Friday, October 28, 2005

Bus therapy for the homeless

District Five's David Tornheim doesn't like the idea of giving the homeless bus tickets out of town:

So San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's administration shows its "care" for the homeless by hocking[sic] one-way tickets out of town? Will the tourists also be sent packing, or is there an exception for those with disposable cash? Will Newsom roll out the welcome mat for the homeless from other towns with similar programs, or is Greyhound the long-term housing plan for them? (Letter to the Editor, SF Examiner, Oct. 27)
 
Tornheim is responding to an Examiner article about the city's Homeward Bound program, which offers the homeless a bus ticket to wherever they have "a family member, friend or social worker at the other end who is willing to greet them." ("Hundreds Take Up City's Offer of Bus Ticket Home," SF Examiner, Oct. 20, Jo Stanley): "The average time spent on San Francisco streets by those who accepted the offer of a bus ticket was one year, officials said." As of October 9, 689 of the city's homeless have been bused out of town via this program. The article tells us that Homeward Bound is a program coordinated by the city's Human Services Agency and involves 32 specially trained plainclothes cops who operate out of the city's district stations.
 
Tornheim's linking of the homeless and tourists is mystifying, since the homeless by definition are people living on the city's streets, while tourists come to San Francisco because they find it an attractive place to visit, staying in the city's hotels and eating at the city's restaurants. Tornheim's comment also reflects a typically progressive ignorance of the fact that tourism is the city's largest industry.
 
The suggestion that Homeward Bound isn't compassionate also fails the common sense test. Homeless people are taken off the streets and given a ticket to wherever they have family or someone else to meet them on the other end. This is surely good for both the homeless and the city.
 
Of course if Los Angeles bused a homeless person to San Francisco under the same circumstances, it would be acceptable. Why wouldn't it be?
 
The fact of the matter is that progressives---Tornheim was a hardcore Gonzalez supporter against Newsom---essentially have had no serious political response to Mayor Newsom's Care Not Cash program the city's voters gratefully passed a couple of years ago. Instead of engaging in some long overdue self-criticism, they are stewing resentfully about the ongoing success of Care Not Cash, not to mention Newsom's defeat of Greenie Matt Gonzalez in the last campaign for mayor.

Here's a special bonus question: Can anyone remember Gonzalez's proposals on homelessness during that campaign?

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Octavia Blvd: Expressway or Boulevard of Dreams?

I don't own a car and haven't owned one since 1987. I get around the city very well on the much-maligned Muni, which I think is a pretty good transit system. Riding a bike in the city is foolish to the point of being suicidal and not a serious option for anyone with any sense. City planners and others responsible for the Octavia Blvd. fiasco were so self-congratulatory about getting rid of the Central Freeway overpass that they forgot that it performed a useful function---keeping freeway traffic off the surface streets of the neighborhood. That freeway traffic is now flowing through the heart of the Hayes Valley neighborhood. Andrew Sullivan thinks it's "not so bad," but that's faint praise for a street that boosters recently compared to the Champs d'Elysee and have called "the boulevard of dreams." In any event, people who live in the neighborhood may have a different opinion than those who just drive through. Marc Salomon makes some good points on the public input problems for both Octavia Blvd. and the next disaster looming on the horizon for that part of town---the Market/Octavia Neighborhood Plan, which calls for residential highrises and 6000 new housing units in the area in addition to the 900 units already planned for the old freeway parcels.

The folks who brought us the Octavia Blvd. fiasco are now bringing us the Market/Octavia Plan.


From: Marc Salomon
To: home@prosf.org
Subject: Octavia Blvd: "Expressway" or "Boulevard of Dreams"?
Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2005

First off, if Rob Anderson would just junk his car and hop on his bicycle, then he would not have been delayed 10 whopping minutes in his car between Oak and the precious freeway. Direct action against Rob Anderson's automobile is the only course of action, dear comrades! On a more serious note, the planning error in the Octavia Boulevard "Better Neighborhoods" process was that it ignored adjacent neighborhoods. And this contributed to the misdesign of the current boulevard. Had Planning actively involved neighbors from SOMA, the North Mission and the area between Market, Mission and Duboce (where Lynn Valente and Chris Daly live), then perhaps the freeway might have touched down at Bryant and traffic could have been routed through the articulations around the bend in SOMA rather than funneled all through Hayes Valley. Moreover, BN Octavia Boulevard calls for some 4,000 luxury high rise residential units at Market and Van Ness. Did anyone bother to involve neighbors on the south or east side of that intersection in planning for it? The Western SOMA Citizens Planning Task Force is to consider expanding our planning boundaries so that we can make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on land use controls for that northwestern section of western SOMA so that voices excluded from the BN table can be heard at the citizens' planning task force table. This has generated quite a bit of consternation on the part of Planning's BN team. But in a democracy, the citizens are sovereign, staff works for citizens and implements our policies. No planner "owns" any planning area or predetermines any outcome. That role is reserved for elected representatives and, if they hope to retain their political base, the citizenry. Jake McGoldrick is continuing on a fool's errand in pushing for "Better Neighborhoods Plus" at Land Use on Wednesday, 26 Oct. The Planning Commission wisely recommended that this legislation be put on hold and a pilot project be implemented to determine its effectiveness. Apparently, Jake is hellbent on enacting the compromise between for- and non- profit builders that excludes you and I from any substantive imput but puts their need to build and get paid before the best interests of the City as a whole. Any measure that us written by developers who have a direct financial interest in the outcomes must be relegated to the dustbin of history if we want to recognize the SF of the future
Marc Salomon
32 Adair San Francisco, CA 94103

From: Rob Anderson
To: PROSF
Subject: Octavia Blvd.
Date: Oct. 21, 2005

Mr. Oliver has at least given Octavia Boulevard---"The Boulevard of Dreams"---an accurately descriptive name: "Octavia expressway." I was down there Wednesday during the afternoon rush hour, and the traffic was horrific. It took me and a friend 10 minutes to drive from Hayes St. to Page St., which is only a three-block trip. As I predicted, all that has been achieved with the new Octavia Blvd. is that the freeway traffic is now pouring through the heart of Hayes Valley. Given the fact that the new freeway ramp is located nearby on Market St., maybe this result was inevitable. But the least we can do is cut the crap about what we have wrought with the new, unimproved Octavia Blvd.

Regards,
Rob Anderson

From: Dennis Oliver
To: PROSF
Subject: Octavia Park
Date: Tue, 18 Oct 2005

Hey, folks:
I have been using the recently opened Octavia expressway and I am pleased with how it turned out. Having sat on the Measure K expenditure plan committee a few years back, I have found traffic flow and transportation issues in San Francisco perplexing and frustrating. Before it opened, I couldn't imagine a freeway ending south of Market Street and at-grade boulevard would produce anything more than a horrific traffic jam. I was wrong about that one. I am concerned, however, about the small park that was erected at the end of Octavia. Driving past the other day, I noticed the gazebo has been desecrated with graffiti---and the people using the park appeared to be homeless people playing chess. Who is supposed to keep this area looking like it should. If it is to be a "gateway" to Hayes Valley, somebody should get out there and make sure it doesn't turn into just another dump. For the record, I live in the upper Haight.
DJO

From: Andrew Sullivan andrew@sulli.org
To:home@prosf.org
Subject: Octavia
Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2005

I drive it all the time. It's not so bad. So you sit through a light cycle or two -so what? It's much, much better than the days of driving up Ninth to Hayes to Gough to Fell. And it's well worth it not to have an elevated ramp. They do need to improve the signage. Unless you were involved with the campaigns to create it, you'll never understand what the service roads are about. A sign "All Turns From Right Lane Except Fell St" or something at the exit would be helpful. And they DESPERATELY need to add a CLEAR sign on Market explaining where the ramp is - bike lanes are awesome but the no right turn rule is VERY counter-intuitive. Something like: at Duboce: "To 101 South -No Turns At Octavia" at Octavia: "To 101 South, Turn Right On Gough" The simple "Freeway" sign isn't enough for an out-of-towner.
Andrew

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