December 18, 2006
Put Your Actions Where Your Fingers Are
A short post sparked a great discussion about the un-realized potential of both Geary and Lombard streets, and triggered the following comment with regard to the direction of growth and development of San Francisco:
"I read a lot of talk, but see no action. If we want change, shouldn't we start right here, right now? Who are the influencers in the city that control the issues that readers of this site feel are important?”
We like the way you think. And while we don’t have an answer for you with regard to influencers, we’ll open it up to the readers. And let us know what else we can do to help.
∙ Just Quotes: San Francisco Population Growth [SocketSite]
First Published: December 18, 2006 12:02 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
We are. We are the ones that vote in the the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor.
What we have now is a do-nothing mayor (Newsom is more interested in showing off his dating skills and getting photo-ops) and an anti-development Board President (Peskin is closely associated with that nasty Telegraph Hills neighborhood group) and Supervisors looking to line their pockets with developers money or else nothing gets done (Daly, Maxwell, et al).
And now you know why things are so messed up. We have let identity and "progressive causes" politics to take over City Hall and fill it with rank amateurs who don't know jack about running a city.
We need to be more involved. Let's take more responsibility for our vote and get some people with vision and cajones.
Posted by: Henry at December 18, 2006 7:00 AM
Yay! Henry at December 18th for Mayor!
Posted by: Damion at December 18, 2006 8:55 AM
Ditto Damion's comment. While I think certain safety and other social nets for people (elderly, handicapped, homeless to a degree) are necessary and good to have in a modern society, I feel like SF politics caters to only the polar opposites of our population: minority groups or the uber wealthy. I think the middle-of-the road San Franciscan gets completely shafted on schools, clean streets, decent roadways, and even Muni routes are whack. You know the saying about everything in moderation? It really works. And our elected officials needs to moderate and do some things for the common person for a change.
Posted by: Anonymous at December 18, 2006 9:23 AM
Ditto to the above. Here's a perfect example: the use of this year's (transient) budget surplus. Did it get used to repair dilapidated roads, sidewalks, or parks--ie, basic infrastructure that benefits everyone? Only a relatively small amount. The lion's share of the windfall went (at Chris Daly's behest) to the low-income housing fund. I think that's a perfect example of how SF city government caters to the few, not the many.
Posted by: zzzzzzz at December 18, 2006 9:38 AM
It took a conservative mayor in NY to bring about cleaner and safer streets, improvements in schools (which will never be where they should b until the teacher's union is cracked), etc. That could NEVER happen here. The voters don't care about those of us who work hard everyday and make the right individual choices. "Redistribute the wealth, invest nothing in the future", is the city's course.
Posted by: WillNeverHappenHere at December 18, 2006 9:50 AM
Henry et al,
I just read Manufactured Karma’s original comment. The two lines that seem particularly apropos: “I apologize in advance for sounding naive and/or preachy, but jeez, if we don't like something that's going on, shouldn't we at least try to do something about it? Isn't that what SF is about?” Yes!
Suggesting that a wholesale change of the Mayor and Supervisors is the only way to affect change sounds more like an excuse for continued inaction. And it’s a great way to polarize the political camps rather than actually rally the troops around a central cause (growth/development of the city).
Posted by: Michael at December 18, 2006 10:53 AM
I remember reading in about when Gavin Newsom went to Chicago recently to learn why that city is able to keep its downtown area so vibrant, attract new companies (Beoing is now based out of Chicago instead of Seattle) and why the city of Chicago decided decided to grow "green" and "clean". Here is an interesting comment from Chicago's Mayor.....
"The changes that have been made for the better in Chicago are because of a civic culture that puts more value on getting things done than on finding consensus - this is the opposite of San Francisco's emphasis on community based planning.
Here is a quote from Willie Brown..
"I don't think there is any similarity between the two cities as it relates to how they govern.
San Francisco is about process, totally. In Chicago the process begins and ends with results".
(from citymayors.com website August 15 2006)
My point in these quotes is that it is the government of the city that is broken, especially regarding planning issues. I think the whole planning process for this city needs to be completely reorganized and this would take leadership which the current mayor unfortunately does not give. One needs to visit Chicago and go to Millenium Park or Michigan Avenue to understand how different things really are done there.
