Bay Briefing: One SF baker’s bittersweet journey through city bureaucracy

Baker Sophie Smith wanted a kitchen to produce the cakes for her business, Butter and Crumble.

For nearly 18 months during the pandemic, she tried to get San Francisco city officials’ permission to rent kitchen space from a struggling restaurant or bar.

Smith bounced between empty kitchens that shuttered during the pandemic, before landing in one at a Marina district bar. But as she told columnist Heather Knight, she hit obstacles in the form of San Francisco’s bureaucratic city government despite its verbal commitments to helping small businesses.

Her story ended up inspiring changes to city code to make things easier for entrepreneurial chefs. Read more from Knight.

Real estate trends

 Bay Briefing: One SF bakers bittersweet journey through city bureaucracy

Atherton is site of many home purchases by trusts.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Who’s buying Bay Area homes? If you look at some deeds, the names aren’t people but rather entities.

The share of homes purchased by a trust across the San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose metro areas increased from 2% in 2000 to nearly 10% by 2021, according to real estate data from Redfin.

High-income families make up the bulk of trusts — the largest share of trust purchases occurred in wealthy enclaves such as Atherton and Portola Valley.

Why buy property this way? Reporter Susie Neilson takes a look at the data.

What to eat

 Bay Briefing: One SF bakers bittersweet journey through city bureaucracy

Matt Horn has added Kowbird to his Oakland restaurant empire.

Jessica Christian/The Chronicle

Bay Area foodies rejoiced when Matt Horn, the acclaimed pitmaster behind West Oakland’s Horn Barbecue, first announced he would open a fried chicken sandwich restaurant. Chronicle associate restaurant critic Cesar Hernandez paid several visits to Kowbird for their exceptional fried chicken sandwiches.

The good, Hernandez writes, includes giant, palm-sized sandwiches on squishy Martin’s potato buns. Kowbird’s spicy Hot Bird, flavored with fermented chiles, and Honey Bird, slathered in sweet honey butter and pickled mustard seed, do well paired with fries and cabbage fried in bacon fat.

But there were lots that still felt “in the works” to him, such as the inconsistency of waffles that appeared then disappeared from the menu.

Around the Bay

 Bay Briefing: One SF bakers bittersweet journey through city bureaucracy

Volunteers at the Alameda County food bank pack bags.

Paul Kuroda/Special to The Chronicle

Helping those in need: Inflation has struck hard for Bay Area residents struggling to make ends meet. At an Oakland food distribution site, volunteers are handing out 28,000 more meals this month.

Walkers, runners, cyclists rejoice: A 1.5-mile stretch of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park will become permanently car-free as San Francisco supervisors vote to keep vehicles away.

“Slap in the face”: The sudden closure of a hedge fund-owned Oakland vet clinic has left employees, pet owners and animals alike in pain.

Drought changes: The East Bay Municipal Utility District has officially voted to cap water usage for much of Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

New data: Antisemitism has surged, according to a new audit from the Anti-Defamation League — and the record of hate crimes in the Bay Area appears consistent with the trend.

Crime news: Two Berkeley men are accused of selling fentanyl to undercover cops in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood.

UC Berkeley lockdown: Police say a 39-year-old Cal student is facing felony charges for shooting threats that prompted last week’s campuswide shelter-in-place order.

Opinion: Why my fellow nurses and I are ready to strike at Stanford Hospital.

“Historical wrongs”

 Bay Briefing: One SF bakers bittersweet journey through city bureaucracy

UC system will admit some Native Americans tuition-free.

Jessica Christian/The Chronicle

The University of California system plans to offer free tuition to Native American students, as part of a program “recognizing and acknowledging historical wrongs endured by Native Americans,” according to the system’s president.

Called the UC Native American Opportunity Plan, it will fully cover in-state tuition fees for California residents who are members of federally recognized tribes.

But there’s a catch: In California, there are 55 non-federally recognized tribes, affecting roughly 80,000 people.

Read more from Danielle Echeverria.

Plus: UC student workers blocked a Berkeley intersection as part of a protest over salaries, benefits and working conditions.

Bay Briefing is written by Gwendolyn Wu (she/her) and sent to readers’ email inboxes on weekday mornings. Sign up for the newsletter here, and contact the writer at

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