Axios San Francisco
March 01, 2024
It's Friday — time to cut loose.
Today's weather: Rainy with some breeze. High of 57, low of 46.
Today's newsletter is 894 words — a 3.5-minute read.
1 big thing: Muni's highs and lows
While Muni ridership has seen significant gains since the pandemic, officials from the city's transit agency this week warned there's still a looming budget deficit.
Why it matters: The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's revenue from ridership fares is only 56% of what it was pre-pandemic, while revenue from parking fees dipped by 12%.
- SFMTA has proposed increases to Muni fares, parking fees and fines, as well as taxi fees to fund its service operations.
Threat level: The SFMTA needs to bring in $12.7 million in revenue for the upcoming two-year budget cycle (July 1, 2024, to June 30, 2026), the department wrote in a blog post this week.
- Its money problems are only expected to get worse, with the SFMTA projecting a budget deficit of "a catastrophic $240 million" from July 1, 2026, to June 30, 2027, which could result in the elimination of Muni lines.
What they're saying: "It is no secret that Muni is facing its challenges," Jeffrey Tumlin, director of transportation for the SFMTA, said at a press conference this week. "We are still in the worst financial crisis that this agency has faced in its entire history over 100 years."
- He added that San Francisco is also still reeling from the effects of COVID-era work-from-home policies.
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that SFMTA revenue from parking fees is 12% less than it was pre-pandemic (not 12% of what it was pre-pandemic)
2. ❄️ Mountain blizzard watch
Brace yourself — another winter storm is hitting Northern California over the weekend.
Why it matters: Powerful winds and heavy snow could lead to blizzard conditions in the Sierra Nevada mountains and five to 12 feet of snow in the area around Lake Tahoe — including snow rates surpassing three inches per hour, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
- The governor's Office of Emergency Services is urging residents to avoid traveling to, from or near the Sierras until the area is cleared by authorities.
State of play: Though San Francisco is not forecast to weather the same conditions, rain is expected in coastal areas.
- The NWS has issued a high surf advisory in effect from 10am today through 4pm tomorrow, warning locals to beware of large 15- to 20-foot waves that have the potential to pull people into the sea or propel dangerous objects.
- The Bay Area will also be subject to another cycle of high winds, with gusts up to 50 mph expected.
- A few power outages may result, NWS said in its wind advisory, which is in effect from noon today to 10am tomorrow.
The big picture: The Bay Area is still recovering from its last two winter storms, which led to historic wind speeds, hail and even the risk of a tornado.
- The one in early February was the worst single storm for PG&E outages in 30 years, with damage causing outages for over 1.4 million customers.
- At least three people in Northern California were killed in the immediate aftermath.
The bottom line: "March will be coming in like a lion for the West Coast states," per the NWS Weather Prediction Center.
3. The Wiggle: Navigating the news
🎨 Nonprofit BMAI, partly funded by Laurene Powell Jobs, has bought the SF Art Institute for about $30 million. (SF Chronicle)
The mayor's office released data yesterday showing 47% of people cited for substance use in San Francisco live outside the city. (SF Standard)
4. "Sqream" your heart out
State of play: Part camp horror tribute, part '90s sing-along, "Sqream" loosely follows the plot of the original movie, but with way more jokes and double entendres.
Behind the scenes: For this year's production, the iconic opening character "Drew Buriedmore" will be played by three separate drag performers during the run: Oasis club owner D'Arcy Drollinger, "Sqream" writer and performer Michael Phillis and San Francisco drag songstress Joan.
The musical is showing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights until March 23.
- Check out footage from the show on our Axios SF Instagram page.
5. Weekend guide
We're in the first week of March — so close to spring!
- Even though the weather forecast predicts rain this weekend, there's still plenty going on in the city in addition to "Sqream."
🎨 Take the whole family to MakeArt Family Day as part of the Museum of Craft and Design's 20th birthday party. Activities include soap sculpturing, ArtBot Toys, interactive embroidery and more.
- Tomorrow 11am-3pm at the Museum of Craft and Design. Tickets are $10, but kids 12 and under are free.
🧦 Grab a bag and fill it with your curated selection of items at this "Pay by the Bag" thrift store clothing sale. Half of the proceeds go to local organizations.
- Tomorrow 10am-6pm and Sunday 11am-5pm at Studio Valencia. $15 per grocery-sized bag.
🏃♀️ Participate in the Chinatown YMCA Lunar New Year run, which winds through the neighborhood's historic streets. You can walk or run in the 5k or run in the 10k — rain or shine.
- Sunday 8am on Grant Avenue/Sacramento Street. Participation fees start at $60.
🔥 Cozy up around a bonfire at Ocean Beach now that "No Burn" season is over. The National Park Service provides 16 rings/pits for fires between stairwells 15 and 20.
- Allowed through Oct. 31, 6am-9:30pm only. First come, first serve.
👋🏾 Megan wants to give a shoutout to Morgan's mom Linda for being such a big supporter of Axios SF.
💀 Shawna needs to free up storage on her phone. This is a recurring problem.
This newsletter was edited by Rachel La Corte and copy edited by Kathie Bozanich and Anjelica Tan.