TIME cities

San Francisco Will Vote On Soda Tax in November

San Francisco Board Of Supervisors Proposes Putting Soda Tax On Nov. Ballot
Various bottles of soda are displayed in a cooler at Marina Supermarket on July 22, 2014 in San Francisco. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

The city could be the first in the nation to tax the sugary drinks

San Francisco lawmakers voted Tuesday to advance a proposal to tax sugary sodas. If voters approve the measure in November, the tax will become the first of its kind in the nation.

“In San Francisco, we set examples,” said Board of Supervisors President David Chiu. “We have a responsibility to try new things and fight the fight and see where this goes.”

The lawmakers agreed that the city would be better off if residents consumed fewer sugary beverages, which have been linked to obesity and diabetes. But the 6-4 vote reflected the divide over whether a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on soda is the best way to promote healthier habits.

Proponents of the measure argued that education alone is not enough and that a financial signal would better get the message across. Critics said that a “regressive flat tax” could end up passing costs onto low-income consumers who disproportionately purchase soda, without curbing soda intake. “This is being forced down people’s throats,” says Supervisor London Breed, who voted against the measure.

A Field Research poll released in February found that 67% of California voters would approve such a tax if the revenue is earmarked for healthy initiatives, as it is in the San Francisco proposal. An analysis from a city economist estimated that the tax would curb soda intake in the city by 31%. Under the measure, a bottle of soda that sells for $1.60 now would cost $2.

To become law, the initiative will have to be approved by two-thirds of voters and withstand strong opposition from deep-pocketed organizations like the American Beverage Association. Such “Big Soda” lobbyists have spent millions defeating soda tax measures in Congress and at least a dozen states. In 2012, soda tax measures in the California towns of El Monte and Richmond failed by wide margins.

Earlier this month, Berkeley lawmakers voted to put a one-cent-per-ounce soda tax before voters there in November.

TIME cities

San Francisco Shower Bus Offers Hygiene to the Homeless

Nonprofit hopes shower bus can offer dignity to some homeless residents

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An old public bus in San Francisco has been converted into a portable shower station to provide hygienic bathrooms to the homeless.

The bus, converted by nonprofit LavaMae, contains two private showers and toilets and provides towels and soap. The creators say it’s more about providing individual comfort than ending homelessness.

But despite the fact that the showers could help some homeless people stay clean as public showers around the city close, they don’t enjoy unanimous support.

Some critics say that the buses, which are largely funded by big donations from companies like Google, are a perfect example of San Francisco’s widening gap between the super-rich and the very poor.

MONEY

What Six Californias Would Really Look Like

Under a tech mogul's proposed breakup plan, some "states" are more equal than others.

Tim Draper, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist behind companies like Tesla and Skype, has a crazy idea. In order to make California more responsive to the needs of local communities, it should be broken up into six separate states: South California; Central California; North California; West California; Silicon Valley; and Jefferson.

This concept might seem more fit for a speculative novel than reality, but Draper’s dream may actually get its moment in the sun. On Tuesday, he informed USA Today that his Six Calfornias campaign had received 1.3 million signatures—far more than the roughly 808,000 required for the initiative to appear on the 2016 ballot.

Draper’s proposal still has virtually zero chance of ever happening. Even if the ballot initiative is approved (a December Field Poll showed only a quarter of residents support it), a California breakup would require the approval of Congress. And it is all but impossible to imagine a GOP-dominated House ever approving a plan that could potentially create 10 new Democratic senators.

That said, the venture capital mogul has apparently captured the imagination of many Californians who yearn for a more representative and responsive government than the one in Sacramento. In that light, it’s worth examining what six new Californias would really look like.

The major flaw in Draper’s plan is that the six new states he has outlined are not economically equal. In fact, they’re so unequal that many have wondered if the whole concept isn’t just a techno-libertarian plot to free Silicon Valley from having to share its wealth.

Under the breakup plan, some new “states” would be getting a pretty good deal. Others, well, not so much. Here’s a breakdown of each region and how it compares on various economic metrics. (All state comparisons are relative to the current United States.)

The common theme: Things look pretty darn good for Silicon Valley and West California (which includes Los Angeles), at the expense of making Jefferson and Central California two of the poorest states in the union.

