Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Thea Selby, the Bay Guardian, and smiley-face politics

The Bay Guardian's District 5 endorsement riff:

We hold this truth to be self-evident: District 5 is the heart of progressive San Francisco, the most left-leaning district in the city. The supervisor who represents the Haight, Western Addition, and Inner Sunset has to be a reliable part of the progressive community, someone who can be counted on to vote the right way pretty much 100 percent of the time. That's what we've had since the return of district elections in 2000. Matt Gonzalez was a Green Party member who (other than one unfortunate vote on school funding) held down the board's left flank. Ross Mirkarimi, who on occasion clashed with his progressive colleagues, never went south on a single issue...

Yes, Mirkarimi was a reliable "progressive" vote on the board, but both District 5 and the city are worse off after Mirkarimi's seven PC years as supervisor. Matt Gonzalez's achievements as District 5 Supervisor? Carrying the legislation to allow the right-turn ban at Market and Octavia and allowing a graffiti "artist" to deface his office walls in City Hall.

Mirkarimi's tenure as supervisor included "saving" the Harding Theater so it could continue to blight the middle of Divisadero; carrying water for the Bicycle Coalition; point man for the huge pro-development Market and Octavia project, including 40-story highrises at Market and Van Ness; and helping UC rip off the old extension property on lower Haight Street for a massive housing development. Quite a legacy for the "most left-leaning district in the city"!

The Guardian endorses Clueless John Rizzo and Thea Selby for District 5 Supervisor:

Thea Selby's not as much of a lefty as Rizzo, but she's a neighborhood and small-business advocate who got involved in politics organizing the Lower Haight after a spate of shootings outside her doorstep. She's good on land-use issues and, while she unlikely to win, could have a political future if she stays active.

Note the fact-free nature of the endorsement. What specific land-use issue is she "good on"? Selby on allowing UC to privatize the old extension property on lower Haight Street for a huge housing development:

As founder and President of the Lower Haight Merchant and Neighbor Association I worked hard to “activate” the previously abandoned UC Extension site at 55 Laguna St. This meant bringing together various members of the community, including Upper Playground and local artists. We transformed the blighted building into a spectacular canvas for public art. 55 Laguna is now under development and outside the official lines of District 5, but I’ll continue to grow the relationships that were built during the process of the mural in order to ensure that the needs of our neighborhood are met.

This is pure happy-talk and bullshit. To hear her tell it, Selby is always bringing people together and "growing" something-or-other. She makes the UC issue sound as if it's about the garish mural defacing the property's wall at Laguna and Haight. She of course had nothing to do with "activating" the 5.8-acre site, since the Planning Dept. and developers have been trying to do that for years, with the crucial help of the Bay Guardian and Supervisor Mirkarimi. The only thing that delayed the housing development---which is much too large for the neighborhood---from happening earlier was the Great Recession that made it difficult for the developers to get loans. How allowing UC to privatize property that's been zoned for "public use" for 150 years meets "the needs" of that neighborhood is also unexplained.

Selby on transportation:

To balance alternative forms of transit with cars---and particularly to ease the sometimes-fractious relationship between bikers and automobile drivers---education is necessary. Recreational and commuter cyclists have different needs and pose different considerations on roads. I’d encourage mandatory education for tourists visiting the city and biking around. For those who cannot physically bike or walk and do not have access to a car, we must make sure that our public transit system is safe, effective, and affordable.

More hot air and happy-talk. She lives in the lower Haight, so what about the Wiggle, the Fell/Oak bike lane project and the Masonic Avenue project? You have to go to the Bicycle Coalition's website to learn that Selby endorses both those projects, and, like all the other candidates, she panders shamelessly to the Bicycle Coalition in her responses.

The idea she mentions above and in her Bicycle Coalition questionnaire about "mandatory" bicycle education for tourists is particularly stupid. In her Coalition response, she even advocates charging tourists a fee for this imposition!

The proposal implies that it's tourists who are the cyclists misbehaving on city streets, not our many local punks on bikes. In fact few tourists ride bikes in SF. Almost all of them drive to the city and then use cars to get around.

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