Sunday, September 18, 2005

Tys Sniffen to Rob

Tys Sniffen to Rob:
So Rob,you're anti-bike, we all know that. You're anti-traffic, or at least, you know how loud and ugly it can be. You're anti-gentrification, as it brings more cars, and crass rich people who don't ride the bus. You're anti-housing building, because only the rich will buy and it'll mean more people bumping into you...while I've never heard you say what you're "for," can I glean from these posts that you're for putting a fence (or a time warp) around SF and throwing away the key? "SF only for us who've been here when it was just us!" ?
Rob Replies:
No, you can't. That's what's known as a false dichotomy in beginning philosophy. The implication is that one has to either accept projects like Rincon Hill or reject all housing development in the city. I'm for building affordable housing under the existing city zoning regulations on height, density, and parking, rather than waiving these regs to encourage developers to propose overlarge projects and/or overdevelop specific parts of town. Take the Market/Octavia Neighborhood Plan, for example. According to the Plan's DEIR, without the Plan that area's population will grow by 2,225 by the year 2025. With the Plan, the area will grow by 7,620 residents. Why isn't 2,225 more people enough for that area? Why should the city be encouraging that kind of growth in an area that already has 900 new housing units planned for the old freeway parcels? This doesn't include the 450 units an imperial UC wants to put on the old Extension site. (The M/O Plan also encourages 40-story residential highrises in the Van Ness/Market St. area.) That area has just seen a six-lane street open up in the middle of the Hayes Valley neighborhood, along with a new freeway ramp on Market St. What the area needs now is to be left alone to absorb these radical changes. The last thing it needs is an arrogant Planning Dept. piling still more housing development on top of the existing changes. It's hard to believe that anyone thinks this is good planning.

I don't think rich people are necessarily "crass." In fact, every rich person I've met has been rather nice (including my landlords, who are exemplary human beings and fine Americans). I'm not really "anti-bike." I just think the whole bike fantasy in SF is taking up way too much room in our political life. Riding a bike in the city will always be too dangerous and/or impractical for anything but a small minority. But the bike fanatics are now taking lanes from motorized traffic, which can't be justified by the small number of cyclists in the city. They also want to eliminate parking spaces that should go with every new housing unit built in the city. The end result makes traffic worse for everyone just to satisfy a goofy "progressive" ideology that values the idea of bikes more than reality-based planning and traffic management in a city that has more than 464,000 registered vehicles.

And there's this outrageous result of the bike fantasy: The Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission voted unanimously to make the 400-page Bicycle Plan part of the General Plan with no environmental study, even though the bike plan means radical changes to the city's streets and buildings. This is the triumph of ideology over reality. What's shocking to me is that I'm apparently one of the few people to recognize these realities.

By the way, Tys, do you still support UC's plan to put 450 housing units on the old Extension site? During last year's D5 campaign for supervisor, Julian Davis and I were the only candidates of the 22 that opposed the grotesque proposal, which I also found rather shocking.

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