August 18, 2010

The Appellants And Text Behind The Appeal Of CityPlace's Approval

St. Francis Theater (www.SocketSite.com)

As we reported earlier this week, the Planning Commission’s vote to certify the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and allow the development of 935-965 Market Street to move forward and become "CityPlace" was appealed and is currently scheduled to be reviewed by the Board of Supervisors on September 7.

The named appellants are Liveable City, Walk San Francisco, and Arthur D. Levy.

The nineteen (19) stated points of appeal include: impacts on traffic, bicycle/pedestrian safety, and transit circulation; off-street parking and loading exceptions; a lack of context within "the historic and visual character of the block in which the project is located, including…the Market Street Theater and Loft District and the Uptown Tenderloin National Register Historic District;" and an emphasis on the St. Francis Theater (which has been shuttered since May 2001) as an endangered historical resource, it would be razed to make way for CityPlace to rise.

And the full text of the appeal:

As always, we'll keep you posted and plugged-in.

CityPlace Approval Appealed, Supervisors To Review September 7 [SocketSite]
CityPlace (935-965 Market) APPROVED By The Planning Commission [SocketSite]
Details To Augment Designs For "CityPlace" (935-965 Market Street) [SocketSite]

First Published: August 18, 2010 3:15 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

The hounds are slowly ratcheting down The City...

Posted by: Ratchet at August 18, 2010 3:36 PM

Interesting that the Bicycle Coalition is not one of the named. Although the interests of Walk SF, Liveable City and the Bicycle Coalition are very aligned, the Bicycle Coalition is a bit less dogmatic and a bit more pragmatic.

Despite understanding and sympathizing with the issues raised about parking, I hope that this appeal is shortlived. I particularly hope that Target chooses THIS site rather than the Metreon, but that's an old conversation from another thread.

Posted by: curmudgeon at August 18, 2010 4:11 PM

"the historic and visual character of the block"... this part actually made me laugh. Have any of these appellants actually seen that block? You can call its character a lot of things, but historic or visual are not one of them. More like crack-ish and dilapidated.

Posted by: fixthisstreet at August 18, 2010 4:27 PM

That picture is worth more than a thousand words.... The fact that this development is being further delayed is ridiculous.

Posted by: CameronRex at August 18, 2010 4:43 PM

Totally agree with CameronRex...for a city that calls itself progressive, we are certainly afraid of change.

Posted by: etslee at August 18, 2010 4:48 PM

Why do we keep coupling the need to improve this decrepit site with the perceived need for parking in excess of code ? Yes, it needs to be improved, but we need not degrade the street congestion in doing so.

These are two different issues and should be addressed separately.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at August 18, 2010 4:54 PM

Once again, we see the "historic preservationists" attempt to use their influence in simply trying to stop progress and responsible growth. There is absolutely nothing of redeeming historical and/or social value of that entire block.

Posted by: noearch at August 18, 2010 5:16 PM

There is an Uptown Tenderloin National Register Historic District?

Who knew?

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 18, 2010 6:27 PM

200 f..ing parking spaces? who could care. First of all, they enter and exit off the alley (the precise purpose these alleys were built for) and second, 200 spaces is bubkus - no one will possibly notice the difference of such a small number of cars entering and exiting. Folks, if you want to influence the planning process, you have to show a modicum of intelligence. Oh...this is San Francisco, I forgot.

Posted by: Jim at August 18, 2010 6:50 PM

Milkshake - although i'm certain that you're a real estate expert that has discussed the possibility of renting out this property without parking with various retailers, let's just consider this possibility: maybe, just maybe the developer wants to add the parking spaces for some other sake than spending the money aimlessly for the hell of it. Maybe the worst block in sf really does need some incentive to attract retailers that could easily go elsewhere.

Then again maybe you're right and business really does not play a part in any of this at all.

Posted by: midmarketresident at August 18, 2010 6:55 PM

I just walked down this block about 10 minutes ago - what an embarrassment. 'Paris of the West' people! Here it is! Boarded up buildings adorned with open drug dealing and human excrement. This appeal better be shot down and shot down quickly.

Posted by: spitpalm at August 18, 2010 7:18 PM

Man are you people wrong about this. The block has been shuttered by owners who want to demolish it. If they did not want to build a big mall, the stores would be open and the buildings in good shape. To not be able to see how beautiful the St. Francis facade is and can be is laughable.

The St. Francis is an important cultural resource. There is no reason the facade, lobby, and auditorium can not be incorporated into the new buildings. It's been done before in SF and with great success.

And it will keep the street from being one giant glass wall. Architectural diversity is vital in communities and neighborhoods.

I'm not sure about the other reasons for the appeal. Parking is necessary and, in my opinion, those that want to stop more parking from being built are not living in reality.

The other buildings can go. But the St. Francis needs to stay. A beautiful facade that is unlike any other in SF. And it was just in the 1980s that tens of thousands of dollars were put into restoring most of it. Don't destroy history just because it is boarded up.

The biggest problem is not the building but the people that hang out around them. Until they are dealt with the area will stay the same.

Posted by: frenchjr25 at August 18, 2010 8:49 PM

Can we sue Liveable City and Walk SF? Seriously, is there a legal (and I mean litigious) way to counter this constant entitled obstructionist behavior? Surely there is a way.

Posted by: Antonio at August 18, 2010 9:33 PM

"There is an Uptown Tenderloin National Register Historic District?"

yes, they are responsible for collecting, and housing ancient crack rocks and hypodermic needles

Posted by: spencer at August 18, 2010 9:44 PM

Antonio wrote:

Can we sue Liveable City and Walk SF? Seriously, is there a legal (and I mean litigious) way to counter this constant entitled obstructionist behavior? Surely there is a way.

I'm not an attorney and don't try to play one on the World-Wide Web, but my first reaction is: sure you could try to sue "to stop them", but you'd probably get thrown out of court pretty quickly, as your suit would probably get categorized as a Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation (a.k.a, a so-called "SLAPP suit").

Section 425.16 of California’s Code of Civil Procedure permits a special motion to strike in any SLAPP suit and freezes discovery, therefore ending such suits early and providing a disincentive to the filing of such suits.

If you really want to live in a society where the rich and well-connected can run roughshod over interested NGOs such as Liveable City and Walk SF, move to Mexico, they'll probably let you live out your Howard Roark fantasies to your hearts content. Better yet, try moving to Somalia, there you can even have the government "out of the way" of operating your own private army.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at August 18, 2010 10:08 PM

You guys are right, it is not possible for a retail establishment in San Francisco to survive without a huge parking lot attached to it. That is why The San Francisco Center and Nordstrom a block away from here are all doing terribly and will go belly up any minute now.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 18, 2010 11:07 PM

frenchjr25 - I honestly don't know what the St Francis theater looks like or what condition it is in. Assuming that you are correct and it is noteworthy and of historical value perhaps, by way of a compromise, the BOS could offer to approve the project's extra parking in return for saving at least 'some' of the theater's architectural details. Seems to me that could be a decent compromise. While I want this project approved, I admit it is not particularly interesting from a design standpoint.

Posted by: CameronRex at August 18, 2010 11:11 PM

Hi NoeValleyJim! There is a HUGE parking garage across the street from San Francisco center. Did you forget about that?

Posted by: Tweety at August 19, 2010 8:17 AM

Thank you CameronRex. I agree about the design.

I'm saddened to see so many buildings in SF that look the same, bring no architectural diversity to the areas they are in, and are gray in color.

At the very least the facade of the St. Francis should be saved and fully restored. It could easily be added to the facade of the building and make it more attractive.

I'm not sure about the interior. I could easily see a theatre company being in there, maybe even the Loraine Hansberry (sic) theatre. It would be a great addition to Market Street.