Major Cities

Silicon Valley: San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose

North California: Sacramento, Santa Rosa

West California: Los Angeles, Santa Barbara

South California: San Diego, Anaheim

Central California: Fresno, Bakersfield

Jefferson: Redding, Chico

Population

West California: 11.5 million (8th in the U.S., similar to Ohio)

South California: 10.8 million (8th in the U.S., similar to Georgia)

Silicon Valley: 6.8 million (14th in the U.S., similar to Massachusetts)

Central California: 4.2 million (27th in the U.S., similar to Kentucky)

North California: 3.8 million (29th in the U.S., similar to Oklahoma)

Jefferson: 949,000 (45th in U.S., similar to Montana)

Personal Income Per Capita

Silicon Valley: $63,288 (1st in U.S., similar to Connecticut)

North California: $48,048 (7th in U.S., similar to Wyoming)

West California: $44,900 (15th in the U.S., similar to Illinois)

South California: $42,980 (21th in the U.S., similar to Vermont)

Jefferson: $36,147 (40th in the U.S., similar to Arizona)

Central California: $33,510 (50th in the US, similar to Idaho)

Percentage Living in Poverty

Silicon Valley: 12.8% (35th highest U.S., similar to Colorado)

North California: 13.7% (28th highest in U.S., similar to Illinois)

West California: 15.2% (21st highest in U.S., similar to California)

South California: 17.8% (7th highest in U.S., similar to West Virginia)

Central California: 19.9% (2nd highest in U.S, similar to New Mexico)

Jefferson: 20.8% (2nd highest in U.S., similar to New Mexico)

Median Home Price in Largest City

Silicon Valley (San Jose): $708,500

West California (Los Angeles): $520,500

South California (San Diego): $494,500

North California (Sacramento): $247,400

Jefferson (Redding): $207,600

Central California (Fresno): $165,000

Number of State Universities

West California: 9

Silicon Valley: 7

South California: 7

North California: 4

Central California: 4

Jefferson: 2

Sources: Zillow.com, U.S. Department of Commerce, United States Census Bureau, Huffington Post, California Legislative Analyst’s Office, 2008-2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

TIME health

The 10 Healthiest Places to Live in America

From Honolulu to Plano, Texas, here's where to move for fitness, nutrition and aging well

In a new TIME book, Healthiest Places to Live, we name the best cities for your well-being. The book is now available on newsstands everywhere.

TIME viral

Watch: A Trans-Pacific Flight From Tokyo to San Francisco in 84 Seconds

Here's the view most passengers don't get to see

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A flight from Tokyo to San Francisco usually takes about 9 hours and 35 minutes, but the video above compiles over 3,400 images to create an 84-second timelapse of the trans-Pacific journey.

The video, captured from inside a Boeing 747, shows a stunning dashboard view of the ocean behind layers of clouds.

Our favorite part? Seeing the plane speed into the sunrise starting at around 0:43.

TIME apps

App for Selling Public Parking Spots Suspends Service in San Francisco

The city sent a cease and desist letter to MonkeyParking for violating the law

MonkeyParking, an app that allows users to buy and sell parking spaces, suspended activity in San Francisco after the Rome-based startup received a cease-and-desist letter from the city last month. San Francisco was the service’s only location in the U.S.

A law in San Francisco forbids the selling or renting of public parking spaces. Those who violate the law will be charged a fine up to $300.

In announcing that its bidding service had been “temporarily disabled” Thursday, MonkeyParking wrote on its website, “Our mission is to get rid of circling the block turning a random parking process into a predictable one, saving people time while also reducing traffic congestion and generated pollution.”

It added, “We want to achieve our mission within the intent and letter of the law and in full cooperation with the local authorities.”

TIME

Uber Gets Green Light in London After Massive Protests

Uber London
A London taxi driver speaks with Police Officers during a protest against a new smart phone app, 'Uber' on June 11, 2014 in London, England. Dan Kitwood—Getty Images

The ride-sharing service Uber has been given the green light by London's transport regulator, who ruled the company is legal

London’s transport regulator has said that car service startup Uber can legally operate in the British capital.

Transport for London (TfL) said Thursday that the ride-sharing service was free to continue working in London. The ruling comes in defiance of last month’s cab driver strikes held in the city and elsewhere across Europe in protest of Uber. Many cabbies argue that Uber, a San Francisco-based startup, was stealing business from them. They say Uber doesn’t follow local rules and doesn’t pay sufficient tax.

Uber, which lets customers book drivers via a smartphone app, says it’s an innovator in a rigidly conservative industry.

In a statement to the TfL board, Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport, which governs London’s above-ground transit options, noted that other cab companies have alleged Uber is not a licensed Private Hire Vehicle operator and that Uber cars come with taximeters, which are only allowed in black cabs under London law.

In response, Daniels said: “In relation to the way Uber operates in London, TfL is satisfied that based upon our understanding of the relationship between the passenger and Uber London, and between Uber London and Uber BV, registered in Holland, that it is operating lawfully.”

Daniels added that because Uber’s taximeters are smartphones, they “have no operational or physical connection with the vehicles, and [so] … are not taximeters within the meaning of the legislation.”

A British court is due to make a final ruling on whether Uber’s technology is the same as a taximeter. Their decision will be delayed while six legal cases brought by a taxi union against individual Uber drivers are heard.

