Friday, November 18, 2005

What happened to the CEQA suit?

Dear Rob,

When his CEQA appeal (supposedly about the environmental impact of the pot law) came up before the supes, Bill Barnes spoke rapidly and almost incoherently, and then suddenly withdrew the appeal. The whole matter took only a few minutes.

My impression is that his CEQA appeal was a ploy on behalf of the dealers, to gain them time.

They were horrified that Ross Mirkarimi's original bill required them to keep business records, like all other businesses, and to make them open to inspection by the Department of Public Health. They needed time to lean on Mirkarimi to eliminate those provisions.

The CEQA ploy gave them the time they needed. It worked.

Mirkarimi pulled the requirements for records and inspections. He replaced them with the requirement that the dealers submit a written statement once a year to the Department saying they were acting as they should.

All businesses should be so lucky. No records. No taxes. Just put out a statement saying everything is okay.

The dealers were thrilled by the change. At the supes' meeting, they and their supporters showed up wearing little red hearts that said "Support Ross."

We shouldn't fool ourselves about what's happening here. The overall effect of the supes' bill will be to make things easier on affluent, educated neighborhoods, and more difficult on poorer, less educated neighborhoods.

The former will able to hire lawyers and organize effectively to protect themselves from abuse by the dealers. The latter will be turned into doormats for the dealers and their throng of buyers.

It's a familiar pattern isn't it? And all in the name of progressive politics.

Best wishes,
Arthur Evans

From: Rob
Subject: Supes Pass Pot Bill
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 2005


Supervisor Mirkarimi deserved his round of applause after the ordinance was passed. He did all the heavy lifting, while the other supervisors either kibitzed or obstructed the process. Even the mayor adopted a low profile on the negotiations. What's kind of shocking is that it took us so long---the medical marijuana measure was passed in 1996---to regulate the pot clubs (You call them "dealers," Mirkarimi calls them "dispensaries," and I call them "pot clubs"!) Did we think they would just regulate themselves? 35 clubs still seems like more than we really need. If Oakland can make do with 4, surely San Francisco can do with fewer than 35. Maybe the "mandatory discretionary review" will put the weakest operations out of business, and the strict start-up rules will, in effect, keep new ones from opening, thus lowering the number of clubs in the city overall. Or if someone wants to open a new club, the city could just send them over to Supervisor Daly's office; his district now has 19 of the city's pot clubs, which is evidently okay with him. (District 5 now has 6 clubs.)

But what happened to the Barnes/Daly CEQA suit? There weren't any serious environmental considerations after all?

Rob Anderson

Subject: Supes Pass Pot Bill
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2005


This afternoon (Nov. 15), the supes rapidly passed an amended version of Ross Mirkarimi's "medical cannabis" bill, on a vote of nine to zero. Sean Elsbernd was away on his honeymoon, and Gerardo Sandoval was absent from the chamber, although present for earlier votes.

The action was a swift denouement to a long and tortuous plot. It was made possible by late amendments that Mirkarimi made to the bill to placate critics on both sides of the issue.

The amendments gave the dealers more breathing space in dealing with snooping from the feds, but in effect imposed a cap on the number of dealers at about 35 or so.

For dealers, Mirkarimi deleted the previous requirement that they must keep records of their transactions and be subject to regular inspections. He also grandfathered-in all continuously existing dealers under the provisions of the bill.

For neighborhood advocates, he reduced the permissible sale per visit from half a pound to one ounce, and reduced the number of plants an individual can possess to 24 (down from 99).

He also required that all dealers must undergo a public planning review, where neighbors get a chance to put in their two cents (so-called "mandatory discretionary review").

The bill retains its earlier requirement that all dealers in continuous existence as of April 1 must obtain a permit within 18 months of the ordinance's effective date. Any dealers that started during the recent moratorium, still in effect, must cease operations.

The practical effect of these requirements is to create a virtual cap on the number dealers, equal to the 35 or so, that have been up and running continuously since before April 1.

If pot is smoked on the premises, the dealer must be located at least 1,000 ft from schools and other sensitive institutions. Other existing dealers cannot be located "on the same parcel" as sensitive institutions. The bill is unclear as to the footage involved in a "parcel."

Any dealer who begins business after the ordinance goes into effect, whether the dealer permits smoking on the premises or not, must observe the 1,000-ft rule. This proviso effectively rules out most of the city as possible sites for new dealers.

In arguing for the bill, Mirkarimi said "We've changed the terms of the debate ... We've tried to reconcile all needs."

Chris Daly, who criticized Mirkarimi in the past, today said Mirkarimi "did a good job." Michela Alioto-Pier thanked Mirkarimi for heeding her concerns about the number of plants allowed per person.

When the vote was announced, a roar of applause went up from the audience, from both the supporters and critics of the "medical marijuana" dealers.

The general feeling was that Mirkarimi had pulled off a practical compromise that most people could live with. Whether folks will feel that way a year from now, remains to be seen.

After the vote, Tom Ammiano said "We do really want to help those in need." Then, after a pause, he said "It's a happy synchronicity that Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones are here tonight."