Posted by: frenchjr25 at August 19, 2010 8:39 AM

Hi NoeValleyJim! There is a HUGE parking garage across the street from San Francisco center. Did you forget about that?

I think that's kind of his point.

Posted by: anon at August 19, 2010 9:00 AM

Jim@6:50pm - Perhaps you should take your own advice. I agree that 200 parking spaces alone is not too much for mid Market to absorb. If that was the only impact then I wouldn't complain. But we're not talking about just 200 spaces. Here I'm applying two basic concepts : precedence and multiplication.

Precedence is a concept that I learned "on the job" at about age five. When my brother came out of the house eating a cookie I learned that mom gave it to him. Feeling to be his equal in the house, I used this precedent set by my bro to successfully lobby the household powers for my own cookie.

Currently there's no precedent for tripling the parking entitlement on this block of Market. Once CityPlace receives an increased entitlement, it will be very easy for adjacent properties to also request similarly larger parking entitlements. Who knows ? Future developments might go for an even higher multiplier : 4X, 5X ... But what is known is that getting a 3X exemption will be a slam dunk once CityPlace gets its 200 spaces.

And here's where you apply multiplication. If the CityPlace entitlement is extended to neighboring properties then we're instead at about 1200 parking spots for this block. These are retail parking spots mind you. Unlike residential or commercial spots, retail spots turn over at least every couple of hours, further amplifying street congestion.

That's just one block of Market. The same entitlement could extend for several more blocks, bringing a massive burden to the street network.

CameronRex - nice try at putting a wedge between allies. Your real motivations are quite transparent.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at August 19, 2010 9:28 AM

Precedence does not really count in this case because of the challenges being taken on. Developing in a dead zone means taking on a lot of risk and putting up a lot of your own capital. No one is going to be able to easily compare this deal to any elsewhere.

Posted by: Mole Man at August 19, 2010 9:35 AM

Most suburban malls have spots in their parking lots that are further away than the garage at 5th and Mission. But they aren't free, maybe that is the problem. Automobile drivers expect everyone else to subsidize their parking.

TANSTAAFPS

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 19, 2010 9:36 AM

Milkshake of Despair - My only motivation was to suggest a compromise. Our political and social systems in this country are being poisoned by the inability to compromise.

The developer states the project does not 'pencil out' without the parking. I am not qualified to make the judgment on that one way or the other. Hopefully the BOS has people advising it that are qualified. I can, however, look at this block, and the blocks surrounding it, and recognize it needs redevelopment. (this also means jobs, lots of them) Unfortunately, in this economy the city is not in a strong position to demand the developer build this project without parking.

The city could perhaps negotiate the salvaging of the theater in exchange for parking. As it happens, this would also address your concern of setting a precedent as other developers on the block could be asked for 'something' in return for code exceptions.

I realize that certain individuals who post on this site like to hurl insults and question motives. I try to refrain from doing either and avoid the pointless back-and-forth (you're wrong, I'm right)type of posts. Debate my ideas but please do not question my integrity.

Posted by: CameronRex at August 19, 2010 10:33 AM

So CameronRex: when did you suddenly become queen of rules here on SS? Debate involves back and forth, right/wrong points of view, and questioning motives. Nothing wrong with that.

When dialogue and debate here starts to get watered down with just niceties and politeness full of bs, then we have nothing important to say..or learn from.

Posted by: noearch at August 19, 2010 10:51 AM

This is what the St Francis theater looked like 100 years ago, when it was called the Empress and owned by Sid Graumann.

http://www.sfcityguides.org/images/guidelines/empress.jpg

Apparently the current marquee is concealing the archway. If they took the marquee down there might be people who think it's worth preserving.

Posted by: James at August 19, 2010 10:53 AM

Allow them to tear down the POS theater. Don't allow them to build parking beyond what's allowed in the code.

Sounds like a good compromise to me.

Posted by: anon at August 19, 2010 11:00 AM

We need more appeals like this!! The quality of life in SF is sad... and embarrassing!!! Consider a few (old) stats about Vancouver's DOWNTOWN area:

1) 40,000 new residents in 10 yrs.
2) 60% of all trips made by foot, bike or transit.
3) Less cars commuting into downtown area.
4) Active historic preservation system.

And... you better sit down for this one:

5)Children everywhere in the downtown public environment!!!

Our slavish devotion to cars and lack of democratic planning/development systems have produced cold, unkind and lifeless cities. We are expert at analyzing every facet of the real estate business. Alas, we have dared not question why ther is not a single, vibrant, family friendly city in all of beautiful California.

Posted by: VancouverJones at August 19, 2010 11:01 AM

Apologies CameronRex, from reading your statement it sounded you were suggesting the historic preservationists turn their backs to concerns about increased street congestion.

As for whether or not this can be used as a precedent, I'm no lawyer though I have witnessed many public development discussions. I don't recall code exceptions arguments ever going into details like whether the comparable development preserved a historic resource or made some other concession to balance the entitlement. Usually the argument goes something like "Development XYZ down the road was granted exception ABC. If we don't get a similar exception then we will not be able to compete." Maybe those other details come out behind closed doors, but not in the public meetings.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at August 19, 2010 11:12 AM

Hey Van,
SF is literally drowning in democracy. Analysis paralysis.

And thanks for posting that link to the old st francis, it made up my mind. Definitely not worth saving.
This on the other hand, WAS worth saving:
http://webbie1.sfpl.org/multimedia/sfphotos/AAA-8736.jpg

such an incredible loss for SF that it wasnt.

Posted by: Joe at August 19, 2010 11:14 AM

It is very sad to me to see this development get delayed further by senseless bureaucratic hurdles.

Posted by: inmybackyard at August 19, 2010 11:59 AM

"SF is literally drowning in democracy."

I think you mean figuratively. Unless San Francisco has lungs that are actually filling with water.

/grammar lesson

Posted by: James at August 19, 2010 12:14 PM

Milkshake of Despair - Thank you. The BOS certainly could use such a precedent to seek changes to future development projects. I would consider this similar in theory to the concessions made by the developer to rebuild Trinity Square as large as it will be. But, I long ago stopped trying to figure out the thought processes behind the BOS.

While I want to see this project built, I do recognize the concerns regarding the parking vs. current code. It does seem illogical to have building codes if it is the exceptions that are always built, not the rule. I guess I'm just so tired of the mess that is this part of Market that I'm ready to throw in towel and say, 'build it.' If this doesn't get built how long will we need to wait for a better, more acceptable, plan? Am I being pragmatic or defeatist?

Noearch - I recognize that your view of what passes for 'civil' debate exits. I just don't happen to hold that view. To attack the person vs. the idea/argument is a weak debate tactic, in my opinion, and adds nothing to a discussion. To believe that politeness equates to having 'nothing important to say..or learn from' is sad.

Posted by: CameronRex at August 19, 2010 12:37 PM

CameronRex - I don't think that there's much reason to believe that this won't be built if parking is held to the level allowed in the code. The only thing that we know is that the developer would like more - we have no actual indication that the developer would pull out of the project if the current code is upheld.

Posted by: anon at August 19, 2010 1:07 PM

@ VancouverJones

Agree on the liveability of Vancouver, but they didn't get there just by limiting parking spaces. There are lots of parking spaces/garages in downtown BC. Condos are built with more parking spots than cars. My point is that the simpletons in SF think that if they just limit cars, people will all of a sudden start walking/biking/taking public transportation. It doesn't work that way.

Posted by: MIkey at August 19, 2010 1:14 PM

You know, a few observations I have about things like this in SF:

1) We have a lot of rules, but don't spend enough time figuring out if the rules we have are good rules. We don't actually spend enough time figuring out if the rules make sense or whether they are internally consistent. Only after going through this process are we actually ready to decide whether someone should get an exception to the rule or not, but people often try to do this first.

