Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Passive-aggression and the Chronicle

Carl Nolte, photo by Mike Kepka

Chronicle columnist Carl Nolte, like his colleague C.W. Nevius, is upset that city voters rejected the 8 Washington project. His column last Sunday (Is S.F. really fine just the way it is?) is a passive-aggressive classic, since it refers to 8 Washington only indirectly, though clearly that's what prompted it:

I'm against a wall on the waterfront, I'm against a new Warriors arena, I'm against Google buses, I'm against anything new at the Presidio, I'm against taxicabs with pink mustaches. I'm a real San Franciscan. If it's new, I don't like it. San Franciscans are an odd lot. We love all the attention and we hate it. We love to be the darlings of high tech, but we hate the techies. We like the idea of the cable cars, but we never ride them. They are for tourists, and we, of course, are San Franciscans. Tourists come to see where we are lucky enough to live.

Like Nevius's anti-development straw man, who is Nolte describing? No individual or organization that I know of. The notion that San Franciscans oppose anything "new" is ludicrous. Yes, the "wall on the waterfront" was rejected by city voters, but the jury is still out on the Warriors' arena, the Presidio Trust is still considering several projects there, and the pink mustache "taxis" raise real issues.

I rode a cable car last year with a friend from out of town. We boarded at California and Market Street and wanted to transfer to another cable car at California and Powell to get to Union Square. The cable car fare is now $6.00, but, even at that exorbitant fare, you can't get a transfer and have to pay another $6.00! This is why locals don't ride the cable cars. Yes, it's mainly tourists who are ripped off by the cable cars, which I think is contemptible.

No one really hates the techies, but they're fueling a serious housing crisis in San Francisco, which of course Nolte won't try writing about in any depth. Actual city issues are not really his thing:

It is a little scary. The city has become smug. San Franciscans, who were already famous for their self-congratulations, have begun to believe their own hype...No wonder we don't want to change. San Francisco is perfect just as it is.

No, it's local journalists who are smug, not the rest of us. I've been writing for years about the very imperfect "change" coming out of City Hall, while the Chronicle operates like a branch of the Chamber of Commerce, raising not a peep of protest about, for example, the Planning Department's "smart growth" development theory, the MTA's predatory, anti-car traffic policies, or the Central Subway boondoggle---draining money that should be going to improve Muni---to mention a few.

The 8 Washington ballot measures finally gave city voters a chance to express their frustration at the idea that condos for millionaires and highrises on the waterfront---given a green light by City Hall---is something that even begins to deal with the city's real problems.

I wrote about the city's narcissism problem back in 2005, but there are other, more important city issues, including the ugly buildings that City Hall is permitting. 

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