BART to Cease Accepting Paper Tickets, Fully Transitioning to Clipper Cards

Starting November 30, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) will no longer accept paper tickets at its stations. This move finalizes the transition to Clipper cards, a process that began in August 2019. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission produces these Clipper cards, which can be used across all Bay Area transit systems.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the transition to Clipper cards. However, due to global supply chain issues affecting the availability of plastic cards, BART temporarily resumed selling paper tickets at San Francisco International Airport in October 2022. This practice was discontinued at the end of September when the supply issues were resolved.

BART spokesperson Alicia Trost mentioned that most riders have already transitioned to Clipper cards, but some may still have paper tickets. Balances on these paper tickets cannot be transferred to Clipper cards. Refunds are available for paper tickets with a remaining balance higher than $1.

BART also informed riders that they could get a new Clipper card on their phones for free through Apple Pay and Google Pay. The next generation of Clipper cards, expected to be introduced in 2024, will allow riders to use a credit or debit card at BART fare gates without needing to set up a card on their phones beforehand.

This change is part of BART’s broader initiative to replace its 700 fare gates with new ones designed to prevent fare evasion. The agency plans to complete this replacement by 2026.

Butter & Crumble Bakery Opens New Location in San Francisco’s North Beach

Self-proclaimed “girl boss bakery” Butter & Crumble is set to open its own physical location this Wednesday, following three prosperous years of pop-up events in San Francisco’s Marina District. For the young baker Sophie Smith, relocating to North Beach seems like destiny.

The Francisco Street venue, which was previously Tante Marie’s cooking school, holds sentimental value for Smith. It’s the place where her mother, who taught her the art of baking, learned to cook. The building had been empty for several years before Smith moved in with her offerings like buttercream cakes, pistachio cardamom croissants, and pumpkin cruffins. “The community is thrilled to see a business operating here once more,” Smith commented.

While Smith has preserved aspects of the former cooking school, such as wooden cooking surfaces and a large whisk hanging above the entrance, she has also infused the space with her own flair. She’s introduced a range of handcrafted items, including four different Butter & Crumble tote bags designed by local artists, an abundance of plants from That SF Plant Guy, and floral arrangements by Urban Virgo. The space is also adorned with the light pink hue of the staff’s aprons.

Smith fine-tuned her baking skills during the Covid-19 pandemic, initially baking solely for her close circle. She noted that the pandemic provided many chefs and bakers with the opportunity to refine their skills, describing it as “both a blessing and a curse.”

Smith initially gained attention through weekend pop-up events that drew long lines. She utilized vacant kitchen spaces to increase her production capacity, including a collaboration with Marina bar Westwood. Although she began her venture focusing on buttercream cakes, she soon expanded her menu to include various pastries. Some of her crowd-pleasers are a croissant filled with bacon, a soft egg, and herbs, as well as her pistachio cardamom croissants.

On the morning before the official opening, contractors were busy with last-minute adjustments as permit inspectors were expected to arrive. Smith, along with fellow bakers Nicki Volante and Melissa Nuñez, were engrossed in the kitchen, experimenting with chai-flavored buns and sugar syrups. Smith revealed that the next item on her menu would be a new croissant featuring mortadella, Gruyère, and pistachio pesto, as a tribute to her new North Beach location.

Allianz Commercial Names Claudia Valencia as First Global Head of Portfolio Solutions

Appointment Effective January 8, Valencia to Report to Key Executives and Be Based in London

Allianz Commercial has announced the appointment of Claudia Valencia as its inaugural global head of portfolio solutions. Valencia’s new role will become effective on January 8 of the upcoming year. She will be based in London and will report to Shanil Williams, Allianz Commercial’s chief underwriting officer, as well as Jeremy Sharpe, the global head of distribution.

Valencia, a former employee of Zurich, is making the transition from AIG’s New York office. In her most recent role at AIG, she was the Latin America regional head of client and broker engagement.

Shanil Williams expressed enthusiasm about Valencia’s appointment in an emailed statement. He noted that the commercial and specialty market is expanding in this sector, making it the ideal time to implement a unified global strategy across all business operations. Williams praised Valencia’s extensive global experience in both underwriting and distribution roles and expressed delight at having her join the team.

In her new role, Valencia will have a broad scope of responsibilities, including overseeing panels, facilities, managing general agents, bancassurance, and other types of delegated authority.

State Funding Spurs Development for Sustainable Urban Living in San Francisco

State Grants Promote Housing Accessibility and Car Reduction Initiatives

In a bid to address the ongoing housing crisis and encourage sustainable urban living, San Francisco has secured state grants that will pave the way for the construction of 1,200 new housing units. These grants, designed to support affordable housing initiatives and reduce car dependency, are expected to transform the city’s landscape and provide more accessible housing options for young adults.