2) We're more into saying "Transit first" than trying to do something about it. This is one of the many reasons why we have all these silly fights over parking.

3) People complain a lot about things like the pace of redevelopment, the lack of jobs, or the lack of affordability, but then espouse policies that slow down development, keep out jobs, and make things unaffordable.

4) We certainly are into false democracy. Most people think about "what's good for me?" instead of "what's good for the city?" This means that every NIMBY gets a voice, even if their point isn't substantive or supported, narrow interests get far more airtime then they should get, and legitimate city processes get hijacked by these narrow interests for nefarious purposes.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 19, 2010 1:27 PM

"My point is that the simpletons in SF think that if they just limit cars, people will all of a sudden start walking/biking/taking public transportation. It doesn't work that way."

It's not just people in SF who don't understand this. Some people also think that cutting taxes means that we'll cut spending automagically. Or rent control will help keep rents down.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 19, 2010 1:31 PM

MIkey - the reason to limit cars isn't to remove peoples choices, but rather to keep street congestion under control. One of the biggest reasons that Muni sucks is that buses are overcrowded and unreliable. This occurs when buses clump up (i.e. instead of a bus every ten minutes, you get three at once every half hour). Clumping is caused by congestion.

I'm with anon@1:07 and think that the developer is simply bluffing in hopes of receiving an eternal entitlement for that extra parking : a highly valuable asset that can be converted directly to cash.

I'm all for using compromise to come to an agreement, but think that granting up to 50% extra would be a lot more fair compared to the 200% extra that is currently on the table. Not that I have any influence on this decision though.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at August 19, 2010 1:36 PM

"One of the biggest reasons that Muni sucks is that buses are overcrowded and unreliable. This occurs when buses clump up (i.e. instead of a bus every ten minutes, you get three at once every half hour). Clumping is caused by congestion."

So Muni sucks because there's too many cars? or maybe there's too many cars because Muni sucks?

My GF now drives the 4 miles to work, because over the last year Muni service declined to the point she could not regularly make the 4 miles in under 45 minutes. Sometimes it was over an hour due to waiting for infrequent spotty service. And she fought/took Muni to work every day for 10 years. But finally had to give up.

Posted by: R at August 19, 2010 1:45 PM

So Muni sucks because there's too many cars? or maybe there's too many cars because Muni sucks?

I really don't know many people who substitute cars and Muni back and forth. Muni needs to get better to allow MORE movement around the city, period, not necessarily to suck people out of cars or whatever. Additionally, Muni needs to get better to allow for more density within the city - we're simply at too dense a level in most cases for more cars to do anything but degrade quality of life.

Me personally, I hardly ever use Muni, but I certainly don't drive more because of that. I either walk to places closer, rather than going to the new restaurant across town, I go someplace close, or I take a cab. Driving around the city (in the denser parts) is absurd, because parking at the endpoint is never easy. Why would I waste ten minutes of my life looking for parking in the Haight when a cab is only ten bucks?

Posted by: anon at August 19, 2010 2:05 PM

"we're simply at too dense a level in most cases for more cars to do anything but degrade quality of life."

That's definitely true on the Geary corridor, as riders of the 38-Geary can tell you. Still waiting on that replacement for the B-Geary, 54 years and counting. Thanks for nothing, BART.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 19, 2010 2:08 PM

I meant to quote "Additionally, Muni needs to get better to allow for more density within the city" instead of what I quoted.

I do know people who substitute cars for Muni in their daily commute. And ever since some people I know bought cars, they use Muni less too.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 19, 2010 2:10 PM

The reach of Muni is also pathetic. I'm not sure SF really has enough people or density to support a great transit system (like, say, NYC's) that could really eliminate the use of most cars. Have fun trying to get to Baker Beach from Bernal on public transportation (replace with countless other relatively short trips you might want to make in less than 2 hours).

Posted by: Shza at August 19, 2010 2:13 PM

@"I'm with anon@1:07 and think that the developer is simply bluffing in hopes of receiving an eternal entitlement for that extra parking : a highly valuable asset that can be converted directly to cash."

What makes you say that? Let me guess, they are a developer and all developers are greedy by nature, right? What do you personally know about making this business pencil out after putting up millions of dollars?

Here is what I do know: If the BOS shoots down this parking allowance, the developer may or may not choose to build it. Let's call it 50/50. But if they back out, I promise you we will need to wait another ungodly amount of time until something gets proposed again for this forsaken block. 188 parking spaces is a miniscule price to pay for turning this portion of market st around.

Posted by: midmarketresident at August 19, 2010 2:29 PM

So nothing can ever be built in this area because it's at traffic capacity?

If a city is flourishing and can absorb new retail outlets, it's the obligation of the city to provide and increase reliable transportation as needed.

Posted by: Bluntcard at August 19, 2010 2:35 PM

Have fun trying to get to Baker Beach from Bernal on public transportation

Cycling would take you ~50 minutes through Mission, Valencia, Page, GG Park, Sutro Heights.

And you'd lose that car driver gut;)

Posted by: lol at August 19, 2010 2:41 PM

Just saving the facade of the St. Francis Theater is one of the worst, misguided aspects of historic preservation. It is nothing more than facadism, and exactly what Disneyland is all about.

Now, saving the facade AND the function of the theater is a different story. Maybe in a long shot the theater could be revived, at a cost of millions..would it attract patrons? Would it pencil out? If not, merely saving the front of the building is a waste of time and money.

Posted by: noearch at August 19, 2010 2:58 PM

Cycling would take you ~50 minutes through Mission, Valencia, Page, GG Park, Sutro Heights.

That's not really a response to my post, which was about public transportation. And doesn't work if you have small kids. Or if it's raining, as it tends to do quite often for 5-6 months out of the year (not relevant to Baker Beach trips, granted, but to plenty of other poorly-covered routes).

And not eating like a pig tends to prevent having "car driver gut" (or "muni gut," I suppose; or, more likely, "sitting-at-a-desk-all-day gut") in the first place.

BTW, they should definitely build this thing. And that St. Francis theater is ugly (old =/= grand).

Posted by: Shza at August 19, 2010 3:03 PM

midmarketresident - Just a hunch that when it takes relatively little effort to ask for a large entitlement, people tend to ask just to see if they can get it. It never hurts to ask and if you don't ask you've missed an opportunity, ya know.

"But if they back out, I promise you we will need to wait another ungodly amount of time until something gets proposed again for this forsaken block."

What makes you say that ?

Bluntcard - I agree that the city (and region) should provide reliable transport to match growth. Once a certain level of density is reached, transport modes that require large on-site storage facilities don't pencil out.

Shza - SF certainly has the density to support quality transit. Heck, even the greater Bay Area is dense enough. Germany's Ruhrgebiet area (Dusseldorf, Essen, Bochum, etc.) is about the same size and density as the metro Bay Area and their transit system is quite nice. This isn't a question of critical mass or technology but rather one of choices. Well that and the Europeans pay 3X what we do for gasoline. Parking entitlements are yet another form of subsidies that encourage more motoring which in turn degrades and hobbles other transportation choices. I agree with you that Muni is bad (though for truly pathetic transit, try a Texan city :-). Muni need not be so bad though if we approve large parking entitlements like this one it will just get a little worse. Digging a deeper hole doesn't make it easier to climb out.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at August 19, 2010 3:08 PM

milkshake - what makes me say that we would have to wait that long? Oh only the fact that mid-market redevelopment plan has been proposed more than 20 years ago and nothing has been done on this block since. This is a first real and potentially successful redevelopment plan for this portion and it makes me sad to see such hardnosed oppositions to it.

Here is a good overview if you're interested:

http://sfappeal.com/news/2010/03/what-will-it-take-to-save-mid-market.php

Posted by: midmarketresident at August 19, 2010 3:18 PM

Shza

1 - Rain is a decently predictable event, especially in SF.

