Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The Republican Jesus

Maher speaks about Jesus by ewillies


Deconstructing that anti-CEQA study

Another phony CEQA reformer

Good analysis below of an anti-CEQA report I wrote about several months ago:

by Sean Hecht

Every August, as the California legislative session comes to a head, lobbyists attempt to gain support for dramatically scaling back California’s landmark environmental law, CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act). This year was no exception. Last month, the law firm Holland and Knight, which has been a leading force on this issue, issued a new report designed to gain support for dramatic changes to the law. The report assembles a nearly-complete census of virtually all CEQA cases filed in California trial courts during the three-year period 2010 through 2012, and concludes—in heavy-handed rhetoric—that CEQA is typically not used to protect the environment, but actually harms the environment (and the economy). But despite the impressive quantity of data amassed for the report, my major takeaway is that the report’s own dataset (in Appendix A of the document) does not support its conclusions. This report should not be used to inform future policy.

CEQA requires local governments and state agencies to study, understand, and consider the environmental impacts of projects before they approve them. It also requires government agencies to mitigate significant environmental impacts to the extent feasible. CEQA has done a lot of good over the years, increasing dramatically our knowledge of environmental challenges and requiring mitigation for most of the significant impacts caused by new development and industry over the past 40 years. On the other hand, application of the law sometimes has negative unintended consequences, such as providing a way for businesses to attack competitors to gain advantage. But those cases shouldn’t be used to take the heart out of the law, which is exactly what many of the legislative proposals floated in the last several years would do. While no major changes to the law were approved this year, we can expect the same issue to come back again and again.

Holland and Knight partner Jennifer Hernandez, the primary author of the report, has devoted much of her recent career to advocating major changes in CEQA to make it easier to build new projects. She has argued forcefully that CEQA does far more harm than good, and her advocacy has been influential over the past several years. I largely disagree with Jennifer about CEQA’s merits, but I enjoy engaging with her about it. Unfortunately, this report, which has been widely covered uncritically in the media, makes claims that are not supported by the data. (I’ll note also that my colleague Ethan Elkind has criticized the validity some of Holland and Knight’s prior CEQA-related claims.)

Below, I review a central claim of the new report: that the evidence demonstrates that CEQA is disproportionately used to attack projects that have environmental benefits. This claim relies on three specific assertions: (1) CEQA lawsuits disproportionately are aimed at infill development projects that contribute to higher-density communities that achieve environmental benefits and relieve housing demand, reducing our ability to provide infill housing. (2) CEQA lawsuits often target transit systems that likewise contribute to environmental quality and reduce carbon emissions, reducing our ability to develop mass transit. And (3) CEQA lawsuits often target renewable energy projects, especially solar energy, that is needed to replace fossil fuels to meet our state’s energy needs, reducing our ability to develop renewable energy capacity.

The report’s claim that it provides empirical evidence to support these three assertions underpins its ultimate conclusion that CEQA is bad for the state. These assertions have also provided a central theme to media coverage of the report. The report’s credibility thus stands or falls in large measure on the report’s ability to support these claims with specific empirical evidence. 

Upon close review, the report does not succeed...

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"Goodnight Moon": Still the best

My parents read Goodnight Moon to me and my siblings, and I read it to my son many years later. Apparently it's still the champ: 25 Most Popular Bedtime Stories of All Time.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2015


Tweet of the day

Daily Kos


Monday, October 05, 2015

Affordable Diviz meeting tomorrow

Join us for our second Affordable Divis meeting!

We were inspired to see so many people interested in getting involved at our first meeting, and now we’re looking to move forward to draft and define our community demands.

On Tuesday, October 6th at 7pm, we’ll be meeting again at Club Waziema (543 Divisadero St.) in order to:

* Update our community on the proposed development projects

* Review the goals identified from our first meeting

* Define and build consensus around our group demands

Follow our Affordable Divis Facebook page to keep up with all the latest news.

Dean Preston

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Warriors' stadium: Why not move it south?

