Dog walker talks pandemic ups and downs / $1.8 million Lotto ticket sold in the city

It's Wednesday, April 21st.

Good evening, San Francisco. 

For roughly four hours on Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors’ budget committee and a mighty queue of callers discussed the proposal to provide safe sleeping sites for any unhoused person in the city. 

In the end, the committee pushed the vote to a later date. 

“Thank you, colleagues,” Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who authored the legislation, said after the delay was decided. “I’ll keep trying to win you over.” 

The discussion was an interesting one on several fronts, and if you want a play-by-play account of what happened, it’s worth checking out the heroic work of Here/Say Media reporter Christina Campodonico, who live-tweeted through the entire meeting

A few points worth mentioning: 

  1. Maybe this is obvious, but I found it reassuring that almost every caller and Supervisor agreed that the end goal should be to move the city’s homeless into permanent housing situations. So there’s alignment on the ultimate outcome. The disagreement comes when thinking about how the city gets there. 

    Many proponents of Mandelman’s plan said that “Safe Sleeping Sites,” which offer people sanctioned areas of the city to sleep in a tent, as well as restrooms, showers, and other services, are not a perfect solution, but they are better than the alternative of sleeping on a sidewalk. The city can also stand up these sites quickly. 

    Several opponents called the plan inhumane and questioned the cost-effectiveness. 

  2. Supervisor Mandelman said at least a couple of times that his legislation was not wedded to tents and “Safe Sleep Sites” as the only shelter solution. He said he would be open to acquiring more hotel rooms as an option, for instance. At the core of his legislation, though, he wanted San Francisco to commit to having temporary shelter for every unhoused person in the city so long as permanent options were not available for everyone. 

  1. With a problem as big as homelessness in San Francisco, there are going to be a lot of competing ideas. In the meeting today, Supervisor Haney, for instance, spoke of his support for expanding the program that put the unhoused into hotel rooms during the pandemic. He also touted the effectiveness of Navigation Centers

    But in the analyst report for the hearing today, there was not an apples-to-apples breakdown for how much it would cost the city to provide temporary housing per person through Safe Sleep Sites vs. hotels vs. Navigation Centers vs. more traditional shelters. If there’s going to be discussion around which temporary solution the city should expand, knowing those numbers would be a good place to start. 

With that, let’s move right into some news… 

Quick bits: 

  • 🤑 Someone who picked their Lotto numbers at the Richmond New May Wah Supermarket at Clement and 8th Street is holding a $1.8 million ticket. (NBC Bay Area

  • 🏀 Since returning from an injury at the end of March, the Warriors’ Steph Curry has been on a tear. He’s scored 30+ points in eleven straight games and today against the Wizards, he’s going for number twelve. (Chronicle

  • 🌳 The group behind the SF Independent Film Festival has a new event premiering on Earth Day (tomorrow!) called the Livable Planet Film Festival. In total, there are 67 films available to stream that “celebrate the blue marble we all live on and also confront the challenges we face in maintaining a livable planet.” (Broke-Ass Stuart

  • 🚨 This is not a “quick bit,” but worth your reading. In it, Mission Local’s Joe Eskanaki reports on how improper install jobs for a citywide retrofitting program has “introduced the possibility of scads of vulnerable buildings bursting into flames following an earthquake.” (Mission Local

And finally… Yesterday, I spoke to Justin Larkins, an old friend of mine who started a dog walking company in San Francisco called Lark Bark at the end of 2019, right before the pandemic. Needless to say, the ensuing months were difficult for dog walkers, and just a couple of months after starting his business, Larkins was back at home in Los Angeles, living with his parents. 

“It was really tough,” Larkins said. “I really just stopped working because a lot of my clients didn’t want walks.” 

But Larkins is back in San Francisco and in recent months, things are looking up for Lark Bark. He has 23 clients (an all-time high for his upstart company) and has found even people who work from home are wanting someone to exercise their dogs during the day. 

“Over time, they’re probably getting tired of taking their dog out on their lunch breaks,” Larkins said. “I think people just started to figure out that it would be nice to have a dog walker.” 

As for where he likes to take his dogs, Larkins said his favorite fenced-in parks are the newly renovated Dog Training Area in Golden Gate Park and the Upper Douglass Dog Play Area. Also, pro-tip, after it rains he said he goes to the Walter Haas Dog Play Area in Diamond Heights to avoid mud since it’s astroturf. 

In terms of what’s next for Lark Bark, Larkins says he’s going to school right now so he can offer more dog training services (which could prove to be a lucrative move with all the pandemic pups in the city). Today, aside from his walks, Larkins also offers boarding services, which he enjoys, but said, “it's kind of like taking my work home with me.” 

That’s all for today! Thanks for reading y’all and I’ll see you here tomorrow.

- Nick B. 

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