Monday, May 12, 2014

C.W. Nevius: If Prop. B passes, "we're done"

C. W. Nevius

As the unofficial spokesman for City Hall, C.W. Nevius is of course upset about Proposition B on next month's ballot:

This week's analysis includes dire warnings from the Planning Department, the Department of Public Works, the Municipal Transportation Authority and the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development, among others. The report not only expresses concerns about hindering development, it points out that developers could actually use the elections to bypass code requirements. Just write what you want---no environmental review, for example---into the ballot initiative and, if it passes, we're done.

The "analysis" Nevius is referring to is from city departments, whose opinions on Prop. B---at good old Gabe Metcalf's prompting---were solicited by Supervisor Wiener back in February.

Surprise! All those city departments oppose Prop. B! You can see these departments all singing for their supper on, appropriately enough, the Planning Department's website. The Planning Department's clunky prose is typical: 

From a policy perspective, it is uncertain that a single citywide vote on a ballot measure concerning waterfront development that is drafted by developers, with all its planning and zoning complexities, can adequately substitute for the intense public and substantive scrutiny offered by the existing review process.

But it's "the existing review process" that the people of San Francisco no longer trust, since it's clearly dominated by developers and an aggressive City Hall push for more money for a growing city bureaucracy.


Who put Art Agnos in charge? It seems that if Proposition B passes next month, as most think it will, Agnos will become the unofficial potentate of the waterfront. Virtually every project developer will have to go to the former mayor and his fellow killer B's---Aaron Peskin and Jon Golinger---on bended knee to ask for a blessing.

Nope. Those three guys only led the effort to get Prop. B on the ballot by getting the required 9,702 signatures from registered voters. (Actually, they got twice that number, but they only needed 9,702.) After voters pass Prop. B next month, developers will still have to go through the city planning process for any project proposed on port property; they'll just have to go to the ballot if they want to put a highrise there. 

The MTA's Ed Reiskin sings for his $294,000 supper in a letter written in typically bureaucratic prose. Reiskin is worried about---wait for it---a "revenue shortfall for needed investment." Big development projects, you won't be surprised to learn, bring in more money than smaller projects: "As noted above, smaller scale projects are typically more limited in their infrastructure contribution."

A look at the Voter Information Pamphlet tells us that, along with every city department, those opposing Prop. B are the usual suspects: the Chamber of Commerce; Metcalf's SPUR, which the Chronicle calls "a smart growth think tank"; the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, a pro-development group that also supported Supervisor Wiener's bogus CEQA reform; and the Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth, an alliance that includes the Chamber of Commerce, SPUR, and unions. 

Unions are just more hogs at the development trough, since they support any and all projects that create jobs for their membership. Even dumb projects create jobs, like the Central Subway and the high-speed rail project.

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