Saturday, August 04, 2018

Gabriel Metcalf: Here's you hat, what's your hurry

Gabriel Metcalf is leaving town. My first thought: Don't let the screen door hit your ass on the way out the door, Gabe. Come back again when you can't stay so long.

Metcalf's SPUR is often described as a "think tank," but thinking is something he isn't very good at, since he's been wrong and foolish on a lot of important San Francisco issues: the traffic-snarling Octavia Blvd., the dumb high-speed rail project, the completely imaginary anti-growth movement in SF, highrise development even on the waterfront, and anti-carism and the bicycle fantasy.

Metcalf on residential highrises in SF:

People love to live in highrises. Rincon Hill and Transbay are the first attempts to create a whole new neighborhood on that concept. I think it's absolutely the right thing to be doing for the environment. Instead of sprawling outward and making people drive, we're going to build homes for people at extremely high density, where they can walk to work and walk to the store and finally grow up and embrace their urbanity.

Condos for rich people in highrise buildings, a great new "neighborhood" concept!

Metcalf did a farewell interview in San Jose Mercury News wherein he provides some more Big Thoughts, like defining city for us: "Cities are a vessel for holding human difference. That’s what a city is." Thanks for clearing that up, Gabe!

Metcalf is still pushing highrise housing development:

The most important mistake in the Bay Area is our decision that nothing should ever interfere with the comfort and convenience of people who currently own their homes, that they should not have to be troubled with taller buildings anywhere in their line of sight. If we were willing to make some very small sacrifices, essentially to allow tall buildings to be built, we could make this region less expensive.

Who made that decision and when was it made? You won't get any specifics on that notion from Metcalf. This is like the lie pushed by him and C.W. Nevius about a mythical anti-development movement here in SF, about which they fail to provide names of any organizations or individuals because there aren't any.

Allowing highrise buildings in a lowrise neighborhood is a "very small sacrifice"? Right. Be the first Bay Area suburb to put residential highrises in your neighborhoods! That begs the question of whether San Francisco and the Bay Area can build their way out of the current housing crisis

The Metcalf pro-development, Free Market view on housing ignores the demand part of the equation: the demand for housing in San Francisco now dwarfs any realistic possibility that the city can produce enough housing to make it affordable for anyone but the well-off. Even the attempt will only degrade our neighborhoods.

The interviewer is apparently bummed out by Metcalf's views:

Q: Is there any hope for us? 

A: There is hope. We actually have everything we need to solve these problems. We have such high levels of education. We have such high levels of wealth. We have a very idealistic population. The greatest danger for us is a form of fatalism, where we start to believe these problems are permanent and there is nothing we can do...

Metcalf gave us a similar pep talk several years ago:

We have a wonderful quality of life here, and we have this incredible economy. So yes, a lot of people want to come here to be part of it. And what I want to say to everyone already here, as compassionately as I can, is that it’s going to be OK. We can make room for more people. Yes, there will be some taller buildings. Yes, we are going to take transit more. Yes, things are going to change — that is the nature of city life. Waves of new arrivals have made the Bay Area the wonderful place it is, and it’s going to be OK.

To get the sheer Panglossian inanity of this, you have to read the whole piece.

Labels: , , ,

Labels: , ,