Thursday, July 13, 2017

Aaron Peskin and the Bicycle Derangement Syndrome

Hey! Get out of our way!
Jim Swanson

Randal O'Toole:  "All you have to do is mention the words 'public transit' and progressives will fall over themselves to support you no matter how expensive and ridiculous your plans."

That's surely true about San Francisco progressives, e.g., the Central Subway and our bloated Municipal Transportation Agency with its billion dollar budget.

But O'Toole's words of wisdom can be adapted to cover a favorite progressive transportation "mode": "All you have to do is mention the word 'bicycle,' and San Francisco progressives will fall over themselves to support you no matter how ridiculous your plans."

I call it the Bicycle Derangement Syndrome (BDS).

The latest manifestation of this public policy neurosis is the mild panic in City Hall and at the Bicycle Coalition caused by David Pilpel's appeal before the Board of Supervisors of the city's Upper Market Street bicycle lanes.

Even if Pilpel had significant support from a single city organization, his appeal would have been rejected, because appeals are always rejected in our one-party city-state. Especially if the appeal involves CEQA issues, which Pilpel's did, along with the safety concerns raised by the SF Fire Department.

Pilpel thought he had the support of Supervisor Sheehy for a continuance on the hearing so he could work on preparing his appeal and maybe even get some people to show up in support at the hearing.

Streetsblog was worried, and the Bicycle Coalition, the most influential special interest group in the city, swung into action to squash Pilpel's thought crime:

Behind the scenes, we’ve learned that Supervisor Jeff Sheehy is waffling on whether to further delay already-approved bike lanes on Upper Market Street. Yes, those are the same protected bike lanes that were approved by the SF Municipal Transportation Agency Board on May 2 and were ready to be striped this month. They’re the same lanes that Sup. Sheehy publicly supported after receiving hundreds of emails from you. And now, they’re being threatened by indefinite delays.

There was never any real chance of "indefinite delays," which even the crackpots at the coalition surely understood. Sheehy did in fact receive hundreds of emails in response to the Bicycle Coalition's call. He quickly rolled over and dumped the idea of a continuance to discuss the CEQA issues:

Pilpel also contended that the Planning Department may have exempted the project from environmental review incorrectly, since the SFMTA changed aspects of the project after it was exempted from review. Supervisor Aaron Peskin told SFMTA staff, “I’m a little sensitive to not blowing it,” adding, “next time, if you’d just do it right.”

Umentioned in the Examiner story---by the Bicycle Coalition's favorite reporter---before his rebuke of the city representatives for their sloppy CEQA work, Peskin explained why he was "sensitive" about CEQA issues. He recalled the dark days of 2005/2006 when yours truly and some other folks busted the city in court for its gross violation of the most important environmental law in the state by unanimously passing the Bicycle Plan and starting to implement it with no environmental review.

Peskin was president of the Board of Supervisors at the time, and he ran with the progressive lemmings in the unanimous vote to reject our appeal.

The other day, even though he understood that the city's CEQA paperwork was crap, he again voted with the lemmings in the unanimous vote to crush Pilpel's appeal. 

Why not send a message to the city by voting in favor of the appeal, even if it meant being the only one to do so? That would have at least put Planning and the MTA on notice that they weren't going to get a free pass in the future. The answer: because in reality Peskin is also a political lemming whose reputation as a maverick was always bogus (see thisthis, and this). 

The message Peskin sent: Planning and the MTA will continue to get away with violating CEQA, especially on bicycle projects.

You would think Peskin would have learned his lesson when he ran with the lemmings years ago on the Central Subway fiasco, which he felt obligated to renounce when he ran for mayor in 2012.[Later: Wrong! Peskin didn't run for mayor in 2012]

As District 8 Supervisor, Jeff Sheehy is following in the lame tradition of his predecessors, Bevan Dufty and Scott Wiener. This district is now presumed to be a gay seat on the board, since all three District 8 supervisors have been gay. They haven't exactly been a credit to their sexual orientation.

There are also now six women on the Board of Supervisors. We are in a new era of San Francisco political history: gays, straights, men, women, whites, and people of color can all unite in stupidity and political cowardice.

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At 9:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sheehy didn't roll over. He was never going to allow the continuance, this was a political stunt by Rafael Mandelmann.

At 2:33 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Mandelman, aka, Roboprog? He has the gay qualification, and I assume he's just as mindlessly "progressive" as Sheehy.


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