Thursday, October 17, 2013

Playtime is over

Cartoon by Pat Oliphant

Rewriting history on the Concourse garage

Concourse in Golden Gate Park

From the current SF Weekly, comparing billionaires Warren Hellman and Larry Ellison:

Warren Hellman was not a saint. A politically involved billionaire---and registered Republican---will butt heads with his share of San Franciscans. There are still those upset about his shoe-horning of a parking garage into Golden Gate Park.

No dice on rewriting this bit of city history. Hellman "shoehorned" that garage into Golden Gate Park? Recall that city voters passed Proposition J in 1998 authorizing the garage under the Concourse. 104,069 voted for it, and only 74,985 voted against it. The city's bike people of course opposed the garage.

Warren Hellman raised the $55 million in construction costs. It didn't cost the city a thing. Once the construction bonds are paid off, all the parking fees will flow into the city's coffers forever.

How Hellman became progressives' favorite billionaire: He gave the Bicycle Coalition money and he paid for the annual free concert in the park.

See my interview in 2005 with Mike Ellzey, who got the garage built.

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Jason Henderson and the Tea Party

555 Fulton Street

Anti-car bike guy and pseudo-intellectual Jason Henderson in the Bay Guardian:

Yet another Shoup axiom is "Planning for parking is more a political than a professional activity." Instead of being creative, Fulton Ventures balked at the parking ideas and employed divisive race-baiting to push its profit-driven agenda. It financed a quiet campaign to accuse anyone supporting the formula retail ban and reducing parking as racist and elitist. It leaned heavily on City Hall and somehow got the Planning Department to suddenly retract its support for upholding the chain store ban. Sup. London Breed, who remained publicly detached, insisted that all she cared about was an affordable supermarket, but she offered no path to achieve it. In a confusing Oct. 3 hearing, supporters of Fulton Ventures LLC made below-the-belt public comments that seemed to come straight out of a Tea Party playbook. It was tough to watch. Their position was that a chain store with excessive underground parking was the only way to an affordable grocer---anything short of that was racist. The commission voted 4-2 to lift the ban.

"Reducing parking" may not be racist, but it surely is elitist in this instance. Fulton Ventures is right to play the race card here, since this would be the only supermarket in San Francisco that wasn't allowed any customer parking---and it would be located in a black neighborhood

Like most cyclists in San Francisco, Henderson is a white guy, who doesn't see any problem with requiring only black people---and people in the neighborhood with families, the elderly, and the disabled---to hump their groceries home on foot or on Muni. Hey, why can't they ride bikes?

The Tea Party reference is odd, since it's the Tea Party itself that's accused of racism, not playing the race card in this kind of context. Besides, you can argue---and I do here and here---that the real equivalent to the extremist Tea Party in San Francisco is the anti-car left typified by privileged white guys like Henderson.

SF's leftist Tea Party likes Critical Mass.

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