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Online San Francisco Municipal Codes Have a New Home

By Andrea Woods

The website for the San Francisco Municipal Codes is switching to a new URL. Update your bookmarks before March 1st, when the redirection from the old site to the new site will cease functioning. The new URL is:

https://codelibrary.amlegal.com/codes/san_francisco/latest/overview.

The new site has a new look, and the search function is slightly different. You can still search across all of the codes, of course, but to search only a particular code or codes, click the drop-down menu arrow on the location filter, scroll down to San Francisco (which will already be selected), and then click on the edit pencil:2020-02-04 12_03_03-Code Search

This opens a pop-up box where you can select the code or codes you want to search by unchecking the boxes next to the codes that you do not want to search:

2020-02-04 12_23_48-Code Search

Only the current version of the San Francisco Municipal Codes is available online. The San Francisco Law Library has an extensive archive of prior codes and superseded pages, so contact us if you need an earlier version of a code section.


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February Book of the Month: Stories from Trailblazing Women Lawyers

Stories from Trailblazing Women LawyersStories from Trailblazing Women Lawyers: Lives in the Law
Written by Jill Norgren
Reviewed by Ruth Geos, Reference Librarian


Bracketed by the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment and the burst of voices and action from the #MeToo movement, Stories from Trailblazing Women Lawyers: Lives in the Law sketches in the period in between, when the blunt view of the profession was that law was exclusively a “guy’s game.” The 100 women interviewed though this oral history project of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession are lawyers, judges, Presidential cabinet members, law school deans, and civil rights pioneers who graduated from law school in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s—women who have become leaders in the profession, and models of achievement through persistence, daring, humor, and brilliance in a time that did not welcome their excellence or even their presence.

Stories from Trailblazing Women Lawyers draws from these detailed interviews to interweave their voices and stories, looking at the bigger story these women shared, starting with tales of childhood, their ambitions forward, barriers, job interviews, first legal position, and ultimately the personal and professional choices they made. Many of these women speak of their determined, mostly solitary way forward. They struggled with decisions about which sexist comment to challenge and which to let go, where to push and where to pull, when to marry, divorce, have children, what to wear and what to say, and how to best make use of their love of the law. Transcripts of the extensive interviews themselves (along with video interviews) are available online; the interviewers are also eminent women in the law.

It may be unbelievable to those of us in 2020 to hear that Harvard Law School did not admit women until 1950, and then deliberately failed to support them, with overt acts of humiliation, contempt, isolation, and complete disbelief that women could be real lawyers. It was not just Harvard, of course. Former New York Solicitor General Shirley Adelson Siegel was the only woman to graduate from Yale Law School in 1941. Shirley Hufstedler, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge and later Secretary of Education under Jimmy Carter, was one of two women at Stanford Law School in 1949. Even by the 1960s, only 10% of the class at UC Berkeley were women.

When it came to finding a job, the doors were closed, even for graduates of the most prestigious law schools. In 1949, Judge Hufstedler graduated fifth in her Stanford class. The Dean offered her a recommendation for a position as legal secretary. In 1952, Sandra Day O’Connor, also one of the best in her Stanford class, was also offered work as a legal secretary. In contrast, her classmate, William Rehnquist, was offered a position as a law clerk with a Justice on the Supreme Court.

Neither woman accepted the secretarial offer.

As Judge Hufstedler said: “What may startle people today is that nobody would hire a female lawyer. Nobody….”

Perhaps the most well-known trailblazer of this period, documented in film and books, is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

[W]hen I was a new justice on the court, for the 12 years that I sat together with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, invariably one lawyer or another would call me Justice O’Connor. They had been accustomed to a woman on the Court, and Justice O’Connor was THE woman, so if they heard a woman’s voice, well, that must be the lady justice, even though we don’t look alike, we don’t sound alike. But last year no one called Justice Sotomayor “Justice Ginsburg” or me “Justice Sotomayor” and I am certain that lawyers will perceive the differences among the three of us, and we will each have our individual identities.

Many other women speak here, including Pauline Schneider, the first female African-American president of the District of Columbia bar and the first female partner at Orrick; Dorothy Nelson, the first female dean of an accredited law school (the University of Southern California); Barbara Babcock, first woman appointed to the regular faculty at Stanford and a scholar of women in the law; Elizabeth Cabraser, who had early ambitions to be a professional drummer and became a renowned plaintiffs’ class action lawyer; Janet Reno, Attorney General in the Clinton administration; Judge Joan Dempsey Klein; Judge Dorothy Wright Nelson; and many other women who pushed the landmark line ever further ahead.