There are hundreds of architects here in the city like myself waiting to participate in the planning process is we were able to be more involved. This would also require neighborhood groups to understand that San Francisco is a city, and therefore some of the quality of life issues they are seeking might be better found in a Bolinas instead of Russian Hill. (A client of mine recently was rejected for adding a glass conservatory off his kitchen in his rear yard because the reflected light would bother neighbors in rental units next door.)
Posted by: Morgan at December 18, 2006 11:15 AM
As bad as SF city government may be, the bigger problem involves civic culture, in my opinion, and that shows up in the filthy conditions of so many public spaces. After all, it isn't Chris Daly who's dumping computers, microwaves, printers, couches, mattresses, blenders, tattered clothing and kitchen waste on sidewalks in even the best neighborhoods. I think it's a real sign of civic rot when fouling your nest becomes acceptable middle-class behavior.
Posted by: zzzzzzz at December 18, 2006 11:19 AM
One thing that might possibly help is a change back to at-large representation from district representation by the Board of Supervisors. In the past few years SF has swung back and forth several times between both types of representation. The history is well documented at:
In my opinion, district representation creates more problems than it solves. Perhaps some genius can come up with a method of representation that captures the good points of both. But it probably needs to be simpler than the "preference voting" scheme that was presented to the voters in 1996. Until then, I say, lets go back to at-large representation.
Posted by: Susapix at December 18, 2006 11:25 AM
I like the Mayor very much, but losing the 49ers is a terrible terrible thing. I don't know how much responsibility he has for that, but whatever -- he should not sleep until there is a deal in place for them to remain here.
Under Willie Brown we got a fabulous new stadium that helped create a new neighborhood and an excitement to part of the city that was dead. A new Niners stadium would have been a great opportunity to revitalize a neighborhood.
But the entire area from Mission Bay to Hunters Point is just a shame to the city, and a testament to the failure of the government to have a vision and implement it. That should be prime real estate! My god, it's got great skyline views, it's right next to the bay, and there's acres and acres of land for development, from condo highrises to apartment buildings, shopping malls and office. You could fit a whole other city there! Put a WalMart! Put a Target! Put the Niners there! Put something. But instead, the City is now adding even more restrictions on developers to prevent them from doing anything. It's appaling.
Posted by: Damion at December 18, 2006 11:39 AM
Newsom has made a postive impact on the homeless problem and that is all to the good. Willie didn't. So overall I'm a Newsom supporter.
I think we have district elections basically because of real estate values. Working people (regular folks, not the project poor/homeless etc) lost control over their lives and their neighborhoods and district elections are the result. It has given people more control over development and evictions. I don't think we'll go back to at large unless real estate values plunge and the city becomes (a little bit) more affordable. Could happen.
I think there is a cultural problem with progressives in this town - they descend from the anti-daddy hippies in a direct line, and much of progressive politics here is more about making 'anti-daddy' stands than doing anything useful or good. The supes compete to strike 'anti-daddy' poses and of course that is nauseating and besides the point.
One result of our childish progressives is that this is real children and their familes get screwed. The homeless are practically a progressive fetish while youth of all classes are disregarded. I think middle class families should get a lot more attention. I think poor families should also. The 'anti-daddy' rebels can't stomach coming up with family friendly policies for anyone.
Am I bitter? Nah... We bought our house 11 years ago.
Posted by: dissent at December 18, 2006 11:57 AM
I have to respectfully disagree with you. But anyway, this is a democracy, and because we voted in these people, we are ultimately responsible for their cronyism and lack of action. We deserve the government we voted in.
Look in the mirror San Francisco. I know it's hard for residents here to take any sort of responsibility for their own actions. And now we have a city government who won't and spends more time trying to punt things to Propositions than really figuring out what's best for The City.
Posted by: Henry at December 18, 2006 12:00 PM
"I think it's a real sign of civic rot when fouling your nest becomes acceptable middle-class behavior."
Take a walk on Filmore St. How 'bout public urination? -- frequently -- how about the squalid park next to McDonalds -- how about car doors opening up and fast-food garbage being thrown in our faces. How about a drive-through McDonald's on Golden Gate smack next door to a Victorian. (the Redevelopment Agency's FU to everyone.)
