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Curbed Cuts: Portola landmarks, BART fare inspectors, hacking driverless cars

Five things to know today

Dog sniffing the grass at Precita Park.
Precita Park. | Photo by Lynae Zebest

Welcome to Curbed Cuts, a tri-weekly digest connecting the dots between shelter, structure, parks, transportation, and more.

Dog danger

You can't open a San Francisco news source without seeing headlines on local dogs who fell ill after visiting Bernal Heights' Precita Park. One dog guardian alleged that fertilizer used by San Francisco Parks and Recreation was to blame, but the city says no fertilizers or chemicals have been used at that location.

However, Dogster today runs down several unexpected items they say might pose illness threats to dogs -- we're not talking the usual pup-danger listicle items like chocolate and onions, this list alleges that canned food and commercial rawhide treats might be making your (or their) dog sick.

Portola map. Map by the San Francisco School, via Portola Planet

Mapping the Portola

Curbed SF readers of course know that the Portola is not located anywhere near Portola Drive at the tail of Market Street. Situated between the Excelsior and the Bayview, it's been described as SF's "secret neighborhood" for ages (as secret as any neighborhood can be these days). Second grade students at The San Francisco School have recently mapped the area with an idiosyncratic "collage of landmarks," reports Portola Planet. Included are graffiti-filled benches, Mike the street cleaner, and a "lollipop tree."

Tickets, please

We're all used to seeing fare inspectors on Muni (especially, it appears, if we travel near Muni headquarters). But we don't currently see them on BART, as they don't exist. For now, anyway. With a BART spokesperson saying last December that while they don't have an exact number on free riders, "fare evasions cost the district millions annually," Thursday BART's board will mull a $800,000 plan to fight fare evasion, the Daily Californian reports.

That'll cover seven full-time staffers (six fare inspectors and a dedicated BART cop). BART also says they might "lock the swing gates and give station agents the ability to unlock them with a remote from inside their booths," which seems unlikely to pass fire marshal muster.

Humping on the street

Back in 2015, a push to reduce speed limits in some parts of San Francisco to 20 mph was stymied at the state level--California law requires "uniformity of speed limits" across the entire state, with a nearly 100-page manual from the Department of Transportation setting guidelines on what speeds should be set on what roads. The city's workaround, instead, are speed humps like those installed last November in Golden Gate Park. It's that same state law that might prevent a proposed reduction in speed limits through McLaren Park, Hoodline reported Tuesday. Will humps end up the solution there (as they have been on multiple residential streets across SF)? Perhaps, as longstanding opposition to humps voiced by SF's Fire Department was recently lifted, Human Streets reported in March.

You can expect more in-car jostling to come, one might assume, as "In 2016, residents submitted 102 speed hump applications to the SFMTA, more than twice as many as the previous year." Out of those, 51 were approved. Installation of those is reportedly ongoing, with even more requests anticipated in 2017.

Hackable cars

Remember the opener of Wim Wenders' 1991 film Until The End of The World (a movie that, incidentally, offers a five-hour director's cut that I assume only film students and the profoundly stoned watched in one sitting)? A futuristic tale set in (sob) 1999, it begins with an exhausted woman who hops in her driverless car and falls asleep, a delightful fantasy for any sleep-deprived driver. So, yeah, we're late compared to the movie, but a new study reported on by the San Francisco Business Times says we're getting there, with 25 percent of all U.S. driving expected to be done by autonomous electric cars by 2030.

But before you pull that sleep mask on like the Wenders hero/heroine you surely are, read this interview Wired published today with Charlie Miller, the guy who until recently was protecting driverless Ubers from hacks. "Autonomous vehicles are at the apex of all the terrible things that can go wrong," Miller begins. Sweet dreams!