40 Episodes

By: San Francisco Public Press & KSFP, Laura Wenus, Liana Wilcox, Mel Baker

Civic is the flagship audio program from the San Francisco Public Press, a nonprofit news institution, covering the city and how it works. The radio program airs every weekday on KSFP -LP 102.5 FM in San Francisco.

Knock-knock: Have you been vaccinated against COVID-19?
Last Thursday at 7:21 PM

Bayview Hunters Point has one of the highest estimated vaccination rates in the city, a fact one community organizer attributes to outreach workers efforts to improve education and access. Outreach workers are going door-to-door to make sure as many people as possible are immunized against COVID-19. They survey residents about their household’s vaccination status, talk to people about concerns, if they have any, and offer connections to testing, shots, and other resources. For those who are still hesitant, outreach workers hope information from trusted, locally rooted messengers will help alleviate fears.

What's New & What's Next for 10/18/21
Last Monday at 6:06 PM

In What's New & What's Next, the Civic team offers a roundup of San Francisco news and a look at what's ahead on the city's calendar. The news: Mask rules relax; vote on funding allocation for school repair delayed; cannabis business permitting rules tweaked. Coming up: South Van Ness road diet open house; MCCLA Day of the Dead exhibit; Supervisors to vote on property acquisitions for homelessness initiatives and response to Van Ness Improvement Project report.

This school is crumbling around its students. How long before it gets fixed?

Vermin infestation and electrical malfunction. A copy machine in the restroom. Falling ceiling tiles. Parents, students and staff at Buena Vista Horace Mann School in the Mission have been testifying at recent hearings about these and other maintenance problems they say have plagued the school for years. Officials have promised to allocate money to make repairs, but they’ve delayed making a decision about how much to spend. Meanwhile, the district’s facilities director says requests for electrical and other important work are backlogged district-wide.

What's New & What's Next for 10/11/21

In What's New & What's Next, the Civic team offers a roundup of San Francisco news and a look at what's ahead on the city's calendar. The news: Report alleges tent removal practices are illegal; thousands of tenants saddled with debt for paying pandemic rent they had to go into debt for; confusion about reform progress at police commission hearing. Coming up: School board member will propose spending $55 million on critical repairs to a school where students have been injured; Millennium Tower shoring to begin; Planning Commission to consider proposals for new residential buildings with SRO-style shared facilities; mask mandates to...

Debt is piling up for tenants who paid pandemic rent they couldn't afford

Thousands of San Francisco tenants have borrowed thousands of dollars from payday lenders, credit card companies, family or friends to pay rent during the pandemic. And that makes them in some ways worse off than those who let the rent bills lapse. We talk about how this happened, what the potential fallout might be, and why advocates still advise applying to the state's rent relief program.

What's New & What's Next for 10/4/21

In What's New & What's Next, the Civic team offers a roundup of San Francisco news and a look at what's ahead on the city's calendar. The news: Eviction moratorium expires and tenant advocates offer advice on what to do; rent collections by the public housing agency have been plummeting; musical chairs in San Francisco politics; supervisors call for investigation and reform of building inspection department. Coming up: Eagle bar could become a landmark; applications process for equity candidates for cannabis businesses could be tweaked; Department of Police Accountability to give report on first half of 2021; police overview of crowd control...

The Bay Area is diverse. Its elected officials are mostly white

More people of color are running for office, but in the diverse Bay Area, elected officials are still whiter than the populations they represent. Some city councils are entirely white. Michelle Huang with the Bay Area Equity Atlas and Kimi Lee from Bay Rising unpack what has changed in recent years, and what hasn’t, about inclusion in local elections.

Evictions are coming. Here’s what renters and cities can do.

The application for rent relief can be found here.

What's New & What's Next for 9/20/21

In What's New & What's Next, the Civic team offers a roundup of San Francisco news and a look at what's ahead on the city's calendar. The news: SF the only county where Elder didn't lead as recall replacement candidate; pockets of low vaccination rates might explain neighborhood's overall high case rates; DBI scrutinized on multiple fronts; BART plans progressive policing; SF retirement fund invested in so-called "vulture" hedge funds. Coming up: Tenant advocates urge renters to apply for COVID assistance; transit agency to hold office hours and open houses on 2022 plans.

Muni's making plans. Do you want in on this?

Find out more about Transit Month here.

Take Muni's survey on plans for 2022 here.

What's New & What's Next for 9/13/21

In What's New & What's Next, the Civic team offers a roundup of San Francisco news and a look at what's ahead on the city's calendar. The news: Recology fined; no in-school COVID-19 transmissions recorded; overdose crisis. Coming up: Transit Month, Stern Grove repair considerations; meeting to discuss improvements on Geary.

Battling Despair Over a New Climate Change Reality

As wildfires rage, unprecedented heat waves become deadly and cities are drowned, climate worry is turning to climate grief for many people. We talk to a young Bay Area climate activist and a psychiatrist about how we move forward in a world in which the climate change threat has become a climate crisis reality.

