Wednesday, September 22, 2010

San Francisco's Tea Party, Part 1

San Francisco doesn't have a significant right-wing, which makes us immune to the conservative Tea Party movements roiling other jurisdictions in the country. Instead political extremism in the city comes from the left, which is now manifested primarily in the anti-car bike movement. Chris Daly used to personify our radical left with his self-righteous, bullying behavior. 

Recall that the first most people in SF heard of Daly was when he was arrested in 2002 at a sit-in protesting the plans by UC Hastings to build a parking garage in the Tenderloin, which of course the Bicycle Coalition and Tom Radulovich also opposed. Daly and the bike people claimed that the protest was about housing in the Tenderloin, but it was just an early phase of the city's anti-car movement, which was made clear during the college's supplementary EIR process on the garage project. (The bike people also opposed the parking garage under the Concourse in Golden Gate Park.)

The first phase of the anti-car movement was the birth of Critical Mass in 1992, which until recently the Bicycle Coalition listed on its online calendar. Leah Shahum had her life-changing bike epiphany during her first Critical Mass demo.

The next phase featured the attempt to push the massive, ambitious Bicycle Plan through the process without doing any environmental review. The city and the Bicycle Coalition were foiled in that attempt when the court ordered the city to do an EIR on the Plan.

While the city was doing the EIR, the movement moved into the next phase, which involved getting bike people appointed to important positions: Mayor Newsom appointed Shahum to the MTA board, and Dave Snyder was appointed to the Golden Gate Transit board by the Board of Supervisors. More recently, Cheryl Brinkman was appointed to the MTA board by the mayor.

Which brings us to Brinkman's quotation this morning on the front page of the Chronicle's Bay Area section: "Private autos do deserve a place, but the goal is not to make them the most convenient choice." That is, city policy is to make it as difficult and expensive as possible to drive a car---or a bus, truck, taxi, and emergency vehicle---in San Francisco. This isn't a new policy, since the mayor and the board of supervisors have long concurred.

But how do you implement the anti-car policy without affecting Muni, trucks---all our goods are delivered by trucks---and emergency vehicles? Just as important, how do you implement this policy without damaging the city's economy that depends on visitors, most of whom drive to the city, eating at our restaurants and staying at our hotels?

We are about to find out, which may be why Brinkman and the MTA are warning city residents now: the city is beginning to implement the Bicycle Plan, which will remove more than 50 traffic lanes and 2,000 parking spaces to make bike lanes. The city is also getting ready to deliberately "calm"---that is, jam up---traffic on busy Masonic Avenue on behalf of the bike people. The city is worried about possible backlash provoked by deliberately screwing up traffic on busy streets to make bike lanes, an anxiety Mayor Newsom acknowledged last year.

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At 12:29 PM, Anonymous mikesonn said...

So where is the connection to the Tea Party? Is this the new "Godwin's Law", or should it now be coined "Anderson's Law"?

At 12:34 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Jeez, Mike, I just posted this minutes ago. Are you like Murphy, reading blogs and posting comments while you work at your "real job"? The "connection" is that, while the rest of the country is plagued by right-wing activists, SF is plagued by left-wingers in the crackpot anti-car bike movement. I'm going to do a follow-up post on the subject in the next day or so.

At 2:32 PM, Anonymous mikesonn said...

I'm allowed to take breaks at my "real job". Note I made the comment during "lunch" and right now I have a few minutes while I wait for a PDF to print.

Follow-up to what? You spitting rage against some straw-man argument that everything that you disagree with is bike-nuts bent on over taking the world?

At 2:37 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Maybe you should use your breaks to read what I've actually written on this blog. Still waiting for some direct quotes to verify your cartoon version of my opinions.

At 2:55 PM, Anonymous mikesonn said...

What if opposing the garage was really about housing? Why should storage of cars take priority over housing people?

You see any excuse to get upset at "bike-nuts" and are blinded by some sort of faux-rage.

And I'll worry about keeping myself employed, but thanks for your concern.

At 3:04 PM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

Excellent post Rob:

Yea, it seems that our version of the "Tea Party" movement in San Francisco could aptly be called the "Bike Coalition Anti-Car Live just like us hipster bikers Tea Party" movement. It's really about them pushing a very narrow agenda on the good citizens of San Francisco, and putting in places of power ALL of their die hard proponents.

If the bike people proposed more of a balanced voice of reason and sharing, I would probably listen to them more. But they don't speak that way.

No doubt in my mind, as this ill conceived Bike Plan moves ahead, we will begin to see the negative results come to play: mainly more traffic congestion, frustrated drivers of cars, trucks, taxi's, etc. We will begin to see how a small percentage of citizens (bike riders) are trying to kidnap the majority of other citizens who choose other modes of transit to move around. It does not look good.