 

TIME

Jury Rejects Lawsuit in Train Station Shooting

SAN FRANCISCO — A jury rejected a civil rights lawsuit on Tuesday filed by the father of an unarmed man who was shot and killed by a transit officer at a San Francisco Bay Area train station.

The jury awarded no damages to Oscar Grant’s father in his suit against former Bay Area Rapid Transit officer Johannes Mehserle and the transit agency.

The jury of six women and four men unanimously found there were no deep family ties between Oscar Grant III and his father, Oscar Grant Jr., who was in prison at the time of the shooting and remains behind bars.

Jurors also answered “no” when asked on the jury form if Mehserle “acted with a purpose to harm unrelated to a legitimate law enforcement objective” when he shot the younger Grant.

The shooting on New Year’s Day 2009 occurred as authorities were responding to a chaotic scene on the Fruitvale station platform in Oakland. It sparked racial tension because Mehserle is white and the 22-year-old Grant was black.

Mehserle had Grant on his belly pinned to the platform when he shot him in the back. Mehserle said he had mistaken his gun for a Taser.

Mehserle quit the BART police department a week after the shooting. He was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served about half of his two-year sentence in a Los Angeles County jail.

Oscar Grant Jr. was seeking unspecified damages for the shooting death of his son. The father is currently serving a life sentence in state prison after being convicted of a 1985 killing. Two California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation guards escorted him to court each day of the civil trial.

BART settled a separate lawsuit filed by the mother and daughter of Oscar Grant III for $2.8 million. Another civil case filed by friends of Grant who were present on the train platform was settled for $175,000.

The shooting was depicted in director Ryan Coogler’s feature film “Fruitvale Station.”

 

TIME movies

Star Wars Creator George Lucas Has Chosen Chicago for His Museum

Lucas Museum-Chicago
This 2013 file photo shows an aerial view at night of the downtown Chicago skyline. Star Wars creator George Lucas has selected Chicago to build his museum of art and movie memorabilia Kiichiro Sato—AP

Both San Francisco and Los Angeles campaigned to host the movie-memorabilia and art museum, but "aggressive" lobbying by Chicago won Lucas over

After sort of retiring from Hollywood in 2012, director George Lucas has announced that he will open a museum in Chicago showcasing both his 40-year career as a filmmaker and the extensive art collection he amassed along the way.

Some have criticized the museum as a monument to hubris, but perhaps he’s earned it. Few dispute that Lucas has established himself as one of the successful and influential figures in the history of American cinema: this is the man, after all, who gave us Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is slated to open in 2018 next to Soldier Field. Lucas will put down at least $700 million to finance its construction. In addition to paraphernalia from the sets of Lucas’ films, the museum will house his immense collection of American art by painters Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth and others.

He said in a statement that choosing the planned museum’s location proved a “difficult decision,” and only came after fierce bidding between Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The latter was his first choice — he grew up across the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge in the sleepy town of Modesto — but he turned his attention elsewhere when he couldn’t nab a desired location on the city’s waterfront.

A social media campaign led by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to bring the museum to the crucible of American cinema apparently failed to compete with Chicago’s lobbying effort, which the Chicago Tribune described as “aggressive.” (Personal factors may have directed Lucas’ choice as well — Mellody Hobson, whom he married last summer, grew up in the city.)

“This is a milestone for the city, but it is just one milestone on a journey as we build this new museum,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said when announcing the decision.

Chicago welcomed a record 46.37 million tourists in 2012.

TIME Transportation

NTSB: Pilot of Fatal Asiana Crash Lacked ‘Critical Manual Flying Skills’

The July 2013 crash of a Boeing 777 in San Francisco caused three deaths

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National Transportation Safety Board officials on Tuesday said the pilot of last year’s deadly Asiana Airlines crash relied excessively on the plane’s automated systems.

“Although the pilot flying was experienced, he lacked critical manual flying skills,” said NTSB Operations Group Chair Roger Cox in a statement Tuesday.

Acting NTSB Chairman added, “The flight crew over-relied on automated systems that they did not fully understand.”

Three people were killed in the July 6, 2013 crash when an Asiana Boeing 777 struck a seawall ahead of the runway during a landing attempt at San Francisco International Airport.

Asiana previously said the plane’s crew believed the aircraft was automatically maintaining a safe airspeed which they had already set. Boeing later said the aircraft was behaving normally and that the pilots should have known to abort the ill-fated landing.

“This accident occurred due to the flight crew’s failure to monitor and control airspeed, thrust level and glide path on short final approach,” Boeing said in March.

Pilots on final approach must maintain an airspeed above a certain point to avoid losing lift and thus plummeting to the earth sooner than intended, often with disastrous consequences. Automated systems on advanced aircraft can assist pilots in landing, but pilots still must often rely on so called “stick-and-rudder skills,” or the use of manual controls, to ensure safe landings.

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