Rebroadcast: A sanitation worker hauls mountains of pandemic cardboard

Pandemic or no, sanitation workers are still collecting the city's waste material. Back in April, Civic hitched an early morning ride with Recology recycling driver Gareth Willey to get a sense for how the pandemic has changed his work. While the decreased traffic had made the streets a little less crowded, the bins he emptied have been piled high with cardboard boxes from mail orders.

What's New & What's Next for 9/6/21

In What's New & What's Next, the Civic team offers a roundup of San Francisco news and a look at what's ahead on the city's calendar. The news: COVID cases decline; advocates call for safe consumption sites; DoorDash drivers rally; judgment against landlord for tenant harassment upheld; half-off transit fares. Coming up: CA recall election; protest scheduled for more shelter-in-place hotels; proposed "ghost gun" ordinance; Tenderloin group housing project appeal; large SoMa project seeks approval.

Rebroadcast: Gary Kamiya and John Law talk about "The End of the Golden Gate"

Every city is special in some way to the people who call it home, but as author Gary Kamiya writes, San Francisco is a more potent touchstone than most thanks to the unique place it occupies in the American imagination. In the new anthology “The End of the Golden Gate,” writers including W. Kamau Bell, Margaret Cho and Michelle Tea reflect on a city in flux. Kamiya and writer and artist John Law talk about gentrification, loving the city, and the message newcomers often hear that San Francisco peaked just before their arrival.

Rebroadcast: The responsibilities of SF's school board

Thanks to those of you who have given us your feedback on Civic! If you have ideas for how we can improve and want to share, here's the link.

Rebroadcast: A photojournalist living in her RV documents vehicle dweller communities

Find the series "Driving Home" at 

If you have five minutes to tell us what you think of "Civic," we'd love to get your feedback here.

Rebroadcast: Smoky skies are a stark reminder of the climate crisis

We're interested in hearing how you think we can improve! There's a five-minute listener survey here.

Local veterans reflect on 'moral obligation' to Afghans

You can learn more Swords to Plowshares' services here.  The veterans crisis line can be reached at 1-800-273-8255, online or by texting 838255. 

Separately, we are still interested in hearing your feedback on Civic overall —tell us what you think here.

Afghan refugees are arriving in the Bay Area with nothing

We are still interested in hearing what you think about the show — find a short survey here. Your feedback is appreciated!

What's New & What's Next for 8/23/21

In What's New & What's Next, the Civic team offers a roundup of San Francisco news and a look at what's ahead on the city's calendar. The news: Rent assistance applications outpace disbursements; booster shot eligibility; congregate shelter intakes paused; ghost gun lawsuit; DA and police chief discuss crime. Coming up: Hardly Strictly back to virtual; planning commission to consider certain neighborhood zoning changes; proposed low-density building goes to Planning Commission.

Back to School: Educators are excited and exhausted

If you have five minutes, we would love to have your feedback on Civic! Fill out our listener survey here. Thank you!

What ride-hail surge pricing has meant for taxi drivers

If you have five minutes, we'd love to get your feedback on Civic through a quick survey. Your feedback means a lot, so thanks very much!

Most of the tons of litter hauled from beaches in 2020 was plastic

A report on the waste picked up by cleanup crews working along the nation’s beaches and shorelines from the Surfrider Foundation showed that almost 90% of the more than 80,000 pounds of trash collected in 2020 was plastic. The report also criticizes the use of bioplastics — an umbrella term that refers to plastic alternatives marketed as biodegradable or compostable. Rachel Coccia, plastic pollution coordinator for the foundation, and Holden Hardcastle, chair of the foundation’s San Francisco chapter, talk about beach cleanups during the pandemic and the problems with bioplastics.

What's New & What's Next for 8/16/21

In What's New & What's Next, the Civic team offers a roundup of San Francisco news and a look at what's ahead on the city's calendar. The news: Vaccine mandate for indoor activities; kids return to school; first of two DA recall efforts falls short on signatures. Coming up: The DA and police chief in conversation; SFMTA board to discuss Van Ness report findings; Health Commission will get an update on coronavirus actions.

What would flood if the Bay Area were hit by a major tsunami?

The California Geological Survey creates maps showing which areas scientists expect a really serious tsunami would affect. The latest iteration of this map shows that the areas likely to be affected have actually expanded. Rick Wilson, a senior engineering geologist with the California Geological Survey and manager of its tsunami program, outlines some tsunami basics and explains how and why these maps are made.

How SF voters can participate in the CA recall election

California voters will be asked whether they want to remove Governor Gavin Newsom from office. If the recall is approved, there are more than 40 candidates vying to replace him, and they are listed on the same ballot. These ballots should arriving in San Francisco voters’ mailboxes around August 16. They can then be mailed in or returned in person. Evangelina Peña, co-manager of the outreach division at the San Francisco Department of Elections, walks voters through the steps, from ensuring they receive a ballot to filling it out to tracking its processing status online.

Oakland High students pushed for change in a year of uncertainty

“Homeroom,” from director Peter Nicks and executive producer Ryan Coogler, debuts on August 12 on Hulu and will also begin a week of screenings at Oakland’s Grand Lake Theater that day. 

