Welcome to Curbed Cuts, a tri-weekly digest connecting the dots between shelter, structure, parks, transportation, and more.
An aide’s work is never done
Back in the presumably dark days before 2010, a San Francisco supervisor was restricted—by law—to only two aides to help them juggle constituent demands. Voters in November of 2009 lifted that restriction, dumping city charter language that before then had read, “Each member of the Board of Supervisors shall have two staff members,” making the number of aides each supe can hire a matter to be decided during the city’s budget process.
It was, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported at the time, supported by a “host of current and former supervisors.”
In the intervening eight years, it’s apparently gotten even harder to be one of an SF supe’s now three aides, as now Mission District Supervisor Hillary Ronen says she needs a fourth aide, to the tune of $160,000.
According to the Chron, Ronen’s request for a fourth “has some inside City Hall rolling their eyes,” but Ronen won’t hear it. She tells the paper that “her three aides are working up to 15-hour days to keep up with the avalanche of emails, calls, and other public contacts,” sending reporters “stats showing that complaints to the city’s 311 hotline have resulted in 16,558 cases being opened in her District Nine over the past decade—more than any other district.”
But will she get that extra help for her clearly beleaguered district? If past remarks from colleague Aaron Peskin are any indication, it’s unlikely: the second-time Supe has said in the past that additional aides would be hired “over my dead body.”
Transit reform with a smile
The battle for safer streets for cyclists can often be a grim and humorless one—and why shouldn’t it be, as it’s also a literal matter of life or death. But one local blogger takes on the struggle with an admirable sense of humor, managing to wring a grin out of even the most seemingly pedantic matters of lanes and parking.
Entitled “Dearest District Five” and written by a pseudonymous “Bob Gunderson,” the wonkier among us might immediately sense a satirical similarity to “District 5 Diary,” the longtime blog from Rob Anderson, a San Francisco resident who garnered national attention when his legal objections to the city’s bike lane plans halted their implementation for four years in the aughts.
Clearly inspired by Anderson’s opposition to transit change (though, to be fair, Anderson’s blog tackles numerous topics), “Gunderson” writes every post as a more modest “Modest Proposal,” this weekend for example penning a post headlined “Changes Proposed to Keep Cars King of Golden Gate Park.”
Anyone who goes into Golden Gate Park by foot or bike, immediately knows they don’t belong there. Last year a bicyclist even died in the park, and that’s why the SFMTA is ready to protect our most cherished San Franciscans - cars. So the mayor asked the SFMTA to devise a plan that does the bare minimum and keep cars driving and parking everywhere for free.
Or, in a previous entry on people complaining of being “nearly hit” by cyclists:
Anyone who drives around NYC in a 2-ton metal box knows the sheer terror bicyclists brings to a dense city core. Not a day goes by without hearing about some victim who needed to go to the emergency room for “nearly hit” injuries.
With their small, light, nimble bikes propelled by their human bodies and sense of entitlement, bicyclists are a force to be reckoned with. Hospitals are filling up with “nearly missed” and “almost killed” victims by the minute. There aren’t enough hospital beds to hold everyone with theoretical injuries.
Folks on both sides of the issue will appreciate Gunderson’s fine grasp of the absurd, and when we’re talking about the SFMTA, there’s plenty of absurdity to grasp. You can keep an eye out for Gunderson’s latest via Twitter, and read his full archives here.
But where’s the goose?
There’s a mad ducker loose in San Francisco, some kind of Christo, sans the murderous umbrellas.
Hoodline reports that as of Friday, a lengthy row of the avian bath toys appeared down 22nd Street, with “more gathered near the corner of 22nd and Church.” Still more, many “individually numbered,” appeared 22nd and Church Streets, and along signs at the J-Church stop.
This is the second such manifestation in recent months: In early May, ducks spelling out the word “Simon” appeared at Castro and 21st Streets.
No one has claimed responsibility for either incident, but good luck getting this out of your head:
Movers tell all
We’ve been hearing a lot lately about an exodus from San Francisco, with as many as 40 percent of residents explaining in great detail why they want to move elsewhere. And for many, an April report said, that elsewhere is Sacramento.
But what happens when folks turn their internet comments into action, and leave SF for Sacramento? SFGate is on the case, contacting migrants who traded the Golden Gate Bridge and Baker Beach for whatever landmarks and wonders the state capitol presumably has to offer.
“When asking people why they left the Bay Area for Sacramento, the stories can begin to blend together,” SFGate writes, quoting many who basically moved from a studio the size of a coffin in SF to a mansion fit for a Sacramento king (though not the actual Kings, who appear to often live elsewhere).
Others cite the city’s burgeoning social scene, with one transplant saying, “You could be at a beer garden playing cornhole behind a giant mural of John Stewart, then you walk to the art pop-up, then on your way you pass the arcade bar,” all of which are reportedly fun things to do in Sacramento.
Unsurprisingly, however locals say that the influx of folks from elsewhere are making things tighter for them, with 25-year-old Sac native Hunter Watkins telling SFGate that in the last five years, “There’s more people, there’s more traffic, and, unfortunately, there are a lot of people here that can no longer afford to live where they grew up.”
It’s interesting that Watkins says the changes all began about five years ago, as it was May of 2012 that former SF Mayor/current Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom (who, himself, had the year before fled SF for the Marin County town of Ross) was caught on camera denigrating Sacramento with an “It’s just so dull…Sadly, I just, ugh, God.”
Fast forward five years, and pretty much everyone in the Bay Area is getting daily emails from Newsom’s campaign for Governor, many of which tout his eagerness to get up to Sacramento to start “getting things done.”
What a difference five years makes.