Thursday, January 01, 2015

District 5 Diary's Year End Awards for 2014

Best Homeless Program of 2014 and Every Year: Homeward Bound
As C.W. Nevius reported back in February:

Since 2004, the Homeward Bound program has provided a free [bus]ticket to 7,886 individuals at an average cost of just $179 each...Critics will claim the city is just shipping out its problems, but the fact that virtually none of those who took a free ticket in the last seven months have returned indicates they ended up in a better place.

The Devil at Play: The Taliban play soccer with their victims' heads.

Anti-Development Myth About San Francisco Lived On in 2014: In Time Magazine, The London Review of Books, and with Examiner columnist Joel Engardio:

San Francisco tried to limit growth for decades with the noble goal of avoiding Manhattanization. But absent a wall and moat, a city this desirable can't keep people away. Refusing to build enough new housing (and public transit) to support future population led to our housing crisis.

This is muddled and inaccurate. No one has tried "to limit growth" in San Francisco, with the significant exception of the long struggle on highrise buildings in downtown that culminated with Proposition M in 1986, which was about office space, not housing. The only people the city would like to "keep away" are the homeless and potentially homeless, but of course it can't do that. The only thing that delayed the present boom in building housing---mostly market-rate housing, with some "affordable"---is the Great Recession, which made it hard for developers to get construction loans.

Most Succinct Stupidity of the Year By an Elected Official: "Shit happens" by Governor Brown on the ongoing Bay Bridge fiasco. Even bigger shit is now happening with his dumb high-speed rail project.

Safety lie justifies Masonic Avenue bike project

Best Critique of the Masonic Avenue Bike Project: Howard Chabner and Save Masonic.

Worst Account of the Masonic Bike Project: Tim Hickey in the NOPNA newsletter.

Worst Account of the Masonic Bike Project, Runner-up: Hoodline

Most Dishonest Account of the Masonic Bike Project, Ed Reiskin:

While it may seem that repealing peak hour parking restrictions would predict transit impacts, the number of lanes on Masonic Avenue is not the only determinate of transit performance. If parking was allowed without building the transit bulbs or the bikeway, the benefits to transit performance those measures provide would not be captured. One of the advantages of the bus bulbs, besides shorter dwell times due to more efficient boarding and alighting, is that the 43 stays in the travel lane and does not have to wait for gaps in traffic to continue its route. A trial would not reflect this and transit would be slowed as it tries to pull back into the traffic stream.

The Masonic bike project has nothing to do with Muni's "performance"---it's essentially a bike project tarted up with some landscaping. As Reiskin says, after this project is implemented the #43 bus will stay in "the travel lane" instead of pulling over at bus stops like it does now, thus trapping motorists behind the bus. That's what the #24 bus on Divisadero now does after the city "improved" Diviz. There is in fact no problem now "boarding and alighting" the #43 bus on Masonic Avenue.

Unpopular idea is the SFCTA's brainchild

Still the Most Unpopular Anti-Car IdeaCongestion Pricing
City Hall wants to charge motorists to drive to downtown San Francisco because it would be a two-fer: it would punish motorists and also raise a lot of money to pay for the city's growing bureaucracy. The problem: polls show that city residents hate the idea. The latest Chamber of Commerce poll has Congestion Pricing rejected 72% to 21%, which is even worse than last year, when it was rejected 69% to 26%. The Chronicle's stories on the polls didn't mention the Congestion Pricing results either this year or last year because it supports all important City Hall projects, which is why the Chronicle, along with the rest of the local media, is also ignoring the December, 2012, UC study that found the city was significantly under-counting cycling accidents. The bicycle fantasy is too important to City Hall for the Chronicle to undermine it with any in-depth reporting.

Most Disillusioned Newcomer of the Year: Sean Pyles in San Francisco magazine.
Bruce Brugmann, dammit!

Most Delusional Retrospective of the Year: Bruce Brugmann
Roll over for developers and then celebrate: here, here, and here.

Not Always Wrong Award: Supervisor Breed
Since Supervisor Breed is consistently wrong on important issues affecting District 5 (the Geary/Fillmore underpass, Japantown, Masonic Avenue, Golden Gate Park), it's surprising when she actually gets something right, like the bulb-out issue that annoyed Streetsblog and her proposed ordinance on graffiti. (I emailed Breed's office to get more info on her graffiti ordinance, but I got no response, probably because of the holidays. I can't find the ordinance on Breed's Legislation Sponsored site.)