Worst? No one says a thing - in live and let live SF.
New residents not used to SF's look-away behavior are all shocked by the acceptance of the filth here.
Wish we were too.
Posted by: Invented at December 18, 2006 1:43 PM
It would be one thing if the un-civic behaviors were confined to "containment" zones like the Fillmore. But I routinely see household garbage strewn on the streets and sidewalks of expensive, desirable neighborhoods including (but not limited to) Cole Valley, Duboce Triangle, and Dolores Heights. It's rather depressing, and utterly hypocritical that a city whose residents make a fetish of environmentalism so willingly trash their own environment.
Posted by: zzzzzzz at December 18, 2006 2:36 PM
"Take a walk on Filmore St. How 'bout public urination? -- frequently -- how about the squalid park next to McDonalds -- how about car doors opening up and fast-food garbage being thrown in our faces. How about a drive-through McDonald's on Golden Gate smack next door to a Victorian. (the Redevelopment Agency's FU to everyone.)
Worst? No one says a thing - in live and let live SF.
New residents not used to SF's look-away behavior are all shocked by the acceptance of the filth here.
Wish we were too."
This comment describes the perfect metaphor for the problem with this city's political culture. I've lived here for 3 years now and am still shocked by the site of old newspapers blowing across the sidewalk with human feces stuck to it (sorry for having to be so graphic, but you get the point).
I've spent a lot of time in Chicago and the one thing that gets me every time I go there is how damn clean the downtown area is. You just don't see paper anywhere. Isn't SF supposed to be ahead of the curve when it comes to being "green?" Doesn't that label somehow include keeping its city from looking like urine-soaked wastepaper basket? Don't get me wrong, I'm a proud San Franciscan, but that's exactly why the politics in this city are so frustrating to have to live with.
Posted by: Anonymous at December 18, 2006 3:44 PM
"But I routinely see household garbage strewn on the streets and sidewalks of expensive, desirable neighborhoods including (but not limited to) Cole Valley, Duboce Triangle, and Dolores Heights. It's rather depressing, and utterly hypocritical that a city whose residents make a fetish of environmentalism so willingly trash their own environment."
Yes, and what about all of these people that live in the city that are so quick to stick their hands out for our tax dollars? Instead of cash, why not hand these people a bunch of trash bags, a city uniform and trash stick and pay them a fair day's wage rather than just dropping money from a plane in the sky.
Why won't that happen? Answer: Because if you told them that they actually had to get up off of their asses in order to receive our tax dollars, they would look as if YOU were mentally disturbed.
Posted by: Anonymous at December 18, 2006 3:50 PM
Socketsite, thanks for the thread specific to my comments. As for next steps, maybe we start at the top? What if we sent this URL to the mayor along with a short note?
Maybe the note comes from Socketsite saying something along the lines of:
"We get X pages views per day. Seems that a lot of voters are concerned with the direction the city is heading in from this particular perspective. Just take look at this specific thread. The site seems to grow more popular per [day/month/quarter] so we obviously touched a nerve. Do you care to comment to these people on this topic? They undoubtedly care about this or they would have not spent the time debating this topic and deciding that something should be done."
I'm not a copy writer, but hopefully, you get my drift...
Posted by: Manufactured Karma at December 18, 2006 4:29 PM
"Socketsite, thanks for the thread specific to my comments. As for next steps, maybe we start at the top? What if we sent this URL to the mayor along with a short note?"
Either that, or you could simply send a note on behalf your readers pointing out that your site generates a lot of comments from your readers regarding city policies and that therefore it might be a great resource for getting a pulse more or less on what people that live in this city think about the way that the city operates and its public officials govern.
Posted by: Anonymous at December 18, 2006 4:58 PM
Sorry to burst your bubble MK and Anonymous, but our current crop of politicians (the Board of Supervisors in particular) are firmly in the pocket of special interests. Except these special interests are part of the social-services / non-profit variety rather than what you see elsewhere. It's so depressing to see these organizations using our lefty-bent to steal our money.
Only in San Francisco.
Posted by: Henry at December 18, 2006 5:29 PM
Is this why luxury tower living is becoming so popular now in San Francisco? The safety of knowing you are 40 stories high enough to where you cannot hear the howling of the homeless at night? I always thought of San Francisco being a city where you lived close to the sidewalk, whether it was house or apt./condo. Are all of these new luxury towers really not our city's version of gated communities?