What's New & What's Next for 8/9/21

What's New & What's Next is back! In this weekly segment, the Civic team offers a roundup of San Francisco news and a look at what's ahead on the city's calendar. The news: No teacher vaccine mandate; 2,700 city employees are unvaccinated; booster shots available for J&J recipients. Coming up: Great Highway reopening to vehicles on weekdays; library branches continue to reopen.

How will SF spend $1.1 billion on addressing homelessness?

San Francisco’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing is a relatively new department, but it and its budget have been growing rapidly. The newly approved city budget allocates more than $1.1 billion over two years to the department. That money will be spent on programs including placing people in housing, finding ways to keep people who are in a precarious housing situation in place, opening parking sites for people living in their vehicles, family shelters, temporary shelters, and supportive services. Emily Cohen, interim director for strategy and external affairs at the department, explains how this budget was developed and where th...

SF is working on its business plan for a public bank

The proposal to create a public bank for San Francisco, in order to provide an alternative to big banks for the city's investing and lending needs, is moving incrementally from concept toward reality. A working group of experts in different relevant fields, from finance to affordable housing, has now been selected to start work on a business plan for a public bank. Fernando MartĂ­, co-director of the Council of Community Housing Organizations, and Sylvia Chi, principal co-author of AB 857, California's Public Banking Act and a member of the California Public Banking Alliance, talk about how this would work and what h...

While commemorating a traumatic eviction, a community also seeks inspiration

The Manilatown Heritage Foundation will host a commemoration on Wednesday, Aug. 4. Details are at

Are coronavirus vaccine mandates legal?

With the delta variant, coronavirus infections are on a sharp increase again in the Bay Area. California recently announced that health care workers and state employees must be vaccinated or get tested weekly and wear masks on the job. There have already been attempts to challenge the legality of similar mandates around the nation. Dorit Reiss, a law professor at UC Hastings who researches the law around vaccines and vaccine mandates, lays out what considerations employers and governments must weigh when it comes to requiring vaccination.

How a peer-run center empowers young people affected by poverty, violence and incarceration

In the streets, in jails and other detention facilities and at its program sites around the Bay Area, the Young Women’s Freedom Center provides resources and support to girls, women, and transgender and gender non-conforming people. It provides training, internships, fellowships and jobs to help people affected by poverty, exploitation and violence develop their voices. One of the center’s core tenets is the belief that people who are affected by these systems are the ones that can and must lead effective change. Julia Arroyo-Guzman, a site director for Young Women’s Freedom Center, talks about her work and her jo...

The Return of Bay Area Traffic Congestion

The daily work commute nearly disappeared in March of 2020 as the Bay Area went into pandemic lockdown, and while travel on public transit continues to lag this Summer, many Bay Area residents are getting behind the wheel to get to and from their jobs. We talk to a CalTrans spokesperson about current traffic patterns and with a radio traffic reporter about what he has seen on the roads during the pandemic.

Facing widespread unemployment, restaurant workers have struggled during the pandemic

The pandemic and related precautions affected millions of restaurant workers around the country — unemployment in the restaurant industry shot up to more than 40% nationwide in April 2020, and to 60% in the Bay Area, according to the State of Restaurant Workers report from the advocacy group Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. Zoe Caras, national research associate for the organization, explains what the report found in the Bay Area and what those numbers meant for workers.

Why advocates are suing a Bay Area city over an RV ban they call "inhumane"

The city of Mountain View is prohibiting oversize vehicle parking on streets that are 40 feet wide or, which more than 80 percent of the city’s streets are. While the ordinance is described as a traffic safety measure, according to local reporting, the ban primarily affects homeless people living in vehicles. Last week, a group of civil rights organizations filed suit against the city over that ordinance, describing it as unconstitutional and inhumane. Michael Trujillo, an attorney with the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, one of the organizations bringing the suit, and Yesica Prado, a photojournalist who has documented the lives of...

Taking Vaccines Directly to the Streets of the Tenderloin

Some of the people most at risk for infection with the Delta variant of the coronovirus are unvaccinated people on the streets of San Francisco’s Tenderloin. “Civic’s” Laura Wenus went with the members of Code Tenderloin who head into the neighborhood with vaccines to inoculate people right where they are and to build trust with those still reluctant to get a shot in the arm.

Healthcare providers are trying to build trust and improve vaccine access

The majority of San Francisco residents have gotten vaccinated against the coronavirus. But a lack of trust in the healthcare system or trouble making an appointment or going to a vaccination site may still pose barriers for some, especially people experiencing homelessness. Dr. Margot Kushel, a physician and researcher who directs the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, is part of a collaborative multi-organizational effort to bring the vaccines to people out on the streets.

SF's Health Officer talks masking, schools, and the delta variant

The delta variant has arrived in the Bay Area. Though San Francisco's case numbers seem to be rising, most residents are vaccinated here. But people under age 12 aren’t eligible yet, which raises the question of what to do in schools. San Francisco will require all students to wear masks indoors, but not outdoors, while at school. Dr. Susan Philip, San Francisco’s Health Officer, returns to Civic to talk about the details of the current mask rules, the delta variant, and the importance of vaccines.