Monday, August 13, 2012

No real debate yet in District 5

Photo by Luke Thomas for Fog City Journal

A message from H. Brown:

Missed you at the debate. Gonzo sent a questionnaire to the candidates which I'm guessing included most of your questions. Hope said it was quite comprehensive and Matt said it's cool if I publish hers so I'm just waiting to get a link for this site. Will post soon as I get it.

My response to Brown's message below---links added on specific issues---wasn't posted by Fog City. Maybe it was too long, but they don't list my blog on their blogroll, either, though they list many other city blogs. Why is that? One can only speculate that, though I'm a Democrat and an Obama supporter, my opinions on local politics and issues are unacceptable to partyline San Francisco progressives:

City progressives botched the homeless issue ten years ago, and they're in the process of screwing up housing, development, and traffic issues. Carping about 8 Washington and hammering Olague with that project is nothing but tunnel vision, since that's a relatively small project compared to Treasure Island, the M/O plan, and Parkmerced. And what about Chris Daly's Rincon Hill highrises? Progressives supported those, with only a muted dissent from the Bay Guardian.

The worst thing about the Parkmerced project is not its impact on affordable housing---though that's a real issue---but the massive traffic impact it's going to have on an already congested part of town. Ditto for the M/O and UC projects in the middle of the city. Progressives have apparently forgotten why cities have density limits in the first place.

Planning orthodoxy in SF prog circles is based on the dense development, "Smart[sic] Growth," transit corridors assumption---that we can build an almost unlimited amount of housing along any major Muni line.

That development will necessarily involve radically changing city neighborhoods with higher, bulkier buildings, which will lead to increase traffic congestion. None of the big projects mentioned above take a realistic approach to traffic, especially considering our increasingly inadequate and underfunded Muni system.

Let them ride bikes! Not only is our traffic getting worse and Muni not getting better, but city progs insist on screwing up traffic with anti-car policies, taking away traffic lanes and street parking for bike lanes on nothing but the hope that a lot more people will abandon cars and start riding bikes.

Meanwhile city progs give a green light to the Central Subway project while Muni goes begging for money! 

The anemic growth in the number of cyclists in the city doesn't show that that strategy is likely to do anything but make traffic worse for everyone.

None of the prog candidates in D5 seem to be equipped to address these problems because doing so would go against important prog constituencies, like the Asian-American community on the Central Subway, the unions, the bike/anti-car folks, gay people on the UC development---some of the housing units in that dumb project are for gay seniors. Speaking of that awful project, I'd like to hear Julian Davis discuss his original opposition to it in the context of Smart Growth and city traffic, since it's going to bring in 1,000 new residents to Hayes Valley, which is already struggling to cope with all the traffic on Octavia Blvd., which was another prog fiasco.

Fog City quotes Julian Davis, clearly their preferred candidate:

“There are rogue development interests that are controlling the agenda at City Hall,” Davis said. “They have a vision of City San Francisco that includes luxury condominiums for the ultra-rich, chain stores, parking garages---it’s a vision for San Francisco that doesn’t include the people in this room. It doesn’t include everyday people.”
“They get away with it by choosing your leaders for you,” Davis added. “Over the past two years in San Francisco, we’ve seen an appointed mayor, an appointed district attorney, an appointed sheriff and an appointed District 5 supervisor. Ask yourself, is that participatory democracy, the way we envision it---and the answer is, it is not.

"Parking garages"? The horror! Which garage is Davis referring to? Like to hear more about that issue. Does Davis oppose parking garages in general? What about the parking garage under the Concourse in Golden Gate Park? But his reference to "luxury condominiums" is also without a referent. Of course Davis, as per current prog doctrine, opposes the 8 Washington development, but what about Chris Daly's Rincon Hill highrises and the Market and Octavia project's highrises planned for the Market and Van Ness intersection? What about "Smart Growth" in general? That's the official city planning doctrine, which validates the M/O Plan, Parkmerced, and Treasure Island projects.

The Planning Department and the Board of Supervisors are simply following the false Smart Growth doctrine that's now all the rage among progressives. That's official city policy, and it has nothing to do with "rogue development interests," any more than the projects I mention above do. Davis understood that applying those misguided principles to the old extension property on lower Haight Street was a bad idea---450 new housing units and 1,000 more people one block off the chronic traffic jam on Octavia Blvd.---but the UC development is only one of a number of bad projects okayed by his fellow progressives in the Planning Dept. and on the Board of Supervisors. 

Which chain stores is he referring to? Starbucks? Trader Joes? Does he oppose locating those chains in San Francisco? Does he oppose allowing Target to locate in the large, long-empty space vacated by Mervyn's in the complex at Geary and Masonic?

Of course our current District 5 Supervisor was appointed because Ross Mirkarimi was elected sheriff, and our current sheriff was appointed because City Hall is determined to destroy Mirkarimi. What, by the way, does Davis think about that contemptible effort? Is he, like a lot of city progs, willing to throw Mirkarimi under the bus? Odd that he would leave the attempt to get justice for Mirkarimi to people like me, who think he and Davis are wrong on every important issue facing District 5 and the city.

The large UC housing development on the old extension property on lower Haight Street is not mentioned by Davis, which isn't surprising, since he's been silent on that project since he and I were the only candidates that opposed it way back in 2004. He ended his silence on the issue with an email message to me last year. Maybe he'll share his latest thoughts on the UC project with District 5 voters this year.

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