Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Tunnel visions

Joel Engardio, candidate for District 7 Supervisor, considers himself a moderate. Here's his solution to city housing and traffic problems:

Given San Francisco’s housing crisis and traffic congestion, if you had $1.6 billion to build a tunnel, where would you put it? I’d start digging down Geary Boulevard, from downtown to the Outer Richmond. Then I’d encourage construction of multistory, middle-class housing along the way with vibrant ground-floor retail. A subway would save commuters from the cursed 38-Geary bus, which crawls along miles of failed car-first planning from the middle of the last century. But a Geary subway won’t happen anytime soon. Too many San Franciscans deplore change and defend “neighborhood character” as never better than the day they arrived.

Wrong! Engardio has the conventional wisdom mastered: multi-story housing with retail on the ground floor and a slur on the #38 Geary line, which actually works well, with more than 50,000 boardings daily. (As a bonus, he even throws in one of City Hall's favorite terms, "vibrant.")

Opposing a subway under Geary has nothing to do with defending neighborhood character. Engardio, who claims to be fiscally responsible, is apparently oblivious to what that would cost. $1.6 billion would barely get you out of downtown San Francisco.

The official price tag for building the 1.7 mile Central Subway is $1,578,000, which is $928,235,000 a mile. The state and the Feds are picking up most of the tab:

Based on the Central Subway project, putting a subway for, say, five miles under Geary Blvd. out to the avenues would cost at least $5 billion! 

Even if Hillary wins and in the unlikely event that the Democrats take back both the Senate and the House, getting that kind of money from the Feds and the state---which can't even begin to pay for its high-speed rail project---is a pipe dream, not to mention City Hall coming up with its share, which would be more than $250 million.

The Big Thinkers at the MTA are encouraging this kind of foolishness with its Subway Vision campaign. More about that and Scott Wiener tomorrow.

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Obama and Trump

The Choice by Frontline on PBS is well worth watching, as it provides interesting biographical backstories for both Trump and Hillary.

The movie is flawed, however, by a clear over-interpretation---a misinterpretation, really---of President Obama's roasting of Donald Trump during the 2011 White House Correspondents' dinner (starting at 2:47 above), which is the opening sequence in the documentary.

The narrative claims that Trump was so mad at being mocked by Obama at that event that it motivated him to eventually launch a serious campaign for president.

The talking heads claim that Trump, who was in the audience, was "steaming," "furious," and that it was "horrible for Trump" (David Remnick).

The camera was often on Trump as the president spoke, and he in fact seemed to take it well---smiling throughout, though the audience isn't lit well enough to see any more than that.

Besides, typical of narcissists and egomaniacs, Trump thinks there's no such thing as bad publicity. The main thing is to be the center of attention. I bet he was pleased to be singled out in an audience of media stars and bigshot executives and kidded by the President of the United States.

But it was a shocking instance of bad reporting and interpretation, since the actual film of the incident shows the opposite of both the quoted observers and the narrative line of the movie---that this was what motivated Trump to run for president.

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