Monday, July 30, 2012

"Collective amnesia," Congestion Pricing, security cameras, and public power

In a paragraph before her discussion of the city's pension system, the Chronicle's Heather Knight worries about City Hall's "collective amnesia":

City Hall officials seem to be experts at getting worked up over an issue and then quickly forgetting about it. Remember the long debates over police-monitored security cameras, public power and congestion pricing, all of which pretty much fizzled? But just because collective amnesia sometimes descends on City Hall doesn't mean the issue itself has disappeared.

I can jog the collective memory on Congestion Pricing and public power. (I don't know the status of the security cameras, but, like foot patrols, the camera idea seemed to be another response to crime and gun violence based on wishful thinking.) 

Though the idea of Congestion Pricing lives on at the SFCTA, which administers Proposition K transportation sales tax, public opinion in SF has been consistently against paying a fee to drive downtown in their own city. (See this, this and this.) After the irresponsible and dumb "smart growth" Treasure Island and Market/Octavia projects are implemented and traffic on the Bay Bridge and downtown is much worse, City Hall, Walk SF, the Bicycle Coalition, and the anti-car movement will renew the push for this unpopular idea Whether We Like It Or Not.

Public power has been rejected many times by city voters, much to the Bay Guardian's disappointment. Knight herself wrote about the last rejection in the 2008 election.

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At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cities like Palo Alto and Healdsburg that have gone with Public Power are faring better than their PG&E beholden peers, both in short term costs and long term stability - Healdsburg generates 80% of their own power internally from renewable sources due to aggressive pursuit of solar.

PG&E is a "public utility" that works as a for profit entity with a protected monopoly. The worst of both worlds - with predictable results in San Bruno and elsewhere.

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I suspect that Palo Alto and Healdsburg have better governments than profligate SF, with its bloated payroll and a leadership that hatched the Central Subway boondoggle. SF can't even pave its streets without borrowing money.

Hard to see how turning over our power system to these folks could possibly be a good move.

At 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have it exactly right, Rob. I've voted against public power here at every opportunity not because I believe it's a bad idea in theory, but because I don't believe for a second that our inept city government could pull it off without doubling our electric rates and halving the already sub-par reliability of our electric system.

Not a fan of PG&E, but I'll take the devil we know over the devil who may not even keep the lights on.

At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Devil you know? PG&E blew up San Bruno! What exactly do you expect SF to do that is WORSE?

Large scale waste has no chance to compete with large scale corruption as seen in PG&E.

I will however confirm your suspicion that Palo Alto has better governance.

At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congestion pricing is just the SFBC manifesto for getting rid of all cars in SF and forcing this place to be like Beijing. This in an attempt to propagate the Asian culture in San Francisco to satisfy Leah Shahum's European guilt complex.


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