Friday, January 01, 2010

District 5 Diary Year End Awards for 2009

Schizo City Policy of the Year: Is the Market/Octavia intersection safe or not?
The city went to court again last year to try to lift the injunction on the Bicycle Plan, arguing that the Market/Octavia intersection is so unsafe for cyclists that a radical redesign is necessary. Judge Busch rejected the city's proposal, as did the SF Bicycle Coalition. Defending itself in a suit brought by a cyclist injured at the intersection, the city was arguing at the same time that the intersection is safe!

Polonius Award: Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond, executive editor of the Bay Guardian, advised the SF Chronicle to focus more on local issues, an amusing bit of chutzpah coming from an "alternative" publication that failed---and continues to fail---so dramatically at covering homelessness and other local issues.

Most Expensive Idea of the Year: a bike lane on the west span of the Bay Bridge
The study of the idea is only going to cost taxpayers a mere $1.3 million, but the lane itself could cost as much as $390 million. California's taxpayers will learn more this Spring, when the study is done.

Personal Reinvention of the Year: Dave Snyder
Snyder was executive director of the SF Bicycle Coalition for 11 years. He's now been anointed as a "transportation expert" by city progressives, even though he's just a bike guy.

Dumbest Idea of the Year: Supervisor Mirkarimi
The Murk won this award last year for proposing doing away with the underpass at the Geary/Fillmore intersection. He wins it again this year for proposing to turn Fell and Oak into two-way streets. Maybe I'll just start calling this award The Mirkarimi.

Flab-Gab of the Year: Supervisor Mirkarimi
Channel 5 reporter Joe Vazquez asked Supervisor Mirkarimi about his support for Critical Mass and the city's expense for the police escort it provides. The Murk's response: "Any kind of traffic enforcement, especially when it's mobile and rotating like that, costs the city money for a police escort...So the police department needs to provide us their budget to determine if that is an applicable use." The Murk still hasn't told us whether the $10,000 a month for police overtime for not enforcing our traffic laws is "an applicable use," as if the cops don't get paid regardless of what Mirkarimi thinks.

Admission of the Year: Steve Jones
Bay Guardian reporter Jones admitted what we've been saying for years---that the city's bike movement is anti-car: "Because at the end of the day, Anderson is right: bicyclists do have a radical agenda. We want to take space from cars, both lanes and parking spaces, all over this city. That's what has to happen to create a safe, complete bicycle system, which is a prerequisite to encouraging more people to cycle. We need to realize that designing the city around automobiles is an increasingly costly and unsustainable model."

Gridlock Award: Leah Shahum
The executive director of the SF Bicycle Coalition's vision of the future on the streets of San Francisco: "Imagine streets moving so calmly and slowly that you'd let your six-year-old ride[a bike] on them." Hard to imagine now that the mayor once appointed this anti-car zealot to the MTA board. Also hard to imagine how slow city traffic would have to be to allow six-year-olds to safely ride their bikes on city streets.

Bike Chauvinist of the Year: Steve Jones
"I understand that bicyclists are criticized in many quarters as a vocal minority with a self-righteous sense of superiority and entitlement, and that I'm personally accused of bias for writing empathetically about bicyclists in dozens of bike-related stories. Well, guess what? I don't apologize. We are better than motorists, by every important measure. We use less space and fewer resources and create less waste and pollution."

We Told You So Award: the EIR on the Bicycle Plan
To those of us who predicted way back in 2005 that implementing the Bicycle Plan---taking away traffic lanes and street parking---will screw up city traffic and delay Muni. The environmental impact report on the Bicycle Plan confirms that prediction, as it tells us that the Plan will have "significant unavoidable impacts" on traffic, loading, and Muni bus lines on a number of city streets.

History Rewrite of the Year: the State of Cycling Report
There was this blatant falsehood in the introduction of the city's State of Cycling Report for 2008: "San Francisco voters asked for and received car-free Saturdays in Golden Gate Park." In fact city voters rejected---twice on the same ballot in November, 2000---the idea of car-free Saturdays in Golden Gate Park. But we ended up getting it anyhow, because the mayor's office and the Bicycle Coalition made a deal that ignored the will of the voters.

