Thursday, July 06, 2006

"Isn't it just like Rob Anderson..."

In a post to PROSF, David Thornheim expresses his disapproval of the injunction against the city and the Bicycle Plan:

Isn't it just like Rob Anderson to challenge the Bike Lane[sic] plan by forcing an EIR? I'm sure in his mind so-doing will "help the environment." Isn't it just like him to take a good law like the EIR and misuse it to stall a positive development like bike lanes, instead of using it to challenge the real culprits, big-moneyed developers as we did with Harding Theater? I look forward to his defense on this one. 

When I first met the man, he was running against Matt Gonzalez and many others, before I knew Matt. Robert Anderson was the only Green running, so I seriously thought about voting for him for that reason alone! What a mistake that would have been---Is he ever NOT green! Fortunately, it was obvious he had no campaign---honestly, who would work with him? So I'm glad I took a chance on Matt the Democrat, shortly before he switched Green.

Oh David, where did we go wrong in our political relationship? Those were the days, when I flanked Matt Gonzalez on the left! We'll never see those days again.

Actually, my Green period in SF---1995 to 9/11---was mostly a result of faulty political analysis on my part. I thought that flanking the Democratic Party on the left while, at the same time, raising the homeless issue might prompt some action on homelessness---or at least get people to begin to talk about it, since 100-200 homeless people were dying on our streets every year. Hence, my candidacy was about flanking the Democrats on the left via the Green Party issue, while advocating a major political initiative to address homelessness in the city. 

But my analysis was superficial. I finally realized that party affiliation in SF is really irrelevant when considering local issues; it's a smug, amorphous brand of progressivism that transcends party affiliation that was---and still is---the problem in San Francisco.

Tornheim is good example of the knee-jerk progressive in SF: He assumes the injunction against the city is about Bikes versus Cars, and of course Bikes are Good and Cars are Bad, which makes the whole issue an easy call for him. He doesn't need to know anything about the actual litigation or about CEQA. 

Nor, of course, does he have to do any actual thinking, which is the great thing about ideology: Your thinking is already done for you. Even though this concept is beyond the confines of his ideological box, he needs to understand that sometimes the "real culprits" are not the "big-moneyed developers" but the government right here in Progressive Land.

The City of San Francisco---in cahoots with the SF Bicycle Coalition---has been trying to pull a fast one on the people of San Francisco. The Board of Supervisors made the Bicycle Plan part of the General Plan last year with no dissent and no debate, and they have been implementing it ever since, street by street, in spite of this litigation, taking away traffic lanes and street parking to make bike lanes. 

That's why Judge Warren gave us the original injunction---to stop the piece-mealing of the project until the hearing in September. The city has been sneaky and dishonest in how it's been implementing the Plan, not only doing it piecemeal in defiance of this litigation, but also with sketchy-to-non-existent notice to the neighborhoods in various BOS committees, where the city's actions have gone mostly unobserved.

Tornheim is self-congratulatory about his alleged victory in saving the Harding Theater on Divisadero. (for some background, see this and this) But from the outside it looks to me like the same old derelict building we had two years ago. Tornheim and his friends "saved" the theater for what, exactly? In the process, they forced the developer to reduce the number of new housing units in the condo project. 

I guess Tornheim isn't one of those We-Need-Housing progressives who never met a housing development he didn't like. Anyhow, maybe he could provide us with an update on the status of his Harding Theater victory over the wicked developers who wanted to tear down a useless, eyesore of a building to build more housing.

Tornheim "took a chance on Matt Gonzalez" in 2000? Gonzalez was the front-runner from the beginning of that campaign. His run for District Attorney against Hallinan---flanking Hallinan on the left, of course---in 1999 gave him name recognition in progressive circles. He then got the endorsement of the SF Bay Guardian, there was a story in the SF Weekly with his picture, and he never faced a serious challenge after that. 

The runoff against Juanita Owens---who got a kiss-of-death endorsement from Willie Brown---was never a serious contest, and he buried her, which he would have done even if he had declared himself a member of the Republican Party instead of the Green Party.

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Bike vs. anti-bike: Are we having dialogue yet?

News flash to Andrew Leonard (see below): No matter how high the price of oil goes people in the US are going to use motor vehicles. After all, the hybrid engine technology is getting pretty close to being practical for everyone. Do you really think cars are ever going to be obsolete in the U.S.? This is the type of fantasy held by the bike zealots in S.F. Yes, of course, "the city is not designed to accommodate cyclists," which is my point: The bike zealots---at most 2% of the city's population---want to redesign our streets to accommodate a tiny minority, taking away traffic lanes and parking in a city that has, according to the DMV, 452,813 registered motorized vehicles. 

As a matter of fact, I don't own a car and take Muni or walk everywhere I go in the city. Taking away parking and traffic lanes in the city is only going to make traffic worse for everyone, including those who ride Muni---not to mention emergency vehicles. All I'm saying is that before the city implements this radical project, it should do an EIR so that the people of the city know what the city and the SF Bicycle Coalition plan to do to the streets in their neighborhoods.

Like my other critics, you feel compelled to mention that I'm old, that I'm a mere dishwasher, and that I'm a failed candidate for office, a not-so-subtle variation on an ad hominem argument. Guilty to all three charges! The implication: Why should anyone listen to an old failure who is a dishwasher? Nevertheless, I'm proud to be a member of the working class. As for my "failure" in my two campaigns---I ran in 2000, too---for D5 Supervisor, people can go to my campaign website to judge whether my candidacy was serious or not. I think politics is ultimately about ideas, and my campaigns were designed around specific ideas about local issues. The fact that I didn't get many votes won't discourage me from running again in 2008, since the ideas I tried to advance are just as relevant today as they were then.

Bike vs. Anti-Bike
by Andrew Leonard

Somehow, it only seems right and fitting that San Francisco, home to some of the world's most aggressive bike activists, has spawned one of the world's most determined anti-biking activists. For every pedal action, there's an opposite and equal reaction?

Rob Anderson, described by the
San Francisco Guardian as a "63-year-old dishwasher, blogger and failed District 5 supervisorial candidate," who is motivated by a "deep animosity toward the bicycle community," has succeeded in bringing the city's ambitious Bicycle Plan to a screeching halt. In response to a lawsuit filed by Anderson claiming that the plan had not received the level of environmental review required by the California Environmental Quality Act, a judge issued a preliminary injunction halting any further action on completing bicycle-related projects that are part of the plan---including, says the Guardian, any new bicycle lanes anywhere in the city or plans to allow more bikes on mass transit.

If you're thinking that using environmental legislation to stop bike lanes sounds kind of wacky, well, you're not the only one. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, naturally, is upset, as is the SF Weekly's Matt Smith, who
wrote a column last week calling Anderson "mean" and "spiteful."

On his own blog, Anderson, who happens to be the brother of Bruce Anderson, the notorious gadfly founder of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, appears to be enjoying the attention. Most of his recent posts are devoted to poking at his critics and elaborating on his opinion that biking is inherently dangerous and will never be a suitable transportation option for the masses of San Francisco.

Of course, one of the reasons why biking is dangerous in the city is because the city is not designed to accommodate cyclists. Which is what the Bicycle Plan is attempting to address.

News flash for Rob Anderson: The price of crude oil spiked to a record high today. Smart cities should be looking for ways to enhance public transportation and make it easier for people to get around on non-fossil-fuel-consuming vehicles, like bikes. Getting in the way isn't mean, or spiteful.
It's just dumb.

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