Monday, October 15, 2007

An Un-Progressive Vision for San Francisco

After I criticized Quintin Mecke's progressive "vision" for San Francisco, a participant on Junto, one of the city's chatboards, challenged me to provide my vision. My response:

First, discourage all big development projects. This city is too small geographically to allow projects like Rincon Hill, the Market/Octavia Plan, and the UC housing proposal for the lower Haight. Big projects have unintended consequences for the quality of life in the city and put entirely forseeable stresses on the city's infrastructure. The first consequence of encouraging all these market-rate housing units will be to accelerate gentrification, something one would expect progressives to oppose. Instead, because We Need Housing, they've given the Planning Dept. a blank check on projects with Orwellian names---"Better Neighborhoods"! The M/O Plan's whole purpose is to encourage housng density in the heart of the city---which is already densely-populated---by rezoning thousands of parcels to allow even more density, higher buildings, fewer setbacks, and of course fewer parking spaces for the 9,875 new residents that will be the result of that Planning Dept. project. Let them ride bikes! Or an already maxed-out Muni! Progressives on the BOS support both the M/O Plan and UC's attempted land-grab on Haight St.

By the way, these policies were the essence of the city's late, unlamented Housing Element, which was recently thrown out by the courts because it encouraged this kind of development in the city without requiring adequate environmental review. The city now has no legal Housing Element in the General Plan.

Second, encourage Mayor Newsom to apply the recent downtown homeless sweeps to the whole city. Those homeless who refuse services to get them off the streets must be arrested/taken into custody---or "criminalized," if you prefer that term. No one has the "right" to live on the streets of San Francisco, which is apparently a controversial idea. A completely misguided sense of compassion continues to motivate opposition to any serious effort to actually get the homeless off city streets, even though many continue to die on city streets---88 last year alone, mostly from drug and alcohol related causes. Hence, the status quo is bad for the homeless themselves, degrades the quality of life for everyone, and undermines tourism, which is our largest industry.

Third, cut the crap on the anti-car policies that make traffic unnecessarily worse in the city. Fortunately, we were able to stop the sneaky city/SFBC attempt to implement the Bicycle Plan without proper environmental review or adequate public notice and debate. Taking away traffic lanes on busy city streets to make bicycle lanes has to be done very carefully, if it should be done at all, in a city that has 460,150 registered motor vehicles and millions of commuters and tourists driving in the city every year. Ditto for street parking. The bike nuts don't seem to understand that the more you screw up traffic for those wicked automobiles you also screw it up for Muni and emergency vehicles.

I could go on, but you can fill in the rest of my vision for SF by reading my blog.

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