people living on the streets.
An Early Look at the Race to Become San Francis...
Columnist Heather Knight and Hall of Justice reporter Evan Sernoffsky discuss the already crowded field to replace San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. For the first time in about a century, there will be no incumbent in the race - meaning the field is wide open and several impressive candidates are already raising big money and gathering key endorsements. Who has the upper hand? What do San Franciscans want in their next DA? Get the inside scoop here.
185 Million Reasons to Fight
Official discussions about how to divvy up San Francisco's $185 million windfall were set to begin at Wednesday's Budget and Finance committee meeting. These discussions have become about a lot more than just which city budgets should get a boost. They're about what kind of city San Francisco wants to be. Trisha Thadani reports from City Hall.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera and the S.F. Votin...
San Francisco voters have recently approved major tax increases to fund homeless services, teacher pay raises and childcare, but the money’s being kept under theoretical lock and key until the courts weigh in. At issue is whether these measures really needed two-thirds voter support versus the simply majority they received. City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s controversial advice that they only needed a majority is what set off this hullabaloo. Columnist Heather Knight interviews him about it, as well as other subjects like his fight against the oil companies to pay up for climate change and, of course, his favorite burrito.
San Francisco School Teachers and Their Struggl...
Stephen Torres-Esquer, an award-winning special education teacher at Lowell High, talks about how hard it is to make it in one of the world’s most expensive cities on such a paltry salary. As San Francisco politicians fight over how to spend a surprise windfall of more than $184 million, he tells Heather Knight he’s likely to return soon to his hometown of Stockton, where he could buy a house and even open a savings account.
Does City Hall Have the Fix for District Six?
New Supervisor Matt Haney has barely begun his new job representing District 6, but he’s already deluged with meeting requests, emails and tweets from residents fed up with the filth, needles and feces on their sidewalks. He’s fed up with it too and said the Tenderloin and South of Market can no longer be the city’s dumping ground and residents can no longer be ignored. He even says there’s been a city conspiracy to allow these issues to fester in District Six, but we’ll let him explain.
The Great Progressive Compromise
For the first time in years, progressives have a majority on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, but their inability to unify around a single candidate for board president shows they have a long way to go to exert their power. Trisha Thadani reports on the victory of gentlemanly Norman Yee over firebrand Hillary Ronen.
Best of City Insider: Jane Kim
Jane Kim was a San Francisco Supervisor who was running for mayor when she talked to Chronicle columnist Heather Knight for this episode, which ran on March 21, 2018. Kim, who lost in her mayoral bid and was termed out from her seat on the Board of Supervisors, is known for big, bold ideas, only a fraction of which became reality at City Hall. But she centered her mayoral campaign on a very practical policy initiative: cleaning the city’s notoriously dirty streets.
Best of City Insider: Marc Benioff
The 61st floor of the Salesforce Tower was the setting for San Francisco Chronicle columnist Heather Knight's interview with CEO Marc Benioff just before the 2018 election. Benioff talks about his support for Prop. C, the initiative to tax big businesses — like Salesforce — to raise money for homeless services, and why he scolded other San Francisco CEOs for not doing the same. From Nov. 2, 2018.
Best of City Insider: Police Chief Bill Scott
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Heather Knight talks to SFPD Chief Bill Scott about the epidemic of car break-ins and what residents and the police can do to prevent these crimes. Scott also talks about homelessness and injection drug use on the city’s streets. From April 2, 2018.
The San Francisco Movie Special
Chronicle columnist Heather Knight talks to Bay Area movers and shakers about their favorite San Francisco films. "Vertigo" and "Mrs. Doubtfire" get a lot of votes as Mayor London Breed, Marc Benioff, State Senator Scott Weiner and others weigh in.
Best of City Insider: Candidate London Breed
When London Breed sat down with San Francisco Chronicle columnist Heather Knight in April, she was the president of the Board of Supervisors and the former acting mayor — after her colleagues had booted her from office. She was also running for mayor, a race she would win in June. In the April 4, 2018, episode of San Francisco City Insider, then-candidate Breed talks about her childhood in the Western Addition, her plans for San Francisco, and the fact that she worries about her own housing situation even as she serves in the upper echelons of city government.
Divvying up San Francisco's unexpected windfall
Late last month, San Francisco woke up to find itself $415 richer. The question now is: Where is all that money going to go? Competing plans have already emerged, and some groups, including education advocates, are already making the case for why they should get a piece of the pie. City Hall reporter Trisha Thadani is here to help us make sense of it all. Hosted by Dominic Fracassa.
State Senator Scott Wiener
The San Francisco Democrat talks with San Francisco Chronicle columnist Heather Knight about his proposal to give all homeless people in California a right to shelter, his second try at making car break-ins easier to prosecute, and one surprising benefit of being 6-foot-7.
Election 2018: Analysis from The Chronicle's po...
Breaking down the props, the measures, the midterms and looking ahead to 2020
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on homelessness
Marc Benioff has been making headlines for his support of Prop. C to tax big businesses to raise money for homeless services — and for his scolding of other San Francisco CEOs for not doing the same. Heather Knight talked to him on the 61st story of the new Salesforce Tower.
San Francisco Fire Chief hangs up her helmet
Joanne Hayes-White is the first woman to ever hold the job and the longest serving big city fire chief in the country.
SF District Ten Candidate Shamann Walton
The former school board president has a lot of support from San Francisco and California political veterans.
SF District Ten Candidate Tony Kelly
Will voters support a self-described democratic socialist?
SF District Ten Candidate Theo Ellington
Ellington is the youngest candidate in this race and some question whether he has enough experience to run a district.