Move it south 11 blocks

From the SF Examiner:

The 21-acre site near Pier 80 in the Bayview has been proposed by the Mission Bay Alliance, a group led by former UC San Francisco officials who argue the arena in Mission Bay will create detrimental traffic congestion and permanently scar the neighborhood. The suggested site, more than half of which is owned by The City, is 11 blocks south of where the arena is currently planned on about 11 acres of waterfront land at Third and 16th streets, across from UCSF’s new hospitals and research centers.

Seems like a good idea. The southern site is almost twice as big as the present proposed site, and it's away from UCSF's operation. 

The Mission Bay Alliance makes the case:

With easy access to Highways 280 and 101, ample surface parking, and Muni bus and light rail lines, the site could better meet the needs of a Warriors’ arena and entertainment center---without the life-threatening or environmental impacts of the proposed arena in Mission Bay...The new proposed site is already owned in part by the City of San Francisco and the SFMTA. The City’s property interests could facilitate the Warriors’ development of the site.

“This is a great solution for the Warriors’ relocation to San Francisco,” said Mission Bay Alliance spokesperson Bruce Spaulding. “This site would not threaten access to life-saving medical care or imperil biosciences,” he added. “A new arena at this alternate location would border open space and industrial warehouses---not three brand-new UCSF hospitals, a children’s emergency room and a world-renowned bioscience research campus, all of which would be irreparably harmed by the massive arena and entertainment center.”

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Chart of the Day

Fast Company

Thanks to Daily Kos.


Sunday, October 04, 2015

Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins on "regressive leftists"

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Saturday, October 03, 2015

"They only go out to Walmart at night"

Jorge Ramos

Important profile in the October 5 New Yorker (The Man Who Wouldn't Sit Down) by William Finnegan, who wrote that fine surfing memoir/story in June:

When Jorge Ramos travels in Middle America, nobody recognizes him—until somebody does. Ramos is the evening-news co-anchor on Univision, the country’s largest Spanish-language TV network, a job he has held since 1986. A few weeks ago, I was on a flight with him from Chicago to Dubuque. Ramos, who is fifty-seven, is slim, not tall, with white hair and an unassuming demeanor. Wearing jeans, a gray sports coat, and a blue open-collared shirt, he went unremarked. 

But then, as he disembarked, a fellow-passenger, a stranger in her thirties, drew him aside at the terminal gate, speaking rapidly in Spanish. Ramos bowed his head to listen. The woman was a teacher at a local technical college. Things in this part of Iowa were bad, she said. People were afraid to leave their houses. When they went to Walmart, they only felt comfortable going at night. Ramos nodded. Her voice was urgent. She wiped her eyes. He held her arm while she composed herself. The woman thanked him and rushed away.

“Did you hear that?” he asked, at the car-rental counter. “They only go out to Walmart at night”...

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Friday, October 02, 2015

49ers: crappy team, crappy stadium, crappy management

The San Francisco 49ers‘ new stadium in Santa Clara has had some problems since it opened last year — the grass won’t stay put, it was brutally hot, getting in and out by car was often painful, and the stadium lights blinded nearby airline pilots. And now, according to KGO-TV, some seat license holders are fed up and want out of their season-ticket deals:

If you were hoping to get your hands on a San Francisco 49ers Season Builders License, or SBL, you’re in luck. Thousands are now available, but re-sellers say it has nothing to do with the team’s current record. Still, a growing number of fans are very dissatisfied…“Half the stadium, we get beat up by the sun. So if you’re going to watch a game, you want to enjoy, drink a few beers. Here, you drink a few beers, and you get beat up, come home with sunburn, it’s just a bad experience,” [San Jose resident Tuan] Le said.

Other fans complained that the 49ers changed their ticket policy this year, sending only electronic tickets that can’t be printed until 72 hours before the game, making it harder to sell unwanted tickets.

Now, it’s only 3,000 licenses that are up for resale, up only slightly from last spring, and not all that much in a 68,000-seat stadium. And besides, the magic of PSLs (or SBLs as the 49ers call them) is that the team doesn’t have to give a crap about any of this: They’ve sold the licenses already, and it’s the fans’ problem if they made a bad investment.