At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From BayCitizen re: last night's MTA mtg:

"A couple of the directors addressed a part of the presentation that featured two pyramid charts, one of which represented "conventional urban transportation planning" with cars making up a majority of the pyramid, and another that represented "sustainable urban transportation planning" in which solo car trips were not included at all.

"I'm not sure this would be widely supported in the city," Board Chairman Tom Nolan said.

Director Malcolm Heinicke said, "It almost sends a message of hostility or indifference to motorists," who still make up two-thirds of trips in the city each day."

Count this cyclist in the Nolan/Heinicke camp.

At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeez, Mike, I just posted this minutes ago. Are you like Murphy, reading blogs and posting comments while you work at your "real job"?

aren't you supposed to be taking care of your Mother? Stop blogging.

At 9:56 PM, Anonymous Stan said...

Come on, Rob. As I was telling you at Sunday Streets (cool that you showed up - was very surprised when you introduced yourself).... when traffic becomes bad enough, more people will realize how silly it is to own a car in SF and finally get rid of those damn things!

At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Dr. Greg Zaryeo said...

Rob weather you like it or not, the bike plan, and encouraging more biking is a good thing. I'm sorry, but that's just the way it's going to be. You're otherwise a reasonable person and I do agree with you on much of what you say about idiots like Chris Daly, homelessness and so on.

You need to get with the program on bikes, however. If you can't, then I'm going to have to ask you to leave the city.

At 11:52 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I'm going to have to ask you to kiss my ass, doc.

At 1:12 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Greg - that smell in the air yesterday was fresh air - Rob took a field trip to Sonoma County where he posted this sign on Humboldt Boulevard...


At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could swear that murph posted that same sign in Noe Valley.

At 3:50 PM, Anonymous mikesonn said...

Our streets are safe! Our streets are safe! Our streets are safe!

At 7:41 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Murph, you still haven't answered the question asked on the plaza thread: When did you learn about the Noe Valley plaza idea? Were you in on it from the start?

At 8:34 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"When did you learn about the Noe Valley plaza idea? Were you in on it from the start?"


At 11:47 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

However, I was on the grassy knoll and did witness Obama's Kenyan birth.

At 9:36 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Still it would be interesting to know exactly when you heard about the plaza project. The best of your recollection?

At 2:46 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

For crying out loud - you have access to Google. Why do you make me do your homework you lazy coot.

Check out this post

Here is my comment - verbatim, well after the actual project had been sketched out and we were speculating what was going to happen. I speculated that the City would not have the vision to close off that block of Noe and make the intersection and neighborhood more pleasant. In other words, I had no clue what was planned and had nothing to do with the planning.

February 25, 2010
murphstahoe - Block off Noe from 24th 20 or so yards towards Jersey - filtering traffic to Castro which is controlled by a traffic light. This removes a lot of the conflict at the intersection which is very pedestrian heavy.

OK, that won't happen. Too many cars use that intersection to access or cross 24th. The more likely proposal would be to do something similar to what they are planning for North Beach.

The question is if they do this - where. In front of Starbucks/Toast? Handicapped spot. In front of Rabat? Bus stop. In front of Pasta Pomodoro? To-go Pasta Pickup spot - also known as a fire hydrant. In front of Chase? Also a bus stop.

Maybe they WILL close Noe St!

At that point - late February, I was as in the dark as you were.

When did I find out about it?

When This post went up on March 21.

You'll note that the artwork for that blog post includes the window signs that say "DON'T BLOCK NOE". The signs against this project were in the windows and Dufty was being lobbied against it before I even knew about this project. The project was as good as dead before I even found out about its existence.


At 2:51 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Was that so hard? I understand that focusing on actual facts is a strain on you, Murph. You do it so seldom. Take the rest of the day off.

At 9:29 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Rob - why is it so important for you to know WHEN I found out about the Noe Street closure idea? It's not even your neighborhood.

At 10:01 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I wouldn't have been surprised if you had been in on the plot from the start, since your anti-car credentials are in good order, and the plaza proposal was just another front for the anti-car jihadists. Not particularly important in the cosmic scheme of things, for sure. Your puzzlement over why I would ask the question is bizarre. Are you wearing a helmet when you ride your bike?

At 10:51 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Except that I said several times, that I had nothing to do with it.

My "involvement" was getting a voice for people who wanted this project, a reaction to the fact that opponents of the plaza - including rocky's dad - were getting private audiences to with Bevan Dufty to lobby against the project before most of us even knew that the proposal existed.

That's called "democracy". You want a vote on the bike plan? In theory I'd LOVE a (legitimate) vote on the Noe Street Plaza, except that I firmly believe that it was Supervisor Dufty's job to drive the (metaphorical) car. He just decided to drive it into the ditch.

At 8:13 AM, Anonymous mikesonn said...


1. Jihadist - a Muslim who advocates or participates in a jihad


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