2 - Yes, you can pull your kids 6 miles to go to the beach. It can be kinda fun for them. Of course there are often too many cars along the way. Sigh...

I agree we need much better public transit. This looks like a medium sized Mexican city with the exception of BART.

But in SF there's an alternative to cars to many of us. Just give them more room.

Posted by: lol at August 19, 2010 3:22 PM

Rain is decently predictable but it can't be willed away just because one wants/needs to get somewhere at a certain day & time in November.

I recognize that you're being tongue-in-cheek and I do support improved bike infrastructure, but obviously bicycles are pretty limited in their practicality for a lot of commutes or trips, even if you exclude the extreme case of pulling small children over large hills for miles. For instance, I used to ride in to work sometimes. But because the route was hilly (as many are in SF, unlike in great bike cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam) and I just couldn't force myself to go at a "leisurely" pace, I'd show up at the office sweaty, which was kind of a deal breaker (I even have a shower available just down the hall; I just don't have a closet in my office with room for a full week's business wardrobe on hangers to change into). Which it would also be for any number of places one might like to go -- restaurants, for instance.

I will say, however, that my bike commute to work was more than twice as fast as my SF public transportation commute.

But I think I've rambled semi-off topic quite enough now.

Posted by: Shza at August 19, 2010 4:49 PM

MOD: I think the general argument here is chicken or egg. You seem to be saying that Muni is bad because parking is available. And if more parking is available it will get worse.

I'm saying if Muni were better, we wouldn't need the parking. More people would happily take public transportation if it worked. Look at any city in the world with functioning public transportation.

I think making it more difficult to drive cars doesn't do anything. Except for make people drive out of the city to spend their money.

Posted by: R at August 19, 2010 5:36 PM

P.S. I neither drive a car nor use Muni. So I really don't care.

Posted by: R at August 19, 2010 5:37 PM

Good for you Shza, my opinion of you goes up quite a bit! I had the same problem as you, I solved it by putting an armoire in my office and stuffing it full of work clothes. Not clear if that kind of solution works in a legal environment, but it was fine at a web company.

You now drive back and forth from Piedmont right? Or is it take the bus, I never really understood that.

MoD as usual puts it all better and more diplomatically than I do, but I agree with all his points.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 19, 2010 6:17 PM

I take either bus or casual carpool now - both much faster (dedicated lane and on-ramp), cheaper and "greener" than driving in (and spending $350/mo on a fidi garage space. My experience with the transbay buses (the P line, anyway) has actually been very good -- other than during the recent labor strike. I just wish they ran more often after 7. And this "temporary terminal" is going to suck come rainy season -- the covered areas are blatantly too shallow to keep anyone dry.

The armoire thing took real dedication. I'm not sure I would have had space for that, at least without ditching a bookshelf (and cleaning up some of the many boxes on the floor).

Posted by: Shza at August 19, 2010 7:28 PM

R - if you look anywhere in the world, the correlation between auto ownership and commute share is much closer to available parking than it is to "good transit available." One thing changes behavior - $ - not how nice something is. Lack of parking drives the cost of driving up - and that alone is what determines how many people drive.

Posted by: anon at August 19, 2010 8:04 PM

"One thing changes behavior - $ - not how nice something is."

That's not true. Quality, cleanliness, and convenience, among other things, matter a lot too.

I definitely know people for whom transit is way cheaper, but they still drive. The IRS calculates the cost of ownership and use of a car to be 50 cents/mile, and then you still have to add parking. Anyone in SF who drives more than 4 miles to work (e.g. middle of Noe to 1 Embarcadero is 5 miles) is spending more than the $2 standard Muni fare to go to work, even without considering parking, which can be considerable in the financial district.

Similarly, it can be cheaper for people to take BART from the East Bay or San Mateo County to the city, but plenty of people say either BART is dirty, expensive, slow, or some other excuse. Usually, people are comparing round-trip BART fare vs. parking in SF when saying it's too expensive, but that's the wrong comparison. At 50 cents/mile, it's far cheaper to take BART for most people, and BART still could be faster or more convenient than driving in some cases.

Point being, the calculation is more complicated than "X is cheaper." You are correct that in Europe, for example, gas at $8/gallon might make this calculation more heavily skewed towards transit, but I can think of plenty of people here in the Bay Area who will pay a premium and drive to avoid Muni or BART, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 19, 2010 8:22 PM

Saving the theatre is actually easy. The Palace Theatre in NYC was saved and a giant hotel built above it.

The St. Francis is important culturally. Where it might not have been the greatest architecturally, it is still historic. I want to see the theatre saved. No reason it can't be.

Just a total lack of imagination on the part of the owners.

It's also time to rethink how our historic preservation system works. Read some of the evaluations that have been done. Shameful.

When it comes to parking and transit, the more parking the better. MUNI is awful and difficult to deal with. Driving is a lot faster. You can take your car shopping and fill it up. You can't take large amounts of groceries on MUNI.

The problem with Market Street is it's really poor design. And one of the problems with SF is the elitism that tries to take over every aspect of our lives.

Posted by: frenchjr25 at August 19, 2010 8:36 PM

I definitely know people for whom transit is way cheaper, but they still drive.

It's not about making transit cheaper, because both driving and transit are super cheap.

I'm talking about actual data from every city around the world. The trains in Berlin are waaaaaaay nicer than the trains in Paris, but per capita ridership in Paris is ridiculous amounts higher than Berlin. Why? Because owning, operating, and parking a car in Paris is an order of magnitude more difficult and expensive than in Paris.

Lastly, I'm not necessarily even arguing that we should make driving a lot more expensive here, I'm just saying that making transit clean and fast and pleasant isn't going to lead to the same increases in ridership as simply making driving more expensive/difficult. There's not a single bit of data from any country in the world that would support the "make transit nice and people will voluntarily use it in huge numbers and abandon their cars."

Posted by: anon at August 19, 2010 11:04 PM

In most cities around the world residents shop for food daily. There are fresh food markets throughout the cities. And they don't have. large scale stores like WalMart and Costco.

We simply can not take public transit to do the shopping we are used to doing. I can't go to Costco and then take the bus home.

But when you think of Paris, NYC, London, etc you think of their massive subway systems. Trains go everywhere. They are not dependent on buses that have to deal with traffic congestion.

Even the east coast has a far superior public transit system than we do. Trains go everywhere. And there are even trains that take cars from the north down to Florida.

For cars, if you are disabled cars are a necessity for many of us. Public transit can not handle many of our needs.

For me, I can either drive to my moms (which is 100 miles North) and take 2 hours, with regular stops to stretch my legs. OR I can take the bus that can take almost 3 hours to get to Santa Rosa (60 miles North) and then have a family member pick me up for another 1 hour drive. That's up to 4 hours for a trip I can do in 2 with a car.

Cars are necessary and we need to have common sense discussions that take into account our lifestyles, the needs of the average person, and the needs of the disabled.

AND we can not forget about the millions of dollars we get every year from tourism. Cars are a huge part of tourism. We need the money so we need to have cars. It's that simple.

Posted by: frenchjr25 at August 20, 2010 8:15 AM

frenchjr25 - Cars are not a necessity. If they were then life would not have existed before Ford fired up the assembly line.

Instead as you describe cars make life easier given our current infrastructure and lifestyle habits. That doesn't mean that automobiles are required or that we can't eventually construct an infrastructure that makes it easier to live without a car. Even for disabled people.

I support providing infrastructure for automobiles so long as it is done wisely and appropriately. CityPlace's requested entitlement is neither.