We are now up to the language of “electability,” but it bears looking back at the shadow of exclusion that was cast and is still with us, and the bold trailblazing of all these women, and more.


Related materials in the SF Law Library collection:


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January Book of the Month: Misfits, Merchants & Mayhem

Misfits, Merchants & MayhemMisfits, Merchants & Mayhem: Tales from San Francisco’s Historic Waterfront, 1849–1934
Written and Illustrated by Lee Bruno


Misfits, Merchants & Mayhem: Tales from San Francisco’s Historic Waterfront, 1849–1934 is an extraordinary book that explores San Francisco’s waterfront history by focusing on a variety of incredible individuals who marked the City’s formative years. Author Lee Bruno divides the period 1849–1934 into six chapters: the Gold Rush Era (1848–1855), the Comstock Load (1859–1870), the Gilded Age (1870–1900), the Great Earthquake & Fire (1906), the Jewel City (1907–1920), and the Jazz Age (1920–1934). Bruno focuses on several “movers and shakers” for each era, with vivid accompanying photographs and graphics for each person and time period.

Misfits, Merchants & Mayhem is more than a historic journey of San Francisco, as many of the people discussed in this book exemplify the effect that the era’s laws had on their lives and opportunities. One example is William Leidesdorff Jr., who was born on St. Croix to a Danish plantation manager and a mixed-race mother. He left the West Indies and made a small fortune as a shipmaster in New Orleans, and planned to marry a local plantation owner’s daughter. However, when her family discovered he was part black, they canceled the approaching wedding and the bride died shortly after, allegedly of a broken heart. Leidesdorff left New Orleans for Yerba Buena when New Orleans adopted the Negro Seaman Act of 1822, which barred black people from holding maritime jobs. In Yerba Buena, Leidesdorff became a prominent citizen and business leader primed for the U.S. takeover of California. He died of meningitis just when gold was discovered near his property on the American River, but the battle over his estate raged for over 50 years with foreign relatives being barred from inheriting, conflicting international laws and new probate laws confounding the process, and even the U.S. government claiming ownership. San Francisco still has an alley named for him where his commercial shipping warehouse was located (the City’s first), and a plaque near the Ferry Building.

Another notable example is Lew Hing, who at age 12 came to San Francisco from China to work with his brother in a metal working shop in 1871. By 1878, he had saved enough money to open a cannery business. By trial and error, he learned the cannery business (his was located at the corner of Sacramento and Stockton streets) and he overcame the rampant discrimination against the Chinese and false accusations of opium smuggling to become one of the biggest fruit canners on the West Coast. Hing was ineligible for citizenship because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, but he was very much a member of the community and was instrumental in assisting the city after the 1906 earthquake.

By delving into the lives of each period’s notable figures, Misfits, Merchants & Mayhem reveals how these fascinating individuals transformed the city and helped shape it into what it is today. To read this book is to travel back in time, with the research, prose, and photographs providing a completely immersive experience.


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Early Voting Now Open

Early Voting
By Ruth Geos

As of this week, starting Monday, October 7th, you can be ahead of the curve, and walk right into City Hall and cast your vote or drop off your vote-by-mail ballot. Or if you are not already registered, go ahead and do that. You can also take a moment to pause to look around, appreciate the interior grandeur, the famous marble steps, and try to picture it all as a location for movies, including Milk, Dirty Harry, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. And there might be a wedding going on.

Until Election Day, Tuesday, November 5th, voting hours are daytime only, with some upcoming weekend dates:

  • Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Closed Monday, October 14, as legal holiday.)
  • Weekends ahead: Saturday and Sunday, two weekends before Election Day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting Saturday, October 26th.  (enter on Grove Street)
  • Election Day, Tuesday, November 5th: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The City Hall Voting Center is located on the ground floor, Room 48.

Or, if you would rather vote in your pajamas at home, sign up for a Vote by Mail ballot: https://sfelections.sfgov.org/vote-mail

As to what’s actually on the ballot: contests for the SF District Attorney,  District 5 Supervisor, and other candidates, along with multiple city measures on topics ranging from affordable housing to vaping, campaign contributions, and taxing Lyft-Uber rides.  Other ballot information guides include those put together by the League of Women Voters of San Francisco and Spur. Take a look at what matters to you. And then, vote.


Questions: check with SF Department of Elections at 415-554-4375.
Don’t forget to register to vote by October 21st.
And take a look at our elections guide for more information.