And there you have both sides of the cannabis leaf.


Arthur Evans

Labels: ,

Daly and Dufty in 2006? Maybe, Maybe Not

From the San Franicsco Sentinel (, pollster David Binder on next year's election in SF:

The pollster assessed the standing of supervisor candidates in the November 2006 election. Districts 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 are up for election. "In 2006 what we should look at primarily is whether Chris Daly is vulnerable in the District 6 election. That clearly is going to be the hot one. He got 51% of the first vote four years ago, and now we're going to have instant runoff and if he gets under 50% that could be a contest there. I think Bevan (District 8) is probably pretty safe, but that was very heated last time with Eileen Hansen, and there may be some progressive people that are trying to edge him out…He has a pretty good rating, and he's also been kind of Newsomish in the sense that he's tried to keep various political persuasions happy. I think Sophie (District 10)…There are all kinds of dynamics going on there that may or may not make that race an issue. Michela (District 2)…I've heard is pretty secure.

Daly did indeed get more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff in 2002 but not by much. All the bad press he's gotten since could push him into a runoff next year, where he would be vulnerable. Since 2002, after all, Daly has encouraged the construction of more than 3000 highrise condos for the rich at Rincon Hill in a city and a district that desperately needs affordable housing. And he'll be vulnerable on the marijuana club issue: Under Daly's peculiar leadership, District 6 now has 19 of the city's 35 marijuana clubs. And he'll have to explain his routinely obnoxious political demeanor---the public obscenities, the shouting matches with other supervisors, the tantrums, the bragging about not talking to the mayor for six months, etc.

Bevan Dufty has turned out to be politically timid and a major procrastinator. He's been completely MIA on UC's proposal to build a huge housing development on the old UC Extension site, which straddles the line between District 5 and his District 8. Our Supervisor Mirkarimi has done all the political work opposing UC's greedy proposal to cash in on property they've had tax-free from the city for almost 50 years. Whatever happens on that property---whether a housing development or a New College campus---will have a serious impact on both districts. His opponents in next year's election will rightly ask, "Where has Bevan been on this important issue? Why do we have to rely on another district's supervisor to look after our interests?" And then there was his Trader Joe's waffle; Dufty took a year to come to the conclusion that a Trader Joe's on Upper Market is a bad idea, even though the potential traffic problems alone should have doomed the proposal early in the process. His political timidity may be the consequence of the close 2002 campaign when he beat Eileen Hansen by only 1,101 votes.

may be "pretty secure" in D2, but her political opponents are likely to ask her to explain her low public profile before, during, and after the ski-jump stunt that disrupted a neighborhood in her district for days earlier this year.


Campaign 2000: Ancient history


"Desperate for material"? I never have enough time to write up all the material I have. Why should I be eager to have a private, "civil discussion" with you? (All my discussions, public or private, are civil, including this one.) I'm not a schmoozer; I'm a writer. If you want to schmooze, call H. Brown. If you have something to say, let's hear it/see it in this "little" blog. 

I've "betrayed" nothing. My values are intact and fully operational. I went to jail during the Vietnam War, but I'm just a plain old hawk in the war on terrorism, even though I'm a Democrat. Different war, different moral/political argument. 

It may not be evident to many here in Progressive Land, but the kind of terrorism we're seeing in Iraq, Madrid, London, Indonesia, and Afghanistan is the greatest evil of our time, not the exercise of US military power. 

I'm not a "chicken hawk," a term that was coined by Mike Royko years ago to describe those who ducked out on the Vietnam war and then became hawks later, like Dick Cheney, Pat Buchanan, George W. Bush. 

Joining the "dominant party" in San Francisco? Yes, but Democrats are the dominant party for a reason: They represent a majority of sensible San Franciscans and, soon I hope, a majority of Americans. Just because you are in the minority, Stephen, doesn't mean you are right.


You are obviously desperate for material and more interested in posting comments to your little blog, than in meeting and having a civil discussion. You seem to be proud that you betrayed your own values, and joined the dominant party in a one party town, and you're a damned chicken hawk to boot. Thanks for the expose. My assessment of the D5 wanker was right the first time around.

Stephen Willis


Actually, I don't think the fact that our views used to converge is a "strange coincidence" at all. Except for homelessness---I was prematurely anti-homelessness, long before Gavin Newsom and Care Not Cash---my views in 2000 were more or less predictably "progressive." I attributed the city's political paralysis on homelessness to the Democratic Party's dominance in San Francisco. Hence, I figured that flanking the Demos on the left with an energized local Green Party could move the city to deal with its shocking homeless problem. 

My analysis was completely wrong. I soon realized that it was the city's left that was the main obstacle to actually doing something about homelessness. This sour leftist opposition to the mayor's increasingly effective, humane approach to homelessness is still widespread in SF, much to the shame of local progressives. The local Green Party in 2000 was dominated by people who preferred bloviating about state, national, and international issues to dealing with mere local issues. 