(sorry for the repeat, I wanted to fix my -i- tag)

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at August 20, 2010 8:45 AM

midmarketresident - so you draw your conclusion by assuming that recent past history will continue. Fair enough, but know that there have been a few other mid market developments built since then which are slowly chipping away at the blight. I think that at some point it will become the decrepit gap will narrow to a point that it snaps closed.

Thanks for that sfappeal article, it was a really interesting read. I didn't realize that much of the property is held by Urban Realty. That gives them quite a bit of clout in negotiations.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at August 20, 2010 8:54 AM

from MOD @ 0843 "Cars are not a necessity. If they were then life would not have existed before Ford fired up the assembly line."

Life in pre-Ford america. Wouldn't that be great. Horses never polluted the environment, and of course there were no parking required for horses.

Or how about pre-horse, life existed then too, so there was no need for domestication.

You win! how about some RE

Posted by: givemeabreak at August 20, 2010 9:23 AM

^^^ I'm only challenging the notion that cars are a necessity, not that they make life easier. And I never suggested going back to a 19th century lifestyle.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at August 20, 2010 9:56 AM

RE: the world pre-automobiles...

Have you ever read any accounts of the smell and condition of streets during the time of horse drawn carriages and trolleys? People had to cover their noses to cross the street and dodge flies, maggots, horse droppings, and gutters with running horse urine. Then there was the burning of coal for trains, trolleys and even for the power plant that ran the cabble cars.

Automobiles will only become quieter, greener and cleaner. Why live in the past?

Posted by: WhyHateTheFuture? at August 20, 2010 10:55 AM

The technology industry has enormous "negative externalities" as well.

I accept there are urban fetishits in Noe/Bernal/Glen Park who need to commute on school buses to work in the suburbs (like infantilized wage-apes) so they can afford "homes" on postage-stamp lots in a city they enjoy primarily on weekends.

But why is society subsidizing these sanctimonious technocrats? !1!11!

:-) (sort of)

Posted by: dub dub at August 20, 2010 11:14 AM

^^^^^
I must have missed something? How is society subsidizing these "sanctimonious technocrats"

I guess it'd be much better if there were hundreds of more cars on the road.

Disclaimer, I ride one of those buses down to the South Bay and LOVE it. Best.perk.ever.

Posted by: Mikey at August 20, 2010 12:02 PM

I guess it'd be much better if there were hundreds of more cars on the road.

Or you could do even better and live closer to your work. It would probably be warmer too ;)

Posted by: lol at August 20, 2010 12:07 PM

Mikey -- GlenParkValleyJim (sanctimoniously, as usual) commented above (and elsewhere) about society subsidizing car drivers, when he himself is a technocrat who takes the school bus to work!

But technology's negative externalities borne by society include ruthless wage arbitrage except perhaps among the small technocratic class (and those who support it), pollution, increased per-capita energy usage, etc.

In return, certain technocrats (who naturally benefit from these externalities) get to live in the city, and tell others they should pay more to drive because of the "externalities" of the automobile. It's hypocrisy, SF style.

Technology, on balance is net positive of course, just like automobiles.

I'd like the school bus perk too if I was commuting to a tech job on the peninsula.
But society is subsidizing that perk every bit as much as it is drivers, whether we want to admit it or not.

Posted by: dub dub at August 20, 2010 1:01 PM

^^^^^
OK, so I guess you really don't have an argument to back up your assertion that society is subsidizing technocrats. I thought so.

Posted by: Mikey at August 20, 2010 2:10 PM

Here's another reason I won't ride MUNI:
http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=5000

Posted by: Denis at August 20, 2010 2:26 PM

Look, at some point reality has to set in. We have been "fixing" MUNI for decades now, yet it only continues its inexorable decline into mediocrity. MUNI is what it is, and it's simply not realistic to imagine that things will change for the better soon, although it is likely they'll get worse. Make no mistake: "transit first" in San Francisco consists of making life as miserable as possible for drivers without providing a realistic alternative. The appeal may well succeed in stopping this project, but as far as getting people out of their cars it's doomed to failure.

Posted by: zzzzzzzz at August 20, 2010 3:05 PM

^Which is why we have one of the lowest auto ownership rates in the US, in spite of having one of the highest per capita incomes? You're not making any sense. Policies of the past and present have absolutely decreased the amount of cars present in the city and owned by citizens of the city - the very definition of "getting people out of their cars." Where is the failure that we're doomed to? Not anywhere that I see.

Posted by: anon at August 20, 2010 3:34 PM

^Which is why we have one of the lowest auto ownership rates in the US, in spite of having one of the highest per capita incomes? You're not making any sense. Policies of the past and present have absolutely decreased the amount of cars present in the city and owned by citizens of the city - the very definition of "getting people out of their cars." Where is the failure that we're doomed to? Not anywhere that I see.

Posted by: anon at August 20, 2010 3:34 PM

Life for car drivers is not miserable. The only major traffic jams I see are with inter-city traffic. Crossing the city is pretty reasonable. Residential parking is almost free even in touristy neighborhoods.

Now, cycling is also pretty decent, though I am seeing more degraded surface by the day and no real plan to make streetcar tracks safe. There's a need for dedicated bike paths, and not the laughable greenwashing on Market close to City Hall.

Posted by: lol at August 20, 2010 3:36 PM

Could someone help me? Is the problem that non-car owners do not want to pay for roads? Would this be like wanting to ban two sinks in new master baths because those with one sink are having to pay for new sewers for the double sinks?

OR

Is this a case of some newer residents who want San Francisco to be more like Carmel, except with skyscrapers and homeless people? Cars and traffic are part of city life. There are plenty of villages in Tuscany that are car free, why not move there?

Posted by: confused at August 20, 2010 3:42 PM

Mikey - RE: technology externalities and the hypocristy of certain anti-car tech workers:

An imperfect example, the money Apple makes manufacturing in china (wage/labor condition arbitrage, allowed (subsidized) by our society despite negative domestic labor consequences), flows to a much smaller group "designing in California" (perhaps to you) and to pay for your bus ride home.

Of course, this opportunity exists for all companies, not just tech, but that hardly matters - since they take advantage of it they are responsible for the externalities.

But by some estimates, there are over 1.3 million people working for apple's foxconn manufacturer.

http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/18/foxconn-china/

I think apple plus all its low-wage retail workers number about 35k, and I'm sure dozens of the high-wage ones vesting stock options ride the short bus every day to work down the peninsula.

I'm sure some of them don't have cars, and that makes them feel better about something. Perhaps they've tweeted about it on occasion.

Now, I drive less than I did 10 years ago (because I have a small business near where I live), but I use more technology, energy, and electronics. It's all much cheaper in real (and nominal!) terms.

I perceive a benefit to this consumption, hopefully I can grow my business more because of it, and can do this precicely because of these externalities inflicted elsewhere.

But shouldn't I be paying for technology's externalities? Why single out car drivers? It makes no sense.

All vital industries (tech, automobile, energy) benefit from these externalities. Unfortunately, this is the way the world works.

It's hypocrisy to pick and choose the externalities you complain about, especially on your free ride to work at a large tech company, stuffing breakfast croissants in your mouth :-)

Hopefully that explained things better. Thanks for listening.

Posted by: dub dub at August 20, 2010 4:03 PM


If you're ashamed of San Francisco and want it to be like Vancouver, then you're just not getting it. You should move before you ruin it by changing it into something efficient and boring.

Posted by: Bluntcard at August 21, 2010 2:53 PM

Everyone should pay for the externality of their carbon consumption, through the means of a carbon tax or similar fee. Automobiles are a much larger generator of pollution than high tech industry, though both do generate some carbon dioxide.

The rest of your argument is hard to make sense of. Do you honestly believe that the millions of formerly Chinese subsistence farmers that now have factory jobs are worse off than they were before? If their lives are so bad, why are they flocking en masse to the industrial centers? Why don't they return to the farm? Do you mean to sat that technology has *positive* externalities for Chinese workers?

