San Francisco

In  Marin County the  Mill Valley Film Fest  is underway. It opens Thursday October 2, and this week we're featuring some of the many local documentary makers in this year’s program.

Today, we explore the film FREE, which follows young dance students at Destiny Arts in Oakland as they navigate harsh realities like abuse, violence, suicide attempts, and absent parents, all while preparing for a big dance performance that compels them to express their innermost fears. Director Suzanne Lafetra came to the studio, to talk about the film. A note to our listeners, this interview contains a description rape.

Under CC license from Flickr user Taber Andrew Bain

It all started a couple of years ago, when a happy-go-lucky guy I swim with named Joe Omran showed up at Aquatic Park one day in a foul mood. Thirty years ago, he bought a small grocery and deli on the western edge of Nob Hill called Le Beau Market. Now he wanted to open a café nearby. Just a little one.

Isabel Angell

Part of getting older means you can’t get around like you used to. Maybe you can’t drive a car anymore, or hike up those big San Francisco hills to catch the bus.

A Nepali soup kitchen for the soul

Sep 22, 2014
Rachel Wong

Around 5pm on a cold, windy Tuesday, an eclectic mix of people stand in a long line at Civic Center’s UN Plaza in San Francisco, waiting patiently. Some have big travel backpacks, a couple have tough-looking dogs, and a few are dressed like they just came from work. Suddenly a bright orange and yellow minivan arrives at the plaza. A team of volunteers wearing orange aprons emerge and quickly set up tents, tables, and giant, metal vats of steaming food. The food smells of ginger and garlic.

Out In The Bay 9/18/14

Sep 18, 2014

Interview with Rick Shelton, aka Lola Montez.

Back in the early part of the 20th century, San Francisco’s North Beach was a Mecca of accordion building (and playing) in the United States. And the accordion is San Francisco’s official city instrument.

Vince Cirelli was an Italian American accordion repairman in his 90s, and Skyler Fell, a woman in her early 30s, worked as his apprentice. Tattooed, pierced, and part of the “steam punk,” DIY, Burning Man scenes, Fell now owns her own accordion repair shop in San Francisco, where she says an “Accordion Revolution” is happening among people of all ages.

San Franciscans love to garden, but a backyard is hard to come by if you live in an apartment. And the 36 city-operated community gardens have wait lists with hundreds of names on them.

That’s why the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department had to get creative on the Golden Gate Park Community Garden. 

Ben Trefny


In the late 1990s and early 2000s, San Francisco passed a variety of measures to help low wage workers try to keep up with the rising cost of living. The city now has the highest minimum wage in the country at 10 dollars 74 cents an hour. It also requires employers to either provide health benefits or pay into a pool so the city can cover their health care costs.

SF Public Press

San Francisco's housing crisis has been making headlines for a while now. It’s hard to avoid the numerous news reports on skyrocketing rent prices, controversial evictions, or horror stories of terrible housing situations. But, there’s been far less coverage of what actual solutions there might be for these issues.

David Zlutnick

Activists gathered in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, last month, to call attention to part of the city’s housing crisis. They got together around a three-unit apartment building where flats are rented out to vacationers through an online broker. The protesters plastered the building with green stickers that said the tourist rentals there are illegal.

A Gay History: "For My Brothers"

Aug 20, 2014

The wild and crazy times of gay male life in San Francisco during the 70's and 80's are told in this memoir from someone who lived through them, miraculously. Marilyn talks with author Mark Abramson about his book, "For My Brothers." Thursday, August 21st, 2014. 7:00pm Pacific. 


In the garage of a house in San Francisco’s Excelsior district, rehearsal is underway. In the space where a car would normally go is a stage set: a table and chairs, a desk, a beat-up blue couch, and an old-fashioned pay phone hanging from a wall. 

Lisa Carmack

Tuesday night was the 31st year of National Night Out, an event that aims to help prevent crime by encouraging people get to know their neighbors and strengthen their communities. We sent reporters out to National Night Out gatherings all over the Bay Area to see what was going on.

Rhian Miller

I’m sitting at a table with Walter Kresnik and Quintin Rodriguez. They’re bent over big sheets of paper with pencils and markers and paint, drawing hearts.

The Book Report is a new series where we talk to local authors about the books they love. Writer Anisse Gross shared her pick - The Abortion - by Richard Brautigan, with Ninna Gaensler-Debs.