Streetsblog: dumb and dishonest on this accident

Dumb and Dishonest Award: SF Streetsblog
This local forum for the city's anti-car/bicycle movement has long had a credibility problem, to put it mildly. (See this, this, and this.) This year's award-winning stupidity included this, this, and this. Streetsblog's most significant 2014 dishonesty---shared by the Bicycle Coalition, the SF Examiner, and the SF Chronicle---is completely ignoring that UC study (transcribed here) that found that the city has been radically under-counting cycling injury accidents---more than 1,300 by my reckoning---between 2000 and 2009 and, presumably, before and since. 

You would think that a blog designed and written for the anti-car bike movement would be interested in the safety of its readers. Wrong! There's been no mention of the study in Streetsblog, except for my comments there before I was banned from commenting by Aaron Bialick on the flimsiest pretense.

Why are Streetsblog, the Bicycle Coalition, the Chronicle, the Examiner, the SF Weekly, and every other blog in the city strenuously ignoring the UC study? (The editor of the Bay Guardian at least acknowledged its existence.) Because it shows that riding a bike in the city---or anywhere, for that matter---is a lot more dangerous than these politically correct lemmings have been telling us. Cycling has been pushed vigorously for more than ten years by City Hall and the media bobbleheads as if it's a green, win-win deal for everyone. Even the city's children are being propagandized to join the PC parade!

Not coincidentally there's an earlier study that showed the city was also under-counting pedestrian injury accidents in the city. The question now is not only about the safety of riding a bike in San Francisco, but how many other injury accidents has the city failed to count? How exactly safe/unsafe are city streets? Maybe we'll begin to find out in 2015, since there's been some official recognition of the problem here and here.

Wendell Cox in New Geography

Biggest National Transportation Lie: A Fundamental Shift to Public Transportation
By the American Public Transportation Association, which of course is a special interest group. But the Chronicle and the New York Times ran the story based on its press release. See the graphic above for a reality-check. My analysis here.

Thea Selby: Install a permanent version in District 5

Worst Appointment of the Year: Thea Selby to the High Speed Rail Authority's Board of Directors

Worst Elected Candidates of the Year: Thea Selby and "Clueless" John Rizzo to the City College Board of Directors.

Angelou supported cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal

Lamest Response to Islamic Fascism: The MTA's Peace Campaign

"Nice Liberal" of the Year: Chronicle Columnist Jon Carroll
Carroll was bothered by the media coverage of the disappearance of that Malaysian airliner early in 2014:

Right-wing media are pushing the terrorism angle. Perhaps they are even linking it to Benghazi---I don't know. But the point of terrorism is to terrify. You run the plane into the building, and people are afraid. But ditching a plane in the ocean to make a political point, when you haven't even said what your point is, would be foolish.

But the point made is religious, not political. If your god is a homicidal psychopath, as many Islamists apparently believe, pleasing that god is the point, which is terrifying enough to worry airlines and governments everywhere. The latest on the search for that missing airliner:

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading the search effort and has analyzed transmissions between the aircraft and a satellite, is working on the assumption that the plane was flying on autopilot when it ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean. Malaysian officials heading up the investigation have previously said they believe the plane was deliberately diverted by someone on board, and its communications systems intentionally disabled.

Gee, who would do such a terrible thing? Could it be an adherent of the Religion of Peace murdering a bunch of infidels?

The official "magic bullet" version 

Worst Documentary of the Year: Nova on the JFK assassination

Trigger Alert Awards: Brandeis and students at UC Berkeley

Now that the Guardian is gone, a PC Media Award: Randy Shaw's Beyond Chron

Memory Hole Award: the Bicycle Coalition for its new website
A lot of local politicians will be happy that their sycophantic responses to the Bicycle Coalition's election year questionnaires are no longer available. Jane Kim, Quentin Mecke, Ross Mirkarimi, and all the 2012 District 5 candidates for supervisor have had their ass-kissing responses disappear into cyber-limbo.

David Chiu

Healer of the Year: David Chiu
After sliming David Campos in the campaign for being soft on domestic abuse because of his perfectly reasonable vote on Mirkarimi, Chiu issued this statement:

"I applaud Supervisor Campos and his supporters on their passion and hard work, and we do have healing to do,” Chiu said. “Our city continues to face new challenges and we need to work together to move San Francisco forward.”

Let the healing begin!