Farting in a crowded elevator is a negative externality. Offering someone a job is not.

Who in aggregate generates more pollution? 50 car drivers or 50 technocrats riding together on a school bus to work? It was probably better bicycling to work and when that opportunity presents itself, that will be the case again.

It is pretty funny when PC liberals complain about people lighting up a cigarette at a party but think nothing of getting in their two ton car and firing up a big internal combustion engine to drive six blocks to pick up some milk and bread. It sure is "convenient" though, isn't it? Just like it is convenient to bomb the hell out of a bunch of ragheads to take their oil and pollute the hell out of the Gulf of Mexico to extract the last bit of usable oil from it.

American car drivers are particularly self-righteous about their privileges, it always amusing watching them try and defend the consequences of their actions.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 21, 2010 3:28 PM

Cars are necessary and we need to have common sense discussions that take into account our lifestyles, the needs of the average person, and the needs of the disabled.

AND we can not forget about the millions of dollars we get every year from tourism. Cars are a huge part of tourism. We need the money so we need to have cars. It's that simple.

There is no god given right to live an energy intensive lifestyle. We have gotten used to easy and cheap mobility due the access to very cheaply extracted high density fuel in the form of oil and gasoline. The Oil Era is drawing to an end though, it is becoming increasingly scarce and within a generation or two (at most!) it will simply not be available for transportation purposes. I think it has been short sighted of us to waste such an amazingly powerful bounty on things like you average suburbanites "convenient" six block trip to the store, but I understand that my opinion is in the minority, at least in America.

But what has been done has been done, what we need to think collectively about it what kind of built environment do we want to create for the next 50-100 years, an era in which cheap oil no longer exists. We might get bailed out by something like cheap fusion power, but for now, that is science fiction. We might decide to dig up and burn a bunch of coal, but that is going to hugely exacerbate the global warming problem and is at best just kicking the can down the road for a few generations.

The answer is going to require sacrifice from everyone and this is a generation and society that has never really had to experience sacrifice in any way at all. It is going to be a big shocker to a lot of people and I fear that the transition will not go that smoothly.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 21, 2010 3:51 PM

For crying out loud, cars are evil. Privately owned transportation is even more evil.

Indeed the whole notion of private property, controlled by its owner, outside the supervision of a wise government, is a vestige of the anachronistic, preposterous ideas of "capitalism" a system designed to oppress the proletariat.

"From each according to his/her abilities, to each according to her/his needs" ---truly words to live by. The once and future of the world!

Posted by: Conifer at August 21, 2010 6:23 PM

Wow, even I can still be shocked by what is sometimes posted here, like this;

"Do you honestly believe that the millions of formerly Chinese subsistence farmers that now have factory jobs are worse off than they were before?"

NVJ, why don't u go over to China and view the FOXCONN suicide nets to catch the bodies as they fall from the substandard housing they now live in? Are they jumping because they are happy?

http://www.dailytech.com/Foxconn+Installs+AntiSuicide+Nets+at+Its+Facilities/article18877.htm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/27/foxconn-suicides-continue_n_591616.html


While you spend time on your quixotic crusade to turn San Francisco into some Colonial Williamsburg experience with horse drawn carriages, real misery is being expienced by people who live terrible lived making IPhones and other devices the school bus commuters are so proud of. I would happily pay double or triple for my I phone and Ipad if it meant that the manufacturing would be non-polluting and if the workers were given a more dignified life.

What most astonishes me is when others tell ME how to sacrifice and live my life. I own a car, but I also work from home. WHO uses more resources, me or some 50 mile a day school bus commuter?

Posted by: astonished at August 21, 2010 6:37 PM

The need for some to feel they know better what is best for others always astonishes me, but the comments about China really have me steamed. I forgot to post this link as well to counter the claim of why Chinese are flocking to Foxconn. Could it be that modern capitolism does not allow any other choice?

http://video.ft.com/v/87426190001/May-24-Foxconn-grapples-with-wave-of-worker-suicides

Posted by: astonished at August 21, 2010 7:29 PM

Even Andy Grove (cofounder of Intel) understands the negative externalities of tech.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-01/how-to-make-an-american-job-before-it-s-too-late-andy-grove.html

This is astonishing coming from an elder tech statesman like Grove. He actually suggests "an extra tax on the product of offshored labor. (If the result is a trade war, treat it like other wars -- fight to win.)". He does not discuss tech's pollution and energy issues (he did cofound Intel, after all :-)).

All industries have externalities. It's hypocritical for a tech worker (of all people!) to expect car drivers alone to pay for theirs.

It's okay to be wrong Jim, but try not to be a hypocrite (I realize this is a tall order).

Posted by: dub dub at August 21, 2010 7:42 PM

You didn't answer my question astonished. If their lives were better back on the farm, why don't they go back? Perhaps because they were just as miserable there. There probably wasn't even enough land to grow food to feed everyone. Is it better to have a crappy 12 hour a day factory job or starve to death?

China's per capita GDP has grown faster than any country in the history of the world:

Per Capita GDP for selected economies

So the standard of living has been rising rapidly.

WHO uses more resources, me or some 50 mile a day school bus commuter?

I'll stack up my lifetime carbon footprint against yours any time buddy. You do know that 50 miles day/50 people = 1 mile per person per day? You did get that, right?

If you don't want to hear any opinions that might differ from your own, you should turn off your computer and get off the Internets. I am not suggesting that you *should* sacrifice, though you probably should. I am saying that we collectively *will* have to sacrifice. The Sheeple are too dumb to realize it yet, but we are on a collision course with the worlds carrying capacity.

Neoliberal reforms predate The Internet by quite a bit. It is pretty standard economic theory that allowing different countries to specialize in different things increases the standard of living of all the countries involved. Manufacturing has been sending jobs overseas for a long time. I personally think that this is a good thing in general though it admittedly kind of sucks for those whose job is outsourced. The answer is better education and retraining and maybe even a shorter workweek here, not a trade war. And the effects of off-shoring are often exaggerated: the US has increased manufacturing by 50% since 1980.

The total energy consumption of The Internet is about 0.9% of US total energy usage: it is a drop in the bucket compared to transportation uses, which are overwhelming dominated by the automobile. About 20% of our total energy usage goes into transportation, which is overwhelming dominated by automobiles. It displays an astonishing lack of imagination to imagine that the only substitute for the car could be a horse.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 21, 2010 10:24 PM

The unemployment rate was under 5% just a few short years ago and everyone was complaining that there weren't enough American workers. How soon we forget.

It isn't offshoring that is the problem, it is the economic cycle.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 21, 2010 10:52 PM

I would happily pay double or triple for my I phone and Ipad if it meant that the manufacturing would be non-polluting and if the workers were given a more dignified life.

Just buy a Nokia made in Finland then. It wouldn't even cost double or triple, but you would have to deal with the indignity of not having the hip factor of an iPhone.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 21, 2010 11:59 PM

NoeValleyJim is going to lecture Andy Grove now too? Noe Valley might be a rather humble neighborhood compared to some other districts that are north of california st., but can the same be said for some of it's residents? I would rather buy lunch and LISTEN to Andy Grove than to be bought lunch and have to listen to someone tell me why I will never measure up to their lower carbon footprint.

Dub Dub's Andy Grove article

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-01/how-to-make-an-american-job-before-it-s-too-late-andy-grove.html

says all that needs to be said. For those of us who travel frequently to Asia, we know the writing is already on the wall.