On the July 24th, 2014 edition of Your Call, we'll talk about a recent report that found that 76 percent of public grant money in San Francisco goes towards arts programs with primarily white audiences, even as people of color make up over half of the city's population. What’s the right way to decide who gets public money for the arts? Do the criteria need to change to ensure that the broadest public is served? It's Your Call, with Hana Baba, and you.


Eighteen-year-old Tatyana Martinez turned to writing poetry as a young girl to cope with big changes in her life. Over time, her poetry evolved into music. She now works for the youth run recording studio Upstar Records, inside San Francisco’s Sunset Youth Services. The youth center supports young people and their families with things like parenting classes, food assistance, and job training at Upstar. When she’s not helping young musicians make music, Martinez writes and records her own songs with the goal of putting out her own album. She shares the story behind her songs in this installment of Bay Area Beats.

Daniel Nicoletta

Gay Pride events take place in June in many communities around this country, and increasingly in other countries as well. The one here in San Francisco was among the first ever organized.

Blues legend Sugar Pie DeSanto still hits the high notes

Jul 10, 2014

She began winning talent shows up and down Fillmore Street at 18, when she weighed just 85 pounds, wore size 3 shoes and went by her given name, Umpeylia Marsema Balinton. 

This classic Al Green song reminds Mayor Ed Lee, of San Francisco, that if people face challenges together, they'll have a better chance of finding solutions.

At the corner of Sanchez and Market, Jason Dorn pulls out an iPhone. He’s at one end point of the access area for San Francisco Free WiFi, a free wireless network that the city launched this past December. It spans Market Street, from Castro Street to the Embarcadero. // Left Lane

San Francisco rapper A-1 comes in pairs his songs with video that often goes viral, including one shot spontaneously at the riots that followed the San Francisco Giants win of the World Series in 2010. In this installment of Bay Area Beats, A-1 talks about the evolution of his sound.

Click the audio player above to listen to the story.

Hear more of A-1's music and watch his videos here.



For 23 years, retired California Highway Patrol Sergeant Kevin Briggs patrolled the Golden Gate Bridge for suicide jumpers. He talked hundreds of people off the ledge and back onto the bridge and earned the nickname, “The Guardian of the Golden Gate.” His powers of persuasion were the doorway between life and death. Sometimes, unfortunately, they just weren’t enough.


City College of San Francisco is now able to stay open for another two years while it meets accreditation standards, according to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

This is a relief for the college which has feared closure since last July, when the commission decided to terminate the college’s accreditation this coming July.

flickr user freeside510

San Francisco is booming as construction cranes transform the city skyline. One of the most significant changes is happening at the Hunters Point Shipyard. It's a project so big, it seems like a whole new town is being built within the city. Residences, shops, parks, and high-rises are being built and will replace the naval shipyard – once a major source of employment, but dormant for years. 

Julie Blaumstein

As the city of San Francisco experiences new waves of growth and expansion, we travel back to another time before redevelopment reshaped the Fillmore District. 

In the 40’s and 50’s the Fillmore was a vibrant mix of cultures, and a national hotspot for jazz musicians. On any given night you could hear the voice of Billie Holiday, or the playing of Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Dizzy Gillespie. The lively and diverse neighborhood quickly earned a nickname: The Harlem of the West.   

San Francisco's Hunters Point Shipyard has played many roles. In the 1940s, it became a magnet for African Americans migrating from the South seeking jobs in the Navy's shipbuilding and maintenance industry. In the 1970s, when the military started to leave, it became an empty shell – a massive, polluted space eventually designated a Superfund site. Now, it's being redeveloped with the promise of new housing, jobs and open space. But in today's San Francisco, who is it for?

Behavioral health courts can give offenders who are mentally ill the option to be tried for non-felony crimes. Within the program, offenders can have access to not only the district attorney and public defender, but to several social services programs in order to help them get them back on their feet. 

One catch — they have to want to be in the program. 

San Francisco  spends about $165 million each year on homeless services, according to a report requested by city Supervisor Mark Farrell. In an attempt to understand the cost effectiveness of those programs, Supervisor Farrell organized a series of eight hearings this spring, focused on homeless services in San Francisco. Farrell sat down with KALW's Ben Trefny to talk about what came out of those hearings.