Hey there, San Francisco.
Happy Friday. And happy April Fool’s Day.
As a friend texted me today: “I trust nothing on April 1.” So to be clear, I just wanted to say, there are no tricks or jokes in the newsletter ahead.
Still, I know that might be hard to believe when following the news of our beloved city.
Exhibit A – The Van Ness rapid transit project. Twenty-seven years after its inception and $345 million later, the dedicated bus lanes running down the center of Van Ness Avenue officially opened on Friday.
You simply cannot make these things up.
“No, this is not an April Fool’s joke,” Mayor London Breed said during Friday’s ribbon cutting. “This is finally done.”
Initially scheduled for completion in October 2019, the Van Ness project was ultimately some $35 million over budget. Still, it's expected to be a game changer for commuters, reducing travel times by 32% up and down the thoroughfare.
As one rider told the Chronicle on Friday: “[It’s] really gonna change the way I can get around the city.”
And with that… onto the news…
Quick bits: News to know
😞 On Friday, the SFPD increased the reward from $100,000 to $250,000 for information regarding the death of Nicole Fitts, who was found buried in McLaren Park in 2016. Fitts’ daughter Arianna, who was two years old at the time, still remains missing. (Chronicle)
🌆 The city adjusted its financial plan on Thursday to assume San Francisco workers will work from home 33% of the time, more than double the 15% WFH estimate it published in January.
The result is an expected loss of $64.6 million in business tax revenue for the upcoming fiscal year. (SF Standard)
🍹Ocean Beach Cafe, which gained notoriety over the past year, mostly for its nonalcoholic beverage offerings, is shutting down. “I am not on this world to make lattes right now,” its owner Joshua James told Eater.
A new restaurant, run by former former Atelier Crenn sous chef Frank Gama, is expected to open in its place. (Eater)
🏟 With Opening Day just a week away, Axios published a list of payroll totals for all 30 teams across Major League Baseball.
Currently, at $144 million, the Giants have the 13th priciest payroll.
Meanwhile, the rival Los Angeles Dodgers have the league's most expensive payroll at $274.8 million. (Axios)
🐕 San Francisco SPCA announced Thursday that it’s selling its Pacific Heights animal hospital to another group of Bay Area veterinarians. With the money from the sale, the SPCA plans to open a new clinic in the Excelsior District, an area president Jennifer Scarlett described to the Chronicle as a “vet desert.” (Chronicle)
What else I’m reading: Links to browse
Drug dealers in the Tenderloin come out in force at night. What can S.F. do to stop the chaos? (Chronicle)
Tales of a Tower: For the Titan of SF's Skyline, the New World of Work Presents Daunting Challenges (SF Standard)
Despite Ridicule, the Patagonia Vest Endures in San Francisco Tech (KQED)
ICYMI: This week’s most popular stories
Monday: Where to Eat During San Francisco Restaurant Week, Spring 2022 (Eater)
Tuesday: One-on-One with Silicon Valley’s Enemy No. 1 (Puck)
Wednesday: How will San Francisco’s western skyline change to add 80,000 homes? (Examiner)
Thursday: What Makes a Street 'Private'? And Why Does San Francisco Have So Many? (KQED)
And finally… Blue heron hatchlings 🐣
Head to Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park come mid-April and you’ll be in for quite the show.
There, through high-powered telescopes, you’ll be able to see great blue herons tending to their recently hatched, baby chicks.
“It’s the most exciting thing to witness,” Nancy DeStefanis, who runs San Francisco Nature Education, told me on Friday. “To see these birds, that looks like dinosaurs, being fed by their parents.”
DeStefanis, who was the first person to document the great blue herons’ nesting in Golden Gate Park back in 1993, said sometimes the feedings can involve the parents “regurgitating fish” or “dumping gophers or moles into the nests” for their young to eat.
“It’s really up close and personal,” she said.
This season’s heron watch takes place across six Saturday’s in-a-row, starting April 16. Those interested should head to the group’s observation site on the south side of Stow Lake between 10am and 1pm.
Bring binoculars if you have them, but spotting scopes will be available too. Volunteers will also be on site to answer questions.
“We put you right in the nest [with the telescopes],” DeStefanis said. “The adults say, ‘Oh my god.’ And the kids say, ‘This is the best day of my life.’ That’s what we hear over and over and over.”
For more information about Heron Watch 2022, including a map of where to meet near Stow Lake, check out SF Nature Education’s site here. The viewing is free, but donations are welcome.
Separately, DeStefanis’ group will also offer guided walks around Strawberry Island each of the Saturday’s for families with children ages 6-12. Those tours, which depart from the observation site at 10am and teach attendees about all the birds on the island, run for around two hours. The cost for adults is $10.
That’s all for today! Have a wonderful weekend y’all and see you back here on Monday. - Nick B.