No coal for Oakland, Newsom missed the train, and an app for SF's homeless


No coal for Oakland Port

A company that operates a coal mine in Colorado has been looking to ship its fossil fuel products to Asia via the Port of Oakland.

A coalition of environmental organizations sounded the alarm that the Board of Port Commissioners was considering a lease proposal from Bowie Resource Partners to operate a coal export facility at Oakland's Charles P. Howard Terminal.

Another proposal submitted for consideration, from California Capital Group/ Kinder Morgan/ MetroPorts, could also lead to coal exports, said Jess Dervin-Ackerman, conservation organizer for the Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club.

"We've really reduced our use of coal in this country, but that means we've just been sending it to Asia," Dervin-Ackerman noted.

In addition to the global concerns about exacerbating climate change by shipping coal to be burned in power plants in Asia, where there are weaker environmental protections, environmentalists are worried that Oakland neighborhoods could be impacted by pollution from rail operations and fine coal dust that could leave airborne traces behind as it is transported to the marine terminals.

Bowie proposed to ship not only coal, but petroleum coke, a pulverized fossil fuel that is illegal to burn in California. Already 128,000 barrels of this product, called petcoke for short, are shipped daily from throughout the state.

Port of Oakland staff, however, has recommended rejecting the proposals from both entities.

"Staff believes that Bowie's proposed use and operation of the property raises environmental concerns related to the handling of commodities such as coal. Environmental concerns about handling commodities such as coal stem primarily from issues of fugitive dust and climate change," a staff report noted. "Port staff believes that operations such as those proposed by Bowie conflict with recently adopted Port policies and programs intended to create or support environmental sustainability."

In the face of opposition from environmentalists and the staff, the board voted against the proposals on Feb. 27. (Rebecca Bowe)


Register your bike

A new program registering San Francisco bicycles and their owners enrolled just over 500 bicyclists in its first two weeks, a small success story in the effort to reunite riders with their stolen bicycles.

The program in question is Safe Bikes, a joint venture between the SFPD and SF Safe. Cyclists can log onto its website, register their bike's make and model, and when victims report a bike theft to police they can be reunited with their two-wheeled friend just as easily. There are 75,000 bike riders a day in San Francisco, according to the Budget and Legislative Analyst's office, a buffet of tantalizing goods for bike thieves.

More than 500 bikes are a small dent in that number, but for only a two-week start it isn't too bad. Safe Bikes Manager Morgan St. Clair said it's only just begun its outreach. Next month, it plans to host an event at Twitter headquarters, where it will give away 50 Kryptonite locks, funded by the San Francisco Police Officers Association.

"We've only gone to three bike shops so far," she said. But in the coming months St. Clair and her team of 15 volunteers have a city full of shops they plan to visit.

An estimated 4,000 bicycles were stolen from riders in 2012, though only 812 were reported to police. St. Clair said there is a perception problem.

"They think the police department isn't doing anything and say 'oh, what the heck,' and don't think they'll ever get it back," she said. "We're trying to change that mentality."