All posts by amontero

Big Macs and LSD on Haight Street

The city is threatening a lawsuit against McDonalds over consistent drug deals at its Haight Street location.

Prefer a side of LSD with your big mac? Get it while it lasts.

The San Francisco city attorney, Tuesday, filed an official complaint threatening a lawsuit against McDonalds due to incessant drug sales and 911 calls at the Haight Street location.

In the past seven months, there were 11 instances in which San Francisco Police arrested individuals for drug sales or possession, according City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s letter to Steve Easterbrook, CEO of McDonalds corporation.

In roughly the last year, police received 641 calls regarding issues at the Haight Street location, detailing numerous fights, instances of public alcohol consumption, two dog attacks, and “at least eight auto burglaries.”

In the pre-litigation, plaintiffs requested that the location shut down for one year and fine all potential defendants $25,000 in order to bar them from “maintaining a nuisance at the property.” Furthermore, McDonalds will be unable to operate on the property if the issues raised by Herrera’s office continue.

The letter goes on to state, “In the last six months the police have recovered more than 100 doses of LSD, over two pounds of marijuana, 88.5 grams of psilocybin (psychedelic mushrooms), more than half of a pound of marijuana edibles, and hashish from drug dealers selling their products on your Property.”

But is McDonalds actually to blame?

The official complaint states that the defendants “permit” the use of the property for the “sale, storage and possession of controlled substances,” and alleges “Mcdonald’s has a reputation in the community and among the San Francisco Police Department as a location where people come to buy, sell, and use illegal narcotics.”

According to Deputy City Attorney Megan Cesare-Eastman, the city is asking McDonalds to employ a security guard and improve lighting in the area.

“We firmly believe that, in its current condition, your Property threatens the health and safety of the surrounding neighborhood,” writes Herrera.

The complaint wedged against McDonalds is based under the California Health and Safety Code, which states, “every building or place used for the purpose of unlawfully selling, serving, storing, keeping, manufacturing or giving away any controlled substance… and every building or place wherein or upon which those acts take place, is a nuisance which shall be enjoined.”

What’s Cheaper? On-Campus vs. Off-Campus Housing

Illustration by Alex Montero and infographics by

Over the last three years, annual on-campus housing costs at SF State have increased by roughly $2,000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Curently, SF State’s website lists on-campus and off-campus housing prices as equivalent. However, according to Philippe Cumia, director of SF State student housing program, SF State’s housing office does not have access to off-campus housing prices.

SF_State_OnCampus_Housing_Price_Increase_Over_TimeClick here for interactivity on graph


Data shows that splitting a single-bedroom apartment in neighborhoods surrounding campus can be substantially cheaper than on-campus living.

So how much more does it cost to live on campus in comparison to surrounding neighborhoods such as, the Outer Sunset District, Ingleside and the Outer Richmond?

Keep in mind the following numbers are based off estimates of 2014 median rents from two different data sweeping programs and are not meant to reflect exact figures.


Sharing a double occupancy room on campus with 19 meals a week included, on average, costs $13,835 for a full, nine-month academic year, which consists of eight installment payments. This number is an average of the annual costs for Mary Park, Mary Ward, the Towers and the Village for the 2014/15 academic year.


Off-Campus One-Bedroom Apartment with Shared Room


Click here for interactivity on graph


In comparison, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Outer Sunset District is roughly $1,725, according to data provided by Priceonomics from 2014.

Split in half and multiplied by nine (to account for sharing a room for a roughly nine-month academic year) the annual cost for living in the Outer Sunset is $7,762.

Estimating that a student spends $300 a month on food, that number rises to $10,462—roughly $3,000 less than on-campus for an academic year.

Here’s the same formula applied to other surrounding neighborhoods

Ingleside: roughly $1,000 cheaper annually.

Outer Richmond: just over $2,000 cheaper annually.

Bayview: just under $5,000 cheaper annually.

Inner Sunset: about $1,500 cheaper annually.


Off-Campus Two-Bedroom Apartment with Two Shared Rooms


Annual_OnCampus_Housing_Costs_Compared_to_Splitting_a_Room_in_a_TwoBedroom_Apartment_Click here for interactivity on graph 


For instance, if four roommates were to split a two-bedroom apartment in the Outer Sunset District for the nine-month academic year (again, including the $300 a month food stipend) the estimated annual cost would be $8,550. That’s over $5,000 cheaper than on-campus housing for a year.

For other districts the numbers vary, but are consistently lower.

Outer Richmond: roughly $4,500 cheaper.

Inner Sunset: just over $4,000 cheaper.

Per Month

Put in different terms, the average monthly on-campus installment payment is $1,529.

With a $300 food stipend, a student would spend roughly $350 less a month to live in the Outer Sunset, where the median monthly rent for a one bedroom is estimated at $1,725.


SF Supervisors limit ads for sugary drinks

Soda advertisements, such as the one above in Bernal Heights, are the target of three new city ordinances. Photo courtesy of The San Francisco Examiner

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors, last week, introduced three ordinances aimed at decreasing the purchase and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Sponsored by Supervisors Scott Wiener, Eric Mar and Malia Cohen, the three-pronged legislation, proposed on March 10, would prohibit advertising sugar-sweetened beverages on publicly owned city property, bar city departments from selling or distributing such drinks and require warning labels on advertisements.