The more interesting question is what this means for plans to finance stadiums in Los Angeles by similar means: Will L.A. fans, seeing the mess in Santa Clara, be more hesitant to plunk down for Rams/Raiders/Chargers PSLs? Nobody knows, but then nobody knows how viable those PSL sales projections were in the first place. 

This is a cautionary tale for somebody, that’s for sure, but whether it’s for football fans, for city officials in Inglewood and Carson, or for cities that think they have to outbid L.A. for the right to keep their teams is yet to be determined.

Rob's comment:
A "cautionary tale" for the Warriors and City Hall in SF, especially about traffic. Why not move the new stadium further south on the waterfront? 

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More people commuting by car in the US

Pool It

In 1960, 12.1 percent of American workers went to work by transit, which was then largely privately owned. Despite (or because of) public takeover of almost every transit system in the country, transit’s share steadily declined to 4.7 percent in 2000. Then, in 2010, it crept up to 4.9 percent. The 2014 American Community Survey found that it has increased still further to 5.2 percent.

Since 2000, the increase in transit’s share has come at the expense of carpooling, which fell from 12.6 percent to 9.2 percent in 2014. Biking and walking also fell slightly from 3.4 to 3.3 percent. Driving alone, however, grew from 73.2 to 76.5 percent. So the increase in transit’s share did not translate to a reduction in the number of cars on the road. Indeed, using census carpool data and assuming that “5- or 6-person carpools” have an average of 5.5 people and “7-or-more-person carpools” have 7 people, there were 104.2 million cars commuting to work in 2000, 110.8 million in 2010, and 117.6 million in 2014...

Rob's comment:

What about commuting in San Francisco? I posted those numbers the other day. 

Streetsblog's usual biased interpretation of those numbers: 

As San Francisco’s economy booms, a lot more people are commuting, and very few are doing it in a car...The numbers show a clear trend: Transit, walking, and bicycle commuting are each growing markedly faster than solo car commuting.

Not surprising that Streetsblog celebrates the fact that "solo car commuting" declined as a percentage of all commutes in the city. On the other hand, it increased from 159,000 in 2006 to 164,000 in 2014, which you won't learn from Streetsblog's account. As did commuting by "car, truck, or van," from 190,000 in 2006 to 198,000 in 2014. That doesn't seem like "very few" to me.

"Public transportation" commuting---the only realistic alternative to driving for most people---is way up since 2006 in SF, a welcome trend. Another welcome trend: walking to work increased dramatically, perhaps because more people are living near downtown, which makes it practical for more people.

"Bicycle commuting" did increase in the city, but not enough for Streetsblog to celebrate, since it only increased from 2% of all commutes in 2006 to 4% in 2014, a nine-year period during which city residents were subjected to intense anti-car, pro-bike propaganda from City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition.

Actually, according to the city's numbers in the last Transportation Fact Sheet (page 3), it's a lot worse than that: commuting by bike in SF was 2.1% in 2000, which means it has only increased 1.9% in 15 years.

Streetsblog caps off its account with a block quote from Tom Radulovich's anti-car front group, the SF Transit Riders Union:

“In the midst of a population boom and a changing climate, San Francisco more than ever needs to dramatically decrease the amount of single-occupant vehicles on the road,” said Ilyse Magy of the SF Transit Riders Union. “For this mode shift to happen, we need a Muni that can not only handle the extra capacity but also get people to where they are going more efficiently. Otherwise commuters will choose the faster and more convenient option, which unfortunately is often driving.”

That's the biggest problem the anti-car movement has: those wicked motor vehicles are so often "the faster and more convenient option."


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Thursday, October 01, 2015

Tenth anniversary of the Danish Mohammed cartoons

Even though I'm a day late, I have to note the tenth anniversary of the publication in Denmark of the Mohammed cartoons that led to riots by Moslem fanatics that caused 250 deaths. The local print media was cowardly, but the Chronicle at least ran a wishy-washy editorial, though it didn't publish any of the cartoons.

