Axios San Francisco

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Happy Friday! We did it!

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Today's newsletter is 809 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Good news … gas prices are dropping

Gas pump

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The average cost of a gallon of gas in the U.S. has dropped below what it was before Russia invaded Ukraine this year, Axios' Herb Scribner reports.

Driving the news: It's the first time since February that average national gas prices are under $3.50 per gallon, a significant decrease from record prices this summer.

Between the lines: Falling gas prices are an indication of lower demand as well as global economic concerns, AAA spokesperson John Treanor told Axios via email.

  • "Lower prices will likely be a welcome sight" for holiday travelers, he added.

Zoom in: California is a different story, with a gallon of regular gas costing $4.90 on average, per AAA. And it's even worse in SF, where the average is $5 per gallon.

Flashback: In June, a gallon of regular gas in California cost $6.44, the highest recorded average statewide, per AAA.

  • SF's was $6.64 per gallon at that time.

What's next: It's possible national gas prices could dip below $3 by Christmas, according to GasBuddy.

  • In the Bay Area, average gas prices could drop to the low- to mid-$4s, with some stations posting prices in the mid-$3 range by Christmas, Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told Axios via email, "so long as we don’t see new refinery issues or geopolitical changes."

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2. City launches graffiti cleanup program

Local politicians paint over graffiti

Small Business Commission president Sharky Laguana, Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Myrna Melgar paint over graffiti during Wednesday's announcement. Photo: Courtesy of Mayor Breed's office

San Francisco officials say they want to make life easier for small business owners in the city, and this week they did just that.

What's happening: SF Public Works launched a two-year pilot Wednesday that allows business and property owners to request city crews to clean up graffiti tags on their buildings for free.

  • Previously, property owners were responsible for dealing with the markings, but as the Examiner noted, much of that burden fell on the businesses.
  • If graffiti isn't dealt with, property owners face fines of up to $1,000 per day for not following city ordinances.

What they're saying: "This program is a win for small businesses and property owners," Mayor London Breed said. Referring to the impact of the pandemic, she added: "As San Francisco continues our recovery efforts, it's critical that we stay focused on keeping our city safe and clean."

  • The program will also "result in graffiti being removed faster and more efficiently," Sharky Laguana, president of the city's Small Business Commission, said.

Details: Public Works established a new six-person crew to handle the graffiti cleanup requests, which can be placed through its 311 system.

  • The city has set aside $4 million over the next two fiscal years to fund the program.

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3. The Wiggle: Navigating the news

Illustration of a San Francisco cable car with "The Wiggle" written on the front.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

🌉 The suicide prevention nets on the sides of the Golden Gate Bridge will reportedly cost $400 million, roughly twice recent estimates, according to a lawsuit filed Monday by the general contractors working on the project.

  • Initially approved in 2014, the undertaking isn't expected to be completed until 2026. (SF Business Times)

🛣 State Sen. Scott Wiener penned a letter to the California Department of Transportation this week asking it to study the costs of taking down San Francisco's Central Freeway, among other local highways. (SF Standard)

"We should not be investing huge sums in these structures before we evaluate whether we should be retaining them in the first place."
— Wiener wrote

🍨 Humphry Slocombe is taking over a Mission District commissary kitchen previously occupied by fellow SF ice cream maker Smitten in what appears to be a "production push" by the company. (SF Business Times)

4. Weekend Guide | The start of December

Illustration of a cherry pie with "weekend" cut out of the crust.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The Golden State Warriors are playing the Chicago Bulls tonight and the Houston Rockets tomorrow night at the Chase Center.

The 32nd annual Hayes Valley Holiday Stroll, featuring live music, a holiday movie, drag queens and more, is tonight from 4-9pm.

But if you prefer the Inner Sunset for your festive activities, don't miss the seventh annual Sunset Holiday Mercantile in Golden Gate Park.

And don't miss the first-ever Free Museum Weekend.

  • Online reservations are full, but a small number of tickets will be available at the doors of participating museums, which include the DeYoung, Academy of Sciences, Exploratorium and 18 other museums in the city.

🏀 Megan is excited to watch a lot of basketball this weekend and play pickleball, as long as it's not raining.

🎥 Nick is so happy that 4 Star, one of his favorite movie houses in the city, is reopening.