Posted by: BlahBlahBlah at August 22, 2010 2:54 AM

Andy Grove is a smart guy, but no economist. A trade war would be the final nail in the coffin for the US economy. One good link deserves another:

http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=8750

You posted the same link twice there, at least try and find an economist who supports your position. It will be hard for you to find one who is not a Marxist, even the neo-Keynesians support free trade.

http://web.mit.edu/krugman/www/negot.html

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 22, 2010 9:12 AM

Many would consider the surprising opinion of an Intel cofounder like Grove over a sanctimonious technocrat who doesn't have the intellectual honesty to admit how his bread is buttered.

I didn't post the Grove link the 2nd time, but since you don't like to be wrong, I'll do it now:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-01/how-to-make-an-american-job-before-it-s-too-late-andy-grove.html

I agree it's shocking that Grove said this, and that's my point. If you'd think a little harder, instead of regurgitating your world view like a DMV bureaucrat, you might change your mind.

Note that Grove, like a good capitalist, is silent on whatever exploitations may or may not be going on in these sweatshops. It comes down to the externalities of the situation (very few domestic jobs, with wealth concentrated into a small number of infantilized school bus riders).

It's hypocritical for tech workers like you to suggest car users pay more for "their" externalities, while refusing to fess up to their own, despite self-professed "low carbon footprint", as if that were the official yardstick of virtue.

That's it for me on this thread.

Posted by: dub dub at August 22, 2010 9:53 AM

"even the neo-Keynesians support free trade."

free trade improves quality of life in aggregate but there's no guarantee that in aggregate doesn't turn out to be ours goes down and theirs goes up more. Free trade isn't guaranteed to be a winner for everyone.

When you couple two economies with a factor of 100 difference in pay scales together it's not hard to predict what will happen.

Initially jobs will flow from the high priced area to the low. Losers will be workers in the high priced areas who lose their jobs or have their wages reduced in order to compete. Winners will be workers in the low priced areas and people in the high priced area who get access to cheaper products and still have their revenue stream intact.

As lifestyles improve in the low cost area demand for basic raw materials will go up. Since raw materials are globally traded this will show up as increased costs of raw materials everywhere. We've already seen this effect in oil.

This process doesn't stop until the lifestyles in the low and high cost areas have equalized. Unfortunately the earth doesn't have enough resources for everyone to live a 1st world lifestyle. US, Europe and Japan are about .7B people. Add in another 2B chindians and western oil consumption alone would have to fall to 1/5th of it's current value to provide the same level of consumption for the chindians.

It's deliciously ironic, but Stalin, Mao and Nehru should be considered heroes of western capitalism. For by keeping their teeming billions poor and backward during the post-war years they eliminated competition for jobs and resources that allowed our middle and working classes to prosper.

Posted by: diemos at August 22, 2010 10:10 AM

I can't believe that anyone would have the chutzpah to post a link from the cato institute, of all places, as somehow addressing the points the Grove piece raises. Please.

dub dub is correct, the principle of arguing against personal interest applies here. If David Miscavige came out tomorrow and said that Dianetics was completely without merit, that means a lot more than when someone like Andreas Heldal-Lund does. Somone like Grove's comments on the downsides of globalization means a lot more than some propagandist at Cato talking up the advantages of it.

Cato is the house propaganda organ of the Libertarian elites who, in practice, not the free trade hypotheses, garner the vast majority of the gains derived from so-called "free trade" (and we really don't have a "free trade" system in practice, despite what the economists tell us) and is funded almost wholly by them. Of course they have all kinds of "research" indicating that free trade is great. That's what they are paid to do.

What they can't seem to find is any data indicating that the average American worker is losing out, largely due to just the factors that Grove talks about. Here's Daniel Gross of slate magazine, not because it's comprehensive but just because I read it recently and it comes to mind quickest:

Given globalization, the furious pace of mergers and acquisitions, and continuous cost pressures, job security is increasingly tenuous. And so the main thing employees–and potential employees–look at when evaluating their current jobs and potential offers is wages. And here, too, corporate America hasn't been delivering. The median income in 2008 was below what it was in 1998.
Emphasis mine. Again, the suck-ups to the monied elite at cato don't care about the median wage earner, so these kinds of concerns just magically escape them. But that doesn't mean they are correct.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at August 22, 2010 12:20 PM

Well, I am glad you didn't at least post the same Grove article for the fourth time, for that I am grateful Brahma. Perhaps you failed to notice, but not only did I post a Cato Institute link, I also posted Krugman's view on the topic. Krugman is about as far from libertarian as you get in the economics spectrum. Maybe you can post some videos of Anarchists smashing up a Starbuck's to show how serious you are.

You haven't done a very good job of demolishing the argument for free trade, but perhaps you can do a better job supporting a Car Oriented suburban landscape. That was the original topic of the thread, remember?

So far we have shown that cars cause:

1) Global warming
2) Resource Wars
3) Air pollution causing hundreds of thousand of deaths due to respiratory diseases a year
4) Accidents leading to hundreds of thousand of deaths a year and millions maimed an injured
5) Water pollution
6) Resource depletion
7) Lack of exercise leading to obesity, heart disease and diabetes
8 ) Loss of productive farmland due to suburban sprawl

What are the overwhelming advantages to the individual and to society that more than balance this out?

So far I have seen the following advantages listed:

People who live in autocentric suburban communities have:

1) Slightly more land so they can feel superior to their urban cohorts who live on "postage-stamp lots"
2) Lots of parking for the Escalade
3) More bathrooms, no waiting!

What else have you got?

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 22, 2010 2:10 PM

NVJ, We're you run over by a car as a child? People are posting economic links and you still keep blabbing about cars! Pictures of suicide nets and people working 12 hour days, 7 days a week, sleeping in cage like units so that Ipads and Iphones can be cheap do not stir any feelings?

Well maybe if it is posted for a FIFTH time, you might try to READ it. But why would we expect this from someone who thinks the world's problems begin and end with cars. NVJ, you could ban all cars from San Francisco, but the Chinese will buy more cars this year than you can imagine. Perhaps you could move THERE and start your car-free crusade and give us all a rest? I'm sure your carbon footprint finger wagging will go real far with the Chinese elite. There is a reason Mercedes and Porsche introduced their new models in China this year first, instead of Europe or the USA. No talk about carbon footprint at the Shanghai auto show from what I can remember.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-01/how-to-make-an-american-job-before-it-s-too-late-andy-grove.html

Posted by: Blahblahblah at August 22, 2010 2:29 PM

You failed to show any correlation between globalization and wage inequality Brahma. I agree that the latter is a bad thing, but I think it is more due to Republican tax policies and technological change and is best remedied with more progressive tax policies, nationalized health care and increased investment in education.

"The median income in 2008 was below what it was in 1998." factoid was created by cherry-picking dates, also known as lying with statistics. Of course if you compare the peak of the last business cycle with the middle of a recession, you will see a decline. Here is more honest representation of the same data:

Graph of Real Median Household Income in The United States

I looked at that Foxconn video again and I really don't see what is so horrible about those living conditions. We had it much worse when I was in The Army and that was an upgrade to what I had growing up. How many suicides a year are there in the military? Why aren't the Bay Area Liberals all up in arms about the terrible working conditions in the Military? You should feel a lot more responsibility to how your fellow citizens are treated working for your own government than some people halfway around the world, but I guess it doesn't assuage your PC guilt to worry about working class Americans.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 22, 2010 2:39 PM

Hey blahblahblah, if you think things are so bad for the Chinese workers what are you doing about it? Other than posting on the Internet, I mean. And feeling really really guilty. Really full of guilt and sorrow for those poor people.

Is that helping them any?

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 22, 2010 2:45 PM

Fun with statistics:

Foxconn has reported 8 suicides in a population of 300,000, this works out to a suicide rate of 7.2 per 100k per year. The suicide rate in China generally is 13 per 10k per year. So Foxconn has a *lower* suicide rate than the general populace.