Creeping Sharia

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Cycling and safety in Europe and SF

Jim Swanson

The Bicycle Coalition and its enablers in City Hall often invoke Europe to convince us of the wisdom of cycling and anti-carism, often referring to Amsterdam and Copenhagen as models to emulate. I wrote recently about the reality of cycling in Amsterdam, where riding a bike is just as dangerous as it is in San Francisco. 

What about Copenhagen? Same story: 33 cyclists died there in 2013, and 70% of cycling accidents in Copenhagen are "single-cyclist" accidents---"solo falls" that don't involve another vehicle and can't be blamed on cars. (That widely ignored UC study calls solo falls "cyclist-only" accidents, which are not only under-counted in San Francisco but can cause injuries just as severe as "auto-versus-cyclist" accidents.)

What about cyclists and pedestrian safety in Europe? In the London Review of Books, Andrew O'Hagan describes trying to cross the street in London:

...The fourth problem is to do with bikes. We’re supposed to believe that cyclists are saving the world. But they often kill themselves in saving the world or injure other road users, caught in their tender spokes. For pedestrians, London bikes are much worse than white vans---at least you can see a white van---and as I stood at the crossing I kept seeing helmetless maniacs raining down like bombs, or bombing through like rain. In the kamikaze theatrics of urban transport, cyclists see everyone as the enemy, especially buses, which stop by the road to pick up the people who really are saving the world...

Sounds like The Wiggle here in Progressive Land.

Speaking of The Wiggle, C.W. Nevius gets it wrong in the Chronicle this morning when he calls it "an up-slope." Not so. When cyclists are heading downtown on The Wiggle, it's downhill through that densely populated neighborhood. He also calls the boorish cyclists a "small, obnoxious group," but the reality is that punk cyclists are a much larger percentage of cyclists who use both The Wiggle and overall in the city where Critical Mass was born.

Of course Supervisor Breed supports the Idaho Stop

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Republicans called on Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood to testify and then interrupted her whenever she tried to talk. Of course they only called her so they could posture about abortion and those phony videos.

Thanks to Slate.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

And except for spelling...

A comment by Bob Planthold on the proposed Idaho Stop ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors:

Relevant to the possible resolution or ordinance for an "Idaho stop" is the following Oregon DOT research paper "Intersection Sight Distance." Though published nearly 18 years ago, the link is still accessible.

Apparently, nobody in SF---including policymakers & their staffs---bothered to look for safety-related research such as this.

While many individuals and even politically influential groups may clamor for an Idaho stop, making public policy by a popularity vote is not prudent. That one constituency wants this change does not mean it is safe for all.

Since many buildings in SF are built to the lot line, the distance between a building and the sidewalk can be as little as 6 feet. Meaning any approaching vehicle, whether human-powered or machine-powered, has very little distance in which to notice anyone approaching from an intersecting street.

Before readers dismiss this as not relevant to the safety implications from (relatively) slower speeds of bicycles, the newer versions of e-bikes are advertised as reaching speeds of 45 km/hr (approx. 28 mph), which is greater than SF's standard speed for roadway use.

Even at a human-powered bike speed of 12-15 mph, the impact of an adult male riding a bicycle on a young child or senior or pregnant woman can---and does---cause serious injury, and even death.

As limited as are the hazards arising from injuries from bicyclists, Vision Zero means ZERO, without exception for any mode of travel.

Beyond the safety problems associated with trying to adopt a version of the Idaho stop, there remains the obvious fact that such a tactic violates California law.

Regrettably, there have been previous attempts by supervisors to ignore aspects of California law regarding vehicles. Early in this century, one supervisor wanted to use SF's "charter city" status to bypass California law by authorizing motorcycles to park on the sidewalk. That ended when the former Senior Action Network mobilized to point out the obvious safety problems, despite threats of "kicking their ass" from one of the leaders of the motorcyclists' ad hoc advocacy group.

