Hey there, San Francisco.
When I open my laptop each morning to write this newsletter, I’ll usually have a moment of panic as I ask myself: “What if nothing interesting has happened today?”
Luckily, after a year of doing this, I’ve never had a day when there wasn’t something worth covering. And often, the stories themselves are pretty wild. This is San Francisco, after all.
Today, as we wrap up the year, I thought I’d compile what I’ve found to be the five “wildest” stories of 2021. As with yesterday’s list, I’m sure I’m missing some obvious ones, and I’ll spare you from recapping them all.
But hopefully, these five do the trick and capture what a wild year it has been in this city we call home.
Victorian home on-the-move
On an early Sunday morning back in February, a specialized moving crew lugged a two-story, 139-year-old Victorian home six blocks across the city from 807 Franklin Street to its new resting place on Fulton Street.
I remember seeing videos of the move and being so bummed that I missed it. Apparently, a Victorian hadn’t been moved like that in San Francisco in some 50 years.
One onlooker told the Chronicle it was the most excitement they’ve had in a very long time. “What if it topples?” they said.
Luckily, it didn’t. But the move didn’t happen without its fair share of stress.
Later that week, SFGATE caught up with the moving truck’s 27-year-old operator Cameron Scott, who said: “I was just trying to keep my feet from shaking because I was so scared I would do the wrong thing.” 😅
The Bernal Heights mountain lion
Back in May, local outlets reported that residents had spotted a mountain lion roaming around the Bernal Heights neighborhood. And sure enough, one night shortly after, the 98-pound cat was found hiding in a residential tree near the corner of Santa Marina and Mission Street.
Wildlife officers darted the mountain lion with a tranquilizer and brought it to the Oakland Zoo, where it was examined and given the name, “Mr. Handsome.”
Officials eventually released Mr. Handsome in an open space in Santa Clara county.
After the incident, I spoke with Bernal Heights resident Ruth Ferguson, who had a front-row seat to it all.
Ferguson said that around 10 pm on that fateful night, her husband went to take out the trash when he heard someone yell out the window of a nearby car: “Sir, there’s a cougar in your tree!” Apparently, a neighbor had seen the mountain lion run up the tree while parking.
Ferguson’s husband promptly hopped back inside the house where the two of them waited for backup to arrive. “We were watching this whole scene unfold… and we were like, ‘Oh, sh*t. This is real,” she said.
Ultimately, Ferguson told me she’s “proud” that the mountain lion decided to jump into her tree. “It’s a good tree,” she said.
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An “Egregious Coyote Feeder”
Another wildlife story. Except this one might have been a bit wilder.
This summer, SFGATE’s Amy Graff reported that San Francisco Animal Care & Control was on the lookout for a woman who was apparently feeding raw meat to coyotes in Bernal Heights and “other locations around the city.”
On Tuesday, SF Animal Care & Control spokesperson Deb Campbell told me that the agency received a lot of tips about the “egregious coyote feeder,” but never ended up finding her.
On a positive note, Campbell said that the SFGATE story raised awareness among local residents regarding the dangers of feeding wild animals.
I, for one, will never forget the photo above.
Former Public Works director allegedly demands potato chips at knifepoint
In June, former Public Works director Mohammed Nuru (who’s at the center of the City Hall corruption scandal) was volunteering at the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank in the Dogpatch when he allegedly “brandished” a knife at a person eating potato chips in the breakroom.
ABC7 called it a “kitchen knife, like the ones they use at the food bank,” but said, “the person felt threatened and called the police.”
Nuru spent the night in jail, but the District Attorney’s office eventually decided not to press charges.
“It seems to be a pretty inappropriate and misguided attempt at humor,” a spokesperson for the DA said at the time, adding that there was no evidence “showing [Nuru] tried to take the chips.”
As I wrote about the situation back in June: “I’m sorta at a loss for what to say here. It’s wild and ultimately, sad.”
And finally…Prince Harry joins a startup
Not even the Duke of Sussex could stay away from startup land.
In March, we learned that Prince Harry was set to join the San Francisco-based coaching and mental health company BetterUp as its chief impact officer.
“Proactive coaching provides endless possibilities for personal development, increased awareness, and an all-round better life,” Harry told the Wall Street Journal as to why he took the job. “I intend to help create impact in people’s lives.”
BetterUp CEO Alexi Robichaux said at the time that it was a “meaty role,” and that the prince would likely spend some time working in the company’s San Francisco headquarters.
Robichaux added that when Harry started, he’d “obviously have the whole organization sprinting to help him.”
That’s all for today! Thanks so much for reading y’all and as a bit of a programming update, today’s newsletter will be the last of the week.
I’ll be sending out another special edition newsletter next week, so be sure to look out for that one. And then, I’ll resume our standard Monday through Friday schedule in January.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you all. And I’ll look forward to being back here soon!
Until then, Nick B.