As urban areas continue to face housing shortages and high costs of living, San Francisco has been grappling with the challenge of providing affordable housing to its residents, particularly young adults. However, recent state grants totaling millions of dollars have injected hope into the city’s efforts to alleviate the housing crisis and create more vibrant communities.

One key aspect of the state grants is their emphasis on reducing car dependency and promoting sustainable transportation alternatives. Recognizing the negative impacts of excessive car usage on both the environment and traffic congestion, the grants aim to encourage residents to rely on public transportation, walking, and cycling, while also prioritizing the development of housing near transit hubs.

The funding will enable the construction of mixed-use developments, combining residential units with retail spaces, in strategic locations near public transportation networks. By creating these housing options in close proximity to transit options, residents will have convenient access to various modes of transportation, making car ownership less necessary.

In addition to promoting sustainable transportation, the state grants prioritize the creation of affordable housing units. With rising housing costs and limited supply, many young adults struggle to find affordable housing options that meet their needs. The grants will help address this issue by providing funding to developers committed to constructing affordable housing units within the city.

The new housing units will offer a range of options, including studio apartments, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units, catering to the diverse needs of young adults. By increasing the availability of affordable housing, the grants aim to ensure that young professionals, recent graduates, and those starting families can find housing that aligns with their financial capabilities.

Moreover, the development of mixed-use projects will contribute to creating vibrant communities where residents can live, work, and play in the same neighborhood. By integrating commercial spaces into residential complexes, the grants aim to foster a sense of community and promote local economic growth.

In a city known for its iconic neighborhoods, these projects aim to enhance the character and diversity of San Francisco’s urban landscape. By transforming underutilized or vacant lots into vibrant, sustainable communities, the grants seek to create more inclusive neighborhoods that accommodate a range of socio-economic backgrounds.

To ensure the success of these projects, the grants also allocate funds for community engagement and input. By involving residents in the planning and design processes, the grants aim to create developments that reflect the needs and desires of the local community. This collaborative approach will ensure that the new housing units and community spaces are both functional and attractive to residents, contributing to the overall livability of the city.

As the construction of these new housing units progresses, the grants have the potential to address the pressing housing crisis while also tackling the issue of car dependency in San Francisco. By prioritizing sustainability, affordability, and community engagement, these initiatives offer a glimmer of hope for young adults seeking accessible and environmentally conscious living options in the city.

In the face of mounting challenges, the state grants serve as a catalyst for change, paving the way for a more inclusive and sustainable future in San Francisco. Through these efforts, the city strives to create a model for other urban areas to follow, where affordable housing and reduced car dependency can coexist, making vibrant and livable communities accessible to all.

Analyzing the FDIC Report on First Republic Bank’s Collapse

Delving into the Factors Behind the First Republic Bank’s Downfall

In a comprehensive 63-page report released by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) on Friday, a deep examination of First Republic Bank’s collapse in May and the supervision exercised by the government agency has been detailed. The report sheds light on the series of events leading to the bank’s collapse, leaving no stone unturned in its analysis.

Regulatory Vigilance and its Ambiguities

The report underlines that while federal regulators could have potentially maintained a more vigilant stance in monitoring First Republic Bank’s practices, it remains uncertain whether such measures could have shielded the San Francisco-based institution from its eventual collapse earlier this year.

A pivotal revelation in the report is that the ultimate undoing of First Republic Bank was the loss of market and depositor confidence. This loss was precipitated by the failures of two other banks, Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, on March 10 and 12, respectively, which in turn triggered an unprecedented bank run. The domino effect of these failures sent shockwaves through the banking industry, leading to a cascade of events that culminated in First Republic’s demise.

A Vulnerable Business Model

The FDIC’s examination revealed that First Republic’s business model and management strategies rendered it particularly vulnerable to rising interest rates and the contagion that followed the failure of Silicon Valley Bank. This susceptibility was exacerbated by the fact that a significant portion of First Republic’s assets and deposits were uninsured, exceeding FDIC deposit insurance limits.

As a result of the collapses of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, First Republic witnessed a massive exodus of deposits, totaling more than $100 billion during the first quarter of the year. Faced with relentless withdrawal demands, First Republic had no choice but to secure substantial borrowings from the Federal Home Loan Bank and the Federal Reserve Discount Window to meet its clients’ liquidity needs.

The timeline of First Republic’s downfall was marked by a rapid decline in its stock price on April 24, following the disclosure of lost deposits during an earnings call. This revelation triggered further withdrawals from clients, prompting federal and state regulators to downgrade First Republic to “problem status” just four days later. This downgrade severely restricted the bank’s ability to borrow from the Federal Reserve Discount Window, ultimately sealing its fate.