A few years later, a current supervisor is reported to have suggested that cars be allowed to park on the sidewalk---at least in his district.

Such statistically-biased and evasive attempts to appease one constituency---whether motorcyclists, car-drivers or bicyclists---makes one wonder how little supervisors, their staffs, and city transportation planners value the most vulnerable road-users---pedestrians.

California's federally-mandated Strategic Highway Safety Plan has recognized pedestrians as also road-users; even MTC reluctantly some years ago finally acknowledged that walking is a separate mode of transportation.

Yet the safety of pedestrians is not part of the reports & statements from SF's officialdom.

The impetus for the Idaho stop was magnified by a publicity stunt that seems to have escaped a sense of logic and proportion. The numbers of bicyclists participating in that "Wiggle" stunt was far greater than the number of bicyclists normally using the Wiggle during those hours. Because the numbers were "upped," that skewed the actual results of any perceived delay.

"Delay," or perception thereof, seems the major motivation for considering this evasion of California law, yet there has been no mention of SAFETY.

Is that any way to respond to and implement Vision ZERO?

Bob Planthold

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Chart of the day

Kevin Drum, Mother Jones


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How water is priced in California

From the Public Policy Institute of California

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Mayor Lee, the Bicycle Coalition, and the Idaho Stop

Good for Mayor Lee for threatening to veto the Idaho Stop ordinance. Maybe he understands that, like his predecessor, Mayor Newsom, nothing he does for the bike lobby will ever be enough. Newsom gave them everything they asked for, and they still treated him with contempt (see this and this).

The Bicycle Coalition's non-endorsement of Mayor Lee:

Despite this clear mandate from the electorate — Prop A passed with over 70 percent of the vote — Mayor Lee has not kept pace with the massive public demand for safer streets. We appreciate several initiatives the Mayor has spearheaded, including his support for the City’s Vision Zero goals and expansion of bike share, but it was clear from our member vote on this year’s mayoral endorsement that our members remain concerned that supporting biking is an afterthought in the current administration. We believe this can change over the next four years and will work with the current Mayor, if he is re-elected, to build a legacy of safe streets for people to enjoy across San Francisco.

Of course Mayor Lee supported Proposition A---for him it was the most important thing on last November's ballot---as did the Board of Supervisors, which voted unanimously to put it on the ballot. 

How exactly has the mayor, who has given the bike lobby everything it asked for, treated "biking as an afterthought"? You won't get a sensible answer to that from the lobbyists at that special interest group.

No, the lack of endorsement was because the mayor didn't automatically support whatever the Bicycle Coalition wanted, like his ending Sunday parking meters.

Later: Streetsblog confirms my interpretation by attacking the mayor as an "obstructionist" on traffic safety in the city!

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What migrants say when they think no one is listening

Thanks to Pamela Geller.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Richard Dawkins: Palestine, Jews, science and the burqa

The tweet referred to in the interview:

"All the world's Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though."

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Old farts on bikes: The numbers

This graphic is a companion piece to Old farts on bikes and illustrates that study.

From USA Today


Not out of context

Jeremy Corbyn at Al-Quds rally

Photo not taken "out of context":

...Al-Quds Day was started by the late Ayatollah Khomenie of Iran, in order to stoke up global Muslim outrage against Israel. As such, it serves as a useful recruiting vehicle for Islamists to promote themselves as legitimate human rights campaigners.

Jeremy Corbyn, who was invited to speak there, should know all this. He should know that it is deeply hypocritical and, yes, problematic to attend an event that is essentially a PR move by a country that has no right to criticise Israel (The punishment for being homosexual in Iran, i.e. the death penalty, is more severe than that meted out in Israel for being a convicted murderer, i.e. a jail sentence.)

It should be no surprise that the flag of a Iranian-backed Islamist group appeared at an Iranian-backed Islamist event. One might as well express shock after agreeing to speak at a rally about worker’s rights organised by the KKK, only to find that photos of you expressing support for minimum wage laws have “accidental” burning crosses in the background...