Worst Art Critic of the Year: Bill Bulkley
Bulkley defended graffiti/tagging vandalism unconvincingly in, of all places, the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association's newsletter.

Real Estate Investor of the Year: Chris Daly
Supervisor Daly showed his commitment to San Francisco by buying two houses in Fairfield. He'll be termed out later this year, which also makes him the Lame Duck of the Year.

Suspicions Confirmed Award: Matthew Baume on Curbed
One of the fears people in the Richmond district have about the Geary BRT is that it's the first step toward opening up the neighborhood lining Geary Blvd. to denser development in an already densely-populated part of town. The Planning Department's favorite development dogma is that the city can radically increase its population along the city's "transit corridors." When I reprinted someone else's account of a "raucus" neighborhood BRT meeting, Matthew Baume responded on Curbed, the real estate blog, with uncomprehending disapproval that only validated neighborhood fears about the city's intentions: "But how much longer can the old guard keep out[of the Richmond] the normal trappings of city life: taller buildings, more humans, fewer cars, more bikes, better buses? Part of living in a city (and running a business in a city) is existing in close proximity. A city wants to be dense, and you can only push back for so long."

Bogeyman of the Year: C.W. Nevius
Now that Don Fisher is dead and billionaire Warren Hellman has rehabilitated himself---paying for that free concert in the park and giving money to the Bicycle Coalition---C.W. Nevius is the favorite bogeymen for city progressives. Nevius earns progressive animus for his fine columns on the city's homeless problem, which progs hate to think about since Gavin Newsom ate their lunch on the issue back in 2002 and 2003.

Nimby of the year: Randy Shaw
Shaw, who lives in the East Bay, applauds opposition to Berkeley's downtown plan but is quiet about similar plans to encourage population density---the Market/Octavia Plan, UC's proposal for the old extension property---in San Francisco, where he makes his living.

Carpetbagger of the Year: Marc Caswell
Young Caswell came to SF from Florida to "help build a better city." He now helps the SF Bicycle Coalition screw up our traffic. How did San Francisco manage before Caswell---and Leah Shahum and Andy Thornley---arrived to make the city "better"?

Preservation "Victory" of the Year: the Harding Theater
The Harding Theater continues to blight Divisadero Street thanks to Supervisor Mirkarimi, who "saved" the derelict, undistinguished building from being turned into housing units and retail space. Now the owner of the Harding can't develop the property or sell it.

Cautionary tale of the Year for SF Politicians: the Oakland parking furor
The City of Oakland had to back off on its plan to extend parking meter hours downtown after a shitstorm of negative feedback from residents and businesses.

Emperor's New Clothes Award: Art Agnos on Octavia Boulevard
What is it about Octavia Blvd. that makes people say dumb things? Maybe it's because if they took a close look at what that street has done to the Hayes Valley neighborhood, they would have to stop congratulating themselves for taking down the Central Freeway overpass. Art Agnos: "That whole Hayes Valley area is a jewel in our city with wonderful shops because we took down a freeway that shouldn't have been there in the first place." Maybe the freeway shouldn't have been there, but the street is now a traffic-clogged horror that's gridlocked---45,000 cars a day!---most of the day. Some "jewel."

Tin Cup Award: Supervisor Dufty
Dufty suggested that supervisors don't make enough to pay for their parking at City Hall.

The Orwell Memory Hole Award: Bay Guardian
The winner is a Guardian editorial---by Brugmann?---that urged Mayor Newsom to reinvent himself as a Guardian-style progressive. The remarkable thing about the editorial's recap of Newsom's career: there was no mention of Care Not Cash or homelessness, the issue that got him elected mayor.

Bike Fetishists of the Year: Patricia Decker and Steve Jones

Decker gets the award for her close personal relationship with her bike, which she's given a name.

Jones earns it for this riff on his bike:
"I love my bike, and so do most people who see it. San Franciscans appreciate the little things, like someone who rides a silly-looking bike. It started as a basic used mountain bike, but I styled it out for Burning Man a few years ago, covering it with heavy red acrylic paint that looks like stucco, a big basket covered in fake fur and ringed with electro-luminescent wire, and custom-welded high handlebars topped by a lizard horn."