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Best of The Standard: Editor’s Top Ten for May

Written by Jonathan WeberPublished May 31, 2022 • 10:30am

Our biggest project here at The Standard in May was our first-ever poll, which provides all kinds of insights on the mood of residents in our fair city. TL;DR: It's not great, and voters appear poised to take out their discontent on District Attorney Chesa Boudin. We also wrote about the DA's controversial approach to drug cases, which drew a lot of attention and a furious response from Boudin's supporters. But it wasn't all grim political warfare. Even leaving aside the Golden State Warriors and their fans, we had some fun with a wave organ, a true crime book and a new feature called "Know Your Neighbors." Here are our top picks:

  • San Francisco Speaks Our first public opinion poll aimed to provide new insight into the minds of local voters. Fielded in May 2022, the poll surveyed 1,048 registered voters about their views on the city, its government and its challenges. Check out the full results and along with stories analyzing voter opinion on a range of issues.
  • DA Boudin and Fentanyl: Court Data Shows Just 3 Drug Dealing Convictions in 2021 as Immigration Concerns Shaped Policy Despite a surging fentanyl crisis that killed nearly 500 people last year in San Francisco, the office of District Attorney Chesa Boudin secured just three total convictions for “possession with intent to sell” drugs in 2021: two for methamphetamine and one for a case including heroin and cocaine, according to case information The Standard obtained from San Francisco Superior Court. Boudin’s office is still getting convictions in fentanyl drug sales cases, but the actual convictions are not for the crime of drug dealing. About 80% of the cases in a type of charge category that included fentanyl dealing—44 in total—involved a defendant ultimately pleading guilty to a crime called “accessory after the fact.” The explanation for the absence of drug-dealing convictions is multi-faceted. 
  • Turning Downtown Offices Into Housing Isn’t the Solution You Think It Is Based on social media rumblings, it seems like there’s a big appetite for converting now-empty San Francisco office buildings into housing. But while San Francisco’s downtown core appears rife with opportunity, with a record 24% of office space currently vacant—particularly within San Francisco’s bread-and-butter industry, tech—the city’s Planning Department currently has no pending applications for downtown office-to-housing conversions. Turning offices into homes may seem like an obvious solution to the city’s housing crisis, but it’s not so simple.
  • ‘Tenderloin Linkage Center’ Morphs into a Safe Consumption Site for Drug Use, Despite Legal Risk When Mayor London Breed announced the opening of the Tenderloin Linkage Center in January, she touted it as “a safe, welcoming space for those ready to access San Francisco’s health and human service resources easily and quickly.” The idea, Breed and other city officials said, was to create an easy path for people suffering from drug addiction or mental illness to be “linked” to services. But four months later, city officials have quietly dropped the word “linkage” from the title, according to the facility’s dashboard, and they now call it simply the Tenderloin Center. The change is about much more than a word. 
  • Celebrated Plan to Close SF’s Juvenile Hall in Tatters as City Moves to Build New Facility Nearly three years after the Board of Supervisors voted to close the city’s 150-bed juvenile hall in favor of “community-based alternatives,” the mayor has approved a cost analysis for building a smaller, less jail-like facility on the current site near Sutro Tower. The plan is the latest twist in an acrimonious three-year process where advocates aiming to end child incarceration collided with the realities of state requirements for detaining youthful offenders in secure facilities—on top of San Francisco’s infamous inability to get anything done promptly.
  • On the Great Highway, Competing Visions of San Francisco's Future Last month, bike and walk advocates secured a huge victory when the eastern segment of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park was made car-free permanently. Now, their eyes are on the next big battle: The Great Highway. This time, they have a key ally on the Board of Supervisors in Gordon Mar, who has openly supported the eventual full closure of the roadway to cars. 
  • How San Francisco's Iconic Wave Organ Sings Those taking a casual stroll along San Francisco’s marina could easily miss one of the city’s best kept secrets—especially if they fail to stop and listen. The Wave Organ, an acoustic instrument built into a natural jetty, sits on the Bay near Crissy Field. Joggers, dog walkers and tourists frequent the small strip of land for its fantastic views of the city, Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands, but it’s the jetty’s intermittent haunting sounds that really make it worth a visit. "This place isn’t about hearing, really. It’s about listening,” said Peter Richards, the Wave Organ’s designer and a senior artist-in-residence at the Exploratorium.
  • Corruption, Ghosts and Strychnine: ‘Who Killed Jane Stanford?’ is a Portrait of San Francisco’s Gilded Age Though many had their suspicions—and others knew for certain that it was a lie—the official story of the death of Jane Stanford held for nearly a century. Even after the ugly truth of her murder was laid bare, the identity of the killer of the co-founder of Stanford University remained a mystery for another two decades. Now, a detective of sorts has finally untangled the cover-up and named the person he’s convinced is responsible for murdering Stanford, the wife to railroad tycoon Leland Stanford.
  • Robin Galante: A Forensic Artist for SF Buildings Lost to Time For some, the soul of San Francisco was lost long ago, but for local artist and illustrator Robin Galante the vibrant spirit of this city can still be found. One just needs to know where to look. Since first moving to and falling in love with San Francisco as an SF State student in 2003, Galante has earned a living by working a variety of odd jobs. But over the last four years, the self-taught artist has built a loyal following—and a successful small business—based on her illustrations of San Francisco streetscapes, vistas and Victorian homes.
  • How SF Promoter Bill Graham Built a Rock & Roll Empire and Changed the Music Industry in the Process Most local music fans will be familiar with Bill Graham on some level, even if only subconsciously. Reminders of his influence and monuments to his life’s work—which was devoted to harnessing the countercultural ethos of rock & roll and molding it into a mainstream economic engine—are all over the city and the broader Bay Area. Dedicated concert-goers have almost certainly spent time in one of the many venues where Graham made his name as San Francisco’s larger-than-life concert impresario.

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