October 14, 2009

The City’s Prop D Pro And Con Via Video (And A Private Party Con)

Proposition D [youtube]
Stop the Billboard Scam! [youtube]
Anti-billboard ad hits the Internet [San Francisco Examiner]

First Published: October 14, 2009 9:30 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

I like the ad for "Fresh Meat" on the Golden Gate bridge -- and I really like the rotating ad on the Palace of Fine Arts. However, I don't think this prop covers ads there -- too bad -- maybe next year!

Posted by: Mark at October 14, 2009 9:53 AM

That second ad is so disingenuous. "Corporate interests exploiting our City".... is this serious? I would argue that the backers of the no on D campaign are exploiting the voters of San Francisco.

Posted by: Marc at October 14, 2009 9:59 AM

The "your ad here" on the Moon is classic.

This is really a joke. Signs are going to cause people to flock to the area? Revitalize the street? This is wishful thinking and insane. It would be one thing if they wanted to create some sort of Time Square with preplanned events and other support to improve the area. This is all about ad revenue for building owners?

Posted by: eddy at October 14, 2009 10:22 AM

Call me weird, but I kinda liked parts of the 2nd video. SF could use a facelift.

Posted by: fema at October 14, 2009 10:24 AM

Yes, please, more ads! Otherwise, how will I know what to think when I'm not watching TV?

Posted by: Marque at October 14, 2009 10:25 AM

What a sad way to "revitalize" a district that is beyond tragic. I am sure a certain gentleman in Noe Valley will say that the trouble with Mid Market is that we allow automobiles to drive down the street. Why cannot we take a lesson from other urban areas that have saved neighborhoods such as this without gimmicks like a faux Times Square? Can you imagine if this scheme were proposed in Boston, Chicago or Seattle?

Posted by: anon2 at October 14, 2009 10:56 AM

Come on, Eddy - everyone accepts this is not a magic bullet. It is, however, a step that, along with others that are currently underway, may help facilitate the revitalization of the area. Are you knee jerking here or do you have any clue about developments in Mid-Market?

That ad makes me want to bang my head against the wall. The slippery slope is a fallacy used to argue against any broadening of rights. Anyone recall Scalia's dissent in Lawrence v. Texas? It was essentially that if we allowed these two consenting male adults to have sex with one another, we'd soon have incest and bestiality in the streets.

The argument is almost always flawed. Even if the signage sizes and types in the proposition were broad, it's scope is limited: Market between 5th and 7th. No one is asking to put signs on the Golden Gate or the Painted Ladies. If someone did, they would be laughed out of the city or, more likely, have their heads set on pikes in front of City Hall.

Keep San Francisco Beautiful is making itself into a joke. I would love to walk with someone in their leadership along this stretch of Market at 7:30 this evening (or 2:30 in the morning), and ask what, precisely is it that they want to keep beautiful about what they are seeing. Any argument that they are trying to keep other parts of the city beautiful strikes me as classist. It amounts to "We aren't even going to try to help this blighted area so we can keep our affluent areas as twee as we please."

Posted by: Mr. E. at October 14, 2009 11:01 AM

eddy: Actually the revenue a building owner receives from placing a billboard on his/her building is rather paltry. I had a billboard on my commercial property (at the corner of Kearny and Sacramento Street) during the 1980's and the amount I got around $700 per YEAR (which translated to $58 a month.) I am sure that the billboard company raked in much more from its ad sales.

Posted by: Live Smart at October 14, 2009 11:06 AM

Can you imagine if this scheme were proposed in Boston, Chicago or Seattle?

Enlighten us. What would happen?

I'm guessing the same thing that will happen here. It would be proposed, and then not make the light of day. This thing has no chance of passing.

Keep in mind - this isn't a city proposal - this is a private businessman proposing this idea.

Posted by: anon at October 14, 2009 11:25 AM

MR.E, (mystery?) -- you don't have to be an expert in urban planing to know that enriching private citizens is not going to improve a blighted neighborhood that also happens to have extremely heavy traffic and eyeballs to command high rents. I'd maybe give it a 3 year trial with 50% of all revenues contirbuted back to revitalizing the community. And if there has not been substantial changes to either the vacancy rate or general community within 3 years that all signs come down.

Live Smart, ad revenue metrics from the 80s on a substandard block/corner is not fair. If there wasn't big money to be made here there wouldn't be a prop.

Posted by: eddy at October 14, 2009 11:37 AM

There is big money to be made, Eddy, by the landlords and business that want the area to be safer for non-black market commerce. And did you see how the money was actually going to be blowed back into community development?

