Bay Briefing: What the ‘Twitter tax break’ actually brought to Mid-Market

Good morning, Bay Area. It’s Thursday, May 9, and a study is pointing the finger at ride-hailing services for the rise in traffic congestion, California bans a widely-used farm pesticide, and we’re looking back at what became of the “Twitter tax break” in Mid-Market. Here’s what you need to know to start your day.

From Fifth to 10th

Eight years ago, San Francisco city leaders offered a tax break to draw companies to the Mid-Market neighborhood — a deal that became associated with one of its major beneficiaries: Twitter.

That tax break expires on May 20. To mark its end, three Chronicle stories look at the evolution of the street, the impact on commercial and residential real estate, and the benefits that flowed — or didn’t — to the city and its people.

“The people who were really against it are looking back and saying, ‘See, I told you so.’ ” Don Falk, CEO of the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp. says. “And the people who were for it, are saying, ‘See, I told you so.’ ”

Congestion diagnosis

 Bay Briefing: What the ‘Twitter tax break’ actually brought to Mid Market

Ride-hailing services account for two-thirds of the rise in traffic congestion in San Francisco over the past six years, according to a study by a deputy director at the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and the University of Kentucky.

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Uber and Lyft previously contested data the Transportation Authority released in October, saying that the agency didn’t account for the growth in tourism, freight or delivery services that increased with the economic recovery.

But one of the study’s authors says without ride-hailing cars, congestion would have increased 22% within the city — instead of 62%.

“Many factors contribute to congestion — including population growth,” Joe Castiglione tells reporter Rachel Swan. “But the addition of TNCs (or transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft) is greater than all of them.”

More: Uber and Lyft drivers — outside of their cars — blocked Market Street during a protest ahead of Uber’s Friday public offering.

Meanwhile in transit: An equipment problem that has stymied Muni’s new light-rail fleet is bigger than the agency originally thought, a top official said this week.

Statewide ban

 Bay Briefing: What the ‘Twitter tax break’ actually brought to Mid MarketFILE – In this Aug. 28, 2013, file photo, a load of Sauvignon Blanc grapes are dropped into a bin during harvest in St. Helena, Calif. California regulators are recommending new restrictions on a widely used pesticide blamed for harming babies’ brains. The Department of Pesticide Regulation is issuing temporary guidelines Thursday, May 9, 2019, for chlorpyrifos while it considers long-term regulations. The department calls for banning its use in crop dusting, discontinuing it application on most crops and increasing buffer zones where it’s sprayed. The pesticide is used on grapes, almonds and oranges and other crops. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

California will ban the widely used farm pesticide chlorpyrifos, a chemical that studies have indicated can cause brain damage in children, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration said Wednesday.

The ban could take as long as two years to kick in, but in the meantime, the Department of Pesticide Regulation will order county agricultural commissioners to ban aerial spraying of the pesticide and allow its use only when no safer alternatives are available.

Chlorpyrifos was first developed as a nerve agent in World War II and was on track for a nationwide ban until the Environmental Protection Agency under President Trump sought — and received— a five-year extension for further study of the pesticide.

The hangover

 Bay Briefing: What the ‘Twitter tax break’ actually brought to Mid Market

A new Amy Poehler-directed comedy, “Wine Country,” is the newest entrant in a relatively small club of high-profile movies set in, well, Wine Country. Our wine critic, Esther Mobley, looks at what the movie gets right (and wrong) about wine tasting and tourism in Napa.

More: Esther on the female stereotypes the wine industry seems only too glad to preserve.

From a half-billion to $0

 Bay Briefing: What the ‘Twitter tax break’ actually brought to Mid Market

A pending deal to sell almost half of Park Tower, one of San Francisco’s tallest office buildings — and a home to Facebook in the city — could lead to $539 million changing hands and set the new skyscraper’s value at more than $1 billion — an almost unprecedented assessment.

But the city will get nothing from the deal, at least in the form of the transfer taxes it collects on most sales of real estate.

Roland Li reports on why.

Around the bay

Handing out waivers? San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera is investigating whether a pediatrician gave unlawful medical exemptions to parents who did not want their children vaccinated.

Sharks bite: The San Jose Sharks win their series against the Colorado Avalanche and are headed to the conference finals.

Warrior down: Kevin Durant exits Game 5 against the Houston Rockets with a leg injury.

Running away: Why does a man who’s minding his own business, riding his bicycle, end up dead at the hands of a police officer, Otis R. Taylor Jr. asks.

Crack up: The Punch Line comedy club is moving — and nobody in the comedy world is laughing.

After the snow: Tom Stienstra on the best outdoor spots to spend this Memorial Day weekend.

• “The world was wide enough”: Back-to-back acts of generosity unfold outside SF ‘Hamilton’ show.

Chronicle Covers

 Bay Briefing: What the ‘Twitter tax break’ actually brought to Mid Market

“CRIME, MOBS MOVING IN STATE REPORTS” reads the headline of the the May 11, 1953 front page of The Chronicle.

“Harbingers of organized and syndicated crime” in San Francisco indicates “the integrity of local government is in trouble,” Charles Raudebaugh reported.

The Chronicle was especially interested in this investigation because the state’s findings reflected an exclusive series on San Francisco crime that the paper had featured on its front pages. “The Chronicle’s series is supported,” reads a short item packed in the front page, adding that the newspaper’s stories “had city-wide repercussions” — something we’re still doing in 2019.

See more Chronicle Covers from the archives here.

Bay Briefing is written by Taylor Kate Brown and sent to readers’ email in-boxes on weekday mornings. Sign up for the newsletter here, and contact Brown at

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