SF District Six Candidate Christine Johnson
A former planning commissioner with an engineering degree, Johnson is a self-described policy wonk, and the only one in the race with experience working in a city department.
SF District Six Candidate Sonja Trauss
Trauss is a prominent housing activist who started the YIMBY movement and is running to bring a pro-housing voice to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
SF District Six Candidate Matt Haney
The school board member is a progressive candidate running against two pro-housing moderates running a one-two ranked-choice voting strategy, and both have been endorsed by the mayor.
SF District Four candidate Trevor McNeil
The only candidate in the District Four race who would support a Navigation Center in the district.
SF District Four candidate Gordon Mar
Can this progressive candidate win over a district long held by moderates?
SF District Four candidate Jessica Ho
Can she win in a sector of the city where name recognition really counts?
SF District Two Candidate Schuyler Hudak
The political newcomer has centered her campaign around increasing services for the mentally ill on the city's streets.
SF District Two Candidate Catherine Stefani
Appointed by former SF Mayor Mark Farrell, the incumbent recounts what she's accomplished so far in office, and what she still wants to achieve.
SF District Two Candidate Nick Josefowitz
The BART director has pledged to reform City Hall by tackling the city's homelessness and affordability crises.
The front lines of San Francisco's mental healt...
A veteran of San Francisco General Hospital's psychiatric emergency room explains why the city's mental health system is so broken.
Debunking climate change deniers
Kevin Drew of the S.F. Department of the Environment and Jared Blumenfeld, formerly of the EPA, respond to tweets by climate change deniers — with facts.
Farewell to Chief of Staff Jason Elliott
Farewell to a four-time chief of staff: Jason Elliott, who served Mayors Ed Lee, London Breed, Mark Farrell and London Breed again, has just departed Room 200 to join Gavin Newsom’s campaign for governor. Elliott opens up about his last day working...
SF District Eight Supervisor Rafael Mandelman
One of San Francisco's newest supervisors sits down with Chronicle columnist Heather Knight and City Hall reporter Trisha Thadani to talk about what it will take to tackle the crisis of untreated mental illness on the city's streets, his thoughts on...
Emerge founder Andrea Dew Steele
Back in 2002, Andrea Dew Steele helped her friend, Kamala Harris, start a campaign for San Francisco District Attorney. Sixteen years later, Harris is a U.S. Senator with her eye on the White House and Steele’s Emerge, a training ground for women in...
The story behind San Francisco's "Invisible Men"
People walking to City Hall will be surprised to see 40 identical sculptures, each weighing more than 300 pounds, standing like soldiers just out front. Artist Zak Ove, an Englishman who’s the first black person to have art displayed in the plaza,...
San Francisco's homeless problem, explained
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Heather Knight talks with Jeff Kositsky, director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, about why the city’s homeless problem doesn’t seem to get much better despite city officials spending...
Catching up with SF Mayor-elect London Breed
Now that she's clinched the race for the city's top job, San Francisco Mayor-elect London Breed is getting ready to bear down on the city's most pressing problems. After her July 11 inauguration, Breed plans to begin immediately working on solutions...
San Francisco has a new mayor: London Breed
The S.F. mayor's race has finally come to an end, and London Breed will be the first African American woman to be elected to the city's highest office. Former state Sen. Mark Leno conceded defeat after more than a week of suspense. Listen in as The...
2018 California Primary Election recap
In a special election night podcast, the San Francisco Chronicle politics team breaks down the 2018 California primary. Listen in as John Diaz, Heather Knight, Joe Garofoli, Dominic Fracassa and John Wildermuth analyze results from San Francisco, Bay...
Understanding SF's opioid epidemic with Dr. Phi...
San Franciscans have a lot of questions about the blatant, open-air injection drug use occurring on our sidewalks. Dr. Phillip Coffin, director of substance use research for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, has answers. In an...
Catching up with SF Mayor Mark Farrell
Mayor Mark Farrell has just a few weeks left in office, but says he’s determined to keep the “pedal to the metal” in accomplishing real change for San Francisco before his time in Room 200 is up. In an interview with Chronicle columnist Heather...
Beach Blanket Babylon in the age of President T...
Episode 6 of the On San Francisco podcast is an interview with Jo Schuman Silver, writer and producer of Beach Blanket Babylon, the silly, only-in-San Francisco stage production that’s celebrating its 45th anniversary. While President Donald Trump...
London Breed on the SF mayor's race
In The Chronicle's final installment of our mayoral profiles, we're talking with London Breed, president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. She's gone from growing up as a poor kid in the city's Western Addition to ascending to the upper...
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott
There were more than 31,000 reports of car break-ins in San Francisco in 2017, but police were only able to make arrests in 1.7 percent of cases. Police Chief Bill Scott explains to columnist Heather Knight why these crimes are so hard to tackle, and...
San Francisco mayoral candidate Angela Alioto
Angela Alioto is banking on her years of experience in San Francisco politics to separate her from the pack of mayoral hopefuls in the June 5 election. Her campaign has focused on her pledges to break through the despondency of the city’s...
SF mayoral candidate interview with Supervisor ...
San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim is known for big, bold ideas, only a fraction of which become reality at City Hall. But she’s centering her mayoral campaign on a very practical policy initiative: cleaning the city’s notoriously dirty streets....
SF mayoral candidate interview with Mark Leno
Progressive mayoral candidate Mark Leno has centered his campaign on a promise to "shake up City Hall." But can a veteran lawmaker like Leno, who served 14 years in the state Assembly and Senate as well as a stint as a city supervisor, convince voters...