Mirkarimi and Dufty
The June 20 edition of the Nation magazine includes Ross Mirkarimi in its roundup of "progressive city leaders," with a paragraph on his background and accomplishments, along with a picture of the always-photogenic D5 Supervisor:
Since his election last November he's campaigned to expand rent control to apply to domestic partners, pushed to set aside housing for artists and challenged the scapegoating of the homeless. And he's emerging as a champion of small businesses that are struggling as chains expand into San Francisco's neighborhoods. Mirkarimi has clashed with Mayor Gavin Newsom, a liberal hero nationally for his decision to permit same-sex marriages but an ally of business interests on the local level. And there's already talk that Mirkarimi might be the first Green mayor of a major US city ("Progressive City Leaders," John Nichols, The Nation, June 20, 2005).
This account of city politics seems distorted in a typically partisan manner. Who is "scapegoating the homeless" in San Francisco? Surely not Mayor Newsom, who, unlike the city's progressive leadership, is determined to help homeless people get off our streets. Except for Starbucks and the Pottery Barn in the Castro, where are chains expanding in the city's neighborhoods? And Mayor Newsom is labeled with what is the kiss of death in lefty circles---as being "an ally of business interests." But "business" is the main source of new jobs in the city, not to mention tax revenue from tourism, which is San Francisco's largest industry. City progressives have been, at best, indifferent to the concerns of local business, as they condone homelessness, graffiti/tagging, and Critical Mass. If Mirkarimi does make a run for mayor, these are the kind of issues his political opponents are sure to raise.
Bevan Dufty and Trader Joe's: Okay, Trader Joe's is trying to expand into the Castro district ("Trader Joe's Plan Draws Flak from Neighbors," Carolyn Jones, SF Chronicle, June 10, 2005). Although it's a chain, Trader Joe's is a fine store, skillfully stocked and with an attentive, well-trained staff. I patronize the one at Masonic and Geary, which has caused serious traffic problems in that area. In fact, the store routinely has two rent-a-cops directing all the traffic in and out of its parking lot. It would be a bad idea to let the chain put a branch in an even more densely-populated neighborhood like the Castro. And, unlike the Masonic-Geary neighborhood, the Castro area has some small grocery stores that would surely suffer economically if Joe's was allowed into the neighborhood. Yet Supervisor Bevan Dufty can't seem to pee or get off the pot on the issue:
"The Trader Joe's project is a dilemma," Dufty said. "It's been a goal for me to see high-quality specialty foods available in the Castro, but at the same time it's important for me to see how this very constrained site can work without causing a huge neighborhood impact. I have not taken a position on it because I want to hear what constituents have to say."
But District Supervisors should be more than windsocks for public opinion. Does Dufty really think he needs much political cover to oppose a Trader Joe's in the Castro? The question is, Is this project going to be good for the neighborhood? It would be particularly ill-advised to attract even more traffic into a neighborhood near the looming traffic disaster in the Market-Octavia neighborhood, which has six traffic lanes that will be opened in August, along with the new freeway ramp on the south side of Market St.
Supervisor Dufty has also been unhelpful on UC's greedy, for-profit housing proposal for the old UC Extension site. Even though half the site is in his district, Dufty has been silent on the grotesque proposal, leaving all the heavy lifting to Supervisor Mirkarimi, who has been a forthright opponent of the proposal.