More on Hezbollah


Friday, September 25, 2015

Thanks to SF Streetsblog


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Paul Hofer: Great football player

Good to see Peter Hartlaub in last Sunday's Chronicle give a shout-out to Paul Hofer, a great Niner running back from days of yore. From a sidebar ("S.F. stars we wish we could see play") that doesn't appear on the online version of the story:

Paul Hofer (49ers, 1979) My favorite San Francisco 49ers player of all time was the first pro running back to thrive in Bill Walsh's innovative offense (58 receptions in 1979!) but sadly his career was disrupted by knee injuries. I saw him play briefly, but my only concrete memory is watching him on crutches on the sideline. I'd give my next five years of football watching to see Hofer play one more game.

I saw every game Hofer played for the Niners, either at Candlestick or on TV. He was a great football player! If the Niners had a decent respect for their own history, they would put together videos featuring highlights by early Niners like Hofer. (See Hartlaub's full-length tribute to Hofer from 2013: A tribute to Paul Hofer: Candlestick Park’s working class hero).

Hartlaub also singles out Hugh McElhenny:

(49ers, 1957) I've heard McElhenny was incredible to watch live, weaving back and forth on the Kezar Stadium field for 40-yard touchdowns that covered 140 yards of ground. He averaged 8 yards per carry in an injury shortened 1954 season, but we're choosing 1957---arguably the 49ers greatest season of their first 35 years.

McElhenny was a great open-field runner. The Niners haven't had one anything like him since.

McElhenny was part of a great backfield, with Y.A. Tittle, Joe Perry, and John Henry Johnson.

Kezar Stadium, December, 1957
15-year-old Rob Anderson was there.

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"You called it Rob---he's going to the SFMTA"

Yes, I called it, but it wasn't a tough call, given Muni's history of hiring anti-car bike people to run the city's transit agency. After all, the city's Transit First law was rewritten long ago to include bicycles. Advancing "better transportation options"? Gee, I wonder which "option" he means? Not surprising to learn that Bialick is "excited" to be boarding the MTA's gravy train, which is turning into a jobs program for unemployed bike people:

by Aaron Bialick

Since I announced my departure from Streetsblog, folks have asked about my next move. Well, I’m not going far: I’ve accepted a position on the SF Municipal Transportation Agency’s public relations team.

In this new chapter, I’m excited about working directly on projects that advance better transportation options in the city. To start out, I’ll be working in a media relations position on Muni-related project and service announcements.

I’ll be in good company with a lot of folks I’ve gotten to know through my years of reporting on the agency’s policies and projects, some of whom have also transitioned from advocacy roles. Former Streetsblog reporter Michael Rhodes is now a Muni Forward planner, and Andy Thornley, whom I first met when I interned at the SF Bicycle Coalition in 2009, manages on-street parking programs. To my mind, when the city hires good advocates, that’s a sign of success for the movement.

I’ll be here at Streetsblog through the end of the month, and after that, you’ll still see me around. I’m changing jobs, but I’ll still be working to make San Francisco and the Bay Area more livable and sustainable.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Regulatory capture" in Berkeley

Proposed project: 2211 Harold Way, Berkeley

Becky O'Malley has a message in her editorial on regulatory capture in the Berkeley Daily Planet from U.C. physicist James McFadden, an opponent of the Harold Way project. Sounds like the way meetings are conducted here in San Francisco:

Having spent many an evening over the last 9 months at City Council, ZAB, LPC, and School Board meetings, I'm finally starting to recognize ‘industry capture’ of both staff and the council/board/committee members. Although many people are quick to assume that capture means corruption, they really are different things. 

Capture is more of an aligning of economic world views, not necessarily to any monetary advantage, often just to make one's job easier or more pleasant in dealing with people on a day to day basis (perhaps like the Stockholm syndrome). It entails adapting views that parallel industry's views which are clearly shaped by profit motive. 