There has been a rash of suicides in the Army lately:

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2010/07/junes-record-number-of-army-suicides.html

But I will ignore that and just go with the long term rate of 20.2 per 100k per year. The US suicide rate for comparison is 17.6 per 100k per year.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 22, 2010 4:23 PM

anon says (and others say): "Allow them to tear down the POS theater."

I don't want to hear ANYONE complain about "what a shame it was" to tear down the theater to build a modern glass building. Shall I pull up the thousands of comments re: Fox Theater/Fox Plaza?

Posted by: J at August 22, 2010 5:12 PM

^J - you'll certainly never hear me complain. I'm all about tearing stuff down to build denser, modern, useful buildings (I'd be happy with razing half the city for taller buildings). I'm just not about building too much parking in buildings, as it degrades quality of life and the urban experience too much. More stuff like they're building in London and Amsterdam these days? Absolutely! When do we start with the wrecking balls?!?!

Posted by: anon at August 22, 2010 6:14 PM

Great, someone copied my username. I guess I can't complain too much since it's not too creative, but I don't know what the deal is with that...

Anyways, it's pretty ironic to talk about cars causing global warming while also providing links to the Cato institute, The Cato Institute was started by Big Oil(Koch Industries), and still gets paid(Koch+Exxon) to claim that there is no link between oil, cars, and global warming.

The Krugman link is most likely from the 90's, before China was manipulating the currency so much. Times are much different now:

"China has become a major financial and trade power. But it doesn’t act like other big economies. Instead, it follows a mercantilist policy, keeping its trade surplus artificially high. And in today’s depressed world, that policy is, to put it bluntly, predatory."

"Unlike the dollar, the euro or the yen, whose values fluctuate freely, China’s currency is pegged by official policy at about 6.8 yuan to the dollar. At this exchange rate, Chinese manufacturing has a large cost advantage over its rivals, leading to huge trade surpluses."

"that trade surplus drains much-needed demand away from a depressed world economy. My back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that for the next couple of years Chinese mercantilism may end up reducing U.S. employment by around 1.4 million jobs."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/01/opinion/01krugman.html?_r=1

Posted by: J at August 23, 2010 8:37 AM

Happy Spare the Air Day!

So, what happens to the two buildings housing Marshalls and Ross's when those retailers move into shiny new CityPlace shopping mall? They join the Virgin Music space as empty/dead spaces?

Posted by: Jamie at August 23, 2010 10:01 AM

@Noe Valley Jim

"bomb the hell out of a bunch of ragheads"

As someone whom I believe is married to a Vietnamese person, do you think it's cool to say "bomb the hell out of a bunch of g**ks when referring to the Vietnam War?

Or is this just another case of the insufferable and sanctimonious hypocrisy that many others have rightly pointed out?

Like how you went on and on and on about how tech jobs would save San Francisco (and, not coincidentally, your own bubble-era real estate purchase) from having to pay the piper for a decade of extreme financial recklessness......

...... while conveniently "forgetting" to tell us that you'd been laid off by your tech company (for economic reasons, presumably) until many months after the fact.

One could debate whether this one instance of "downsizing" was representative of the local tech industry as a whole at that moment in time, but your silence while unemployed does quite strongly reinforce the statement above that you lack the "intellectual honesty to admit how (your) bread is buttered".

Posted by: nnona at August 23, 2010 10:03 AM

Next I will put it in quote marks for you nnona, so you don't miss the obvious sarcasm. I spent hundreds of hours organizing against this war, including getting arrested. What did you do? Other than putting a "No Blood For Oil" sticker on your SUV, of course?

I didn't forget to post about my layoff nnona, I just didn't think it was that interesting, plus I was too busy interviewing to post on SocketSite. I had an offer a week after I was laid off and was unemployed for a grand total of three weeks. But I didn't mention it at the time because I thought it would have looked like bragging. And my home value is still 40% over its purchase price, according the latest appraisal from last week, but thanks for your concern for my fiscal well-being!

There is definitely something ironic about an automobile driver decrying The Cato Institute's connections to Big Oil, J. "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Confirmation bias is a big problem for everyone, including myself. I guard against it by spending time on blogs and with people who will challenge my assumption, you might want to give that Cato Institute article a read before dismissing it so cavalierly. If you want to feel better about poisoning your mind with dangerous ideas, you might feel better to know that The Cato Institute is also in favor of Gay Marriage, Pot Legalization, Free Speeh, open immigration and have bee against the War in Iraq from the beginning.

Liberals are certainly not immune to Groupthink. If I wanted to just read comments from a bunch of people who agreed with me, I would spend my time on The Huffington Post and SF Streets Blog, but I find them rather boring, to tell the truth.

Free trade has been a huge boon for both America and China, if you have some seriously researched studies which suggest otherwise, I would be more than happy to read them. I used to be suspicious of Free Traders arguments myself, but the weight of the evidence over the years has changed my mind.

Krugman is still a big believer in Free Trade, he is just objecting to China's manipulation of the terms of the trade. I think he would claim that they are not actually engaging in Free Trade at all. In the long run, we are no doubt better off trading overvalued dollars for useful goods, the Chinese government will be left holding the bag in the end. But we do a very poor job of compensating the losers to Free Trade. It would be far better to fix that problem than engage in a Trade War that would make us all poorer. Trade Wars have a nasty tendency to turn into shooting wars.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 23, 2010 4:35 PM

Cato puts profits ahead of prophets - not news. They also value profits more than people, and want labor to be as cheap as possible.

What is relevant is that they will say what they are paid to say. They want to maximize shareholder profits by minimizing expenses. Environmental protection runs counter to that goal.

Overvalued dollars means LESS exports! That's why their policy is predatory. The trade war is already in progress.

Posted by: j at August 23, 2010 5:29 PM

here we go again -- PARKING WARS as they evolve into Free Trade and the Bildeberg Group

"Give me Real Estate or give me Death"

back to RE please

Posted by: givemeabreak at August 23, 2010 6:45 PM

Free Your Mind... and Your Ass Will Follow.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 23, 2010 8:12 PM

And what constitutes a free mind to a glibertarian? Slowly giving in to your principles and lashing out at people for poking holes in your cognitive dissonance?

Posted by: J at August 23, 2010 10:16 PM

Forgive me Father for I have Sinned
I have taken the racial epithet in Vain
I have associated with the unclean
I have partaken of their Vile Works
I have offended the High Priestess Dub Dub and Saint nnona
I have been too glib
I have not felt sufficient guilt for the fallen
I have not celebrated my misfortune
I am a disgusting hypocrite

Even though you have showered me with goodness and mercy
I have fallen from the True Path
And doubted the Divinely Inspired Doctrine
I am excommunicated from the Church of Political Correctness
And will surely suffer in the hellfires of uncertainty forever

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 24, 2010 9:35 AM

Denis - Looks like they caught the perp : http://cbs5.com/local/surveillance.camera.muni.2.1875574.html

Apparently he's well known around juvi hall. This will likely be categorized as a hate crime. Sadly this dude sounds like another Richard Allen Davis in the making.

I don't think Muni is to blame here, the same could have happened on the sidewalk.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at August 24, 2010 1:43 PM

^ Well that's good news for once! I don't blame Muni at all... The perps are to blame... But I've enough close calls with crazies on various buses to keep me in my car... and I'm actually a huge fan of public transportation after living in both Japan and Europe for years...

Posted by: Denis at August 24, 2010 3:24 PM

UPDATE: Today's Board of Supervisors meeting was canceled due to a notification technicality. The appeal of CityPlace's approval is now scheduled to be heard on the 14th.

Posted by: SocketSite at September 7, 2010 3:44 PM

You are far safer on a bus than in a car, Muni crazies and all. You just have a false sense of security in your metal cocoon.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at September 12, 2010 6:16 PM

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