Build it and They Won't Come Award: Portland, Vancouver---and San Francisco?
...The most recent Statistics Canada data shows that bike commuting in the Metro Vancouver region inched to 1.8% in 2011, from 1.7% in 2006, while in Vancouver proper bike commuting went from 2.9% in 2008 to 3.8% in 2011. As well a study of separated Vancouver bike lanes published in last fall shows almost no increase in use since 2009 when they first opened. What both cities found is that the initial investment in bike infrastructure does attract new riders, but the point of diminishing return is quickly reached...

Singing for Their Supper Award: City agencies opposing Proposition B
City Hall hated the waterfront height limits city voters passed last June. Before the election, Mayor Lee asked city departments to compose letters in opposition, which were then posted on the Planning Department's website. Hard to figure how the mayor thought this would help defeat Prop. B, since voters saw the city government as part of the problem. But he got letters from the Department of Public Works, Municipal Transportation Authority, Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, Office of Economic and Workforce Development, Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, the Capital Planning Committee, The Port, and the Planning Department.

The Planning Department's letter is typical of the bullshit submitted by the other departments. (The crocodile tears about a potentially short-circuited CEQA process are particularly hypocritical, given how that department lied to the Board of Supervisors about that law before it passed the Bicycle Plan.) Ed Reiskin worried about a "revenue shortfall for needed investment." Bigger---that is, taller---development projects on the waterfront, not surprisingly, bring in more money to the MTA than smaller projects: "As noted above, smaller scale projects are typically more limited in their infrastructure contribution."

The department heads sang in vain, since city voters passed Prop. B overwhelmingly, 58% to 41%.

Anti-car Junket of the Year: in Pittsburgh
"Pro-walk, pro-bike" and anti-car. Ten MTA employees went on this four-day junket. Funny, but the agency didn't issue a press release on this. I only learned about it from a column by a skeptical Pittsburgh journalist with a knack for turning a phrase: "While cars produce smog, bicycles seem to produce smug."

Why the Bay Guardian Won't Be Missed
I don't like to see people lose their jobs, but, since the Guardian has been consistently wrong about every important issue facing San Francisco, I can't mourn its demise. I started criticizing the Guardian long before I started this blog. One of my first posts criticized the Guardian for its opposition to Care Not Cash, and I've done more than 150 posts on that paper since then, like this on its bizarre election endorsements earlier this year. This provides a summary of the many issues the Bay Guardian and the city's left have failed to deal with sensibly.

Muni passengers stranded by "sick out"

Crybabies of the Year: Muni workers

Big Thinker of the Year: Glenn Greenwald mused about "the mystical part of the world" and the spirituality of dogs, when he wasn't defaming those who disagree with him.

Sore Loser of the Year: The Chronicle's John King, who was furious after city voters passed Proposition B, as were his colleagues, C.W. Nevius and the Chron's editorial writers.

Imaginary Political Movement of the Year: The city's "far-left" invented by C.W. Nevius

Phoniest History Rewrite of the Year: Susan King's invention of "a Bikelash"
At the time[of the first Sunday Streets] when city officials and nonprofit activists with the Mode Shift Working Group were talking about doing a ciclovia, King was worried that it would get caught up in the "bike-lash" against cyclists at a time when a lawsuit halted work on all bike projects in the city. "I thought that would never fly," King said. "We started Sunday Streets at the height of the anti-bike hysteria."
The only "hysteria" after we got the injunction against the Bicycle Plan was directed at me and this blog by surprisingly dumb and ill-informed cyclists.

Good News on Homelessness in the City: Only 16 homeless died on city streets last year
Ten years ago, an average of more than 100 homeless people died in the city every year. Fatalities are way down thanks to Gavin Newsom, Angela Alioto, and Republican Philip Mangano, 

Planning wants to replicate Octavia Boulevard fiasco

Worst Idea of the Year: Tearing down the freeway at 280

Liar of the Year: Supervisor Scott Wiener on CEQA and the Geary BRT project
The New York Times bought Wiener's lie about the Geary BRT project, just like the Chronicle uncritically repeated his lie about CEQA and the Bicycle Plan last year.

Dumbest Thing President Obama Said All Year: "Islam is a religion that preaches peace"

Birds of a Feather Award: Code Pink
Code Pink took part in a conference in Iran with anti-Semites and 9/11 truthers---the Israelis did it!---and other crackpots.

Sub-clinical Narcoleptic of the Year: the Chronicle's Heather Knight
Knight finds covering San Francisco politics and issues boring and lacking in excitement. Maybe the Chron should reassign her to the sports page or parachute her into Iraq to cover ISIS. 

Can't keep her in the house

Feminists of the Year: Kurdish women fighting ISIS

Best Hitler Video of the Year: