Friday, October 19, 2012

Supervisor Wiener: Worst city legislator---again

After my last post on Supervisor Wiener the other day, my attention was called to an item in the Chronicle (below in italics) on his latest legislative proposal, which is in line with his attempt last year to dilute the public's initiative rights. City Hall and Harvard grads like Wiener always know what's best for the people of San Francisco, and every project that comes out of City Hall is so good that no further review or opposition is necessary, right?

Like his dumb/sinister attempt to undermine our initiative rights last year, Wiener's justification for this legislation is very sketchy. He cites the North Beach library and the Bicycle Plan as two "popular" projects hindered by "long delays and late appeals involving environmental review."

As I've pointed out before, the actual popularity of the Bicycle Plan has never been tested, since the 500-page plan to  redesign city streets on behalf of a small minority of city residents has never been on the city's ballot---and it never will be if City Hall and the bike people can prevent it. I bet it wouldn't pass, since the bike people are not the most popular special interest group in the city.

In spite of his Harvard degree---or perhaps because of it---Wiener is a dumb guy, but even he must understand that the Bicycle Plan wasn't derailed by "late appeals." What he's trying to do is limit the public's right to challenge projects that come out of City Hall by making the filing deadlines much shorter and more difficult to meet. The process is already difficult and labor-intensive, with many copies of project files to be made and filed here and there in City Hall. Even experienced CEQA lawyers have to scramble to meet present deadlines.

The apparently callow Chronicle reporter parrots Wiener's bullshit: "In San Francisco, it's surprising if new construction projects aren't delayed for years by endless appeals, frivolous or legitimate." That's simply untrue, though it's a common complaint from developers and, after our successful litigation, the Bicycle Coalition. (City Hall megaphone C.W. Nevius likes to trot out this bullshit whenever a major City Hall project meets with any opposition, but neither he nor anyone else cites examples of this supposedly common occurrence. Nevius didn't understand that, when the city ignores that law, there's no enforcement mechanism except litigation under CEQA.)

The two examples Wiener cites don't support his claim. The North Beach library opposition was about environmental impacts of the new library site and landmark issues about the old library, neither of which is "frivolous."

On the Bicycle Plan: Wiener wasn't on the Board of Supervisors when it voted unanimously to put one volume of the Bicycle Plan in the General Plan and hide the other over at the SFCTA. Judge Busch was not fooled by the city's chicanery and came close to calling the city liars in his decision that ordered the city to do an EIR on both volumes of the ambitious 500-page Plan. Hence, the delay in implementing the Bicycle Plan was due only to the city's blatant violation of the most important environmental law in California, the California Environmental Quality Act.

In short Wiener's argument for this legislation is no better than his anti-initiative legislation. On that legislation, he couldn't cite a single example of the problem that it was supposedly designed to address. Here he provides two poor examples to support this anti-democratic legislation. Is he just stupid or is he a liar? Hard to tell. Probably a little of both. His fatuous attempt to compromise on nudity in the Castro was dumb, but his pattern of proposing anti-democratic legislation is more sinister than the routine stupidity we've grown accustomed to from our elected representatives. 

Stall tactic: In San Francisco, it's surprising if new construction projects aren't delayed for years by endless appeals, frivolous or legitimate.

Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced legislation Tuesday that would prevent last-minute appeals of projects undergoing a California Environmental Quality Act Review (CEQA). He said that currently CEQA decisions are being appealed months and years after the Planning Department issues its decision, which leads to more delays and cost increases.

Wiener cited the North Beach Library project and the city's bicycle plan as two popular projects that have been subject to long delays by late appeals involving environmental review.

"CEQA serves many important purposes, but at times it goes beyond its intended purpose and has become a tool to disrupt, delay and at times significantly increase the cost of projects, including very important public projects," he said.

His legislation would require appeals to be filed with the Board of Supervisors within 15 to 30 days of the first project approval, instead of the final project approval. He also said more robust public notice of CEQA decisions would occur under his legislation.
- Neal J. Riley

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