The Aftermath and Future Considerations

On May 1, regulators took the unprecedented step of closing First Republic Bank, appointing the FDIC as its receiver. The FDIC has estimated the cost of the bank’s failure to be approximately $13 billion, although an exact figure will be determined once the receivership is concluded.

The report also highlighted a critical juncture in 2021 when risk management supervisors could have intervened more proactively to challenge and strengthen the bank’s management. However, it acknowledges that such actions might have faced resistance from First Republic, given its robust growth and the prevailing low interest rate environment at the time.

In retrospect, the FDIC suggests that a more comprehensive approach, involving greater engagement from its large bank supervision branch and regional officials, could have provided valuable insights into the bank’s risk management strategies. While it remains uncertain whether earlier supervisory actions could have averted First Republic’s failure, the report emphasizes that meaningful steps to mitigate interest rate risk and address funding concentrations could have bolstered the bank’s resilience and made it less susceptible to the contagion event of March 2023.

In conclusion, the FDIC’s report offers a detailed retrospective analysis of the factors that contributed to First Republic Bank’s collapse, raising important questions about regulatory oversight, risk management, and the complexities of modern banking. It serves as a valuable case study for the financial industry and regulatory bodies, underscoring the importance of proactive risk management and regulatory diligence in safeguarding the stability of the banking sector.

Clean California Transforms Vacant Lot Into Education Center

Governor Gavin Newsom, alongside state and local leaders, recently revealed a cutting-edge tree nursery and education center, established on a formerly vacant and neglected lot in San Francisco. This unveiling is part of the broader Clean California initiative, a $1.2 billion, multi-year project spearheaded by Caltrans, aimed at cleaning up 3,275 sites across the state, generating thousands of jobs, and rejuvenating public spaces.

The project, costing $3.5 million, was a collaborative effort between Caltrans, the San Francisco Department of Public Works, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire). During the ribbon-cutting event, Governor Newsom highlighted a significant achievement of Clean California: since its inception in July 2021, over two million cubic yards of litter have been cleared from California’s roadways, equivalent to the length of the Golden Gate Bridge 670 times. The program has also provided employment to 8,700 individuals.

Governor Newsom expressed his personal connection to the project, recalling his time as Mayor of San Francisco when the state-owned site was a constant challenge to maintain. He emphasized the transformation of this key gateway into San Francisco into a space of pride for both San Franciscans and Californians.

Situated at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Fifth Street, the tree nursery will offer educational opportunities about the environmental and human benefits of trees, including interactions with arborists. San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed lauded the project for its environmental and community benefits, noting the local cultivation of trees reducing carbon emissions and the prioritization of tree planting in historically underserved neighborhoods.

Additionally, Caltrans recently introduced another Clean California project in San Francisco and announced new Clean California grants for cleaning transit stations and bus stops across the state. The initiative has been instrumental in providing employment opportunities to individuals facing barriers, including those who were homeless, and has mobilized over 10,000 volunteers for various cleanup activities.

Caltrans is also developing a Clean California Community program, encouraging communities to meet specific criteria related to litter prevention, recycling, and neighborhood beautification. For those interested in volunteering with Clean California, more information is available at

IKEA Sparks Downtown San Francisco’s Transformation

IKEA in San Francisco

IKEA’s recent establishment in San Francisco’s Mid-Market area has sparked mixed reactions. The store, situated near the Trinity apartment complex, offers residents a convenient shopping experience. Tyren Caines, a local resident, expressed his surprise and appreciation for having IKEA close to his home, particularly valuing the physical shopping experience over online purchases.

However, the store’s actual impact on the downtown area is somewhat ambiguous. While not as deserted as some social media posts and tabloid articles might suggest, the store’s customer-to-staff ratio and quiet checkout lines indicate it may not be attracting the anticipated crowd. Despite this, Steve Gibson, from the Mid-Market Business Association and Foundation, recognizes IKEA’s role in bringing activity to a previously dormant building, highlighting its positive influence on the neighborhood.

Adjacent businesses have had varied experiences following IKEA’s arrival. Marlon Billalto of the Melt sandwich shop and Omaro Bastides from Shiekh shoe store haven’t seen the expected surge in patronage. IKEA’s spokesperson, Carla Soto, reported a promising visitor count in the store’s initial month but refrained from divulging specific sales figures.

The broader development plan includes the Meeting Place mall, anchored by IKEA and awaiting additional tenants. This development, expected to feature diverse attractions like Saluhall, a Nordic food court, and Hej!Workshop, a co-working space, aims to transform the area into a multifaceted destination.