Oh, and anon, is that suppossed to scare us, that it is a private business man? The owner of the Golden Gate Theater, I believe. I.e. an interest in the community?

Check out the endorsements -
For: Most of the SF Gov., SPUR.
Against: Variations on "San Francisco," "Beautiful," and a verb.

It almost makes a case for itself. . .

Posted by: Mr. E. at October 14, 2009 11:47 AM

The lobbying efforts here are transparent. Bye.

Posted by: eddy at October 14, 2009 11:50 AM

In the first clip, the one from the league of women voters, I thought Jane Kim was a lot more credible than Dee Dee Workman. A bit of assistance from a good college debate coach would have helped her with her answer to the last question, though. I don't think that the average S.F. voter quite gets what "ballot box planning" refers to and why it's a bad idea. The election, I guess, will be the proof.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at October 14, 2009 12:03 PM

This District 6 resident will be showing up to vote YES and tell everyone that I know to do the same. There are minimal downsides, if any, to having this type of system in place for mid-market.

Posted by: nottimhawko at October 14, 2009 12:19 PM

eddy, I love your argument for a 50% tax on billboard revenue and a test program. It...well...makes sense. Any 'temporary' program in this city that is funded by some form of extortion seems to always become permanent. Please don't leave. Keep making your well reasoned arguments. The restrictions on property in this district are precisely why it has declined.

Posted by: Dede at October 14, 2009 12:20 PM

Oh, and anon, is that suppossed to scare us, that it is a private business man? The owner of the Golden Gate Theater, I believe. I.e. an interest in the community?

No, that was precisely my point. anon2 made the remark that this type of thing would be laughed at in Boston, Seattle, or Chicago, and the implication was that this must be some kind of crazy wacky SF goobermint plan.

Posted by: anon at October 14, 2009 12:48 PM

soon have incest and bestiality in the streets

Now, there's something that might draw more folks to mid-Market!

Posted by: BobN at October 14, 2009 12:55 PM

If the owner of the Golden Gate Theater (and the owners of other SF theaters) were really concerned about the mid-Market area, they'd return their street-front spaces to their historic use: independent retail. Instead, they present lifeless walls to the street.

Posted by: BobN at October 14, 2009 1:03 PM

Historic photos of SF theaters:


Posted by: BobN at October 14, 2009 1:05 PM

I see the real "blight" on market as actually from 6th to So Van Ness. Advertising on 5th is just for the shoppers already heading to Union Square. If you want to revitalize a section, think a bit further west!

Posted by: DZInerSF at October 14, 2009 3:41 PM

I wish rather than signs - they would spend the money on power washing, the urine smell really kills any visual pleasure one could possibly experience...agree?

Posted by: Zibbyz at October 17, 2009 12:46 AM

Before seeing the pro and con video and the ad I was mildly opposed to D, now I'm in favor. The con argument was really just empty rhetoric.

While I am generally opposed to ballot box planning, if our city knew how to fix market, or had the will to do what is necessary, it would have been fixed years ago.

Regarding her second argument, if the voters approve the prop then the are stating they want an amendment to what they already voted on (the ban on new billboards), so that argument is useless.

Lastly, the argument about no minimum funding for youth is misleading, as that is only 1 group of several that are supposed to receive money.

The ad against D was just fear mongering.

If that's all the con camp can come up with then I have to oppose them.

Posted by: lyqwyd at October 19, 2009 4:10 PM

I fail to see how allowing private property owners to rent ugly billboards on their buildings is going to revitalize anything. I also believe that without any minimum mandated percentage from the proceeds little to none will actually go to help the local youth or whatever else they claim they will spend some of the money on.

This is a way for private property owners to make some cash on Times Square types of billboards.

To suggest this will fix the problems in that stretch of road is a stretch of truth!

Posted by: kim at October 21, 2009 8:40 AM

Unless 90% of the revenue from billboards is given to the city in trust for fixing up the area (cf. how, when parking rates were raised, excess parking revenue in Old Town Pasadena was slated for community improvement, including maintenance, powerwashing sidewalks, etc.), I don't see how allowing a few billboard renters to make money is going to help that area at all. This is a joke.

Posted by: corntrollio at October 21, 2009 9:11 AM

The problem in the area is primarily caused by empty storefronts. If this helps fill the storefronts, you can guarantee that other problems will start to improve.

Posted by: anon at October 21, 2009 10:57 AM

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