Friday, March 16, 2012

Redistricting means little to District 5

The Lower Haight Merchant+Neighbor Association will be making an unconvincing---and largely irrelevant---case to the Redistricting Task Force tomorrow morning (10 a.m. at the Community Center, 1050 McAllister Street) about the border between District 5 and District 8. Along with some blather about "diversity" and "vibrancy," the group is pushing some bad ideas. 

"We advocate keeping the LGBT Center in District 8. We understand how important it is to the district to have the Castro and the LGBT Center in the same district and honor it."

On the contrary, we should never "honor" identity politics. The American ideal is integration and assimilation, not separatism. It doesn't make any difference to anyone but a few gay chauvinists and those who pander to them, like Thea Selby---a candidate for District 5 Supervisor---what district the LGBT Center is in.

"55 Laguna property, located in the Lower Haight, should be in District 5 with the rest of the Lower Haight. A major development is going in at 55 Laguna...This development has the possibility of changing our neighborhood significantly."

Again, who cares? It doesn't make any difference which district this awful project is in. Yes, of course the project---450 housing units, 1,000 new residents---will "change" that whole part of town---for the worse. Since the chronic traffic jam created by Octavia Blvd. is only a block away, adding all those new residents, while limiting parking for the new housing units, will only make traffic in the area worse. Not to mention the Planning Department's other dumb "smart growth" project in the area: the Market and Octavia Plan, which will bring 10,000 more people to the area, with a bunch of highrises at Market and Van Ness. (The Bicycle Coalition likes the M/O Plan because, like the UC project, it limits the parking developers can provide for all those new housing units.)

Note that the massive "55 Laguna" housing development is now the official name for the property that used to be the UC Extension on lower Haight Street. The city---with Supervisor Mirkarimi leading the way---allowed UC to hijack and privatize that property, which was zoned for "public use" for 150 years. UC has had the property tax-free for 50 years because of its public education "mission." UC figured that real estate development is a lot more lucrative than college classes for working people. A compliant City Hall---and our "progressive" Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors---quickly rolled over for UC and the developers, ratifying UC's lies and greed.

During the campaign, maybe Supervisor Olague, on the Planning Commission at the time, will explain why allowing a predatory UC to rip off that property to fatten its real estate portfolio is good for the city and District 5.

The Waller Street access to that property ("a truly marvelous streetscaped pedestrian walkway") is nothing but a stairway, a bogus "open space" crumb the developers threw to the neighborhood during the planning process.

[Later: Selby's follow-up on Saturday's meeting. I made my public comment to the effect that any notion that District 8---or any district in the city---should qualify as a "gay" district is misguided re the LBGT center, that population numbers should determine whether the UC development should be in District 5 or District 8.]

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The Road We've Traveled: Re-electing Obama

The entire Obama re-election video is much better than the trailer, which used the Osama Bin Laden assassination as a hook, even though that was far from the most important decision President Obama has made in the last three years. Reforming the medical system, reforming the financial system---good to see that Elizabeth Warren is part of the video---equal pay for women, gays in the military, and the rescue of the American auto industry were all much more important decisions.

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