Captured individuals don't necessarily have an economic conflict of interest. They don't see their behavior as incorrect. They have forgotten that their role is to provide oversight and protection to the public on these public-private deals, and instead see their role as making sure the deal gets done. Their public meetings evolve into patronizing facades of democracy. 

Captured staff and government officials suffer from wishful blindness rather than corruption per se. For the most part, capture is about creating a pleasant working environment with those in industry who they deal with on a daily basis. It is a slow and insidious process that strikes at the heart of human psychology that allows us to work in groups. The more time you spend with someone, the more likely you are to mirror their behavior—especially when the industry hires shills who continually flatter staff and boards/committees. When we-the-public show up and complain, we become the opponent to be ignored. 

A telling sign of capture is an inability of staff to answer direct questions in a public forum, questions they should have answers for. This happened several times during the ZAB [Thursday] night. Staff instead must go outside and get the answers from industry—or just stonewall—or just present the industry talking points outside of public view. 

Capture also manifests in the actions of the members of boards/councils/committees who are supposed to provide oversight, but instead seem more concerned with time and process. They often spend their time praising staff or justifying their poor performance, or worse yet praising the industry over which they are supposed to provide oversight. I was particularly struck by [ZAB Chair Prakash] Pinto's behavior at [Thursday] night’s ZAB. 

The meeting becomes a dance of false empowerment where getting through the meeting on time is more important than focusing on important issues or input from the public.

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Opposition to the Idaho Stop

From Howard Chabner, who uses a wheelchair to get around:

Dear Mayor Lee, President Breed and Supervisors:

Please do not adopt the ordinance proposed by Supervisor Avalos to make citations for bicyclists who don't stop at stop signs the lowest law enforcement priority and to permit bicyclists not to stop at stop signs if the intersection is empty. Consider the following:

· The analysis, studies and factors from experienced pedestrian safety advocate and expert Bob Planthold, in his recent communications with you, are compelling reasons not to adopt this ordinance.

· In Supervisor Avalos’s press release of August 12, two things are proposed: 1- enforcement would be de-prioritized; and 2- the "San Francisco Right-of-Way Policy" would permit bicyclists to "slowly proceed without fully stopping at stop signs if the intersection is empty." With regard to #2, it has long been California law that bicyclists are subject to traffic laws applicable to other vehicles, including the requirement to stop at stop signs. Changing this should not be done through the back door of a local policy ordinance, especially one that may be introduced hastily and without complete analysis and debate. (How many San Franciscans are even aware of this proposed ordinance?) If you believe that the law should be changed, find a sponsor in the state legislature and engage in a full, statewide debate about such a major change. Moreover, purporting to exempt San Francisco from state law by means of a "policy" ordinance may well be illegal.

· The proposed ordinance would deprioritize failure to stop by cyclists who, in the words of Supervisor Avalos’s press release, "safely yield at stop signs." Whether or not a cyclist’s failure to stop constitutes safe yielding is extremely subjective. Also subjective is whether the intersection is empty. For example, if a pedestrian is at the curb just getting ready to lift their leg onto the street, is the intersection empty? (This gets to Bob Planthold's points about poor visibility, fast-moving bicyclists, etc.) In practice these subjective rules would mean that the police department would err on the side of non-enforcement even if the failure to stop was not safe or the intersection was not completely empty, for fear of being criticized by the Board of Supervisors and the powerful SF bike lobby. This in turn would encourage unsafe behavior by cyclists.

· People with mobility disabilities, blind people, seniors, and people with baby strollers would feel less safe. This is difficult to quantify, but it is real. I've used a wheelchair since 1990, and before that I walked for many years with increasing difficulty, and decreasing speed and confidence. Falling became an increasing problem, as it is for many people who walk with difficulty. In recent years I've had several near misses from bicyclists who have run red lights, run stop signs and ridden on the sidewalk. From time to time when I am crossing at a crosswalk where there is a stop sign and a motor vehicle is stopped, a cyclist has blown past the stop sign. I wasn't able to see the cyclist until I've been past the motor vehicle. This is stressful and unsafe. Knowing that cyclists wouldn't be required to stop at stop signs, and that the police would be under great pressure not to issue citations, would make this even worse. My feeling of safety as a pedestrian would significantly decline. In my experience (among other things, for five years I was Chair of the Physical Access Committee of the Mayor's Disability Council), many others feel the same way. 