City efforts to maintain the area, including sidewalk cleaning and the deployment of sidewalk ambassadors through Urban Alchemy, contribute to a safer, more welcoming environment. Gibson acknowledges that while IKEA’s presence is a positive step, more work is needed to fully activate the surrounding spaces.

Local resident Don Cecil views the new IKEA as a promising sign for San Francisco’s recovery and an ideal fit for the city’s retail landscape, especially in the post-pandemic era. His optimistic outlook reflects a broader sentiment among some San Franciscans who see IKEA as a beacon of progress in the neighborhood.

Strong Police Presence in San Francisco’s Union Square on Black Friday

San Francisco’s Union Square Boosts Security for Holiday Season

Union Square in San Francisco, a popular destination for Black Friday and holiday festivities such as ice skating, is witnessing an increased presence of law enforcement this year. Sargeant Kathryn Winters from the San Francisco Police Department emphasized the heightened security measures. “We’re out there it’s us out here in uniform in Union Square or our plain clothes officers around the city,” she stated. The message is clear: any intentions of theft or causing harm will be met with swift action by the police.

As the holiday season approaches, the city has been proactive in ensuring a safer shopping experience. This initiative, known as the safe shopper initiative, is part of a broader effort to enhance public safety. San Francisco’s efforts in this direction were bolstered earlier in the year with a significant $17 million grant aimed at addressing organized retail theft.

The shopping district of Union Square has experienced challenges, including smash-and-grab thefts and a number of store closures. Despite these issues, many visitors are drawn to the area for its holiday ambiance, including festive decorations and ice skating opportunities, offering a glimpse of the holiday spirit amidst heightened security.

Unexpected Layoffs at Two San Francisco Tech Companies

Strategic Restructuring in the Tech Industry

In a wave of strategic restructuring, various companies across multiple sectors have recently declared more workforce cuts. These decisions are largely driven by the need to adapt to changing market dynamics. Carta, a San Francisco-based equity management startup valued at $8.5 billion last year, is among those implementing its third round of layoffs this year, following previous staff reductions in January and July.

Carta is currently embroiled in legal disputes over allegations of wrongful termination, with the exact number of affected employees in the latest cuts remaining undisclosed. An employee, caught off guard by these layoffs, conveyed their surprise to Fortune, which first reported the news.

Carta’s CEO Henry Ward has attributed the company’s challenges to negative media coverage. The company, which employs about 1,800 people, is also dealing with accusations of mistreatment by management, particularly towards women.

Unity, another San Francisco-based company specializing in video game and 3D software, announced its fourth round of layoffs within a year. Despite a significant increase in revenue and a reduction in net loss, as reported in their third-quarter earnings, Unity is proceeding with workforce reductions following a thorough review of its product portfolio.

The layoffs at Unity began early this year, partly due to overlapping job roles resulting from its acquisition of IronSource. Interim CEO James Whitehurst has expressed Unity’s intention to become a more streamlined and agile company.

Other companies announcing layoffs include Ava Labs, a blockchain technology firm based in New York with a San Francisco office, which is reducing its workforce by 12%. CEO Emin Gün Sirer confirmed the layoffs, emphasizing a focus on maintaining the energy of a smaller team.

Beyond Meat, known for its plant-based products, is cutting about 19% of its non-production staff as part of a broader cost-reduction strategy. This follows a downward revision of its revenue forecast due to decreasing demand.

Virgin Galactic, a space tourism company, is planning to reduce its staff by 18%, approximately 185 employees. This move is part of an effort to focus resources on its new Delta suborbital spaceplanes and to reduce reliance on unpredictable capital markets. CEO Michael Colglazier outlined the need to streamline operations outside the Delta program to strengthen the company’s financial position.

Biden and Xi to Convene in San Francisco on November 15

President Joe Biden is poised to engage in bilateral discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping on November 15. This encounter, coinciding with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco, marks the first face-to-face interaction between the two leaders in roughly a year. The meeting’s details are being finalized, as reported by Kyodo News, referencing an unnamed senior U.S. official.

While China has not officially confirmed Xi’s attendance at APEC, the White House has affirmed the planned meeting. The necessity of direct dialogue was underscored by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who recently remarked that the two nations could not depend on automatic mechanisms to facilitate such a high-level engagement.

Xi is also anticipated to be the distinguished guest at a dinner with prominent U.S. business leaders in San Francisco, as per a previous report by Bloomberg News.

A critical agenda item for Xi during his visit to the U.S. is to reassure foreign investors. Surveys indicate that Western business leaders in China are increasingly apprehensive about the market conditions, facing challenges that include geopolitical strife, economic deceleration, and concerns over the security of their personnel.