And the example of Matt Gonzalez was a cautionary tale: Matt showed absolutely no interest in homelessness during the 2000 campaign, a peculiar, self-defeating apathy he maintained even during his campaign for mayor in 2003, while Gavin Newsom---an astute politician, if nothing else---used the issue to win the election. 

In short, I no longer think the Green Party is particularly important in San Francisco; nor will it ever be, given its affinity for fringe leftist bullshit. You only have to take a look at their website to see what I mean. I'm now in the Democratic Party, the country's Big Tent political party, which is where I belong.

Yes, I know we are on opposite sides of the "pedestrian oasis" issue. If you've seen the Concourse lately, you have to admit it is indeed well on the way to becoming a much more pedestrian-friendly area. The 200 parking spaces that used to be on the old Concourse are gone, the through-traffic is radically reduced, and the new pedestrian tunnels look good. The new underground garage is completely invisible and makes it much easier for everyone to access the Concourse and the other attractions in that part of Golden Gate Park. The opposition to both the garage and the widening of MLK Blvd. was unprincipled and uninformed, not exactly the finest hour for local progressivism.

I've completely changed my views on cars and bicycles in the city. The more I learned about it the more I realized that the bike people belong out on the fringe left with the Green Party. For such a tiny minority, they are taking up way too much room in city politics and, increasingly, on city streets. The reasonable balance that any city has to maintain to accommodate cars, buses, trucks, pedestrians, and bikes is being undermined by a politically aggressive bicycle community, as traffic lanes are being taken away in busy neighborhoods with little public notice and no debate. 

And earlier this year the Bicycle Plan was made part of the General Plan with no environmental review and no debate---and it was done unanimously by the Board of Supervisors. And then we have Critical Mass: On the last Friday of every month, the bike nuts converge on the downtown area to make it difficult for working people to get home from work, a contemptible bit of elitism that the city's left, of course, supports.

And there was 9/11, which changed my views on foreign policy and reinforced my opinion about the essential lameness of the left both in San Francisco and the country in general. I don't do foreign policy much in my blog---which is about San Francisco issues and politics---but I think we need to win the war in Iraq against a despicable, suicidal/homicidal "insurgency" that the country's political left is, at the very least, tacitly supporting. American Leftists: so politically lame they won't defend themselves against people who want to kill them.

Rob Anderson

Hi Rob,

I was researching Democrat Dennis Antenore this evening and came across your campaign platform from September, 2000. I was very surprised at how closely you incorporated some of the exact ideas that I have held for years. In fact, if I were to run for office, my platform would include several of your key ideas. Strange coincidence, huh? Since we seem to be on opposite sides concerning the Pedestrian Oasis. 

I was a member of the Libertarian Party of Texas for 16 years, a Democrat just long enough to help elect Willie Brown (like a fool) and a SF Green Party member for 12 years, until this past September, when I registered Decline to State. For this reason, I think it would be interesting to meet you and just talk about some of these ideas, and what, if anything, has changed your political views over these past five years. I'll buy the coffee if you let me know when you might have time to meet. Maybe Christian can join us and we can have a hell of a conversation! My mornings are free weekdays, and Friday and Saturday pretty open as well.

Defend the Commons!
Stephen Willis

Rob Anderson announces his candidacy for 5th District Supervisor in San Francisco.

Rob wants to bring two important issues to the attention of voters of the 5th District:

* The urgent need for new policy initiatives on homelessness in light of the obvious failure of the city's present policy, since more than 100 homeless people die on city streets every year, with 169 dying last year alone. This is both a public health and a human emergency that must be addressed.

* The need for 5th District progressives---and progressives throughout the city---to rally to the Green Party as a political alternative to the ruling Democratic Party. If the people of Mexico can overthrow the PRI, why can't we do the same to the Democratic Party? We need to make the Green Party into the party of rent control, the neighborhoods, public transit, and the urban environment. Rob has a long history in what is now the 5th District, since he first lived in the district in 1962---and was very pleased indeed to be living in the district during the Summer of Love in 1967! Rob was a draft resister from San Francisco in the 1960s and spent more than a year in federal prison for refusing to report for induction during the US attack on Vietnam.

Endorsements: Rob has been endorsed by ex-congressman Dan Hamburg, Green Party candidate for Governor of California in the last election. Earth First!er Darryl Cherney has also endorsed Rob.

Some of Rob's positions on other issues:

* Strengthening rent control and putting a moratorium on condo conversions and T.I.C.s. We must do all we can to preserve the city's rental stock and prevent San Francisco from becoming a theme park for the rich.
* The need to wean Muni off toxic diesel fuel as soon as possible.
* Re-examine Muni's policy of covering the sides of buses with garish advertisements that block passengers' views of the city.
* There are now more than 450,000 vehicles in San Francisco, and more than 350,000 of those are automobiles. DMV figures show that more than 4,000 cars a year are being added to San Francisco's streets. Rob thinks the city can't afford to make this small city a car-friendly place. We already have too many motor vehicles in the city. We should stop building parking lots and begin to enforce traffic violations rigorously. The increased mortality among pedestrians is in large part a result of growing population density combined with more and more motor vehicles on our streets.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,