· Many times cyclists going fast have come close to me and other pedestrians. The cyclist may sincerely believe they are far enough to be safe, and they may avoid hitting the pedestrian by turning or swerving at the last moment. While I might not classify these situations as full near misses, still, as a pedestrian, this is unnerving. To add subjectivity to the law would increase these situations.

· Supervisor Avalos’s press release states that strict enforcement is counterproductive because it discourages people from bicycling. First, no evidence is cited for this proposition. Second, if it is true, what it means is that some people don't want to bicycle unless they are exempt from stopping at stop signs. In other words, they want special treatment.

· Supervisor Avalos’s press release also states that strict enforcement is "counterintuitive to the way most bicyclists and drivers currently navigate intersections." As above, no evidence whatsoever is cited for this proposition. But to the extent that it accurately describes the way drivers currently navigate intersections, it is most likely not because San Francisco drivers believe that cyclists should be exempt from stopping at stop signs, but because San Francisco drivers have become so used to dangerous, illegal, unpredictable, aggressive and unpunished behavior by cyclists that they are always on the lookout for cyclists coming from any direction, fast, weaving in and out, and violating traffic laws generally.

· Drivers who aren't from San Francisco would not expect that bicyclists are permitted not to stop at the stop sign. This is another reason why the law should be uniform and consistent throughout California.

· Idaho adopted the "Idaho stop" law in 1982. There is a good reason why none of the other 49 states have adopted this law in the subsequent 33 years. It's also important to consider that Boise is much less dense than San Francisco and is not comparable in other ways.

Please oppose this ordinance that would diminish pedestrian safety and give cyclists special treatment. Thank you for considering this email.

Howard Chabner

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

This SF home can be yours for $350,000

From SF Curbed


From Alice Bierman:

Sep 21, 2015: MTA is going to conduct a survey around SF General Hospital this week, so get the word out and ask people to take the survey and tell MUNI we don't want this change! It is important we let them know now! Thanks for all you do.

Sign the petition to stop Muni from rerouting the #33 bus.

"Cutting this part of the 33 bus service will create extreme hardship for many people. Those include but not limited to seniors using canes and walkers, people with physical difficulties, those who are feeling ill on their way to San Francisco General Hospital, people with disabilities (wheelchair users, visually impaired or blind, and those with different mobility issues), low income families, and parents with baby strollers. Cutting this part of the line means asking these riders to transfer to the always packed #9 bus, which also means too packed to be able to pick up wheelchairs, walkers and/or strollers. Some seniors and people with visual impairments have a difficult time navigating when making a transfer and this is the case when they are feeling fine; however, this is extra hard when they are feeling ill and have to get to the hospital..."

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The clock kid fraud: The real story


A plague of turquoise

Intercontinental Hotel

Turquoise is now an omnipresent color cliche embraced by architects and designers---and even by PBS with the Newshour's annoyingly "airy look" of its new set:

What turquoise means:

The color turquoise helps opening lines of communication between the heart and the spoken word. It is a friendly and happy color that is enjoying life. In color psychology, it controls and heals the emotions, creating emotional balance and stability. In this process, it can feel like an emotional rollercoaster that goes up and down, until it balances itself.

On the other hand, too much turquoise can be a problem:

Too much turquoise in your life can overstimulate your mind and create emotional imbalance, which makes you either oversensitive or just the opposite. Too little turquoise in your life can make you hide your feelings, which will result in secrets and confusion about your direction in life. From a negative perspective, too much of the color turquoise can lead to emotional stress, lack of communication skills, unreliability and deception.

Maybe designers and architects are blocked at that pesky fifth chakra:

They need to get their goddam chakras aligned or cleaned or whatever and give us a break from the toxic level of turquoise in our environment.

Rincon Hill

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