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Taxi insider, Caltrans crabbiness, and a new newspaper

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Three things to know today

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

Caltrans’ copyright crabbiness

Kids from an Oakland school took the the streets this week, but what they were marching for wasn’t your usual protesters’ lament. The students from Hoover Elementary have been planning a mural to decorate the 580 Freeway underpass on Oakland’s West Street since last year, but now Caltrans threatens to stymie the project.

According to ABC 7, the fourth graders worked together to design the mural, which includes super heroes visualized by the kids. As part of a partnership with Attitudinal Healing Connection, an art and activism group that has successfully created six underpass murals (three in Oakland) with Caltrans’ blessing. But the seventh might not ever happen, as Caltrans “has added a new requirement that the students and artists sign away the copyright to the work,” KQED reports. However, since the artwork is a collaboration of numerous kids and professional artists, copyright isn’t AHC’s to give, leaving the project at a standstill.

"Right now Caltrans legal department has pretty much put a block on production of our 4th mural," AHS spokesperson Amana Harris tells ABC 7. “It's a very collaborative process and I think that Caltrans understands that and so I don't know why this is a problem.” The group has created a petition in an effort to get Caltrans to loosen up, you can take a look at it here.

Read all about it

There’s apparently a new news source in town, and, no, I’m not talking about Anna Wintour and Gwyneth Paltrow’s plan to bring a quarterly version of Goop to newsstands. According to BeyondChron, the Bay City Beacon made its print debut Thursday via “a volunteer campaign to distribute 25,000 physical copies throughout merchant corridors, at local events, and at BART and Muni Stations during commute hours.”

Describing as having “a strong pro-housing slant,” a look at its website reveals that Owner Andy Lynch “has worked on dozens of state and local political campaigns,” and other staffers have similar careers in political arenas and activism, which suggests that readers can expect advocacy journalism along the lines of publications like the late Bay Guardian—comparison being the advocacy aspect to the news, not the politics themselves--as opposed to the divide between news and op-ed one sees from fellow print pubs like the SF Public Press, SF Examiner, or the SF Chronicle.

At their launch event last night, BeyondChron says “State Senator Scott Wiener, Assemblymember David Chiu and former San Francisco Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius” were expected as “special guests.” Hey, Bay City Beacon, how about a request from this non-special guest (so special that we were not invited!): How about an RSS feed for your site, so news and politics junkies can follow your headlines? Trust me, it’s hard enough getting your stories out there as-is, but denying yourself the eyeballs of RSS users, arguably the tool most used by your fellow media members and many “power” sharers will not do you any visibility favors.

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The new Night Cabbie

Anyone else here remember the SF Examiner/SF Chronicle column “The Night Cabbie?” Penned from 1996-2004 by (so he claims) one-time mayoral candidate and definite SF character Emil Lawrence, you have to really work to find it on SFGate (this is the best we could do). Here’s a 2009 video with the cabbie (and some other taxi drivers) and his one-time editor Phil Bronstein catching up:

The columns are a charming relic now, in the era of Uber, Lyft and the city’s biggest cab company going hopelessly into debt. The heir apparent to the Night Cabbie, in my opinion, is Kelly Dessaint’s “I Drive SF.” Running in the current-day SF Examiner, it paints a sharp picture of taxis in the time of apps, and gives the kind of inside-taxi-baseball nerds (like me) love. In today’s column, his night is so sparse that he mulls picking up an apparently incontinent passenger, thinking “It’s likely that he’s only pissed the front of his pants and his backside is relatively dry … And with the windows down, it won’t smell too bad …” Will he pick the damp man up? Find out here.