Would You Buy a Used Car from This Man?

Rolling back odometers one clunker at a time
Rolling back odometers one clunker at a time

I’ve been watching the Roosevelts on PBS and learned how TR’s pledge not to seek reelection compromised his second term agenda. He regretted it later but he did the honorable thing and kept his word. That we should have been so lucky with our mayor.

Ed Lee was an unknown City Administrator named to finish Mayor Newsom’s term when he was elected Lieutenant Governor. Lee made it clear he was just a placeholder.He solemnly swore he would not be a candidate in the next election. Until the filing deadline approached and he declared he was a candidate.

His reasoning was that, in a town where most people didn’t even know his name, there was a groundswell that could not be ignored. “Run Ed Run!” became the battle cry of the hundred paid volunteers who made themselves available for every possible photo op. The City was swept with the fervor of organized spontaneity that only machine politics and docile local reporting can produce.

Other than sitting by passively and watching diversity in San Francisco vanish, he’s had a rather unnoteworthy reign. In the City’s blood feud with the 49ers he was able to persuade Paul McCartney to have his concert at Candlestick and not at the new Santa Clara stadium. It turned out to be a huge fiasco because of inadequate staffing.

Friends told me it took  3 1/2 hours to get in and reportedly two to five thousand ticket holders missed the whole concert because they couldn’t park. The Mayor responded by adamantly standing behind a no refunds policy. It’s what he does best, take the money and Run Ed Run!

As Mayor, real estate developers are walking all over him as old landmarks are torn down on every block and new luxury condos go up in their place. In a nod to the people, about 10% of the new units are earmarked to be affordable, i.e., $600K instead of a million. In his dollars and cents administration, there’s a lot more revenue in property taxes on condos than there is in rentals.

Meanwhile entire apartment buildings are being vacated in record numbers by Ellis Act speculators. They find it more profitable to take units off the market for five years than to allow current renters to stay. With people losing their apartments, the number of available units dwindling rapidly, and the lack of any new apartment construction, no one has stepped forward to lead us out of the mess. The Mayor’s bold position has been to wait for the State Legislature to pass something, if not this year then maybe next.

The symbol for the crisis is the Google buses that ferry workers back and forth to the peninsula. They stop at several Muni bus stops around the City which probably isn’t legal. Whether the riders are the source of the apartment problem is debatable but they do represent a class of people with a lot of money to burn on housing.

To quell the uproar the Mayor is charging the tech companies a token dollar a day for use of the stops. He cites an old state law that prohibits him from charging private companies for use of public infrastructure. Funny, as an individual I can be fined $200 and towed if I park in a bus stop. But when it comes to our fellow citizens the corporations, Run-Ed-Run’s hands are tied.

For aesthetic purposes alone the buses should be banned. They are ugly, generic cereal boxes on wheels that don’t fit the City’s quaint streets. But San Francisco loves its transportation history and my theory is that someday tourists will have a new option to add to climbing cable cars and sentimental trolleys. It’s only a matter of time before they’ll be selling tickets for the Goog-Mobile at the Wharf.

Inevitably they'll be winding down Lombard
Inevitably they’ll be winding down Lombard

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The Eviction Story

3 thoughts on “Would You Buy a Used Car from This Man?

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