“Soda companies are spending billions of dollars every year to target low-income and minority communities, which also happen to some of the communities with the highest risks of Type II diabetes. This is not a coincidence,” said Supervisor Malia Cohen. “This ban on soda advertising will help bridge this existing health inequity.”

According to the San Francisco Budget and Legislative Office, sugary-drinks contribute to a financial impact of over $50 million dollars when accounting for costs associated with fighting diabetes and obesity.

Last year, a proposed soda tax in San Francisco failed to gain a two-thirds majority vote. Soda companies reportedly spent $10 million to defeat the measure.

CalBev, a representative of the non-alcoholic beverage industry in California, released a statement attacking the Board, referring to the warning labels as, “anti-consumer choice.” The association also stated, “supervisors are further misleading the public by suggesting that soda is the driving force behind obesity and related health issues,” according to the San Jose Mercury News.

A 2012 study by the American Public Health Association estimated that a penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages could reduce consumption by 10 to 20 percent over the next decade. This projected decrease in consumption, the study stated, could decrease instances of diabetes up to 5.6 percent in the same time frame, with higher reduction rates associated with Mexican Americans, African Americans and those in lower income brackets.

The proposed warning labels would be placed on advertisements for sugar-sweetened drinks with 25 or more calories per 12 ounces. According to a statement issued by Wiener, the labels will state, “WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.” The ordinance requires that these labels take up at least 20 percent of the advertisement.

FCC Approves Net Neutrality

Obama thanked Redditors with the above handwritten letter, and the president also posted a celebratory tweet:

The Federal Communications Commission approved a net-neutrality policy last Thursday, which bars Internet service providers from controlling broadband speeds based off payment.

“This decision is pro broadband. This decision is pro competition,” said FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, at Thursday’s meeting.  “This decision is for the right of Americans through their elected local officials to make their own decisions about their broadband future.”

Under the new policy, which the FCC approved in a 3-2 vote, high-speed Internet service is now classified as a telecommunications service.

This classification, rooted in Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, provides the FCC with the authority to bar Internet providers from charging more for higher connection speeds. Essentially, all data is treated equally—providing what Wheeler referred to as “free open access to the Internet.”

There has been much debate surrounding the concept of net neutrality since President Obama called for a “free and open Internet” in 2007.

In December, 2010, the FCC passed the first net neutrality regulation, which was subsequently overturned in January after Verizon Communications filed a federal lawsuit against the commission.

Much of the dialogue on net neutrality has arisen from social media and platforms such as Reddit. According a letter issued by the White House, more than 4 million people wrote to the FCC, voicing their support for net neutrality.

Following yesterday’s vote, President Obama also wrote a handwritten letter to Reddit users stating, “Thanks Redditors! Wish I could upvote every one of you for helping keep the Internet open and free!”

The legislation, however, has also been met with criticism.

Just before the vote, according to the New York Times, Republicans “delivered a scathing critique of the order as overly broad, vague and unnecessary.

In an Op-Ed, Mark Hendrickson, a contributor at Forbes, wrote, “The FCC has bitten off more than it can chew. Its task will be somewhat comparable to that of the old Soviet price-setting bureaucracy.”

According to the Times, “Lawsuits to challenge the commission’s order are widely expected.”

Faceless Opinions


Do you ever get the feeling that your friends aren’t telling you the truth? Do you consistently chastise your significant other for their vacuous responses to existential questions such as, “do you like my new haircut?” Do the opinions of others affect your sense of self? Does this type of acute paranoia have a detrimental effect on your ability to maintain relationships with family and friends?

Kander is a new app, released last month, fashioned as a mix between Instagram and Tinder, wherein users receive anonymous votes on their photos from their followers or the public. The interface allows two options for voting: either a single photo is posted (LoneShots), which users then swipe right to like or left to dislike; or, two photos are aligned together vertically (DuelPics), giving voters an either-or choice. Comments can also be posted anonymously until a given expiration time when usernames are then made public.

“My vision for Kander is to create a social media platform that allows users to get honest opinions from friends in a fun and engaging manner,” writes CEO, co-founder and creator Anthony Alcazar.

This anonymous voting interface differentiates Kander from other social media. Twitter and Facebook have likes, Tinder has matches, and Tumblr has reblogs—information that, while virtual, is still tied to the real-life you. Kander, however, offers faceless interaction—an ability to tell your friends what you really think. This approach raises a few questions. Does a lack of anonymity vitiate our ability to be honest? And, more importantly, what are the effects of rooting self-confidence in the opinions of others?

A 2006 study, published by CyberPsychology & Behavior, found that adolescents ages 10 to 19 who received positive feedback on a Dutch friend-networking site displayed increased social self-esteem and well-being; conversely, those who received negative feedback displayed the opposite effects. While this information may seem patently obvious, it illustrates that, for some, internet feedback has a symbiotic relationship with real-life well-being.

The ability for people to communicate anonymously on the internet is certainly not new. Tumblr allows for users to anonymously communicate, while numerous websites from Yelp to Amazon utilize commenting platforms wherein users can voice their opinions under the faceless guise of anonymity.

The launch of Kander signifies another step in this direction for social media users. The company’s assertion that the app will “capture the opinions of those who matter most to you,” takes a certain premise for granted: that without anonymity, we are unable to be honest with each other. For some, this may be a frightening prospect, a prospect that the potential future success of Kander may vindicate.