Posted by: Morgan at December 18, 2006 5:45 PM
"But the entire area from Mission Bay to Hunters Point is just a shame to the city, and a testament to the failure of the government to have a vision and implement it. That should be prime real estate! My god, it's got great skyline views, it's right next to the bay, and there's acres and acres of land for development, from condo highrises to apartment buildings, shopping malls and office. You could fit a whole other city there! Put a WalMart! Put a Target! Put the Niners there! Put something. But instead, the City is now adding even more restrictions on developers to prevent them from doing anything. It's appaling."
While I don't totally agree with putting a Walmart (hmm.. maybe) in that area, I get your point and you're totally right Damion.
There is so much empty land with huge potentials in the Eastern part of SF (did I mention how warm it is) that putting additional restrictions on developments is just preventing SF to develop into the city it can become. Why did we build the 3rd St light rail again? It's so ironic that this new restriction may pass right before the new light rail opens up.
Don't get me wrong. I love SF for the diversity it has and everyone should have the opportunity for home ownership. But we also need to be practical.....
Posted by: PotreroResident at December 18, 2006 6:59 PM
Like all of you, I'm also amazed at how intransigent and short-sighted the Supes can be on some issues, most notably development. I'm a firm believer that the only way to make housing more affordable is to let developers build MORE of it, not less. Any type of legal interference/taxation ultimately destroys wealth/utility at the cost of the taxpayers - this is basic econ.
Sometimes it seems that our city government leads us like we're a group of hikers - let the slowest walk in front so that no one gets left behind. While a great way to lead a troop of Scouts, it's limiting potential and driving people/businesses out. In other words, the faster Scouts are getting fed up and leaving to join other troops.
Posted by: Dude at December 19, 2006 8:38 AM
"Is this why luxury tower living is becoming so popular now in San Francisco? The safety of knowing you are 40 stories high enough to where you cannot hear the howling of the homeless at night? I always thought of San Francisco being a city where you lived close to the sidewalk, whether it was house or apt./condo. Are all of these new luxury towers really not our city's version of gated communities?"
Short answer: yes.
Posted by: Phil at December 19, 2006 9:43 AM
Henry, I hear you. But, what the hell. Might as well try something. I wouldn't discount "the power of the Internet." That one seems to have pols a little nervous (as well as movie studio bosses).
Maybe another tact is an open letter to the mayor and others in power that are involved in the issues that we talk about on this site. We post it on this site (or another site if this is not a goal for Socketsite's owner). Then we get other sites to link to the letter and let it grow virally. Maybe ping the real estate editor at sfgate.com, etc and let them know something is brewing.
I'd be willing to bet that if we got that far, we would get somebody's attention.
[Editor’s Note: We’re in. As we wrote, “let us know what else we can do to help.”]
Posted by: Manufactured Karma at December 19, 2006 10:00 AM
"I'd be willing to bet that if we got that far, we would get somebody's attention.
[Editor’s Note: We’re in. And weren’t kidding when we wrote, “let us know what else we can do to help.”]"
And furthermore, there's absolutely no downside whatsoever in making this attempt to have our voices heard (or keystrokes seen as it were). Only good can come from it.
Posted by: Anonymous at December 19, 2006 12:55 PM
Okay, so help us help you.
1. We’ve taken Manufactured Karma’s initial thoughts for an introductory note and created a wikispace (http://socketsite.wikispaces.com) to serve as the foundation for an open letter. Please help shape the content, tone, and message. We’ll tackle the final editing and post it on SocketSite.
2. We need a list of email addresses for an initial distribution of the letter (email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Posted by: SocketSite at December 19, 2006 1:34 PM
Great move guys. Any thought about refreshing this topic for newcomers by moving it to the top with a refreshed intro that references your post above?
It might liven up the feedback even more.
Posted by: Anonymous at December 19, 2006 2:28 PM
Good idea. Any maybe even throw in an aerial photo of the city that would be a good attention grabber.
I like where this is heading.
Posted by: Anonymous at December 19, 2006 2:30 PM
Posted by: Anonymous at December 19, 2006 2:40 PM